As many of you in the BJJ world are sure to know, the 2012 IBJJF No-Gi World Championship is this weekend at the famed CSU Pyramid in Long Beach, CA.
There are plenty of Texans going west in search of the illusive title of No-Gi world champion, including black belts like Paul Halme, Daniel Alvarez, Bruno Bastos, Alejando Siqueira, Jarrod Clontz, Travis Tooke, Marcello Salazar Bergo, and many more.
We’ll be there to cover all the action but see which of our reps from the Lone Star State can climb up that ladder to the pinnacle of the sport.
In preparation for the event, we also recently spoke to 2x No-Gi World Champion Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins out of Gracie Barra Texas.
For those of you unfamiliar with Brandon Mullins, he’s long been one of the busiest black belts from the state when it comes to testing himself in competition – both regionally and at the international events.
Read on below and see how he got started in the sport, what he credits for getting him to where he is today, why he thinks it’s important to train with the gi, and so much more.
Interview – Brandon “Wolverine” Mullins (Gracie Barra Texas)
Tell us about your BJJ background Brandon. How did you start your journey and why do you love the sport so much?
The way I got started with BJJ is by watching the UFC. When I was in 8th grade my offseason wrestling coach showed our team the very first UFC and we saw Royce Gracie out there doing his thing and as a way to change up our wrestling training we started learning a submission wrestling style. We would train with no time limits and for submission only. The thing that made me fall in love with jiu-jitsu was when I was able to submit a lot of the wrestlers who would KILL me in a regular wrestling match. sometimes we would have matches that would go on for 20,30 or 45 minutes (remember, this was in eighth grade so i was like 13 years old…) and the wrestlers would just romp on me most of the time and then after they got tired of beating me up I would catch them in a submission. I kimura’d a kid named Travis Gaye from my guard one time, and I think that is the single moment when i was like “Okay, I’m on board with this whole Jiu-Jitsu thing.” I didn’t get to start training formally until I was 18 or 19 but that’s when the seed was planted.
Looking at your competition career, you’ve been pretty successful. What do you credit for you having gone as far as what you’ve gone so far in the sport?
I think it is a combination of great coaching at all levels of my education and willingness to work and train hard. I see a lot of people in the sport today that have a mentality of “I better slow down or take a break. I do want to over train…” People are afraid of working TOO hard, which is ridiculous. Over-training is a myth. The problem is under-resting. I think Jiu-Jitsu is great because it is a very level playing field; the people at the top are the ones who are working the hardest. So, I feel like the success I have personally had is in direct response to the hard work I have put in and the great coaching I have had over the years.
How has it felt carrying the flag for Texas at those major events? What do you think of how the sport has grown within the state in recent years?
I love it; I love to represent my state and my country. I always represent my team, but a lot of time people forget that it’s the WORLD championships and you’re out there to represent your country in addition to your team. And i think that is good for the sport.
I think people underestimate the level of jiu-jitsu in TX; it is very high and getting better every day. We have A LOT of competitions here; you can probably compete twice a month if you are willing to travel a little bit. I know TXMMA.COM has a very good event schedule that’s always up to date. The more you compete the better you get at competing. So in addition to lots of competitions we also have a lot of great teachers, and those two things combined gives of some of the best BJJ in the nation. California is probably number one and then it’s debatable who is number two – TX, FL or NY.
What has Draculino done for your game?
I have known Professor Draculino for over ten years and his guidance and knowledge have helped me out tremendously. Of course he has taught me a lot of awesome techniques but more so I think he has helped me with my strategy and with my mindset. You have to believe in yourself and you have to really want it. If you want to be a champion you have to realize that no is going to give it to you, you have to go out there and take it. Without Draculino I wouldn’t be the jiu-jitsu fighter that I am today. Beyond BJJ, Draculino is also a great role model and mentor; he lives all areas of his life with integrity.
Why do you think it’s important to train in the GI?
The biggest reason is self-defense. The gi is used in BJJ to represent clothing. When you get into a fight on the street, chances are the opponent is going to be wearing clothes which causes friction, can be grabbed or pulled over your head/face, and can just interfere with your movement in general. So training with the gi prepares you for that. People always want to “what if” card. The truth is if i got into a fight with a naked man then I would a lot more things to worry about then “how do make my x choke work without the gi?”… The first of which would be, “how in the hell did I end up in a fight with a naked man?”
I also think that training in the gi builds habits and skills that you can’t easily build when training exclusively without the gi. I think i know what i am talking about too since i am a 2x No-Gi world champion, and I train in the gi EVERY day. I think the gi is sort of an equalizer. It puts people on a level playing field, and the athlete doesn’t have the same advantage over the nerd as he might have in a no-gi situation because the gi slows things down and makes the game more technical and less of an athletic contest.
Speaking of the GI, tell us about justGIpants.com. I saw the intro clip and it’s hilarious. Tell us what your mission is with this venture.
Justgipants.com is a company I started with a friend of mine and our goal is to produce TOP QUALITY replacement gi pants at an affordable price. We offer a 6 month guarantee and free shipping anywhere in the US. Ot sounds like a ridiculous idea at first but when you start to think about it you realize the you almost always rip your pants before you gi top wears out. WE at justgipants.com noticed that and decided to try to fill that niche in the market. And as far as the commercials go, although we take our pants VERY seriously, the videos are supposed to be funny, entertaining and a bit goofy. I hope everyone is enjoying them. Enjoy your pants, enjoy your training.
You recently came out with a DVD also right? What do you hope to bring to community with that?
Yes, I worked together with Stephan Kesting (who has produced about 15 DVD projects over the years) to put out a DVD about using BJJ to defeat bigger stronger opponents. It is a 5 DVD set with over 10 hours of instruction and competition footage. I am really proud of it and think that anyone looking to learn some new techniques that are safe and effective against bigger, stronger opponents (and of course it works on people your own size as well) would greatly benefit from this DVD series. You can purchase it on my website, justgipants.com. You can check out some sample clips on YouTube, just search my name. If you purchase it at my site, justgipants.com, then you will also get $10 off a pair of pants; it’s a win-win situation.
What else is coming up for you? Anything else we can look forward to?
Just lots of hard training and more competitions, I’m always on the quest to be the best I can be.
Any parting words of wisdom for grapplers just starting out and looking to get to the highest level themselves?
Train hard, listen to your coaches and don’t give up. BJJ isn’t easy, but if you commit yourself then you can achieve your goals.