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10/19/12 3:40 PM
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Open Mat BJJ
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Member Since: 12/19/06
Posts: 113
3rd Degree Renzo Gracie Black Belt, IBJJF World Championships Expert Commentator and Ultimate Fighter Team GSP BJJ Coach Shawn Williams is at OpenMat this weekend teaching a two-day seminar on Open Guard Passing and Guard Retention. Check out the full details on the Facebook event page, here:


Also, our Head Instructor Elliott Bayev was just in Los Angeles for three weeks training with Shawn at 5 Star Martial Arts and wrote this about his experience. Check it out!

OpenMat MMA

About My Coach, Shawn Williams

Years ago, when I first started OpenMat, I didn't really have a teacher. I went to Los Angles and visited all of the big name Jiu-Jitsu schools. I'd heard of this guy, Shawn Williams over the years, a Renzo Gracie Black Belt. He was supposed to be a good instructor. All the schools I tried were just amazing. But there was something special in Shawn's Jiu-Jitsu. I knew that it was the Jiu-Jitsu I wanted to master. It reminded me of the magic I first felt when i started Jiu-Jitsu.

Over the years, I've tried to figure out exactly what makes Shawn's Jiu-Jitsu so different. I'd see him a few times per year, him coming up to teach seminars at my school and private lessons with me, and me going down to LA to train with him. Well I just spent three weeks training with him full time, twice/day, and have had time to think about it while learning here. It seems to boil down to three things:

1. The depth of his knowledge and understanding, as well as his ability to communicate it.
2. The height of his skill, composure and toughness.
3. Three particular things about his character.

What do I mean by depth? Well, not only does it seem he has all the answers (BJJ Black Belt and UFC Champions go to him for solutions and he's the expert commentator for the BJJ world championships), but that he seems to very clearly see how all the positions are connected, and where every move fits in. He does this by teaching not just incredibly fine detail, but by explaining the whys behind everything - exposing the bigger picture. Teaching context.

Of course his teaching is off the hook (the toughness of ALL of his students is a testament to it) but in terms of his actual skill, people talk about Shawn like he's a world champion, even though, despite having beaten many BJJ and MMA stars in most of the biggest tournaments, he hasn't won a world title (yet). Prior to moving to California from New York to open his own school,he was one of the first Americans to dedicate his life to Jiu-Jitsu and become a full time BJJ athlete, which is only now starting to become a (tiny) bit more commonplace. Not only that, he was part of a team of six to ten other full-time Jiu-Jitsu fighters which even today is almost unheard of. This crew included Renzo Gracie himself, as well as BJJ and UFC superstars like Matt Serra, Rodrigo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, Nick Serra and John Danaher. To have a room of even a handful of full-time Jiu-Jitsu fighters is nuts, but to have that caliber, even more so. Shawn became one of Renzo's first American Black Belts.

I won't talk about what I've seen him do to other people or who they are. I will talk about how badly he kicks my butt. He's a real monster. Legit. Dominating, heavy, technical, dynamic, smooth and composed. If you've rolled with him, you know. If you don't know, now you know, neighbour.

When I was choosing a coach, I wanted to find someone who could not only help me teach the best Jiu-Jitsu I could find, but someone aligned with the purpose of my school and personal missions. Already this sounds a bit too glowing, so I'll be brief:

a) His Work Ethic
Shawn's the hardest worker I've ever met. Maybe it's his growing up working on farms in Indiana, but his work ethic and crazy high standard for himself are intimidating, but inspiring. It also makes me feel like a bit of a wimp by comparison. :/

b) His Attitude.
Always positive. He's human and I've seen him angry, but even then, optimistic. I find it difficult to be around people who don't share this way of seeing the world, as it's the very thing I want to offer through my school.

c) He actually wants to do good in the world.

Shawn runs his school because he knows the power Jiu-Jitsu has to improve people's lives and wants to share that. But more, as I've come to learn by talking with and observing him over the years, he wants their lives to be better on every level. He's created the friendliest, most positive, and welcoming gym I've ever been to (except mine, of course! :P )

Why am I saying all this. Three reasons:

i) Shawn is super humble and actually tries to avoid the spotlight. He would never publicly brag about many of the things I've mentioned and alluded to. He might actually be mad at me, we'll see.
ii) He's so crazy generous with me, I've found it really hard to give back or show my appreciation. Here's an attempt.
iii) You, if you do Jiu-Jitsu. Train with him. Watch him teach. Do a private lesson and ask him questions. You will understand.

If you live in L.A., go to his Academy, 5 Star Martial Arts. If you don't, go visit, or go to one of his affiliate schools or get his DVDs, attend a seminar, or at least look him up on YouTube. There are lots of awesome instructors out there. There are only a handful of GREAT instructors. Shawn Williams is one.

Elliott Bayev
Shawn Williams Brown Belt
Head Instructor
OpenMat Mixed Martial Arts

P.S. If you've never seen Shawn teach or talk, this interview is about The Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle" and the martial artist's way of life. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kytk4ceVaGo

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