Ivan Bozovic is a Serbian-American BJJ black belt who teaches at his academy in Keller, Texas: AllAmerican BJJ Academy . In this interview with BJJ Eastern Europe, Ivan talks about how he ended up in America, how he discovered BJJ, his academy in Texas and his upcoming BJJ humanitarian seminar in his his home country of Serbia on September 11th.
Hi Ivan can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ community of Eastern Europe?
My Name is Ivan Bozovic and i am 33 years old, black belt from Lotus Club under Eduardo Santos. I train at AllAmerican BJJ Academy which i opened about year and a half ago with Rocky Budri (black belt under Allen Mohler). I train BJJ since 2006
Notable tournaments: IBJJF Worlds as a blue belt and won bronze, New York Open Gold Blue Belt, no IBJJF as purple, as a brown belt Dallas Open Gold, PANAM NO GI Bronze, IBJJF Worlds as a Brown Belt did not place (1-1). Before BJJ as many tall Serbian guys i played basketball. Was on Cadet National Serbian team and played Division 1 Basketball in college in the USA.
Tell us about your BJJ journey
My BJJ journey was very eye and soul opening, and if i could sum it up i would say it simply, Thank You Jiu Jitsu for saving my life! I believe that Jiu Jitsu chose me and not the other way around.
First time i heard of BJJ was on a small bus stop in Serbia from one of the guys i knew for a long time. It was back in 2000 and he told me i should try this thing called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. First thing i asked myself was how can Jiu Jitsu be Brazilian?? That was it, i did not care or want to know anything about it.
Fast forward 2006 and I am living life after college in Queens NY where i met Eduardo Santos. Our first meet and greet was very skeptical on my part. I kind of knew what BJJ was but was completely sure (other word for ignorant) that no one could take me down and “hug” me for as long as they want to on the ground.
I remember Eduardo’s smiling invitation to Lotus Academy that opened latterly around the corner from my apartment in Queens. So i decided to pay a visit to this gym and “solve” the mystery of BJJ finally. Well then i met Lucas, who is God knows where now, a young guy who weighted as much as my leg maybe. I will never forget Lucas and all the ways he tapped me out that day in the academy. My ego crashed face first in burning flames. I came home after my first class and decided BJJ was what i will do until the day i die.
There wouldn’t be enough space on the paper to explain how much BJJ changed me. I never looked over another human being, i was humbled in my mind and my heart. The people i met in the past decade are amazing, kind, grateful for little of what they have and with all that also capable of hurting someone if pushed up against the wall. Not to mention the value BJJ puts in my “day” job as a police officer, but this might be a subject for some other time.
Can you tell us more about Lotus Club Team?
Lotus Club is more than a BJJ Club. Lotus is a way of life, i know it sounds cliché, but it really is that way. Lotus is a small name in the US but is a power house in Sao Paolo. Lotus was founded by Master Moises Muradi in 1989.(http://www.bjjheroes.com/bjj-fighters/moises-murad) for all the info and lineage. Eduardo got his black belt from Moises and that is pretty much how i ended up getting my black belt.
Please tell us about your academy, All American Academy
Now we are getting to the part why Jiu Jitsu chose me. I opened a BJJ school in Keller TX, AllAmericanBJJ, for one simple reason. I wanted to run it the Lotus way. When i say that i mean i wanted to run it the traditional way. Warm up, drill, show one move and roll. There you go, you just received my class curriculum (smiling face).
My friend Rocky and I set down and decided if we gonna do it, it has to be that way. This way is not very popular today in many schools because people do not want to train. They wanna say they train BJJ but do not like to drill. We have been opened for a year and a half today and i already see small miracles growing in our school. Right now in our school there is a fifteen year old boy who will be a world champion in a black belt adult division. Yes you can hold me to this. Every day he reminds me why Jiu Jitsu chose me. Jiu Jitsu chose so i could meet him and make him as best as he can be, and when i can’t do that anymore i will find someone better suited for that job. I owe this to him.
At Allamerican i believe in building the new/old generation. The new generation of old bushido way martial artists. This is very hard to do with older people, but is amazing to watch the young ones grow into it. This is slow process and there is no instant gratification, but that is what BJJ is after all. AllAmerican is already on the map as one of the best kid BJJ academies in the DFW area and to do that in a year and a half is amazing. Cannot wait to see what these kids will look like down the road.
How do you see the growth of BJJ in your home country of Serbia and the region (Balkans)?
I am so happy that we have good BJJ enrooted in Serbia. Obviously i do not spend much time in my mother land, but our people are so talented for anything that BJJ is not an exception. As a purple belt i visited Family Fight Team in Novi Sad and team Zerjal in Beograd. Needles to say i was impressed. I like the story of Zerjal’s BJJ journey. I think it’s unique.
Please tell us more about the charity seminar that you will be conducting in Serbia in September
The Seminar in Kimura Academy in Belgrade, Serbia is going to be awesome. We are reaching out to all members of the Balkan BJJ community to come and join in to raise fonds to help Serbian families who live in the Balkans, that have five or more children and live in terrible poverty. All proceeds will go to the Humanitarian organization SerbsforSerbs / SrbizaSrbe .
I wanna bring my point of view on BJJ to Gile Huni’s school and pick up some in return. The seminar will also feature my friend and fellow black belt from Croatia Aleksandar Matteoni, head instructor of Lotus Club in Pula, Croatia.
The seminar will be at Kimura BJJ Academy in Belgrade, Serbia on September 11th at 9pm.
What is your teaching style? How about your own style of BJJ?
I don’t know if i have a BJJ style of my own. I like the guard game in GI and like chasing legs in NO GI (smiling face).
When it comes to BJJ players I am all over the place with styles I like to watch. I love watching Roger Gracie, Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, Robson Moura and of course Givanildo Santana. These guys represent BJJ with perfection.
What is next for you and your team?
Goal for AllAmerican BJJ is to be the best BJJ School for young kids who will grow into BJJ caliber of the guys mentioned above, is that simple. More important though is what we do for our immediate community. We can strive for the highest level but it has to be done the right way, otherwise it will lose its meaning. I want AllAmerican to be the place known for giving back, helping kids against bullying, and helping adults in stress release, helping people in professions like policing to gain skills necessary for street survival. These are just some of the things we want to be known for.
Doing these things for your community and helping people the best way you can will come back tenfold. This is what Jiu Jitsu is all about, saving lives in more ways than one.
If you want to thank sponsor or somebody, feel free
I want to thank first and foremost to Eduardo Santos for introducing me to my lifelong passion of BJJ through Lotus club. Alan Mohler for welcoming me to his school when I moved to Texas from New York. Rocky Budri who made possible for AllAmerican BJJ to become a dream come true. Lastly, I want to thank my wife Aleksandra for being there for every single step of this BJJ journey that to me means more than most people would understand.
”A lotus flower begins growing at the bottom of a muddy, murky pool, and slowly emerges toward the surface, bursting out of the water into a beautiful blossom”