James Toaolamai

James, 51.
Started 2006.

How did you first get interested in BJJ? And what led you to start training at GSW.

I’ve always liked choking people. Late 90’s - I had long hair and was training karate. Our karate was strong and the best of everything, so inevitably Geoff brought us John Will and BJJ.

I attended the seminar in 2000 and realized that I needed BJJ, and that John Will is gold standard for teaching. I entered a competition the next month and some years later found myself in the Mt. Vic dojo and started training. I was young and stuck under side-control, now after many years of hard work I am old and stuck under side-control.

What advice would you give to someone new to BJJ or to our school?

Your new gi will shrink, always. Unless you want it to, then it won’t.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their BJJ?

Always be able to answer the question – ‘What are you working on?’ and know winning has nothing to do with tapping. Little dopamine fixes come from upgrading, learning more, discovering what works and what doesn’t.
The sea of information you’re drowning in calms and useful instruction is in focus. You can roll with any level and if someone crushes me – good I know what to work on.

Can you share a memorable experience or achievement from your time training at the school?

blue belt was nice – maybe I’m not a dick and I belong (btw - turns out I am a dick). Someone reaching out to see if I was ok and needed to keep training.

How has BJJ impacted your life outside the gym?

I’m still here. Getting by today takes everything I’ve got, taking a break from all the worries sure does help a lot, and everybody’s always glad you came. Getting lost in a roll is worth the hard work.

How do you balance your training and your daily life.

Balance is over-rated. Go all in, train six times a week, buy all the funny pyjamas. On the other hand my life is a mess, don’t listen to me.

GSW BJJ Black Belt James Toaolamai

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