Last week FiveOuncesOfPain.com (www.FiveOuncesOfPain.com) proudly announced it was sponsoring Lloyd Irvin jiu-jitsu black belt Jared Weiner for this weekend’s Pan Am Submission Grappling Championships in Carson, Calif.
The Pan Ams are without question one of the most prestigious competitive grappling tournaments around so it’s a honor to have a grappler the caliber of Jared representing 5 Oz. patches on his Gi.
Those who are involved in the grappling world know the name Jared Weiner. Those who only follow MMA may not be as familiar with him. Regardless, 5 Oz. decided to sit down with Weiner last week while he took a break from training in order to get his thoughts on the Pan Ams, the Philadelphia-area grappling scene, what life is like for a Jewish athlete, his thoughts on Wilson Reis (a top featherweight MMA prospect and an instructor Weiner’s school, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United), and much more.
Sam Caplan: Approximately how large is the field of competitors at the Pan Ams?
Jared Weiner: There’s thousands every year. In the black belt division the categories are very stacked. It’s a world class level (with) the best guys coming from Brazil, Japan, Europe, everywhere.
Sam Caplan: Is it invitation only?
Jared Weiner: No. Anybody can go. All belts, too.
Sam Caplan: Who are the top competitors you’re concerned about in regards to your division and weight class?
Jared Weiner: This year I’m going to fight in the Masters Division. This is the first year I’ll be fighting in the Masters Division (and) there’s really good guys in it, but I am ready for anyone they put in front of me. I can’t wait.
Sam Caplan: Who are some other top competitors that will be competing in other divisions?
Jared Weiner: In all the weight classes you’ll have guys like Cobrinha, Leo Dalla, Roberto Godoi, Jeff Glover, Michelle Languinni, Bruno Frazzato, Big Mac, all the top guys will be there. It’s always a show.
Sam Caplan: From the Philadelphia area, what other top competitors will be going out?
Jared Weiner: Black belt wise you’ll have Rick Migliarise and Rick McCauly from Balance, and usualy Regis Lebre from Maxericse. Those guys compete all the time. I’m not sure about any other black belts though.
Sam Caplan: When did you get started in jiu-jitsu?
Jared Weiner: I started jiu-jitsu in 1995. Early-1995 under Steve Maxwell from Maxercise.
Sam Caplan: How old were you?
Jared Weiner: 16 or 17.
Sam Caplan: Wow.
Jared Weiner: Yeah, I was young. I was doing it in high school. I think I was in tenth or eleventh grade. I started under Steve Maxwell — who by the way started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Philadelphia. I see a lot of people doing interviews and they don’t recognize Steve as their first teacher and I think that’s kind of bulls—, because he’s the man who started this in Philadelphia and he needs to be respected and given credit where credit is due.
Sam Caplan: What made you want to get into jiu-jitsu, especially at such a young age?
Jared Weiner: My friend Bean brought me. He’s one of the black belts in our Academy now. His name is Brian. He brought me to jiu-jitsu because I was skateboarding and stuff like that; semi-pro doing all that and getting into magazines and videos and all that stuff. And then I made a decision that I was going to check out jiu-jitsu. Bean brought me in and that was it; I was hooked. Then there came a time when I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do because I injured my back skating and I decided to just stick with jiu-jitsu.
Sam Caplan: Before jiu-jitsu did you do any Karate or any kind of stand up styles?
Jared Weiner: Nah. No martial arts. It was just ice hockey and skateboarding.
Sam Caplan: How would you compare Philadelphia as a region to other parts of the country as far as quality of instructors, schools, and competitors?
Jared Weiner: It’s top notch. Philadelphia is probably one of the best cities in the country right now for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There’s about four or five real schools that bring the heat. Schools that I would call real schools.
Sam Caplan: Which schools?
Jared Weiner: The top schools know who they are, and the fakers know who they are also.
Sam Caplan: I come from a traditional standup background — pretty much Kung Fu and Karate and in that world there were always schools and instructors that were embellishing their rank and accomplishments. Are there are any schools or competitors in the Philly area that you feel exaggerate their place in the scene?
Jared Weiner: Exaggerating who they are? No. But maybe faking who they are? I think there’s a difference between exaggeration and playing some type of role that maybe you’re not. But whatever. There’s a lot of schools that are opening up now that do not have brown or black belt teachers. I feel like they’re opening up because it’s the thing to do right now because they are trying to live off this MMA wave. They have not been doing jiu-jitsu that long and basically they are riding the coattails of all those big schools just trying to pick up the scraps.
Sam Caplan: Do you want to get into specifics?
Jared Weiner: Ah, no I don’t think I am going to name them I think they know who they are and I think they aren’t fooling anyone. They will come and go like the rest. I feel bad for the new students who dont’t know any better. You can clearly see it in the tournaments and the local amateur MMA shows: their basics are lacking.
Sam Caplan: What do you think about all the Karate schools that are now claiming they have an MMA program? For instance, I’ll drive by Tiger Schulman’s and at some schools it’s been changed from Tiger Schulman’s Karate to Tiger Schulman’s MMA.
Jared Weiner: If you look back five years ago, it didn’t exist. Now, like I said, they watch “The Ultimate Fighter” like everybody else. They watch the “TapouT” show like everybody else. They see how the real jiu-jitsu schools are doing. And they are doing good. They are getting a lot of students. And I think a lot of them just want to pick up on that. And every one that opens up, they are going to do what they’re going to do. But the level of instruction isn’t going to be there and you’re going to get more injuries. You’re going to get guys breaking their necks and heads and all this stuff because they don’t know what they’re doing. Once again the lack of basic BJJ shows big time. Flying armbar, neck lock, heel hook, head lock seems to be the curriculum of the martial arts school crossing over into “grappling.” It happens all the time when I get a Schulman or Karate student that has been grappling for years that come into my school and take a class. They get destroyed by my white belts that have been training for a short time. This happens all the time.
Sam Caplan: Recently you gave me a chance to do an article on Atreyu while they were taking a private lesson with you. On your site, you have several celebrity endorsements for your school. You have other celebrity students, don’t you?
Jared Weiner: Yeah. I’ve trained some pretty cool guys. All of my students are cool but I do have a few celebrities that pass through every once in a while. You get some guys from some bands and you get some professional athletes and stuff like that, so it’s cool.
Sam Caplan: There’s a lot of football players trying to get into MMA now. Are there any well-known guys you’ve worked with?
Jared Weiner: I’ve trained Glenn Parker. He used to play for the Giants, Bills, and the Chiefs. That’s my man right there. Glenn is a great, great, great guy. He was working in New York City for awhile and he’d literally come from New York two or three times a week to come train with me when we had our old school. That’s how I got to know Glenn. He came in really unassuming. I’ll be honest with you; the first day he was in there he didn’t even introduce himself as a football player. I didn’t really know who he was. Plus, he was on that Giants team that beat the Eagles in the playoffs that year so he was smart not to let me know that (laughs). But then after the second or third time he came in we started talking and I’m like, “Holy s—, that’s Glenn Parker!” And he’s cool man. He’s not cocky. He just comes off as a normal dude. He’s great. And I’m still great friends with Glenn. He brings me out to Arizona once a year (and) we train out there. He’s the man.
Sam Caplan: And in addition to Atreyu I think there are some other bands you’ve worked with?
Jared Weiner: Yeah, I mean, there are some guys that I’m friends with too that stop in and stop by the Academy every once in a while to say what’s up and get a roll in.
Sam Caplan: One thing you and I have in common is that we were both bouncers at the Trocadero at different times. Did you meet bands through that line of work?
Jared Weiner: Yes and no. Because before I was even a bouncer, I’m an old hardcore kid. I’ve been going to shows since I was young and you meet a lot of guys in the scene back then and some of the guys you get to know and stuff like that.
Sam Caplan: When you were working security did you ever apply your jiu-jitsu in street applicable situations?
Jared Weiner: Yes (laughs). There were some moments where we had to use jiu-jitsu. It got nasty some times, real nasty. I was always the smallest bouncer. I’m 160 pounds soaking wet. So I was able to talk the meanest guy out of the club but sometimes when push came to shove we had to use some jiu-jitsu.
Sam Caplan: I wanted to talk to you about street application. Because at certain Karate and Kung Fu schools they always tried to brainwash us into believing that jiu-jitsu was not practical in self-defense situations. I’d hear stuff like “Jiu-jitsu is just a fad” and “Just because you see it used in the UFC doesn’t mean you can use it in a real situation because you never want to go to the ground and fight.” What’s your philosophy as far as self-defense situations and applying jiu-jitsu?
Jared Weiner: I think it’s (jiu-jitsu) important on a one-on-one situation. I think jiu-jitsu rules. You control someone and you put them down. Basically, you can take it to where you want to take it if you know what you’re doing once it goes to the ground. You can take things far if you want to snap something (or) you can just put them to sleep if you want to get them down and away from you.
I also think in a two-on-one or a three-on-one beatdown situation it’s good to know how to just keep yourself alive. Look, you don’t want to be in any type of situation like that and the truth of the matter is getting beat down two-on-one or three-on-one is a bad day for anyone. I’m a realist when it comes to that. I’m not going to sit here and say “Jiu-jitsu is going to save you in a five-on-one!” No way that’s what glocks are for (laughs).
Sam Caplan: So you’re not like a Karate sensei teaching your class how to fight five people at once?
Jared Weiner: (Laughs) No way.
Sam Caplan: One of your instructors at the school is Wilson Reis. Wilson is going to be fighting on April 5 for ShoXC against UFC veteran Doug Evans. How did you get hooked up with Wilson:
Jared Weiner: I met Wilson in Brazil. I had actually seen him compete when he was a blue belt. I do a lot of tournaments and have seen him around. He was like a kid who always had a smile on his face that was running around talking to everyone. Then finally we met through a mutual friend and we all ended up staying in the same house in Rio and we hung out for a few weeks. And I was like, “This is the nicest kid I’ve ever met.” He didn’t speak a lick of English back then but I invited him to come out to the school. Sure enough I get a strange, random e-mail a few weeks later saying “We got this kid a ticket. He’s coming.” And that’s all she wrote.
Sam Caplan: As far as MMA, how high do you think Wilson’s ceiling is?
Jared Weiner: The sky is the limit for this kid. This kid is a freak phenom athlete. I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s a conditioning nut. His jiu-jitsu is some of the best in the world. If he would have been in the U.S. before college, he would have gotten a wrestling scholarship to any D-1 school that he wanted — that’s how sick this kid is. He’s never formally wrestled.
Sam Caplan: Wilson competed against Zach Makovsky during the January 25 ShoXC in Atlantic City. It was a fight that I thought was going to be much tougher than how it turned out. Did that outcome surprise you?
Jared Weiner: No, not at all. Because you and I even spoke before the fight and I know you were like “This is going to be a tough one” and I was like “Just watch” and me and (Brad) Daddis just smiled at you.
Sam Caplan: Yeah, but I felt that way because Makovsky is tough. The kid is no joke.
Jared Weiner: Oh, no doubt and I have a lot of respect for Zach. He’s a tough kid and he’s been doing it for a little while now too and I think the sky is the limit for him as well. But we knew the level wasn’t even close. We really, really did. We had a little inside track into what Zach’s gameplan was — I’m not going to say how, but we did. And we knew what was coming and it unfolded exactly the way we expected it.
Sam Caplan: For Wilson’s next fight he’s facing a guy in Evans who is well-rounded and has some UFC experience. What do you expect out of that fight?
Jared Weiner: More of the same. Wilson’s game plan is no secret to anybody. His takedowns are world class. His ground and pound is insane. His submissions are world class.
Sam Caplan: Another thing we have in common is that we’re both Jewish and we grew up in the same area. While there is a high population of Jews in the Philly area, there’s also a lot of racists in this area as well. Growing up, I had to deal with a lot of it because jews were stereotyped as being weak. Here you are though, a black belt in jiu-jitsu that has won some major tournaments. Growing up did you face stereotypes?
Jared Weiner: Absolutely. One hundred percent. Look, my last name is Weiner. Know what I mean? I dealt with that growing up. No lie — that’s partially of what made me into the person that I am today. I’m not trying to hash anything up but people f—– with me. But I always punched back. And it got to a certain point where if I thought someone was going to punch me, I’d punch them first. I would get so angry. But it is what it is. You become defensive after awhile. I grew up Jewish and I grew up proud. I was in Israel. My father played professional baseball. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies as a Jewish man back in the day.
Sam Caplan: What was his name?
Jared Weiner: Dennis Weiner. He was drafted by the Phillies before I was born. Then he played for the Jewish baseball team, the Maccabai team in Israel. And my dad is still a coach for Penn State Abington as well. So my dad played ball as a Jewish athlete and my mother was into gymnastics. So I came from a background of two Jewish athletes. And my grandfather — my mother’s dad — he made the Olympics for weight lifting. He set the record for the bench press. I have all of the old magazines. It was during the Olympics in Germany during World War II and he couldn’t go because he was a Jewish athlete. To this day I’m still very proud to be Jewish. I’m very pro-Israeli. I stick up for my people, if need be.
Sam Caplan: While it’s not an ideal transition, I wanted to wrap things up because I’ve taken up enough of your time. Before we ended the interview I wanted to make sure to ask you about the importance of sponsors.
Jared Weiner: Sponsorship is an honor. If someone sees enough in you as a competitor and a person to sponsor you, that’s huge to me and it helps me out because it gets expensive, traveling everywhere and with entrance fees for the tournaments. My sponsors help out a lot and I have a lot of sponsors right now that have really been helping me big time. I would like to thank FiveOuncesOfPain.com, Pitchfork, Gameness, P90X, Novabadass Coffee, and Kadalac Tattoo in Manyunk, PA. I also wanted to thank everyone from BJJ United and Team Lloyd Irvin.