Students grapple for knowledge, success at BJJ seminar
By Azeita Taylor
Special to the Leader-Press
With pure intensity and sweat running down their brows, mixed martial arts students from gyms and dojos all around the state of Texas grappled for a chance to learn new skills and hone old ones in Copperas Cove over the weekend. Absolute BJJ, a local Jiu Jitsu gym under the guidance of owner and Coach Brittany Emberton, a fourth degree blue belt, and Team Pinkney Mixed Martial Arts, owned by Rickey Pinkney Jr., a mixed martial artist with a black belt in Judo and Karate, teamed up to bring the inaugural BJJ Super Seminar of the Americas to the local area.
Pinkney, who trains at Absolute BJJ and holds a decade of experience in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu fighting, said he wanted to bring self defense awareness to the area, which he called an “untapped market,” and mentioned he plans to bring the event back to Copperas Cove next year.
“(Team Pinkney) is a global organization built to support all athletes throughout all walks of life, such as financial, social and training,” he said. “It’s a sad story that there are some athletes that have to work instead of train, even at the pro level. My aim at Team Pinkney is to remedy that.”
The two-day seminar, which took place on Saturday and Sunday inside the Fierce Pierce gym - formerly home to Gymkix, boasted an incredible line up of world champion instructors and masters in the art of Jiu Jitsu. Central Texas resident and Amateur Champion MMA fighter Travis Moore, Joel Blanton, Daniel Camarillo, Brian Marvin and famed Jiu Jitsu Master Carlos Machado schooled those in attendance, in what some called a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to be taught by so many greats in one location.
“It’s really cool to do something really close. I wanted to see the community come out and support a big event,” said Moore, who recently won the heavy weight division at NAGA 2017 and is the co-owner of John’s Gym in Temple, Texas. “I also wanted to meet a lot of other guys I haven’t got to meet yet. It’s awesome.”
As legend has it, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and ground fighting, was formed from Kodokan Judo and taught by individuals like Takeo Yano, Mitsuyo Maeda and Soshihiro Satake. Brazilian born Machado, a ninth degree coral belt and instructor at Farmers Branch Martial Arts in Farmers Branch, Texas, is the nephew of legends Carlos and Helio Gracie; both of whom studied under Maeda in Brazil. Machado has taught Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for nearly 40 years and worked closely with the likes of famed Hollywood actor and martial artist Chuck Norris.
Blanton, an MMA champion in his own right and assistant Jiu Jitsu instructor at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Springhill, Tenn., said he spoke to Pinkney and Emberton about participating in the seminar earlier this summer when he came down to train. He mentioned the importance that these types of seminars hold for himself and the young students.
“I absolutely believe it helps because of the mental and physical discipline, confidence and self esteem that builds from it,” he said. “It builds a community. It’s nice to go somewhere to meet people you connect with.”
The event was also well received by many local martial arts studios, including Self Defense America in Copperas Cove. Master Jimmy Hogberg spoke about the importance of coming together to train and support one another. His thought was: I need to support other dojos and gyms if I want them to support me.
“This type of talent doesn’t normally come to this area because, unfortunately, a lot of times local schools don’t support each other,” he said. “They will travel to Dallas for Master Machado’s school and pay more, in hotel and other expenses, instead of supporting their local school.”