This week Gracie Barra Blog brings you an interview with Prof. Randall Huot from Gracie Barra academy in Clearwater, Florida.
“Don’t fight to win. Don’t fight to not lose. Fight to learn.”
GB: Can you tell the readers at Gracie Barra a little about your background?
Where did you grow up and how did you get started in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
My father and stepfather were both in the Navy, so I moved around quite a bit until I was 12 years old.
At that time my stepfather got out of the Navy and our family relocated to Florida where I lived until I joined the Air Force in the year 2000. I was stationed in Germany for the first 3 years of my enlistment and Panama City, FL for the last 3.
When I got out of the Air Force in 2006 I no longer had the same dedication to physical health as I did when I was still enlisted so I decided to take up a martial art. At 5’6″ and 150 lbs. I’m not exactly large and I had seen enough old school UFC fights to know that jiu-jitsu offered the most advantages to a person with my body type.
Once I’d decided that jiu-jitsu was right for me I took to Google and lo and behold there was an absolutely world class professor right around the corner from my house by the name of Eduardo de Lima.
GB: Who have been the biggest influences on your jiu-jitsu and what did you learn from each of your professors?
My biggest influences have been the students and instructors that I’ve trained with at Gracie Barra Clearwater. Besides Professor Eduardo, I have had the pleasure of training with AJ Agazarm, Matt “Aesopian” Kirtley, and the new Head Instructor for Gracie Barra Clearwater, Kevin Peterson among many other great fighters. All have contributed to my game in their own ways and I’m a better fighter for it.
GB: How did training Jiu-jitsu change your life?
Training jiu-jitsu has taught me many things. First, it’s taught me to better control my ego. While I’m definitely still a work in progress, I feel as though jiu-jitsu has taught me to win and lose with dignity and to detach my understanding of my progress from the outcome of any single match or tournament.
Understanding that I don’t need to live and die with every win or defeat in life is a lesson that has had far-reaching implications for me both on and off the mats.
Jiu-jitsu has also of course contributed greatly to my quality of life in terms of my physical health and well-being. The demands of jiu-jitsu training, as in any rigorous sport, require that the athlete recognize the advantages of proper nutrition and sleep hygiene in order to perform at their best.
I don’t know that a person can truly optimize their health without at least occasionally testing themselves by pushing their physical limits. Jiu-jitsu is the tool I use to test mine, and it provides immediate feedback on whether I am doing the things I need to do to ensure my body is optimized.
GB: What do you try to communicate to your students about the benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu?
I try to make them aware that jiu-jitsu is a lifestyle and philosophy that will change their lives in profound ways, and not just in regards to physical health. Yes, jiu-jitsu will get you in great shape, but more importantly you will acquire a skill set that has been shown to have real-world applications and that will foster a confidence and sense of self-worth that you just can’t get from a membership to a gym.
GB: What is the most important life lesson you have learned from Jiu-Jitsu?
For me jiu-jitsu is about reconnecting to what is real. We’re constantly bombarded with what seem like critical issues and decisions in our daily lives and for many people it can become overwhelming and lead to anxiety or even depression. The reality however is that most of the things that cause us anxiety aren’t really all that critical in the grand scheme of things and there is, for me at least, no better way to come to this realization than trying fight off a submission from a skilled opponent. I challenge anyone to worry about whether they remembered to send a work email while trying to escape from a triangle. It can be done.
GB: Where is your Gracie Barra school located?
We are in Clearwater, FL, which is part of the Tampa Bay area. We have about 1800 square feet of air-conditioned mat space so there is plenty of room to roll.
GB: Can you tell us about the exciting things you have planned at the academy?
We have recently started a 6:00 AM class for people who work day jobs, but who may have a hard time making it to train in the evenings. I run the class as an “all belts” class so that anyone can train, and I tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of any white belts that show up to train with the higher belts.
We’ve also added more midday classes to the schedule so that there is more opportunity for students to develop their skills during the week.
GB: What programs do you have in the academy for different types of students?
As a Gracie Barra school we have Fundamentals, Advanced, and Black Belt programs that are designed to meet the needs of our students as they progress on their way to black belt. We also have a kids program that teaches younger students the gentle art as well as anti-bullying techniques they can use at school.
GB: Starting Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes can be a little intimidating for many people.
Can you share a few tips for new students to bjj?
1) The first thing I tell people is that for most jiu-jitsu is not intuitive. If it were, there wouldn’t be classes for it.
2) I’ve seen the weakest, least skilled student from a group of new white belts become the best colored belt through perseverance and dedication to technique.
3) As you progress remember that your jiu-jitsu game is evolving even when it doesn’t feel like it and that all plateaus are temporary if you keep doing the work.
GB: If you can give a single piece of advice for bjj students who want to improve their games, what would that advice be?
Don’t fight to win. Don’t fight to not lose. Fight to learn.
Facebook : Randall Huot
Twitter : Gracie Barra Clearwater (@graciebarrafans)