Holding nothing back Dana Moore opens about his story in this exclusive interview with us at BJJ Legends as it looks showcase the true meaning of overcoming adversity.
Everyone has a story assembled from their past, present, and hopeful future experiences. Being in the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu community one will come across various individuals from all walks of life each with their own fabled tale marked with joyous accolades as well as unfavorable trials and tribulations.
24 year old Dana Moore has recently encountered his share of misfortune that has altered his life. A BJJ blue belt under Grant Collins it seemed like yesterday where this ambitious grappling practitioner was living life happily on and off the mat. With life going so smoothly one would figure what bad could go wrong, until a catastrophic construction accident change everything leaving Moore paralyzed and wheel chair bound. Nevertheless with this dire struggle has risen an ambition for progress which Moore looks to accomplish through hard work and perseverance.
Share with the readers a little about yourself and your BJJ background? Dana Moore: My story starts a long time ago actually when I was a kid and my cousin and I rented UFC 1 and watched it for the first time and thought it was the best thing ever. We were both hooked from there on it and my interest for bjj and MMA started. It took me awhile to actually begin a traditional BJJ path. I always wanted to start BJJ but in high school and college I was a full time athlete pretty much and couldn't commit to it. So, after college I wanted to begin my BJJ journey now that I had no commitments and could put everything I had into training and competing. I found Optimus through my friend Brett Weekely's recommendation. Since he knew much more than I did about gyms in the area, he told me to go to Optimus and train under Professor Grant Collins because he's the best and comes from the best Mauricio "Tinguinha" Mariano dos Santos. I remember the first day I went in there, I had just went surfing at salt creek and figured I would stop by Optimus just to check it out. I stopped in and signed up for my first intro lesson to get things going. Once I took that first lesson I was hooked. I would go to every class offered that I could attend for the beginners. Whether it be everyday to twice a day I was there training and just soaking it all in. And when I wasn't there, I was Watching YouTube videos all day at home. So, this went on for about 3 months of nonstop training and learning I the martial art. Then Professor Grant approached me and asked me if I wanted to help out and teach classes and I obviously felt so honored and had to say yes. I never knew how rewarding teaching BJJ could be. It was amazing to see the little kid's progress and when they finally get the moves down. I couldn't help being proud of the little guys and I would get so fired up like they were one of my own. I remember one kid in particular who would try to do a gravity sweep over and over and just couldn't get the hang of until. I swear it took him over a month to get it. Then boom, one day he hits it right and his game went to a whole new level because he was hitting the whole class with that thing and you just can't help but be proud of the hard work and determination he put in to achieve something that might seem minor to other people, but to us BJJ practitioners, it's a big deal.
What would you say has been the biggest benefit you've received from being a participant in BJJ? Dana Moore: The biggest benefit from BJJ I received is all the great people I've met and become friends with. And meeting Professor Grant and all the things that he's done for me and taught me, I can't thank him enough. I've made so many great friends and gone through so many struggles with fellow teammates, you can't help but to become almost brothers when you train with and push yourself to the limit with the same people every day. We are all pushing each other to get better, and whether you have a great day on the mat or terrible day, you still learn something and appreciate having someone to train with and battle it out with.
Martial Art endeavors certainly have a way of imitating the joys and struggles we go through off the mat. Not too long ago a tragedy made its way into your life. Can you talk to us about the incident which led to your current condition? Dana Moore: it was Thursday November 21, 2013. It was a cold rainy day and I didn't know if we were going to drill that day because of the whether and when I got word that we were, I didn't mind it at all because I liked working and I got to work with my cousin, who is like a brother to me, so I never had a problem with work. It was a usual day of drilling, and I went to load the next drill pipe from a truck bed to the loader and in order to get the 300-400 pound pipe from being horizontal truck bed to vertical in the loader, which is on a different truck right next to the other one, you have to use hydraulic lifts. So I put the clamps on and it's starting to go up, in looking back and forth at both ends when all of the sudden everything goes blank for 2 seconds, the pipe falls on me. Next thing I know I'm holding myself up in between the two trucks and I see my cousin running over with a look on his face that I have never seen before, he later on told me that when he saw me there holding myself up that he literally thought I was dying right there in front of him, which would explain the look on his face. I'm sitting there holding myself up and he asks me if I'm ok and I said no I can't feel my legs and tell him to call 911 and turn everything off. I didn't know what was wrong with me but I knew it wasn't good. After he does everything he comes back over and helps lay down and props me up to where he's supporting me neck and keeping me straight. Ambulance comes I go to the hospital do all the tests, MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, and I broke my thoracic 6-7 vertebrae and suffered spinal cord damaged leaving me paralyzed for the chest down. I had surgery then transfer to their rehabilitation clinic after a few days and begin that process. People are usually in rehab for 2 months with my injury, and I was out in a month. And began my new journey outside of the hospital and outpatient rehab.
Looking back at your life before this trial and where you are now how has life changed? Dana Moore: Life has changed in many ways. I have to do many things different now. Yes, something's are significantly more challenging and can be very frustrating at times but when I look back at everything I'm happy to be alive and lucky my injury wasn't much worse. The obvious biggest physical change is that I'm unable to walk. So, getting adapted to the wheelchair and maneuvering it around is different. Mostly it's just the little things that are more apparent now, like getting dressed or being able to fit through doorways. Mentally it's hard to say where I'm at because I don't know what my life will be like in a year. I could get better or I could stay the same as now, but either way I'm going to live life to the fullest and not regret a single thing that's happened. It was a freak accident and you just have to play the hand your dealt. I can't control it so just have to move on. I know God has a plan for me, so I'm trusting in him to show me the way. But, I'm staying positive and couldn't ask for more support from my family, girlfriend, friends, and everyone else out there that I've met or know.
How are you keeping yourself motivated during this tough time? Dana Moore: I'm not going to say it's easy to stay positive, but as of right now I'm so motivated and I'm slowly getting better it's hard not to be. I'm doing intensive physical therapy at VIP NeuroRehabilitation Center in San Diego 5 days a week and couldn't be happier. They have the most state of the art equipment and such a knowledgeable staff. I am recovering and my body is getting some feeling and movement back. It's still early on in the process so it's hard not to stay positive and hopeful I can make a full recovery. I'm not guaranteed that I will make any recovery even past this point but all I can do is keep working hard and praying. Other things thy help me keep positive are the people around me. My mom and girlfriend have been here for me every day and help me out as much as they can. My mom brought me lunch and dinner every day so I didn't have to eat hospital food just to name one thing she's done. She should be the one with an article on her for how much she has done for me. She's the real hero here. My girlfriend stayed with me in the hospital every single night I was there. It's easy to work hard knowing you've got someone like that in your corner. They are always keeping me positive and help keep me up when I do have some harder days. I also just have to trust in God that he has a plan for me and I will recover as much as I'm supposed to. Just have to keep fighting and praying.
Knowing in your heart things are going to get better what are you looking forward to when you recover? Dana Moore: I look forward to each day as I recover and I'm not putting life on Hold while I go through this. I'm living each day to the fullest and still enjoying things. I think once I'm through this process the thing I would look forward to the most is living a purposeful life to the fullest and helping out others going through my situation as much as possible. I know it's not an easy road and if I can make one step in that process any easier I would want to do so. It's difficult to say when my recovery ends as well. Some people are 10 years out of injury and still getting better so recovery with spinal cord injuries is ever changing.
Finally when people look at your story, what do you want them to learn from it and also the man Dana Moore? Dana Moore: I would just want people to know that I am the same person before this injury. And no matter what comes at you in life, you just have to keep fighting. Never give up hope and faith and that nothing is impossible.
Any final thoughts or anyone you would like to thank before we wrap up this interview? Dana Moore: I would just like to thank my entire family, girlfriend, friends, my BJJ family, the countless amounts of people that have helped me along this process, and most importantly God, without him none of this would be possible. Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens."
Getting to the root of the problem seems to be the headline crusade which touches on the year in review for our martial arts community in 2013. Negativity has without question surfaced rapidly in the BJJ and MMA community and has brought everyone to a standstill, pondering the burning question “Where Did We Go Wrong?”
Promoting its campaign against the ongoing corruption “Mixed Martial World" demonstrates the marksmanship in raising awareness of the many moral values that the core of martial arts stem from.
In this exclusive interview BJJ Legends sits down with co-founders Bret Perchaluk and Jessica Leigh as they share with us their mission with the organization in Bringing Mixed Martial Arts back to its roots.
First off, let's start with how you both got into Jiu-Jitsu and your training backgrounds?
Bret: I got into BJJ when I was wrestling in HS. I found a gym near my house and I went to check it out thinking they were teaching wrestling, but in reality they were grappling and I fell in love with it and haven’t stopped training. Since then I have trained with, trained, and competed against some of the best fighters in the world. I’ve done tons of other martial arts as well; I’m a Judo Black Belt, Japanese Ju Jitsu Black Belt and a Brown Belt in BJJ under Master Roberto Traven, I’ve studied JKD, Krav Maga, and did Kung Fu when I was a kid. I also boxed and Wrestled through College where I was on the Rider University Division I nationally ranked wrestling team. I am also a Senior Defensive Tactics Instructor for the government and work with and teach special operations personnel.
Jessica: First I will start by saying I’ve been in love with martial arts for a long time. I started out working as a ring girl at local promotions in the NJ/NYC/PA area and fell in love with the art that I was watching. The truth is, I was always fascinated when fights went to the ground and couldn't understand why people would boo. All I saw was the beautifully executed techniques in the art of BJJ. I got more involved in the sport by working for top MMA apparel companies, helping handle some of their marketing and learning more of the sport from that angle, but I still didn't have the guts to actually try it for myself. That all changed when I met Bret. I would go to all of Bret's competitions and practices and just watch in awe. Bret saw my love for martial arts, as well as the reality that this isn't a safe world anymore and the need to know self-defense is extremely important and so he encouraged me to start training. I love practicing BJJ and getting to try and surprise Bret with sweeps around the house.
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
Since its inception in 2005, the North American Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation has laid down a staple of premiere grappling tournaments in Southern California. SJJIF offers the best competition experience for all its participants. Its successful run over the years has spawned the creation of a fleet of NABJJF events beyond the California’s border to Arizona and Texas. This popularity has many grapplers wanting to get a clinching grip on the tournament action.
Continuing its partnership with the SJJIF, NABJJ brings to you its own version of elite tournament experience to gather the best grappling talents from around the world to compete on one stage.
The Sports Jiu-Jitsu International Federation in conjunction with the NABJJF proudly presents The SJJIF Worlds tournament on December 14 & 15 at the Walter Pyramid at CSU Long Beach in Long Beach, California. They are inviting competitors of all ages to participate in both Gi and/or No-Gi divisions. Their website contains information on hotel accommodations for out-of-town competitors. The event is an opportunity for all grapplers to get the best experience at an affordable price.
In addition, as an added bonus, all black belts compete for FREE when they register for their free SJJIF membership. (Register must be made by November 12 for this offer)
For More information on how to register and take your step at being a part of greatness visit
Becoming a model of excellence in one’s line of work is an aspiring goal for any evolving Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner. Since its launch in 1998 Paragon Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has exhibited this concept with the production of many grappling talents such as Jeff Glover and Bill Cooper. Expanding its club’s movement to the southern region of the United States, Paragon Austin continues this endless trail in becoming one of the best BJJ schools in the Lone Star State.
Starting in 2011 by Robert Dembeck and Darrin Lillian these two founders quickly organized a plan to mold itself into its own brand of excellence. With its later assemblage of elite black belt instructors to assist with the enchantment of the program top quality training and instruction was not hard to come by for any student training at Paragon Austin.
The dedication each instructor puts into their work is above and beyond the standards of your typical BJJ instructor which creates a unique diversity of knowledge gained from the participant walking out of each class.
Starting his instructor position early this year David Ginsberg black belt Mike Harmon brings over a decade of experience that any students will benefit from. Not only has his assistance proven to be a great aid for the students at Paragon Austin but also for himself which has allowed Harmon to achieve major success as a competitor which includes becoming a brown belt no-gi world champion in late 2012 .
The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu community has had its share of exciting moments, striking possibilities, and trends that have revolutionized the sport into what we see it as today. Continuing with the ever growing cycle, over a month ago tournament creator and BJJ Black Belt Michael Proctor issued an open invite calling out all finishers to compete in the Pacific Northwest's first Premiere Submission Only tournament known as the "Chess on the mat Championship".
Bring a new flare to the grappling scene in Washington the tournament's unique submission only rule system along with its prestigious prizes for the winners set up the platform for an experience all participants will remember and benefit from.
The buzz of Proctor's submission games extended throughout the region which got the attention of grappling competitors in Oregon, Idaho, California, and even across the border lines inside Canada all eager in putting their skills to the test on the competition mat.
An event shaping itself into another monumental moment for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, the overwhelming response of over 500 foreseen competitors could not be firmly contained at a High School venue on October 5th. Due to this minor dilemma the "Chess on the Mat Championships" has been rescheduled to January 18th in 2014 at the famous Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.
In an exclusive Press Release Statement Michael Proctor issued this announcement to all competitors, teams and coaches involved in the tournament.
Grapplethon 2: SoCal Jiu-Jitsu Community Unite in Support for Frank Edge
Giving and receiving are frequent sensations a practitioner will experience being involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Employing the technique of giving August 24th marked a monumental day for the Jiu-Jitsu community in Southern California. Unifying together for a charitable rally Grapplethon 2 unveiled the true power of the strong support system that exists in our community through the event’s efforts in aiding cancer battling contender Frank Edge.
Hosted at Dan Lukehart’s Brea Jiu-Jitsu academy the event brought together over 67 grapplers from various schools such as Atos JJ, Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Barra, amongst other we'll established Jiu-Jitsu teams.
With gathered proceeds aimed toward assisting Edge Grapplethon 2 featured a three hour fun-filled extravaganza which included nonstop training, raffle prizes, an insane 180 minute charity challenge, and most importantly exposing the unique camaraderie that exist in the Southern California BJJ community.
“It was truly a pleasure to host Grapplethon 2.” said event host Dan Lukehart. “The Grapplethon concept fits well with our gym’s philosophy and we want to support any attempt to bring the Jiu-Jitsu community together - particularly for such a great cause. Seeing so many people rally for somebody, most had never met, really shows how tightly knit our community is.”
The Pacific Northwest's Premier Submission Only Grappling Tournament
It’s quite common for an idea to spring up that brings forth a new surge of excitement inside the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu community. These ever-growing possibilities produce many avenues for individuals in chasing their grappling dreams which in hand contributes to the evolution of our sport itself for future generations.
Setting in motion a new trend in his region of Washington with the establishment known as the ”Chess On The Mat" BJJ Submission Championships creator Michael Proctor hopes to give practitioners a new experience in competing that all those training in the Northwest will certainly benefit from.
BJJ Legends got the opportunity to speak with Proctor as he touches on his journey as a grappler into creating the event and exclusive details on what makes this tournament one of its kind.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your BJJ background?
Michael Proctor: I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Marcello C. Monteiro. I started training in 2001 and I’ve been training full-time since 2005. As a Blue Belt I basically started waking up and going to sleep on the mats. BJJ is all I do. I received my Black Belt November of 2012. I’m currently the Head Instructor at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Tacoma.