I got to watch my son, Liam, last night at Jiu-Jitsu class. He told me the other day he wants to be an MMA fighter. I didn’t chuckle out loud at least. Like, me, he’s not a natural athlete and has terrible balance. On the other hand, I’d never crush any kids dream because stranger things have happened. At his age, anything is possible. I told him that every journey begins with a single step. Get good grades and attend Jiu-Jitsu as often as possible.

Watching him at class reminded me of my own start in BJJ, far removed from my Bronze at the Gracie Worlds in Ohio and Gold at the Budweiser Nationals in Charlotte. I started out with all the fire in the world and a passion for wanting to get better at this game. I was just as goofy as Liam, but a lot more confident in my ability to get it. I also debased myself when getting constantly subbed by guys who’d be in training a lot longer than me. I know that feeling well. I also know that by the end of my time actively practicing most guys gave me a wide birth when it came time to pick a grappling partner for free role. I really hope my son’s fire that fire for competition and that I can make his journey to being experience and proficient a little smoother than my own was.

Liam is really a good kid and I’m proud that he wants to follow through on something I did like the Jiu-Jitsu competitions. I think having a goal, in his case taking on a tournament challenge within a year, is a really great motivator.