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BJJ Fanatics and BJJ Betty Help Fast Track White Belt Grappling Sailor

BJJ Fanatics and BJJ Betty Help Fast Track White Belt Grappling Sailor


Navy Sailor and White Belt Makes Splash At ADCC West Coast Trials

In only his second grappling competition, Jairod James, a Navy sailor specializing in advanced technology systems and former D3 collegiate wrestling standout, entered the largest ADCC West Coast Trials in history, joining over 1000 athletes all vying for 7 coveted spots at the ADCC World Championships in September.  The event was held during the first week of April and what may be surprising is that Jairod just started training BJJ on January 20th of 2022.

On April 2nd and 3rd, the Abu Dhabi Combat Club held one of the most successful events in its history with the 2022 ADCC West Coast Trials.  Over 1000 grapplers from all over the globe converged on Las Vegas to compete for 1 of only 7 spots to the prestigious ADCC World Championships this coming September also in Las Vegas.

The winners have been crowned and each athlete has secured their spot at September’s event each with their own stories of how they got there.  As the dust settles on this amazing appetizer to the main event in September, there are still more amazing stories coming from the legions of athletes who just missed their opportunity.

The story of Jairod James underscores a number of important topics and issues.  The first is the issue of the high school or college athlete who finds their competitive career over and is unable to find an outlet for that energy and drive.  The second issue is finding an outlet for our active or former military members who need to find something productive to do outside of their duties or after their duties have ended.  Thankfully in Jairod James’ case, BJJ and submission grappling has entered his life to fill those needs.

By day, James is currently a US Navy Sailor specializing in advanced electronic systems, based at the largest Naval Base in the US in Norfolk, Virginia.  After his duties are done, nearly every free moment is spent drilling, training, or studying BJJ Fanatics instructionals.

shark tank with jairod james and diego bispo

Prior to his enlistment in the Navy at the end of 2020, Jairod James attended Mount Union College near Cleveland, OH where he was a 2 time NCAA Finalist in wrestling and the 2018 D3 National Champion at 174 lbs.  After studying psychology and business administration, Jairod enlisted in the Navy and found himself in Norfolk with some time on his hands.  

“I was bored out of my mind and needed something to do that was equally as exciting as wrestling,” -Jairod James


Seeing that the young sailor needed something to occupy him outside of his Navy training and work, his supervisor Chief Tucker, who is a blue belt under Alex Humen recommended that James find the nearest BJJ Academy and start training.  Oleksander Humen is a black belt under Diego Bispo who has several affiliates in the Virginia Beach and Norfolk area.  Jairod would not long after Chief Tucker shared his recommendation,  walk into Diego Bispo’s main academy on January 20th of this year.

"I do think more military personnel, especially the Navy and the Air Force, we should get into some sort of jiu jitsu because we're the only two branches that don't have any type of hand to hand combat (training)."--Jairod James

Get Alex Humen's entire series from BJJ Fanatics!

alex human gi chokes

Roll Forever's Betty Broadhurst Comes Up With the Plan

There he would not only meet Professor Bispo, but also one of his black belts, Ms. Betty Broadhurst.  Betty is well known, not only as the creator and CEO of Roll Forever, a company and movement founded on the notion of promoting BJJ and grappling for everyday practitioners and also professional athletes helping them find viable ways to make a living at their sport.

Betty had also recently broken the internet when she won double gold at the IBJJF Masters World Championship and received her black belt at 64 years of age after 11 years of training.  Betty began training BJJ at 54 after her children were grown, deciding it was a great way to stay active and be surrounded by people of all ages and backgrounds all striving to improve their lives.

Immediately, Professor Bispo and Betty saw incredible potential in the young sailor and former D3 wrestling champion.  They decided to put their time and resources together to design an ADCC Trials training camp together for Jairod.

The transition from wrestling to BJJ can be hard, but Jairod was able to push forward through moments of frustration when doing endless guard passing drills or lying on his back drilling back control.  One huge benefit of his wrestling background was his ability to hand fight which is a staple of Gordon's game.

Betty would spend the afternoon’s working with Jairod after his work with the Navy was finished and until regular class sessions would begin in the evening.  Professor Broadhurst was also studying and practicing herself for her first stint as an ADCC Referee, so this time served both of them well.

Thanks to Mo Jassim's video resources around the ADCC rules, Betty and Professor Bispo were instrumental in their game plan.  By understanding the nuances, it helped them shape the choice of instructionals to focus on.

Soon Jairod’s development began to require additional training partners to help him train for the event.  Shark tanks were a regular occurrence most nights after he and Betty would drill for hours in the afternoon, constantly focused on takedowns and attacking turtled opponents looking for back submissions.


BJJ Fanatics Videos Supplement James' Training

"John Danaher videos were vital to my gameplan.  When I look at sports or jiu jitsu in this situation, I find the best people and copy what they do.  There's no sense reinventing the wheel.  You follow what works.  And obviously these two gentlemen (Gordon and John) are the best in the game right now, so I followed their instruction."--Jairod James


His work on the mats also included plenty of homework.  Betty would assign Jairod pieces of Gordon Ryan and John Danaher’s Passing and Back Attack instructional videos from BJJ Fanatics.

Learn the BACK ATTACK system that the Danaher Death Squad used to dominate the submission grappling world!

Jairod would spend upwards of two hours a night studying the instructionals and then working on the techniques in drills and sparring the next day.  The gameplan was simple--build on Jairod's wrestling background and learn the nuances of attacking opponents who are turtled up and how to perfect back takes and submissions from the back.

Gordon Ryan's SYSTEMATICALLY ATTACKING THE GUARD was instrumental to Jairod during his crash course!

One of the most important aspects from Gordon Ryan's instructionals for Jairod was the fact that he included a lot of live rolling analysis footage that helped him get into the mindset of what Gordon was trying to accomplish as he rolled with his partners.

As a long time friend of the Ryan family, Betty Broadhurst was able to secure an invite from Gordon to attend his special seminar the evening before the ADCC West Coast Trials began. And with just over 70 days between him walking into the Diego Bispo Academy and the trials, Navy Sailor Jairod James was ready to put those skills honed in those hours leading up the event to the test.

Another key resource during Jairod's ADCC training camp was Gordon Ryan's SYSTEMATICALLY ATTACKING THE BACK available at this link!

At the event, Jairod was able to defeat his first two opponents, Ricardo Casas and Jeremy Hastings.  In his third match, he would meet Hunter Colvin, who would go on to win the Silver medal at the event.  Hunter Colvin, a black belt who has been competing at a high-level would would submit 6 opponents on his way to the Finals, including Jairod by triangle.  Hunter would be defeated by weight class winner Jay Rodriguez.


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Navy Tech Eyes Future Grappling Goals

This is not a story about loss.  It is the story of a fire ignited.  The power of BJJ to spark someone to see new opportunities to fuel the competitive fire and to develop further as individuals.  The story of Betty Broadhurst and the second life she’s created through BJJ and her Roll Forever philosophy has a lot of parallels to Jairod’s journey, though it’s just started and he’s a long way from black belt.  Through the help of teammates and resources like BJJ Fanatics, Jairod James is just starting a new second life that will take him beyond the Navy to new and higher podiums.

"In regards to BJJ, my goals are to be a world champion, a multiple time world champion.  IBJJF world champion.  ADCC world champion.  And any other tournament, I can enter in the jiu jitsu world."--Jairod James

With this story, it is our hope that more wrestlers and athletes at the end of their respective competitive careers, will find their way to jiu jitsu and by using the help of instructors, teammates and resources like those provided by BJJ Fanatics they will join Betty Broadhurst and take on the Roll Forever mentality.

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