My name is Bill. I am a proud father of Olive and Asher, happy husband of Leah, and an aspiring BJJ black belt. Currently i hold the rank of blue belt, and i am very happy with my BJJ school and friends.
My jiu jitsu career originally started I guess many years back, before i ever stepped foot into a class. My former roommate John and I were introduced and through our love of early MMA became great friends. We had both seen every UFC up to that point, but John introduced me to Pride, MARS, Rings, pretty much the rest of the world of fighting I never would have known about. You see, John had an early model cable descrambler that got everything. Every pay channel, every nudie channel, everything. It was amazing. He had VHS tapes of anything that any Gracie ever competed in. Ryan, Renzo, Ralph, Royce, even some Rickson stuff. Of course i knew about Royce, and was mystified by BJJ ever since the first airing of UFC 1, but John had so much more.
Then John started taking classes. I was still very much into trying to have fun, be 21, and build a skateboarding career, so I just didn’t have time (or energy and money) to spend elsewhere. He would show me stuff every once in a while, we hardly ever sparred, but he planted some food for thought that always stuck with me. He taught me always “position before submission”, but i think the most effective thing he taught me was how to be tight. The times we did spar, i was always amazed at how he just felt like a crab or something. Never giving me any room to even attempt to make an offense. I felt completely lost in his guard, and when he got on top? Forget about it, i was helpless. Little did i know, he was training with the very person i would eventually train under. I had no idea who Leo Dalla, or Wander Braga, or any of those names were. He told me about seminars with Royce, and Caique which sounded cool, but it wasnt until 6 years later or so that I would ever care.
When Leah and I got married, we moved out to a new townhouse in Bristow, and John moved back to Richmond with his soon to be wife, Lorraine. I miss that old setup. Me and Leah living in a tiny 3 bedroom condo in Fairfax with John (and Lorraine a lot of the time). But, times change, people get married, life happens. I crushed my ankle pretty bad a few years back, and I never felt the kind of confidence again that you need to skate. I pretty much had to quit. Some people say i quit because of my wife, and it’s simply not true. My heart was in it, but i had come to the realization that my dreams of moving to Cali and being a pro would never happen.
I started hanging out with an old friend a lot after i quit skating, Logan, who of all people, was starting in BJJ. I had been sucked into the world of online gaming, and gained a significant amount of weight. Skateboarding every day of your life is great cardio. Without that, I went downhill fast. I was always a terrible eater. I love food. I was definitely a comfort eater. Pizza whenever i felt like it, fast food every day, no water or veggies ever, and lots of soda. We went to Brewfest one year, and he introduced me to his instructor and teammates. ‘Pretty cool people’ i thought. Dave, Michelle, and Jeremy. They were pretty normal people, doing something i had always wanted to do, but never had the time to devote to it, and then when John moved to Cali to work on his acting career, i had just flat out forgotten about the notion of training. But now i had somewhere to train, and a good friend to train with! It was very hard for me to finally get in there and try. Not so much because of the fear of sucking at something (which was pretty big), but I am typically a very shy person. Very quiet and reserved. Only speak when i have something important to say. Never rock the boat. Lots of built up social anxiety. But i knew Logan, he was safe. I came in the first night, and had a blast. In the back of my head i still remembered a few things John had taught me. Even got a triangle my first night. A very sloppy triangle on a very small opponent, but still, a taste of victory that grew into an unquenchable thirst.
When my trial week was almost up, I called John to let him know i finally tried BJJ! I was excited to share this with him finally, even though he was living in Cali he was still training under Wander Braga, and had his purple belt. He told me that he hoped I found a good school with a good black belt. He called me later on that day and told me that he went on the website, thinking that Dave’s name sounded familiar. They apparently had trained together when John was training at Dalla’s academy! He gave me the nod to train with Dave, and that’s when my journey started.
I didn’t like the heat of the gi, and trained all nogi for the first year. i think i did 3 gi classes. i hated it. John moved back up to Mclean a few months after i started and gave me some inspirational videos to watch. He introduced me to Leo Vieira and Marcelo Garcia. My immediate goal in BJJ was to be the most technical nogi guy i could be. The general rule is: people in the gi could transition to nogi easier than vice versa, and gi is more technical than nogi. And its very true. But i wanted to be the exception to that rule. I wanted to be like Marcelo. All i really ever watched was ADCC and nogi instructionals. It wasn’t until i read possibly Marcelo’s most famous quote: “Its CRUCIAL to train with the GI to have the finest technique” and the realization that my progression will be severely halted unless i made the switch, that i decided to man up and train in the gi. I think because of my desire to be purely technical in nogi, it helped me make the switch pretty easily. I had many questions that needed to be answered about grips, obviously, but once i became comfortable with them i will never look back. I love the gi. I live by the gi. i went from no belt to a 4 stripe white belt in a few months, and got my blue belt on March 1, 2009. 16 months after my first class. Why did i wait til after 30 to try this again? Oh well. If you ask any BJJ player today if they had any regrets, they would have wished they started younger. Every one of them.
I have expanded my library to hundreds of hours of instructionals videos, 15+ books, and countless sleepless nights trying to feed my addiction. I stuff my brain with knowledge, because I’m one of those guys who can’t just do anything… I have to attack it with everything i have, and do whatever it takes to reach my goals.
If only i had been so motivated in school, or work…
*Edit* I forgot to mention in my ramblings that the first night of classes made me realize it was time to cut some bad habits from my life. I quit smoking cigarettes (cold turkey), drinking soda, cut my alcohol drinking to a bare minimum, and rapidly shed 50 lbs of fat in the first 4 months. I started bjj in early November floating around 215, and at the end of February I weighed in at my first competition at 164.5. 4 lbs under weight 🙂 I now float at 170 lbs!