Smooth Operator

Greg & ConanWhen I wrote in my last post that I didn’t meet my current BJJ instructor until about two years into my training, it made me reflect back on that time. I was training Jiu-Jitsu at Roseberry’s dojo, and I happened to be there on the first day that Greg showed up. We didn’t technically train BJJ at the dojo (because we had no real lineage, but it was essentially the same thing). Greg wore a white belt that day, and I don’t believe he told anyone at the dojo his real rank before class.

When I worked with Greg, it quickly became clear that not only was he not a white belt, but he probably knew more than any of us. Everyone else also figured that out, and at the end of class, after Greg’s roll with our black belt instructor Conan ended in a draw, we were all like “Who are you?!”, and he told us his story.

Greg is originally from Lincoln, but he went to college in other places. He finished up in California, where he earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Mauricio “Tinguinha” Mariano in 2011. Then he moved back to Nebraska, and showed up in Roseberry’s Jiu-Jitsu class.

If I’m being perfectly honest, when Greg first came to the dojo, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited to have a BJJ black belt training with us (he’s the only one I’d even met at the time, there aren’t many around here!), and he was obviously extremely talented, but on the other hand, it seemed weird that he would chose to train at the dojo, since we weren’t a BJJ school, so I was suspicious of his motives. I was afraid he was planning to open his own school, and that he was there to try to steal some of our students away!

Tinguinha & Greg So I guess it’s a little ironic that when Greg, Conan, and Jerad did open Lincoln BJJ Center ten months ago, I was one of the students who left to train there. The thing is, Greg stayed at the dojo long enough (about two years) that by the time LBJJC opened, I knew I wanted him to be my teacher. I hadn’t attended many of the classes he taught at the dojo (because they were usually on Monday nights, and I didn’t like attending the late class), but I had trained with him enough to realize that what he had to offer could benefit me greatly. For some reason when Greg teaches me things, I seem to remember them better, and they work for me (if I do them right!). As a smaller person, I also enjoy having an instructor who is closer to my size, because he understands my struggles.

When Greg showed up at Roseberry’s, I had no idea where it would lead, but I now realize it was a blessing. All of the students who left to train with him were willing to start over as white belts (even Conan), so that should tell you something! Leaving the Jiu-Jitsu program at the dojo for Lincoln BJJ was a complicated decision for me, but I did what I thought was best for my training, and I’ve never regretted it, not for a second.

Fun fact: The legal name of Lincoln BJJ Center is “Smooth Moves Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”.

“He moves in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.” -Sade

(Correction: It appears I was wrong about Greg wearing a white belt on his first day. His first class was actually no-gi (you can read about it on Josh’s blog), so he wasn’t wearing a belt at all. I just assumed he was a white belt because I’d never seen him before. Either way, he wasn’t wearing his BJJ black belt, so we didn’t know his rank. :)


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