I am Michael Garlington. I am 13 years old and am from Annapolis, Maryland, near the United States Naval Academy. I have grown up here my whole life. I have been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past two and a half years. Currently I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Yellow Belt in the middle of training for the IBJJF Pan Kids tournament being held on February 15th, 2015 in California. My goal is to be someday become a BJJ world champion.
I used to play several different sports throughout the year like most kids. I played soccer, baseball, basketball, football, and Kung Fu. Even though I enjoyed playing those sports with all of my friends from school, my heart wasn’t all the way into any of them. One day my father and I accidently turned on the UFC channel and saw the one and only Rhonda Rousey break another girls arm. I turned to my dad and said, “I want to do that as a sport”. So he went out and found my academy.
After the first couple months of training I fell in love with the art of BJJ. Ever since, there is nothing I would rather be doing then training at the academy. Currently I train 6 days per week. From Monday through Saturday I am at the gym or at a competition. Two to three days per week I train with adults for more advanced technique and hardcore live rolling. Then the other two to three days per week I’m training with other kids which involves a lot more drilling and helping out other children.
(Michael winning gold at NAGA)
Four months into training BJJ and I wanted to join our competition team. After watching all the advanced kids competing and bringing home the gold I wanted to try it out. My first tournament I didn’t do so well but that just drove me to work harder and come back next time with the gold.
Currently I am the top kid in Maryland for my weight class. After 6 months of training I went out to my first Pan kids and got third. The year after that I got promoted to a higher belt rank which caused me to fight up at the next competition level for kids, and I lost in a nail biting match in the semifinals to achieve third once again.
To travel across the country to compete with kids all around the world can be very intimidating, but with the right amount of confidence and skill there is nothing that can stop me. Kids that I used to think were unstoppable, I am now beating! I have hit a win streak in my NAGA competition career which has given me a new found confidence! My confidence is helping me to compete and win. With this attitude I just know I can come back from Pan Kids this year with the gold medal!
(Michael cleaning up the mats)
Next year I will be trying to get into Dematha high school because it is a school with a great wrestling program which will help me also with my Jiu Jitsu career.
This Jiu Jitsu career of mine was not accomplished by myself. I owe my success to my instructors, my parents, and my training partners. I could not have had these successes without Mr. and Mrs. Ives, the owners of Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts. I didn’t think it was possible to have such great instructors and mentors. In addition to great instruction I also have amazing training partners. You can’t get better at something if there is no one to push you and make you better, and at my academy that’s what all of my training partners do. Finally I have to thank my parents. They have spent so much time driving me to tournaments and practices, and their support is what gives me my biggest confidence boost.
Check out his local paper’s write up about BJJ Youth Fighter Michael Garlington and their family’s battle with autism.
If you want to help this future champion get to the tournament and win the gold please click here.
[UPDATE: 2/15/2015 – He won! Thank you everyone who gave their support!]