Gracie Barra Corona‘s Professor Tom Reusing has been living the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle for nearly twenty years. After experiencing the effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu Professor Tom knew that he had found a life long journey in the art. Professor Reusing was kind enough to take a break out of his busy schedule to give us some insight into how he got where he is today.
So tell us about your back ground and your history in the martial arts?
I’m originally from Atlanta GA where I train in Kyokushin karate for about 6 years. Kyokushin is a very fun hard style of karate were in the Black belt tournament’s, which were called “Full-Knock Down” we fought bare hand and bare foot in a Gi and could knee and kick to the head and body but could not punch to the face.
I had trained some in a tradition Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and had read about the Gracie’s, so in 1994 when I learned Rickson Gracie was coming to Atlanta to do seminar I made sure to go and check it out. I was totally sold on the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu from that experience and in late 1995 move to southern California to train under an American Brown belt who was teaching for Rickson, Mark Eccard.
Early in 2007 after receiving my Brown belt from Gracie Barra Black belt Ricardo Guimaraes, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. gave me permission to open our Corona GB Academy. In 2010 I received my Black belt from Master Carlos via Professor Nelson Monteiro.
Although I still feel I have a lot to learn, earning a Black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was the realization of one of the most important goals in my life. I have always enjoyed competing and testing my Jiu-Jitsu against other artists and have been fortunate enough to win the Open class of the American Nationals as Blue a belt, the PanAm’s 3 times as a Purple belt, the NoGi worlds twice as a Brown belt and the Pan Am’s last year as a Black belt.
Your school’s schedule is packed. Aside from Jiu Jitsu you have classes in Muay Thai, Judo, and more. Why do you have such a diverse class schedule? How do you think your students benefit from it?
We are first and foremost a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy and always will be. That being said we added the Muay Thai to our schedule a few years ago because a number of our student who had no stand up striking experience and wanted to try it. We were lucky to find a very good instructor in Charon Dancer and the program has done well. I would say, at this time, about 20% of our Muay Thai students also train Jiu-Jitsu; most people tend to focus on one or the other.
With Judo and the roots of Jiu-Jitsu being so close (to me they are brother and sister, the Judo being more of a hyper focus on throws and sweeps) and with my daughter Kendall having trained and competed in Judo, I thought have a few Judo classes on the schedule was a natural fit but surprisingly it’s been more like the Muay Thai about 20% train Jiu Jitsu as well.
I earned my Black belt in Judo and we have Jiu-Jitsu students who take the classes when we have them (right now we don’t have any on the schedule, although I plan to add at least one per week) but most people do one or the other. Of course we have throws, sweeps and take downs in the Jiu-Jitsu curriculum. I think it’s mainly because people believe (as do I) that the Jiu-Jitsu curriculum is complete by itself for self-defense and Jiu-Jitsu competition and because there is so much to learn in Jiu-Jitsu alone that they don’t want to spend their limited time on anything else.
Of course there will always be people who only want to do striking or only focus on take downs and throws or only augment these skills with submissions and ground control. Perhaps that is the benefit, having something for this group.
Being well rounded in multiple Martial Arts, why did you decide to have Jiu Jitsu be the primary focus of your school?
As I alluded to above; I firmly believe that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the most effective and complete fight art in the world today, most likely in the history of the world. I respect all other styles; I just don’t think anything else is close to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, if you are talking about teaching the average person to be defend themselves in a real fight.
You are now starting a school in Riverside. How is that going?
The Riverside School is growing at a steady pace and we are very excited to be able to reach and get to know people in the Riverside area. We have just added an advanced and No Gi class to the Riverside schedule.
Who are some of the people that you have helping out at your schools?
My wife Holly is a huge help, she does everything besides teach and she does that sometimes. I have a really wonderful bunch of Purple and Brown belts that help me teach and Blue belts that help with the kids. (We have 9 kids and 20 adult classes in Corona alone!) Ivan -Brown , AJ -Purple, Joey -Purple, Noel -Purple, Jered-Purple, Jake-Purple, Trevor- Blue, Alex-Blue, Sal-Orange, and like I said we love our Muay Thai Instructor Charon “Kru” Dancer and our MMA condition Instructor Gerry (a purple belt) is like family as well.
What did you do before you opened your school and why did you chose to give up your career to teach Jiu Jitsu?
I grew up in a family owned automotive tool and die and aerospace company and worked there for many years in various roles, from floor sweeper to company pilot. The last 12-14 years before I started teaching full-time I owned a small executive search firm focused on the high-tech industry.
I teach Jiu-Jitsu because I truly love the art, love teaching the art and get tremendous satisfaction seeing the transformative effect it has on people’s lives. I honestly love my job!
What goals do you have for you school?
Just to have our students get better and better at Jiu-Jitsu, have a good time doing it in a place where they look forward to coming and to keep training as long as they can and not give up on their goals.