Beyond the Mat with Budo Jake

An enthusiast is a person who is ardently attached to a cause, object, or pursuit. While most Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners main focus is to reach world championship status there are some that just have a genuine love for the art. In this interview we take a look at how a man took his love for martial arts and turn it into a successful business that has helped take Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the mainstream.


Jake Mckee better known as “Budo Jake” has been involved in martial arts since 1987.Although he was well aware of Jiu-jitsu after watching the first UFC, it wasn’t until 2004 when Marcio Feitosa moved to the US that he started training BJJ at Gracie Barra which he automatically became hooked on the art.  In addition to his training , he is also the owner of a very familiar martial arts company and is the host of a highly popular online show called “Rolled Up”. With most of his days spent at work and most of his evenings on the mat training or filming episodes it is evident that martial arts has literally became his life 24/7.


In this interview Jake Mckee will give you glimpse at how his love for martial arts has taken him beyond the mat .


1.  First off I want to start by saying thanks for taking time out in your busy schedule to do this interview.
Jake: Thanks for the opportunity!
2.  So let gets started. How did you get your start in martial arts?
Jake: I was 13 years old and I’d played some sports before but they never really interested me. I don’t remember my first martial arts influence, but it might have been Van Damme in Bloodsport! Now 23 years later I’m training harder than ever. The thing I love about martial arts is that the learning never ends. I’ve never gotten bored of spending time on the mat.
3.    Not a lot of people know this but you are the owner of How did you start Budovideos ?
Jake: Well my first idea about starting the company came when I was living in Japan. I was spending all of my money on rare martial arts books and tapes (there weren’t DVDs then!) It was then that I realized that somebody should make this stuff available in the US. The company has changed a lot since then and now we produce instructional DVDs, live broadcasts of the BJJ world championships, online content, etc.
4.   Taking an idea you encounter on your experience in Japan and using it here in the U.S. Did you ever think that budovideos would reach the success that it has today ?
Jake: I’m not sure I ever thought about the potential, I just worked my ass off and grew the business little by little. I’ll look back and admire it later. Right now there’s more fun to be had and more work to be done.
5.   Being that you do a lot of things such as running the company, training, and other responsibilities, do you consider yourself an enthusiast of the sport?
Jake: Oh, for sure. I spend most of my waking hours in the sport. Whether it’s working or training. In fact, I don’t think I could be as enthusiastic about it as I am if I didn’t train.
6.   So that main fact that you train is the foundation which has allowed you to show you love for the art in other areas (such as your job) ?
 Jake: I don’t really know how else to say it, but my life is martial arts. I have no goals of becoming world champion or anything but I simply love training and sharing the arts with others. There’s really no end to the learning, there’s always someone doing something interesting that I can learn from.
7.    As a major distributor and commentator for events like the Mundials, as well as host a popular online show, how important is it for you to promote the sport and is there any pressure doing so?
Jake: There’s no pressure at all. I’m just doing what I love to do. I promote the sport because I know how good training is for you and how fun the live events are to watch.
8.   Seeing the sport grow for yourself in terms of job opportunities it offered, competitors reaching celebrity status, and the sport itself becoming bigger every year. What other opportunities do you think this sport will offer as time progresses?
Jake: For sure the industry has gotten bigger over the years. The UFC is huge and that has brought BJJ more spotlight as well. Now I think the challenge is to continue to grow the BJJ market. I’d love to see BJJ continue to grow so we can put on bigger and better live events. In the past BJJ fans would have to wait for many months after an event to see the footage. Now we are putting the event live online for viewers around the world. Technology has helped the art a lot in that regard.
9.    The “Rolled Up” show on budovideos  is a great idea, What gave you the idea to create the show?
Jake: Because of my position with Budovideos, I always have opportunities to train with different instructors. My training partners were always asking me who I had trained with recently and what I learned. After a while the thought came to me “Why don’t I just bring a camera with me and record the experience?” So the show is just about a normal dude going around and training with some of the best guys in the world. The viewers get to learn the same things I do, and they get to see me get beat up.
10.  With so many styles covered in the episodes, through your experience with each instructor, what do you think it showcases in terms of the evolution of bjj?
Jake: : I think Rolled Up shows that Grappling is an art, and being an art means that different people will express themselves differently. That’s what I love about BJJ. There’s not some old form that you have to follow. You learn the form and then you can do whatever techniques you want while sparring. In other words, we respect tradition but we’re not bound to it.
11.   Who was your favorite instructor to work with while filming  the show?
Jake: I learned something special from every instructor on the show. That being said, I’ve always liked Nino Schembri’s style of BJJ. He’s great at the basics but then he likes to do unorthodox moves as well. I think it’s good to have guys of a similar body type to emulate your game on, and Nino has been one of those guys for me.
12.   In addition to hosting a great on-line show, you also have produced some best selling videos like Jeff Glover Deep half Guard, The Chris Brennan DVDs set, along with many other great DVDs instructionals. Can you let  readers in on any other upcoming projects that is in the works ?
Jake : Yes, there are 2 projects that I’ve been excited to work on recently. One is with multiple time world champion Caio Terra. It’s going to be the most complete half guard set ever made. I think people are going to be amazed at the level of detail Caio puts into his instruction.
 The other project is 2 Bill Cooper DVDs. One is all about escapes, not just escaping but escaping and getting to a submission. Bill is the master of the scramble positions that happen during an escape and he breaks it down really nicely on this DVD.
 Bill’s other DVD is all on beating the Deep Half Guard. As most people know, Bill is good friends with Jeff Glover so he has more experience dealing with the Deep Half than anyone on the planet. There are some really interesting techniques on this set.
13.  With so much going on in your life how are you able to balance it all?
Jake: Well I think we need to remember that however busy life gets, you need exercise, you need a release. Jiu-jitsu is my therapy. When you’re sparring with someone you can’t have anything else on your mind. All of your thoughts go away and it’s just you and your opponent. So actually, the busier my work life is, the more I NEED to train. So the balance is very important.
14.   What is the greatest lesson you learned through your journey in the game?
Jake: I would say the greatest lesson I learned is in terms of discipline. A lot of people just train when they feel like it. Sometimes they go to class and sometimes they don’t. I think it’s important to have a regular training schedule. Sometimes before class I’ll feel tired or something but once I get on the mats the energy comes out and I feel great. So the lesson I learned is just to train regularly, whether you want to or not!
15.   Do you have any advice for people hoping to pursue a dream of becoming a broadcaster, writer, or working with a company like yours?
Jake: The great thing about the world right now is that anybody can get out there and do what they want to do with a pretty small investment. That doesn’t mean you’ll make any money at it, but at least you can put it out there and get noticed. So my advice would be to get out there and show the world what you have. If it’s good quality you might get noticed and it could turn into something bigger. Who knows?
16.   Finally I know a lot of times  grapplers  get caught up at feeling discourage through their progression & may lose love for the what they are doing, being an enthusiast do you have any advice to the grapplers out there going through this phase?
Jake: I’ve seen so many talented people drop out of training. Just like the tortoise and the hare, it really is slow and steady that wins the race. I would advise new students not to judge their progress day to day or even month to month. You’re going to have down days. You’re going to get smashed or submitted sometimes. The important thing is to get back out there. So just commit yourself to the training and you WILL improve
17.   Would you like to give any shout outs before we wrap up?
 Jake: Well thank you OTM first of all for the interview, and thanks to all the guest instructors on Rolled Up and all of our Budovideos customers for making all of this possible.
18. Well that wraps things up thank you for your time Jake.
Jake: Thank you and stay tuned to to see all of our shows or subscribe to us on Itunes! Perhaps the best Rolled Up episode is coming soon with the smallest guy to win 2 absolute divisions in 2010 – the 135lb phenom Caio Terra







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