If you ever met me the last thing you would think is that I practice Brazilian jiu jitsu or any other martial art for that matter. I don’t wear t-shirts that say ‘Tap Out’, “Fight Gear’  or any of the other brand names out there that scream “I want to fight!”  The only shirt you might catch me wearing is my instructor’s school’s t-shirt and that’s probably because I forgot I was wearing when I left the house. Not that I’m not proud of my school, quite the contrary. You couldn’t find a better place to train with fantastic instruction and great people.

You have to go back to the days to when I first started training,before there was a ‘Tap Out’, before there were Bjj tournaments, before the first UFC even to understand why I kept my BJJ background to myself.  I started training about two months before the first UFC. In those days training wasn’t just hard it was brutal. Gracie Jiu Jitsu was just starting to become known and everybody from martial artist to everyday bar-brawlers wanted to see if jiu jitsu really worked.  What better way to test that then to walk into a jiu jitsu school and start a fight!  It was not an uncommon event to walk into class to see my then instructor Craig Kukkuk ,kicking the crap out of some idiot who wanted to put Bjj to the test. What would be even crazier is when we would start class right after the fight like nothing happened. Back then that was just the norm.

Add to that the array of people that you would train with. Bikers, wrestlers, ex-con’s,and straight up lunatics mixed together with business men, computer programmers, guys with ivy-league education’s and the occasional celebrity. It was a very strange potpourri of human beings in one place.

Even the way we trained back then was different. It was all about training for a street fight with the occasional sport move thrown in, much to the disdain of Craig. There wouldn’t be a day you trained when you weren’t wearing head gear while someone was in your guard pounding at your face as you desperately struggled to remember what Craig told you about avoiding punches.  If you told someone these stories back then they thought you were insane because you actually paid to be there!

After the first UFC aired things got worse. We became flooded with more insanity, more challenges, more crazy people to contend with and training became even harder. In the long run, training in those times greatly benefited me, so Im glad I survived the insanity. I learned a lot of lessons from that era, and no greater one then DO NOT BRAG!   I was always one to keep any training I did to myself, whether it be boxing, tae kwon do or muay thai, I really never said much to anyone outside my best friends.

I remember Craig telling me from day one “Don’t go off getting into fights. You need a good year or two just to get the basics down. Your going to look like an asshole if you get knocked out in a fight!”   A couple of months  later a guy named Jeff we trained with learned that lesson real quick.

Seems Jeff was out drinking in a bar the night before and started talking about Gracie jiu jitsu and how he could probably take anyone in the bar. When you make a statement like that in a bar someones always bound to answer the call. So when someone stepped up to Jeff’s bold statements , he took it upon himself (and his 4 months of training) to defend the good name of Gracie jiu jitsu. Two minutes and a broken nose later, Jeff failed miserably. Craig was not amused at Jeff’s antics after seeing him and hearing his story, Jeff was politely asked to leave the school.

Now I know times are different. No one questions the effectiveness of Bjj anymore. Theres now a whole culture built around Bjj and MMA, so wearing a t-shirt probably won’t get you called out like it used to, but talking about your ability to kick-ass surely will.

I learned a long time ago that theres always someone tougher than you, fighting is stupid and gets you either hurt or in jail, and bragging just gets you knocked out.