Seph Smith - Head Professor

Seph Smith

Head instructor Seph Smith has been training martial arts since February 2001. Originally from Richmond, Seph moved away from the city in 2005 to pursue jiu jitsu at a higher level. In 2008, he joined his coach Ryan Hall at Hall’s new gym, Fifty/50, in Northern Virginia, where Seph worked as the assistant head instructor. Seph was the first person to receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Ryan Hall. In 2015, Seph returned to his hometown to pursue his career-long dream of opening a gym in Richmond. An accomplished competitor at the local, regional, and national level with considerable tournament experience in jiu jitsu and submission grappling, Seph has also competed successfully in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) where he held a regional title belt in the WKA organization. Seph is a 2011 IBJJF Pan American Silver Medalist (brown belt Masters 1 division) and a NAGA Superfight Champion in addition to many, many titles at the Advanced No-Gi level in regional tournaments. In the past few years, he has been highly successful in the local circuit.

More than just a competitor, Seph brings with him to Upstream BJJ Academy extensive experience and knowledge of coaching, personal training, and curriculum design. He has trained with some of the top practitioners in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, constantly seeking out new information and techniques to incorporate into his game and share with his students. Seph specializes in fostering a friendly environment based on positive reinforcement and promoting a strong work ethic that is welcoming to people of all athletic backgrounds. He is a passionate instructor who prides himself on being able to help his students build confidence in themselves and their skills as they reach their fitness and martial arts goals, whatever they may be.

Some of Seph’s Accomplishments Include:

•             2012 Montreal Fight for Charity Superfight Champion

•             2011 IBJJF Pan American Championship Masters Brown Belt Silver Medalist

•             2011 UFC Fan Expo Toronto Brown Belt Absolute Champion

•             2009 NAGA Superfight Champion

•             2009 The Good Fight: “Dogfight In Dover” Pro Lightweight Champion

•             Former WKA East Coast Regional Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Title Holder

•             Multiple time Beltsville Judo Champion

•             Referee For Multiple Grappling Tournament Circuits (Grapplers Quest, US Grappling, et al)

Nora Levy-Forsythe

Women's and Kid's Instructor

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Nora was first introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in December 2010 while living in Belgrade, Serbia. Since that time, Nora has trained and competed in the United States and Europe. She received her blue belt from Roger Gracie while attending university in London. Her first experience teaching jiu jitsu came in 2014 when she taught a women’s class for several months in Moscow, Russia; an experience she found both challenging and rewarding. Since moving to Richmond in 2015, Nora has been an extremely active competitor, further honing her jiu jitsu skills and building up Upstream’s women’s team. She is a multiple time IBJJF medalist, including gold medals from the British Nationals, Miami Open and Chicago Open at blue belt light feather weight. As an instructor she seeks to create a supportive atmosphere for her students to push themselves with confidence and authenticity. She received her purple belt from Seph Smith in 2017.

Andron Wright


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Raised here in the Richmond Metro area, Andron Wright is a brown belt that has been training Jiu-Jitsu for over a decade. Andron is best known for his abilities as an instructor who focuses on  breaking down technique in a manner that makes it accessible to beginners and experts alike. He is also an active competitor and referee that competes and ref's in numerous world class Jiu-Jitsu tournaments nationwide. He is a multiple time IBJJF Medalist, which includes winning gold in the NY Open Masters I Absolute division at brown belt.  You can find him on Tuesdays instructing the Basics class at 6:30 or on the mats every other night for his own training.