Interview: IBJJF White Belt World Champion Martin Gonzalez
Me being addicted to video games all my life, I would be working in an office environment staring at a screen all day and just come home and stare at more screens all day, and I thought that was stress relief but really it almost builds my anxiety even more and my body was atrophying more because of it.
But starting Jiu Jitsu, it just lifted my spirits, obviously, I feel way better about myself and my confidence is through the roof. So, I traded by bad addiction for a good one and obviously joined one of the greatest communities out there.
“I traded by bad addiction for a good one.”
With no prior experience in Jiu Jitsu and only after one year of training at Gracie Barra Garden Grove, Martin lost 60 pounds and entered the biggest Jiu Jitsu tournament in the world, the 2017 IBJJF World Championship.
Martin won the tournament and took home the gold medal, becoming the 2017 IBJJF World Champion in the adult male white belt heavyweight division)
My name is Martin Gonzalez, I train at Gracie Barra Garden Grove for a year and a half now. I’m 25 years old and I’m a blue belt under Alex D’Hue. I had been taking a break from sports so I can do school. I’m an aerospace engineer. I went to BOEING started working there and I was just super fat and depressed. I had always been watching MMA all my life and growing up in the south side, never having any, South Side of Chicago never any money to pursue martial arts or anything, so once I finally got money, I thought I’d be an athlete again and start training Jiu Jitsu.
Apart from the physical exercise and obviously improving my quality of life I’m now eating a lot better, lost almost 50-60 pounds something like that, but more than that it hmm… having someone on top of you smashing you every day and submitting you and especially when they are smaller than you, it humbles you and it’s very welcoming because of it. It’s kind of weird how it works that way. But just taking that humble attitude and being calm under pressure in everyday situations translates to Jiu Jitsu back and forth. That has really helped me mitigate my stress and depression in real life.
What I like about training in Garden Grove with Professor Alex D’Hue, hmm , I really like how he’s patient and methodical with the way he teaches, especially when he’s teaching kids, because he teaches them and works with them a lot, he’s developed a style where it’s very simple but also very effective at getting you very complex techniques down. But he’s also willing to go really in depth if you press him on some question which I like to do because I’m an engineer and I like to go real deep into stuff. With this school being slightly smaller, you get that personal touch and you get all your questions answered right when you ask them.
How was your first class? Can you tell us about that experience?
I was super nervous of course but still pretty hyped up. I had been power-lifting for bunch of years, so I can I came in here trying to like to see if I could take anyone down, kind of like prove myself. But everyone was super nice and open, and no one had any ego, hmm and I got to roll with professor Alex on one of my first few rolls, he was trying to assess me. And he absolutely tossed me around even though I outweighed him by like a hundred pounds. I thought wow this sport is powerful and it works, if someone, I clearly out sized him and he was just tossing me around.
Tell us about being a working professional and training Jiu Jitsu.
Since I could only come after work, but even then, I still manage to make it four to five times per week. And I thought I would find it very hard to do because I would just be tired from being at work all day but really sitting in front of a computer is tiring to your brain, but your body completely just atrophies. So, when you get in here and exercise it and move it, your body comes back stronger and you can clearly feel it in your quality of life. Just walking around with a better attitude.
I do compete. I’ve won the 2016 SJJIF (Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation) Worlds, the 2017 IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Worlds at 220 pounds’ White belt. Man, winning the 2017 IBJJF Worlds was really quite an experience. There’s was some tough guys there, they made me work for it. The win was… I won by one advantage so it was very close. What got me to compete was just missing that competition
Any advice for someone thinking about starting training Jiu Jitsu?
So, what advice would I give to someone hesitant about trying Jiu Jitsu for the first time? Hmm, just come in, it’s going to, you’re going to make excuses not to come in. There’s a thousand excuses not to come in, being tired or lazy or you ate too much today, but today is the first day to start. And it’s going to be hard but really in the end you’re going to learn how to take care of yourself out in the streets / self-defense. You’re going to look better out on the beach with your shirt off. You’re going to join an incredible community of people, humble nice people who are always there for you. And you make some good friends out of it. So, come train. It’s super fun. Start your journey today with our free trial call us (714) 655-6050 or read more about our programs on our website at gbgardengrove.com