Confidence, Empowerment, Influence; the key components in creating future life champions. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has served as an aid in the development of children's lives. Its influence is unparalleled, as young practitioners acquire life lessons, develop their own identity, and unlock personal strengths to tackle the many challenges they will face off the mats. Having a positive mentor makes this all possible, as it is the instructor's sworn duty to guide them through this life altering process.
Building life champions is a common custom at Brentwood BJJ. Academy head instructor, Jeremy Akin has assembled a team of his adult students as the instructors of the kids program. Each instructor brings their own unique style which not only has made the program a success, but also made the experience fun and educational for young students of all ages. "A Positive Sandwich of Knowledge", BJJ brown belt, Eron Johnsey has had a profound impact on many children's lives, which is showcased through his selfless work ethic building the program and passion for simply making a positive difference.
We here at BJJ Legends spoke with Johnsey as he gives us a crash course on developing a success kids program and change lives.
Through our journey as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioners, it takes us down different paths. Your journey took you to becoming a BJJ instructor for the youth. What inspired you to become a kids Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Instructor?
Johnsey: Competing was never huge on my priority list but I loved seeing the light bulb moment go off. Especially when it came to kids! I blame my mom for me teaching. She was a 1st grade teacher. I would always be with her in stores and hear, “Mrs. Johnsey Mrs. Johnsey! You were my favorite teacher ever!" Then they would proceed to tell her what a positive change she sparked with her kindness and for always pushing them. I thought if she could inspire them with only 1 semester I thought “What could I do with a few years of positivity?"
There is always a need for every concept in BJJ. Why do you feel the creation of a children’s BJJ program is needed?
Johnsey: Kids need BJJ for all kinds of reasons! The biggest reasons are self-defense, confidence, respect, and control. It's a great social group, positive role models, and BJJ teaches nothing beats hard work/dedication.
Creating a BJJ youth program is one thing, making it successful for both the school and the student is another. One of the biggest challenges instructors face is keeping children interested. As an instructor, how do you tackle this challenge?
Johnsey: The biggest challenge for kids BJJ are two things: creating an environment where kids want to be there every day and the parents pulling support. Problem one is when kids are pushed too hard too early or if they don't have friends within the class. BJJ is a journey not a race. Keep showing up and you will get better. I would rather have a kid enjoy BJJ and train forever over having a kid who is a rock star for six months then gets burned out. Secondly is getting the parents in a BJJ class or at least teach them about the sport. That is key to them staying involved.
This brings me to the topic of class structure. Children’s BJJ classes are very different from an adult class structure with its mixture of fun games and instilling values such as respect and discipline. Can you share with us the class structure you use for your students that make it a fun learning environment?
Johnsey: Class structure took a long time to figure out over the five years of teaching kids. With dozens of different formats while losing a lot of kids when we switched formats just do to change
Step 1. Be consistent.
Step 2. Know your audience.
Step 3. Set short term, midterm, and long term goals
Step 4. Don't be afraid to split classes.
Step 5. Always communicate
For me these are the five steps to success with kid programs. Make it a positive environment, a healthy one, and an environment that produces kids who want to do the right thing even when people aren't looking. Put games for the little ones and quizzes for the older ones to keep their memory sharp.
You obviously have had your share of lessons you’ve learned in your BJJ journey. What are some of the lessons you use and pass along assisting children with their journey?
Johnsey: I have learned so much from BJJ but some of the most important I have learned for life are putting time into systems that work. The faster you learn to take constructive criticism the faster you will develop as a person. Together you are stronger than as individuals.
As these young practitioners evolve, take for example a once timid child transforming into a confident individual. What is it like for you seeing this transformation and how do you think it happens?
Johnsey: Positive transitions are only made by hard work and pushing through tough times! This is where it is important to constantly communicate, set goals of all lengths, and surround them with positivity. Aka "positive sandwich of knowledge." For example learning a hip escape is tough at first. So instead of saying "no that's wrong do it again" trying it like this. "So Timmy on that hip escape you got on your side perfectly. Next time when you hip escape let's try to use your toes on the mat instead of the heel of your foot okay? Your elbow being close like that is awesome!"
How has the overall experience impacted you?
Johnsey: Jiu-Jitsu has help me be a better son, a better boyfriend, a better best friend, a better person. It has taught me to talk less and listen more. It has kept me humble on and off the mats. It has taught me to "take one and leave two". To never forget where you came from. To never give up. To always keep moving forward. It has taught me how to prioritize things with "what you need" and "what you want!" It has taught me that everyone has value. It has taught me how to be a better person.
Closing this interview, for parents that are not aware, why should they get their children in Brazilian Jiu-jitu?
Johnsey: BJJ is my pick for Martial Arts for children. With kids, school is the first priority. It is a self-defense before it is a sport or competition. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you how to not only control yourself but your opponent. If all a kid know is how to kick or punch that's what will happen in a self-defense situation. It’s a big difference when you come up on a kid who is clearly in a dominant position and he is the one calling for "Help." It is a lot better than walking up on a situation, as a teacher, with a child's nose bleeding but "he was the bully." Getting suspended is not an option because you miss school. You are at school to learn! Our school is amazing because our teaching staff cares for our Jiu Jitsu community deeply. We would do anything to help them succeed on and off the mats. It is a safe place for kids to become the best version of themselves. Jiu Jitsu is just a vehicle to help them get there faster!
Make a difference with Jiu-Jitsu: Getting your BJJ school involved in your local community.
Martial arts schools have a deeper connection to their local community than most local businesses. They represent learning and discipline. People trust their kids there during the day, and spend their time there during the evenings. It’s more than a place where currency and services are traded.
It’s only natural that many schools try to build on this connection and get more involved in their local community, through supporting charity and running events at their location. It’s a win-win scenario - You can attract new members while supporting a good cause or providing entertainment.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways in which BJJ gyms get involved in their local communities.
(Roll4Life is a series of charity events through Jiu-Jitsu)
Charity events and fundraisers
A BJJ gym is a great place for organizing a charity event or a fundraiser. It’s very likely you know someone at your gym that could use a helping hand - Whether it’s financial issues or dealing with a medical situation - And it’s likely many more in the community are in the same boat.
Donations for cancer treatment is a common theme as it affects many around us. The good people at Tap Cancer Out have created a nonprofit dedicated to promoting this cause through BJJ. They organize tournaments and host grapplethons - a grappling marathon - at local gyms, for the purpose of increasing awareness and collecting funds for cancer treatment and research.
Regardless of the cause you want to support, your BJJ school is a great place to do so. If you take the initiative and talk to your school owner - most would be happy to help.
Women self defense classes
Women are, sadly, underrepresented in most BJJ schools. The close contact nature of the sport and sparring with much bigger and muscular people, is understandably a deterrent for many.
One of the best ways to overcome that initial barrier is by creating a more comfortable setting with offering a women-only class. Combine that with a focus on skills that sound useful even to people who never trained Jiu-Jitsu - self defense - and you can make a strong appeal for women in your community to try out your gym.
For schools that don’t have a female instructor, it helps greatly if there’s a higher-belt female member who could participate and help lead the class. At my previous school, one of the blue-belt members was actively involved in organizing a weekly women-only class that became a huge success, and grew the female team from an initial 2 members to over a dozen in a couple of months.
MMA fight promotions and camps
Jiu-Jitsu’s connection to MMA is undeniable. It was those first UFCs, where Royce Gracie convincingly beat multiple bigger opponents that exploded MMA and BJJ in the world outside of Brazil.
Hence, it’s not surprising that many BJJ gyms hold MMA events at their location. Fight organizations often need a place to hold media events, and a gym with large open area can be a great fit.
Organizing MMA events requires more effort and connections than the previous events mentioned, but if you have the right person in your gym or in your contact list on Facebook, it can often materialize easier than you might think.
The nice thing about MMA events that they can easily attract the attention of local media, putting a spotlight on your gym and exposing it to people who might otherwise not know about it.
How to make events a success
Once you decide to organize an event at your gym, there’s plenty of work to be done to make sure it’s a successful one.
1. Plan the event at least a month ahead. You need that much time to get the minimum amount of attention to make the event worthwhile.
2. Promote the event on your and your gym’s social media accounts. Ask people to share it and tell their friends. Your base membership is your best initial source for spreading the word, as they would typically be located in your immediate area.
3. Promote the event offline. Create fliers (hopefully you have a designer in your gym willing to help) and hand them out to gym visitors. Give a pack of those to people who visit other local communities, and ask them to distribute it there as well. Put up a large poster outside the gym, and on the pin-up board of local community centers.
4. If possible, try to get the local media interested. Local publications, including online-only, are always looking to report on interesting activities in the area. Sometimes a cold email or phone call can be enough - but you might have someone in your gym with the relevant connections already.
5. Involve gym members in organizing the event. Many people are quite happy to help if only you take the initiative and ask them to. People with experience organizing events would be especially useful.
If running a charity, make sure to pick a specific organization to donate to ahead of time - don’t leave that decision for later. People want to know where their money is going to, and that it’s actually going to help someone. Once you do, contact that organization and ask them to help promote your event - they would be happy to.
All in all, if you know what you’re doing and are smart about it, organizing an event doesn’t have to take a lot of your time. By delegating tasks to the right people and thinking things ahead of time, you can do much with minimal impact to your normal routine. The first couple of events are usually the busiest, but once you get the hang of it you can run it without much of a fuss.
Getting your gym more involved in the local community is a net profit for both sides. It does require going out of your comfort zone a little - not unlike Jiu-Jitsu training for the new beginner.
Hitting reset and training your training partners, Adam Stacey shares his story coming up outside of SoCal/Brazil Jiu-Jitsu motherland.
Growing through Martial Arts is beneficial to anyone’s journey in building character on and off the mat. A thirteen year practitioner in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Adam Stacey is a BJJ Black Belt under Nic Gregoriades and head instructor of Custom Jiu-Jitsu in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Competitor, truth-seeker, and instructor Stacey has a unique outlook on life through Brazilian Jiu-jitu reflected through his journey in the grappling arts. Conducting this interview with us at BJJ Legends hearing his story many will be intrigued and ponder of the hidden personal benefits Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has to offer its participants.
Everyone has a story as to what got them interested in this great art known as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. What got you involved in BJJ?
Adam Stacey: I’ve always been fascinated by the Martial Arts. I grew up on Ninja Turtles, Surf Ninjas, the Karate Kid, etc. I did a little Danzen Ryu Ju Jitsu, a little Judo, and Folkstyle Wrestling growing up. I was introduced to BJJ around the age of 21. I started when I was in the US Navy onboard the USS Chosin. A friend of mine asked me to roll. Being a wrestler I accepted the invite and after being arm barred 100’s of times I realized this art was for me.
At what point in your journey did you come to the conclusion that BJJ was fully apart of your life thus making you fully committed to it?
AS: From day one I’ve enjoyed the art. Jiu-Jitsu became my priority once I attended my first academy: Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu under Romolo Barros. I was relatively strong in the Navy because until I encountered Jiu-Jitsu my definition of strength was my total bench press max. However, I rolled with my first instructor, Romolo Barros, he was a normal looking guy, and he submitted me quickly… over and over again. My definition of strength was way off. So, shortly after I started I realized I wanted this in my life forever.
Everyone has their own perception based on their journey of highs and lows. What is you philosophy on BJJ?
AS: Jiu-Jitsu is so much more than Jiu-Jitsu. It's hard to encapsulate in words. Jiu-Jitsu is my community. Jiu-Jitsu is my strength. I had a somewhat crappy early childhood so Jiu-Jitsu, has been a mentor and teacher that has helped me in so many ways. I have a shirt from Tatami Fightwear that says: “No matter what life throws at you there is always Jiu-Jitsu.” That’s pretty much how I see it.
Open minded to the art, part of your growth found you cross training with a lot of other grappling practitioners including your opponents. What inspired to do this and most importantly how can one benefit from this approach?
AS: If I want to be a shark on the mats I need to swim out past my fish bowl. If I only swim in my tank I may be the king of that bowl but my growth will be stunted. I’ll have a Jiu-Jitsu game bound to a small container. I feel it is important for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to swim in other fish bowls, so to speak, so that they can see how other fish bite/swim. Analogy aside, tournaments, other academies, they are all part of the main goal: to grow the BJJ community and be the best ME in Jiu-Jitsu that I can be. I cannot be the best me if I do not train across academy lines. As for training with past opponents… I don’t really look at them as opponents. More as teachers. I am extremely grateful for all those I’ve competed ‘against’. Maybe if I treated them as opponents and not teachers I might have more gold medals. Ha!
Speaking of opponents one of the most challenging parts of someone’s journey is competing which bring out various emotions. What is your overall outlook on competing and through your wins/ losses what motivates you to compete?
AS: My Jiu-Jitsu journey has been different than most. Since I was a high blue belt I have always had a long distance relationship with my instructor due to my location. So it has been difficult for me to refine my game without the constant oversight of an instructor. In place of that oversight I’ve used competitions as my testing ground. I would study techniques, drill, visit other academies, and then take it to the competition. After every competition I would fill my journal with lessons learned (I still do). I’d then fix my errors and apply the lessons learned to my next tournament. If there were errors I couldn’t find the solution to I would seek help via email from my instructor. So, long answer short, GROWTH motivates me to compete. Every competition helps me grow. In turn, I pass my lessons learned on to my students so they avoid the pitfalls that I hit the hard way.
Switching topics becoming a Black belt how does your journey differ as oppose to your previous ranks white through brown?
AS: March 7th will be my one year anniversary as a Black Belt. Man, being a Black Belt is a weird paradox. It has changed everything but then again it feels like my journey has restarted. I like to use the Call of Duty analogy. Once you reach the highest level in the game Call of Duty you have the option to “Prestige”. To prestige basically means you trade in all your accolades and start from scratch. That’s what I feel has happened. I’m starting over but I now have a “Prestige” Belt around my waist. From White Belt to Black belt I pursued the path to the black belt. Now that I am a Black Belt my goal is to be an EFFECTIVE black belt. I still have a lot of work. But I’m growing every day.
Apart of being a black belt you have taken on the role as a leader of your own academy the Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Becoming an instructor what are some of the important things you learned from your journey that you pass on to your students?
AS: That’s just it. I instill the journey mindset into our students. Every class, every tournament, every win, every loss, every person (both good, and bad) are elements of the journey. Take them. Learn from them. Become better. If we only learn from the good times or the things we like that might only be 50% or 60%; even a perfect 50% is an “F”. Enjoy the journey and learn from everything!
Finally looking back what do you feel got you to where you are today after a long extension as a participant in BJJ?
AS: So many people have helped me. My wife’s love. All my Jiu-Jitsu teachers great and small roles alike; Nic Gregoriades, Dave Kama, Nick Laudenglaus, Alex Aftandilians, Heitor Abrahao, Romolo Barros, James Tanaka, David Hattori. My training partners; too many to list but my Brother-in-Law Seth Johnston has played a huge role in my journey. My students… all of them through the years (I've been showing people Jiu-Jitsu since I was a blue belt... not because I am such a good instructor but because I quite literally had to train my training partners. I was unaware of any 'REAL' BJJ community when I came to Klamath so we had to create one). …also, and in all honestly, John B. Will’s books on BJJ have been a great standard for the foundation of my Jiu-Jitsu.
To be young and gifted can be a blessing and a curse BJJ Legends interview with 15 year ole Roberto Jimenez of Team Gacho.
Young & Gifted: Roberto Jimenez, Alliance Team Gacho
“As our parents often say, share your God-given gifts and talents to help others” ―Tiara Tanishq Abraham 7 year old college prodigies
To be young and gifted can often be a very lonely experience. To be young and gifted at BJJ can be even more isolating. It is not a universally known sport and when your peers are swinging bats and bouncing balls. While you are berimboloing and cross collar choking people it can be challenging to make the connections kids often make when discussing the things they have in common. Alliance Team Gacho (4711 Louetta Rd Suite 114, Spring, Texas) Green Belt Roberto Jimenez manages to make connections with ease. His humble demeanor, amazing attitude, and reverent spirit make him a joy to watch on the mats and easy to be around when he is off. Hard work has its own reward, Roberto has been working hard since he was 5 years old and he has reaped the benefits. At 15 he has a very impressive resume and he is only in the beginning of his career.
BJJL: When did you begin your BJJ journey?
RJ: My dad started jiu-jitsu before me and he decided to start making me train when I was 5 years old.
BJJL: What is the first BJJ memory you have?
RJ: I did not like jiu-jitsu. I would hide in the bathroom and the receptionists would call my dad and he would drive to the academy and I would get in trouble and he would make me go back onto the mat.
BJJL: How much time do you spend training, what’s your regimen like?
RJ: During school breaks I train 3 times a day and help my dad with the kid’s classes. During school, I do wrestling in the morning at school and train Jiu-Jitsu at night.
BJJL: Do you have any other interests or hobbies?
RJ: I really like cruising on my long boards and I am a big fan of Dragon Ball Z and Naruto.
BJJL: Who are your role models in the BJJ World?
RJ: There are so many, but the ones that influence me most are my dad, Lucas Lepri, Marcelo Garcia, Bernando Faria, Cobrinha, Buchecha and Leandro Lo.
BJJL: What has been your biggest challenge since you began training?
RJ: Making friends, because at school most of the kids if not all don’t know about jiu-jitsu.
BJJL: What has been your favorite moment since you began training?
RJ: When I met Buchecha at Pan Ams last year. Also, moments that I have shared with Lucas Lepri and Cobrinha when they stayed at my house in Houston for seminars, it's a blessing to get to know these guys.
BJJL: You are a very humble competitor, your attitude is the epitome of NO EGO on the mats. Was that instilled in you from the moment you began your journey?
RJ: Yes, my dad has always told me if you act well to others only good things can happen and always be humble.
BJJL: Would you consider yourself a role model?
RJ: Most role models have lived through a lot and can pass on their wisdom to others. I am very young so it’s hard to consider myself a role model. However, I am the professor's son and a lot is expected of me, all the kids in our academy look up to me and at tournaments there are kids that come up to me so I try to always be respectful.
BJJL: You are a 15 year old Phenom, what do you deem your most noteworthy accomplishments thus far in BJJ?
RL: Winning kids Pans this year. I have been trying to go to the tournament for years but never had a lot of people in my division and this year being my last year competing as a kid in IBJJF I had the chance to go and accomplished my biggest goal as a kid.
BJJL: You come from a VERY distinguished BJJ background (Alliance Team Gacho Black Belt Raul Jimenez & Brown Belt Gabriela Muller), how have they shaped your perception of BJJ?
RL: They both kicked by butt when I was younger and my dad continues to push me to my limits with every roll we do.
BJJL: You were recently inducted into the BFA Hall of Fame that is an AMAZING achievement. What did the induction mean to you, to your family?
RL: We were all very happy and grateful but I like to not let titles and medals define who I am or get to my head. My dad has a saying, every tournament is a book, every time I win a tournament, just turn the page and move on to the next one.
BJJL: At 15 you have competed in countless tournaments and faced some stiff competition, to include black belts. Tell me what it feels like to already be facing adult male black belts at your age?
RL: I feel blessed that I can even compete with such high level adults. I like to push myself, win or lose. I try to look into the future and look not only in my divisions to push myself for my main goal.
BJJL: 2016 is right around the corner, what are your goals for the coming year?
RL: Hopefully being able to do the grand slam, but definitely have PanAms, Worlds and whichever IBJJF Opens I can do.
BJJL: What are your long term goals in BJJ?
RL: Winning ADCC weight and absolute, winning WPJJC weight and absolute and winning worlds and Pans at each belt.
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank that has helped you along the way?
RL: God, my parents and all the guys that I look up to osssssss
To be young and gifted can be a blessing and a curse. You sacrifice, you do not live the normal life of other kids. You push yourself to the limits because you are doing what you love. You have milestones to achieve and as you reach them, you push harder, then move on to the next. For Roberto Jimenez being young and gifted is an absolute blessing. He is driven, determined, and inspirational. His gift has been nurtured since he was a child and he is coming into his own. His future in BJJ is luminous.
“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”―Winston S. Churchill
Interview with blue belt David Johnson of San Antonio TX about his path to the Master's worlds.
“You enter the forestat the darkest point,where there is no path.Where there is a way or path,it is someone else's path.You are not on your own path.If you follow someone else's way,you are not going to realizeyour potential.”―Joseph Campbell
Making His Marking: David Johnson One Year Later
David Johnson (a BJJr that trains diligently in San Antonio Texas at Pinnacle MMA) is one blue belt with all the potential in the world and then some. Last year he seemed to have dropped out of the sky, won his division at Pans and then you just knew if he would be competing in a tournament, he would dominate. Master’s Worlds is only a few months out and it’s time to check in with David Johnson to see how has progressed over the last year.
BJJL: How have you grown over the past year?
Johnson: I feel more confident with my technique. I feel like I’m able to play my game, and relax.
BJJL: You went back to Pans this time around and the results were not the same, what was different about your performance this year vs last year?
Johnson: Last year was my second IBJJF tournament and I was like I’m just going to go out there and do my thing. This year I honestly have no one to blame but myself. I went in with a game plan that I was going to play it safe and conserve energy. It was the worst mistake I’ve ever made in a tournament. I ended up losing my first match to someone I’ve beaten 3 times prior by penalties. I will not make the same mistake again.
BJJL: What is your training regimen like?
Johnson: I train 6-7 days a week. I spend a lot of time watching and analyzing matches and watching technique videos.
BJJL: You have a full time job (Active Duty Military, Dad,…Husband) and train just as much as time allows, do you feel you are as prepared as those that do nothing but train as their full time job with nothing but their training to worry about for competitions?
Johnson: I never feel like I train enough. I wish I could do this full time, but I have obligations. I have a family to take care of and spend time with. I can’t be selfish.
BJJL: You were not able to compete in Master’s Worlds last year… Are you ready with all that you put forth day-to-day?
Johnson: It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t compete last year at Master’s Worlds. I had military obligations that prevented me from doing so. This year’s tournament can’t come soon enough. It’s the culminating event for the year and the one that means the most to me. Winning gold in my division isn’t enough. I want double gold!
Fresh off of wins at American Nationals (Double Gold) and the Austin Open (Gold) I have no doubt that David Johnson will walk away with just that. The question any individual should ask themselves when setting goals is whether those goals are realistic? You can set a goal however, be realistic about the objectives you have in mind. David Johnson is one BJJ aficionado that goes out there and puts it all on the line. His fervor sets him a cut above the rest and makes what he is doing vastly different from those in his division and why he succeeds time after time. Michael Jordan is 1 in a million and as far as comparisons go, there are none. When making your own way in a sport, admiration for an athlete that accomplished amazing feats is common. The question for athletes that want to stand out is do you want to be compared to someone or do you want to be the comparison? If you are taking the time to attend BJJ classes 2 to 3 times a day and attend seminars, camps, or pay top dollar for privates from the best of the best your goal is clear. You don’t want to be the next anyone but the FIRST you. If you have the potential and are on your own path, make your imprint. David Johnson is CLEARLY making his.
“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” –Hugh Prather
A Very Special Thanks Goes out to Eleani Johnson for all the love and Support You Provide.
Beginners in all training ventures of life often believe they can achieve greatness in just a few lessons. The bitter truth is that it takes heart and commitment in order to learn anything worthy to be learned. If that applies to most journeys towards knowledge, it applies even more to grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not your regular martial art. Usually, there are four different types of students who join a BJJ school:
1. MMA or martial arts fans who want to give BJJ a try without even knowing that BJJ is a sport with no strikes and a sport often trained with no real relevance to MMA or self-defense.
2. Individuals with friends who train Jiu-Jitsu and are influenced or convinced by those friends to give it a try.
3. Athletes of other grappling arts like wrestling or judo, whose aim is to take their grappling one step further.
4. People who have experimented in different types of sports in order to get fit and decide to give BJJ a try.
TRAINING FOR SELF-DEFENSE
This article focuses more on the BJJ beginner who trains in order to compete in our great sport. However, self-defense is a big part of BJJ and I feel I have to address a couple of issues.
If self-defense is your goal for learning BJJ you must note this to your instructor. Some instructors focus only in sport BJJ, so you must clarify this before you join a school and get disappointed with the spider guards and the guard pulling.
BJJ versions for no-gi or MMA or self-defense generally employ curriculums that are significantly smaller than sport BJJ. Berimbolos, inverted guard attacks, etc. are not very functional when you get punched in the face and no-gi BJJ does not even use berimbolos, worm guard or spider guard techniques. My advice is not to limit yourself and work in all aspects of our great art. Even if you want to train BJJ for self-defense only, sport BJJ will make you sharp and there are schools that provide all kinds of training. BJJ is like a multifunctional tool that can be used in many ways.
Even if you are only interested in sport BJJ, if your instructor offers complimentary self-defense training do not neglect to train in these techniques as they are as important, if not even more important, than sport BJJ. Rolling with MMA rules that allow light strikes from time to time will keep your training honest and can also enhance your ability to apply your BJJ in self-defense.
THE MODERN BJJ CURRICULUM: ARIADNE'S THREAD
According to Wikipedia, Ariadne's thread, named for the legend of Ariadne, is the solving of a problem with multiple apparent means of proceeding - such as a physical maze or a logic puzzle, - through an exhaustive application of logic to all available routes. A particular method must be used to completely follow through and trace the steps or take a point by point series of found truths in a contingent, ordered search that reaches an end position. It is the process itself that assumes the name.
What does Ariadne's thread have to do with BJJ? BJJ nowadays is so complex one can get lost or discouraged and quit without a roadmap, an Ariadne's thread that will lead him out of the maze.
Modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires more than 10 years training in order for someone to achieve black belt status and that happens for a reason. A modern BJJ curriculum has to utilize 200-350 techniques depending on the main objective for training in this art. Whether it is training for self-defense, sports competition, gi, no-gi or MMA or for all the above, the number of techniques you have to learn is frustrating.
If that was not enough, it seems that every couple of years somebody invents a new guard or submission adding more techniques to be learned, more counters and more options to explore. The 50-50 guard and the worm guard are now common terms in the BJJ vocabulary. Let us not forget that deep half guard and x-guard did not even exist 10-15 years ago.
I feel that it is tough for “old school” instructors to keep up with the plethora of new techniques that are being taught by younger instructors who are in their athletic prime. These are new techniques that require the athlete to be of lighter weight and flexible and are hard for a 50-year-old to practice and learn.
If you attend seminars by old school instructors you will notice that they hate it when their techniques are not appreciated and the only thing the participants want to see is worm guard or berimbolo variations. Sometimes instructors notice this in the school, when they teach beginners an escape from side control and when they turn their back the students try all these fancy moves without taking the technique being taught seriously.
And you even can see nowadays white belts competing and dropping directly to inverted guard or going for berimbolos. How can an instructor avoid teaching these techniques if his/her students will have to encounter them in competition? And probably lose as these techniques are hard to deal with. Unfortunately, the answer to that is that a lot of instructors are forced to add these techniques to their white to blue belt curriculum along with the side control escapes and the scissor sweeps from the closed guard.
Unless they are professional athletes who can train 2 times a day for 3 hours each time, 5-6 days a week, there is only so much students can learn if they train 3 times a week for a couple of hours each day.
This makes BJJ more difficult to teach. As a student, the temptation is always there to try new fancy techniques. And it is not wrong to try different things from time to time. However, do not neglect the basic techniques. The basics are being taught to beginners for a reason. Basics make the difference in winning against the elite in the long run.
TRAINING IN THE BASICS: TWO MAIN CATEGORIES
Old school instructors always stress the importance of "training in the basics." However, the so-called “basics” can be divided into the following categories:
1. Basic techniques (armbars from the closed guard, guillotines, rear naked chokes, etc.)
2. Training in basic sport specific fitness skills and attributes. These are mostly enhanced by drills and exercises which in coordination with the basic techniques are designed to prepare your body for the advanced techniques which require a higher level of athleticism and a close attention to details.
In the past BJJ training was 90% technique training. However, as we now have more and more competitors who combine athleticism with great technique, this has started to change.
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!!
Brown belt Jess Fraser is the founder and driving force behind Australian Girls in Gi. She is fiercely proud to be the leader and organizer of this groundbreaking group ~ which is currently (& forever will be) club and affiliate neutral.
Hi Jess, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us!!!
Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been doing BJJ, and why did you start? My name is Jess Fraser, I’m a Melbourne based brown belt training out of Dominance Mixed Martial Arts (come visit!). I have been training BJJ since 2010. I started BJJ because I wanted to be a badass. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I might be still working on all of that but I am absolutely loving the journey.
Who would be your biggest influences both locally and internationally throughout your time in the BJJ Community? My biggest influences have been my coaches and team mates. They are essentially the sculptors of the artwork that is my game. Everyone is involved but most prominently my coach, David Hart, is the guy. He gave me my guard. Its pretty easy to spot that when you see me roll. Martin Gonzalez, my partner of 5 years is also a huge influence on my game. It is predominately his direction for my top game. Dave influences technical knowledge and is more open to my development & experimentation generally, Martin is competition prep, very strict, very serious, very uncompromising. Its an awesome combo, the best of both worlds. Both support me unwaveringly.
Internationally, black belt and World Champion Sophia McDermott-Drysdale. She’s the inspiration and the trail blazer. She made me believe that Aussie girls can do just as well as the overseas girls. At competition and at quality of technique generally. She is super well rounded, smart, a mother, a business owner and ass kicker. Very influential on my goals. You head up the AustralianGirlsInGi organization, tell us more about AGIG and how it came to be what it is today? Australian Girls in Gi is the largest female only grappling community of its kind in the world. We are a community group that aims to boost the retention of females within our sport. The group has a public Facebook page and website but the most important work of the group happens in a closed doors, female only, online group on Facebook. We use it as a forum. It is safe, moderated and welcoming. Here the 900+ Australian female members support each other, organize training, ask questions, become leaders, educate each other and share in their passion for the sport. Its an amazing thing to be a part of, let alone lead. To explain how we got here and to the incredible place we are today would take me hours. TL:DR version..first there was only a few. If you build it, they will come. haha. Our most recent event (Camp #5) hosted 120 women for 3 days. It was mind blowing and record breaking.
You have a round robin format competition coming up this weekend in Perth, how many competitions do you run annually and what is the average age of the ladies competing? I run many competitions for a few different organizations each year but only one annual female only AGIG Comp. Each year up until now it has been hosted in Melbourne. I am extremely excited about bringing the event to Perth as the ladies scene in Perth is exploding. There are such strong numbers due to the tireless work of the ladies at Legion 13, also the AMMA Angels as well as our sister group, Babes N Belts. I wanted to give the women of WA the event that they deserve, totally dedicated to them, to show Australia that we see what they are doing and we want to reward it. Each of the AGIG events has girls from as young as 4 all the way through to women in their 50s. Its pretty special.
What piece of advice would you give a lady thinking of giving Jiu-Jitsu a go for the first time? Grab a friend and phone a club. Almost every gym will have a free drop in to trial the class. Ask lots of questions over the phone before you come in. And don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know whats going on - if you’re having fun on that first night, you’re doing it right. Also, don’t be disheartened if you see no other women on the mats on your first day. The guys are awesome, wait n see, they’re honestly the coolest pack of big/little brothers ever and they’re soon to be your family. All they want to do is help you. The giving nature of this community is something that will blow your mind. Trust me. Just jump in. You wont regret it. Its the best thing I was ever bonkers enough to try. What are the future plans for AGIG? We’re headed to the Gold Coast for a huge open mat two weeks after Perth (first weekend in June). Then we’re headed to the AIS for Wrestling Camp that next weekend. We’re also headed to Bali in July as a group. Rolling, surfing, eating, sleeping. Check Facebook for details. All welcome, men as well!
Every month there is always an event and in a different State. We’re waiting on a venue to be finalized before we announce a crazy huge event coming in Sydney but its going to be amazing. Stay tuned and follow our page for more. Currently all the profits from Australia wide events are being pooled by myself and Hope Douglas (purple belt, myBJJ Sydney). Our goal is to afford to fly in a top Brazilian black belt female from the States with the money so that we can run a series of seminars Australia wide for our group members. Its going to be epic.
For anyone reading today who may be interested how can they get in touch with AGIG or if they are international do you know of any similar organizations? Definitely head to AustralianGirlsInGi.com there are 'get involved' sections for both Australia and International that can link you to everything we’ve found over the past 5 years - including how to find the members group on Facebook.
Thanks very much for your time Jess look forward to hearing more about AGIG in the future, is there anything else you would like to add? Make sure to get your entries in for the Round Robin tournament this weekend. You CANT register at the gate so jump in now!
BJJ is the one sport one regularly sees people of vast age ranges on the mats actively engaged with one another. Many other competitive sports have an unwritten rule around age; when it's best to start the sport and when it's best for someone to walk away. In BJJ the rules are not so definite.
All photos courtesy of Skylar Ransom
Case in point: If one attends the Monday/Wednesday 8 pm advanced class at Cobrinha BJJ and Fitness, one will witness the unlikely pairing of a 14 year old and a 62 year old. The two BJJ players mentioned are Tyler Ransom (14) and Levon Alexanian (62). They have been training partners going on two years.
The lessons they have learned despite the age difference, or probably as a result of, have opened a pathway to a deeper understanding and value for what they individually bring to the table.
What were your thoughts when you found out one another's age?
Tyler: I was use to seeing a lot younger people on the mats, so it took me by surprise. He is very open and friendly with everyone, and he acts like he’s much younger, not sure if that makes sense.
Levon: He looks so tall I actually thought he was like 16 or older. When I found out I thought it was cool that someone so young could be training with adults.
What did you think when it was time to drill?
Tyler: The first thing I thought was I’m gonna have to go slow, because I figured he would not have good cardio. I also thought I would have to be careful, because I did not want to injure him.
Levon: My main focus was to not discourage him, or intimidate him. I wanted to let him get good positions, encourage him, give him praise and make him excited to train.
After your first time sparring what did you think of the other’s skills?
Tyler: It was live positional training, we were doing the spider guard and I started on the bottom. Right away I noticed how strong his grips were on my gi pants, then he threw my legs to the side and moved to knee on belly in one motion before I had time to react. It was at that point I realized he was fast, strong, and he was technical.
Levon: I have to admit he caught me with a sweep that was unexpected, that being said he had good technique and he understands the game of BJJ very well. What he lacks is physical maturity, which will come when he gets older and then he will be able to combine strength with his technique.
What are some positive things you gain from being partners?
Tyler: When we are doing drills he is really nit picky, he pays attention to every detail. If I miss any step he points it out and has me start over. He also gives me like a backstory on each move. He’ll tell me how someone used it on him, or he tried the move and someone was able to get out, and how you have to be aware of the steps, so he is like a teacher and a partner.
Levon: There are a lot of benefits to being partners with Tyler. One thing is I am able to try different things with him, I discover ways to refine my moves, make them more efficient. He is tall, but he is thin, with long limbs, so I have to alter my moves and positions, which is good.
What have you learned about age differences?
Tyler: That many times, age may not really matter. I don’t view Levon as an older person, I have serious nervous energy every time before sparing, because I know how good he is.
Levon: Well you have to understand that I feel like I am 25 years old when I get on the mat, so I never really take any age differences into consideration. That said, of course there are differences, but I don’t really think it has to do with age, it has to do with the amount of experience.
Do you two have anything in common in addition to BJJ?
Tyler: Yes, we both love jazz, and we both play instruments, he plays the alto saxophone and I play the alto, tenor and baritone saxophone along with the guitar. We spend time talking about old school jazz musicians and music in general a lot of the time.
Levon: What we have in common was a shock to me I mean how many kids his age like jazz? We both enjoy, no, I’d say love jazz, and the fact that he plays all the different saxophones is very impressive. I know you said in addition to BJJ, but it is very important that people know we share the BJJ lifestyle, which means we use the principles we learn on the mat in life to improve our health, gain patience and be humble.
What would you say to those who question whether to train with someone older or younger?
Tyler: Well to me older means wiser, so I see it as an opportunity to gain even more knowledge and get twice as good. I also have to say that I felt bad about how I judged him at first, because I have been judged for many years when people see me, a kid in the adult class or when they find out about my kidney illness. I’m just glad that I got over the judgment after that initial class and realized that he has more to offer than a lot of the others on the mat.
Levon: it doesn’t matter age wise or size wise, its like a dancer who has different dance partners, so he has to adapt to that person’s strengths and weaknesses. I benefits from training with Tyler, because I learn when I am showing him moves. It also helps me to get his perspective on moves and techniques, a fresh pair of eyes.
Side bar: Levon: My goal is to get my black belt by the time I am 75, this BJJ is age proof, I am extending my life and I’m maintaining the full capacity of being a man.
Levon Combat Sports Bio: Boxed for a 8 years, Taekwondo 2 years, at 45 started grappling mixed with combat sambo for 14 years, started with a gi at Cobrinha’s when it opened to present day.
Tyler: I have been doing BJJ for a little over 8 years, and whenever I have stress from my illness, school or anything, I use what I’ve learned on the mats. I cannot imagine not having it as a part of my life. Please go and check out my site www.healingtyler.com thanks.
Tyler’s Combat Sports Bio: Karate for 3 years, Muay Thai for 1 year, BJJ for 8 years to present day.
On the day of the first Eddie Bravo Invitational in June 2014, Geo Martinez and his brother, Richie, arrived at a dark and empty downtown Los Angeles at 4am. They rode a red-eye bus from Las Vegas, after breakdancing all day in a major competition. They had not eaten in twelve hours and had barely slept. Tired and worn, they were sitting against a badly-lit corner of a building, hoodies over their heads, looking like two homeless dudes waiting for a shelter to open for breakfast. Unbeknownst to Geo at the time, this would be the final morning of the last day of Jiu-Jitsu anonymity. Some time later, their ride arrived to get them ready to make their professional jiu-jitsu debut at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood later that night.
Geo won the EBI tournament, defeating Jeff Glover in the finals. To say that Geo, a.k.a. Freakahhzoid, twenty-seven years old, from San Diego, had a good year would be an understatement. In January of 2014, he received his Jiu-Jitsu black belt. This feat was accomplished after only three years of training. He started under Sean Bollinger, then Ryan Fortin, and finally, received technique polishing from Eddie Bravo himself.
This year, he went undefeated in all his tournaments. He conquered the regional tournaments nearby. He also captured gold at larger venues like Gracie Nationals. His breakthrough, and his debut to the world, though, came at Eddie Bravo’s submission-only tournament. The first one was held in June, in which Geo defeated the well-respected Jeff Glover. In October, he fought again, at the second EBI, this time beating Fabio Passos (a Cobrinha black belt) in the finals.
The world at large, though, really took notice after his performance at the ADCC North American Trials in early December. Geo submitted all his opponents, some as fast as forty seconds with a rear naked choke, a calf crank, a kimura, and a variation of a D’Arce choke. When asked about competing at IBJJF events, he said he would have loved to compete in the NoGi Worlds of the IBJJF. However, he was denied entry because he did not meet the IBJJF’s time-in-rank requirements at purple and brown. Jean Jacques Machado vouched and signed Geo’s registration, but was denied by the organization.
IBJJF notwithstanding, the right people have taken notice of Geo. He was scheduled to fight at Metamoris 5 against Rubens Charles "Cobrinha" but an undisclosed hitch held that match up. Rumors are, Geo will fight at Metamoris 6.
Who would he face? Who does the jiu-jitsu world want him to face? Geo’s preferred fighting weight is at 135lbs. This puts him in the range of Caio Terra, Bruno Malfacine, Paulo and João Miyao, Gui Mendes, Rubens Charles “Cobrinha,” Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, and Gianni Grippo. To those not in the know, to place Geo in this list seems incredulous. Those that have had a chance to train with and compete against Geo would love to see him go against one of the above. This writer hopes Ralek complies.
10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu had a lot to be thankful for in 2014. Eddie Bravo’s performance against Royler Gracie in Metamoris 3 in March didn’t so much “redeem” his victory against Royler from the 2003 ADCC, as it completely obliterated a decade of misinformation and prejudice his style of Jiu-Jitsu has faced. This new era has brought new attention to Eddie’s Jiu-Jitsu, which he doesn’t like to call a system, but more of an approach, or a philosophy: to have an open mind, discard with what doesn’t work, and use what works.
With this new regard, Eddie has been able to showcase one of his star fighters, Geo, who along with Denny Prokopos, Nathan Orchard, Richie Martinez, and Sean Bollinger, are coming to represent a new wave of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu fighters in what perhaps can be classified as the second significant era of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.
I had the good fortune to interview Geo over the holiday weekend. I found him to be incredibly humble but passionate; intelligent and intuitive. I and many others look forward to what 2015 will bring.
Interview with Geo Martinez.
Seeing how most of the people that will read this are from outside of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, could you briefly give us your biography and jiu-jitsu biography? Who were your instructors? How was it possible you got black belt in 3 years?
I was born in 1987. I’m twenty-seven. I started training jiu-jitsu 4 years ago. I started training with Sean Bollinger then Ryan at 10th Planet Vista. Honestly, I just kinda got obsessed with it and trained every day. My brother, too.
Your brother, Richie, is an awesome jiu-jitsu, fighter, too. He took Garry Tonnon to the limit at the first EBI final. Do you and your brother, Richie, keep count of who has tapped who? What’s it like to train with your brother?
It’s a blessing to train with my brother. We’ve been doing everything together, bboying, video games, and doing jiu-jitsu. We want each other to be better. No one’s keeping count but it’s always nice to compete against someone who wants you to be better, too.
What sort of training methods and philosophies allowed you to get your black belt so quickly? Did your skills from breakdancing help your transition into martial arts?
Breaking taught me discipline, to be with a crew, and rely on others for your training. We train hard. Breakdancing is very difficult for your body. So I’ve been training my body for complex moves and sets for a long time. As a dancer, I understand techniques as a pattern. Bboying also helps you take risks. You know, you gotta go for it, throw yourself on your head and spin. Is that why you like the rolling kimura attack? Oh, yeah, I love that attack, and the trucks and rolls to the truck. Feels natural to me.
What attracted you to 10th Planet in particular?
Eddie. Simply Eddie. He was the freakshow in jiu-jitsu. He got hated for it a lot. But he’s always been kind to me and is a generous, open teacher. Eddie inspired me beyond movement and technique. He accepted me and my crew (all in my crew do jiu-jitsu). He helped me in my life. He never wanted to do anything to harm anyone. He just loves jiu-jitsu. He’s open to anybody. Has a laid back mentality. Ben Saunders, an American Top Team fighter, is one of Eddie’s new friends. You can come from anywhere and he’ll accept you.
Do you have a theory of jiu-jitsu? In your documentary before EBI-1, you said, “Jiu-jitsu, B-boying, what’s beautiful about it is endless patterns.” Can you elaborate on the idea of “endless patterns” and its connection to jiu-jitsu?
Jiu-jitsu patterns are the foundation of our movements and our opponent’s movement. Everyone has a particular “set” they do from this or that position. It’s less about “seeing” patterns than about feeling them. The less you think, the better. When you’re free, your movements are a lot more creative, and you feel your rolling partner’s patterns. When dancing, you’re performing and you have to execute the move.
Tell me about your nickname Freakahhzoid and your crew’s name The Freakshow.
Being a freak means we accept everybody, and we don’t wanna be robots. When we started dancing, it felt like everyone was the same. Personally, I’ve always been an opposite’s dude. I like taking the detours, because that’s when you are yourself.
The truck. Is that your go to position? Do you finish most of your fights from there? Or where?
I’d rather take the truck than the back. There’s only a few counters to the truck. I get a lot of my submissions from there. But the submission I hit the most is the kimura.
Do you think you’d ever transition to MMA?
I’m a sucker for MMA, am a huge fan, but I know it’s a lot of work. I still want to battle, dance, do jiu-jitsu. My brother’s opening a new 10th Planet San Diego, and I got my school in Oceanside. If I do anything, I have to dedicate it all.
Finally, any shout outs?
I want to thank Phalanx. They’re my biggest sponsor. They’ve believed in me since I was a purple belt. Great company and great gear. A huge shoutout to my brother, Richie; and, of course, Eddie.
Geo Martinez is available for workshops, seminars, or camps. He is a highly regarded teacher. He gratefully accepts inquiries through: