About Mark

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Top of the Heap: The Heavyweight is KING!

When I was a kid (’70’s – 80’s), being a “Heavyweight” (HW) has always been linked with being the best, biggest, or baddest person on the planet (or kid in school, in town, on the sports team….you get it).  There has always been a fascination with big versus small, with the idea that bigger always triumphs over small [insert David versus Goliath]. Whether or not you believe the factual accuracy or outcome of that story is irrelevant (I doubt a pebble took him out). The point I’m trying to make is that there is an intrinsic fascination associated with the HW athlete, persona, or individual, whether it be Goliath, Tyson, Fedor, Lesnar, the Incredible Hulk, Hulk Hogan, or even Big Bob Sapp (look him up – he’s huge in Japan).

The Terminator

I started lifting weights at the age of 13 after seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a copy of Muscle & Fitness talking about being Mr. Olympia and how he used to lift weights in the woods for hours and hours and cook over an open fire like a caveman. His drive and determination were magnetic to me.  I spent countless hours in my cousins attic in the summer months and even more during the winter months lifting weights, experimenting with exercises and enjoying the pain brought on by the weights.

The changes to my body and my strength levels were addicting.  The power, confidence, and goal-setting mentality I obtained from lifting weights was something I couldn’t get enough of.  To this day it is a cornerstone of who I am, over 28 years later.

Kid Dynamite

In 1991, Mike Tyson convinced me boxing was the superior art form to study, and I was naturally drawn to the boxing-style workouts of road-word, jumping rope, heavy bag work, speed bag work, and sparring.

The ‘peek-a-boo’ style of boxing that Cus D’Amato and Kevin Rooney trained him in was elusive, different, and destructive to opponents. Having both feet planted in a staggered, squared-up style allowed Mike to showcase the power of his hooks and uppercuts in a way that has not been duplicated since, in my opinion.  The other allure to this style are the workouts and training. They are intense, difficult, and just what I needed to add to my toolbox.  I continue to work in boxing based workouts to this day.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Fast forward to 1993 when I fell in love with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ)/Brazilian-Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

Royce Gracie had proven, at UFC 1, in the ring of combat (actually the octogon) that the bigger man, and even technically skilled practitioners in Karate, Savate, Boxing, Judo, and Muay Thai, were no match for his ground-based/grappling martial art.  He repeatedly closed the distance on them, applied ground pressure to get the opponent to react/make a mistake, and secured a submission by way of choke or joint lock.  It was mystical to watch to me and countless others. Even the commentators had trouble doing play-by-play to describe the fights unfolding with Royce, often, on his back in the Guard.  It was the spark to the flame in my and countless others martial arts journey.

NOTE: The history of BJJ is a great story, and you should know it if you train it. To sum it up (a lot), Helio Gracie developed a style of fighting [rooted in Judo and Japanese Ju-Jitsu], incorporating leverage and fighting off his back (the Guard), to deal with larger and stronger opponents.  BJJ, as a fundamental form of self-defense, teaches smaller practitioners to survive and even defeat larger opponents in confrontational scenarios that end up on the ground; EVEN while fighting off of their back.  That is one of the many reasons BJJ is so different from the other arts and is well-suited for smaller, weaker people of all shapes, sizes, and age.  The laws of physics and anatomy don’t change. If you train BJJ, you are probably already well-aware of this.

I put on my first Gi in 1997, when instruction and anything beyond a blue belt was as scarce as leftovers in my house.  Three career changes, two moves, a marriage, and my first child later, I found a home to train in 2007 at Evolve Academy of Martial Arts, where I am currently a Brown Belt under Master Mike Moses.

Me and Master Mike Moses

Putting it All Together: HW3 JIUJITSU

While I continue to strength train and use various conditioning workouts that include boxing and thai boxing styles, BJJ is my main passion by which everything else is anchored.

One thing I’ve [and everyone else that trains] had to learn is that strength alone is not enough to deal with a skilled BJJ martial artist.  Saulo Ribeiro’s quote in Jiu-Jitsu University says it all:

“If you think, you are late. If you are late, you use strength. If you use strength, you tire. And if you tire, you die.”

Fatigue will happen if all you use is strength, and you’ll get swept or submitted.  When you are a white belt, this is the only reaction you know, because you fear the unknown. It’s very humbling and “ego-checking” when you are starting out if you don’t deal with it up front and every time you train.  Remember that BJJ was created to work for anyone, regardless of age, size or strength.

I will share with you how I’ve dealt with and continue to deal with this and other problems during my training inside the academy.

I’ll also share with you the power that JiuJitsu has to make you a better person.

Our goal, with HW3 JiuJitsu, is to promote being a better human through hard work and heroic will.

Being a better human in all areas of life can give you the tools to leave behind a life worth following; a Heavy Weight legacy.

We want to showcase these stories; YOUR stories, on how JiuJitsu has made you a better person.

Continue reading through the articles on this site and we hope you find something that “clicks” with you.

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