I remember my Muay Thai Kickboxing coach bringing over a copy of the first UFC. This was 1993 and I was going to college in Aberdeen South Dokota. He had gotten a VHS tape of the Original UFC 1. He brought it over to my house and I popped the tape into the VCR and pushed play. I had seen some fights that had happened in Japan before this and some no rules Fights from Brazil. But this was different.
This had similar rules. But it pitted fighters of different martial arts backgrounds against each other. You had Karate guys against Kickboxer's or Wrestlers. All different types of Martial Arts were represented. I remember watching Royce Gracie submit everyone. My brain was blown. I didn't know how to feel about someone that was smaller then me tapping out everyone. But I knew that I had to learn and I felt like time was ticking I needed to learn right now.
I was a big boxing fan. I had read about a crazy amount of boxing fights. Mike Tyson had emerged on the scene a few years before and was considered the baddest man on the planet. Now he wasn't in this tournament but the way all the strikers lost, and lost quickly, there was no way he would win in a MMA fight. Especially against someone like Royce.
I knew right then and there I had to learn. But how? The nearest school was either in California or New York. I was in the middle of South Dakota and a broke college student that had never even been on a Commercial Airline. But I knew that no matter what I had to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
We found that you could order instructional tapes online. We choose the Renzo Gracie VHS tapes. Renzo was a cousin of Royce, so we knew he would have good technique. I remember watching the tape with all the furniture pushed out of the living room. Drilling the different moves. Then we would roll in the living room on the carpet. We found some mats and started training at a gym. I moved to Texas in 1997, four years later, for one reason. To learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
In that 4 years I did the best I could training with whoever I could convince to train with me. I had travelled by car to Dallas Texas. My original Muay Thai coach had transferred with his job to Texas and he had started training with Carlos Machado a cousin of the Gracies. When I heard about this I simply packed up and headed there.
Carlos would be my first real Jiu-Jitsu coach. Fast forward 23 years I still train with Carlos. I have had my own Jiu-Jitsu school for the past 22 years. I fought in the UFC, and around the World in other organizations. I accomplished my first goal. The goal to become as good of a fighter as I could be.
Conclusion: I never became a UFC Champion. (I lost to Anderson Silva when I fought for the Title in 2007). But Jiu-Jitsu has brought me so many other things. It is my life’s purpose and teaching it gives me immense satisfaction and happiness. I think after this month where the government told us that we can't train. (Because of the Corona Virus. Hopefully this is over soon). It has reminded me that training Jiu-Jitsu is still as important to me as it was when I moved to Texas 23 years ago.
Can't wait to see everyone on the mat!