This is the first part to a series of interviews with academy/gym owners throughout SEA. The same five questions are given to each person and posted here on BJJ-ASIA where we can see the similarities and differences each person/group has. I believe this to be a great opportunity to hilight a few of the un-sung heroes in our community who have made it easier for all of us to enjoy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. -Luke
Warren Wang at the opening of the new Taichung branch w/ a wreath from the mayor.
What initially inspired you to get involved with martial arts and particularly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? that was a long time ago though. got started after a christmas party, where a bunch of dudes decided to wrestle after getting drunk.
Share with us the beginnings of your academy/gym. Who was/is the primary teacher and how large a student body was there? taiwan bjj began as a club in taichung taiwan in 2003. after about 6 months, we started another club in taipei, 3 months after, the club grew to 30 guys. i was leading the taichung club on the weeknights and the taipei club on the weekends. we knew we needed more help due to the growing interests. andy wang came to taiwan and helped out for 2 years, after he left, the school fell apart due to the lack of management and consistent instructions. the guys stayed started training at community centers and later ended up renting mat space from a karate school. after a year at the karate school, which we decided we had to have a place of our own, a foundation to build the school. so we found a rental space and from there we've slowly grown. since moving to our current space,
What were the major hurdles of starting an academy/gym and do those same challenges exist today or have they been replaced with new ones? the most important thing i believe is stability and consistency in terms of location, attitudes towards training, and the nstructor. we have been lucky to have many helped along the way. andy wang stayed on for 2 years and during his stay the school had about 30 guys training regularly. then the school was in limbo after he left. of course we were privelaged that in between guys like pedro schmall, chris ng and dustin thorton helped out tremendously. it wasn't until makoto ogasawara, who we are so fortunate to have, decided to help us and has been with us for 1 year and half, that the school started to grow again.
What keeps you inspired after so many years? one, of course, i love the sport and love the bjj family that we've built at taiwan bjj. second, at the time, we felt that someone had to do it.
What advice do you have for other academy/gyms just starting out?passion is one thing, luck is another thing, but having financial resources and lots of friends is a must. try to stay away from all the politics and you will find this journy to be truly rewarding.