Have a read of this terrific interview with SBG purple belt Joey Beslin by Aaron Daniel of neojits.com.
My name is Joey Breslin, I am a purple belt under Coach John Kavanagh at SBG, I’ve competed in jiu jitsu monthly since 2008 most notable titles include 2x British Open Gold and Long Beach Open Gold.
1.The first and poignant question, why did you get into jiu jitsu instead of other martial arts? How old were you?
I had already engaged in other martial arts prior to BJJ. I was introduced to karate at a very young age maybe at 7 or 8. I left Karate but always remained interested in martial arts and would practice different kicks/moves with my brother Anthony. I lived in the countryside with my folks and we found it hard to find classes near by, so i didn’t resume until secondary school. Some of my school mates and I took up point kickboxing when I was 14. I took kickboxing seriously and competed alot, it was around this time that I started watching MMA. Bravo channel had UFC, The Ultimate Fighter and Extreme Sports had Cage Rage. I poured over these contests, One of my favorite fights was Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture, for me this fight demonstrated how a smaller more skillful fighter could topple a giant! One of my friends from kickboxing made the move to a MMA club in tallaght, this gave me the initial confidence to leave too and move onto bigger things. My first class was in SBG Rathcoole, Owen Roddy (SBG Ireland Brown Belt) gave Anthony and I a private lesson and a timetable with classes to attend, unfortunately I was 16 and had no transport from Fontstown in athy to Rathcoole (1hr car journey). Thankfully I discovered a Jiu Jitsu academy only 10k from my house! Mick Aldridge was a blue belt at the time and ran a jiu jitsu class in Athy. My mother would drive me down twice a week and I’d cycle down on the weekends, I’d also cycle down to the local boxing club st. Michaels a couple times a week, with the ambition of becoming a complete martial artist. During my time training with Mick I met Tommy Lakes and Tom Egan, these two were a huge inspiration for me and gave me alot of advise on how to train and think. when I finished my leaving cert I immediately got driving and joined SBG. I fought MMA once and really enjoyed the experience but I found my true love in competitive jiu jitsu, the game, the possibilities, the lifestyle, the comradery etc..
2.What was your first class like, what expectations did you have?
My first actual class was with Mick Aldridge in Athy, there were two things that stood out to me most. Firstly, Mick was so nice to me and my brother, he welcomed us down and had many encouraging words for the two of us, any of the TMA Bullshit we were used to at kickboxing was non existent on Micks watch. Secondly, the undeniable effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu jitsu. I lifted weights back then, boxed, kickboxed and even rolled with other Kickboxers. I thought i could handle myself, even if it meant just not getting tapped. I tapped out like thirty times in that training session!! haha I only ever expected to learn at this stage, I was a huge MA enthusiast.
3. As you started to get much better, did you find learning became harder as you were doing well?
I think the hardest time for me was at Blue Belt, at white belt I had already developed a game and was successful with it even against higher belts. It took me a long time to be competitive at blue belt in the international comps. I wanted to learn everything, the problem with this is although I knew how to do a lot of movements, I didn’t understand when and how they were to be used correctly. Back then Darragh O’Connail gave me a lot of feedback and advice on the x-guard which became bread and butter for me at the tail end of Blue belt. Now I feel like I can break things down myself or at least ask the right questions. It was a gruelling time for me though, I was working minimum wage on the weekends, every penny spent on flights, Comp registrations, rent, bills.. all while training 2-3 times a day 5 days a week. I lived like this between 2009-2012. Rough living but maaaan jiu jitsu is so damn fun!
4.What captivates you lately about jiu jitsu?
For me its the competition scene right now, I’m inspired by the innovation and the desire of the competitors.
5. Your coach, John Kavanagh extended a pretty huge offer to any purple who medal’d at an IBJJF tournament could get life time training…FREE! How has the motivated yourself and how has the effected the level of talent on the mats?
It is an amazing offer, there has been a huge drive in the gym since the UFC success and John is ensuring the BJJ team rises to the challenge, to match that success. We have changed the training a lot, it is top secret but the simplest difference I describe is.. before the changes I was pretty relaxed at class or comp training, prepared to work hard but mentally never really phased. Now I go to the gym with butterflies in my stomach, I have to prepare my mind for war, 90 minutes of carnage.! There are a lot of great up and comers in the gym atm, Tyrone Quinn, Lee Hammond, Daniel Cheng, Tommy McNamara, the ‘de la’ byrne brothers to name a few, we are all training smart and chasing Black Belt world titles.
6. Do you cross with wrestling or MMA? Would you get into MMA at some point?
I do train wrestling, I enjoy being able to decide whether or not to fight my opponent on the feet, the majority of people who train jiu jitsu don’t have that choice. Thats what it boils down to, a choice and realistically to win a BJJ match it isn’t essential that you can fight for top position. My goal as a jiu jitsu practitioner is to be proficient in all facets so I will keep wrassling. I can’t say I won’t fight MMA again but I feel like if I jump in the cage I will be cutting into the timeline of my current goals.
7. You’re surrounded with UFC talent, local MMA talent and local BJJ champions at various degrees, who are three people you’d like to make mention of?
There are a lot of hard workers on the Irish scene, particularly in SBG. On the MMA front most of the pro’s are well known so I will stick to the up and coming amateurs. For me Dylan Logan is one to keep an eye on, totally committed to his craft 3-0 in MMA so far with an extensive Karate and BJJ background. He has the mind and will to go very far!
Dylan Tuke is another excellent amatuer on the circuit, Hard working kid with ever expanding skills look out for him to crack skulls in 2015.
For BJJ I have to go with Lee Hammond, very creative young man with a very intelligent approach to BJJ. Look out for him this weekend at the IBJJF London open.
8. Lee Hammond is a teammate of yours, you both visisted the Mendes Brothers academy – what was the experience like?
At AOJ we trained with a professional BJJ team, there was an adjustment period of about a week just to keep up with the pace. It was actually funny seeing other visitors come through near the end of our trip because those first few comp classes are hell! We picked up some nice details asked many questions but mostly learned how to train for competition. It is a different approach to learning jiu jitsu, the classes were very precise and detailed their jiu jitsu is tailored to winning tournaments and the curriculum reflected that. I will definitely be returning before the world championships in 2015 and possibly before Pan Ams.
9. In five years,what is the biggest goal of yours to accomplish?
My goals change depending on their attainability but one thing is for sure, I will be competing at the worlds every year until I have my world title. Gi and No Gi. It is also my dream to fight at ADCC and I will go to any length to make it happen.
10. In one word, describe your style