When I took my first jiu jitsu class in 2002 I never imagined the path I would eventually follow. At the time I was already well into my martial arts lifestyle and jiu jitsu was just another tool to compliment my overall skill set. Jiu jitsu started off as a once per week class (Saturday) with one day of review during the week to go over what we learned and prepare for the next weeks class. Little by little my personal martial arts curriculum started a shift, Muay Thai and the self-defense art that were once priority slowly moved into the back seat and jiu jitsu jumped behind the wheel.
Due to a lack of resources I started teaching jiu jitsu very early into my jiu jitsu training which forced me to really break down the technique and understand every little detail so I could explain how and why the technique worked and was effective. I was already teaching a self-defense art at the time and I believe this helped me with understanding and breaking down technique but, with jiu jitsu I took it to a whole new level. I’ve always felt that I was good at teaching and I’ve always received very positive feedback on my classes, however I feel jiu jitsu help me raise the bar on my own skills and ability to pass them to others.
Early on I used to talk about traveling to train at some of the academies run by Brazilian black belts and some of the better known competitors and instructors. At one point I was really into flow drills, I used to put together simple 2 step drills up to very complex drills with as many as 10 steps or more. I would teach these drills in steps which caused the student to learn the individual technique and the transitions between which helps them with the overall understanding and helps the student move seamlessly between technique without pause. At the time I was doing this I had this dream about traveling and teaching seminars based on flow drills, in my mind it was a great idea that couldn’t fail, but also in my mind was I’m a blue belt and who gives a shit what I think so I just kept doing my thing and let the seminar idea go.
In 2015 I heard about a book called The Cauliflower Chronicles about a dude who went to train in Hawaii, it sounded pretty interesting so I went on Amazon to buy the book. In true Amazon fashion when I put the book into my cart they showed my some other books I may be interested in based on my selection. One of the suggestions was a book called The BJJ Globetrotter, it looked pretty cool so I let Amazon get the best of me and bought both books. Jokes on you Amazon, The BJJ Globetrotter ended up have a major impact on my life and opened doors I never dreamed of. After reading the book I looked up the author Christian Graugart on Facebook and sent him a friend request and joined his Globetrotters Facebook group, I also found the Globetrotters website and joined the community.
Through this research on the Globetrotters I found that Christian was running jiu jitsu camps. The camps were mostly in Europe but there was a U.S. camp in New Hampshire coming up in September of 2016. I was talking with Tara about this and she noticed the excitement I showed while talking about this whole community Christian was building. Now anyone who knows me can tell you I’m pretty much on the same level no matter the circumstance, I don’t really show excitement. Tara seeing this bought me a ticket to the BJJ Globetrotters camp New Hampshire 2016.
I was a brown belt at the time Tara bought me the ticket to the camp, in April 2016 that changed, I earned my black belt and went to my first camp as a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt. I drove up to the camp stopping along the way to pick up one of the instructors Trenton Cooke at the airport. Talking with Trenton on the ride I learned we had common training partner in our jiu jitsu journeys which was pretty cool. So my very first camp class I was Trenton’s assistant which helped me interact with a large number of students immediately.
After this camp I felt totally reborn, I emailed Christian and expressed interest in becoming one of his camp instructors and while it didn’t happen by the next U.S. camp at that camp Christian invited my on as an instructor. The first camp I taught at was in Heidelberg Germany in August 2017. I had never traveled out of the states before and now I was traveling out of the country for the first time in my life and teaching jiu jitsu at a camp with 150+ students from all over the globe. I had this fear that no one would be in my class because well, let’s face it; who the fuck is Rich Sab? Well, the class was 100+ students and other camp instructors and the feedback was awesome.
I have now been to 6 Globetrotters camps, taught at 4 camps (2 in Maine, 1 each in Germany, Iceland, and St. Barthelemy) and I will be teaching in Maine again this year and just confirmed that I will be going back to teach in Heidelberg Germany this summer.
So the question is: Where has the jiu jitsu path taken me?
And the answer is: Everywhere…….