Gerome Uy

   Photo : Personal archives

   Photo : Personal archives

Gerome used jiu jitsu to battle depression and lost 100 pounds in the process. He is an inspiration for us all.  Set a goal and get inspired !


JJCHMYLIFE : Hello Gerome, how and when did you start in BJJ ?

Gerome : I started Jiujitsu April 2005. I was watching pride fc and I was very intrigued. My favorite fighter to watch was Ricardo Arona and he was fighting under the BTT banner. So I googled it and luckily, they have a local BTT gym close by in long beach. That was the beginning of everything.

JJCHMYLIFE: Did you feel any benefits right away ?

Gerome : In the beginning, it was difficult for me. Coming from a football background where we can use speed and strength to overcome our opponents. Jiujitsu was much different. Never felt so confused and helpless when someone 100lbs lighter than me can hold me down and submit me at will. I was thinking I'll be moving like arona after the first week of training. I had two options, quit or stay. I chosed to stay. Made me humble and made me hungry to learn. 10 years later, I'm still learning. It's a never ending learning process. I benefited from the learning aspect of jiujitsu and of course the physical conditioning of the art.

JJCHMYLIFE : What is your daily routine ?

Gerome :Before, I had in a bad marriage for 6 years. I gained a lot of weight from over working and stress. I went up to 315lbs. I still did Jiujitsu to displace stress and to meet my brothers(teammates). It was my escape. Then I got a divorce and I got more depressed. Then I work up one day that Jiujitsu is the one will save my life and I dedicated my life on getting better in Jiujitsu and Jiujitsu will get my life better as it comes. I started competing 2014 at ultra heavy division. Did really well, each tournament I lose 20lbs from training hard and eating right. Winning and losing weight is more addicting than drugs for sure. I was so dedicated and focused, I wake up at 4am every morning, do 1hr fasten cardio the 15 min sauna. Then I have my breakfast then go to work. After I get off work at 3pm, I go straight to BTToc to do cardio kickboxing at 4pm for an hour. Then Jiujitsu right after from 5-7:30. Then I go home, have dinner then go straight to the gym to lift weights. People think I'm crazy and over doing it. I don't know where I get the energy from, but my focus and determination was unbelievably strong.

JJCHMYLIFE : How Jiu Jitsu Changed your Life ?

Gerome :Jiu jitsu did not just changed my life. Jiujitsu saved my life. I was so depressed from my failed marriage that I considering committing suicide. I was admitted for depression. But my Jiu jitsu brothers were always there for me, always tried to bring me in to train. So I started training, realized the more I train, the better I feel. So I trained more, and more to the point that I feel amazing. It took all my stress away and cleaned my mind from all the negativity was holding me down.

JJCHMYLIFE : Leave a message for all fellow BJJ practitioners and for those who are considering start practicing

Gerome :I highly recommend to everyone to take up Jiujitsu. It's a hobby that has benefits that will change or save your life for the better. You will a brotherhood that you won't find anywhere in different sport. You'll expand your network not just nation wide, but across the globe. Most importantly, Jiujitsu will help you chose a healthy way of life. It encourage to eat healthier and workout more. So in the end, Jiujitsu will help you have a healthier mind and body.






Ian Matuszak

Meet Ian Matuszak. He has been training at Longo and Weidman MMA in Long Island, New York  under Dave Patton and Pete Sell ( both under Matt Serra ) for almost a year and is a 1 stripe white belt. He is going to college studying English writing with a minor in Public Relations and is training for a jiu jitsu tournament in april. Ian is physically disabled with Cerebral Palsy but he trains and pushes himself every training session and is a great example and inspiration for everyone. Keep it up the good work Ian, we will be rooting for you ! Ossss


Photo: Personal archives

Photo: Personal archives

Hill of Champions

Current Bellator fighter Marlon Sandro, set up a social project in the community of Santo Amaro, Rio de Janeiro designed to help the children of the numerous problems facing the favela trough the teaching of jiu jitsu. 

Independent filmmaker Benjamin Bush is producing a film about this project.

We interviewed Benjamin, please check it out below.

 Let’s give something to this cause. Here it is the indiegogo campaign :

Involve Media LTD

Involve Media LTD

JJCML - How did you hear about Marlon’s project ?
BEN :Hill of Champions came about when working on another project intending to follow four fighters from four corners of the world to one event. One of those fighters was Jose Aldo (before he got signed to the WEC). It was then that I learned of Marlon’s social project as Jose Aldo was good friends with Hacran Dias and Eduardo Dantas, two of Marlons best students.

JJCML - What made your decide to produce a film about this cause?
BEN : I have always wanted to make films with empowering storylines that open people’s eyes to new ways of thinking about their fellow human beings – that spread empathy. We are surrounded by negativity; the news shows us this problem and that problem and fills us daily with a sense of dread and fear. With Hill of Champions I found a story that demonstrates perfectly that even in a world filled with turmoil the base human spirit is one of positivity and giving. I believe that people care when they understand and can share experience. What the fighters of Santo Amaro represent to their community to the children who attend their social project and to other communities like theirs resonates equally with all of us. They represent hope, they represent strength and struggle and they represent generosity and humility.

JJCML -What kind of help you need to make it happen ?
BEN : We need people to get involved, to come and visit our crowdfunding site and be a part of our film. Get some exclusive hoodies, T-Shirts, get the DVD on pre-order, take part in the chance to win a trip to Rio, to win a laptop, to meet the fighters and visit the favela – and to spread the word far and wide. Every contribution gets something in return and every donation to our project helps the social project directly financially as well as indirectly through exposure – exposure that will bring investment and change to Santo Amaro and communities like it.

JJCML - Give a shout out to whoever is helping you to get the campaign going.
BEN :I would like to first and foremost give a big thank you to everyone who has supported the project so far by contributing to the crowdfunding campaign. I would also like to thank Nilton , Marlon Sandro, Hacran Dias, Jose Aldo, Eduardo Dantas, Polengue Dias, Renan Barao and many more – and thank the community of Santo Amaro and all the little samurais from the social project itself. We will have some big news soon so I ask everyone to keep their eyes peeled.


Involve Media LTD

Involve Media LTD

Marlon Sandro - Involve Media LTD

Marlon Sandro - Involve Media LTD

Stories from the Mat - The Power of Genuine Relationships as a Vehicle for Social Change

Melanie is a student from Level Ground MMA ( )

More and more organizations are using sports as a vehicle for social change.  This is incredible and we applaud this rising trend, but, you may wonder, what makes Level Ground so unique?

While we differentiate ourselves in large part through our holistic model by providing mentorship, academic advancement, and youth employment to the students we serve, it is the culture that really serves as the 'magic' of Level Ground.

While many organizations seek to serve as many youth as possible (let's be large part to impress funders), we delve deep and create raw, authentic, and truly lasting relationships with our students.  We are unapologetic in our approach: in order to best serve the unique individuals they are, we must get to know them and appreciate them individually.  By doing so, we earn the RIGHT to challenge them beyond their limits, both on and off that mat.  We can then help them create a plan for success specifically tailored to their unique story, personality, and dreams.  In doing so, we create a culture where each individual is censors, no filters, no socially-constructed parameters that reduce human beings to mere metrics and data.

This takes time and energy, and may mean that we never serve 1000 kids annually.  However, what we yearn for...and what we're that this approach results in change of the most genuine, beautiful, and sustainable in nature.

Don't take my word for it though - check out a speech presented by one of our students to her college class a couple of weeks ago.  In it she describes the relationship between her and myself, and the tremendous impact it has had on her.  I can say with confidence that this is the story of all of our students in relation to all of our amazing, passionate instructors and volunteers.  I will also add that they have impacted and changed our lives just as deeply.  Thank you, Melanie, for changing mine.