Break Apparel is a life style brand out of The United Kingdom. Mike Summers is the brands founder and avid BJJ enthusiast. Interview Luke Docherty talks with Mike and finds out more about the brand and how the brand came to be.
(Photo credited to Hannah McCourt)
Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak to me today. Can you start by telling the readers a little about yourself? Where do you train, what rank, how long have you been training?
Hey, thanks for having me on. I train under Graham Keys, a Braulio Estima black belt, at Gracie Barra Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am a blue belt and training just over 4 years.
Excellent. What made you get into BJJ?
A combination of an unhealthy lifestyle and an unhealthy obsession with a job I didn't enjoy. I wanted a life and to feel a part of something. I had played Soccer on and off for years as well other sports but nothing gave me what I wanted. As part of a new year’s resolution to take up a Martial Art, I started with Kung Fu local to where I lived. After 3 months it dawned on me that it may not be the most realistic of disciplines. This came from me casually following the UFC and not seeing any Kung Fu styles. It was wrestlers, grapplers and combat tested striking arts. This made me question what I was learning and the methods in which we were practicing. I remember a class on using swords and as good fun as it was, it wasn't for me. I quickly googled MMA clubs in my area which was Hereford,UK. Then I found a club which was predominantly a BJJ club The Combat Academy, Hereford. My first instructor was Dave Coles, also a Braulio Estima black belt.
Tell us about training at Gracie Barra Belfast and the wider Irish BJJ Scene?
The scene here in Northern Ireland and The Republic is exploding. No question that Dublin has the bigger scene with a great choice of clubs such as SBG where Conor McGregor trains under John Kavanagh, Chris Bowe at Gracie Barra Dublin, Darragh O'Connaill at East Coast as well as many others. Liam Beechinor and Barry Oglesby organise the Irish Open each year and last month saw the biggest amount of competitors yet, I think over 500. I was at the event with a stand and it was a great to be a part of it. Training at GB Belfast is a true honour and I feel like I'm at one of the best kept secrets in UK/Irish Jiu Jitsu. Graham Keys originally started training under Mauricio Gomes many years ago when he first starting teaching here. He also learnt a lot from Roger too. The way BJJ developed in the UK meant Braulio became the head instructor but the Mauricio/Roger lineage can still be seen in the techniques we get taught and the style at the club. The club has two black belts, three brown belts and an army of purples and blues. As I originally started my training in England, I still have a lot of close friends in that scene and catch up at competitions when possible. Over the next two years I plan to attend as many competitions as I can to help grow Break, unfortunately this will probably reduce how many times I actually compete.
A lot of BJJ Practitioners talk about becoming instantly hooked on the art, would you say that you fit into that category?
Without question, my second class clashed with a planned night where I was to meet mates to see The Hangover 2, I was late... I knew immediately it would be for me. I walked out covered in mat burns and ripped old clothing but knew I had found something I would stick at.
(Photo credited to Mota Marcelo)
So late last year you gave up the daily grind and put all of your attention into your new project tell us about this project?
Break is a lifestyle and active brand within the BJJ/Surf niche.
The plans for Break started in December 2013. I was extremely miserable in a job that did not interest me in the slightest. I started doing designs in my lunch hour and talking to my girlfriend about launching a brand. As always she gave me a huge amount of support and over the next few months I made further inquiries in the process. Then in March last year I became unemployed. Seeing it as an opportunity to standby what my brand would preach, I embarked on making it happen. Only there was more pressure to do so then ever!!
How did the name and the design come about?
I'm glad you asked, the Shaka (Hang loose) as we all know is used the world over in surfing. Even non-surfers recognise the symbol. Not as widely known, the Jiu Jitsu community adopted it and again used around the world in all academies. Having a keen interest in both sports I wanted to start a brand that encapsulated this lifestyle and the Shaka seemed a perfect piece of imagery. The name came to me one day when sat at my desk bored stupid and probably thinking about a sweep I wasn't finishing at that time. Our dictionary definition sums it up perfectly...
Tell us about your vision for the brand? Where can you see Break in 5 years’ time?
Within 5 years, I want Break to have a strong presence in the US, Europe, Australia and Brazil. Have a strong team of sponsored athletes and continue to build on the relationships we have made.
What is your mindset while building the brand? Do you have a mentor (person or brand)? What type of Athletes do you look at as a suitable fit for your brand?
Much like starting out in Jiu Jitsu... Survival. I don't want to be a statistic on a list of failed businesses. Business is hard and ruthless but with an investment in quality and working well with others, life is a lot easier. We took months to get off the ground because I wanted to keep the standards of our clothing as high as possible. Our rash guard was a year in development but it was more than worth it. Choosing athletes can be tricky. Daily, guys reach out to us looking for sponsorship which is great and without them brands wouldn't get anywhere. Unfortunately we live in a world where people are extremely happy to be given free gear or support for events but not necessarily put the time in or a small amount of money to support the brands. I posted up recently that brands need customers more than athletes need sponsorship. I do not have a set personality or a criteria that you must meet to join our team but I usually like to have a chat with the individual, listen to what they have planned in terms of competitions and any other projects they may have in the works.
You started the Brand with a line of Tees and Shorts then got the Rash Guard out. Can you give us an indication of what’s next in line for Break?
I don't want to speak too soon but we have plans more to be added to the lifestyle range and in time to release our competition range ready for next year.
What advice would you have for any young budding entrepreneurs contemplating that first step into the unknown?
Take it.... providing you have considered and absorbed the following - are you 100% sure you believe in your idea, have seeked the advice of people with experience in business, prepared to experience every emotion possible to see yourself through it all and accept that it will challenge you in areas you wouldn't expect such as relationships with family and friends. If you can work with all of that and still feel motivated to go with it, then do it!
Do you have any other ventures/collaborations in the future?
In October of this year we are collaborating with BJJ24.7 to run the Belfast International Open, Belfast has a growing Jiu Jitsu scene but still behind the UK and Dublin for competitions. It is a 2 hour drive for the nearest professionally ran event. The Jiu Jitsu community in Belfast has waited long enough and traveled far enough. We have guys coming from the mainland UK and from the Republic of Ireland to compete as well as others from further a field. Lawrence and Reuben of BJJ 24.7 have done a great job in building a trust worthy competition provider and I believe they have created something special.
For anyone reading today how can they find your gear? And if any interested wholesalers want to get in touch with you to stock Breaks line what is the best method?
Thanks very much for your time Mike I look forward to hearing more about Break in the future, is there anything else you would like to add?
Just to say a huge thanks to everyone who has helped me get this far, my amazing girlfriend and soon to be wife Lindsay, my parents for continued support, a great team of friends within the BJJ community and most importantly, unbelievable customers! Without them Break wouldn't still be going. Oh... and BJJ legends for having me!!
2012 Gracie Barra Team Preview at Bloody Elbow, going into the detaileded history of GB Jiu-Jitsu and their team for the 2012 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Roger Gracie & Braulio Estima stand up the mundials for MMA and Romolo Barral's injury for the Pan Ams has gotten better for him to compete in June.
Not to be outdone, Bloody Elbow provides a 2012 ATOS Team Preview for the 2012 Jiu-Jitsu World Championships. Where Gracie Barra has the numbers, ATOS may have the higher talent per pound ratio with Andre Galvao and the new kid, Kyra Gracie who left Gracie Barra recently to join ATOS.
Save Jiu-Jitsu for the Tournamanents... says UFC Fighter
In an article on MMAJunkie.com, UFC fighter Lavar Johnson (fighting in UF 146) quoted as saying "We're here to put on a show," he said. "Let's save the jiu-jitsu for the jiu-jitsu tournaments, I say. The UFC is for fights. So let's fight." The article is indicative of his fighting style... Read the article Lavar Johnson vs Stefan Struve here.
The Jiu-Jitsu Expo and 2012 Spring Open took Long Beach, California on May 10th. Called the "World" Jiu-Jitsu Expo as it's premeire on the scene the Gracie clan pulled out all the stops. It was a who's who of the brazilian jiu-jitsu community. Who was on site, just about everyone you would, should or could know.
Renzo Gracie, Carlos Gracie Jr, Fabio Santos, Jacare, Conpedro, Braulio Estima, Kayron Gracie, Kyra Gracie, Kron Gracie, Jeff Glover, Alvaro Romano, Mike Fowler, Chris Haueter, Caio Terra, Mendes Brothers, Andres Galvao, Werdum ... Laranja.... and many more...
Super Jiu-Jitsu Fight: Diaz vs Estima - No Show!
The accusations fly between Nick, the promoter and Braulio. ... read more
Braulio steps out and says a few words to the crowd...
Zé Radiola of Graice Barra PE (Recife Pernambuco) was in Huntington Beach California Tuesday night giving a seminar at Ricardo Testai's school, Gracie Barra Huntington Beach. I went to the seminar because Zé is the famous coach of Braulio Estima, who we interviewed for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Magazine, Victor Estima, Otavio Sousa an Lucas Rocha. I stayed for the second seminar because he is so infectious. View Pictures AND VIDEO TECHNIQUE!->
This fight is between the last ADCC's super-fight champion Ronaldo Souza vs the last ADCC's absolute champion Braulio Estima. Braulio is considered the local favorite having his ties to England, but Jacare has come off his recent loss to Luke Rockhold in Strikeforce.
After a bit of play back and forth, and Estima atempt at an arm drag to single leg which got Jacare on his back and from which he recovered back to his feet. Looked like Jacare was saving his energy for the long game while Braulio is keeping active. BE into the butterfly guard, with now Jacare trying to pass, Estima tries a footlack and Jacare escapes.
A tournament that comes around every two years, the ADCC Submission Grappling tournament is a event that features some of the best grapplers around, all fighting for one prize of being recognized as the best grappler in the world. With an all star roster already lined up to compete this year, the event promises to be one to remember. Amongst the group of competitors is an individual that will be making his debut in the under 65k featherweight division.
Hailing from Plymouth in the South West part of Britain is overseas sensation Tom Barlow who is a brown belt under Braulio Estima. Barlow began his BJJ journey in 2006. He was inspired to pursue the art after seeing the Legendary Royce Gracie dominate his opponents back in the early UFC days. <~Read more~>
On Tuesday 2/1/11 Braulio Estima underwent cervical artificial disc replacement surgery to correct two prolapsed disks, C4 & C5. Dr. Peter Hamlyn of Princess Grace Hospital in London performed the surgery. Braulio is a 3x world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion.
In June 2010 Braulio injured his neck in a weird training accident; while going for a takedown his partner countered and he landed on his forehead with his partner on top. He was paralyzed for a few minutes and spent three days in intensive care. He was off the mats for four months.
He surprised everyone when he announced he would compete in the IBJJF European Open January 30th. His surgery was scheduled for February 1st. Braulio was moved to compete by the passing of his friend Steve Fan.
Absolute Finals: Cláudio Calasans defeats Bráulio Estima, by Advantages
Cláudio Calasans had beat Bráulio Estima in the 83 KG final and with it came the $8K in victory money. With the Absolute Championship on the line and $20K for the winner both competitors were vigilant with Calasans over Bráulio to win the title.
65kg: - Rafael Mendes defeats Guilherme Mendes, brother beats his brother 4 points to 2. Both brothers got tot he finals through submitting their challengers quickly in the semi's. Refael had 2 fights to Guilherme's 3 in the path to the finals.
74kg: - Gilbert Durinho defeats Claudio Caloquinha, by Shoulder Sweep for the $8K money.
83kg: - Cláudio Calasans defeats Bráulio Estima: Estima ahead on point is swept in the last 10 seconds and loses by Penalties
92kg: - Alexandro Ceconi defeats Rômulo Barral (Former and defending Champ), 3 pts to 2, by Guard Pass with 10 seconds remainng
92kg+: - Ricardo Demente defeats Gabriel Vella, by Sweep in the final minute of contest