BJJ Citizen of The World, Thomas Genske On Training In UK, Brazil, Australia, US, & Spain.

1.Hi Thomas, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ community of Eastern Europe

Hi, my name is Thomas Genske. Im 33. I was born in the Philippines to a German father and Filipina mother. I live in London, England . I am a Black Belt under Roger Gracie . Some of the titles i have include the gold at the new south wales open in Sydney, Australia as a purple belt and silver in the open . gold at the 1st Londinium Grappling Cup at blue belt , bronze at the gracie invitational in London , bronze at the copa espana in Barcelona , Spain . Bronze at grapplers quest ( nogi) in New York City , USA.

2. How did you start training Jiu-Jitsu?

I started jiu jitsu like many others, hearing about the Gracies beating everyone in the early ufcs and vale tudo tournaments during the 90’s when i was a teenager. I had always done some form of martial arts from arnis to boxing and muay thai.. i think growing up in the philippines, there is a rich culture in the martial and fighting arts so it seemed natural to want to learn how to fight.
When i was 21 i travelled to San Fransico California and enrolled at the Ralph Gracie jiu jitsu academy . This was an incredible experience and my first introduction to gracie , brazilian jiu jitsu. After that summer i decided it would be something i would do for as long as i live.
By the end of that year i had moved to the U.S. I went to study Culinary Arts and i found a jiu jitsu school close by. I had joined the Alliance Jiu jitsu school headed by Fabio Clemente and Babs Olusnamokun . This was a a special time, one of the best schools i have trained at. The group was small but very tight and everyone pushed eachother. It was at this school i placed 3rd at the grapplers quest and where i earned my blue belt.
In 2001 i finished culinary school and moved to London. Fabio had told me to look for Roger Brooking an alliance black belt under Jacare Cavalcanti. who was teaching in London. There wasnt as much of a jiu jitsu scene back then as there is now so everyone pretty much knew eachother.
It was a great time and i made frienships i still have to this day . I had always dreamed of travelling to Brazil to train where it all began. So in 2003 i quit my job and travelled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to train for about 4 months.. Roger Brooking had advised me to train at Brasa in Copacabana which was a team comprised of former Alliance black belts. It was headed by Rodrigo ‘Comprido ‘ Medeiros and Ricardo Viera. This was an incredible experience, sharing the mats with so many black belts and world class jiu jitsu fighters was an eye opener for me , a blue belt at the time .. there were guys like Comprido and the viera brothers, felipe costa teaching everyday 4 times a day , guys like jacare ,demian maia and vitor belfort were also training there every so often. Then there were fighters who at the time were just starting to come up like Alan ‘ Fin Fou ‘ Nacimento , Caio Terra who are both multiple world champions.and even top female compeditor Marina Ribeiro who did her first class at the club in Copacabana. So, needless to say, it was a great place to train .The Highlight of the trip for me was winning a match at the Brazilian Nationals with Rico Viera and Caio terra in my corner. That was a great moment.
Upon my return to London, i felt like i wanted to keep travelling and learning and training with different people so i found the only Gracie in europe at the time Helio Gracies youngest son Robin Gracie and moved to Barcelona , Spain . Robin has a pure jiu jitsu with a foundation in self defense which is so important. I lived there for a year and in 2005 Robin promoted me to purple belt.
In 2006, i still wanted to travel and keep training so i moved to Sydney, Australia. There, i joined the Roots Jiu jitsu club, headed by Paolo Guimaraes, a black belt under Jorge Perreira ( a Rickson Gracie black belt ) Probably the most experianced teacher i have had, he was an ex pro surfer with a simple and aggressive style. It was there i learned to train for competition and the focus required to perform well. With him in my corner i won the New south wales open in sydney and placing second in the open .
I returned to London in 2007. Roger Brooking had stopped teaching and by then Roger Gracie had settled in just down the road from where i lived. I trained there regularly and in 2009 was promoted to brown belt by Roger Gracie . Soon after that i was asked to teach at the Roger Gracie affiliate school in Wimbledon, headed by former Judo Olympic silver medalist , Ray Stevens. I have been teaching there until today. And in in August of this year 2012, Roger promoted me to Black Belt after 12 years of training .

3. Where did you grow up and where have lived in your life?

I grew up in Manila , Philippines and have lived in the U.S. Switzerland, Spain , Australia, Brazil, England..

4. Please tell us about your relationship with Roger Gracie and Maurico Motta Gomes.

I first met Roger i think in 2004 after returning frm brazil and trained there breifly before moving to spain . Both he and his father are responsible for spreading jiu jitsu all across england , especially Mauricio. Roger is a special martial artist that only comes around once in a lifetime and i am fortunate to have crossed paths with him . Mauricio is pure will power.

5. You are half Filipino. Have you trained much in The Philippines? What can you tell us about BJJ in that country?

Yes, unfortunately, i have not trained much in the philippines . Jiu jitsu was not yet practiced as much when i was living there. But from what i hear it is gaining popularity and filipinos are making their presence felt in the international competitions. We just got our first world champion at blue belt and its only a matter of time before we get a black belt world champ. Its no surprise really as the filipinos love the martial/fighting arts. They also recently held the one fc fighting championships in manila where 4 gracies fought in one night.

5. What are other BJJ players that you admire, and why?

Roger,Rickson,Ryron,Kron for their clean , simple and effective stlye. Ralph for his aggression. Bj Penn for his e trasition from jiu jitsu to mixed martial arts.

6. Tell us about the benefits of Yoga for Jiu-Jitsu. How about something like Ginastica natural?

In India

I first became aware of the benefits of Yoga for jiu jitsu while living in Australia where i first started yoga. The benfits are endless… it teaches you how to control your breathing, improves flexibility, focus, but most importantly how to control the mind which can be your worst enemy. I would recommend it to anyone , jiu jitsu practitioner or not. In 2010 i travelled to India to learn how to teach yoga and have since become a qualified hatha yoga instructor. I see the two as one in the same ,jiu jitsu is a form of yoga and vice versa.

7. Please tell us about your academy RGA Wimbledon. What do you do different from other schools?

The academy in Wimbledon has been active since 2009, in the beginning i was there teaching all the classes but now everyday has a different instructor which is something i think we do differently. The idea is to keep things fresh and have each instructor bring something new to the class.

8.How would you define your BJJ style. What are your favorite guard passes, and submissions?

My style … relaxed. i like the closed guard. I like to control from knee on belly and the back . Some of my favorite techniques include the triange, the armlock , the kimura, the footlock and the rear naked choke. I also like the knee cut and the stack pass.

9. What is next for you and your team in 2012/2013?
Well , for me i want to start my own school and teach people what i know . For RGA, a new location, more students and more success.

10. If you want to tank some people go ahead

Thanks to all my teachers, Roger Gracie , Ray Stevens , Mauricio Gomes , my friends and training partners , my students . All the best!

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