This Month’s Featured Black belt is Casey Strobel, A very skilled Faixa Preta that has been around for a while and put in the time to learn the Art properly and thoroughly.
Not only is he a black under Royce but also wrestled since he was 14 years old. He started in New York State On Long Island with high school wrestling, then wrestled in the US air force where he competed in many tournaments and won many he competed in. After his time in the USAF he spent one year at UNC Greensboro and started his weight class.
During his time training he has had the pleasure and good fortune to train with UFC fighters such as Kristian Rothaermel, Ricco Rodriguez, and Rich Clementi. He has also fought two amateur MMA fights and won both training out of the body, mind, spirit gym in New Orleans, LA.
Here is The Interview with Professor Casey:
GP: Thank you So much for taking the time to do this interview with us :) Please Tell us more about you and who do you train under and where.
CS: My name is Casey Strobel. I am a husband and father to 2 beautiful little girls ages 2 and 4. I am a black belt under Royce Gracie. I train at Lake Area Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Lake Charles Louisiana. I got my start with Mike Ellender and the legendary Pat “Hawk” Hardy.
GP: Teach, compete? Both? Which one do you enjoy the most and why?
CS: I teach BJJ at Lake Area, compete and I coach Barbe High School wrestling. Teaching/coaching and competing are 2 separate beasts. I like both equally. Finding time to do both is the real trick. When you are teaching it is hard to prepare to compete as well.
GP: You have received your black belt no long ago. How does it feel? how did it happen and tell us what it truly represents to you?
CS: Royce gave me my black belt September 11, 2011. Getting it from the man himself, the guy that inspired a country to learn Brazilian jiu jitsu myself included. A proud moment to say the least, an accomplishment that took longer than it took me to get my masters degree. Getting my black belt did not feel like a finish line, but more like jumping from a pond into the ocean.
GP: Now, what style do you prefer? BJJ or Nogi? which one do you you feel more comfortable with?
CS: Coming from a wrestling back ground, one would expect I lean towards no gi, however that’s not the case. Getting me to take the gi off is tough. I like the handles and the endless supply of techniques it provides.
GP: Good to know, but now when you are Rolling, what is your fighting style on the mats? ie:aggressive, silent killer, technical, heavy etc…?
CS: Again I’m a wrestler at heart and I feel most comfortable in my top game. But if I had to label my style it would be aggressive technical. I have a wrestlers built in aggression but after 13 years in the Gi I have converted it to controlled aggression.
CS: Anyone I train with or have competed against would tell you it’s the $50 choke. You won’t find that in any book called that though. It’s most commonly called the paper cutter I believe.
The name $50 choke came from my first ever “semi” private with Royce Gracie and 3 other teammates. I don’t remember the cost of the lesson, but my part was $50 and he showed me this technique. I was so new in the Gi, this was the only thing from the entire hour I remembered. So I called it my $50 choke and it stuck. 13 years later and I not only still use it, but It is a choke I feel I can get on anyone.
GP: HAHA, Love those little stories and great memories. That is so cool. Do you like the positional to submission game or the more escape to trap type of game or which one do you like?
CS: Position before submission is how I roll. Haha. I focus on BJJ from a non competition stand point. So if I’m trying for a submission before I am in control and end up in a bad position. Who wants to do all the work to escape first?
GP: Who have you learn from the most, life lessons or bjj lesson? who is your idol/mentor in this sport? the person you look up to the most before all?
CS: This is not a hard question, but limiting it to one person on each aspect is tough. Royce introduced me to the art. I have spent the most time on the mat with Mike Ellender and Eddie Lirrette ( aka doc eddie) we learned and drill together. I have learned most of my BJJ lessons and technique from a small group that includes; Mike Ellender, Pat Hardy, Jason and Randle Ebarb, and Pat Head. Marco Macera, Mathias Meister, kristian Rothermel.
As for life lessons, nobody can take the place of my parents. The work ethic and knowledge instilled in me from the time I can remember anything is irreplaceable.
GP: What do you think of the growth of the sport and how do you see it in the next few years?
CS: Good question. When I started getting on the competition scene it was still pretty much an under ground sport. Different rules at every tournament. Refs were just guys that were available to stand on the mat. Organized chaos at best. Still fun no matter how raw.
The trend went into very organized systems with the IBJJF. Competitions grew and became more efficient. But with the increased points and rules restrictions I feel it leans towards benefiting less submission and more stalling on top. I have also noticed, recently it seems to be submission only with overtime rounds scored. I prefer sub only now that I’m finally getting good at them. Haha.
GP: Totally agree with that. Now let’s say someone wants to try BJJ but feels its not a sport for him because its too rough, or he has other students going hard on him or just doesn’t feel comfortable, what do you tell him or her?
CS: This is a common issue. I approach each case differently. If training partners are going too hard, I funnel them toward the more experienced guys on the mat that have learned they have nothing to prove.
If a new student is concerned with how rough classes will be, the advice I give them is get on the mat. Give it a try. Tap if you find yourself in a bind. Then we can adjust your training partners as needed.
We never throw the new students to the wolves. I know the white belts are hungry for new students, but until we gauge where a student is, we pair them with experienced guys
GP: What music do you like to listen to before getting on the mats and while on the mats?
CS: Before competition, I listen to some form of high energy music. But over all my iPod has everything from Metallica to Mozart.
GP: Great Choices, Love those Genres as well. Could you Please describe grappling or BJJ in three words that are close to you?
CS: Brotherhood, effective, lifestyle.
GP: To End This, what are your plans for 2013?
CS: My plan this year is to compete in at least 1 major ibjjf tournament as a black belt. I want to see where I stand against the worlds best.
I also plan to continue to teach BJJ at LABJJ.