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Male Jiu Jitsu Student Of The Year

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Male Jiu Jitsu Student Of The Year

Male Student of The Year 

Jordan Varela

December 8 was Checkmat Charlotte’s annual end of year seminar and awards. Some students were promoted as well as recognized for their accomplishments. One student, Jordan Varela was awarded Male Student Of The Year. We sat down with Jordan and learned a little more about him and got his thoughts on everything from Jiu Jitsu, other Martial Arts and food. Enjoy this read with a fantastic person and Jiu Jitsu enthusiast. 

What is your name, how old are you and where are you originally from?

  My name is Jordan Varela, I am 40 years old and am from Long Island, NY

What brought you to BJJ and Checkmat Charlotte?

   I trained Muay Thai religiously for about 9 years without stopping and truly believed it was the end all be all of martial arts. Like literally nothing was better, grappling, BJJ, karate… everything else was garbage.  That was my mind set. I thought BJJ was ridiculous and always thought I’m not doing it. AsI continued to watch MMA I became interested in understanding what the guys on the ground were doing. I then found out that an old acquaintance was opening a new gym about 1 mile from my work.  He mentioned that the gentleman’s name was Michael Allen and was “MAYBE” looking to do something with a BJJ school. I was informed that Mr. Allen also was a catch wrestler and that intrigued me as I know many do not practice that style of combat anymore. So, I told the gym owner if he could persuade Professor Allen to do 6 a.m. classes 3 times a week I’ll be his first student. Four years later here we are….  I’m absolutely hooked. 

Would you mind telling us about your athletic background and your past hobbies?

  I actually was a terrible athlete and hated sports.  I never enjoyed team sports when I was younger. Music has actually always been my niche.  I’ve been drumming since I was 8 years old. I’ve put out over 13 death metal albums with various bands and currently play for my church.  Muay Thai was my choice of conditioning and training for about 9 years.

How did your Prior experiences in drumming help you in preparing for bjj comps?

  Not going to lie (and my Wife will attest).  I become neurotic. I’ll train 6 days a week and everything for me is always high end cardio, Vascular activity preferably with a training mask.  BJJ class will be at least 3 days a week as I am married with a kid/job and have to

balance out a good schedule.  Weight training will be twice a week (high rep) and everything else is conditioning.  I absolutely love conditioning training.

With a family you don’t compete as much as your teammates, yet you have had success and found Gold two years in a row at the Charlotte IBJJF event. How do you manage to find success with relative little experience prior? 

  Honestly, I personally feel that when I train with my BJJ family I try to roll like I’d compete for the most part.  I’ve also come to accept that sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. Some people have a really hard time with that and I don’t. I realize that I show up for training/competition and give it my all and that’s all I can do.  If I win great! If I lose, well I have to train better and correct the mistakes. This thinking reminds me what BJJ is... trial and error, good training and most importantly having fun. If I’m not having fun then what is the point?  If I take the mental stress off myself, then I compete better because I’m out there to have fun.

You recently were promoted to the rank of Purple belt. How was that and did you expect to be promoted? 

  Truly this was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life!  To know that “on average” 85% of blue belts never make it to purple belt says a lot.  The fact that I had it in me to separate myself from the flock means the most! All that was on me...  I had to decide to show up, train, drill, compete, and most importantly help others. There was SO much that went into it. My coach says, “no one can take that away, you earn your belt... it’s never given away”. My instructor gave me a 4th stripe so I was like, “Awesome there is more work to be done in blue before getting to purple.”.  I was totally happy to know this and was content. We had a seminar and my Wife walks in at the end during the promotion part. This was part of the surprise and then my promotion was done. Wow, it was humbling and truly a very blessed moment. That was a Heaven on Earth moment for me to share with my team and Wife/Son.

What is your favorite color for a gi?

  Black is my favorite color for a gi.

If you could be one animal, what would it be?

  I would be a Rhinoceros (100%)

What is your favorite food before practice?

  I actually eat nothing before I train whether it’s 6am or 12 noon class.  I do intermittent fasting so I don’t usually eat until 12:30-1pm everyday.  

Who is your favorite BJJ practitioner?

  This is a tough one. Claudio Calasans is an absolute monster and definitely one of my top picks.

In one word describe life at Checkmat Charlotte?


What is the one thing you like best about being at Checkmat Charlotte?

  My BJJ family... I’ve had one hell of an difficult year with some really serious stuff that happened.  My first messages and encouragement were from my Checkmat family.... I have no words. All I know is I love them very much.  

What advice would you give to a brand new student starting BJJ?

  It would take me hours!  I first say stop saying “can’t”.  That word is cancer! Say I can, submit to the coaching/lessons, be quiet and listen, your first 6 months are the toughest (expect it), and just know BJJ is a NEVER ending journey (there truly is no end to the learning).  Last thing: show up and get on the mat.... the coach and team will help with the rest. OSS!

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Good luck this weekend at Newbreed Raleigh, Mckenzie lee and Troy Hunt!