Featured JCBJJ Students

JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

March 2012

Bill Simmons

Who is that guy training with people who, the majority of which weren’t born when he began martial arts training, and why is he here?

Bill is a 62+ year old who began martial arts training in 1968, long ago and far away.   He started as a 18 year old at a junior college in Fort Worth, Texas and has been envolved ever since.   His background was first in karate with Grandmaster Pat Burleson’s system where he received a fifth degree black belt.

Heavily invovled in karate tournaments for many years, he began full contact karate (kickboxing) when it was pioneered in the early 70’s as a member of Chuck Norris’ National Karate League with the Texas Gladiators.  When the league folded after the 1973 season, he fought a few more professional bouts. Among them was one of the first pro “street fight karate” championships on a pro boxing card in 1975 at Civic Plaza in Phoenix, scoring a second round knock out.

Stormin Simmons, as one of the national karate magazines dubbed him, fought under a variety of rules among the approximately 100 different competitions over the years both amateur and professional.   Early karate tournaments were head contact bare knuckle and feet matches.   Around 1970 rules were changed due to excessive broken noses, knocked out teeth, cuts, etc.   With the advent of the old safety foam gloves rules changed again.  In many black belt division point tournaments, knockouts brought victory.

Old school kick boxing rules varied also including some weird stuff like only three punches in a row without a kick, followed by eight kicks a round mandatory.   Some matches allowed leg kicks, others not, some knees and elbows other no.   It took some adaptation to keep up with where you were fighting.   The Phoenix fight included the groin as a target, leg kicks, knees, elbows, takedowns and five second ground and pound.  No joint locks or chokes yet and they broke clinches after 10 seconds.   Strikes to the back of the head were legal also in many events including downward elbows.

Simmons began training extensively in boxing during the early 70’s working out with several celebrated professionals.   Back then there were few kickboxing sparring partners so he boxed to get ready for the next bout in kickboxing.

A retired school counselor and PE teacher, he began wrestling training in 1979 with a friend who coached the high school team where he was employed.   This evolved over the years to being a high school assistant coach in wrestling, football and baseball while being employed full time as an educator.

Bill has kept his hand in martial arts for years, first owning, operating and instructing in karate schools for the Burleson system, then as part time jobs in community college programs, city recreation and church recreation programs.  He was a kickboxing instructor for several years at a martial arts school in Paradise Valley.   One of his students who he started in stand up went on to a 60-6 MMA career in Kentucky winning the state title there.

So what is the elder statesman doing at the LAB?  He says you have to “keep on, keepin on” no matter your age and martial arts are in his blood.   You have to stay active physically and the LAB is a great place for an excellent workout.  Trying to keep up with younger guys pushes him and, as he says,” sometimes you need pushin to keep it up”.  He plans to keep on working out as along as the body can hold up to the wear and tear.  It does get harder with age, especially when the arthritis sets in from old injuries.

Bill really appreciates the respect LAB students and instructors have shown him during his years training here.   He also is extremely proud of Ben Henderson, new UFC World Champ, not only for his great martial arts accomplishments but for his courage of conviction to stand up for the gospel of Christ.

Never one to stand still or stop growing, Bill has taken up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, at the LAB.   Jiu-Jitsu was an art he had very little training in before working out at the LAB.  He recently received his blue belt.

Things that keep him busy besides workouts are serving as Sales Broker for a Advantage Arizona Real Estate and Property Management that he owns with his wife Debbie; riding his horses and Harley; ministering in his church groups, and being a first time paw paw.

JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

September 2o11

Ty Parten

Ty, Travis, Carolyn, Clay and Emilie

 I started jiu jitsu about 2 years ago, I was looking for something more than just lifting weights and running on the treadmill.  What I found was that and a whole lot more.  The LAB has the”family” feel to it and I get my strenghth training, cardio and flexibility all in one.  Everyone works hard and we all take care of one another.

 I am 6’5, 260 lbs. and with some High school wrestling experience I thought I would be able to handle most guys on the ground.  I was sadly mistaken…I got caught in more triangles and arm locks than I thought was possible!  That is the main reason I kept coming back, to figure out this chess game called jiu jitsu.  I have always thought of wrestling like checkers and now jiu jitsu as chess, so many more moves! Like I said I have been here 2 years and still learning more moves and tricks all the time.  They just keep coming.  Another major reason is Coach John Crouch, I have bad knees from years of abuse on the football field and John always shows me how to protect them.

     I have spent most of my life here in Phoenix.  I graduated from Horizon high school in 1988 and then attended U of A on a football scholarship.  I played my senior year on “Desert Swarm” and, by the way, still have an unhealthy hatred for ASU.  I was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cincinnati Bengals and was released after playing two and a half years.  I came home to Phoenix and I decided I had to give the NFL one more shot.  I got drafted by the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe.  I had a great year, we won the 1996 World Bowl and, to top it off, I recieved Defensive Player of the year award.  On that note, I bounced back into the NFL with the 1997 St. Louis Rams, but got cut just before the regular season.  Late into the 1997 season I got a call from the Kansas City Chiefs. They asked me, and basically 10 other guys, to show up at their training facility.  I did so, and they literally ran us until I was the last man standing.  Two weeks later I was in a Chiefs uniform playing against the New Orleans Saints.  It was the playoffs and I can still recall Marcus Allen slapping me on the butt and telling me, “Go get ’em Pro!”  I was pumped to say the least, and I finished out that year and hung on with the Chiefs for 3 more years.  Not a whole lot of need for a slow white boy like myself and I signed up to play a year in the XFL for the Las Vegas Outlaws.  By that time I was married and had one child, and after that season I decided it was time to find a more stable occupation.  I was fortunate enough to get a job with the Phoenix Fire Dept. and have been on the job for just over 10 years.  It is a great 2nd career and I get to spend alot of time with my 3 children.  My daughter is a senior at Boulder Creek High school in Anthem, AZ and I have 2 “full of energy” boys that are 9 yrs. and 4.  I am married to a wonderful woman who puts up with all my extra activities and even washes all my stinky workout clothes after a full days work at the LAB!  When things get a little stressful around the house she sends me packing to the LAB to get it out!

  I have made alot of friends at the LAB and have learned a ton!  You can….teach an old dog new tricks!  I consider myself blessed to have found this place.  I look forward to the day that I catch Coach John in one of my moves!  haha  Until then Good Luck and God Bless!
Ty on his Chiefs Card
   Post game with the Raiders
and with his sons Travis and Clay

Student of the Month

August 2o11

Eric Aguilar

Eric helping Benson get ready for Jim Miller

My name is Eric Aguilar, I am 14 years old. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and currently live in Buckeye, AZ. I have been training at The MMA Lab for about a year and a half. I am a Freshman at Estrella Foothills High School. Not only am I focused on jiu-jitsu, but I’m also looking forward to wrestling at my school. I’m hoping for a good wrestling season. My brother Isaac and I train together at The Lab, at wrestling practice, and we do plenty practice at our house too! We have fun together and it benefits us a lot.

When I first came to The Lab I trained kickboxing only, then one day I decided to try out a no-gi jiu-jitsu class. I loved it. I couldn’t believe how fun it was. When I first started, I realized quickly I had a lot to learn because I was tapping so much. I then decided to start taking more jiu-jitsu classes. I knew this was something I wanted to keep doing and be good at.  I got really into it and began joining tournaments for fun. I have had so much fun practicing and competing in jiu-jitsu.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is really a fun sport.  It’s a sport in which you can get a good workout and have fun.  You can roll around with anyone; get caught, and roll again. You can work all your mistakes and correct them. All my time doing JCBJJ, I have had fun. I have always wanted to learn more since I started. I believe jiu-jitsu is something I am going to be doing for a very very long time. I doubt I’ll ever stop practicing it. I don’t know what I would do without JCBJJ. I now train jiu-jitsu every chance I get.

In the future, I want to study and wrestle at Grand Canyon University. For a career, I want to be a professional fighter in mixed martial arts. Also as an alternate career, I would like to study criminal justice and become a lawyer.

Thank you John Crouch for teaching me this great art!

Eric with the Ben, Efrain and the guys at Jump Street

Squaring of with Matt

Eric with Benson and John Crouch

Featured Student of the Month

July 2011

Brian Walls

Brian with his wife, Jessica, and his daughter Kaelyn

My name is Brian Walls, I have been training at the MMA Lab for 2 years. I was first introduced to jiu jitsu through the modern Army combative’s program, which is a self-defense program created by the Gracie family specifically for the military. Since then, I have always wanted to learn more. It wasn’t until I started training JCBJJ that I really learned my love for the art. Within the last few months, my wife Jessica has started training at the LAB as well, which I know she does partly to help support my dedication, but she is finding out how much she enjoys it too.

 I am a Sergeant in the Arizona Army National Guard and help run the states Honor Guard team. I joined the Army in 2005 and have been all over the world, including a 12-month tour in Afghanistan. My wife Jessica has a business degree in marketing and obtained a career within that field. Not only does she work full time, but she is an awesome mom to our 16-month-old daughter Kaelyn. We also have two dogs, a chocolate Lab named Duke and a Pomeranian named Teddy.

 Our main focus and the thing we enjoy most in life is spending time together as a family. We are so blessed to have one another and I am very grateful to God that he has given me a healthy, beautiful family. We enjoy working out and spending time outdoors but most off all we love training jiu jitsu!

Brian with his wife ,Jessica, and his daughter Kaelyn

Photo at the Lab with Efrain Escudero, Brian, Kaelyn, Jessica, Ben Henderson and John Crouch

JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

June 2011

David “El Fuego” Farias

Dave (left) pictured with Santino DeFranco

David has been into the martial arts since he saw his first Jean Claude Van Damme Movie at the age of 4. He was born in Los Angeles, the youngest of four siblings that included two brothers and one sister. His family moved to Phoenix when he was seven, and, after years of begging his parents to let him do martial arts, they finally enrolled him in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 11. Soon after that he saw some videos of Royce Gracie in the Ultimate Fighting Championships and Jiu-Jitsu piqued his curiosity. So, just as he begged his parents before, he begged them again to let him train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  After some years his parents finally relented, signing him up at the Machado Academy in Mesa, AZ when he was 15 years old. David went on to receive his blue, purple, and brown belts at this school. He joined Southwest MMA in 2006 looking to pursue a fighting career, but soon realized that he liked teaching more than he liked getting punched in the face and decided to pursue teaching instead. David is now a JCBJJ student, instructor, and an active competitor. He has won and placed in numerous national and state level tournaments. David is always looking to improve his game and teaching skills by constantly studying the art and keeping up to date with the newest techniques. On top of being a Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Southwest MMA, David is also an avid fitness freak and a dedicated strength and conditioning coach.

David competing at brown belt in AZ

 JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

May 2011

Danny Lopez


 My name is Danny Lopez and I wanted to say that I am honored to be chosen as Mile High Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s first JCBJJ.com student of the month! I train at Mile High Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Lakewood Colorado under head instructor Morgan Patnode. I am currently a 3-stripe white belt and have been training about 1 and a half years. I had zero martial arts experience coming in but have learned a ton since I first walked into the gym.

 So, a little about myself. I currently work in IT as a PC Support Tech in Denver Colorado and am raising my 3 year old son Evan with his mother (and my soon to be fiancé) Emily. I also have a 9 year old pit bull named Zoey. When not training I am big into poker and if all goes well I will playing in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this year. I also am in school working toward a degree in Network Security.

 As far as martial arts go I actually was not really even sure what Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was when I started. I simply walked into the gym one day to try a kickboxing class and after a few classes I decided to come in and check out this Jiu-Jitsu thing. Needless to say I was hooked. I have been trying to train at least 3 times a week for the last year and a half. I have learned so much in that time, it really is amazing to look back and see how much I have learned. This is even more encouraging as I look forward considering how much is left to be learned, it is very exciting.

 Jiu-Jitsu has done a lot of good for my life. When I started I weighed close to 250 pounds. At 5’7” that is not a good thing. Starting last November I began to mix a good diet with never missing a class and have since lost nearly 50 pounds! Not only did the regular exercise I get when rolling and drilling play a huge roll in my ongoing weight loss but wanting to compete at a lower weight was a huge motivator for me to stick with my diet. I still am working toward losing more weight and would like to walk around somewhere around 155 which leaves about 40 pounds to go. It is a work in progress and I know that between rolling and my diet I will get there, it is only a matter of time!

 I wanted to take this chance to thank my instructors, Morgan, Collin, and Josh for being so encouraging throughout my journey. Without those guys I might have stopped before I even really began. I am constantly amazed at just how much those guys know about the art. I also wanted to thank my training partners. There are too many of you great guys to name here but without you guys I would not have the chance to learn the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I am honored that Morgan chose me as his first student of the month and am looking forward to a lifetime of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu!

 So, I just wanted to say one more thing in closing…




Danny with Emily, Evan and Zoey

With his family

JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

April 2011

The Cameron Family

My wife and I are parents to 5 children.  Four of them are quadruplets age 12, and our youngest son is 9 years old.  Like most parents, we wanted our children to be physically fit, confident, coordinated and mentally healthy.  And, like most parents, we began to expose our children to organized sports at a fairly early age.  Knowing that every child had different interests; we did the soccer, basketball and football leagues and saw a natural affinity develop in each child for competition and physical activity.  However, there was something missing; something that was difficult to define.  While the kids were all doing well in their particular sport; they did not seem to truly achieving the goals we had set out to accomplish.  Those being physical fitness, confidence, coordination and mental health.  We had heard talk of a place where kids could train in wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and kickboxing/muay thai.  And, that the instructors were world class in their respected discipline.  We were very intrigued.  So, we went and took a tour of the facility.  Little did we know then that the MMA LAB, in Glendale Arizona, would become our second home.
The kids LOVED jiu-jitsu from the start.  There seemed to be a “riddle” in the moves and strategy that they were eager to solve but was illusive enough to be out of reach and keep them pursuing it.  Almost immediately, we noticed a surge in their confidence and mental state.  They were more relaxed and grounded.  They were better at problem solving and patient which led to great improvements at school.  We even had one son on a special educational program at school; which has been removed since jiu-jitsu.  And, the terrific bonus was their physical fitness and coordination went off the chart.  Each of the 5 would hold the record in their respective classes at school for fitness tests (push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, running laps, etc…).  Some of them even hold those records for 2 grade levels above their own grade!!  We realized our goals were being accomplished.  The kids were able to see the reward for hard work and training and were feeling success and learning the important lessons of defeat.  They were able to enjoy a comfort level in their ability to protect themselves and loved ones and handle confrontations calmly and appropriately.
We have been training at the MMA LAB for 3 years now.  Since the kids initially started, my wife and I are now training there as well.  Having many adult classes  offered at the same or similar time as the kids’ provides a wonderful family environment and shard activity for parents and children.  Our kids have competed in numerous in-state and out-of-state tournaments and each have handfuls of medals.  I can’t begin to describe the positive impact jiu-jitsu and wrestling has had on each of our lives and the role the MMA LAB has played in this journey.  The people make the place!  At the MMA LAB, you find the BEST people the world has to offer…and that is no exaggeration!

Waiting in line for promotions

With Ben

JCBJJ Featured Student of the Month

March 2011

Danny James Saylor

DJ weighing 396 lbs

I think most people have a fight in their life that they need to define. Whether it be something as bad as drug abuse or something as small as making it to work on time, most people have something they struggle with in life. The question is; do you let it define who you are or do you define it?

The one thing that held me back in my life was my size. I’ve always been a big guy and, to be honest, I never wanted to be small.  Still, I began to worry about my health and wanted to do better for my kids and myself. So, in June of 2007, I decided that I was going to make that happen.

I am really into fighting and MMA so I went to a gym called the MMA LAB.  It was new in AZ, so I thought I would take a look. The place was great! Nice people and an outstanding facility – so I joined. When I began in June of 2007 I weighed 396 LBS. I started working out two times a week for an hour a day and began eating right.  After I had been on this routine for 3 or 4 weeks, I was ready for more.  I started working out 4 to 5 times a week for an hour a day.  I was doing a lot of Muay Thai and cardio circuit classes. About 4 months into my training I tried out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I was hooked!  BJJ keeps your mind and body working and really is a great fighting style. I would have to say that I love it.

At this point I was going 4 to 5 times a week for 2 to 3 hours a day and losing weight consistently.  In February of 2008 I weighed 295 lbs. One hundred pounds in 7 months!   Six months later, in August 2008, I weighed 248 lbs.  I had lost 148 LBS in just over 14 months!

At the end of 2008, I started just going to the LAB BJJ classes.  I competed in 9 tournaments from November 2008 to August 2009. By that tournament in August 2009, I had lost over 220 lbs. and was walking around at 175 lbs!  I don’t know if anyone reading this can even imagine how great it feels to get on a scale and weigh 200 lbs less then you did two years ago, but you can trust me when I say… it feels really, really good!

Now that I’ve done something that no one ever thought I could do,  (even me) I really have a lot more respect for myself. I truly know that I can make anything happen in my life. I have got a lot to learn, but I know I can do it and be good at it. I would like to thank all of my friends and family that support me and thank the all of the guys at the MMA LAB for helping me save my life.

DJ weighing 175 lbs!

DJ and I at the MMA Lab

6 responses to “Featured JCBJJ Students

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