Martial arts training at The Stronghold Jiu-Jitsu in Point Loma

Family-owned and operated, The Stronghold Jiu-Jitsu in Point Loma offers martial arts training for both genders and all ages.

“A small majority come here for fitness, but they also come because they want another hobby or to defend themselves,” said Raquel Regno Cusi, founder of the martial arts business at 2176 Chatsworth Blvd. “For a lot of them, the upside is fitness. But for the most part, people are looking for purpose and passion. They want to do something (new) that they haven’t done yet, like to run.

Jiu-jitsu is a family of Japanese martial arts and close combat system that can be used defensively or offensively to kill or overpower one or more unarmed or armed and armored opponents. This form uses few to no weapons at all and includes throws, grabs, and stun attacks on the enemy. Jiu-Jitsu developed from the warrior class and was designed to complement a warrior’s swordsmanship during combat. Certain styles of jiu-jitsu have been used to develop many modern martial arts and combat sports such as judo and aikido.

Jui-Jitsu practitioners have learned that the most effective methods of incapacitating an armed enemy take the form of pins, knuckle-wrenches, and throws. These techniques were developed around using an attacker’s energy, momentum, and leverage against them, rather than opposing them directly.

After being closed amid COVID for over eight months and forced to go to Zoom,” Regno Cusi noted, times were tough. She said it made them look outside the box for funding and exposure. A year ago, Stronghold held a fundraiser for a children’s coloring contest, using graphics illustrated by longtime Jiu-Jitsu student Karen Alleluia to raise money and awareness of their business.

Regno Cusi said the marshal arts they teach include jiu-jitsu, judo and wrestling. “It’s about learning how to choke and subdue people, but a lot of it is about knocking people down, throwing them away,” she said, adding that the martial art is a technique of viable self-defense. “A lot of jiu-jitsu moves teach you how to get off the ground, get rid of an opponent, even control them if necessary,” she added.

The martial arts instructor noted that an opponent “can use any kind of weapon you have against you,” while stressing that “you can’t punch or kick someone.” one when you are struggling and he is on top”.

Training at The Stronghold is advertised for ages 3 to 88. “Here it’s a mixed bag, families, kids, toddlers, sometimes single parents and no kids, then kids and no parents,” Regno Cusi said. “We have career guys. I have a huge program for women. The children’s program is much bigger right now.

Michaela, Jacob, Caleah, Nichola and Raquel Cusi with baby Everbel Cunningham. COURTESY PHOTO

Jiu-jitsu has belts like karate, but Regno Cusi said it “takes a lot longer” to get to the next higher level. “In karate you can get a black belt at 13,” she said. “In jiu-jitsu, it changes color maybe once every three years.”

Everyone is different in their likes and dislikes in jiu-jitsu and their styles are unique. “You have all these techniques that you can use,” Regno Cusi said. “But you can only choose a few based on your own personality. It is action-reaction. The cool thing about jiu-jitsu is that you learn a lot of controls – and how to escape them. If someone pins you to the ground, how do you escape? How do you pin someone down if they try to hit you? You must learn to control and escape for all major positions.

The fundamentals of jiu-jitsu are the same for both genders, but Regno Cusi noted, “I actually work more on defense for girls because they have to rely on technique and not just strength.”

The jiu-jitsu instructor has four daughters and a son and they all practice a martial art.

The reputation of the Fortress goes far. “We’ve been here almost 15 years now and a good majority of San Diego knows that our kids’ program is great and that we love sharing our love of jiu-jitsu with the San Diego community,” Regno Cusi concluded.


Where: 2176 Chatsworth Blvd.

Contact: 858-722-0942,

Kristen T. Prall