A couple weeks ago I took the time to interview my training partner, Edwin Najmi, a blue belt active competitor who is beginning to sweep the scene.
Although he's younger than most seasoned competitors out there, he has proven his place in the bjj world and has a lot of potential. Often seen as Romulo Barral's mini-me or sometimes even relative, he has followed his professor's footsteps in more ways than one. Check out what this "Young Assassin" has to say regarding his training regiments, accomplishments and goals.
How old are you?
How did you start and how long have you been training?
When I first started training I wanted to do MMA so I first trained no gi. I still want to but my goals changed. I want to be a jiu jitsu champion but soon I will fight MMA. I've been training since May 2009 in the gi but I started with no-gi and judo one year before that.
Where did you start?
Romulo Barral. I trained without the gi for 2 months until he convinced me to take the gi classes. I tried it and I liked it so now I train more gi.
How often do you compete?
Pretty often. NABJJ No Gi Tournament was my 13th competition this year.
What are some notable accomplishments?
2nd place Worlds White Belt Adult
2nd place No Gi Blue Adult
2x Grapplers Quest Champion
Best of the West Champion
1st place Gracie Nationals
How do you prepare for competitions?
I don't do much different--I work up a game plan and don't try anything new 2 weeks before. I also train hard until a couple days before.
How often do you train?
I train jiu jitsu twice a day, 6 days a week and strength and conditioning twice a week.
When you're not working out or on the mat, how else do you train?
I try to keep up to date with new moves and even create moves/try different things. I'm always thinking about the counter moves. I watch other guys fight to modify their moves to my game.
You're a juvenile fighting in adult divisions. What are some of the differences you find between the two and which do you prefer?
When I fight in adult divisions I get overpowered sometimes but I have the advantage of being faster and I usually have better cardio. With adults, I really push the pace. When I've fought in juvenile, my opponents are faster and more technical than adults with good cardio. I prefer fighting adults, though, it's more of a challenge.
Has Romulo made a large impact on you?
He has done more for me than just improve my jiu jitsu. He evolves my game a lot but if my grades aren't good, he doesn't let me train. If I'm late, he doesn't let me train. He's someone I look up to--role model. I want to be like him.
Who are your favorite MMA fighters and why?
I like Diego Sanchez because of his mental strength-- it's like no one in MMA. He may get physically tired but never mentally tired. He has one speed and that's 100 mph. Also my good friend and up and coming 135er, Jared Papazian, because he is a real competitor. However he performs in the gym, when he competes he performs 20 times better.
Who are your favorite BJJ competitors?
Rominho, which is a little biased but watch him! His game is like a lightweight and no one trains harder than him. He's always 5 steps ahead of you and has already planned where he's going before you get there. I also enjoy watching Braulio Estima and Cobrinha.
What is your life like outside of jiu jitsu?
My life is jiu jitsu--all about training. I get out of school at 11:30, run to the gym for the 12:00 class, rest, come back for the 5:00 class.
Where can we expect to see you in 2011?
I'm planning on making some noise in 2011. Dropping to light feather 141 lbs with the gi on, and competing in all the major tournaments starting with the Abu Dhabi Trials in Vegas next month. Also I plan on having a couple amateur mma fights as well.
Lastly, I'll go ahead and have you address the "Are you related to Romulo?" question.
/Laughs. I'm not, but everyone thinks I am! A lot of brazilians will come up to me saying, "Tudo bem!?" and think that I'm his cousin or brother but I'm actually Armenian! He's considered family to me and we're always together but we aren't related.
Thanks to all my teammates, Romulo Barral, Mik Milman Photography and Arena Fitness