Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Jimmy Tang

Jiu-jitsu Times is excited to announce a new feature: Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt where we feature a short interview with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts from different academies around the planet.

This week we feature Jimmy Tang who is a JJ Machado black belt and lives and trains in California. Jimmy has some good tips on how to drill techniques and attitude in learning bjj.

1) Can you tell us how and why you got started in bjj?

A friend of mine got his Taekwondo black belt in high school and the summer of senior year, he offered to train me.
Fast forward to college, my Sophomore year a new professor started a Taekwondo class and I met a friend there that did kempo.
My favorite part of class is when we sparred so I spoke to the professor and we started a club and met a few times a week to spar a bit.
In college One in club, my kempo friend and I was sparring and he was kicking my butt.
To “counter” his thrashing of me, I tackled him to the ground and he quickly armbarred me.
I didn’t think it was possible. At the time, I was 180lbs and he was 135lb. I told him he couldn’t do that again.
We started on the ground and, of course, he did it again. I asked him what he did, he said it’s called “jiu jitsu”. I was hooked.

2) Who have been the biggest influences on your jiu-jitsu and what did you learn from each of your professors?
I’ve been lucky to have amazing instructors in my bjj career.
Professor Jean Jacques Machado taught me about flowing with your opponents pressure and staying calm under pressure.
Professor Cobrinha taught me to take a look at the the whole picture and breakdown the parts that are giving your problems and dealing with them one at a time.
Both Proferssor Jean Jacques and Cobrinha have some common traits – determination, amazing discipline a knack for teaching.
I always observed their teaching and try to incorporate it into my teaching.

3) What is the place of jiu-jitsu in your life?
I’m currently teaching a few classes a week, train 5-6x a week and I compete about 4x a year.
I think I could be called a serious recreational player? 🙂

4) Can you give some advice for students of jiu-jitsu that worked for you in your training?
When asking your instructor questions – have a scenario ready.
Don’t ask, “What am I doing wrong?” It’s really vague and difficult to answer.

When you’re being taught a technique do it more than 3x. Really try to do it exactly as your instructor does it.
After you are able to do it in training against someone, at least, at your level then you can start adding variations.

5) Can you talk about your philosophy of brazilian jiu-jitsu – training and life?
Always try to improve your technique and don’t let your ego get the in the way of improving yourself.
This goes for all aspects in life – improving your technique in everything you do and learning is a life long lesson.

6) Who is your favorite bjj fighter?
There are so many – Cobrinha, Jean Jacques Machado, Marcelo Garcia, Jacare, Romulo Barral, Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi, BJ Penn.

7) Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that most Jiu-jitsu Times readers would not know?
Outside of BJJ, I do web development and watch a lot of anime.
I’m definitely not breaking a stereotype. 😉



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