When it comes to entering into the sport of Brazilian Jujitsu as a senior at times it can be a difficult transition as oppose to a younger individual that is starting out. While some Older Grapplers ( commonly known as OG’s) struggle to stay committed to the game for various reasons, there are some OG’s who continue to stay committed by training hard, competing , and even putting their younger teammates to shame, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that age is nothing but a number.
Open minded, helpful, and hard working Erik Pelham is a true example of an individual who doesn’t let his age dictate his growth in the sport. Since his start here at Hollywood BJJ (Team Paragon) Erik's consistent dedication on the mat and willingness to grow proves that no matter how old you are, you can still do anything you put your mind too. In addition to his consistent mat time his growth in BJJ also pushes him to compete. And although he has placed in such tournaments like The All America Tournament and The Guts N Glory no-gi tournaments at the end of the day its all about the experience and love for the sport.
So I would like to take the time out to introduce the OTM audience to one of the most dedicated members of our academy OG Erik Pelham.
1. Monta :First of thanks for taking your time out to do this interview ?
Erik: No problem. You're welcome.
2.Monta :Now if I may ask would you mind telling the viewers how old you are ?
Erik: (laughs) I am 39.
3.Monta : As such an old age what got you into Brazilian jujitsu ?
Erik: First, it's funny to me that I am at "such an old age". I don't feel particularly old, but I suppose that in the context of BJJ, I am in the "elder" ranks. I got into it because I have always enjoyed fighting and the martial arts, but other types of martial arts had lost their luster because virtually everything they teach is hypothetical until you get into a real fight. I tried BJJ as a sort of last resort and as soon as I realized that you can train at 100% on a consistent basis, I fell in love.
4. Monta : Since being here, what has the training been like for you ?
Erik: Training is great. I can't get enough. I come to class 5 or 6 times a week, excepting when work interferes.
5. Monta :What are some of the things you do to keep in shape outside of bjj ?
Erik: I am a building contractor, so my work keeps my muscle endurance good. I also have a pull up/ push up routine that I am implementing into my schedule.
6.Monta :Do you have any goals in this sport ?
Erik: Someday I would love to get my black belt and open a school. Within that school I would like to establish a mentoring program for people that are having a difficult time staying out of trouble and on the right track. I think that the discipline and passion which bjj engenders in people would be a valuable tool for a lot of people out there that aren't exactly career criminals, but are having a challenging time finding their place, or niche, in society.
7.Monta :As an OG is there any pressure for you being in a room full of young guys ?
Erik: (laughs) Does that stand for "old guy"? There's no pressure really. There are actually a few areas that I think being older helps in. If anything, being older, I have the valuable experiences in life that have put my ego in check and as a result, I probably feel considerably less pressure. When I am rolling, I don't have the burning desire to always tap my opponent. I don't feel that uber-competitive drive that young men have. Don't get me wrong, I dislike losing. But I don't get tunnel vision with always submitting my training partners. I see some of the guys in their early twenties and they get sloppy in their attempts to go for submissions. I think that it's easier for me to stay relaxed and focused on learning the art. Years of disciplining my mind and body have also helped. If you look at who wins marathons, its the guys in their mid thirties. Endurance comes with age. There are certainly some of the younger guys that I have a real
problem keeping up with. Especially if they have athletic backgrounds, i.e. wrestlers. But there are an equal number of guys in their twenties that I call the "video game generation", that I just work circles around because they don't have years and years of hard work in their muscle memory. Being familiar with my body and it's limitations also gives me the familiarity with my own limitations and I know when I am getting close to the edge. I can immediately know whether or not an injury is real or superficial.
8.Monta :Just recently you started competing, How has that experience been like for you ?
Erik: I love it. In competition, you really don't know the other guy's game at all and it really heightens the sense of alertness and your focus. There is also the added factor of your opponent not being a regular training partner and the added "danger" element of them not being as concerned about your welfare. More like real fighting. I don't think anyone sets out to hurt their opponent, but they are more willing to really "go there" if the opponent isn't one of their buddies and there is a competition on the line. Good times.
9.Monta : Through your progression have you ever experience any doubt ?
Erik: Yeah, actually I have. A couple of months into training, I separated the acromioclavicular joint in my shoulder. This affected my ability to work and was not a welcome situation. I suspected that it was a result of my own ignorance, and not just the natural result of training bjj. I stayed with it through the injury and have since had no major problems. I now realize that most injuries are a combination of ignorance and accident. One can be avoided completely, the other can be minimized with conditioning and discipline.
10.Monta :What keep you motivated ?
Erik: My love of life. I believe anything that grips your passion the way bjj has mine should be thoroughly embraced. There's a quote that goes something like, "It isn't what you do that you regret, it's what you didn't do." I will not be a person that dies with any items not checked off of my bucket list.
11.Monta :Through all of your training and competing so far, what has it taught you about yourself ?
Erik: That I will probably never be the world champion, but I really feel that with my analytical capabilities and my ability to verbalize what I do know, that I may someday train a world champion, or several.
12.Monta :Finally do you have any advice to give to all the OG’s out there ?
Erik: (laughs) Don't let these damn kids get to you. But seriously, it's not a sport for everyone, but if it is for you, don't let your age be a factor in preventing you from having the most fun you can have without breaking the law.
13. Monta :Any shout outs ?
Erik: To all my Paragon training partners and our amazing coaching staff. Most importantly, my wife. She totally doesn't get why anyone would want to fight, but she fully supports me, comes to all my tournaments, and has developed an appreciation for the sport; Garrison, love you babe.
14.Monta : Well that raps things up thank you for your time ?
Erik: You're very welcome. WAR PARAGON!