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Magpul’s Own Jared Hits The Mats With Jiu Jitsu’s Finest In Austin, Texas

As the world around me started fading to black, two thoughts were running through my head. One, “How in the world did I get here?” and two, “I better tap before I go to sleep.” One of the most decorated Jiu Jitsu athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history, Xande Ribiero, had secured one of the nastiest rear naked chokes I’ve ever experienced, and the lights were going out fast.

A special assignment with the military brought me to Austin Texas for seven months, where I would do nothing but work, work out, and in my off time, unexpectedly train with some of the best grapplers in the world. Unbeknownst to me, Austin has been quickly and quietly transforming into North America’s new Jiu Jitsu hub, hosting some of the world’s best teams and individual athletes. That list includes teams like New Wave Jiu Jitsu, Six Blades, B-Team, 10th Planet, Brazilian Fight Factory, and Gracie Humaita.

Magpul’s Own, Jared Pollock Hits The Mats With Jiu Jitsu’s Finest In Austin, Texas

As the world around me started fading to black, two thoughts were running through my head. One, “How in the world did I get here?” and two, “I better tap before I go to sleep.” One of the most decorated Jiu Jitsu athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history, Xande Ribiero, had secured one of the nastiest rear naked chokes I’ve ever experienced, and the lights were going out fast.

A special assignment with the military brought me to Austin Texas for seven months, where I would do nothing but work, work out, and in my off time, unexpectedly train with some of the best grapplers in the world. Unbeknownst to me, Austin has been quickly and quietly transforming into North America’s new Jiu Jitsu hub, hosting some of the world’s best teams and individual athletes. That list includes teams like New Wave Jiu Jitsu, Six Blades, B-Team, 10th Planet, Brazilian Fight Factory, and Gracie Humaita.

Gordon Ryan Jiu Jitsu Demonstration
Tim Kennedy Controlling From The Rear

Jiu Jitsu has a rich history that goes back centuries, but this is a short story, so we’ll skip to early 2022. The important thing to know is that Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that originally evolved from Judo, involving grappling and ground fighting. The initial concept was developed so that smaller or weaker people could defend themselves against a much larger and stronger opponent using the proper application of leverage, joint locks, and strangles or chokes.

Jiu Jitsu has a rich history that can be traced back thousands of years, but this is a short story, so we’ll skip to early 2022. The important thing to know is that Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that originally evolved from Judo, involving grappling and ground fighting. The initial concept was developed so that smaller or weaker people could defend themselves against a much larger and stronger opponent using the proper application of leverage, joint locks, and strangles or chokes.

Japan’s Mitsuyo Maeda brought the art of Jiu Jitsu to Brazil in 1914, where he developed a relationship with the Gracie family. He taught Carlos Gracie the art and science of Jiu Jitsu. Carlos, in turn, started teaching the rest of his seven brothers, eventually opening the first academy in 1925. One of Carlos’ brothers, Helio, was instrumental in bringing revolutionary changes to the martial art. Helio was small and adapted the art to use leverage and a series of techniques to give the smaller grappler the advantage. It was Helio who developed the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Federation and belt system.

Since then, the Gracie family and its many descendants have taken the sport across the world with applications supporting the military, self-defense, and competitive circuits. Breakthroughs came in the early ‘90s when the Gracies emigrated from Brazil to Southern California. There, Royce Gracie would go on to win the first of several Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) using BJJ against much larger opponents using various martial arts styles. The Gracie family, along with the Machado brothers, started building their legacy in the United States, growing roots in Southern California and New York. These efforts would also see the inception of Mixed Martial Arts through famed athletes such as Rickson Gracie.

Japan’s Mitsuyo Maeda brought the art of Jiu Jitsu to Brazil in 1914, where he developed a relationship with the Gracie family. It was here that he taught Carlos Gracie, who, in turn, started teaching the rest of his seven brothers, eventually opening the first academy in 1925. One of Carlos’ brothers, Helio, was instrumental in bringing revolutionary changes to the martial art. Helio was small and adapted the art to use leverage and a series of techniques to give the smaller grappler the advantage. It was Helio who developed the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Federation and belt system.

Since then, the Gracie family and its many descendants have taken the sport across the world with applications supporting the military, self-defense, and competitive circuits. Breakthroughs came in the early ‘90s when the Gracies emigrated from Brazil to Southern California. There, Royce Gracie would go on to win the first of several Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) using BJJ against much larger opponents using various martial arts styles. The Gracie family, along with the Machado brothers, started building their legacy in the United States, growing roots in Southern California and New York. These efforts would also see the inception of Mixed Martial Arts through famed athletes such as Rickson Gracie.

Team Training
Training Under The Flag
Training Under The Flag

But why Austin, and why now? COVID definitely had some influence on the migration, given the fact that Texas was an open state and Jiu Jitsu establishments were never shut down, but I also think that the world’s best grapplers are uniquely creative, and Austin provides a great environment and culture where freedom-loving Americans can come together in community. It is in Austin where the old guard is training the next generation of fighter. As Gordon Ryan would say, Jiu Jitsu is evolving faster than ever into a world where Olympic-level athletes are taking lead in the sport where wrestling, judo and Jiu Jitsu are all converging on one another, making today’s generation, well, scary. Other factors contributing to Austin’s growth in the sport include Flo Grappling’s headquarters being located here; BJJ Black Belt, comedian, and UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s move from California; and Austin being home to former UFC fighter Tim Kennedy. Whatever the reason, I found myself in the thick of it all.

But why Austin, and why now? COVID definitely had some influence on the migration, given the fact that Texas was an open state and Jiu Jitsu establishments were never shut down, but I also think that the world’s best grapplers are uniquely creative, and Austin provides a great environment and culture where freedom-loving Americans can come together in community. It is in Austin where the old guard is training the next generation of fighter. As Gordon Ryan would say, Jiu Jitsu is evolving faster than ever into a world where Olympic-level athletes are taking lead in the sport where wrestling, judo and Jiu Jitsu are all converging on one another, making today’s generation, well, scary. Other factors contributing to Austin’s growth in the sport include Flo Grappling’s headquarters being located here; BJJ Black Belt, comedian, and UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s move from California; and Austin being home to former UFC fighter Tim Kennedy. Whatever the reason, I found myself in the thick of it all.

Gordon Rolling
Weight Training
Conditioning

One of the coolest things about my experience is that even though I was a mere Jiu Jitsu hobbyist, I was able to train with the world’s best BJJ professional athletes and coaches on a regular basis. While in on assignment in Texas, I worked closely with UFC Veteran and BJJ Black Belt Tim Kennedy. Tim is not only a world class athlete, BJJ Black Belt and fighter, but he is often at the center of the Austin combat sports scene, bringing everyone together for some epic training sessions. The requirement for our organization to be proficient in hand-to-hand engagements was critical to mission success, which required a certain amount of training in combatives. This led to regular morning training sessions where Tim would lead all of our personnel through combatives training. Some of us also sought to sharpen our skills even more during our down time.

One of the coolest things about my experience is that even though I was a mere Jiu Jitsu hobbyist, I was able to train with the world’s best BJJ professional athletes and coaches on a regular basis. While in on assignment in Texas, I worked closely with UFC Veteran and BJJ Black Belt Tim Kennedy. Tim is not only a world class athlete, BJJ Black Belt and fighter, but he is often at the center of the Austin combat sports scene, bringing everyone together for some epic training sessions. The requirement for our organization to be proficient in hand-to-hand engagements was critical to mission success, which required a certain amount of training in combatives. This led to regular morning training sessions where Tim would lead all of our personnel through combatives training. Some of us also sought to sharpen our skills even more during our down time.

Now A Silly One
6 Blades Squad With Guests

Often, the world’s best converge on Roka, a performance eyewear brand with a world-class strength and conditioning and Jiu Jitsu training facility. I like to refer to Roka’s facility as the Switzerland of Jiu Jitsu, because you will often find competing teams on their mats at the same time, while maintaining a level of respect for all parties. My days would start with an hour-long conditioning session with Tim and several other high-level athletes, often followed by an hour of rolling with a mix of professionals. That included guys like multi- IBJJF World Champion Victor Hugo, ADCC competitor Nick Rodriguez, UFC Veteran and BJJ Black Belt Rory McDonald, as well as long-time UFC Champion, and BJJ Black Belt, George St. Pierre.

Some afternoons, I would find myself on the mats with New Wave’s pro team where I would receive instruction from world class coach Jon Danaher and train alongside athletes such as the No Gi Jiu Jitsu G.O.A.T., multi-ADCC and IBJJF World Champion Gordon Ryan, Nicolas Meregali, and Giancarlo Bodoni, both of whom are also world champions. New Wave took an unprecedented seven athletes to the (ADCC) World Championships in 2022. Other afternoons, I might train at Six Blades with famed champions like Xande Ribiero, Victor Hugo, and Steve Hargett. All of whom would compete at the 2022 ADCC World Championships.

In the evenings, I would often train at former IBJJF World Champion Paulo Brandao’s school Gracie Humaita, where you could find yourself grappling in a room with ten black belts or more. Or, just down the road is Craig Jones’ B-Team, with athletes such as Nick Rodriguez, Jay Rodriguez, Nicky Ryan and IBJJF No Gi World Champion Isaak Michell. B-Team took five athletes to the 2022 ADCC. Of the 15 ADCC Competitors training out of Austin, three would take home gold, three would grab silver, and one bronze medal.

Often, the world’s best converge on Roka, a performance eyewear brand with a world-class strength and conditioning and Jiu Jitsu training facility. I like to refer to Roka’s facility as the Switzerland of Jiu Jitsu, because you will often find competing teams on their mats at the same time, while maintaining a level of respect for all parties. My days would start with an hour-long conditioning session with Tim and several other high-level athletes, often followed by an hour of rolling with a mix of professionals. That included guys like multi- IBJJF World Champion Victor Hugo, ADCC competitor Nick Rodriguez, UFC Veteran and BJJ Black Belt Rory McDonald, as well as long-time UFC Champion, and BJJ Black Belt, George St. Pierre.

Some afternoons, I would find myself on the mats with New Wave’s pro team where I would receive instruction from world class coach Jon Danaher and train alongside athletes such as the No Gi Jiu Jitsu G.O.A.T., multi-ADCC and IBJJF World Champion Gordon Ryan, Nicolas Meregali, and Giancarlo Bodoni, both of whom are also world champions. New Wave took an unprecedented seven athletes to the (ADCC) World Championships in 2022. Other afternoons, I might train at Six Blades with famed champions like Xande Ribiero, Victor Hugo, and Steve Hargett. All of whom would compete at the 2022 ADCC World Championships.

In the evenings, I would often train at former IBJJF World Champion Paulo Brandao’s school Gracie Humaita, where you could find yourself grappling in a room with ten black belts or more. Or, just down the road is Craig Jones’ B-Team, with athletes such as Nick Rodriguez, Jay Rodriguez, Nicky Ryan and IBJJF No Gi World Champion Isaak Michell. B-Team took five athletes to the 2022 ADCC. Of the 15 ADCC Competitors training out of Austin, three would take home gold, three would grab silver, and one bronze medal.

Nick Rodriguez In The Clinch

Jiu Jitsu has provided me with a means to find a sense of balance in my otherwise chaotic life. For seven months, I was blessed to have trained with the best the world has to offer in the new Mecca for Jiu Jitsu. Seeing the differences in coaching and training philosophies has helped the development of my own Jiu Jitsu in a way that is hard to describe. Xande’s academy Six Blades Jiu Jitsu is fiercely competitive but is passionate about raising the next generation of Jiu Jitsu student. His methods have applicability in competition as well as law enforcement and military environments. His school also spends countless hours mentoring kids and adults of all ages, whether they look to compete or not. Jon Danaher and Gordon Ryan are both passionate about competition, and they’re also on the cutting edge of training development. Their philosophies in teaching are changing the way the Jiu Jitsu game is being played around the world.

Jiu Jitsu has provided me with a means to find a sense of balance in my otherwise chaotic life. For seven months, I was blessed to have trained with the best the world has to offer in the new Mecca for Jiu Jitsu. Seeing the differences in coaching and training philosophies has helped the development of my own Jiu Jitsu in a way that is hard to describe. Xande’s academy Six Blades Jiu Jitsu is fiercely competitive but is passionate about raising the next generation of Jiu Jitsu student. His methods have applicability in competition as well as law enforcement and military environments. His school also spends countless hours mentoring kids and adults of all ages, whether they look to compete or not. Jon Danaher and Gordon Ryan are both passionate about competition, and they’re also on the cutting edge of training development. Their philosophies in teaching are changing the way the Jiu Jitsu game is being played around the world.

World's Best

Since leaving, I have been able to adapt my training model to optimize not only my performance, but also my time. I know that, as a hobbyist, it is unrealistic to think that I can perform to the likes of Gordon Ryan while training three to four days a week, but I can certainly develop in the art faster by following some of their protocols. I have seen first-hand what good martial arts training brings to a military unit. Not only does it increase survivability and lethality, but it also builds comradery and forges men into hardened warriors through focus, discipline, and arduous physical activity.

Which brings me back to where I started, in the clutches of Xande. One second, I was fighting the grey and trying to recall how I had voluntarily put myself in this position. And just like that, a few seconds later, I opened my eyes to a few friends shaking my lifeless body back to consciousness. I’d been choked out because I didn’t tap out in time. I learned something else that day that I take with me wherever I go. Pride goeth before a chokehold.

Since leaving, I have been able to adapt my training model to optimize not only my performance, but also my time. I know that, as a hobbyist, it is unrealistic to think that I can perform to the likes of Gordon Ryan while training three to four days a week, but I can certainly develop in the art faster by following some of their protocols. I have seen first-hand what good martial arts training brings to a military unit. Not only does it increase survivability and lethality, but it also builds comradery and forges men into hardened warriors through focus, discipline, and arduous physical activity.

Which brings me back to where I started, in the clutches of Xande. One second, I was fighting the grey and trying to recall how I had put voluntarily myself in this position. And just like that, a few seconds later, I opened my eyes to a few friends shaking my lifeless body back to consciousness. I’d been choked out because I didn’t tap out in time. I learned something else that day that I take with me wherever I go. Pride goeth before a chokehold.

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