Name: Mike Brown
Belt Rank: Black Belt-I Degree
Occupation: Construction Consultant
Check out this interesting interview in this month's interviews link, TBJJ Academy's most senior Black Belt after Professor Tinguinha, BJJ Black Belt 1st degree Mike Brown, will be sharing his knowledge and will be going over his start in BJJ and his experience in starting into the martial art at the age of 35 and becoming a black belt, Mike, will be talking also about seeing the beginning of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu art in the US. You can read it all below.
1) Talk about you’re experience in Martial Art’s
MB – Well I started when I was about 14 y.o. in Kempo Karate by my house, I grew up in a very bad area so you either learn to take care of yourself or you got your lunch money taken everyday and since I was fond of eating lunch everyday I learned to take care of myself, I then started taking Tae Kwon Do a few years later but I did not care for it, finally I started Kung Fu which I really liked. I stayed there and ended up an instructor.
2) How did you start training BJJ?
MB – Like a lot of people I watched the first UFC and when I watched what Royce did to these much bigger and much tougher looking men I thought “I have to see if this is real” so my friend owned a Martial Arts store and he knew everyone in the area so I went and asked him if he knew anyone that taught this and he sent me to a guy named Ken Gabrilson, at the time I was working out with weights all the time and was pretty big so I went to the school to try the free lesson, they put me with this thin purple belt and I thought “man, I am going to crush this guy” needless to say I lasted like 2 minutes, from that day I was HOOKED!!!!
3) What age did you start training BJJ?
MB – I was 34 or 35 y.o.
4) You pretty much witnessed the birth of BJJ here in the U.S., what would you say is different from then to now, and comparing the two time what was better or worse between those times?
MB – Interesting question because the answer is the same for both questions, the thing that was better then is the same thing that is worse now and that is the loyalty and respect of the American students for their instructor, back then student where fiercely loyal to their instructor and their school the rivalries were intense and heated students never disrespected the instructor or the school they trusted the instructor and the directions he gave them and what they got in return was his loyalty and a sold BJJ game, nowadays if a student doesn’t like what the instructor is telling them or they think they should be promoted faster or they know more (because they watch YouTube) than their instructor they leave and go to another school, but what they really learn is their original instructor was right.
5) At almost 50 y.o. what is your motivation to keep training?
MB – Well let’s see, the main reason is Tinguinha, if he was not my instructor I would have surely stopped training long ago, but truly what is as equally important to me and has kept training is the students, I truly respect and care for the students at TBJJ, I lead a very complex and busy life with a lot of stress and commitments and I do the things I do out of love, dedication and respect for my family but BJJ is something I do just for me. What the students may not know is that even though when I come to the school they may ask me questions or ask for my help with a technique as they walk away and they say “thanks for your help” they don’t know that in those times they are really helping me, they teach me something about myself everyday, they teach me that I am not done yet, that I do have something to offer, that I can be humbled, that there are still good people out there they teach me so much and I am so thankful to them that’s why I will always have time for them when and if they ask for my help because I really owe them that.
Mike being promoted a Black Belt
6) How does it feel to be almost 50 y.o. and be on the mat training with people half your age?
MB – Truly on some days it’s a struggle, these students are so good and train so well that sometimes my experience is not enough to make up for the age gap but mostly I just fell grateful to be able to still do this.
7) Any advice for people who think it is too late to start BJJ?
MB – Yes, here is what I would say;
-It is never too late (look at me!!)
- Yes you can do this
- Never let ANYONE tell you your too old and you can’t do this, the only people that say this are the ones who are too afraid to try themselves
- Never stop believing you can do anything you put your mind to
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