Dickie Martin Interview

Dickie Martin is one of the UK’s most accomplished BJJ players, with victories in many of the UK’s premier events, as well as enjoying success in the BJJ Europeans event in Portugal.Dickie Martin is one of the UK’s most accomplished BJJ players, with victories in many of the UK’s premier events, as well as enjoying success in the BJJ Europeans event in Portugal. The Fighting Photographer took time out to speak to Dickie and find out more about this very popular competitor from London.

Carl: Firstly congratulations on your performance at the Europeans in Portugal earlier this year; talk us through your matches.

Dickie: My first match was against a German who pulled guard. I used my favourite guard pass and made it to half guard. From there I used my favourite half guard pass and secured side control. I then used the secret choke which is a variation on an old Carlson Gracie technique which allows a quicker and stealthier entry.

Second match was against a very tough Spaniard and I relied heavily on my Judo to get 3 takedowns. I finally managed to pass guard with an excellent technique that has served me well over the years but before I could progress to submission time was up.

I watched my final opponent in his semi-final and he had an amazing guard with all sorts of omo-plata sweeps and submission attempts. I noticed a small weakness in his game when he was in top position so I pulled guard and exploited that weakness. I finished him with a triangle.

CF: Who else represented the Revolution team out there?

DM: We had a pretty big team this year with over 30 guys from all over Europe. At Carlson Gracie London we are proud to represent the BJJ Revolution Team alongside our Brothers from Carlson Gracie Tonbridge and Carlson Gracie Hungary as well as other teams from Northern Ireland and Greece.

CF: How many times have you been to the Europeans?

DM: Four times so far; the first one in 2004 was very special, I think everyone from the UK who went and competed there felt the same but in terms of size and organisation this last one was incredible, the entry was huge and the standard was very high.

CF: What will be your next tournament to enter, here in the UK or abroad?

DM: My focus is on the Seni this year then after that maybe the World submission wrestling games later in the year.

CF: What have been your main achievements in BJJ the last few years?

DM: In competition I have won the following titles,

Blue BeltLondon Open ChampionSeni Gracie invitational championDorset and Hampshire Open ChampionEuropean Championships Silver

Purple BeltEuropean ChampionSeni Gracie Invitational ChampionCopa Bitteti Champion

Brown BeltEuropean Champion

I’ve also been fortunate enough to represent the UK in BJJ (silver medal European Teams event 2004) and submission wrestling, World Grappling Games 2007.

I’m also very proud to have been a part of the Carlson Gracie London team since the very beginning all those years ago in the Albany Hotel and hope that I have contributed in some small way to making it the excellent academy that it is today.

CF: You’re also a Judo black belt; how does the Judo training compliment your BJJ training?

DM: Judo training is a big part of my BJJ training, anyone who isn’t training Judo and considers themselves serious about studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is missing the point in my opinion.

Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are basically the same sport separated by a few minor differences in the rules; imagine if there were no time limit on the ground in a Judo competition, what you would have then is a sport in which the elite BJJ players could challenge for medals.

Some of the most impressive groundwork I have ever come up against has been pure Judo from the likes of Ray Stevens and Kenzo Nakamura so it’s nonsense when people talk about Judo having no groundwork. Maybe at your local YMCA that may be the case but if you dig deep enough you find there is treasure. Some of my most successful (and painful) techniques came from 6 months of training with Judo Jim Warren a few years back.

CF: Where do you train for Judo?

DM: I’m very proud to train at the Budokwai in Chelsea under Ray Stevens.

CF: Who are the instructors at the Carlson Gracie academy in London and how long will they be in London?

DM: Wilson Junior is the head instructor and he is around for a few years at least. He is assisted by myself, Simon Hayes, Walid Tadjouri, Barnaby Gorton, Scottish Brian, and Nisar Shaikh.

CF: That’s a lot of instructors, how does that work?

DM: We run training sessions every day of the week so there’s plenty of classes to teach and we feel that all the senior members of the club have a lot to offer to the members so we try and have a diverse timetable so that students can get a real taste for the wide variety of techniques and styles within BJJ.

CF: Have you guys any seminars lined up at the club?

DM: Nothing concrete as yet but we will definitely be hosting Rodrigo Medeiros and Demetrius Ramos again this year, they both bring so much information and positive momentum to the club whenever they come so I’m really looking forward to those visits.

CF: Any guys competing in MMA this year?

DM: I’m sure that Ryan Robinson will be competing again soon and we are starting to see some great students coming through from his MMA class so watch this space.

CF: You guys going to Seni 08?

DM: We have a little surprise lined up for Seni 2008 so yes we will be there and going for the overall win.

CF: Both you and Simon Hayes are well established brown belts and black belts must surely be on the horizon. How does that make you feel, will you feel ready when the time arrives?

DM: That’s very kind of you to say but I’ve never been too concerned about belts, I’m more concerned with constantly improving my game and working on my weaknesses. I think if you focus too much on the belt it can hold back your development.

CF: Have you studied any other martial arts?

DM: Yes I have a yellow belt in TKD and another one in Nippon Kempo so watch out. To be honest I was always interested in having a scrap but found the discipline in Martial Arts too much to bear so when I finally found a martial art that didn’t have tons of kata and was pretty relaxed I was hooked.

CF: What’s your day job and does it tie in with your training schedule?

DM: I trade interest rate derivatives from home and I’m finished at 6pm so I have a pretty good balance between Family, work and BJJ. For me that’s the order of importance and I’m able to train BJJ or Judo at least 4 times a week so I’m happy with that.

CF: Is the academy still at the Boiler Room?

DM: The old academy based in Royal Oak was the original boiler room but it turned out that the current academy in Glentham Road also has a HUGE boiler in it. When I saw that I knew it was our new home.

CF: Have you any other clubs based in the UK?

DM: Yes we have a club in Tonbridge www.carlsongracietonbridge.net which runs on Sundays Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s a fantastic club with a great spirit and I am very proud to have them as a part of the team. There are some really tough guys there and the team is growing all the time, it’s going to be a very successful team in the future that’s for sure.

We also have a club in Luton run by my good friend Walid Tadjouri who has been a fantastic training partner over the years. It’s a relatively new club but knowing the level of instruction from Walid it will be a very successful club very soon. www.carlsongraciemataleao.com

CF: Any clubs in Europe?

DM: We have a really close relationship with Carlson Gracie Hungary www.carlsongracie.hu that has been forged over many years. Again, we are so proud of our Brothers in Hungary and all they do for us, you will not find a tougher group of guys anywhere.

CF: Do you and Simon teach at the club? If so do you enjoy teaching or prefer to train?

DM: Yes we both teach at the club, I started doing it out of necessity but I’ve found it has made me take some big steps forward with my Jiu Jitsu so I’m very happy to keep doing it. However I also love to go and train at Wilson and Walid’s classes as well so the answer is that I still like both.

CF: Who coined the infamous ‘disrespect the legs’ chant, often heard at comps in the UK?

DM: Funnily enough the saying came from Ronaldo Campos many years ago when he was demonstrating an open guard pass at the club and part of it was described as “disrespect the legs” of your opponent. We were at a competition a few months later and the perfect opportunity to use that technique came up so Simon shouted “disrespect his legs” to try and remind the guy of the technique. People started talking about it on the internet and wondering what it meant so a legend was born.

CF: How important do you place competition in a jiu jitsu player’s development?

DM: For me it’s always been an important part of my development, win or lose. What I find is that if I make a mistake in a competition then it’s usually the last time I make it so from a technical point of view it’s very useful. There is always the little voice in your head warning you that you might lose and look stupid or make all your team-mates think you’re crap but that’s just your ego talking. It’s the same voice that tells you not to go on a Monday when you know the big monster from Poland will be there trying to rip your arm off. The fact is you need to confront that inner voice as much as possible and sooner or later you’ll realise that the fight isn’t against the other guys at the competition or the gym but it’s against yourself.

CF: Some guys never compete and are happy to train week in week out at the club; do you feel they miss something by not competing?

DM: At the end of the day this is just a hobby, none of us is going to make a living out of being a competition BJJ player so it’s not essential but they are missing out on something that will bring their game forward. However we’re all in this for fun so if they don’t want to do it I have no problem with that.

CF: Simon Hayes is currently holding court on the bjj.eu.com forum with his now legendary ‘CGJJ stories from abroad’ thread, posting tall tales of BJJ high jinks and adventures in sunnier climes. Have you any memorable tales to tell?

DM: I’ve seen and participated in many interesting matches at various clubs over the years but I’ll leave the storytelling to Simon, I’ll just end up getting myself into trouble.

CF: Dickie, thanks again for a great interview and best of luck on the competition circuit this year.

DM: My pleasure Carl.

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Carl Fisher