I’ve had the pleasure of being a teammate of Jack Brown for nearly 2 years now and have followed his career throughout. With wins at Grapplefest, Manchester Open and Evolution Of Combat he quickly became a major competitor with a keen hand at ruining the ACL of his opponents. Following in the footsteps of his peers such as Craig Jones, Ryan Hall and Lachlan Giles he has now set his sights on coaching around the globe.
I caught up with him to chat about his start in BJJ, his travel goals and how the Police should look into martial arts.
Larry: First of all cheers for giving me the chance to interview you, Jack.
Jack: No worries mate! Grateful you think I’m worth interviewing.
Larry: So tell me about how you got into BJJ?
Jack: So I got into BJJ for a couple of reasons. One of the main ones was I was planning to apply for the Police at the time and I thought a martial art might help me with that (thankfully that turned out to be very true haha). Apart from that I’d been in a few fights around that time as a daft usually drunk teenager and wanted to learn how to do it properly. I asked my mate Scott Dickie about BJJ and decided to give it a try. By sheer luck, I had one of the top guys in the UK Marcos Nardini teaching about a ten-minute walk from my house.
Larry: So for you, there was an element of learning self-defence in your training BJJ?
Jack: For the police absolutely. My dad was keen for me to get into a martial art so I wasn’t getting battered by neds on a weekly basis. I think he suggested Wing Chun and Kung Fu at the time which is why you never listen to Joe Brown. Other than that I was probably just a typical Scottish teenager who drank a lot and wanted to appear “hard”. Thankfully BJJ knocked/choked that out of me pretty quickly.
Larry: I think your dad maybe watched too much Steven Seagal.
Jack: You can never watch too much Steven Seagal.
Larry: This is true. So once you started training you mentioned the “I’m going to be a hard man” thing was quickly squashed did you feel quite humbled?
Jack: I think Jiu-Jitsu has an amazing ability to filter that kind of behaviour. I read someone describe it as an “Arsehole Filter” and I reckon that’s very true. On your first day in BJJ, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to get your arse booted by someone half your size and you’re probably not even going to be able to comprehend how it happened. Either your ego can’t take that and you make your excuses and never come back or you feel humbled and become fascinated with learning more. I think the sport’s quite unique that way and it’s one of my favourite things about it. Also, we had a big Polish guy called Bart training around that time and it’s impossible to feel remotely hard when that guy’s in the same room as you.
Larry: So how long have you been training now Jack?
Jack: I think I’m on about 7 and a half years now.
Larry: So quite a long time then.
Jack: Only a year if we’re counting it in dog years, Larry.
Larry: With Marcos Nardini through all those years?
Jack: Yep from day one! I owe that man a lot. Very handsome as well.
Larry: Top 10 of BJJ Hunks for sure. You spent a good while in the police so did all the training come in handy? I take you were on the beat as they say?
Jack: I was on the beat for just over 3 years before becoming a Detective. The training was honestly invaluable. Obviously, the stuff you’d expect like using Kimura holds to control people etc but more so just the calmness it gives you in aggressive situations. Watch any video where cops have made an arse of detaining someone either by getting themselves hurt or reaching for their equipment too quickly and in my experience 95% of the time it’s because the cop’s scared or their adrenaline’s running wild. Martial arts gives you an element of control over that and I think that’s invaluable for a cop. The stuff they teach you in the Police also happens to be nonsense. Also, people think I don’t have any wrestling but I‘ve definitely used several running double legs to end foot pursuits and I have witnesses if the haters don’t believe it.
Larry: That’s a great point, do you think that it is something that could definitely benefit the Police Force globally? Obviously, martial arts has been utilised in some countries police forces such as Krav Maga in Israel.
Jack: I think BJJ is perfect for the Police. If you have someone violently struggling with you you’re gonna want to take them to the ground anyway. You’re also gonna want to learn how to get off the deck quickly and effectively if you end up there. Any martial arts experience is great I think but if you’re a world champion boxer you’re going to have a tough time justifying hitting every ned that struggles with you with a stunningly executed overhand right. BJJ just ticks all the boxes for police combat for me.
Larry: In 2020 with a lot of eyes on police violence, especially in the United States it would be beneficial to learn BJJ to diffuse the situation?
Jack: I completely agree but I can’t speak for the additional factor of adding guns into the mix. The worst I’ve ever had to deal with is knives. But absolutely I’ve seen videos where cops are taking their guns out against unarmed civilians and it could definitely be a fear thing. Maybe with some martial arts knowledge, they’d feel comfortable dealing with that situation just using their hands. BJJ might also teach certain cops that knee on the neck for 8 minutes at a time is a really bad way to detain someone…
Larry: So what would you say are your personal highlights so far?
Jack: I almost passed Seany Stewart’s guard once. He might’ve let me do it but I was pretty excited.
Larry: I mean that is pretty significant.
Jack: Grapplefest was cool, I love the sub only scene I think it’s so much better for the spectator and they let me play my leg spaghetti. That’s definitely my preferred format. I love the quintet style as well. I won the British Nogi Absolute at purple belt which was cool. Quintet is really fun for me because my mindset changes from “can I beat this guy” to “I need to see how many of these guys I can beat before one gets me”. For some reason, that mentality switch helps me out.
Larry: So you prefer the no-gi/sub only tournaments? I know you aren’t a lover of the gi!
Jack: The gi is a terrible, awful thing that my jiu-jitsu da (Marcos) occasionally makes me wear.
Larry: What’s your beef with the gi?
Jack: Nah I don’t mind the gi at all I just love no-gi a lot more. I’ve actually been wearing it a bit more since I started travelling. I tried to play the “I don’t have one oh well no-gi it is” card but the welcoming bastards gave me one to borrow.
Larry: Disgusting behaviour. How dare they be so accomodating!
Jack: The worst part is I stick the gi on and the first thing they do is blatantly cheat by taking a hold of my lapel. Beyond belief.
Larry: OK let’s get into the big reason for the interview: you’ve recently made the big decision to go travelling so what was the reason for moving firstly?
Jack: A few things happened together. I was growing really tired of some aspects of the Police, it was a job that funded my jiu-jitsu addiction but the weird shifts/stress/long hours were starting to sabotage it a little. I was also at a desk and I absolutely love a doughnut so physique was becoming an issue. At the same time, I met a nice lady who’s now my fiancée who’s been travelling around Asia for the past 5 years. We considered settling in Scotland together but thought travelling and me trying to make a career out of Jiu-Jitsu was much more exciting. Covid’s obviously made that difficult but we’re doing good so far. I might make a complete arse of it and end up in Scotland before long but I’ll know at least I tried and gave it my all.
Larry: First of all congratulations again on getting engaged. So was it quite a sudden thing and lockdown just seemed to be the right time to just jump straight in with following your dream?
Jack: Thanks Larry I appreciate that. I’m absolutely skint so if you or the readers want to send me congratulatory engagement money I can provide my PayPal details. I’ll remind the readers it’s Christmas and Christmas is a time for giving as well cheers. Yeah, I’m afraid there really wasn’t much planning behind it at all. I was pretty fed up and wanted to see what else was out there. The long term plan is Asia but we need to wait on their borders opening so we’re going wherever the wind takes us just now.
Larry: I’m sure we’ll get a GoFundMe set up for you ASAP! You’ve kinda settled for the moment in Serbia how has your time been at Kimura Academy?
Jack: I love Serbia. The people here are just born solid. I’ve been training in unarmed combat for 7.5 years and I’ve seen 6-year-olds here that could definitely do me in. Belgrade has that brilliant Glasgow-like quality where everyone looks like they want to kill you but they’re actually really friendly when you talk to them. Kimura has been amazing for me. Full-time training and lots of experience coaching is everything I wanted. The style here is so wrestling based as well I’m actually getting a chance to work on my stand up grappling as well. I’m really enjoying it. I should really thank Gile Huni for the opportunity while I have the chance! Amazing guy who was happy for me to teach the no-gi class, helped me so much since I got here. He also runs BJJEE which is cool.
Larry: Have you noticed any difference in training overseas so far being in Greece and Serbia?
Jack: The style is completely different wherever you go it’s probably my favourite thing about jumping around. Greece was really fun, very IBJJF and gi focused which obviously I could use some work on. Then in Serbia, MMA is a much larger focus so I’ve been going to wrestling class and working out a bit more. It keeps it fun to mix it up and these are all holes in my game I’m trying to fill. Leg locks are still looked at as the dark arts in a lot of places so I also enjoy swaggering about like I’m Lord Voldemort. But other than that I’ve found that oil checking is a universal language.
Larry: He Who Shall Likely Leg Lock You. So what are your long term goals with travelling? What are your BJJ goals in general in a (hopefully) unrestricted 2021?
Jack: Honestly just trying to improve as much as I can and see a bit of the world. I went straight into work from uni which I regret now so I’m just looking forward to travelling with my fiancée and experiencing Jiu-Jitsu from all different perspectives. I’ve always just seen competition as a means to test how my BJJ is coming along so I’ll compete as much as I can as I go. I love coaching and I hope it’s going to be my long term profession but I’ll do anything to just fund my travels just now (OnlyFans has been considered). Longer-term one day it would be amazing to come back and get my black belt from Marcos. Dream scenario maybe opens up a school in Asia somewhere but it’s very early days.
Larry: Great talking to you Jack. Anything you’d like to add?
Jack: Thanks. Shout out to the lads back home missing you all apart from Gav MacQueen who is impossible to miss or love. Also, rumour has it he hates Christmas so that says it all really.