Most of you probably don’t know the name Joshua Hightower, even though yesterday he became a minor celebrity in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community.
Hightower made headlines in various BJJ magazines when a video was posted on Youtube of him refusing to tap to a leg lock.
If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:
The Jiu-Jitsu Times posted this video yesterday, and last night, Hightower called us out it, saying that we should have gotten his side of the story, too.
Joshua was right. We should have gotten his side of the story, and while we can’t go back in time and erase our mistake, we can make up for it.
So here is Joshua’s side of the story…
Joshua Hightower is an army veteran who served in the 3-3/187th Air Assault of the 101st Airborne. While serving in the 2003 Gulf War, Hightower was injured and medically discharged.
It was not until 2016 that he decided to start training in grappling, though. Severely overweight, Hightower started doing catch wrestling. However, he did not have a catch wrestling gym around him, so he had to start his own.
“I just started begging people to come train with me with catch videos and bringing in my catch coach Jarvis Kolen every month to do a seminar,” he told the Jiu-Jitsu Times.
The effort paid off, and today Joshua has 15 students at his club, Searcy Wrestling Club. He has also beaten Pan-American gold medalists and won around 20 gold medals of his own.
So why didn’t Joshua tap in the video?
“For me it was simple,” he told us. “I run a catch Wrestling Club and train a lot of children including my own. I push them to do their best and always be proud of their effort. In my mind when I compete I have to give every single ounce of energy and effort that my body will allow me, and because of that my brain won’t let me stop. So every match is the most important match in my life.”
In my mind when I compete I have to give every single ounce of energy and effort that my body will allow me, and because of that my brain won’t let me stop.
The heel hook he caught me in was deep and the puppy my was loud but it didn’t break, it hurt. I had no reason to quit at that point. When he slipped my ankle lock and got me into an arm bar it did not hurt and gave me no concern at the time, I had no reason to tap. When he got the toe hold in my mind I knew my ankle was stiff so I had to suck it up, he cranked on it and the ref stopped it after I grunted loudly. I slammed the mat after that in pain and frustration with myself. I put in 18 weeks of training and cutting weight to get from 220 to 175 to be healthier and compete down there, so it all boiled over for me. I shook the refs hand, which you can ask him and Brandon quick about, and told him I respected his decision and even thanked him! I congratulated Matt Vernon and shook his hand and thanked him and even playfully joked with him after it was over. I got taped and competed in a match after that. The point is this: there was no ill will towards anyone. Only appreciation for a great tournament, one which seven of my students medaled and had a great time at, which I had a great time at.
Furthermore, competing is so much more than winning a shiny, gold medal for Joshua.
I love competing, and as a disabled combat vet this is really the only thing I have to help me deal with all the aftermath of war, so yeah I’m emotional and I’m loud.
If you’re looking to learn some catch wrestling from Joshua Hightower, check out his gym Searcy Wrestling Club in Searcy, Arkansas.