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2/26/2016 8:47pm,
Rayce asked me to post a couple old pics here.
I'm not home yet,
and I'll have to engage my wife to find my "old bjj" folder,
so give me a day or so.
Be aware, I'm not going to post my life's history on the Internet,
so don't ask.

2/26/2016 9:01pm,

Here I am in a 1996 magazine article about BJJ.
Prof Marcio Simas is choking me in the picture.
I helped develop the copy (content) for the article.
Thanks to Michael Quinn, my old friend and mat nemisis,
for sending me this picture.
A few more to come when I get home,
And the wife helps me find my ancient history folder.

2/26/2016 10:02pm,
Marcio Simas and Sergio Penha were partners and my teachers.
This was a real, dedicated BJJ academy, were we rolled every class,
and all classes were taught by two well known BJJ black belts from Brazil.


2/26/2016 10:22pm,
If you wanted to compete as a BJJ stylist in the early and mid-1990's in Florida,
it was doing these types of Vale Tudo or shoot fights, or
entering Judo tournaments, or
Buy a plane ticket to California or Brazil.
The NHB fights were a lot of fun, but there was not a lot of organization like their is today.

Fight's On, I am the guy in the goofy blue umbro's (a type of soccer shorts).
I always wore a shirt when I fought if allowed because I was afraid of getting Staph.
Most of my opponents bodies had nasty steroid acne,
and the rings were typically filthy.

Fight's Won

After the fight, Prof Marcio Simas gives me a congratulation hug.
Of note, two of my students are also in the picture,
a young Scot Bills (hat), and an even younger Mike Lee (far left)
who themselves both went on to later have worldwide NHB fight careers.

2/26/2016 10:49pm,
I also traveled to Brazil a few times to train and compete,
including to compete in the early Mundials.
I won some fights, but did not medal.
However, there were very few Americans or foreigners at that tournament.
Bananas were thrown when foreigners won.
The action on the sidelines was very "enthusiastic".
The rivalry between Carlson's academy and Carlos Gracie Jr's academy was fierce.
Fabio Gurgel and Amaury Bitteti were beginning their huge rivalry.
Royler Gracie was very well respected.
When we Americans brought up Royce as a possible Jiu-Jitsu competitor,
we were kind of laughed at.
The local Jiu-Jitsu people were glad Royce had won the fights but did not have the highest opinion of him
as a Vale Tudo fighter or Jiu-Jitsu competitor.
My buddy Ricardo was teaching me bad words in Portuguese and telling me they meant something else.
As he would introduce me to Black Belts and I would practice my Portuguese,
he would swoop in laughing hysterically before they beat me up for calling them bad names without realizing it.
The locals advised us laughingly to avoid actually sitting on the toilets for fear the "boombas" (steroids) would
come up through the toilet and enter our bodies.
I got some custom tailored Atama's made for me that still are in great shape 20 years later.
My friends advised me to visit a great nightclub in Copacabana called "Clube Help".
It turned out to me a whorehouse disguised as a nightclub.
One member of our party kissed a "girl" with an adams apple,
thus proving the old adage that the most beautiful women in Rio are sometimes a man (you have to check for the adam's apple).
Unfortunately, I may not have (many) pictures of these trip (I may need to dig through boxes),
because back when we did not have cell phones with cameras,
you did not bring cameras to Rio which you feared would mark you as a good target for robberies or kidnappings.
I asked about side trips into the favelas or Amazon after the tournament, and the locals just laughed and said "no".
So, instead I mostly hung out at Copacabana Beach, and trained at either an affiliate of Sergio Penha's,
or made side trips up to Gracie Barra (back when there was really one Gracie Barra that meant the school in Barra).
On one of the trips while I was at Gracie Barra, Rolles Jr was there, BJ penn had visited recently and swept through the place,
And Roger Gracie along with Gordo's little brother had just gotten arrested for firing rubber bullets at tranvestites.
On one of the trips, Marcio Simas, Sergio Penha, Carlos Gracie Jr, and myself, were all sitting on the mats in Carlos Gracie' Jr's
sitting room, while Marcio successfully asked permission from the Confederation to start the Florida Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I just sat there and said nothing, although Carlos Gracie Jr greeted me nicely when he was told that I was an American who had come to compete.

2/26/2016 11:03pm,
With the Confederation's blessing, the Florida Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is formed
and starts throwing yearly State tournaments.

I took a Silver medal in 1999 as a Purple Belt Adult Absolute, and medaled in my division as well.

And, I took the Gold medal in 2000 as a Brown Belt Adult Middle Weight Division.

At the time, these were the biggest BJJ tournaments in the South East United States.



2/26/2016 11:10pm,
Even though we participated in the BJJ sport tournaments, we still kept our training old school.

I'm the guy playing the bottom.
The guy on top is my student Derek Taaca, a tough competitor in his own right.



2/26/2016 11:26pm,
Gordon Hester and I partnered to open a satellite BJJ academy in Sarasota.

Gordon was the gentleman you see sitting next to Rickson's wife ringside
for the Japan Vale Tudo shown in the CHOKE documentary.
He was an early student and friend of Rickson Gracie.

Gordon has been a lifelong friend, and even though he is semi-retired now, we had a lot of fun spreading Jiu-Jitsu.
Any time we gave a BJJ seminar, we usually donated the money to a charity.

Sometimes we would get more beat up giving those seminars than at ring fights!

Here we are demonstrating why standing up in base can be an advantage.

2/26/2016 11:30pm,
Mestre Sergio Penha demonstrating an old Jiu-Jitsu stand up principle (on me unfortunately).

Myself, a young Steve Hall, and Prof Marcio Simas (and a young Prof Marcio Feitosa).

2/26/2016 11:47pm,
Life gave me a surprise when I developed Leukemia from a large exposure to radium and benzene.

Chemo was somewhat easy after having spent years training the bottom cross body with my friend Nelson Bracero.

Mestre Sergio called me amazingly frequently while I spent several months in the hospital.

It was a very interesting experience to get to have.

Someone else made this video of my initial diagnosis and journey through chemo.
I posted it to Facebook recently as a reaction of disgust to the official in Flint Michigan who seemed to have knowingly allowed children to be given contaminated water.
Surviving Acute Leukemia and Chemo was one of my tougher fights, actually:


2/27/2016 12:04am,
Even though I have some medical issues,
I came back on the mats.
When my joints allow, I am glad to roll.
I am the guy on the far left getting punked by the fingers over my head.
(not the most formal academy, believe it or not).
But we do ask our students to be respectful to other academies and other professors,
and I try to practice what we preach to our students as well.


2/27/2016 3:46am,
This is some awesome stuff, fucking unlucky about the leukimia, I'm glad you're back in the fight.

Cake of Doom
2/27/2016 4:59am,
When you first started your BJJ journey, did you ever imagine it would spread as far as it has?

2/27/2016 6:17am,
When you first started your BJJ journey, did you ever imagine it would spread as far as it has?

For a while, it looked like the UFC was going to fold,
And that the US state legislators were going to make our local NHB fights illegal.
But we knew that a flight to the Bahamas or Japan fixed that.
There was a large period of time where it would of sounded a bit naive to suggest that MMA would become a billion dollar business or a mainstream form of entertainment in the US.
MMA was far from an accepted mainstream form of entertainment in Brazil when I went there, and at that time more Brazilians were focused on Judo, which was and is an Olympic sport.

Also, nobody foresaw an Abu Dhabi Sheik offering a huge cash prize tournament that created a no gi with "no striking" BJJ craze.

The young children tournaments with submissions was a bit of a surprise too.
Many academies when I was coming up started the kids on Judo and or BJJ without chokes or armlocks before they were teenagers.

I also did not expect the "second wave" in the very early 2000's were a surprising number of the Brazilians who came over on planes to open academies seemed a bit less experienced than the previous Brazilian black belts that I had seen teaching or rolled with in Brazil, at seminars, or in our own academy.
But the business environment in Brazil was very tough at the time,
And Brazilians who knew some Jiu-Jitsu could often find local people who wanted to help spread BJJ.

In more recent years, I also did not expect that the Torrance academy would be the ones to mainstream an online academy approach, or that an online bjj academy would have 110,000 members.

But I know that there are surprises for all of us regarding the next 5, 10, 20, 25 years, so I am excited to see them come, and I no longer view mutations with the great irritation that I was did because I know they are inevitable.

If I had to predict, I think the top 5 gamechangers will be:

1) As Russia really opens up to BJJ and international MMA, there will be a second wave of Russian Sambo and Wrestlers who have a big impact on the international grappling sports.

2) At some point China may also open, and people will be schocked to discover that for several decades China has had their own version of skillful Chinese style Sambo like players, some of them quite tough, that are not currently encouraged to compete in Western venues.

3) Having your full regular curriculum online/mobile on video for your members will be seen as kind of a minimum table stakes ante best practice.

4) Medical technology and advances will change how we coach, prepare, and monitor athletic performance, fitness activity, and health.

This will have an impact on how athletes eat, train, measure their activities in real time, and how we coach them as the intra-body data revolution and affordable consumer health and sport tracking devices occurs like the B2B and B2C business data revolution occurred around 1999 and the early 2000's.

5) A non-profit mainstream governing body will emerge that is more democratic in nature or that role will be assumed by the existing Wrestling non-profit governing bodies who will treat submission grappling as just another one of several major wrestling rulesets.

2/27/2016 7:26am,
Myself, a young Steve Hall, and Prof Marcio Simas (and a young Prof Marcio Feitosa).

I was the long tail brown belt in the middle of this picture by the way.
Back then we wore it long belt style.

2/27/2016 8:44am,
Me competing at the first Pan American.


Rickson and Taktarov at the first Pan American.
They were discussing lining up a fight between the two of them,
but couldn't get the funding together from outside sources
to make the money work for the purses.