BJJ Legends Spotlight Feature: Manny Diaz- The Nor Cal People’s Champ

Known as The People’s Champion in his grappling residence of Northern California Manny Diaz has been living out a lifelong dream that this ever growing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practice has given him. Currently training under BJJ World Champion Caio Terra his new venture as a brown belt has presented a new set of challenges that came with his newly acquired rank. Nevertheless with challenges also presents opportunity which has allowed Diaz to keep moving with each BEAT to smashing all obstacles that stand in the way of reaching his ultimate goal.
Manny Diaz recently spoke with us at BJJ Legends as he opens about his training philosophy, current brown belt venture, and his future goals in giving back to the community that has given so much to him.

What does becoming a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu signifying for Manny Diaz?
Manny Diaz: At my age I’ve been living a dream. I never thought that I would be competing at such a high level. Brown to me is just as important as black, It’s the stage of refinement before the highest level. Can’t cut any corners, you have to put in the time and work hard if you truly want to be at the top.

How do you currently feel at this belt level?
Manny Diaz: At first I was scared but I really feel my game changing at brown. It has all to do with the possibilities of submissions with leg locks and the other things it opens up because of it. I’m eager to learn and even more eager to compete.

What are some of the new challenges and goals you have set out for yourself as a brown belt?
Manny Diaz: Ultimately being the brown belt world champion, there are many tournaments that are great and I would love to win but none to me are greater than the world championships. I don’t think I can set a higher goal other than winning the open class title along with it. I’m not greedy and would gladly take the win at weight, besides I need to let the other guys have a chance to win too right… LOL



There always seems to be highs and lows that come with being a competitor. Tell us about some of the lessons you have learned through your victories and loses in your competition experience?
Manny Diaz: I really think I learn from both, I don’t ever really feel satisfied with my wins. I always feel like I make mistakes, leave too much space, and sometimes super boring to watch. In every match I feel like there is always more I could have done, there is always room for improvement. In a loss it’s obvious you see the mistake because it most likely cost you the match, definitely harder to find the flaws in a win but believe me they are there. We need to be able to recognize them to truly achieve greatness, be humble in victory and positive in loss.

As a brown belt how does training play such an important role in your growth?
Manny Diaz: The only way to get better is to put in your time on the mat and competing as much as you can. I have a real tough schedule; I work full time 6am-4pm 6 days a week which a times makes it hard to reach my goals. I spread myself thin in so many areas none more than sleep. I sacrifice time with my family/sleep to train for major events by waking up early and staying up late all to train. In the end the sweet wouldn’t be as sweet without the bitter and the best feeling is when I’m at the top of the podium because all the hard work paid off.  When it’s all said and done I’m just grateful I have the support of my family, friends and my coaches to pursue my dreams.

Not too long ago you got the opportunity to compete in the Copa Podium event talk to us about the overall experience?
Manny Diaz: Probably the greatest event for me thus far. It doesn’t get any better than to be able to compete on the same stage as the best in world, it was truly an honor. After competing I definitely feel I have a long way to go, I wasn’t pleased with my performance at all. It didn’t help I got sick the Thursday before the comp but these guys are the best and I have a lot to work on. I hope I get the opportunity again someday, maybe next time I can make it a little further down the line.

Moving forward in your competition endeavors you will now be participating in the upcoming Brown belt Grand Prix at the World Jiu-jitsu Expo. How does it feel to once again be a part of such a prestigious event with some of the best brown belts in the world?
Manny Diaz: Glad to see the brown belts getting some of the spotlight. There are so many great fighters and it gives people a chance to see the next wave coming thru. Honored to be in the same group as the rest of these guys, a hand full of world champions that I’m sure will make waves at black when they get there.

Finally looking onward what do you feel the future holds for Manny Diaz?
Manny Diaz: Hopefully winning a world title somewhere in the future, as far as the near future I plan on opening up a school and being able to live off my Jiu-Jitsu. I want to be able to practice Jiu-Jitsu full time and spread it to as many people as possible. Jiu-Jitsu changed my life in so many ways and I’ve made some great friends and met my beautiful wife on the mat. Given the opportunity I know it can help anyone change for the best just as it has for me.
Turning 31 at the end of this year I feel my time is limited in adult competition so I want to make the most of it these next few years. I don’t plan on stopping until someone kicks me out but I know I have a shorter life span than most of these guys I compete with, so watch out for the hungry old man. I’m truly happy and owe so much to Jiu-Jitsu, I truly have a great life and as long as Jiu-Jitsu is a part of it I’m positive it will always be bright.

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