Today we are presenting an extensive interview with one of the best young jiu jitsu players in Europe. Brown belt Englishman under Roger Gracie, Oliver Geddes. Enjoy!
At first, could you say in a few words how you started training brazilian jiu jitsu and why did you choose this sport?
I started training in Brazilian Jiu jitsu when I was training various more traditional martial arts (Muay Thai, Boxing, Kung Fu) at a school close to my house that also offered BJJ. I thought I would give it a try as well, just for a session or so a week. But I was hooked pretty quickly (for various reasons, mainly because it just had so much complexity, and it allowed someone who wasn’t really all that fit such as myself to be competitive against larger, more athletic individuals), began training it more than any other martial art, and eventually moved up to London to train full-time at a larger academy.
Where do you train now, and who is the head instructor there?
I train at the Roger Gracie Academy in London. Right now the head instructor at our branch is Lucio ‚Lagarto’ Rodrigues, since Roger is teaching primarily at another branch in London, but we have had a lot of different instructors over the past few years, including Roger for an extended period of time, Felipe Souza, Jude Samuel, Gustavo Pires, and others. So there have been a lot of influences!
You hold a brown belt in bjj, how long did it take you to get it and who awarded you with it?
I received my Brown Belt from Roger Gracie after 4 and a half years of training.
Can you say a few words about your training? How many times a week do you train? Do you focus only on BJJ or maybe it’s also MMA, wrestling or boxing?
I try to train somewhere between eight and eleven times a week. Usually I don’t quite manage that, but even on a bad week, I’m doing at least six. In terms of focus, I pretty much just train gi BJJ. I don’t do a lot of no-gi training, but I have a good enough BJJ base that in No-Gi, I can still handle myself, even if it’s not what I spend most of my time training for.
You fought with some Polish guys, Maciej Linke, Marcin Held, Maciej Polok and Robert Trzcionka at the Abu Dhabi finals. Who was the toughest opponent?
Well, this is going to sound kind of rude, but of all those, Maciej Linke, since he tapped me and the rest I (only just!) managed to beat. All of them are really really tough, though. Both my legs cramped up from holding Robert in a triangle for almost a whole fight, so I could barely walk after that fight. Marcin was getting the better of me until he got disqualified. Maciej I won a decision, with us on the same number of points and advantages. So…all of them are animals. On a personal note, I remember training with Maciej in London when he was a Purple Belt and I was a Blue Belt and he absolutely destroyed me, so to beat him, even that narrowly in competition meant an awful lot to me. Congratulations to him on his Black Belt and Marcin on his Brown Belt, by the way!
When a competition is comming do you train in a special way or is it the same type of training done systematically?
Honestly, I compete so often that I don’t really train specially for a competition, unless it’s the Worlds or something that the whole academy is training together for, in which case we have additional sessions to work on our competition preparation. I just try to train every day, preferably twice, and not let myself get out of shape. Then whatever the competition is, I try to be ready.
Despite your young age you have already won some major titles in BJJ. Which of them is the most important for you and why?
I’m really not that young compared to some of the fighters out there! I still think the Europeans has to be the most important title I’ve won, and to do it two years in a row, and even better the second time around, was a great feeling. The IBJJF competitions will always have more prestige than anything short of the ADCC, so to get a chance to accomplish something on that level means a lot to me.
Do you have plans to compete in MMA and try to make your living as an MMA fighter?
I have plans to compete in MMA, yes. But not to try and make a living off it. It’s hard enough to make a living as a Jiujitsu instructor, and without making it to the very elite level of MMA, you’re going to be earning far less. I will fight, but only for the experience and to test myself. One sport is enough for me, right now!
Did you have a chance to train with some elite fighters. If so, could you name them and describe how it all happened
I’ve rolled with a few high level guys, yeah. Obviously, I train with Roger Gracie fairly regularly, I’ve also rolled with Victor and Braulio Estima, when they come down to train with him. Lucio ‚Lagarto’ Rodrigues also teaches at the academy, so I train with him also, plus his assistant instructor from his own academy, Lucio Sergio. I don’t really attend seminars much, but I’m lucky to attend an academy where so many big names come to train.
What is your dream in sport?
I’d like to be able to live from jiujitsu, and I’d like to have achieved enough in competition that I am remembered for it. In the end, I’d also like to produce students who are champions as well.
What are your main objectives for the future?
Right now, I’m looking at the major gi competitions coming up. So I’ll be trying to qualify for the Abu Dhabi Pro again, as well as doing the Euros, the Pans and the Worlds. Basically the majors, with enough other competitions to keep me sharp in between. Then the black belt, then who knows. ^_^
Do you prefer to fight from the top or on your back using guard?
Honestly, I like both. My strength is on my back, but I have a good top game that I spend a lot of time working in the academy. I just play to my strongest points, which is usually my guard. If it goes other places, it goes other places, and that’s cool with me.
Is there a fighter who is a role model for you or somebody whose style you like best? If so, who is it?
Honestly, not really. I take little pieces from a lot of fighters’ games, but there’s no single person that I try to emulate. Everyone has something to teach, and getting too focused on one fighter can harm your own development, so I just try techniques that I see. If they work for me, great. If not, there’s always more out there.
In your fights do you focus on submissions or getting control and win with points? I’m asking because a lot of fights during Mundial finishes with 2:0 with a sweep or with advantage points. What do you think about such results?
In general, I like to try and submit someone for the first four or five minutes of a fight. If I can’t, then I’ll switch to trying to outscore them. It’s very difficult to submit someone with not much time left in a fight, so generally I’ll focus on getting the win and moving onto the next opponent. I always like to submit people, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
If you would like to thank anyone or greet somebody don’t hesitate.
I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped me get this far in the sport. All my training partners, Roger, every instructor I’ve ever trained under, and everyone I’ve met in jiujitsu who has helped me get to a compeition, offered me somewhere to stay, and all that.
I’d also like to highlight my sponsors, Black Eagle Martial Arts (http://www.black-eagle.co.uk/) and Scramble (http://www.scramblestuff.com/), for all the help they have given me.
Finally, I’d like to give a specific shout out to Connor my ‚best training partner’, and to my girlfriend Chun-yee, who has been incredibly supportive with a sport that has taken over my life!