April 23, 2019

My Journey to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

My journey to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is my journal in bits and pieces of what led me to BJJ. Hope you enjoy.

JUDO

Having studied Judo under Sensei Nori Bunasawa as a small child of about 6 or 7 years old, I developed an appreciation for what he brought into my life. A short, Japanese man, Nori Bunasawa, at first was strange to me, being a white child in Orange County, California back in the ’70s who had never really met anyone with a foreign accent, let alone, wearing a Bruce Lee martial arts suit.

You see, I had begged my mom, who was estranged from my father at the time, to let me take “Karate.” (Of course, back then, we Americans
pretty much thought it was all the same. Karate, Kung Fu, etc., all the same.)

So my mom signed me up for Judo at CC Lambert school in Tustin. I remember Sensei always made us meditate and stretch both before and after class at the “DoJo”. I remember the rolls and throws, and drills and Sensei sometimes had an arrow that he would slap to the mat to get our attention. You see, we were all just a bunch of little kids.

In any event, I was upset that I could not fly through the air and
strike/kick my opponent like in the Bruce Lee movies. But Sensei assured me and others that Judo was a superior martial art. I did one competition as a yellow against an orange belt. It resulted in a
stalemate.

It was pretty cool having mom and my mates there at the community center. In all events, this was the first step of my journey to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

OKINAWAN KARATE

After moving away, Judo ended for me and my father enrolled me in
Okinawan Karate. That lasted for about 6 months. I learned horse stance and
striking and kicking, but we moved again.

MUAY THAI

Back living with mom, my mom enrolled me at the YMCA for this new
martial art in the states that supposedly billed itself as having the most powerful kick in the world. We wore karate gis and learned a mild version of Thai Kick Boxing. This had to have been circa 1978-79.
INTERVAL

There was an interval of several years where I no longer trained at a dojo, but instead would work the heavy bags, stretch, and lift
weights. But that was it till the Marines.

MARINE MARTIAL ARTS

As a Marine, we learned the “line” fighting techniques. Honestly, we did not spend enough time to really learn much. Nope, Marines had a long way to go before their stand up would be as good as their battlefield “toolbox.”
BOXING 1

After that, I learned basic boxing techniques for a year and then
trained along doing heavy bags and shadow boxing after that. I would
always combine kicks I had learned in Muay Thai with my boxing.

UFC CHANGES EVERYTHING

Right around this time, I heard that the UFC Jiu Jitsu guy, a Brasilian, Royce Gracie
(pronounced “Hoyce” – Portuguese), was choking out guys much larger than him. Then it all clicked right there. Sensei Nori had been right. Ground fighting is the best. But I had noticed that Royce also utilized strikes and kicks. This was traditionally a no-no for Japanese Jiu Jitsu. But not for the Brazilians.

I was working 9-12 hour days in sales and paralegal fields and pretty
much just lifted weights when I could after that. This went on till:

BOXING 2

So after getting married, finishing law school and five years in
successful law practice, I was burned out on lifting weights, under a lot of pressure, gaining weight, 40 years old, and needing the feeling I had when I was young; of combat and battle. Martial arts were calling me again, but I also wanted to lose weight and improve my cardio. A pro boxer at my gym suggested I train with him.

I did, and lost a lot of weight and really sharpened my “American” boxing skills.

BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU

I really wanted to get into Jits during that period. I had to make a
choice. With a law practice and family to feed, I had to choose between MMA or straight Jiu-Jitsu. So finally, I just said, screw it. At my wife’s urging, I enrolled at Rey Diogo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This guy is a world champion from Brasil and was the best I could find.

A former Army Ranger who trains there confirmed this. He drives from
San Diego to Los Angeles just to train with him. It was further verified by an Austrian and several Englishmen who came to California just to train with Rey. They had the choice of traveling to Brasil and training at the BJJ Mecca there.

And boy was that a wake up call. I was promoted with my first stripe in less than three months. This was also new. Most martial arts go from belt to belt. To be continued.

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