Saturday, 22 March 2014

Happy anniversary to me part three

BJJ tourneys were not yet to hit the UK so we dived into competing in Ju Jutsu Kumite[1] that had been started by a group called NJJKC under the guidance of a guy called Ross Iannocarro. Ross was an exceptional martial artist and all round good guy; he really helped us a lot. IIRC he also turned down using the Gracie name, he wanted to strengthen his own reputation, not piggy back on someone else’s.

Anything that had even the slightest bit of grappling especially Judo and Ju Jutsu Kumite

We had trained every chance we could, gone to countless seminars, competed in whatever had any kind of grappling in it and generally just dedicated so much time to Jiu Jitsu then at a seminar with Haueter (I think 2000 but not 100% sure) we were rolling when he asked “has anyone promoted you before? Even one stripe” I said no, he was my professor now and I was waiting for him. So he promoted me to blue belt and to make things even better, Helen was promoted too.

We then threw ourselves more into training than ever; did loads of seminars, had guys come to our gym to put on classes and listen to their stories and yet they seemed bound. We were offered affiliation to the big franchises[2] but it just didn’t appeal joining someone else, the franchises were really controlling but Haueter’s Jiu Jitsu was free. I wasn’t bothered about success by association so we decided we would start our own team; especially as the relationship and opportunity to train with Andy was diminishing.

So, we had trained traditional Ju Jutsu, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we had been graded in all of them; we had done the NJJKC coaching courses and competed so now seemed a great time to start our own group.

We formed San Gokui, a Japanese phrase meaning “three principles” we used this name in part as a sign of respect to the Japanese martial arts we had been recently practicing but also I liked the appeal of the 3 principles, these been mind, body and spirit.

Notice Ryan Hunter on the fight card?

Due to a “miscommunication” we missed the chance to train with Chris Haueter for a year or so but that gap was filled in part by Matt Thornton, the tallest guy ever, president of SBG and one of Haueter’s brown belts at the time, Matt insisted on us doing no gi too,something I wasn't bothered about at the time but see the value of it now.

Matt was getting some recognition for questioning some of the more traditional martial arts, Jeet Kune Do especially, which the concept of Aliveness. I loved how he broke things down into very simple terms and taught concepts as well as techniques; he had a very straightforward approach that cut through a lot of the crap that some guys were still suffering.

Matt became a regular visitor to the UK bringing with him other talented martial artists too, John Frankl to name but one.

John showed me a couple of half guard things that revolutionised my half guard game that I still do to this day.

I also remember him arm dragging before it was a part of everyone’s arsenal.

As we concentrated on just straight BJJ we founded Combat Base; even though Combat Base was founded by Helen and myself, it gives a healthy shout out to Chris Haueter as he is credited with naming that particular position. It all seemed very apt as we about to move into our first real academy, a base from which to practice combat.

I then achieved some novelty value. I had 2 students promoted above me. I was the coach and a blue belt at the time when I had my future wife Helen and Pete Guest promoted to purple belt. I had people all over saying what a brilliant coach I was because I had taught some students to be higher grades than me. The novelty value is I had never met these guys that knew I was such a good coach!!

I also got a phone call from someone asking who would be taking the classes now I wasn't the highest grade!! Seriously.

One of my proudest days came after training one Saturday when Steve Muckle (who had travelled from Northumberland every weekend for 3 years to train, compete and attend seminars) told me he was officially going to open his own club and wanted to use the Combat Base name. Wow, I was kind of taken aback but very flattered too that he wanted to use our name.

I agreed of course so he let me out of his side control, at one point I had my emails routed there

Many years later and feeling very emotional I was so proud to present him with a black belt after he had been promoted by Helen/Haueter, Steve really deserved this belt, he is the guy who really didn’t know when to quit.

More soon......................

[1] A competitive format that allowed controlled striking, takedowns and submissions, competitors wore gis
[2] Franchises, like Subway but for BJJ, the big associations that kindly allow you to use their name and all they ask in return is a pile of £s every year.

No comments: