Interview with Andy Callachan, Black Belt in BJJ under Marcos Nardini

Interview with Andy Callachan, Black Belt in BJJ under Marcos Nardini

I had the joy of chatting with black belt Andy Callachan, who trains under Marcos Nardini. This was a very fun conversation with a lot of interesting topics. Hope you enjoy it.

Kieran – Hello Andy, how are you mate?

Andy – I’m good, let me know how I can help.

Kieran – So let’s start with your BJJ journey. When did that start and what got you into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Andy – I started training in martial arts at a young age, but my first grappling coach was Marc McCann and Eric Paulson. They introduced me to Vale Tudo and the art of grappling before BJJ become what it is today.

Kieran – How was that introduction to grappling? Did it feel overwhelming or was it pure excitement from the start?

Andy – Coming from, predominantly, a stand up striking background, being introduced to grappling was a bit overwhelming initially. However, I loved it from the start and just wanted to learn more.

Kieran – Dav Bain said the first lesson is the hardest step so what you said sounds accurately, but it’s great how after the first lesson you fall in love with it. What has it been like learning all that under someone as decorated as Marcos Nardini?

Andy – When I first met Marcos, I had been grappling for a few years and thought I was an ‘OK’ grappler. That soon changed when I started training with Marcos as he was at a completely different level to what I had experienced before. He gave me the inspiration and motivation to continue learning the real art of BJJ.

Kieran – That must have been a real eye-opener, considering yourself an OK grappler but then experiencing something on another level. Can you describe how coaching differs from training? Do you feel some pressure when it comes to running classes?

Andy – When I’m training I’m thinking of my own game and how I can improve myself which is a continual challenge. Coaching differs as I get to impart my understanding of BJJ and human anatomy and watch my students develop and grow as individuals with their own strengths and abilities. I feel relaxed coaching and running classes. Every day is a learning day for me and them. I’m very privileged to have a great network of friends and students. We all learn together.

Kieran – That’s great. With that let’s go into Callachan’s Health and Therapy. Did you start that journey with BJJ in mind, or is that something you’ve always wanted to pursue?

Andy – I’ve been involved in health, fitness & martial arts for 30+ years. To be honest, I didn’t start Callachan’s with BJJ in mind as it was my hobby and outlet at the time, but as my business developed over the years, I was fortunate to have a facility that enabled me to teach BJJ, but also use my physiotherapy profession at the same time.

Kieran – I recently seen someone on social media ask why we don’t see pressure points used in MMA. I feel with your knowledge you could answer this question from a BJJ viewpoint. Are pressure points utilised in BJJ and if not, why don’t we see them used?

Andy – Pressure points are utilised in BJJ for example the ‘Shoulder of Justice’. However, everyone has a different pain threshold and what one person may tap to another may not. Therefore, pressure points as shown in old arts may not work in a true combative way. If so, I have yet to see a pressure point specialist win the UFC.

Kieran – That’s is a great answer. Do you have a particular submission that you favour and would you ever like to compete?

Andy – I’ve competed in the past and if I can get my fitness levels and skills up to a good level I’ll probably do it again. I don’t have a particular submission as a favourite. I just take the opportunity of anything that pops up.

Kieran – That’s great. So you take the opportunity when it presents itself rather than seeking out a particular submission? As you know, Paul Craig won his recent fight against Shogun Rua. I know you’ve helped him in fight camps before, so what did you make of his performance over a legend like Shogun?

Andy – Yes my take of BJJ/grappling is to apply pressure to your opponent to make them make a mistake then capitalise on it. Without being bias, his performance was outstanding. I don’t think many people appreciate how much work Paul and Brian have done improving their skills. Both physically and mentally in and out of the cage. Paul’s ability to punch, kick, grapple and prepare for fights has only gone in one direction over the last few years. I would love to take some credit, but I don’t think my coaching is that influential. It’s the team behind Paul that makes it special.

Kieran – I think he would disagree, but I agree with you, it was an incredible performance. And the last question, I heard you had COVID a few months ago. Can you describe how that was for you and do you still feel some effects from it today?

Andy – I had COVID in March. It was a very unpleasant experience. I didn’t react to it too well. However, the majority of people infected are asymptotic. It took me a good few months to recover. I’m loads better now and left with minor symptoms to date.

Kieran – Well, I’m happy that you have recovered mate and thank you for taking the time out your day to speak with me. It’s been a pleasure.

Don’t forget to check out Andy’s business – Callachan’s Health and Therapy.

Thanks, Andy.

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