Featured Black Belt: Professor Piet Wilhelm from Triton Fight Center

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Dear Grappling Fans,

This month we have had the Real pleasure of interviewing a really cool and awesome Black-belt, Professor. Piet Wilhelm.
We asked him a few question about our sport, and to tell us more about him and his gym. If you are in his area, do not hesitate and join a class. You only will have a great experience and feel welcome. That, really is the worst that can or will happen to you .

GP:Where do you teach, Train?

PW: I am a co-owner and founder of Triton Fight Center. I run and operate the main 8,000 sq foot facility in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. We currently have a few other locations in Oklahoma and one in Woodstock, Illinois.

GP: How long did it take you to get your black belt and when did you get it? Under who? Tell us more about your Professor.
PW:You can say it took me 16 years to get my black belt. I started my informal training while in college in 1994 with a few of my classmates from SUNY Maritime in Bronx, NY. From there I hopped around from place to place because shortly after college I joined the United States Marine Corps where I was always moving from State to State or out of the country.
I finally settled down in 2005 and started training with my first BJJ Black Belt Henrique Stefani who is a black belt under my current master Renato Tavares. Henrique was only in the United States for a little under a year and I received my blue belt and purple belt from him.

I continued my training with master Tavares who awarded me my brown belt and black belt. I was promoted to black belt in 2010 after taking gold medals at several tournaments. Renato told me to medal at the Pan JJ tournament and I did. I took bronze out of 10 people in my bracket.

Master Tavares was awarded his black belt under Master Carlson Gracie Sr. Do I need to say more? Renato is a true ambassador of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has done so much for the sport and for me. Because or Renato my whole attitude on Jiu-Jitsu has changed. I use to look at BJJ as just a sport and that merit should only be based on your performance in tournaments or in a fight. He opened my eyes making it a lifestyle to my students and me. Now, if I were to say more this interview would be more about him rather than the questions you have for me.

GP: How has BJJ impacted on your life?

PW: It has opened the door to so many wonderful things in my life. It has given me the opportunity to travel, make some great friends; I’ve brought in some awesome world champions to my facility to share their knowledge and experiences with my students. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of my BJJ heroes and some people I admire. I never thought I would have ever met Keith Owen or get introduced to Ari Knazan. I’ve had the opportunity to roll and train with Roger Gracie, Kyra Gracie, Michelle Nicolini, Andre Galvao, Roberto Abreu, and many more.

I feel I am a better teacher and mentor to my students. Maybe even a roll model to some. I have had people 10-20 years senior to me ask me for advise in business and in their personal relationships.

I run into people at tournaments asking to have pictures taken with them… who would ever think? Me? Really? People thank me for the advice I have given them with diet
and training.

All this is because I have experience it first hand. In 2009 I was 245 lbs. Now I am 162 lbs. BJJ saved me and has most definitely made me a better person.

GP: What do you enjoy the most about it?

PW: I enjoy the fact that my son admires his father. I have such a great relationship with him. He brags about me the way I have talked about my mother and father. Families that train together are for sure a tight pack. I love the friendships I have made. Some of the nicest people do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu because it teaches you to be humble.

GP: When someone seems interested or new to the game, who do you make or say for them understand and love this sport?

PW: I tell them to be patient and look at all the senior belts that are in the room. Look at the diversity of the people that are in the upper ranks. There is one thing they all have in common. They never did quit what they started. You do not get rewarded over night and progress isn’t instant. Learning takes time, so enjoy the journey. This is a family you have walked into not a gym. Do not quit your family.

GP: How do you train a white belt as to compared to higher belts such as blues, purples? How do you keep them from being discouraged?

PW: I pair up my new people (white belts) with blue belts or purple belts to help mold them and they immediately are given a new friend when they first sign up. The person they are assigned (senior belt) is nicknamed Mat Rat. Their job is to motivate and encourage the new member to not give up. This has worked out for us really well. We average around 40-50 students per BJJ class.

 

Blue belts and purple belts are here to stay unless they relocate. Not to say that from time to time people do quit or open their own gym. With the way we train and treat one another it almost seems like we give people a reason not to quit no matter what belt color they are or level of experience.

GP: What kind of BJJ artist do you consider yourself to be? More like a professor or more as a competitor?

PW: I am a Bipolar BJJ artist. I do both. I like to compete a lot but I teach just about 90% of the classes. I teach every BJJ class with the exception of Kid’s BJJ and Women’s BJJ.

GP: DO you Train for competition and compete actively?

PW: I train as a hobbyist. I train 6 days a week and roughly about 6 hours a day. I mix my training with BJJ sessions, Crossfit, stretch, and cardio. As a brown belt I competed a lot and I was doing just about 7-10 tournaments a year. Now that my business has grown along with the number of students I have on the mat I limit the amount of tournaments I compete in order to devote my attention to the people I have at the facility.

GP: If yes which ones have you participated in and how did you place in the past?

Please share with us some of your wins.

PW: First off I have only 20% range of motion in my right arm, which has hindered my performance but I learned to adapt to it. I love competing in the IBJJF tournaments. I have taken Gold at a few of the Opens. I took a bronze in the Pans as a brown belt. I will be going to Pans again this year as a black belt at a lower weight class. My most memorable win was at IBJJF Houston Open. I always look to finish and I was don on points. I finished winning with a tricky choke that comes really unexpected. Bring me up for a seminar and I will show it to you.

GP: What is your favorite submission, escape, pass, sweep?

PW: My favorite submission is the one that wins the fight. Seriously!!! But my go to move when it comes to submissions is the Helio Gracie Choke (Cross Collar). I have had a lot of guys go to sleep on me. That’s all you get on this one since I am still an active competitor.

GP:Who, in the BJJ world do you have the most admiration, respect for?

PW: #1 100% Master Renato Tavares because he is simple just such a great person and also happens to be my mentor, master, friend, and I look at him as a big brother.

#2 Keith Owen (black belt) and Ari Knazan (purple belt). I admire them both because they put out some awesome instructional, which gives me refreshers and options to add to my game.

#3 I admire the world champions that I have mentioned because they are still open to the fans and they have not allowed their fame get to their head. That’s what makes these guys special to me.

GP: How do you see the BJJ world to be in the next few years? Olympic sport or not? How do you see the growth to be?

PW: I see the game getting tougher and tougher because it is no longer just there for self-defense. You have to be a well-rounded athlete to be successful. You can’t just go in with the techniques that you know. If you have no endurance or if you are lacking in skill you are just headed straight for a bad day.

If Judo is taken out of the Olympics I see BJJ going there. As of right now ADCC and the Mundials are BJJ’s Olympics.

BJJ has evolved over the years. People are coming up with different guards that will throw you off if you do not do your homework. It is fun learning new stuff and ways to counter it. It is just AWESOME!!!

GP: This sport is not easy, what would you say to someone that feels like they can’t compete or their level isn’t where they want it to be?

PW: If they have already expressed interest in competing….. compete and test yourself! I think everyone should compete at some point just to see where he or she stand among their peers outside of the gym or their comfort zone.

Nothing worth it, is easy. Train hard, work hard, practice, listen to your body, and treat it right. It all takes time. You do not go into a Gold’s Gym one week and walk out the next as a body builder. You do not pick up a book and know everything there is in that book without knowing the alphabet first.

Trust your coach. The path will not always be easy but the journey is worth it.

Professor, Thank you so very much for this great and very interesting One on One interview with you. GrapplersPlanet will always be there to Help you out with anything you need to help with the club, students and instructors.

We at GRAPPLERSPLANET.COM wish you the very best of successes and a long life in this amazing field. Muito Respeito,

OSSSSS!!!

GP

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