What year did you start training and what was your attraction to BJJ?
I started training in January 2009. Unlike most people who start training, I had no idea what I was walking into. A friend in college talked me into trying out a class. I had no idea what BJJ was and don’t think I had ever watched an MMA fight. I was immediately hooked by how technical jiu jitsu was and the “puzzle” aspect of the art.
What do you most enjoy about BJJ and training at LEMA?
I think what keeps me coming back is that no matter how much I learn, no matter how much I practice, I’ll never learn a fraction of what there is to know. The constant, evolving puzzle and opportunity for constant growth and improvement keep me on the mats. Training at LEMA is great because there is an incredible diversity of people and of BJJ styles. Unlike many academies where everyone sort of emulates the head instructor’s game, every black belt at LEMA has a distinct individual style that keeps things fresh and creates an environment where everyone can get what they want out of training.
Who is your inspiration and why?
On the mat, some of my biggest influences have been Paul Schreiner, Rafael Lovato, Roger Gracie, Dean Lister and Marcelo Garcia. Aside from being drawn to their “basic” styles and incredible technical proficiency, they have always come across as humble and respectful on and off the mats.
What are some of your achievements?
I have no real competition accolades to speak of–I’ve never really enjoyed competing and it’s not why I train. But if you ask around you’ll hear stories of a particular win by footlock at purple belt. In all seriousness, receiving my black belt was one of my biggest achievements. It reinforced for me that if I keep my head down, keep grinding and don’t give up just because something is hard, you can reach goals you never thought possible. I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best instructor I can and it means a lot whenever a student tells me that what I taught was helpful, changed the way they think about something, etc.
What is your favorite submission?
Everyone expects me to say leg locks, but in the past year or two I’ve really started to love armlocks and developed a fairly strong armbar game. Also, foot locks.
Black Belt Lineage: Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Jr > Jean Jacques Machado > Fabio Clemente > Doug Lanphere