I had the pleasure of chatting with Checkmat Edinburgh’s Dav Bain, BJJ purple belt and head coach. Really great guy and I hope you enjoy.
Kieran – Hello Dav, how are you?
Dav – I’m all good mate thanks. How are you keeping?
Kieran – I’m good, thank you for allowing me to interview you. Stuart has told me a lot of good things about you.
Dav – No worries. He’s far too kind.
Kieran – Great. So to start, how long have you been practising BJJ for and how did you get into it?
Dav – I started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around five years ago. I used to train/compete in MMA and it was always a huge hole in my game. I hadn’t really given it the respect it deserved. I started looking for BJJ classes in Edinburgh to attend when my old MMA coach messaged me to say he was bringing someone in to train us. Majid Gilani turned up and showed some simple stuff like a sweep, escapes and movements. It genuinely just made sense to me and I’ve trained continuously since that day.
Kieran – It’s great how after being shown a few techniques you found a passion for BJJ. Can you explain to people the feeling you get when you compete and how does that differ from MMA?
Dav – Competing in MMA and BJJ is like night and day for me. MMA always gave me a great buzz, but the bouts would feel more chaotic. Whereas with BJJ, as soon as you walk on the mats it feels like home. Like you are just grabbing a guy from the gym for a roll. It’s a strange mix of adrenaline, anxiousness, and clarity of knowing it comes in steps and each position is a tiny battle.
Kieran – I’ve never competed but I can imagine it’s two types of adrenaline you would feel. Stuart said you’re an exciting fighter because you are always pushing for the finish. Is that something you have implemented over time or is that the approach of Checkmat Edinburgh?
Dav – Yes as a club we promote looking for opportunities to finish the match and get the submission. I have a lot of great training partners who all have different styles and that keeps us all improving. I’ve finished the majority of my matches via submission and a good 90% of them have been leg locks. It’s not something I try and look for really, it just seems I see openings for them more often.
Kieran – Given you’ve finished 90% of your matches by leg locks, I’m surprised you haven’t earned a nickname yet. So, I imagine with the lockdown it has been difficult trying to train. How have you worked around this to keep improving your game and when would you like to compete again?
Dav – No nickname yet, but knowing the guys at the club that’s probably a good thing. Yes, the lockdown has really affected me and the club as a whole, just like everyone else. It’s been a real shame to see clubs struggle to keep going through these hard times. I’ve been trying to keep busy by trying to get a deeper understanding of movement and applications of submissions, working on fitness, and keeping in touch with everyone at the club – socially distanced, of course. I’d love to compete as soon as we get back to training. Competition is always a good learning experience and an indicator of what needs to be worked on in the training room.
Kieran – I’m happy that you have been able to keep busy and still stay in contact with everyone at the club. I know being in a club is like having an extended family. Your training partners become family. That is one of the great things about BJJ and MMA. So, if you had to choose, would you say you prefer Gi or no Gi? Whether that be in training or competition.
Dav – Yes the club really does become like an extended family. I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t talk. It’s good knowing you have a close team all looking out for each other. The age-old question – Gi or no Gi? I train both and really enjoy switching between the two and the rule sets, but if I’m honest, I’d probably lean towards the Gi. I enjoy the added intricacies the Gi brings and the extra control and attacks it brings alongside.
Kieran – Brilliant answer and last question from me. What would you say to people who want to start learning BJJ, but might be in two minds due to lack of confidence or any other thing that might be stopping them?
Dav – I would tell anyone who wants to start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that the hardest step is the first class. It can be scary, even intimidating turning up to a class and not knowing what to expect, but everyone remembers their first day and they will go out of their way to look after you. The coaches will look after you, and you won’t be thrown to the wolves or embarrassed if you get something wrong. Just turn up, give it a try, and be prepared to get addicted.
Kieran – Well answered and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Listen, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you and thank you for giving me an opportunity.
Dav – Not a problem, it’s been a great chat.
I really enjoyed chatting with Dav Bain, brilliant man. Thanks, Dav.