The Unsung Jiu Jiteiro

I recently decided to do an article for those who otherwise would be unknown.  These are the people that do their part to contribute to Jiu Jitsu or that could have given up at one point but didn’t.  Please take a moment to read these stories and show these people some love for all they’ve done.

The first submission I received was from Teara Lewis and Marcus Anderson for their instructor LaDell.

LaDell Elliot is the owner and head instructor of Elite Combat Systems in Stillwater Oklahoma. He has 35 years of experience in multiple Martial Arts. He has studied BJJ for 9 years and is a two stripe Brown Belt under Christen Derr who is a black belt under Jean Jacques Machado.
LaDell has always gone above and beyond to help others in BJJ. Not only a phenomenal instructor, he has done many workshops and seminars pro bono for churches and women’s groups to help spread the art of BJJ.
LaDell has positively influenced my BJJ in so many ways. I’m a full instructor under LaDell in Jeet  Kune Do as well as a student of his in other arts including Kali, Cambodian Boxing and of course BJJ. His knowledge of other arts and the way those arts are trained and taught gives him a great perspective on teaching. This teaching style has helped me learn BJJ more quickly and affectively than any other BJJ instructor I’ve encountered. LaDell is a certified instructor in Jeet Kune Do under none other than Guro Dan Insosanto, who actually has 2 black belts from 2 different Machados. LaDell will often teach class from a flow or progression. We may start with a basic escape then he will show how to improve to a better position. This will continue and be built upon until it is eventually a multiple technique flow. Sometimes he will teach a move and have us drill it for a 2-3 minute round. This helps the student not focus on the number or reps but on the quality of the movement. Then as the combination grows, the student started from the beginning each time. By using the progressive model, even if the beginner doesn’t grasp the entire concept of the 6 movement flow, guess what? They’ve ended up working the first simple escape over 100 times in that hour time period. This allows the white belts to focus on perfecting that movement while the upper belts can grasp and work on perfecting the more technical parts of the progression.
LaDell Elliot is an amazing Martial Artist and instructor. Without his knowledge and style of teaching, I wouldn’t be half the Martial Artist I am now. He is truly an unsung hero.

This is truly a story of heart and was sent in by Julio Diaz-solache for his teammate Kelly.

My teammate’s name is Kelly Sandall, he’s a 3 stripe purple belt under James Weed of Newborn Cascao Jiu Jitsu. He trains everyday of the weeks and has been training since he was in 7th grade (now a junior in college). The reason I nominate Kelly is because he was born with a congenital heart disease, Aortic Stenosis. His issue was that his aortic valve was a bicuspid instead of a tricuspid meaning that it leaked and his aorta was narrow, meaning that his heart had to work twice as hard to do half the work. Kelly and I trained on our original team which was more geared towards MMA, he helped every teammate he could but never stepped in the cage because of his heart problem. Fast forward a few years Kelly had an aortic valve replacement, meaning they ripped out his old valve all the while widening his aorta by cutting it down the middle and patching it. We had both switched to Newborn by this time and both of us focused solely on jiu jitsu. He switched because with his mechanical valve, he has to be on blood thinners for life so he decided itd be best for him to focus only on bjj with us. For the first time in his life he could go out and compete and he did just that. Kelly now competes at every tournament in the northwest, always placing top three and he even competed at worlds this year. He trains everyday, sometimes twice a day if it’s summer, teaches no gi, competes avidly and helps all of our teammates he can. I forgot to mention he studies and rolls like a maniac, sometime he roll for an hour straight no breaks. I nominate him because he always had the heart, but unlike some people didn’t have the chance to live out his dreams, now that he has the opportunity he takes every chance. From a little kid in middle school with a heart problem to a full blown jiu jitsu competitor and junior in college thus my nomination.
The last story is from Brian Koons for his passionate 10 year old daughter Annika.

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Annika is a BreakpointFC Athelete  like you(!probably one of the best companies in the world as far as we are concerned).  We are Girls Bring it Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  We are a new company unlike any other.  I’m an Illustrator, Black Belt in Hapkido, Brown Belt in Karate and about to get my Blue Belt in BJJ.  I’ve studied at the Gracie Academy under Rener/Ryorn/Ralek Gracie and have spent my last year and a half at SAMPA BJJ in Glendora, CA under Renato Migliaccio, Nathan Bessoto and Evandro Nunes (Metamoris Fighter).
It was never my intention to start a company…but it blew up and now my daughter and myself are business partners and overwhelmed!!. It all started when at my daughters request, I was looking for young girl BJJ apparel and we just could not find any.  My daughter really wanted a BJJ shirt that just wasn’t a boy shirt from a tournament. Well, as an illustrator and martial arts lover I said, I’ll make you one and have my printer guy make you a few.  When we got the shirt, she loved it and so did all the Jiu Jitsu girls at the gym.  I had so much fun making it for her I decided to do a few more.   And then, more girls wanted one.  The official breakthrough happened when my daughter and I were sitting at the kitchen table together doodling and she said, “ I want girls like me to know that BJJ can be as fun as Unicorns and princesses”  It was crazy!  My daughter, it broke my heart that a once bullied (not anymore ) girl who refused to try Jiu Jitsu who I  had to literally push on to the mat would say this.  She knew what she had gained from Arte Suave.
So, we began. We have received acclaim from the highest of high female BJJ competitors (and male) dumbfounded.  We are already beginning to sponsor some major tournaments and it’s a whirlwind.  We want to introduce women of all ages in the world to BJJ.

I hope you enjoyed these stories as much as I did receiving them.  Please if you have anyone that you would like featured on the Unsung Jiu Jiteiros please send me an email with the subject line of “Unsung Jiu Jiteiro” at, I would love to give everyone that chance to tell someone that they are appreciated.  I will review any submissions that I receive and decide on 3 stories per dedication.  Thank you all so much! Oss!


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