About My BJJ Journey

My name is Tyler Johnson and I am currently a purple belt under Tim Mannon (Renzo Gracie Black Belt). I love training BJJ and can definitely say I am addicted! I enjoy writing about BJJ theory and philosophy, because I think it’s really helped me in my journey. Hopefully this blog helps you in your journey as well!


 How’d It Start

I hate to say it, but my BJJ journey starts off humorously and in a way that’s not really your normal bread and butter “I saw Royce Gracie in the UFC choking out guys”. Nope, not me. My first exposure to BJJ started with a video game. That’s right, a video game.

It was after my bachelors party when only my closest friends were staying the night with me. One of my friends brought his Xbox 360 and he had a new game for us to play on it. That game was UFC: Undisputed. Yes, my first exposure was from the first UFC game. What’s really funny looking back at it is that whenever my friends would take me down I’d yell at them, “Stand up and fight me like a man!” After playing the game that night, I didn’t think to much about the UFC or BJJ, but the seed had been planted.

About two weeks after my wedding I was laying at home on my own couch watching TV and came across Spike’s show UFC Unleashed, which highlighted fights from previous UFC cards. I thought, “Oh, that’s like that game. I’ll watch it and give it a try.” Well, I got addicted. I recorded every single episode that came on and watched it constantly!

Slowly I started to realize that this BJJ stuff they were using was pretty useful and really worked! I was amazed by how a guy could be getting beat up, then all of a sudden win by choking his opponent. I had always wanted to do some sort of martial art, so I started thinking about doing BJJ. I looked around for a school, but couldn’t find one I could really afford. There was an MMA school 40 minutes away from me, but they wanted $130 for two days of BJJ, and with my job situation at the time, I just couldn’t afford that.

My parents then came to me several days later and let me know that they were wanting to start karate in a town 25 minutes south of where I live. They had no idea I was interested in BJJ, but offered to pay for me to take karate with them. Since I couldn’t afford BJJ anywhere near me, and karate was being offered to me for free, I thought, “At least I’ll be training something.”

Then started my 2 year journey in karate. A journey that, in all honesty, wasn’t a great one. I found it to be kind of silly. I had to learn Japanese to get belts, I had to learn and recite a huge “code of conduct” sheet, I had to answer weird abstract questions, I had to bow to everything, I saw belts being handed out, I had to do ridiculous tasks just because a black belt told me to, and all the while I was thinking about BJJ. Actually, thinking is to weak of a word. I was obsessing.

During my 2 years of karate, while at home, I watched BJJ matches, watched tournaments, read BJJ forums, read BJJ philosophy and theory, followed amazing grapplers like Marcelo Garcia and Roger Gracie, and I even subscribed to a BJJ magazine. I really wanted to train BJJ! I understood it. It was effective. It was everything I wanted to do! I was already addicted before even attending a class!

The last straw for karate came when I failed a belt test. Why was that the last straw? Because I executed all techniques perfectly, but I couldn’t recite some creed, so I didn’t get to move up in rank. I saw others who were my current level, move up because they remembered the creed, even though they couldn’t execute a technique to save their life. I thought to myself, “I don’t need to do this anymore. It’s a waste of my time. I have to find a place to do BJJ.”

A friend of mine, several days later, let me know of a place near me that was offering jiu-jitsu. With some research I found out that it was a 10th Planet affiliate being run by a blue belt. I didn’t really feel comfortable training there, so I took my question to the BJJ forums I often frequented. There, thankfully, I was informed that the guy who had been teaching at the MMA school had opened up his own gym that was just BJJ!

I contacted him and it was affordable and I could actually train! I remember my first class like it was yesterday. We worked taking the back from the front headlock. From there on, I was hooked.

Since then I’ve become a purple belt training at that school. I’ve competed in tournaments, winning 1st place as I do so. We’ve moved to a better location and grown larger. It’s all been fantastic and I’m just enjoying the journey.


My Son (Landon) and I

My son, Marshall

About My Personal Life

I have a wonderful wife, Beth, whom I married in July of 2009! She’s my best friend, my companion, and the love of my life! She also supports my training and knows how much I love it. I also have three awesome sons, Landon (born July 2010), Marshall (born February 2012), and Gregory Campbell (born May 2014) whom I love so much! In fact, Landon is about to start his own jiu-jitsu journey!

I work as a web designer and graphic designer for a new conglomerate located just outside of Atlanta, GA. One of the perks of your work being online is that you can do it anywhere! I also do freelance work on the side, which you can see at: http://tylerjohnsondesign.com.


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