Come, read about Tanner Rice of Rice Brothers BJJ the youngest American to acheive his blackbelt from Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles at 19.
Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next. - Ben Carson
At 15 years old Tanner Rice had a huge responsibility. He was running the kids program at is family’s gym. Shakespeare recaptured the words of Henry the IV with the quote, “Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!/Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Some are born to be great and others have it thrust upon them. At the age of 19 Tanner Rice became the youngest and first American born black belt promoted by Charles “Cobrinha” Maciel (Alliance). At such a young age, when things are thrust upon him, Rice seems to handle them with aplomb. BJJ Legends talks to Professor Tanner Rice about some of his greatest matchups, the effectiveness of performance enhancement testing, and his thoughts on well-rounded practitioners.
BJJL: You are very young, have accomplished a great deal, and have a prestigious lineage. From the day you started training at 6 until now, what led you down this path?
TR: At a younger age my father (Rod Rice) started training me and my brothers, it was hard to begin with because it wasn't like it is now where we had a lot of training partners. All I had was my older brothers and my dad at the time and having older brothers to train with there is never any mercy when it comes to rolling so I got smashed on a lot. Getting smashed also became discouraging and I didn’t believe that Jiu-Jitsu was for me, but my dad kept telling me to proceed and push through the hard times so I owe it to him for who I am today.
BJJL: Tanquinho Mendes and Megaton Dias, two monumental wins for you at 19. Both seasoned, highly regarded, what were your thoughts pre and post match-ups?
TR: I had just got my black belt when I was about to fight Augusto Mendes and I had just watched him fight 2 months prior at the U.S Open and he won his division and open weight and before that I was always fond of his amazing base on top so when I found out I was fighting Tanquinho Mendes I'm not going to lie, I was freaking out! He had just beaten my past professor Cobrinha and at the time Cobrinha was still murdering me in training, so that added to the nerves a little bit but once I got out there and started fighting the nerves went away and I fought pretty well. Afterwards I was in disbelief that I did as well as I did.
BJJL: Because of your father (Rod Rice) is BJJ the family business?
TR: When I turned 15 my father opened a gym and I began teaching kids and he taught the adults.
BJJL: You spent 1yr in Brazil when you were 16, what was that experience like?
TR: I went to Brazil with a friend Carlos Diego Ferreira and stayed at his house and began training at the school he trained at his whole life Club Pina, the experience was amazing. I had to grow up quickly! I had never been away from my dad more then a week so it was hard but I enjoyed the hard training and the culture.
BJJL: What do you think constitutes a well-rounded practitioner to be and do you exhibit those characteristics?
TR: I envy Leandro Lo’s game the most out of everyone, but I think Rodolfo Vieira and Lucas Lepri have the all around best Jiu-Jitsu in the world. I think to be great in Jiu-jitsu you have to be able to understand the game and make your own game whether it be on top or bottom. I think I have a lot to learn and figure out still and always will.
BJJL: What rank was the most challenging for you?
TR: Black Belt will always be the most challenging rank for anyone that has reached the black belt level and competed.
BJJL: Would you like BJJ to go back to it’s origins no time limit, submission only?
TR: I like both styles of competition submission only and points/submission.
BJJL: How does all the traveling impact you mentally/physically? How do you stay focused when you can’t be with your family during those important life events and vice versa? They can’t follow you around the world?
TR: Traveling to compete takes its toll if you aren't used to it but the more you do it the more you create a sleep/eating regimen for yourself that doesn't make it as bad. I actually like competing on my own without my team or family around I feel like I stay more focused and more relaxed. Sometimes having my team/family around gives me anxiety it's gotten better over the years but sometimes I feel like it still alters my performance.
BJJL: Steroids/performance enhancement abuse and the repercussions are discussed more in traditional sports to include wrestling. What are your thoughts on how it is handled in the BJJ realm or the IBJJF’s policies and procedures on the subject matter?
TR: I think IBJJF testing for steroids is great but I think they should test the athletes at more events instead of just worlds. There are too many ways to cycle on and off without getting caught. Year round testing would be great for the athletes and for Jiu-Jitsu itself to grow as more of a known sport around the world.
BJJL: What’s your training regimen like? How does it differ day to day from when you’re getting ready for a tournament?
TR: I train/ workout for 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night. When a competition is coming up I just bring up the intensity of my training and try to push harder then the day before no matter what.
BJJL: Would you and your brothers consider starting a career in MMA fighter?
TR: MMA has never been my thing nor my brothers so you'll see us on the BJJ scene for years to come.
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you started BJJ?
TR: My proudest thing I've taken from Jiu-Jitsu is our kids program. We have a lot of great kids that work their butts off everyday and they win a lot of competitions. You will soon see them start to shake up the juvenile divisions very soon.
BJJL: Any BJJ match you would like that hasn’t happened and why?
TR: I think either Leandro Lo vs Rafael Mendes or Rafael Mendes vs Lucas Lepri would be amazing to watch because of the clash of styles.
BJJL: Any rematches you would like and why?
TR: Anyone I've lost to has been the most challenging fight. I would love a rematch with anyone I've lost to.
BJJL: Kid’s Pans is less than a month away, does your gym have any contenders?
TR: I have 10 kids competing at Pans.
BJJL: What are your plans/goals for 2016 (camps…super fights…seminars)?
TR: My plan for this year is to win as much as I can. I'm really focused on training and competing right now. I'm always down for seminars but I need to focus on my goals mainly.
Professor Tanner Rice made history as an American practitioner at the tender age of 19. A chain of events began many years ago that set him on his current path. Rice still has plenty left to show us but one can’t help but wonder after all that Rice has done (and he hasn’t even reached his prime), who will Rice Brothers BJJ unleash on the scene next?
Your friends will believe in your potential, your enemies will make you live up to it.-Tim Fargo
Take a minute to read about one of the most controversial figures in BJJ, Caio Terra. Just like Frank Sinatra, he has carved an extraordinarily unique path by doing things his way.
Caio Terra's standing denotes him as one of the most prolific rooster weight grapplers in BJJ. Terra, (unlike many of his lightweight counterparts) competes in absolute divisions and has noteworthy victories against black belts twice his size in Gi and No Gi competitions. He is known for his sweeps and back takes (more than most lightweight grapplers) as well as, for his triangle, armbar, and omoplata attacks from the bottom. Terra is one of the best in the game today for a plethora of reasons and his half-guard game is undeniable and studied by the masses. BJJLegends sits with Terra to talk about his success and why being a professor has become the most important thing to him.
“The will to conquer is the first condition of victory”-Ferdinand Foch
As a kid growing up, Caio Terra was led to the sport of BJJ by his mother as a method of self defense that has led to a life long passion. In 2015 the Caio Terra Association had a very prominent year. 8 top male No Gi Grapplers competed for $17,500 in prize money at 5 Super League August 2, 2015. Yuri Simoes of Caio Terra Association was one of the competitors.
Kaniela Kahanui is the talented Cal State East Bay linebacker that also dominates in BJJ, he is one to continue to watch. Terra's gym has a growing list of talent to look for in the coming years in Paulo Gabriel, Ryan Walsh, Rudson Mateus, Benjamin Silva, etc. When it comes to grappling Gi or No Gi, it is a point of preference in and BJJ. “Grappling” describes techniques that use holds and leverage, such as clinches, escapes, pins controlling skills, sweeps, submission holds, reversals, takedowns, throws and turnovers. Terra has proven time and time again that skill not size is the most important thing when it comes to grappling and he is a consistent performer in open divisions in both Gi and No Gi competitions.
“Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.”-William Arthur Ward. Over the last 5 years the evolution of Terra's game is part of a natural order. Terra believes the more you know about Jiu-Jitsu, the more ideas you will have to create with and the more you will continue to adapt. Training and attending classes is how you consistently improve according to Terra, competition helps you feel a different experience and deal with scenarios and emotions you won't get to experience in a gym setting. Technique is key, "without good technique you can only go so far, you will never reach your full potential, and that goes for everything you do in life. However, if you are happy with what you do, there is never a plateau."
Terra is well known for teaching and competing in the BJJ world. He also is also a philanthropist, the Godfather of a social project in Brazil, Leoes de Juda. Founded on April 24, 2009 by Thiago Dias (head of Caio Terra Association Brazil) and Fernando Halfeld, Leoes de Juda is located in Juiz de Fora. Through Jiu Jitsu it is their hope to instill discipline, ethics, respect and a love for their communities. Integrating sport with religion, it is their mission to help the youth deal with daily problems they face such as violence and drugs. To participate in the youth project, the students must be properly enrolled in school and make good grades. More important than how they behave on the mats is how they behave off. http://www.ctbjja.com/leoes-de-juda/
Injuries of any kind are a challenge for a consistent competitor. Delays in training and training setbacks detract from a routine, and when you are the Professor the pressure to be present for your students can be overwhelming. Terra suffers from chronic headaches/migraines, instructing under those circumstances would be impractical. "Training with a headache is never as fun, but my biggest problem is that when I do so I start having vertigo and it's impossible to train or do anything with vertigo. I started having them in the end of 2013 and nowadays I can control it better, unfortunately I have to stop training immediately so my symptoms don't get worse."
The issue of equal pay became a very hot topic in BJJ and more people seem to have an actual opinion on it. Well Terra thinks the issue is less about equal and about getting paid period. The thought that one can live off only training and tournment money in his opinion is not realistic and not a good retirment plan. So the question is now should people be talking about equal pay or a 401K? If you are training and traveling and you really think of how a 9 to 5 works Terra has a point, how much are you worth? You are doing what you love but people that do what they love still get reasonable benefits including healthcare and a retirement plan.
The Caio Terra Associationis successful and Terra has created a very close knit organization where he can remain connected to his people. "Jiu-jitsu was very hard for me, I was too small and things never went my way when I first started. There is nothing good about being a bad loser. So my greatest achievement is that I persisted through hard times and didn't quit BJJ. I want to create a really good gym, not just BJJ wise but with only good people in it, where everyday I'm happy to go to work."
As the new year begins many already have set goals in mind and it is easy to get tunnel vision. Hopefully, people are looking toward a bigger picture and no matter how things pan out in a season, the journey will get you to where you ultimately want to be. Caio Terra is making sure that his ultimate goal is realized, “going into 2015 No Gi Worlds from the outside everything looked the same but for me it was completely different. As we were training I looked at our team and saw in their eyes the same dreams I had when I was younger, to be a champion. 2015 was a defining year in my life, I realized that although I like to compete I like coaching more, because I love our team.”
“One can easily forget his destination when walking in a marvelous path towards his destination! The attraction of the path can be much stronger than the attraction of the target!” –Mehmet Murat Ildan
Read the review: Datsusara Hemp Combat comes with effective rough gi rash for your training partners but unfortunately this wears off after a handfull of washes. Its a specific gi for a specific grappler.
To leave the corporate workers life.
Whether in combat, on vacation, taking a hike or simply dealing with a daily commute, Datsusara has the gear to get you through. Datsusara gear is not for everyone – if “making do” is good enough for you, then we are not your brand. Our gear may not be essential, but you may discover it’s the gear that you’ve always wanted.
If living your life with purpose outside the cubicle is important, Datsusara is for you.
A snippet from the DSgear website.
DATSUSARA Is a Japanese phrase that expresses the desire “to leave the salaried/corporate worker's life".
Datsusara’s mission is the creation of extremely high quality, functional gear made with hemp textiles. Datsusara gear features hemp for a multitude of reasons. In short it is the most versatile and useful natural fiber on the planet. It is naturally anti-microbial, strong, breathable and very environmentally friendly.
Let’s get to the review.
WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
100% Hemp Combat Gi
I will be reviewing the A3 Natural White Gi
I am 92 kgs and 184cm tall, or 202llbs and 6’1
Made of durable 100% Hemp
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu style weave and cut
Jacket made of a 17oz (580gsm) long fibre weave
UVA Foam collar.
Reinforced stitching for strength and durability
Pants made of 11oz (376gsm) long fiber twill
Braided cord draw string, easy to get in and out of
Reinforced stitching for strength and durability
Machine washable: Due to the properties of the hemp blend the gi actually gets softer and more comfortable with each wash while retaining its strength, it wears in rather than wearing out
Machine wash cold
Do not iron or dry clean
Have the possibility to shrink a little depending on wash method.
FIRST LOOK IMPRESSIONS:
At first look I was a little turned off. The natural white colour of the Gi to me gave off an unwashed look. Upon feeling the material I found it to be quite rough and when I put the jacket on I noticed almost straight away that this material was the type that wasn’t going to be suitable for me unless I had a rash guard on under it. I then had a look through the care instructions and noticed a recommendation to wash the Gi twice before use. Off the laundry I went. After the first wash I pulled it out and had a feel before hanging it out to dry, and noticed a little softening had occurred. It didn’t take as long as I expected to dry and with one more wash with some added fabric softener it felt softer again. Once it dried I put the jacket on and instantly noticed the difference, although I still felt the need to put a rash guard on.
FIRST WORKOUT AND ROLL:
The fit of the Gi was nice although I did find it a little loose around my shoulders and noticed that the jacket slid of my shoulders quite a bit, this led me to develop a conscience about my broadness and led me to destroy my shoulders in the weights workouts that followed so thank you Datsusara for that. This was the first Hemp Gi I had seen and was very excited to roll in it. People within my club have started to notice that ever 4 or so weeks I have been bringing out a new gi and begun to ask questions. I let them all know that it was 100% hemp and as you could imagine the jokes began to come. I didn’t realise that not only do I train at an amazing club with some awesome people but we also have quite a lot of comedic talent with in the club. I think some of them may have missed there calling, well except for Zach who actually does quite a bit of stand up on the local scene. One recommendation was that we close all the doors to the gym and I do hip escapes up and down the mats for a while and see what happens. Back to the Gi. After a gruelling 2 hour session on the mats I had a new respect for Hemp material it was quite a warm night and with the rashie on I was surprised how cool I stayed and how soft the Gi got in just the one session. The Gi has a total combined weight of around the 2kg mark which I found quite nice.
Rolling in this Gi was a fun experience its sturdy design and ability to breathe was great, however the heat in the gym combined with the rash guard seen me sweating up a storm. After a few weeks of rolling in this Gi it began to really grow on me, however with the warmer weather I think it is definitely a cooler climate gi, for me anyway. The feedback from my training partners was also all positive however the one thing that came up early in the piece was the roughness of the Gi if it was on their face, these complaints started to disappear the more it was washed. The colour of the Gi was also noted with a 50/50 response, me personally it grew on me.
WASH AND FIT:
With the washing of the Gi the Datsusara website states that due to the properties of the hemp blend the Gi actually gets softer and more comfortable with each wash while retaining its strength, it wears in rather than out. I honestly thought this was a marketing phrase however I found this statement to be 100% true. Wash after wash the Gi got more comfortable over time. I wash all of my Gi according to the instructions on the tag and with this it states 30c wash.
1. Will not shrink on you.
2. Customer service you receive will be amazing. Chris literally shipped this Gi half way across the world and checked in to ensure I received it.
3. Gets softer and softer after each wash bring you to new levels of comfort each training session.
4. Hemp is environmentally friendly.
The colour seems to put a few people off.
The material can be found rather rough in the first few sessions.
You will notice all the comedians come out when you mention the 100% Hemp.
Over all this Gi is a high quality Gi. This one will be either one you like or you don’t. If you are not a natural white fan you also have the option to purchase the Black Combat Gi which looks quite nice. All in all this was a great Gi to train in however the Gi rash that came from it in the early phase before many washes may upset your more “sensitive” training partners. If you are in a cooler climate then this Gi would be perfect its medium weight and ability to breathe would make it a great training necessity on the chillier evenings. Overall I award the Combat Gi 3 Gis out of 5.
If you would like to take a look at the other gear Datsusara have to offer why not head over to www.dsgear.com to take a look at the combat Gi a whole lot more 100% hemp gear that they have to offer.
Ground Fighter specializes in unique, creative, and minimalist designs on products made with the highest quality materials. Our clothing is durable, comfortable, fashionable, and doesn’t cost a fortune. We know you have lots of choices when it comes to gear. Our hope is that you’re drawn to us because of the passion and creativity we put into our products and that you’ll stay with us because of our quality and customer service. This week`s review of Ground Fighters Inaugural Gi the much anticipated "Northern Lights".
A snippet from the GroundFighter.net website.
Ground Fighter Grappling Gear Ready Set Roll
Ground fighting is its own unique culture made up of passionate enthusiasts around the world who thrive for the battle on the mat. Ground Fighter is an athletic apparel brand founded on that same passion, created specifically for grapplers by grapplers. We’re lifelong ground fighting fanatics who in 2009 decided that we were tired of waiting around for a brand to produce quality clothing that matched our style, budget, and love for the sport.
Let’s get to the review.
WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
Ground Fighters “Northern Lights” Inaugural Gi Release I will be reviewing the A3 White Gi I am 92 kgs and 184cm tall, or 202llbs and 6’1
Jacket Details • 420 GM pearl weave top (single piece) • Sublimated, moisture-wicking shoulder/vent liners • EVA foam collar • Woven taping inside of jacket skirt • Reinforced stitching in high wear areas • Green contrast stitching
Pants Detail • 10 oz drill pants • Pearl weave gusset • Reinforced knee padding • Green rope drawstring with 6 belt loops FIRST LOOK IMPRESSIONS: When I opened the package from Ground Fighters I was pleasantly surprised to see a handwritten note from the Vice President of the brand wishing me the best with my new Northern Lights Gi along with a few stickers and a bar of handmade Soap. Instantly I took a liking to the brand as it is rare to find that level of customer service in the competitive market of fight gear. First look at the Gi with its bright white with green contrast stitching was definitely a very unique look but it was the bright colours of the Northern Lights in the top half of the jacket that really caught my eye. If you, like me also have children that train it would look equally as good on either a boy or girl and Ground Fighter have now released a child’s version of this Gi. When I felt the Gi for the first time I was supremely surprised to feel the softness of the collar the Jacket itself was a little stiff so I threw it in the wash before line drying it. No shrinkage occurred at all. Then it was time to put the Gi in its Northern Lights Gi bag and head of and train.
WORKOUT AND ROLLING PERFORMANCE: The fit of the Gi was quite comfortable, and after the wash the jacket was very soft. When I got this Gi it was coming to the end of winter here in Australia and my first night training in it was a touch colder than usual. On this night I decided I would put a rash guard under the Gi, which for me is a rare occurrence. I am not sure if it was because of this but I found that the Jacket was constantly sliding of my shoulders, which during rolls I found rather annoying.
During my second and further sessions in the Gi I have not worn a rash guard and the slipping off the shoulder has not occurred. The more I have trained in this Gi the more I have come to love it and out of all of the Gis I own this one has worked the way to my number one pick for training. Due to its lightweight design I packed this Gi into my bag when I went on a four week trip overseas just recently, the design of the Gi caught many eyes as I was asked about it time and time again and was happy to send them to Groundfighter.net for further info. Rolling in this Gi was a pleasurable experience its light weight and ability to breathe meant I didn’t find myself overheating or sweating as much as normal. The feedback from my training partners was also all positive with the softness of the collar being noted time and time again.
When I get my next competition Gi I will be definitely looking towards another Northern Lights based purely on the comfort of the Jacket and softness of the collar, combined with the light weight construction and the fact that is IBJJF approved I believe this Gi would rival any of the larger brands. Being the first Gi released by Ground Fighter Grappling Gear I for one am excited about what is on the horizon for this exciting brand out of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
FIRST WASH AND FIT: With this Gi the website states clearly never to tumble dry, which suits me fine I still can’t bring myself to do it even though some brands say it is safe on low heat. The Northern Lights Gi is very light in weight and when hung out correctly I have found is dry almost 100% over night.
Even with the Gis that say wash in cold water there have been times when some of these Gis have shrunk and I am pleased to report that this Gi has not shrunk at all in the month and a bit I have been training in it. I aim to train in all of my review Gis at least 3 times a week where possible. The Northern Lights has been more then put through its paces and has handled itself very well. There have been many occasions over the past 5 weeks where blood has been spilt on it, both a combination of my own and my training partners (more often than not it is my own). When this has happened I have put in the wash straight away on COLD cycle and not one stain has locked itself into the Gi, it has managed to hold its pristine white colour really well.
As mentioned earlier the Gi has not shrunk at all since its first use/wash, and still fits nicely.
THE GOOD: 1. Will not shrink on you after a wash allegedly even if put in the dryer. 2. Eye Catching Northern Lights Design printed on the inside of the Jacket. 3. Light Weight Construction and IBJJF approved. 5. Remains white and doesn’t hold contaminations of you rigorous training sessions.
THE BAD: 1. Priced a little higher on the market (but the customer service you will receive makes it worthwhile). 2. Has potential to slip of shoulders during training (mine at least when worn over rash guard).
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is the second light weight Gi I have tested out and am extremely happy with its performance. The Northern Lights Gi has become my number one pick out of my collection so far. If I didn’t have a competition Gi patched up or I competed a little more, I would have a Northern Lights Gi patched up and ready to roll. I look forward to training more in this Gi as the weather starts to heat up down under. Its Lightweight construction makes it great for the travelling practitioner/competitor. If you would like to take a look at this Gi in a little more detail head over to www.groundfighter.net. While you’re there be sure to check out the rest of the range that this sensational brand has on offer.
After two over doses, the last one landing him in a coma Devin Chasten started BJJ in earnest. After a broken neck and spine surgery in 2011 Devin received his brown belt this October from Dustin “Clean” Dense. Read the rest of the interview.
Success through hard work is the merit that defines a champion both on and off the mat. Yet being a champion doesn’t come easy as it takes struggle and the will to work to reach one’s goals. October 1st 2015 marked a monumental day for grappling practitioner Devin “Pirata” Chasten of Kansas City, Mo with his promotion to BJJ brown belt under world renowned Dustin “Clean” Dense. This pivotal achievement wasn’t accomplished overnight as Chasten’s rollercoaster nine year journey showcases the results of never giving up and always striving to become better. Devin openly touches on in this exclusive interview with us at BJJ Legends.
Your instructor Dustin “Clean” Denes visited your gym Bodyfit KC to do a seminar on October 1st. In addition he surprised you with a well-deserved promotion to BJJ brown belt. Would you care to touch on your thoughts and feelings about getting promoted that night?
Devin Chasten: It was an incredible feeling with a lot of emotion behind it for sure. He gave a long speech before the promotion at the end of the seminar, touching on a lot of things about our relationship, the beginning of our training together, so on and so forth. It was an incredible speech that left me almost tearing up to hear how he felt about me and about this promotion, a moment I will never forget.
Achieving this feat was by no means an easy task. Reflecting on your journey when you think of the word “struggle” why is it a good thing?
DC: Struggle is a great thing in hindsight; it is an opportunity to grow. Without a struggle to overcome, you can’t get better. That’s how I looked at it, and believe me I had my fair share of struggles, just as many have. Some people could look at it as a road block and shy away, I tried to stay positive and take it head on. Without my struggles and adversities, I wouldn’t be who I am today or have the knowledge I have. It made me change the way I train, look at Jiu-Jitsu, and my approach to the way I do it. At the end of the day makes you so much better, because you have to try different things and you have to get out of your comfort zone, which is somewhat the essence of Jiu-Jitsu. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Talk to us about some of the hurdles that transformed you to the man you are today?
DC: I’ve had many, but a few really stand out, I started Jiu-Jitsu not because it looked fun to me, but I needed a way to channel my energy in a positive way. I started training seriously after my second overdose, one I barely survived. I was in a sort of a coma for about a week, when I finally came out and realized my situation and how bad I was getting, I called my friend at the time and told him I need to do this seriously, I need to have direction in my life because if I didn’t I knew I wouldn’t last long once I got out. So in a serious way, Jiu-Jitsu saved my life for real. Another serious hurdle was when I had broken my neck in January of 2009, without really knowing it. I trained that way for six months before I Finally went to the doctor’s office about it, after my right pec, triceps, and forearm had completely atrophied. I had nerve damage from my shoulder to my finger and couldn’t feel my right index finger. The whole time Clean made me push through, sometimes training 8 hour days for days straight pushing through the injury because we thought it was just my arm, not my neck. For the next 6 months after I did physical therapy, cortisone shots, everything we could fix it to no avail, leading to Surgery December 2009. All the while, I never stopped training. I took 3 months off after surgery, came back to train 3 months and competed in the IBJJF world championships my first tournament back. I’m now dealing with spine issues in my lower back, which at one point about a year ago I was having troubles walking or even getting out of bed, but with the knowledge from the years of dealing with these situations and with the help of a fantastic physical therapist I have managed to recover, train hard and work around it without it affecting me too much.
Everyone’s journey has reason it began leading to you experiencing your share of ups and downs. Tell us a little about how you got started in BJJ?
DC: I was living a very hostile life before I started Jiu-Jitsu, and I always watched the UFC and always thought I could do it. Growing up, if I wasn’t skipping school I was getting in fights to get kicked out, I had lot of anger so before I even put on a gi, I fought MMA on a few shows on a local circuit. I was 18, fresh out of high school and fresh out of the hospital. I got released out of the hospital in October 2006 and took my first fight a month later with only a month of \"MMA\" training and a few years of high school wrestling experience. I got the W by TKO in 1:33 of the first. I had two more fights, the latter one where I had a pretty serious eye injury to my good eye, I say good eye because I am actually blind in my right eye already and have been since I was a year old. I made a full recovery from the injury in that fight and realized MMA was not a smart choice, and that was right around when I met Clean and immerse myself full time Jiu-Jitsu with him. The rest is history.
Dustin Dense is known in the BJJ Community as a respected and intense individual. Tell us about of your experience training under him and most importantly what you learned from him that’s helped shape your life on and off the mat?
DC: Intensity was an understatement; it was downright insane training from the beginning. We met Clean when he lived in Missouri for a short period of time but when he moved back to Florida he would come back once sometimes twice a month and we would drill and train for 6-7 days straight, 8-10 hours a day. He would try to kill us. I remember guys getting vertigo from the sessions, most would come once and we would never see them again. At some points I would have to peel my gi off my skin, leaving what looked like bed sores from training so much without any breaks. The old Clean, he wanted us to be killing machines. My friend David Vava and I used to wake up at 4 am and drive 2 hours to a gym he would teach at when he lived here, to train for 2 hours then I would come back home and go to community college (which I eventually dropped out of so I could train with Clean more). Those two hours were nothing but us getting smashed as bad as we could by guys who Clean had waiting for us, it wouldn’t stop until Clean was satisfied. He was crazy, and we didn’t know anything different.
We were young, stubborn, and wanted his respect. I remember after of those sessions I went to shake Clean’s hand and he looked me dead in the eyes and said \"Your Jiu-Jitsu it shit. You are shit. Don’t come down here and train unless you’re going to bring something better\". He shrugged my handshake off and I left. He was hazing us, seeing if we were worthy of his time. We kept going back until we earned his trust, and we eventually did. After training for a few years I moved to South Florida for 3 months to live with him and train at his academy he opened, there I got my purple belt that was in 2011. As always, every day was war and you had to be the last man standing or suffer the consequences. I look back, after going through all of that I knew that nothing else in life could be that hard, which made me more successful in everything else I did. He showed me how to work hard, how to push past any point of wanting to quit, how there was a way through any situation no matter how intense. I owe almost everything in my life to that man, for all the hard times he was always there for me, always believed in me and never let me give up. I am forever grateful to Dustin Denes.
Are there any other individuals that have helped in your growth in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
DC: I also cross train at KCBJJ. Owner Jason Bircher, Travis Conley, Taylor Kettler and Carlos Dallis are my main training partners there. Although Clean is my master, Jason Bircher and Travis Conley have been mentors of mine as well. Travis is my go to guy, one of my best friends who keeps it real and says to me what I need to hear, and pushes me beyond my limits in the training sessions. We have a tight knit community here in KC; they all want the best for me as I do for them.
Switching positions in your current as an instructor at Bodyfit KC how do you use your experience to inspire and help your students?
DC: I feel like I’ve been down a special and unique path, whether it’s been what I’ve been through with Clean, what I’ve been through with injuries and life in general that I feel I can relate with just about anyone on some level which helps as an instructor. Due to severe injuries I’ve had to change my game so much that I’ve learned a diverse style, so it’s easy to show people something in all aspects of the game. I don’t think I’m great at any one thing, just a jack of all trades because I’ve had to learn and switch my style with each injury, which is a great thing because it made me open my mind to so much more and not be stubborn on something and closed minded to the rest, which translates so well to teaching. I love teaching and interacting, training with students. It makes you stay on top of your game and relevant, I’m always reviewing things I worked on for years, it’s awesome.
Finally with some much accomplished in your life what does the future hold for Devin Chasten?
DC: As long as I’m able to train, I know whatever is in store in the future will be great. Of course I want to go and win big championships, but the journey along the way is what I live for. Now as a new brown belt, I’m ready to come out of the gate strong, compete as much as possible but also learn and enjoy the road. With age, development and experience comes wisdom, and I’m ready for more and whatever the future holds!
Devin Chasten Shout Outs: David Vava at Bodyfit Kansas City, Jason Bircher and Travis Conley at KCBJJ, Anyone and everyone who has ever had a positive impact in my life in Jiu-Jitsu and off the mat, I owe it all to you. Finally Last and not least, Dustin \"Clean\" Denes. I owe him more than I can ever explain.