Introduction

Just Scrap

At the age of seventeen, I spent the majority of afternoons in my backyard with a group of friends. We would throw on some old, ratty gloves and take turns boxing each other senseless well into the evening. It was during one of these sparring sessions that we caught the attention of a man named Tom Callos, who had moved in six or seven houses down. He was a tae kwon do instructor who had taken some jiu-jitsu lessons from Ralph Gracie when he was out in California. He loved the little bit of groundwork he had acquired, but the problem was he didn't have anyone to roll with in our small town of Hilo on the big island of Hawaii. Discovering that I was always boxing at the house, he thought I would be a perfect candidate.

I was instantly turned off the first time he came to the house and asked if I wanted to do some training on the wrestling mats. I didn't have a great understanding of what jiu-jitsu entailed, but I ignorantly thought any form of combat that took place on padding had to be a waste of time. My only desire was to train techniques that worked in the street, so I made up some kind of excuse as to why I couldn't train with him. Tom went away, and I thought that would be the end of it. But then he came back and talked to my father. My father talked to me, and I made up another excuse. Turning Tom down twice should have done the trick, but he came again and again. Eventually my father pulled me aside.

"If you don't go, this guy won't leave me alone," my father said. "You have to go train with him one time, and then you never have to go again."

I bit the bullet for my father and went to train with Tom, thinking it would be a huge waste of time. Although I knew absolutely nothing about grappling, I was convinced that I would clean the mat with him. That's not the way things played out. He caught me in an arm bar and then a choke and then another arm bar. It ruffled my feathers a little, but even more than that, it made me curious. Boxing was all about knocking your opponent into oblivion, but jiu-jitsu was about using controlled movements and your opponent's reaction to those movements to manipulate him into a submission. It seemed that with good grappling skills you could make your opponent feel as helpless as the day he was born, and that just wasn't possible in boxing. You could bloody your opponent up and put him to sleep in boxing, but no matter how in control you felt, your opponent still had a puncher's chance.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Tom no longer needed to drop by the house and pester me to come train. I met him every day on the wrestling mats. I still didn't think that jiu-jitsu was designed for the street, but it had certainly snared my attention.

A large part of the reason I liked it was that the sport came naturally to me. The techniques and set-ups just made sense, and I had an instant advantage due to my natural flexibility. With some effort, I was soon able to catch Tom with the techniques he had used to catch me. He enjoyed watching me excel under his instruction, but he also knew that in order for me to truly dig into the discipline, I would need to train with someone who had a more in-depth understanding of it.

Not long after we started rolling, Tom planned a trip to California to test for his black belt in tae kwon do. He was going to be right down the street from Ralph Grade's academy, and he thought I might like to get a taste of what advanced jiu-jitsu practitioners could do. I was cocky like most sixteen-year-old kids, primarily because I had yet to be humbled, but that all changed when I took Tom up on his offer and climbed onto the mats with some of Ralph Grade's students.

Within ten minutes it became very clear to me that I had a long way to go before I could even consider myself a moderately decent jiu-jitsu player. I thought I had gotten pretty much tooled at every turn, but I guess I didn't do quite as poorly as I'd thought. Ralph told Tom that I had a future in the sport, and when we got back to the big island, Tom relayed this information to my father. I saw the compliment as just that, a compliment. My father saw it as a whole lot more.

At the time, I was spending a considerable amount of time hanging out with my friends at the beach. I had no direction, and my father was concerned. He thought it would be good if I got off the island for a spell, but where to send me presented a problem. When he heard that I had talent for jiu-jitsu, it solved that problem. By sending me to California to train, I would not only be getting away from the late nights and street fights, but I would also be doing something constructive that took drive and determination. I would be doing something to better myself.

I was against the idea because I loved the haphazard life I had created in Hilo, and I didn't want to leave the festivities on the beach behind. It turned into quite a battle, but eventually we settled on a compromise. I would be allowed to continue with my life in Hilo for six months, but when those six months were up, I would make the move to California.

I was seventeen at the time, and six months seemed like an eternity. I agreed to the terms because I thought that day would never arrive. When it did, my father stuck to his guns. Boarding the plane I wanted to cry. I figured my life was pretty much ruined.

It was rough in the beginning. I lived a bike ride from Ralph's Academy in Pleasant Hill, California. Getting used to the fast-paced nature of the big city after growing up on an island where everything happens slow was one thing, but trying to adjust to an environment where I had no friends or waves to catch was another matter entirely I got insanely bored, and the only thing I could do to quench that boredom was train.

I peddled down to Ralph's twice a day, everyday. I realize most of you reading this book would probably kill for such an opportunity, but at that time jiu-jitsu wasn't as mainstream as it is now. I had no idea that you could make a career out of grappling. All I knew was that I was bored out of my mind with no one to cruise with.

My main goal was still to become the best fighter out there, but I didn't yet see jiu-jitsu as the ultimate discipline for the street. It relied heavily upon the gi, and no one I had paired up with in the street had ever worn a gi. As a result, I trained without a gi whenever I had a chance.

In an attempt to sway me over to the traditional route, a couple of guys I trained with showed me a tape of jiu-jitsu competition. I suppose the idea was to get my blood pumping from the highly competitive nature of a jiu-jitsu tournament, but at the time I was still so obsessed with striking and knockouts, I missed the point entirely.

The boredom was what caused me to enter my first competition as a white belt. I had been earning more and more taps over my training partners, and Ralph wanted to see me compete. Not thinking much of it, I went to the event, threw on my gi, and climbed onto the mats. I must have been out there for less than a minute when I felt this fire well up inside of me. My mind turned off, and everything washed away except for my jiu-jitsu. I knew it wasn't a street fight, but it was still a fight. I gave everything I

had, and by the end of the day I had defeated all of my opponents in my division, as well as all of my opponents in the open white-belt division. I entered the tournament certain it would be a long, drawn-out day, and I left feeling the most excitement I'd had since coming to California.

Wanting more of that fire and excitement, I entered Joe Moreira's Blue Belt International not long after. Although I was still a white belt, I managed to defeat all of my blue belt opponents. They were obviously of much higher caliber than what I had experienced in the first tournament, and I started getting the feel for what a jiu-jitsu tournament was all about. It was about the competition. The will to win. Stringing together the techniques you've been learning from day to day to form a science. It was about shedding the future and the past so that nothing mattered but the moment. It was about all these things, and I absolutely loved it.

As one competition led to another, it didn't take long for the appeal to turn into obsession. Jiu-jitsu became all I could think about. I thought about it when eating, when taking a shower, when walking down the street. I would have dreams about strangling my opponents. In a way, jiu-jitsu started to drive me crazy because I couldn't get the techniques and set-ups out of my head, not even for a moment. Realizing my only hope of expelling the discipline from my mind was to master it to the best of my ability, I put all of my focus into training.

Three and a half years after I began, I received my black belt. I had competed in a large number of tournaments by that point, so I flew down to Brazil and entered the Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Championships, the Mundi-als. I didn't have any preconceived notions as far as how I would do going in, but when I made it to the finals I came to a profound conclusion. I was sitting down having lunch with a friend, and he informed me of just howT monumental winning the Mundials would be. It started to sink in, and I told myself right then that I didn't care if my opponent broke my arm or leg or back. I was going to do whatever it took to win.

When I boarded the plane to head back to California, I was the first non-Brazilian in history to have won the Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Championships.

Kick Boxing Guide

Kick Boxing Guide

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