White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #7: Nathan Mendelsohn

 

Nate

Nathan Mendelsohn

 

Our guest for the seventh installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions is one of the top American competitors competing at black belt today.  His name is Nathan Mendelsohn and he is based in Santa Cruz California. He is a black belt under Claudio Franca.

We are grateful that he took the time to sit down with us, so without any further to do, we now bring you Nathan Mendelsohn.

 

WBBJJ:  What brought you to BJJ?

Nathan: I started in Martial Arts when I was four years old in Karate then moved to Ho Kuk Mu Sol when I was six and got all the way to the black belt by the time I was ten. My father knew Master Claudio Franca because he served him regularly at the restaurant where he works and when Master Franca moved his academy to the shopping center next to my house my father asked if I wanted to try it out. This is around the same time I had gotten my black belt in Ho Kuk Mu Sol. I fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu right away. Soon after starting to train Jiu-Jitsu my dad rented the first UFC from the video store and after seeing Royce Gracie use Jiu-Jitsu so effectively against so many other styles I fell even more in love and the rest is history.

WBBJJ:  What should White Belts do more of?  Less of?

Nathan: More training, less resting. I see a lot of lower belts come to class and sit out half of the sparring rounds. In my classes we do between five and eight rounds of sparring each class and I understand that it can be hard to make it through all of them but sitting on the wall doesn’t make your jiu-jitsu any better. The majority of time people sit on the wall it isn’t because they aren’t physically capable of going another round. It’s usually because they are either being lazy or are truly tired and afraid of not performing to their full potential. People are afraid of getting their guard passed by someone who usually can’t pass their guard or even worse, being submitted by someone they usually beat. But surviving these experiences make you better. People are also afraid of pushing their gas because it sucks, it’s painful and it can be tough. But getting exhausted isn’t going to kill you. It’s actually going to make you stronger. You only get so much time to train jiu-jitsu each week and you should try to utilize every second that you’re on the mat to make your jiu-jitsu better, and that means not sitting out during class. If you’re so exhausted you can’t spar hard, then do repetitions or practice the move your instructor showed you that day but don’t sit on the wall wasting your mat time.

WBBJ:  If you could go back in time and give White Belt YOU guidance, what advice would you give?

Nathan: I hardly remember being a white belt because I was so young but I would probably tell myself to make sure to compete every chance I got. I’ve always competed in tournaments ever since I was a kid but I really think competing is the best way to improve and I could always have competed more, especially when I was younger.

 

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WBBJJ:  For you, what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Nathan: For me I think the hardest thing has been dieting. That’s probably the part that I like the least about competing but I also believe in being as lean as possible on fight day and so I lose about 25 pounds from my walking-around-weight to fight the pan and world’s and though it’s tough it’s definitely worth it.

WBBJJ:  In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you  to persevere?

Nathan: During the times that I was suffering the most through tough training and strict diet etc.it was always my desire to perform well and the fact that I love nothing more than the feeling of being in shape and performing well on tournament day that kept me motivated and pushing through.

WBBJJ:  If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

Nathan: If I wasn’t doing BJJ for a living I would probably have stuck with Water Polo through college. I started Water Polo around the same time as Jiu-Jitsu and I used to really enjoy that as well. I played well into high school and was on my way to play in college until I started getting really serious about jiu-jitsu  and when I was around 17 everything else kind of fell away.

WBBJJ:  What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

Nathan: I tell them that if they actually want to train then they will do it. There’s always someone sacrificing as much as you have to in order to train and you’ll find that out really quickly if you ask around the mat at any given class. I have guys who help me teach the kids’ classes because they can’t afford memberships. We have police officers who literally work all night long and then come to train straight from work before going home to sleep. So if you’re not training jiu-jitsu it’s because you’re not truly motivated to, and excuses are always easy to find if you’re looking for them. Whatever is going on in your life, you always have time for BJJ.

WBBJJ:  Favorite activity besides BJJ?

Nathan: I have lots of favorite activities besides BJJ. I just recently rekindled my love for surfing which Is something I used to do a lot when I was younger but had stopped doing for a long time. I also love reading comic books, playing video games, writing raps and producing music and writing stories. In other words I’m a total nerd.

WBBJJ:  What’s on your IPOD?

Nathan: Lots of Hip-Hop, Dubstep and some Soul and Funk music as well.

WBBJJ:  What was the last movie you watched?

Nathan: I’m obsessed with zombie movies so the last one I watched was (Rec) 2, the sequel to the Spanish movie that inspired the US remake entitled Quarantine.

WBBJJ:  If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

Nathan: Helio Gracie. I will forever regret that I lived and practiced Jiu-Jitsu in the time while he was still alive and never got the chance to train with him.

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

Nathan: Hope you enjoyed the interview and were able to take something away from it! Jiu-jitsu for Life! Ossssss

 

 


 

ToddandKurt

 Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ

 

White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #6: Ken Primola

 

ken

Ken Primola

 

Our guest for the sixth installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions is the most dominant BJJ internet presence that I can think of, Ken Primola! Ken is the man that operates all of our favorite blogs; I Love BJJNo Gi Grappling and BJJimmersion.com.

Ken Primola, a Gracie Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, has been grappling for over 20 years. Primola started wrestling when he was 12, finishing his academic sports career earning a Division I varsity letter at East Stroudsburg University. After college, Primola concentrated his athlete activity on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, earning his Black Belt in 2009. The list of whom he has studied under reads like a Who’s Who of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling.

 

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Needless to say, it gives us tremendous pleasure to bring you, Ken Primola.

 

WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?

Ken: I would say it was a guy who kept asking me to train in the late 90s. But in all reality, when I look back, it was my state of mind that made me finally agree. I was in a transitional phase of life from college to law school and I really needed it. It was therapeutic and the man I learned it from was a patient teacher who taught me “the way”, very smooth, cerebral, and technical.

 

WBBJJ: In your experience what should lower belts do more of/less of?

Ken: I think they should enjoy it more and don’t compare yourself with anyone. I wouldn’t get too frustrated. And how do you not get frustrated, you fix your problems as they occur or directly thereafter. The only problem with that is the more you know the more you don’t know. So, I guess it’s being comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s called living. And being a white belt is an amazing time in one’s life. I often miss those days, where I was being tapped at will. Now I have to search for difficulties. I still love it though because I love learning. That’s the loyalty part right there, loyalty to learning is key.

 

WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give “white belt” Ken Primola guidance, what advice would you give the “white belt you”?

Ken: I wouldn’t focus so much on winning. I was bred from a competitive sport, wrestling, and the only thing that mattered was competition. I would focus more on being a martial artist and trying to not only explore the physical, but the mental and emotional. Understand why you thought what you thought at that moment of stress, not just technically but psychologically. Once you learn one thing well, you can learn anything, it’s the process that you need to focus on. That applies to everything in life you desire.

 

WBBJJ: For you what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Ken: I think the hardest part is to really let go of anyone else’s desires for you and notions of you but your own. Sometimes we get caught up with everyone else or what’s the latest and greatest shiny new move and we lose our own personal way of Jiu Jitsu. Or I thought what I am supposed to be in relation to everyone else at this or that belt level. Finding your true self in regard to connecting the physical and emotional is difficult, but being like everyone else is easy.

 

WBBJJ: In tough times what had helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

Ken: My love of learning and I have no quit inside of me once I go after something. I realize it’s not easy and not always fun. That’s just a part of the game. You gotta have self-respect. There were days I didn’t want to be there, man, so many days, so many hard personal times. But I love people, helping, and learning. I needed it. You can either use Jiu Jitsu as therapy or for empowerment, I have used it for both.

 

 

WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

Ken: I’d probably still be a lawyer, with a wife and kids, lol.

 

WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

Ken: Honestly, I tell them nothing. I understand you can baby people or try and convince them. I just find when I do that it handicaps the relationship from the get go. I’m probably the wrong person to ask, lol.

 

WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?

Ken: Spending family time and travelling.

 

WBBJJ: What’s on your iPod?

Ken: I have some techno, some Jay Z, some Eminem, The Cure, lol.

 

WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?

Ken: Man of Steel, with my father. Was awesome because I was with him.

 

WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

Ken: The first person who taught me. He was a blue belt 15 years ago, probably a brown belt now, so good of a teacher.

 

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

Ken: Have fun and give it love. It will come back to you.

 

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed the interview!

meTony Peranio WBBJJ

White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #5: James Puopolo

 

James Puopolo

 

James Puopolo has the honor of being the second person promoted to black belt by Rafael Lovato Jr. He is one of the Northwest’s most prolific competitors with dozens of Pan American and World Championship medals, including a gold in 2009 and a NO GI Championship in 2013.

Sit back and enjoy our latest “Private Session”, with James Puopolo.

 

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(Photo courtesy of James Puopolo)

 

WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?

James: I always played sports growing up and was very competitive. I always wanted to play college football, but realized after high school, that I really didn’t love the sport. For a while I tried a lot of different sports and eventually I found BJJ in college.

 

WBBJJ: What should White Belts do more of? Less of?

James: When I see lower belts train I always advise more drilling and position sparring, and less full rounds. I think it depends on your goals though. If you just love to roll and have fun, then do that.

 

WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give White Belt James guidance, what advice would you give?

James: Be more focused on escapes and survival positions. I also would have told myself to start training takedowns a lot sooner. A little focused energy on takedowns can go a long way.

 

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(Photo used with permission of Kenny Jewel of GrappleTv)

 

WBBJJ: For you, what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

James: The transition from brown belt to black belt. I had a lot of success and the lower belts, but black belt is a whole different animal. The guidance of Rafael, Saulo, and Xande helped tremendously. I owe them a lot.

 

WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

James: For me, I think quitting was never an option, because of my love of Jiu-Jitsu. It always came down to the two options; keep going or quit. Really those are the only two things you can do when you are having difficulties in life. Sometimes changing course is the right thing to do. It’s really important to focus on small victories as well. Everyday focus on things you did better. I think a lot of frustration in BJJ is from expectations, not reality.

 

WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

James: I’d be teaching middle school math. I just recently transitioned into BJJ full-time 6 months ago, before that I was teaching math the previous four years. Teaching is a very difficult, but rewarding job for sure. In the end, I knew that I only had a small window to pursue World titles.

 

WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

James: I run into this all of the time. We live in America and things are good, so sacrifice isn’t always on the top of the list. BJJ is a sacrifice, but of course the benefits outweigh the cost exponentially. In the end, we have to take responsibility for our own lives. I don’t think I’ve ever run into someone who has started BJJ that wished they hadn’t. Think about if there is anything on Earth you could say that about.

 

WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?

James: Hanging out with my wife, family and friends. There isn’t a whole lot going on out here in Salem, which is good, because all I want to do is train and hang out with the people I love. Training Judo is another passion for sure. I also nerd out a lot on documentaries, podcasts and audiobooks.

 

WBBJJ: What’s on your IPOD?

James: I can listen to any kind of music really. My favorites are Lupe Fiasco, Jack Johnson, Incubus, The Doors and Jay-Z. The tournament mix is all Lupe Fiasco.

 

WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?

James: I watched a documentary last night called “Food Matters” on Netflix. Super interesting stuff about nutrition and the medical industry. I love documentaries.

 

WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

James: I would train BJJ with Helio and then finish up with some Judo with Kimura.

 

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(Photo used with permission of BJJpix.com)

 

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

James: Thanks for having me on WBBJJ. Shout out to my wife and family. Shout out to my coaches Rafael Lovato, Xande, Saulo, and Ben Baxter. Shout out to my sponsors Origin (best gis on the market) and Q5 (best supplements on the market). Check out my fan page and look for me on a mat near you real soon!

 

James Puopolo’s Athlete Page on Facebook

 

ToddandKurt

 Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ

 

White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #4: Zach and Nathan Adamson

 

Zach and Nathan Adamson

 

Zach and his brother Nathan own and operate Seaside Jiu Jitsu in Seaside, Oregon. They are Rafael Lovato Jr.’s 5th and 6th black belts and are both avid competitors.  Both are prolific BJJ fighters in the Northwest. It brings us great pleasure to have them as WBBJJ Private Session’s fourth installment. So without further ado, we present to you, Zach and Nathan Adamson.

 

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WBBJJ:  What brought you to BJJ?

Nathan: I was simply looking for an activity to get active again after high school. I started when I was nineteen and needed something to refocus my energy in a positive way. I instantly became addicted!

Zach: My brother dove in first and I followed him shortly after. The first night I learn a couple chokes from the back and was hooked instantly.

 

WBBJJ: What should White Belts do more of? Less of?

Nathan: Worry about only what you can control. Don’t worry about being a black belt in 4 years or less, or winning ever y tournament from white to black, or comparing yourself to others. You will find it difficult to enjoy Jiu Jitsu your entire life, if you are always concerned about the things you cannot control. The passion and desire to succeed, and to continue to get better should always be there, but it is our triumphs and failures that make us true champions in life. Drill and study as much as you can, then apply and implement.

Zach: Drill and Positional train more. Cross-train or do your homework to make sure your instructor is the right person to take you to black belt. Essentially you should respect this person enough to make them a lifelong friend, choose wisely!

 

WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give White Belt Zach guidance, what advice would you give?

Nathan: Be better to your body! Eating, hydrating, sleeping, stretching and the right amount of training is all very important to the longevity of our movement as humans. Jiu Jitsu requires movement haha. Always continue to research ways to be more on point.

Zach: I answered that one in #2 as well. Make sure you find the right mentor and training partners. These people should motivate and inspire you.

 

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WBBJJ: For you, what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Nathan: The hardest point in my Jiu Jitsu career, so far, was when I completely blew my right knee out in 2008. It was right after my brother and I had opened the doors to our academy and Pan Ams were right around the corner at the time. I didn’t want to believe it was truly injured, so I didn’t get it worked on until 6 months later. Big mistake and learning experience for me.

Zach: Injuries have been hard to cope with but have been a blessing in disguise. I was forced to switch the direction I pass to after a serious knee injury in early 2012, this forced me to drill and train using my less dominate side. Fast forward to today and I know have the ability to pass to both sides with equal skill and timing.

 

WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

Nathan: When times are tough I read and listen to as much motivational and positive information as possible. I have always been fortunate to have a family that is supportive and loves me, so that helps a lot. I put myself in the position of being an academy owner and Professor so that I am in a position of needing to constantly better myself, so I can be more valuable to others in life.

Zach: Setting goals and surrounding myself with winners. As soon as I kicked the losers out of my life I was free of all negativity and allowed me to be the best I can be.

 

WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

Nathan: If I weren’t doing Jiu Jitsu I would be a race car driver, or skydiver, or something cool like that. Adrenaline junkie right here.

Zach: Ha, I love to surf and travel so probably something in one of those area/industries.

 

WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

Nathan: I would tell them to keep doing what they really want with their money, time, excuses, etc… Everyone does what they feel is most important to them in life. We all have choices to make and I can’t control others emotions or actions so I leave it to the individual to decide if they really want the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle, or if they have more important things to do.

Zach: A good coach knows that the key to building a strong team is developing a culture of success. The environment can become so positive it will do all the student retention work for us. If I can get them in the door and around the good energy in the academy we usually keep them for life.

 

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WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?

Nathan: Being outdoors (hiking, biking, swimming, beach, river, desert, mountains)

Zach: Travel to experience new cultures.

 

WBBJJ: What’s on your IPOD?

Nathan: I listen to pretty much everything (except country). Kendrick Lamar, Sublime, Naked and Famous, Damien Marley, Ub40, Bonobo, The Click, Basement Jaxx, Trance, Dance and Dubstep… Love it all.

Zach: Juicy J.

 

WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?

Nathan: Drinking Buddies. It was pretty funny.

Zach: Out of the Furnace. Woody (Harrelson) is the man.

 

WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

Nathan: If I only had one chance it would be Helio Gracie. I would really like to train Robson Moura or Leandro Lo because of their incredibly dynamic game!

Zach: Rickson Gracie

 

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

Nathan: I honestly believe that their is no better lifestyle than Jiu Jitsu. It has the ability to do amazing things to help people change and accomplish their deepest desires. It is the antidote to surviving our youth and giving them a direction for success with ambitions to do incredible things with themselves and for their communities. If you are interested in following us and the exciting projects we have on the horizon, join us at www.TheAdamsonBros.com. Train hard, train smart, never quit, live hard!

Zach: Once you achieve a high level in Jiu Jitsu you realize the fun isn’t in chasing the belt, but the desire to become our best. Never stop improving yourself and helping others. This are two of the most rewarding experiences in life.

 

Zach Adamson Highlight Video

 

Leg drag pass with Zach Adamson

 

To learn more about Nathan and Zach Adamson, check out their information below.

 

On the web:
www.orbjj.com
www.theadamsonbros.com

On Facebook:
www.facebook.com/zadamson
www.facebook.com/nathan.adamson.77

 

ToddandKurt

 Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ

 

White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #3: Kit Dale

 

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Our guest for the third installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions, is the hilarious (and technically savvy) Kit Dale.

 

“My name is Kit Dale, I’m 27 and I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under Team Checkmat. I teach BJJ out of Melbourne, Australia at In2fitness Platinum Gym and I am also a full time competitor. I compete not only Australia wide but also around the world. I have been training BJJ for around the last 5 years and it has been the most life changing experience and it continues to do so. BJJ isn’t just a sport it’s a lifestyle and has helped me fine tune and excel in different areas of my life also. Here are some of my BJJ credentials: 2x World Pro BJJ champion, Brazilian National Champion, Asian Open Champion, Bull Terrior Copa Champion, 2X Silver World Pro Jiu Jitsu, Pan American Bronze, 14X Pan Pacific Champion, 9X Australian National Champion.” – via kitdalebjj.com

 

Below is a recent Kite Dale skit that went viral across Brazilian Jiu Jitsu social media outlets.

 

Needless to say, it gives us tremendous pleasure to bring you, Kit Dale.

 

WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?

Kit Dale: I started BJJ after watching the UFC with my cousin. We started practising in his lounge room floor. It was awkward rolling in his lounge room with his girlfriend and baby watching us, so we found a local MMA school RPI Academy and that was what started the fire for me.

 

WBBJJ: In your experience what should lower belts do more of/less of?

Kit Dale: More studying of the game and less emphasis on techniques. To elaborate on that, become a student and fan of the sport. So you start learning to read jiu Jitsu from an early standpoint. And to not worry so much about having the perfect tech but to understand the concept and meaning of it.

 

WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give “white belt” Kit Dale guidance, what advice would you give the “white belt you”?

Kit Dale: I would tell him to stop worrying about his hair. Bald is the new black. To stop playing football earlier. And to do less drilling and more timing and strategy training.

 

WBBJJ: For you what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Kit Dale: Competing for sure. Training for self defence or fitness is one thing but Competing is tough especially when you come from a country that has no high Level competitors to train with or learn from. I had to battle a lot of demons and over come fears to get to where I am.

 

WBBJJ: In tough times what had helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

Kit Dale: My belief system. I always believed I can achieve anything I want. And I never let myself become a victim to circumstance.

 

WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

Kit Dale: Probably modelling, maybe a high class escort for rich ladies. I dunno but what ever it would be it would be fun.

 

WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

Kit Dale: I don’t tell them anything. I would rather talk to people who are willing to make the effort. I have time for anybody who is serious about wanting to achieve goals, and I don’t want to waist my advice on people who don’t make an effort or don’t listen.

 

WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?

Kit Dale: I like gaming for sure, I’m a big time nerd, or painting, anything artistic or interesting. I love weird shit!

 

WBBJJ: What’s on your iPod?

Kit Dale: A bit of everything. The shit I listen to before competing is usually some whacked out romantic song or something, I like to be as relaxed as I can so I choose something that takes me away from the stresses of competing.

 

WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?

Kit Dale: 47 Ronin, and boy do I regret that. I’d rather watch classy grappler hop into a tumble dryer and blow himself then that shit movie!

 

WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

Kit Dale: Joe Rogan, that dude would be awesome to hang out and shoot the shit with.

 

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

Kit Dale: I’m pretty hungry at the moment so food is up there. But if anyone enjoys my weird humor or tips please subscribe to my website www.kitdalebjj.com for all my advice on BJJ and in life . Thanks for the time guys. Take it easy. And if it’s easy, take it home! Ossssss

 

This is the philosophy that helped Kit get his BJJ Black Belt in only 4 years!

 

I hope you all enjoyed the interview!

 

meTony Peranio WBBJJ

White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions #2: Kurt Osiander

 

kurt-osiander

 

Our guest for the second installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions, is arguably the most outspoken BJJ persona; none other than Kurt Osiander.

“Kurt Osiander is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, a grade he achieved training under Ralph Gracie’s tutelage. Osiander is one of the cult heroes in the BJJ community,  having been an active competitor since the mid 1990′s, Kurt Osiander’s straight forward personality and witty comments expressed in his video blog (Kurt Osiander’s Move of the Week) have given us well recognized phrases such as “shut up and train” and “you f****d up a long time ago”, which turned the Ralph Gracie Academy instructor into one of the most beloved personalities in the sport especially within the YouTube generation.” – via BJJ heroes

Below is one of our favorite Kurt Osiander videos that we like to use when describing his prolific character (as we mentioned earlier, Kurt is a tad on the outspoken side, so be aware that you may come across a few expletives in his videos).

 

 

WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?

Kurt Osiander: I started about 1993. A friend of mine from high school, Cesar Gracie, came back from Brazil. In LA he showed me stuff on the front porch of my old house and I was like, “What are you doing?” and he said, “It’s my family’s martial art.”

I’m like “Show me something”, and he showed me the Mata Leao (Rear Naked Choke). I said, “I have to learn this s**t.” After that as soon as I could, we started training in a friend of mine’s living room, moved all of his furniture, put down some gymnastics mats and killed each other before the academy opened up. In the early days, the first academy was over here in Pleasant Hills, over here right in the suburbs, out of the city. That was the first academy, and it got so busy so fast, that we had Ralph come out. Back then I got my blue belt through them, and they opened up a second location in 1996 and that’s when I started to train exclusively with Ralph. The rest is history. In 1998, San Francisco opened up and I was posted here.

 

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Ralph Gracie

 

WBBJJ: What should White Belts do more of? Less of?

Kurt Osiander: Lower belts should be doing a lot of basics. Because if you notice, when guys that are pretty fancy get stuck in a very basic position, they don’t know how to get out. It’s because they never find themselves there. And when they do find someone who can put them there, they’re f****d. As a white belt, blue belt and up until this day, I always do my basics and then I drill. I drill a lot. I drill a lot of moves. Different moves on different days. I do both sides and I drill for about an hour with the class and then we spar. I was talented at other sports, when I started I was really talented at soccer, so I came from an athletic background and my Dad always told me, “you can outwork talent.” So in my experience with Jiu Jitsu, I got good, but you know. I wasn’t one of those natural guys that got really good. I worked really, really, really hard and to this day I work really, really, really hard to be as good as the really talented guys.

 

WBBJJ: What should lower belts be doing less of?

Kurt Osiander: Juice. They should probably not do steroids. They should probably not be worried about the really fancy stuff that the black belts are pulling and concentrate on what their abilities can do. To this day, my game is not that fancy. If you see Ralph’s game, it’s not that fancy. We are really accurate at what we do. I think they should worry less about being really flashy and be really, really tight and really precise. That’s what I think is better than flashy. Flashy needs a lot of space. Flashy needs a really talented person with extreme flexibility and/or strength.

 

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WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give White Belt Kurt guidance, what advice would you give?

Kurt Osiander: Oh man, I would have started physical preparation sooner. To shave down (some weight) because I was a little chubby when I started, well, I was really chubby actually. I came to that realization the first time I ever lost. I got tapped by one of my good friends in a competition at the U.S. Open. I was just not as strong or as fast as the guys. And as soon as that happened, I’m like “Man, what’s missing from my game, I train all the time, blah blah blah.” Luckily we had a really good friend of the Academy who Ralph knew from Brazil, from the neighborhood and everything, who had moved up to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado; Fabiano Brasil. He started doing the physical preparation for the competition guys, the serious guys and the guys who were going to do MMA, which I went on to do afterwards.

 

WBBJJ: For you, what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Kurt Osiander: The hardest thing I encountered was preparing for MMA. The camp was just brutal. Getting ready for a fight is so much worse than the actual fight. That was some of the hardest s**t I ever did. Train everyday, all day long. And get your ass kicked all day long for like six to eight weeks.

 

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WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

Kurt Osiander: A lot of it has to do with the way Ralph brought me up. We don’t f*****g give up. We don’t surrender. That’s it, so we’re really mentally tough. You’ve seen some of the quotes that Ralph has made like “If I go to Hell, the devil will be afraid of me because I’m a Ralph Gracie black belt.” To kill one of us is going to be pretty f*****g tough. And our physical preparation Coach Fabiano is like “What? Are you going to give up? Is that what you’re going to tell your enemy? Are you going to tell him you give up?” When you say that to us that’s when you reach down really f*****g deep and you go, “f**k that” and you keep going.

 

WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?

Kurt Osiander: I don’t know. I don’t think it would have been a good direction. I was not heading in a good direction. The thing is I was partying quite heavily and doing Jiu Jitsu. I was going through some bad s**t, a divorce and s**t, and was doing drugs excessively. At one point, it hit the bottom and I was like “F**k, this is bulls**t. If you get me out of this bulls**t, I’ll do Jiu Jitsu everyday!” And so that’s pretty much what I have been doing til this day. I do Jiu Jitsu everyday, and I try to help everyone and make a positive impact on everyone around me, unless they are my enemy and in that case; I try to impact them very badly.

 

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WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?

Kurt Osiander: I get a lot of people that say, “Hey can I come in and clean the Academy?” I tell them, “I already have my sponsored fighters and they’re elite guys that train all day everyday, and that’s why they have a scholarship here. They also help in the academy. Basically they’re my cleaning crew. They’re my f*****g assistants. They do whatever is called upon for them to do. I don’t have enough time.” There are f*****g five to six classes a day here at the Academy which I give, so if you can’t make the early morning, there’s a later morning, there’s a midday, there’s an early evening, and there’s a late evening. So it’s a matter of want there, so if they don’t want to, they’re not going to make the time for themselves.

 

WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?

Kurt Osiander: I like to go shoot guns. I don’t go hunting. I go to shoot guns to get good at shooting things; people, animals. I collect ancient weapons and study ancient civilizations and warfare and tactics and all that crazy s**t.

 

WBBJJ: What’s on your IPOD? CD Player?

Kurt Osiander: There’s a lot of really heavy music on it. Currently I have been listening to a lot of Lamb of God, because they’re just so f*****g clean and heavy, it’s awesome. I listen to YOB, Necrosis, which is an old-time band but they’re f*****g still heavy. I listen to Sepultura, Pantera, Testament. I listen to a lot of the old metal day bands. And then a lot of the bands have made a comeback, like Death Angel, who have put out a f*****g recent bunch of f*****g awesome albums.

 

WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?

Kurt Osiander: The last movie I watched from start to finish, was “The Unexpected Journey”; the Hobbit Movie.

 

WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?

Kurt Osiander: If I could be taught by them, it would be Carlson Gracie. That’s old school. That guy made some f*****g guys that are still to this f*****g day so f*****g good and making such good product. It’s quite impressive. Carlson or Rolls Gracie, how about that?

 

WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?

Kurt Osiander: I want to thank all of my sponsors: Shoyoroll Kimonos, Q5, AfterGlow by Biorhythm, Bauerfeind, and On the Mat Fightgear. That’s about it! Man, please try to make it out to the KO Finisher which is coming up on February 16th and it’s down in Anaheim, the mecca of Jiu Jitsu, so we’re looking for a big turnout for people who want a fight to the finish.

 

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 Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ