A name you may have heard traveling around the Jiu Jitsu community. JW Wright has sure put in some work trying to better, not only his school, but the entire community of BJJ. With the help of his instructors and friends along the way, he has found a way to bring Jiu Jitsu to as many small communities as he can, with hopes of covering the world. Through hard work, dedication, and the support of his family he has certainly made an impact.
JW owns Gracie Humaita in St. Louis Mo; he lives nearby with his wife and 2 sons who are 12 and 9 years old. His entire family lives the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. From taking his family all over the states to host tournaments, to going all over to compete both with his kids and his school, he is a very busy man. JW got his start in Sambo back in 1996 which only paved his way to joining Royler Gracie and David Adiv of Gracie Humaita in 1999 and this is where he has stayed. Sixteen years training with these two icons will surely create a passionate student and very knowledgeable instructor. His impressions of Royler and David are of a very high level of respect. He talks about how humble and down to earth the two are and how much he enjoys training with them. Both Royler and David have been by his side with every belt promotion and have supported him in his ideas. Some might say they helped pave the way to what he has achieved. Here’s a little piece of information I wasn’t aware of, Royler Gracie and David Adiv were asked to help a certain company with their testing of their designs when they first started. Any guesses who?? Keep reading you’ll see.
In the year 2002, he started with local tournaments with Midwest Grappler, running 7 or 8 events each year until 2011/ 2012. This is when, his now partner, Vince Anzelone came to him with plans to design and make his own Gis and call his company KOZEN. Then in 2012 the need came for a sponsored tournament, JW then approached Vince about combining his line of apparel and the tournaments to help each other give more to the people of Jiu Jitsu. From there it skyrocketed. People are constantly asking “When is KOZEN coming here?” and so he delivered. JW then took the mats to as many places as he could, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Illinois were some of his frequently visited venues. He took Jiu Jitsu to kids and adults in places that otherwise would never know how it felt to stand on a podium and hold their medals high. However; this was not enough for JW and his crew. Seeing the future of such fights as, The Eddie Bravo invitational and Metamoris, he decided to announce his Respect 1 super fight tournament this passed February. With names like Renato Taveres, Kyle Watson, Piet Wilhelm and himself on the fight card it was surely going to be an amazing event. The success of this event was mind blowing! He hosted a sold out venue, amazing show of skills across the board, and, of course, the amount of respect from each fighter on the card was unbelievable. This, of course, isn’t the last of the Respect series, the next is scheduled for October 17th in St. Louis Mo. Although JW asked me not to announce his next lineup of Jiu Jitsu titans, I will say that this will be the event to see!
This would of course be enough for a lifetime for any normal person in today’s world, not for Mr. Wright! His reach was still not far enough, he wanted nationwide and even the world someday, remember? So for the last six months, countless hours of drawing up business plans, getting advice from friends, the opportunity is finally here. Any body guess who the company was Gracie and Adiv helped get started? Yep, it was Fuji. Who better to recognize JW and his accomplishments than the company that his own instructors helped? Early June the deal was settled, finally giving him the opportunity to go further. JW and FUJI BJJ have huge plans for their future together. Keep your cauliflowered ears open, this will certainly not be the last time you hear these names. You never know, you may find yourself standing on a Fuji Bjj podium some day!
In closing, don’t think you can’t do something just because you aren’t a Gracie or any other “big” name in our community. You can accomplish anything if you put in enough heart and dedication. I asked JW if he had any advice for the up and coming business men of our future. He said, “If you say you’re going to do something, or you make plans to do something, then do it! Keep your word it goes a long way.” This advice can be taken into many aspects of life, not just Jiu Jitsu. I would like to thank JW Wright for this opportunity to cover his accomplishments. He was truly a very humble man to speak with, yet another trait he learned from his mentors. Oss!!
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