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My thoughts after receiving my BJJ Black Belt from John Will after so many years training is hard to put into words, but I’ll do my best.
I first met John Will in the mid 90’s while John was conducting one of the first ever BJJ seminars in Tasmania. I’d heard of BJJ and shootfighting before and was curious to see if it stood up to its then very underground reputation of being an awesome no-holds-barred style. As a blackbelt in Taekwondo, and despite having some fight experience “on the street”, in the security industry and through exposure training several other martial arts styles for most of my life, seeing authentic BJJ for the first time was a massive eye opener. It left me realising what a huge hole there was in my formal training, one that I simply couldn’t ignore. I wouldn’t be satisfied until I gleaned some level of skill in this new martial art.
Needless to say within two weeks I got on a plane and flew from Hobart to Melbourne.
It wasn’t long before I got onto the Geelong mat and had my ass handed to me by Melissa, who despite my 40 plus kilograms of muscle weight advantage tapped me out at least five or six times within a space of five minutes. It was a deeply humbling but inspiring experience. That first day was like standing at the base of an impossible mountain, putting my gi on, and beginning to climb.
Despite dodging syringes in the side streets and seeing someone smashed over the head with a club-lock in the carpark on the first night I stayed at the Geelong gym, somehow I knew I was in the right place, at the right time.
Little did I know how much John Will, shootfighting and BJJ would influence my life.
I treasure those early days of training, and after two years of travelling back and forth from Tasmania to Geelong, I finally moved over to train full time.
Since then Jiu Jitsu and MMA has become a central point in my life. I was always a martial artist, but BJJ added something that no other style at the time could offer. I’d made new friends, and in a very real kind of way found a new and extended family.
John’s influence became a guiding providence in my life, and despite my best efforts of going off the rails, his encouragement always brought out the best in me as it still does today. I have no end of gratitude for his influence.
In hindsight, teaching and training in Geelong were some of the best years of my life so far.
John also introduced me to Richard Norton, an impeccable martial artist who has also become an incredible inspiration to me. I feel blessed to be in such good company.
Several years later, through fate or coincidence, John also introduced me to Silvio Morelli of Blitz Magazine, just at a time in my life when I was ready for a new challenge.
It was there, while working on the magazines that I met the woman who would later become my wife.
I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I had looked up that mountain and then turned a different way.
Yet over the years I’ve steadily climbed forward, with BJJ and MMA becoming a second home, a fulltime job that is hardly ever “work.”
So when I accepted my BJJ BlackBelt from John, in the company of so many old friends and familiar faces, I realise how lucky I am to be where I am today.
At the time all I could say was, “This is what happens to a whitebelt who never quits,” but it is more than that.
I see now more than ever that a BlackBelt is just the beginning, a product of my students and training partners blood, sweat and tears as much as my own. It truly is a team effort. Climbing to the top can only be achieved with the help of others. Those others are our teachers, our training partners, our friends and our loved ones.
In particular I’d like to thank Dan Shaw, Daniel Keane, Stuart Allan and Ozgur Akdeniz who train and teach at my school in Malvern. I’d also like to thank my wife Leigh, and all my students and training partners over the many years, too many friends to name one at a time now. Those who know me know who you are. You have all made a difference whether it be to lend a hand, take me to the ground or to choke me out. Sometimes the simplest word of encouragement became a foothold on an otherwise impossible slope.
I feel this is a charmed life, and although my journey is far from over I’m enjoying the view from the top, and looking forward to new horizons and new mountains to climb in the years to come.
Thanks again to John, Melissa, and my friends and family in the BJJ community.
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Long time student and BJJ Black Belt, Anthony Lange was presented with his 2nd degree this weekend past. Anthony, alongside John Simon and Sean Kirkwood, was the original pioneer of BJJ in N.S.W. Anthony has not only been a driving force for BJJ in Sydney, he has been a role model for countless martial artists and fighters and has produced BJJ Black Belts of his own – further contributing to the growth and development of the art in Australasia. Anthony is simply one of the best coaches in the game.
It was my honour and privilege to once again present the rank of BJJ Black Belt to another long-time friend and student at this years competition. This time the recipient was Jeremy Ta’kody who I met back in Tasmania some 10 or 12 years ago.
Jeremy has always been a passionate and highly creative martial artist, one who brings much to the martial arts community of Victoria. He has worked at Blitz magazine as an editor and now runs his own video production and distribution company. Jeremy is a perfect example of someone whose life is driven by must the right mixture of passion and purpose. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to award him his BJJ Black Belt in the presence of Rigan Machado.
John Will 2009
This years Will-Machado Asia-Pacific Championships was the best ever. With over 325 competitors, there was a huge variety in matches and some truly outstanding battles. Twelve Black Belts competed in two divisions – with the promise of even more competing next year. Rigan Machado refereed many of the Black Belt matches and later commented at how technical they were. On a personal note, I have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, with dozens of e-mails from both contestants and spectators alike.
One of the new ideas this year was to run the Black Belt and higher grade matches first. This allowed everyone to watch these matches at days beginning and in a way it set the tone for the rest of the day. We will definitely repeat that formula next year. In 2010 we will also add in a number of new weight categories to bring ourselves in-line with international standards. Previously we have not done this, as we preferred larger brackets over smaller divisons with less competitors; but we have now grown to a size that will permit us this new change.
A huge thanks to all the referees and officials who made the day what it was. A special thanks to Craig and Troy for their outstanding efforts in mat set-up and breakdown. I would like to thank our wonderful sponsors who added so very much to the day with their generosity and unflagging support. And lastly, a huge thank you to my wife (sorry if I come across as ‘gushy’) but she was there from midnight till nearly 4am on Friday, before the event started, setting everything up – with help from Hayden Wilson and the NZ crew. THANK YOU!!!
Superlightweight 1st Ricky Budgen 2nd Vishal Naidoo 3rd Ryan Ford
Lightweight 1st Jesse Yada 2nd Drew Germaine 3rd Ers Huseyian
Middleweight 1st Paul Basterfield 2nd Rhys Murray 3rd Brayden Vallance
Light-heavyweight 1st Raoul Smith 2nd Bennet Gram 3rd Sam Gallanos
Heavyweight 1st Mark Dickinson 2nd Nick Slattery 3rd Matt Tatam
Superheavyweight 1st Jai Smith 2nd Matt Shell 3rd Aaron Dawson
Open White Belt 1st Tracey Clayton 2nd Melissa Spence 3rd Lydia Green
Lightweight 1st Jennifer Torrance 2nd Gabrielle Flugge 3rd Rhiannon Thompson
Open Blue Belt 1st Jennifer Torrance 2nd Rhiannon Thompson 3rd Gabrielle Flugge
Lightweight 1st Travis Cook 2nd Con Lazos 3rd Lenny Palmer
Middleweight 1st Stuart Allan 2nd Warren Lambert 3rd Sonny Brown
Light-heavyweight 1st Daniel Keane 2nd Kenton Campbell 3rd Jose Gasset
Heavyweight 1st Brent Lang 2nd Hayden Wilson 3rd Ben Keenan
Superheavyweight 1st Josh Fraraccio 2nd Kurt Andrews 3rd Michael Mcivor
Lightweight 1st Ashley Powell 2nd Regan Neof 3rd Leigh Dunstan
Middleweight 1st Lee Ting 2nd Luke Gooding 3rd Matt Monaghan
Light-heavyweight 1st Daniel Okeeffee 2nd Chris Stone 3rd Troy Skidmore
Heavyweight 1st Rory Cubitt 2nd Martin Christensen 3rd Daryn Daniel
Superheavyweight 1st Bernie Florence 2nd Leigh Barker 3rd Leigh Impey
Lightweight 1st Lachlan Giles 2nd Nathan Frost 3rd Matt Cooper
Open: 1st Byron Silvastin 2nd Richard Sargeant 3rd John Brown
1st Dave Hart 2nd Cameron Rowe 3rd Michael Johnson
1st David Krstic 2nd David Moore 3rd Darko Zaric
15 yrs & under/Under 55kgs: 1st Jake Rivett 2nd Daniel Ting 3rd Coralie Cornell
15 yrs & under/Over 55kgs: 1st Oliver McRaith 2nd Lorne Locke 3rd Austin Jacobs
12 yrs & under/Under 34-42kg: 1st Daniel Rivett 2nd Liam Basan 3rd Joseph Mole
12 yrs & under/Under 42-50kg 1st Dominic Brew 2nd Hollie Rochow 3rd Deniz Ramadan
12 yrs & under/over 50kg 1st Corey Enright 2nd Jack Williams 3rd Dertis Davtovic
10 yrs & under/Under 24-32kg 1stShannon Pickering 2nd Kerin Davtovic 3rd Jake Farnsworth
10 yrs & under/Under 32-40kg 1st Masie Allen 2nd Imogen Colls 3r Deren Ramadan
7 yrs & under / under 20kgs: 1st Will Murray 2nd Destiny Jasmine Minh
7 yrs & under / 29- 28kgs: 1st Jordan Allen 2nd Matthew Mrzljak 3rd Austin Brown
Adult Encouragement: Marco Ebeyer
Female Encouragement: Gabrielle Flugge
Junior Encouragement: Lachlan Beckworth
Teenagers Encouragement award: Sarah Walker
Fastest Finish: Josh Fraraccio – Choke 11 seconds
Another bonus this year will come in the form of a brand new pair of GLOBE shoes for EACH and EVERY PLACE GETTER! A huge thanks to our good friends at
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$2200 is prize-monies will be distributed between place-getters over the two Black Belt divisions. The weight break will be over and under 85 kg’s. This cash bonus will be added to our other prize-packs and trophies – making it an even better day for our Black Belts. With 12 of them competing this time round – it is shaping up to be our best event ever. Can’t wait.
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