Our guest for the eleventh installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions is none other than world champion BJJ competitor: Kristian Woodmansee! Kristian is an 18x IBJJF Medalist (7x Gold, 8x Silver, 3x Bronze). He is currently Ranked the #1 Brown Belt in the World in No Gi (IBJJF Rankings) and is currently Ranked #1 Rooster Brown Belt in the World No Gi (IBJJF Rankings)
It brings us great pleasure to sit down with him and we hope you enjoy his story!
WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?
KW: I was always active and competing in sports my entire life really. I found BJJ just by chance, my brother was heavily into Muay Thai and he was always asking me to try it out. Eventually his school started up a BJJ program and I went ahead and gave it a try. It didn’t take long for me to start taking it seriously. I can still remember my first time putting on a gi. I guess subconsciously I was looking for something I would make a career given I was 20 yrs old. My dad was heavily pushing me to “grow up” and figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I figured it out as soon as I stepped off the mat of my first class.
WBBJJ: In your experience what should lower belts do more of/less of?
KW: I was always told to “just keep training” and that’s honestly the best advice one could give a fellow practitioner. Thing is, it took me years to actually understand that advice. It should be more about learning, and sharing knowledge from a standpoint of no ego, always having fun and always asking questions. More focus on the purity of the art and what it is rather than everything else about will keep the path clear. If I could teach anything to a student it would be to stay open minded and just give yourself entirely to BJJ, you wont regret it.
WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give the White Belt YOU guidance, what advice would you give?
KW: I have had a rocky path and did some things that are out of the ordinary but I wouldn’t change any of that. If I could tell myself something it would be only influential on the business aspect of jiu jitsu. Perhaps to invest in myself earlier and better, or to properly figure out how to take full advantage of jiu jitsu so I would be prepared sooner to support a future family. Other than that I the journey stays the same.
WBBJJ: For you what’s been the hardest part of the journey?
KW: When it comes to hardship its one big blur, different difficulties pop their head out at different times. I left my entire family to pursue “wrestling” with sweaty men with and without the support of the most important people in my life. The struggle of making ends meet, losing at the highest level of competition for a long time, and being labeled a creonte are all on the list. I think honestly the hardest is dealing with the BJJ system. Trying to make a living out of the sport while not being a black belt is difficult only because so many people think its wrong. It almost feels like sometimes its not about your passion for the sport or the knowledge you can share with others or even the things you accomplished, if your belt isn’t black you have to wait in line.
WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?
KW: I was born with the inability to quit or give up and that has always been a key factor in pushing through when times get difficult. Aside from that, I have been blessed with having unconditional support throughout my journey thus far. At the end of the day I can count on certain people to believe in me even if I don’t believe in myself. They have pushed me beyond my limits and will continue to do so. With out them I have no idea where I would be or what I would have accomplished.
WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing BJJ what would you be doing?
KW: No clue. I could never work your typical 9-5 job behind some desk. I pulled the plug on college so I could focus on training; I doubt I would go back. Now that BJJ is in my life I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I feel like eventually I would have found BJJ one way or another. But if I had to choose I would be a professional something of some kind, perhaps one of those guys who tour the world participating in eating contests.
WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ, and then gives the standard excuses; time, money, etc?
KW: Excuses are for people who have difficulty facing the truth. I often take away all the excuses for the person so they are only left with the decision of doing BJJ or not. I know what BJJ has done for me, so I do what ever it takes to share that with someone else who shows interest. I have given free privates to people who cant afford to train, I have changed my schedule to better assist people who couldn’t make it in for class and the list goes on. What ever it takes.
WBBJJ: What is your favorite activity besides BJJ?
KW: My entire life is BJJ so it is rare that I am partaking in something that doesn’t deal with it. I like to spend time winding down and focusing my energy on a day off doing simple things. Movies, music, writing, reading, stuff like that. I find that doing this every Sunday properly focuses me for the upcoming week of vigorous training. My good friend and team mate JT Torres told me that it’s all about balancing things out. I have to keep my mind, and body balanced and ready.
WBBJJ: What’s on your iPod?
KW: A vast array of music actually. Everything besides country is what you would find. You will catch me singing Adele while running, hiphop while lifting, reggae while training, and some kind of metal while in the bullpen getting ready to compete. I enjoy all music for sure.
Photo Courtesy of Mike Calimbas Photography
WBBJJ: What was the last movie that you watched?
KW: I have been watching a lot of Dexter in my free time lately but movie-wise I believe it was Kickboxer. I am a all about old school JCVD, some eve say we look a lot alike.
WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead, who would that be?
KW: This has a fight club vibe to it. If it was just training I would have to say Ary Farias, he is monster. If I could fight anyone though, it would be Caio Terra. I would like to take the title from the man who has represented it the best.
WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?
KW: I want to thank my supporters. My friends and family. My team Atos and my coach Andre Galvao. All my teammates who are simply the best in the world, hands down the best group of guys I have even shared a room with. My sponsor 3Fu3l (www.3fu3l.com) Please check out my brand DreamKiller (www.DreamKillerStore.com)
Make sure to follow me on Facebook.
My Twitter ID is @K_woodmansee.
Find me on Instagram @KristianWoodmansee as well!
I am constantly putting up techniques or making a fool of myself. Thank you for talking with me!
Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ.com