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I started training Brazilian Jiujitsu in December of 2003 after training in various styles of Kung fu for 4 years and a lifetime of skateboarding. I didn't come from an athletic background in the sense that I played organized sports, but I grew up skateboarding, climbing trees and generally trying to become sneaky like a Ninja. In 2003, I got my hands on an old VHS tape of UFC 1 and 2 and, with my brother Drew, was immediately fascinated by the efficiency of that slender Brazilian fighter (Royce Gracie). He did what all martial arts promised in that he was able to defeat larger and stronger opponents with what looked like a reasonably small amount of effort. Naturally, as a smaller guy, this captured my imagination.
I walked in the door at Balance studios and was immediately hooked. There was nothing mystical about what was going on on the mats, just hard training and a very practical hands on attitude. From day one I was mesmerized by how easily people even smaller than me could smash me. It was like they knew some sort of secret magic that I was completely unaware of. It was like being in a swimming pool for the first time and trying to race Michael Phelps.
I spent two years on bottom of side control….smashed. Because of my prior martial arts background, I had a deep belief in technical prowess and relaxation over untrained strength and so I worked very hard to understand how the body works, how the techniques of Jiujitsu work and how it could be possible that someone with lesser physical abilities could defeat someone without those limitations. This led me to explore competitive Jiujitsu (with a reasonable level of success at a regional level), the self defense aspects of Gracie Jiujitsu and the broad, creative array of techniques that Jiujitsu provides. As I continue in Jiujitsu, I still study every day in the form of training with my Jiujitsu family at Balance studios (and other places when I have the opportunity), studying video as well as branching out into the larger world of movement to see what lessons I can bring back to make my teaching and understanding more effective.
With that in mind, I've had the good fortune of learning about the art of Kettlebells with Jason C. Brown www.kettlebellathletics.com, becoming a Level 1 Kettlebell trainer under his organization. I've also had the pleasure of becoming a Level 2 Movnat certified trainer a couple of years ago. It is through these things, and other movement arts, added to the Brazilian Jiujitsu technical and teaching methods that I have learned from Phil and Ricardo Migliarese over the last 11 years, that I have formed my own way of teaching Brazilian Jiujitsu.
I believe that there is value in study...
I think of Jiujitsu as a craft. Something that blends artistry with practicality. There is something beautiful about a well timed movement, but there is still something functional behind it. Form and function. To that end, I believe that a craftsman is interested in all areas of his or her craft. I think that studying a thing deeply yields a real understanding of your art and hopefully, after time, a chance to contribute to the art as a whole.