1.Hi Dan, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ community of Eastern Europe.
My name is Dan “TrumpetDan” Lukehart and I am from Orange County, California. I am a brown belt under Bruno Paulista and have been training since January of 2006.
2.How did you start training Jiu-Jitsu?
My first exposure to Jiu-Jitsu was through mixed martial arts.
I watched UFC 52 at a friends house and loved every min of it. I watched every fight I could after which eventually lead me to watching the Ultimate Fighter. What appealed to me at UFC 52 was the raw nature of the fights, but when I watched the reality show I was able to see how the fighters actually trained. I saw the respect that they gave Jiu-Jitsu and it appealed to me. I typed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu into Google and the old Torrance Academy came up. I found the Gracie In Action tapes as well as Rorian’s instructional series. I tried to persuade my friends to let me practice the techniques on them, but after trying the Gracie Gift Pass in my friend’s living room several times I decided to go and try it out at the Gracie Academy in person.
From where I live in Orange County, it was about an hour and 15 min drive, but I still signed up and was hooked. I think at the time I was looking for somebody to tell me that their technique was the purest form of Jiu-Jitsu. That their technique was superior to everybody else’s. Torrance was the one making those sort of claims at the time and was part of my justification for going down there. I enjoyed the instruction that Rener and Ryron gave, but over time the drive wore on me. I eventually found myself doing a trial class as a 2 stripe white belt at the old Ralph Gracie Anaheim location. I honestly had no intention of joining and was just looking for a place to train for the evening. In my classic white belt mind, the Torrance Academy was great. They had a huge upstairs mat with octagon, a downstairs mat, locker rooms a juice bar and even a museum! I had no interest in this place that was wall to wall mats and probably 900 square feet. The class was taught by Brad Jackson. He was a Ralph Gracie Black Belt who had also trained at the Torrance Academy, Rickson and Rodrigo Gracie as part of his path to black belt. The class taught a technique that I was already familiar with – head lock escapes. After the technique portion we did quite a bit of specific training and sparring. At the Torrance Academy I was used to doing sparring 1-2 times per week. It was more sparring than I had ever done at one time and I loved it. I also threw up. After the class ended, everybody packed their things and left while I was still in the bathroom throwing up. After I was done the only person left on the mat was Brad and he was trying to make me feel comfortable and making small talk. He asked what I did for a living and I told him I was a music teacher. He said he was looking for a teacher for his 2 kids on piano and offered a barter system. Free private lessons out of his garage in exchange for teaching his kids. For the next year or so I spent 3-4 times a week receiving private lessons with Brad. The guys he had training out of his garage were tough as nails and in this atmosphere was where I really began to grow my Jiu-Jitsu skills. What Ryron and Rener had taught me, he expanded upon and laid down the foundation of my Jiu-Jitsu.
Sean Roberts, now a very talented Ralph Gracie brown belt, back then a white belt and I would train together often in the garage. I always made it a point to be the practice dummy and sparring partner for his lessons because I saw how well he was doing at tournaments.
About this time, Sean’s mother Laura purchased the gym from Brad and opened up a larger location in Anaheim. They brought in Bruno Paulista, an Alexandre De Souza black belt from Brazil, to teach at the academy.
Bruno had an athletic young white belt that had started training with him as he arrived in the United States. He had just won the American Nationals with only a few months worth of training. Brad was very eager that I go down to the Ralph Gracie academy and test myself against him. Brad had not yet given me any stripes on my belt and I felt that this was a major test he was giving me. He made it clear that I must tap him at all costs. Brad is kind of old school like that. I remember the match being a very intense round of about 15 min or so.
That not only was my first experience training at what would become my new home in Ralph Gracie Anahiem, but it was my first time rolling with now black belt Benny Dariush. As Brad focused more on his family and career he started teaching less out of his garage. What was once a daily training session, paired down to once a week and Ralph Gracie became my training home. It was there where I went from 2 stripe white belt to brown belt. Bruno slowly took over the roll as my head coach and I progressed under his supervision. Bruno not only looked after my Jiu-Jitsu, but provided an atmosphere where I could hone my teaching. I instructed morning classes for about 3 years and used the academy for all my various projects such as my youtube page and GrapplingBasics.com. At purple belt, while Bruno was visiting with his family in Brazil, he had a car accident and suffered serious head trauma. He nearly died and suffered extensive frontal lobe damage. It left the academy in the care of Benny to teach the kids classes and the advanced classes and myself teaching my usual classes and a number of the beginning classes. Everybody stepped up and helped where they could but it was a tough time for our team. When Bruno finally arrived back, it took a while for him to return to his old self. With the benefit of time on his side, he recovered his personality and physical attributes. In October of 2012 I opened my own academy in Brea called Brea Jiu-Jitsu.
3. You are known in the BJJ world for your excellent Youtube instructionals series. Your Video instructionals are excellent because even when you were just a purple belt, you were able to explain techniques in great detail. How did you did you develop this teaching skill that many instructors lack? What made you start producing these videos?
I had the concept for instructional videos when I was a purple belt after being frustrated by the instructional videos that were out at the time. Certainly there were some good videos, but I felt what was lacking was a systematic nature in which the techniques were instructed I felt that it was a random collection of moves that must be left to the practitioner to weave together. In addition, I was also frustrated by the fact that I would see great champions teaching techniques that I had never seen them – or other people – do. So I set out with a project in mind that would teach the techniques in a systematic nature, but also include real footage of myself or another practitioner doing it.
Not only did a sense the need for some semi decent free material on youtube, but I also have a passion for teaching.
When I teach, I go that extra mile with my research and my analysis. This extra effort makes me a better practitioner, but that isn’t the primary motivating factor. I enjoy helping people and derive a great deal of satisfaction knowing my videos have helped.
I admire Roger Gracie’s Jiu-Jitsu quite a bit, so it was natural that I include some of his footage in my videos.
I think people liked my commentary on his matches more than they liked the techniques themselves.
I stumbled upon a niche that was far greater than my original video series purpose.
I just ran with it and tried to do as many as time allowed for a side hobby project such as this. As I became more experienced at purple belt, I had a desire to redo my videos and approach it with more of a professional mindset. With this concept, GrapplingBasics.com was formed. Though I was not able to finish the project, it offered a glimpse into how I think that Jiu-Jitsu should be taught and what I had been experimenting with in my classes. The amount of time it would have taken to finish the site up to my standards would have been tremendous. Each video was taking about 4 hours to edit and I had a son on the way. Without devoting my professional career to Jiu-Jitsu, I wouldn’t be able to share what I had to offer from a teaching perspective. This lead into a serious consideration into opening up my own academy after I received my Brown Belt from Bruno.
4. How and why did you decide to open your own BJJ academy (Brea jiu-Jitsu) ? How will you academy be different than other BJJ academies?
I had always wanted to open an academy in my hometown of Brea. I teach music for all of Brea’s elementary schools and lived there for 19 years. Amazingly enough, it was one of the few cities in Orange County that did not currently have a Jiu-Jitsu gym. After much consideration with my wife, we decided to open the gym. It was important to me that we be independent so everything about the gym, from the manner in which the techniques were taught, to the contracts my students sign be in line with what I believe. Some more unique things that we are doing is that we warm up with a drill move of the week. This technique remains the same throughout the week and video analysis is included for the technique. I am also experimenting with use of flow charts in class and writing down the steps of more complicated techniques for reference. Eventually, I want to film the technique I teach for the day, and constantly loop it on our TV as they are drilling so they can always see the correct form just by looking up at it. As far as the techniques I actually teach I try to place my emphasis on different areas than normal. I like to teach people simply how to simply exist in a position without doing any sweeps, passes or submissions. For example, last week I taught two classes simply on how to exist when playing what I call the Dariush Guard from the bottom position. We didn’t learn a single sweep or submission – simply techniques on how to maintain the position when the opponent tries his best to pass.I also like to teach and drill transitions a lot in my class. As a simplistic generic example, its pretty easy to find a white belt who knows something from the closed and open guard, but blanks for 2 seconds before he remembers what to do from the open guard in the moments after his guard is opened. I try to identify not only the obvious transitions like the example given, but find the more subtle transitions. When you identify these transitions, articulate what your opponent gains or loses during these transitions, then drill it to death, you are going to be far better than if you were forced to weave the techniques together on your own.
5. You are a big admirer of Roger Gracie and his game. What did you learn from your many encounters with him over the years?
The biggest leap I had in my own Jiu-Jitsu career was at purple belt when I started to study Roger in greater detail. I think its really important to find somebody to model your Jiu-Jitsu after and Roger was that person for me. He, like myself, was not overly athletic or quick yet beats almost everybody with the most (seemingly) simplistic techniques. One of the highlights of my Jiu-Jitsu career was traveling to London to take daily private lessons with him. This helped my Jiu-Jitsu tremendously because I had already studied every moment of his Jiu-Jitsu career in slow motion a thousand times. I had painstakingly reverse engineered his techniques and tried to get into his brain to understand how he thinks when he competes. It was very interesting to see where I was right and where I was wrong. At home, some it would take me several hundred viewings of a single movement before I was able to start using it on everybody. When I was in London, I could just simply ask him. It felt almost like cheating. When I combined everything I had already learned through study, with what he showed me, everybody noticed my game go higher as I began to be able to develop my timing. Specifically the most valuable things he taught me were how to disallow use of the open guard by your opponent after you open closed guard from standing, and shutting down the deep half guard. It wasn’t even necessarily the specifics of the techniques that were so awesome. There are probably a number of different ways you could do each technique he showed. To be honest, I’ve probably changed the specifics over time to suit my game. It was the concept behind the technique that really clicked with me and remains intact. Probably about 2 years after my Roger lessons and the peak of my Roger study, Rilion Gracie was watching me roll at Ronis Gracie’s gym. I was having a lot of trouble passing this really tall lanky blue belt’s guard. He was 6’6 and a lightweight – very awkward. I asked Rilion (who played a large part in teaching Roger) for some advice and he said something to the effect of “You roll like you weigh 100 kilos! Your game is similar to somebody like Roger’s. Learn to be a lightweight!”. As it turned out, he was watching me roll because that 6’6 lightweight was Rilion’s son. Watch out for him in the future I might add.
6.If you want to thank somebody please feel free
If any readers want to ever stop by my academy you are most welcome.
Visit BreaJiuJitsu.com for more information.
Id like to thank BJJ Religion and BJJSports.com for all of their support with my academy. They are good companies run by good people.
7. Thank you Dan and all the best!
One of TrumpetDan’s youtube videos. Check them all out and subscribe to his channel, they are excellent!