Back in 2002, I was known by some in the grappling scene in south Florida as “the Black Belt Wrestler.”
It was a term they used to say that I didn’t really know Jiu Jitsu. My brother and I weren’t ranked in BJJ at the time, and being Americans with a wrestling background (and keep in mind, only highschool wrestling, lol), we were the equivalent of the gringo luta livre group. 🙂
Besides our high school wrestling, we had training in NHB (No Holds Barred for your TUF newbies) under Master RI. He was also not ranked in BJJ, although he was well ahead of his time. He has black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Japanese Ju Jitsu, was training boxing, and had done seminars with Rickson Gracie – all well before the term “MMA” was coined and before the concept of cross-training was known to the martial arts community.
My brother and I were training ground and pound, heel hooks, neck cranks, and all sorts of submissions and MMA concepts back in 1999 that were taboo for the vast majority of martial artists. Being that the case, we were very top orientated as our training was more geared towards fighting that grappling.
Why is that important back story for this video?
Well, in this match I was facing a new brown belt in the BJJ scene in Miami, UFC Veteran Jorge Santiago. American Top Team was just beginning to come together, and they had brought in a lot of new talent from Brazil to fill their ranks. Jorge was one of the new guys, and I was going to be the one to welcome him in the local competition scene. 🙂
What shocked many people in this match was that I pulled guard. It was the first time I have ever pulled guard in competition, and I think I caught everyone off guard with that tactic. I also showed everyone that day that the Black Belt Wrestler had some bottom skills.