1. How did you get started in BJJ?
My girlfriend at the time had a brother David, who was a “bad ass” blue belt in bjj. David and I went halfers and bought mats to throw down in my garage. He came over about 2-3 times a week and showed me things and we would drill and practice them. This went on for about 6 months. I entered 2 tournaments and actually won the second tournament which was in nogi. Then I heard my old kickboxing coach Cung Le, was bringing in a bjj coach. I went one night to try out a class. It was good, but nothing impressive. The next day I told David about it. He asked me who the bjj coach was. All I could remember was his name started with a G, he looked sloppy, was big, and seemed out of shape. David then asked if it was a guy named Garth? I said, oh yeah thats him!. David started laughing, then he told me Garth is one of the best bjj competitors in the world. Needless to say I went back to Cungs the very next class and started learning under Garth, and the rest is history.
2. What is your current rank and who gave it to you? Where do you currently train at now?
I earned my first 2 belts, blue and purple, under Garth Taylor and Paul Schreiner from Kaijin … I earned my brown and black belts under Matt Darcy and Dave Camarillo from Guerrlla. I train with, and teach a couple classes with Matt Darcy at Guerrilla Jiu Jitsu in San Jose.
3. Is there a person you would like to roll with if you were given the opportunity?
Good question… Ive already been lucky enough to roll with world champions, and some of my favorite bjj competitors. But since my first child is on the way, Id have to say I cant wait till im able to roll around with my daughter!
4. Do you compete in BJJ?
Not as much as I used to… Im older now, 38. But I train 3-4 times a week still and compete 1-2 a year.
5. How did you do in all your tournaments? Accomplishments?
I like to say I either won or I learned. Ive medaled 8 times at the US Open, which is the biggest bjj tourney in the Bay Area. Ive medaled at a couple IBJJF tournaments, that’s the biggest bjj organization. I also medaled at the NOGI Worlds.
6. What do you do for a living? Work? School?
I work a full time day job as a Crane Operator, at night I try to be on the mats at Guerrilla either training or helping out coaching in any way I can.
7. What do you enjoy doing other than BJJ? Hobbies?
Well I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I do ultra running. That’s basically anything beyond a Marathon which is 26.2 miles. Ive done 3 ultra races in the last 2 years. A 30,31,and a 35 mile race. I tell people its like bjj to me. Ultras put my mind and body thru hell, just like a hard night of bjj practice. Ive done some Triathlons too. Does drinking some great craft beers count as a hobby?
8. How has BJJ changed your life?
Ive always been very athletic. Played and competed in many sports up into my mid 20’s. Then for some reason I got into a 2yr rut, where I was doing much. I got up to 190lbs. Now that doesn’t sound like much but I was always about 165lbs. Then I got into bjj and lost that extra weight. In fact, in bjj I compete anywhere from 149-154lbs now. Besides the weight loss, its an outlet at times to get things off your mind. Also some of the best friends Ive made in the last 10yrs have come from bjj class…… Then there is the traveling,being a bjj coach the last couple years has allowed me to travel. From coaching in the smallest mma shows all the way up to the UFC, Ive traveled all over the world. Just last year alone, I went to England, Brazil, and China!
9. Any advice to the new white belts that recently started BJJ?
A black belt is just a white belt who never quit!
10. What do you like most and least about BJJ?
I like the friendships that are made thru bjj… It reminds me of the friends I made way back in the Marines. There is a certain bond you build with people who have been thru the same things you have. In bjj its those long hours of mat time. Night in and Night out of training, sweating, working together and testing each other to become better!…. On the flip side, I don’t like what some of the tournament matches have become. It can be boring. Nobody looking for a takedown, double guard pulls, people looking for advantages instead of points. If this sport is to ever make it into the Olympics, some rules will need to change.
11. Do you train any other martial arts or exercise other than BJJ?
I first started kickboxing with Cung Le in the late 90’s. Although I don’t practice it anymore, every now and then I throw on the gloves and shin pads and get some rounds in. Also like Ive mentioned before, ultra running.
12. Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of this interview?
I just want to say thanks to all my coaches over the years. You have given me something that I am now giving back to others. To anyone interested in starting bjj, just do it! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If not, no worries. Find another martial art, workout, or activity that you do enjoy. Your mind and body will thank you for it!
Jiu-Jitsu Spotlight is to allow one’s personal opinions, advices and journey into their Jiu Jitsu training and lifestyle.
If you train Jiu-Jitsu, and would like to be featured on our website and share your love and passion for BJJ, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All belt ranking are accepted as long as you love BJJ and you feel that it as impacted your life for the positive in any way. Osss!
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