Ray began his martial arts journey in 2002. He had been an avid weightlifter for several years, but sought to find another physical activity to supplement his weight training. After researching effective forms of martial arts, he decided that he would try Muay Thai (Thai boxing). An online search of schools in the Washington DC area led him to Evolve Academy (Linxx Academy at the time). He enjoyed the classes, and the environment at the academy, and quickly became a fixture there, training every day.
After a few months, some of the friends he had made there started encouraging him to try the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) classes that were also offered at the academy. He had absolutely no interest in it at the time, but decided to try it just to get them to stop bothering him. After his first class, he was hooked. He started training less and less Muay Thai, and more and more BJJ. BJJ became his new obsession along with fitness and weight training.
After many years and many hours on the mat both training and teaching, Ray was awarded his BJJ Black Belt from Mike Moses at Evolve Academy on June 10, 2011.
During a career transition to become a personal trainer in order to pursue his passion for fitness, he was approached by a friend and training partner from Evolve, Mark Munster, about helping with a women’s self defense seminar in Poolesville. Ray was interested in helping, but the interest in the seminars quickly grew, so Mark suggested starting a program there. Ray was on board, and Poolesville Self Defense was open for business a couple of months later. Ray is excited to bring BJJ to the community in Poolesville, and seeks to help as many people as he can fall in love with the art.
In addition to teaching classes at Poolesville Self Defense, Ray is available for private lessons, and is available for personal training at our facility, and for in-home training through his personal training company, RPC Fitness.
Mark started lifting weights at the age of 13 and spent countless hours experimenting with exercises and enjoying the challenge brought on by the iron. He has spent 20+ years training and developing strength and conditioning programs to develop stronger, more explosive athletes.
Even though strength training was his first passion, he found another passion in martial arts. At the age of 17 he started boxing and put on his first Gi in 1997 to discover Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In 2007 he started training at Evolve Academy of Martial Arts, where he is ranked as a Brown Belt under Master Mike Moses. This is also where he met and trained with his friend and training partner, and now business partner, Ray Castro.
Mark’s passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is palpable, and he knew he always wanted to start a gym and develop a training environment that allowed people to develop self-confidence through the martial arts and strength and conditioning. He started training people in strength and conditioning and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a small home gym and quickly realized he needed to expand the program. He approached Ray who had been making a career transition from CPA to NASM- CPT and developed a partnership that has seen the demand four our programs grow exponentially.
Mark is highly motivated and passionate about helping others. He is excited to bring the best martial arts and strength and conditioning programs to Poolesville, MD families.