Journey to Black Belt – Reflections by Dane Barlow

I first met Dane at as a blue belt at a submission only tournament in Utah. He is a genuinely nice guy and a fierce competitor. I’ve enjoyed following his career and admiring his successes over the past years, but never knew his background or his story. This weekend, unsuspecting, he was awarded his black belt. His words in response to receiving his belt are beyond inspiring! You NEED to read this!

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By Dane Barlow

Ok, I have processed this amazing event in my life. I made big plans for a return to competition next year at brown belt but Mitch and the Knights of the Round Table had a different plan. When I started training Jiu-Jitsu I had just lost everything in the home building collapse. My son wanted to train and I had to find a place. I met Mitch Coats in his small academy (Alliance Jiu-Jitsu, Boise, Idaho). And I watched the Jiu-Jitsu art. It was like ballet except fighting. I had never seen something so fluid yet both offense and defense were being played. I signed us both up that night and a week later I told Mitch I didn’t know how long I could afford to train but that I would go till I ran out of money.

I had barely reached the point living in the attic of my sister Noel’s garage with my wife and kids- that I could constantly provide food and basic needs consistently. The pipes froze that winter and we had space heaters and blankets to keep warm. At two months I felt like I either had to go all in or quit. You see maybe my story begins when my step dad told me in high school that I was no one’s hero. I should give up on dreams and plan on a regular job right out of high school. I wanted to be the hero of my own story. I wanted to leave the disparity of my failure behind.

Jiu Jitsu and Mitch gave me the confidence to take back my life and mental attitude. I set a goal to save 10,000 dollars and change my life. This was impossible but I set the goal anyways. I also told Mitch I wanted to be the best white belt. I began to restructure my life with discipline and tapping out and restarting daily if needed. I was on a journey. I told Mitch I wanted to be somebody at Jiu Jitsu. I won countless medals in white belt tournaments all over and shortly after my blue belt promotion travelled to Brazil to compete in Rio at the master international championship. I won a silver medal after a tough finals match I lost by points. With that I came home and changed my life.

I had saved $20,000. I spent $4,000 to take my wife with me to Brazil. And I called a man up and offered to work for free to learn to make teeth! Within six months he handed me a porcelain brush and taught me everything he knew. Six month later under stress of life and bad decisions he had to sell the business. I took the reigns of my life again and told him I would find investors to buy the business. I told Mitch I would be somebody at Jiu Jitsu then do the same thing with my career. I did find investors and I promised to pay everyone back in one year. My mentor told me it was impossible to do and that I was silly and making a mistake by setting impossible goals.

Well I did it. And I won the Pan American championship and a #1 world rank at the same time. Kristi Barlow, my wife, took care of me. Supported me. Went to many matches or took care of the kids so I could leave and have these journeys against myself. I met so many competitors I consider fellow travelers on this journey. All over the place. Too many names to list. Guys who fought so hard to beat me and I them. Thanks guys! You all know who you are. You guys honored me with battles.

I spent the next year paying off my debt and equipment. I spent $250,000 in two years to get the business and equipment leases paid off. I redid countless smiles for charity with Doctor Huff. I sacrificed more money to charity than I took in income for two years to prove it could be done. Kristi let me do it. We bought dinners for thanks giving and dinners for Christmas for countless families because when we had nothing someone did the same for us. Sitting in our little attic with a 1-foot tall Christmas tree Jessica Brennan bought us we ate food some mystery family left at our garage door. I had to return the favor.

At the brown belt level I won several tournaments and a bronze at masters worlds. Then Mitch pulled me aside and said, “Quit competing and go do what you said. Become somebody at your profession.” I wrote magazine articles and shook hands with everyone. I shared information with anyone I could trying to help others and I also helped myself become better. I was spotted by Dan Boskocevic with GC America and he told me he wanted me to share myself with his customers. I lectured internationally in Mexico first I did the entire lecture in Spanish. I met Von Grow and he introduced me to a whole new world of sharing information about teeth. Later I would be elected to become a member of the dental technicians guild. One of 150 in the world to serve and share information to help build up our industry with passion handmade teeth. I would go on to lecture and teach all over as well as speaking at the Chicago winter meeting. A big deal for our industry. And then I made plans for my return to competition. I was promoted on a weekend in which I also donated a new smile to a woman and finished the last implant crown for Johnny Goforth. A black belt. A new beginning. And a full circle of giving back.

Jiu Jitsu and Mitch Coats changed my life and along the way I have had the honor of changing other people’s lives. I did nothing on my own. My team was there the whole time. Countless to name individually I love you all. My brothers and sisters in the battle of life. We were not born perfect. I do not have a perfect life. I fail. But I tap often and start again. I drive to be better. I challenge myself. And you all join with me. We can’t help the past, but we can change our stars by the choices and goals we make today. Thank you all my friends. Each one of you who read this to the end was most likely someone so special to the reformation of my life. You are all special to me.

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The Proving Grounds Invitational

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September 10, 2016 will put Utah on the world grappling map. The Proving Grounds Invitational is a brown/black belt only tournament that will feature 3 pools of ridiculous  Jiu-Jitsu talent in a winner-take-all, submission-only event. The winner of each tournament bracket, -160 lbs., 160-190 lbs., and 190+ will walk away with $2,000 all for the privilege of  beating people up all nigh!

This tournament is an exceptional blend of big name grapplers like Bill “The Grill” Cooper,  World Champion Grapplers like Brandon Ruiz, UFC Vets like Tyson Griffin and Jerermy Horn (did you know he has 91 professional MMA wins with 63 submission???), Bellator Fighters like Alexander Huddleston and Scott Thometz, local ninja nightmares Jacob and Jason South, Utah legend Justin Ellison, and many, many more! To top it off, Proving Grounds is giving away a sick AR-15 from Reactive Gunworks!

If you are anywhere near Utah (like, within a 400-mile radius) you DO NOT want to miss this event! Tickets go on sale Tuesday, August 9th at 10am. For more details on the event, the gun giveaway, and to buy your tickets, visit www.thegaragemma.com

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Summit and Submit II

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Summit and Submit II is rapidly approaching! We have decided on the third weekend of August to return to King’s Peak in the High Uintahs. This year’s trip will be a 3-day trip rather than a 2-day; likely Friday, Saturday, Sunday as the sooner we get there, the easier it will be to find tent and tournament sites. Saturday, Sunday, Monday is also an option, but again may limit our location choice. We will likely go with whatever works for the most competitors. We will decide within the week, so give us your input ASAP!

Like last year, we will be hiking 10-13 miles each direction carrying mats, backpacks, and a few other assorted goodies that we will use for challenges throughout the weekend. Remember, this is a combination grappling/strongman/endurance event (all at altitude), so don’t skip out because you think you’ll get destroyed on the mat. Even if you have no intentions of trying to win, Summit and Submit is a life-changing adventure, so come anyway! That being said, it may also be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, so don’t take it lightly. Start preparing immediately! We will also have a complete list of challenges posted within the week, so you will know what to work on.

We are just over a month out, so start planning now! This year’s event promises to be much bigger than last year, and every bit as epic!

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Submission Naming Contest!

We need your help! Arlo came up with this ankle lock and we have no idea what to call it! Post your ideas here or on our Facebook page and we will decide a winner next Thursday! Winner will receive a PDF version of Arlo’s book Warrior Core: Core Training Secrets for Modern Combat Athlete (www.warriorcorebook.com), and a Jiu-Jitsu Advantage window sticker! Watch this video and submit your ideas!

 

Starting Today

Post written by Arlo Gagestein

*I originally wrote this post on May 6, 2015. I wanted to repost because this past weekend, Richard Call, competed in the No Gi Worlds and came home with the bronze medal! Congrats Richard, I’m proud of you. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be a world champion!

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I was hit today with an aha moment. Why it took so long, I do not know. I routinely share quotes such as:

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” -Earl Nightingale

and

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now” – Chinese Proverb

So, with even with this “Go For It” attitude, I for some reason intentionally hold myself back from becoming the person that I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t let myself go by any means. I am still on track this year to accomplish the goals I set for myself back in January. They are legitimate, lofty goals and I’m proud of my progress, but I know deep down that I can do more. As a perk of my profession, I stay in reasonably decent shape. I am strong, have good endurance, and am leaner than the vast majority of Americans. I also feel confident that I have a good enough conditioning base that given a dedicated month, I can prepare for just about anything. A big beach volleyball tournament? I can be ready. A big grappling tournament? Just tell me when it is and I’ll get to work. A marathon? Barring injury, I’m confident I can do most anything with a month’s preparation.

I was training a 27 year-old jiu-jitsu athlete this morning whose #1 goal right now is to become a world champion by the time he turns 30. Richard has a goal and he is going for it. He also knows what he needs to do to reach his goal. He has lined up a team of people he believes can get him there. He has top level training partners, an amazing jiu-jitsu instructor, a fantastic professional strength and conditioning coach (like that shameless plug?), and such targeted focus and dedication to his goal that I have no doubt he will eventually reach it (like in the next 3 years).

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Pushing him through the workout today, I started to think about competition. I have competed A LOT, in a number of different sports. I love competition. Whether volleyball, jiu-jitsu, obstacle racing, or our own private, invitation only combination strongman/grappling tournaments, I love the atmosphere, I love the challenge, and I love putting myself against like-minded individuals. The thing is, I eagerly jump in regardless of my preparation. I’m fit enough that I usually do decent just going into competitions “off-the-couch”. Watching Richard train this morning, it dawned on me, “With the work he’s putting in, in very little time, I’m not going to stand a chance against this guy on the mat.” He has only been doing jiu-jitsu a couple of years. I have been training for seven. He is a lower belt than me, but challenges me every time we spar. I’ve been in a rut, deceiving myself to believe I can compete with anyone in my division with a month or so of dedicated work. But it is nonsense. My friends and my competitors alike are going to leave me in the dust because THEY are willing to put in the work NOW. Richard already beats me frequently, and before long it won’t even be close.

Watching him push himself in the gym today i realized I need to up my game. Sure I can be ready physically for a competition in a month, but how far ahead of me will everyone be who have already started and didn’t wait for a deadline. Chances are they will destroy me. I am a huge believer in ALWAYS being ready for competition. I hold myself to a relatively high level of fitness so that I CAN jump into competitions “off-the-couch”. But I am cheating myself. I know I can perform at a higher level. Not just good, but great. I know I my fitness can be better, but I have been avoiding what it takes because it is hard. I have opportunities to push myself daily, but frequently let these opportunities pass by, making excuses that I have business stuff to tend to at the gym, justifying my good, but sub-optimal fitness by consistently doing only the workouts that are getting me closer to my 2015 goals.

After watching Richard work through his first circuit (I was busy doing other “important” things of course), I jumped in for the second circuit. I went through one round and it was hard. The second round was harder. I considered bailing out, shamelessly because I had other stuff to do. In the end, I stuck with it all four rounds, embracing the suck because that is what everything but my body screams at me to do. Everyone I’ve trained with knows I love a challenge, that I do things the hard way, that I thrive on being uncomfortable doing things that suck. Trouble is, even when I put on that facade and suffer alongside my friends and clients, I’m holding myself back. I’m not giving 100%. ICAN give more and I WILL give more. I will no longer put off optimal fitness. I am starting my pre-competition month NOW, without a competition on the horizon. I will no longer avoid the work because it sucks. I’m fit, but I want to be at the highest level I know I can be.

Richard – I’m coming for you! Jeff, Lucus, Tiny – you too.

Jake – it pisses my off that you are so much better than everyone, but have no doubts, my conditioning will be better than yours.  😉

Our Ninjas Featured in Jiu-Jitsu Magazine!

It was an honor to have a handful of our ninjas appear in the October 2015 issue of Jiu-Jitsu Magazine!

Now yesterday their adventures were also featured on Jiu-Jitsu Magazine’s website! This article is a fantastic example of our mission at Jiu-Jitsu Advantage to blend strength and conditioning with jiu-jitsu! Check it out here:

http://jiujitsumag.com/rolling-on-top-of-the-world/

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