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Roll With It: An Interview with Jahred Dell of Articulate BJJ

Jahred Dell of Articulate BJJ is a grappler, editor, writer, fierce competitor, and content creator. A throwback renaissance man of the original kind. Usually super busy, he was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time and we got the opportunity to sit down and talk jiujitsu with one of the hardest working people on the scene.

 

 

1. Tell us a bit about Articulate BJJ and why you started it.

To be honest one day I just set up the blog, minimal forethought, minimal idea about what it was going to be or do… I’ve been writing for so long that I was just getting frustrated following the publishing chase which is near impossible without connections in NZ. I didn’t know what I was going to write about or how I was going to do it, but I needed to write out of habit so I just figured that this might be the best way to do it: I get my ideas down and if anyone read it, it was a bonus.

2. What do you hope to bring to the greater grappling community at large with it? 

I’m still not really sure how to answer that. I’ve had a lot of people come to me and say how much something they read resounded. Or how much they related to something I said, and that’s honestly the most rewarding thing I’ve found. Sure I could sit here and talk about how I want people to recognise NZ as a serious powerhouse of grappling, but people are going to find that out with or without me writing about it. I like the process, some people like reading it. I’m stoked on that. From a journalism perspective, I’d love to be able to cover and report on big events like Polaris, ADCC, EBI etc. but obviously the geographic obstacles living in NZ hamper that a bit.

3. How do you deal with mental pressure and fears in big events? What advice would you give to first time competitors. or those who struggle with competition? 

To be honest when I started I hated competing. I competed in a couple of tournaments at white belt and always ended up injured or just too fucked up. I started dreading them. There was a good 6 months as a blue belt where I didn’t compete and tried to justify it to myself and others in weird ways.Subconsciously, I knew I was just trying to find a way out of doing something that was challenging to my ego and confronting my ideas about how good or bad I was at jiu jitsu. I jumped back in and just set it in my mind that if I was serious about improving as a person and pursuing BJJ as more than just a hobby I would have to suck it up and just do it, regardless of how I felt. Now, five years later, I love competing, overseas or locally doesn’t even matter. I get to go out there and grapple, submit or get submitted doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy to do anything jiu jitsu related.

4. You’ve done a fair amount of travelling, training and competing abroad. How do you feel NZ jiujitsu stands up overall?

A friend of mine put it best: Grappling is the same everywhere. There are going to be guys anywhere that are exceptional, but personally I don’t believe that the level here is any less than anywhere I’ve been in the world.
There is no substitute for tough training, good training partners and good technique. We just have (less) people on PED’s lol.

5. With that in mind, what improvements do you feel could be made?

I’d just like to see people supporting NZ grapplers. Because if it’s not made of carbon fiber or doesn’t have a ball involved, the sport isn’t well recognized by anyone outside those who do it. Sports New Zealand, High Performance Sports NZ and other major bodies could get behind some seriously hard working and successful athletes and help NZ BJJ make a big impact on the world stage.

I’d also just like to see a bit less BS from within the community. Ninety percent of people in the BJJ community are cool, but there’s ten percent who suffer severely from tall poppy syndrome and hate the idea that someone who works hard deserves some positive support. Cut the tribalism, it doesn’t matter where a person trains when they’re competing internationally and representing NZ.

6. What does your weekly training schedule look like? 

I hold down a full time teaching job, so I aim to get on the mats at least 6 times a week when school is in. Monday through Saturday. I’ll put any gym work I need to do (outside of competition prep) before or after a training session, but never at the cost of missing a session. When school is out, I train lunch and evenings, so 11 times a week for each term break? That’s the real killer though, you do nothing else except train and then get ready to train again.

Once totally resistant to competition, Jahred Dell has become a zealous competitor, taking part in numerous prestigious tournaments both within NZ and internationally.

 

 7. How did you develop you leg lock game? Did it come intrinsically or were you specifically inspired by the current direction the meta game is progressing, along with the evolution of professional jiujitsu in nogi? 

To be honest, it started at white belt. Because I was un-athletic when I started, I could only really work off my back, I’d lose every scramble or top position. I gravitated towards X guard, then Single Leg X… A Lot of guys don’t accept sweeps cleanly from those positions and will insist on trying to make life for the sweeper miserable. I was sweeping guys and landing in these weird positions where their legs were either in my hands or close to… I just started to wonder what would happen if I actually started pulling on their legs… The shock and horror was real when I realized people were scared of that. To some extent I was inspired as a blue belt by Garry Tonon and Eddie Cummings, despite them being smaller than me. Dean Lister at ADCC was a big one for me, even though I didn’t have a clue what was going on when I watched him dudes were just tapping to these weird as leg grabs?! It’s all been a process of discovery really. I started out with an open mind, so I just thought hey why would I NOT want to explore every possible part of the art?

8. With the constant evolution of jiujitsu, and pretty much everyone competing from regional up to the elite level becoming ever more dynamic and athletic, do you feel strength and conditioning is a prerequisite for anyone hoping to be a successful competitor? 

Yes. In saying that there are a lot of misconceptions about what S&C actually is. I came from a clueless weight lifter/ gym rat mentality when I first started, but a good friend of mine who works in Sports Science clued me up really quickly. I think when everyone’s level of technique starts to grow, being able to exploit another facet of physical strength in a fight can make the difference between winning and losing. Never mind the benefits for injury prevention, training longevity, overall health etc.

9. You’ll be teaching a seminar coming at Axis BJJ here in Christchurch. What are you hoping to impart/teach most of all?

I think the key thing I want people to take away is understanding the process you have to go through to implement ANY technique into your game, not just specifically leg locks. The process has taken me 4 years of training, and to be honest I’m still a journeyman. I’m looking forward to working techniques with everyone there that will not just help their game, but conceptually drive them to explore other facets of the way they structure their game.

10. Straight ankle or Estima lock?

Straight Ankle. Every time.

11. If money were no object, how would you proceed?

Train, Write, Travel and Compete. Not necessarily in that order.

12. You can train with anyone in the entire world, for free, for a year. But you can only pick one person. Who, where and why?

Tough one. Probably At Renzo’s, the Blue Basement with John Danaher, I think I need to see for myself the level of Psy-Ops he is running there.
Kurt Osiander at Empire BJJ comes a close second because I know some guys there from travels.

 

Hex Rashguard and Spats are out!

Put the Hex on your training partners.
Or use it to clear out the bad juju they’re putting on you.
Both.
Designed to withstand the rigors of jiu jitsu training or just being beat up outdoors in the rugged landscapes of New Zealand, these tops retain the standard great quality of all of our work: comfort, fully sublimated, moisture-wicking, fast drying, and the same longer cut through the torso. It also has even more enhanced stitching across the wrists, waist and neckline to give it greater durability, and you longer training times.
Check them out here. Orders and payments close Feb 5th: https://soheibrand.com/product/hex-rashguard/

Integrity: The art of staying true to oneself

‘I have nothing to fear. First of all, everybody else is unavailable for comment.’ -Chuck D.

Integrity, or the art of staying true to yourself, is a primary driver for us and one of the key values we kept in mind when we started out. It’s reflected in the quality of our products, those we want to reach and empower, and the communities/social initiatives we support. Having it can be challenging in a world where so many things pull at us to cut corners or compromise for the approval of others. If you’re running or starting a company, sacrificing some values for the sake of profit is almost a business mantra.

Trust the value of your own ideals and your path. They’ve got as much merit as those given to you by someone who has never walked in your shoes.

 

It’s rarely easy when you abide by what you believe in. It means opening yourself up to scrutiny from others and criticism for holding a particular set of values. Those are trials and tribulations we know firsthand, mostly from others telling us we were bananas to quit our jobs, or change jobs in order to start something from scratch that catered to a (perceived) niche market. We’ve faced adversity on the journey so far and we are comfortable persisting in the face of resistance.

It’s a tall order to stay on the path of your own ideals. Do it anyway. Rebel. Be an iconoclast and unsubscribe from over-the-counter-culture. We insist on creating the best products possible not only for our customers, but also because it’s integral to who we are.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Enjoy the adventure. Go train.

-Written by Jahred Dell

Jahred Dell is a Kiwi/ South African currently living in Auckland, New Zealand. He has worked as a freelance sports journalist, is a published poet and is currently a practicing High School Teacher. He is also the founder of the Brazilian jiu jitsu blog Articulate BJJ which he began in 2017. He has written and contributed for companies such as the BJJ Brotherhood, Sohei and more. Originally beginning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a college student in 2012 he has since been competing nationally and internationally while traveling to train with some of the best in the world.

Why Diversity Matters To Us

Intelligence is nothing more than discussing things with others. Limitless wisdom comes from this. Humanity is something done for the sake of others; simply comparing oneself with them and putting them in the fore. – The Hagakure

Ahakoa he iti taku whare, i ahu mai au i te kōpua känapanapaAlthough my house is small, I emanate from a deep pool – Maori proverb

One of the things we discovered that we loved most about jiu jitsu is the range of people from varying backgrounds that you often find in any academy. This is just such an underrated benefit to the study of the art,  as it brings together many under a common practice. So in light of Dove soaps recent fiasco of an ad campaign (which necessitated some serious PR spin, as well as social media apologies to staunch the blood from the PC frenzy that followed), we figured this was a great time to discuss the topic of diversity and why we choose to make it one of the pillars of what we are about.

Those shenanigans were wild, for a number of reasons. First, we wondered how a company with probably tens of thousands to blow in their marketing budget could get it so wrong. I mean we’re all going to miss the mark sometimes, but that was like, way off the mark. Second we thought ‘Yo….someone actually got paid to be that incompetent or unaware.’ Third we were blown away by the realization that no one stepped up to actually say ‘Have you really thought this through? Because in business terms, it’s gonna be a shitstorm.’ But most of all, what this story confirmed for us is the following: A lot of corporations and companies pay lip service to the idea of embracing diversity but have little to zero idea of what it actually means to do so. Whether this stems from ignorance, laziness, greed, a sheer and gargantuan level of hubris, or stale gentrification of the corporate hierarchy, we don’t really know.

We take the position that embracing and supporting diversity in your company culture isn’t an issue of sales and marketing. You know: putting together a progressive appearance to the world in order to broaden your spectrum of consumers, just so you can sell them more products to maximize your profit margins. Embracing diversity is a held belief that the stories, dreams and adventures of people from different backgrounds (cultural, ethnic, religious or otherwise) all have the same relevance. That they carry the same weight and importance. And moreover, it’s important for those to whom society already caters to know that those stories exist. Why? Because when we expand our eyes and minds to the trials, tribulations and accomplishments to those who differ greatly from us we learn and grow. As a result we all benefit.

People are skeptical. We get it.  They say: ‘You make products. How can a company that makes jiu jitsu and adventure apparel, be about diversity?’ But the answer is simple: It starts at the top and filters down through every facet of our company whether it’s employing artists and/or manufacturers in different countries, striving to use a culturally diverse group of models for our marketing needs, to contributing to organizations that assist those in the community who may live along different socio-economic lines. Ultimately SOHEI is a company (it would be disingenuous for us to sit here and say we don’t want to make a profit -even we have dreams!), but at the same time we are much, much more. We are a movement that uses the exceptional things we produce to empower and support a culturally vast array of people in their personal pursuits, while using our financial leverage to help humanity where we can on a larger social scale.

North South Tee

Paying homage to the North and South Islands of New Zealand, as well as one of the most dominant positions in jiu jitsu, our North South tee has arrived. Printed with our usual minimalist style on 4.7 oz 100% ring spun cotton, it features the SOHEI logo in the front across the north and south islands of beautiful NZ, and the outline logo in the nape of the neck. Straightforward simplicity and style. That’s how we create and operate. Available in white and black as well as a sleeveless dark grey. Sizes are S, M, L and XL. We ship anywhere in NZ via tracked courier.

Cost: $50.00 NZD

Humble Beginnings: The Power of Transparency

Ahakoa he iti taku whare, i ahu mai i te kōpua kānapanapa – ‘Although my house is small, I emanate from a deep pool.’

 

SOHEI started from a simple idea: To build something that allowed us to be creative and make excellent gear, while being transparent about who we are to our customers along the way. Really our story is one of people who had a shared vision of a lifestyle that was under their own terms, while hopefully inspiring people to achieve their own. We do this tangibly through the products and apparel we produce, and intangibly through the athletes and people we support as well as our role with various charitable organisations.

The company wasn’t founded just to make things for the sake of making them. It more like ‘Can we make this better? And if so, can we do it in a way where we enjoy the work, contribute positively socially, form good relationships with people, put the customer first all the time every time? And most of all can we do it while building a company that’s straightforward and earnest?’ Because wow were we all sick of brands that promised us one thing, while delivering another.

When we started out, right? Everyone told us to be transparent because of the power of technology. That was really them saying ‘Hey you have to because with the instantaneous nature of social media and communication if you get it wrong everyone will know, and it’s your ass.’ Granted that’s all true but for us it’s not a driving force behind our desire to be candid. Fear of mistakes makes a shitty motivator.

Transparency is how your hear our voice and know it’s our own, original, and real. It’s how you know we value your support, how you know where we are headed, what we’re about, how we’re accountable, how we empower people and continue to make gear that will surpass other brands. We see humanity and the human condition as a shared experience and moreover, we see those who support us as deserving of straightforward candor. It’s how you know we actually believe in what we’re doing.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Christchurch

This is definitely not to be missed. Jason Roebig is the head of Axis Australia and a black belt under the legendary Kron Gracie. He has studied extensively under both Kron and Rickson, and will be bringing his knowledge and technique to Christchurch at Axis Jiu Jitsu for this seminar. This is an excellent opportunity not only for those who have been training extensively but for those new to the study of the art as well. All clubs are welcome. Spread the word and lets continue the rise of jiu jitsu in the garden city. See you there.

Monday, September 12th

6pm until 8pm

$70 NZD PP

 

 

Axis seminar

Logo Tee Now Available

Straightforward simplicity and style. That’s how we create and operate. Our logo tee has arrived and is now available for purchase from one of our retailers or through our site. Available in in S, M, L and XL, we ship anywhere in NZ via tracked courier.

Cost: $50.00 NZD

We’re serious about supporting communities and 5% of every shirt sold goes towards Fill Their Lunchbox-a great Christchurch organization that makes it their mission to fuel and feed disadvantaged kids, giving them the chance to break the cycle of poverty and find success. So pick one up. Not only do you get a stylish tee, you help kiwi kids, empower the community, and support two fantastic businesses-all in one go. Win/win for everyone. So check it out as well as our other apparel and gear.

 

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Be sure and check out Fill Their Lunchbox as well- a great cause: https://www.facebook.com/filltheirlunchbox/

We Empower Potential