So this is a blog. Interesting. To be completely honest I’m not too keen on the idea of blogs. But I will look at the positives that this blog can do. At least it will give me a chance to get some thoughts out on paper. I dunno if anyone will actually read these articles or not, but that isn’t important. Now, down to business: who am i?
I am using this first blog entry introduce myself. I have a lot I want to share with those frequenting this site (those who love bjj and mma), but I don’t think it’s proper to start posting topics, discussions, articles, videos, and other work without first letting the public know who I am. Looking at my profile here at onthemat.com, I can’t help but think that it isn’t giving enough.
So, very basic, I am 25 years old(or close enough), I live in northern new jersey (no it’s not at all like the jersey shore), I live at home with my parents(rent is cheap, there’s food, and every now and then, my laundry gets done as if by magic), I went to college(do the smart thing: got o community college first, then once you know what you want to do, transfer. The last two years are all that matters anyway, the first two are just a party. On second though, go away to school for all four years, or heck, make it five or six), I work full time, I’m a social worker, I study and teach bjj 5 to 6 times a week, I hunt deer with a bow and arrow, I like yoga, rock climbing, hiking, camping, fires, I spin fire poi at parties and festivals, I love music festivals, I have an awesome girlfriend, and I want to move somewhere warmer.
But all of that isn’t important. What IS important is my journey in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So let me tell you a story: in my senior year of college, a friend of mine from the Frisbee team told me he was going to fight in the UFC and that I HAD to come take a class with him. I kinda laughed it off the first couple of times because this friend of mine is a real sweet heart, a gentle soul, a kind person; he couldn’t possibly hack it in a fight! Well I told him that I would go to a class with him, and my has been changed ever since.
He brought me to Bill Steven’s karate academy in Franklin Lakes, NJ. I hadn’t put on a gi since I was, I dunno, 11?. I got a loaner gi, and off we went. I still remember what we learned my very first class (flower sweep from guard). I was put into awkward positions, I rubbed up against other sweaty men, and after drilling, I was finally paired up with a little boy. I mean really! He was like 13 or 14 tops. Bill said we were going to roll and he briefly explained what that meant. We were only positional training, though I didn’t know this at the time. My job was to pass guard, he’s job was to sweep or submit. And that he did. I was his bitch. I was flipped, I was rolled, I was armbarred, I was choked, I was amazed!! Here I am. 22, in the best shape of my life, going to the gym three times or more a week, and thinking I was becoming a man (despite being 5’8 145lbs). Well, there I was. And there that person who was me still remains. Right then and there I left all my pre-conceived notions of how big and rough and tough I was and dedicated myself to learning what this little punk-ass kid knew. There were times when I kept trying to use muscle, I was put in my place. I was hooked from the beginning, and have been addicted ever since.
I only trained with Bill for a few months, maybe four or five before I graduated and moved back home. I had a job lined up and immediately started seeking out jiu jitsu schools in the area. There was only one. So I went. I went during the day, I called, I left messages. Finally, I got there and there were people inside. I went in and introduced myself. I was told that they hadn’t been there when I stopped by because the team was a two day competition. Wow, I hadn’t heard about competitions yet. I was hooked on the sport and so I signed up. This school, North Jersey Mixed Martial Arts Academy (NJMMAA) also offered muay thai kickboxing. Bill Steven’s had traveled to Thai land to train muay thai with his coach and so I had been exposed to it. I signed up for the whole shoot and match. For a little more than a year or so I trained there. And it was good. I was in great shape, I trained mostly five or six days a week, and I helped get amateur and eventually pro fighters ready for their fights. It was hear that I began hearing famous names(though I didn’t know it at the time) and about famous gyms, and about affiliations, and lineage, and all this stuff I hadn’t even known existed.
I enjoyed my time at njmmaa. But something was missing. I really was, now, in the best shape of my life. Mma fitness does a body good. I was a fighter with a fighter’s body. But on kickboxing days, I wanted to roll. I received my blue belt from njmmaa, and I could see that I was growing and learning, but I knew that I had a long way to go. I wanted to roll. And roll and roll and roll. More than just rolling, I wanted to learn. I had it all planned out. I would move out of jersey, find a new job, and start training jiu jitsu, maybe everyday!. That’s when one of the jiu jitsu instructors approached me and told me that he was planning on starting his own academy. He had only a passion for jiu jitsu and a great way of teaching and conveying knowledge to the students that I supported him. I was hoping on training at both schools. This, as anyone can surmise, is very expensive. So I made the difficult decision to leave njmmaa, even though it was closer to my home, to go train with my current instructor, Preston Gagg (topconrolbjj), full time.
Preston has a long grappling history. He started studying Sambo and then transitioned to bjj. He studied with Brazilian Andre “gigueto” Soares. In fact, he was Gigueto’s first American student to be promoted to purple belt. He opened Top Control Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (topcontrolbjj.com) in November 2009. So we are getting to be about one year old, haha. My jiu jitsu game has expanded so much training with Preston. He has introduced me to great people in the bjj community and is so academic and analytical in the sport he has made my play jump by leaps and bounds. Since Gigueto is unfortunately not gunna be able to get back into the states for a while, (fighter visa expired) Preston sought out an instructor to improve his own game. He linked up with Josef Manuel (cuttingedgebjj) in Harrison, NJ. His school is about an hour away from our school in Sparta, but he’s got a well established school with some incredible talent and outstanding student body. Prof. Manuel is black belt under Robson Moura. (if you don’t know who Robson is, FIND OUT!) and has many great titles to his name and credit.
I have continued to train with Bill Steven’s and I visit other schools in the north jersey, pa, an NY tri-state area. I try to gather knowledge from as many sources as possible (first hand, in person is best, but I do resort to dvd’s and youtube quite a lot!). I teach the kids program at topcontrol as well as some of the adult classes. I teach privates. And I, as a rule, try to bring questions to class, and take privates with black belts and other practitioners as frequently as possible. Unfortunately, they cost money, which I don’t’ have a lot of…. I have cross trained with sambo instructors, judo instructors, and wrestling teams. I have even competed in sambo tourneys for the exposure and challenge.
I plan on continuing o grow in the sport. I one day want to open my own gym because I love sharing the sport and spreading the sport to new people and places.
Now that you know a little bit about me. I will start posting articles and things that might interest you more. (not that I am not interesting, but let’s be real. You’re hear for jiu jitsu and mma, so let’s get down to business).
Peace and love! Happy travels! And good rolls!