Derek DiManno is the head instructor and owner of Waza Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Derek is a fourth degree black belt with over two decades of experience in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and has trained under some of the biggest names in the sport.
Before discovering BJJ, Derek was a stand-out wrestler in high school, and the youngest in a family of wrestlers. He attended Detroit Catholic Central High School, which has one of the best wrestling programs in the state of Michigan (14x team state champions). Derek wrestled under legendary coach, Mike Rodriguez, and was part of the undefeated Michigan Team State Champions in 1988, who were ranked in the top ten in the country. He moved to the Sacramento area in 1988, where he finished up his high school career winning the League, Subsection, and Section Championship and finishing third at the California (CIF) State Championships, which is one the toughest state tournaments in the country.
During his college career at UC Davis and Cal Poly, SLO, Derek decided to focus his energy on his studies instead of wrestling. After obtaining a master’s degree in 1996, he began his BJJ training with Cesar and Ralph Gracie, and Gracie Barra legend, Nino Schembri, under whom he received his blue belt in just 7 months. In 1998, Derek began training under 2003 World Jiu Jitsu Champion, Cassio Werneck, and his brother Marcel.
Derek had a successful competition career in BJJ and grappling tournaments. As a black belt, he has taken home three silver and one bronze medals at the Masters World Championships. He has competed in the Pan American BJJ Championships four times and medaled all four times (1 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze). He has competed twice in Fight 2 Win, winning both times and taking home fight of the night honors twice. He has also taken a gold or silver medal at Grappler’s Quest, US Open, Gracie Open, California State Championships, American International Championships, as well as numerous other major tournaments. To supplement his BJJ training, he trained with Team Sacramento Judo Club to improve his stand-up game. He competed in seven tournaments finishing with 31 wins and 0 losses and earned a brown belt, before going back to BJJ full time.
In 2006, Derek became the first American black belt under Cassio Werneck and the third BJJ black belt in the Sacramento metropolitan area. Derek has over 30 years of combined experience in BJJ, Judo, and wrestling.
Derek has deep roots in Elk Grove, having lived there for over 25 years. In 2010, he opened Waza Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in his long time neighborhood, Laguna West. Derek chose the name “Waza” because it means “technique” in Japanese, which he felt is an appropriate name given Jiu Jitsu’s subtle, yet highly technical nature.