The Grind Provides


“I can feel your heartbeat on my wrist,” she said. 

“I felt it, too,” the other replied.

While this may sound like an excerpt from a romance novel, it’s actually an exchange between BJJ students during The Grind. They were drilling a choke from the open guard with a bear grip. 

Jiu Jitsu, and "The Grind" that goes with it, can be characterized as a great love story though, right?

Kinda like the one from Deadpool.


I had the pleasure of visiting recently, and I was yet again reminded of how The Grind is universal to BJJ.

Joao Paulo “Johnny” Faria opened Alliance San Diego in June 2015.  It's located about a mile off the I-15 freeway on Miramar Road- right across the street from the home of the aviation element of the US Marines 1st Expeditionary Force.

Johnny told me, "A lot of my students live in the area, it's close to the base, and when I found the place, I loved it...perfect size and really bright and open so I didn't think twice."  

In addition to Jiu Jitsu, Alliance San Diego also offers Judo, No Gi, Muay Thai and Yoga. 

Johnny is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. He's also a 2X IBJJF No Gi World Champion and Pan American Champion. He has fought 2 MMA fights (the last one for Bellator) and finished both opponents. He is no stranger to The Grind.

Johnny was not teaching the evening I was there, but he came to class to get his daily dose of The Grind because after all, this is Jiu Jitsu- it's known to be addicting.



Teaching class that night was IBJJF Black Belt World Champion and Abu Dhabi Pro Hall of Famer, Tarsis Humprehys.

There were about 20 students in class ranging from white to brown belts, all ages, men and women. 





“When you get that choke there’s no time to waste. Get it and pull those elbows in before your opponent has time to react,” Tarsis told his students. 

“When you get that choke there’s no time to waste. Get it and pull those elbows in before your opponent has time to react,” Tarsis told his students. 

I have photographed a lot of people competing, at high levels, in front of thousands of people. But it is in the gym, on the average day with nobody around other than the professors and students, that I love to be most.  Because really, it's in the gym where the magic happens. Yes, the competitions are exciting and when the crowd roars everyone looks to see who is meting out the punishing pressure, the perfectly executed fundamental or the innovative move that seem to come from nowhere...

But where do you think all that started?

I’ll tell you where: THE GRIND.

That’s where it's born. There are no crowds. It is quiet except for the heavy breathing and soft laughter that someone exhales when they've been caught. The Grind is where it is drilled and drilled and drilled and then roll after roll it is refined. The Grind is where mistakes are made, over and over and over... until they aren't made anymore, and the right moves become second nature.

Those dedicated to The Grind are the ones we see on the podium and get signed to Five Grappling and Fight 2 Win. And for the ones who aren't interested in competing, The Grind sends them home to their families relaxed and feeling like a champion because they've just done something that so few do.

The Grind is the reason every single one of us who has ever watched a World Championship thought, “My gawd how did they do that?!”

The Grind is what gives us those championship moments from the young warriors who have dedicated their lives to the Gentle Art.  The Grind also gives us the 40 year old White Belt who during the day pushes the keys on a keyboard in a cubicle, but in the evening, after a long day of work, has the courage to push his limits on the mat with World Champions.

The Grind provides.


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