I know I said I'd be taking a break on posting but I couldn't help myself with this one.
A big thanks to Phil for for the interview and to Vince for sharing with us his experience. Guam may not technically be part of SEA but we've got nothing but love for them anyways. Always representing at the tourneys in the Philippines. Hope to see you guys come through to Thailand next year. -Luke
interview by: Phil Denzau
Most people involved with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the West Coast of the US are familiar with you. Could you please tell me a little about how you first get involved with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
I’m a local boy from the island of Guam and born in the mainland. I got introduce to BJJ just like most people did back in the early 90’s watching Royce kill guys. Grappling was starting to make way to Guam during late 90’s. After I graduated from high school, I moved back to Southern California to go to college. I Started training jiu-jitsu around Dec. 1999 at the Gracie Academy about once a week due to not having enough money to train more. I was there for only a few months then moved to train with James Boran and Carlos Augusto where I got my blue belt. Carlos left to go back to Brazil and I wanted change. I heard a lot good things about Tinguinha and when the time was right I made the move to train with him and have been there since.
When you were first training at Tinguinha’s, one legend was your garage training. From what I am told, training was quite tough and several of your training partners from the garage days have advanced very quickly in BJJ (I know anyone coming with a white-belt that trained with you there was tough as nails). How often were you doing this and how did you structure your training? What famous or well known BJJ guys passed through this training?
The Garage training was a bunch of local guys who lived around the area and wanted to get more mat time. I didn’t always have money due to college like everybody else so I picked up some old garage mats and trained with a few local Guam Boys and local boys. For the most part anybody was welcome to come and train and share tips and tricks. We had many people pass through to train. I don’t know about famous guys. We did have “Crazy” Tim Creduer come by and beat us up during a session. That dude's jiu-jitsu is insane!!! We just trained hard and tried to help each other as much as possible.
One thing I have always liked about your game and rolling with you is that you have a very slow game that is hard to stop. What advice could you give to beginners on the need to relax and be able to train based on techniques versus using physical attributes?
I think when you are a beginner its hard to break natural instinct to survive when rolling, so you tend to go hard because you don’t know any better. I would say you have to put in your head that you are going to get pounded a bunch of times. Try and learn and understand more instead of trying to use power to survive. Matching power never helps you understand the true art, to me all it does is get you out of bad positions help force a submission. Take your time, relax, and try and understand what you did wrong every single roll.
Congrats on the recent DVD, Lost Techniques of the ½ Guard, which documents part of your game. I have seen you toy with higher belts with your guard game, can you please elaborate on how you developed your guard game including the seated and ½ guard? Also, how did you decide to focus on this aspect of the game? What mistakes do you believe people make that can hinder their development of the guard?
Thank You. First and foremost I’m just a big fan of Jiu-Jitsu. In the very beginning when I started jiu-jitsu, I was a teenager and has a lot of energy and time to train to try and get better. At the same time I had to go to school, work, and balance jiu-jitsu, it was not that big of a deal. As I got older and more responsibilities started to pile up I started to see less and less of jiu-jitsu. I would train on and off for about 2-4 years. In the very beginning I was like playing open and spider guard all the time. When I would stop training for months at a time my hip movement was not as fluid and I was find myself getting passed and left to pull to half guard just to hold on. I didn’t think of it at all to be a dominant position, as a matter of fact I hated being in that position. If there was one thing I always did since I started training jiu-jitsu was work on my weaknesses. If I felt that I sucked at a certain position I would put myself there for months at a time till I felt good. Then I read about and heard about Gordo and I was hooked since! I used to watch Gordo tapes and old BJJ tapes to see what was happening in Brasil.
Fast forward a bit…
I was now getting older, out of shape, and less flexible. We all know that those factors play key roles in jiu-jitsu! So after the original techniques not working for my body type and my physical ability at the time, I needed to start adjusting my game. I remember til this day how I was Inspired. I was watching a match with Luke Stewart being side mounted, he then pulled a bride sweep to get him to the top. I watched it a few times and said to myself “That is sick”. I pulled it a few times in class and then for some reason it just was not working as well because the whole gym caught onto that sweep. Since I was a half guard player I started to try using some of the same concepts from that bridge sweep but adapting it to the half guard position. After working it each and every time training for a couple years I was able to find out all the counters and weakness of the position. The biggest advantage to this angle of the playing the half guard is that schools around the world teach you to never stay flat on your back in half guard. What does this mean for me? This means when most people have you flat on your back and are cross facing you, they have total control and your half guard is shut down from head control. This angle allows you to sweep from any position where you back is flat on the mat. There is so many different game in every guard position that has so many more options. It all depends on how much work you put into that position. I say always keep an open mind and never give up on any technique.
You run a very successful clothing company called, Shoyoroll. How did you start this clothing company? How do you balance training and running your own business full time? Which athletes have you sponsored in the past?
Shoyoroll is a underground brand that started in 2000. We are a lifestyle brand that supports extreme sports and most of all MMA and Jiu-Jitsu. The brand was started as a few iron on shirts for friends. The demand grew and now we make everything from shirts, hats, stickers, shorts, and now our very popular kimonos. In the past we have sponsored many different people and many people have worn our stuff for support, names like Laimon, Glover, Cooper, Crane, Milendez, Riggs, Luke S., Go, Hall, Florian, Shields, Darren U., Tinguinha, Pede Pano, Gordo, Soca, Marcelo, Nate Diaz, Nohara, JC, Etc…. We have been blessed many top level guys wear and support our label. We will continue to try and put out fresh stuff. The hardest thing is trying to juggle family, business, jiu-jitsu, and a day job. But at the same time it’s a challenge and that is what life is all about, so I enjoy it! If it’s too easy then it's probably not worth it.
In know that you have been very active in attempting to promote BJJ and MMA in Guam. What advice would have from that experience with people in other regions of the Asia?
Shoyoroll partnering up with PXC has been pushing MMA and Jiu-Jitsu on island for the a long time now. The biggest and only reason we wanted to help push the sport is because we saw this as a positive way to help the youth stay out of trouble. To focus their energy on something positive like MMA or Jiu-Jisu instead of in the streets. We have been doing a annual grappling competition on island for a while and if I was to give any promoter advice on pushing it in a smaller market or country or island. I would say to anybody who promotes the sport, to do it because you want to see growth and because you love the sport. PERIOD. Everything else will come later.
Thank you very much for taking time to discuss your background in BJJ. What final comments would you have for the readers of this site?
Thank you to BJJ-Asia for offering a website for people around the world to know what’s going on in Asia and the islands. I want to also thank everybody from the island of Guam for the support. We are a small dot in the pacific trying to make waves around the world. To my family, friends, and fans of the sport, may god bless you all.
***MORE INFO ON VINCE, THE NEW DVD AND SHOYOROLL CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
'SAMPLE CLIPS FROM DVD'