My typical day starts with my alarm at 330am, a cold shower, 20 minutes of language, Wim Hof breathing routine, 32oz of water, coffee and 15-20 minutes of reading (currently Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill). Then I pack my things for the day into a gym bag and a work bag before heading to either my first practice or client at 5am. On days I have nothing scheduled at 5am I try to get more sleep, not later than 6am usually, depending on when I need to be at the gym. My training schedule is usually made up of 10-12 BJJ sessions, 4-5 lifting days and 2-3 metabolic conditioning days depending on whether or not I have an upcoming tournament/event or I’m nursing an injury. That’s my average boring week with good meals and family or ocasional outings interspersed here and there. Some would call me disciplined but I know there is always room for improvement. What not everyone knows is that I was once a lazy entitled fuck (pardon my English).
My journey began at an early age in Vietnam with my fascination for Martial Arts. My heroes at the time were Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris who wielded nun chuks and used fighting techniques to beat up bad guys. On top of that I grew up with three older brothers to wrestle around and fight with. I tried many Martial Arts, Judo being the only one that kept my interest. The other Martial Arts were fun and it was exciting to put on a uniform and practice techniques I saw my idols perform in the movies but I lacked the discipline that would come through having my ego shattered countless times in competitive Jiu Jitsu. Sometimes it’s healthy to be reminded that you can get your ass kicked.
One day, around the age of 14, I caught a glimpse of Chuck Lidell in the UFC and I could not look away. It was Martial Arts yet it was so real! They were using boxing, wrestling techniques and submissions yet it was all so raw and real, unlike anything you saw the movies. Not longer after, the opportunity (due to my delinquence lol) arose for me to go to the US and live with my brother Steve who had just gotten back from the war and was training for his first professional MMA fight. Steve was and still is my greatest hero, he had an intensity to him that I can only imagine is the product of war. Few people understand what our troops go through for us to live our comfortable lives. Not only did Steve go and come back twice but he was good at what he did. As a kid I was in total awe, moving in with him was a dream come true, but little did I know he would take on a father role teaching me about life, discipline and what it meant to be a man. I will forever be indebted.
When I began training my goal was to be a UFC champion and at age 16 I found myself standing in a cage in someone’s backyard for my first unsanctioned amateur cagefight (aka smoker fight). I ended up getting armbarred in the second round which resulted in my desire to learn the ground game eventually leading to my pursuit of World Titles in IBJJF and ADCC. It’s funny to look back and see how my human need to be respected morphed into something that I truly love and changed my life for the better through lessons, family and purpose. But that’s not just my story, the success stories of Martial Arts are endless and date back farther than we can know. My hope is to move Martial Arts in a direction to where it is accepted and encouraged if not above other sports, equally because of the impact we in the community know it will have. Like many great endeavors it will take time but I think by making Jiu Jitsu exciting and educating the public we can garner the attention and eyes we need to popularize the art.