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Keep your goals and expectations realistic.

Just because your child is good at BJJ now doesn’t mean she will excel (or even participate) later in life.

Is your goal to develop a well-rounded adult?

Or, are you hoping to have college paid for through sports?

If you believe your goal is helping your child earn a college athletics scholarship (maybe in judo or wrestling) or compete in BJJ professionally, you
may want to dip your toe in the cold pool of reality with these numbers:

  • First, the most simple math: There are nearly 7 million boys and girls who play high school sports. There are only 126,000 NCAA student-athletes who receive either a partial or a full athletics scholarship.  That means about 1 in 56 high school athletes will have the opportunity to translate their athletics success into financial assistance.
  • According to the NCAA’s most recent data, only 126,000 out of the estimated 350,000 NCAA student-athletes received either full or partial athletics scholarships.
  • In all but the most high-profile sports, scholarships are divided up and spread among many different student-athletes.

What this means in terms of BJJ is that it’s HIGHLY unlikely that your child (just by statistics and numbers) will be a world champion at any belt level.

Even if paying for college is your goal, you might want to focus on your child’s biology scores instead of her scissor sweep. If you compare total funds available for academic scholarships vs. athletics scholarships,  you’ll find that much more money is available for academics.

In fact, some educators have estimated  hat there are 30 times more scholarship dollars available for college academic scholarships than there  are athletics scholarships.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for my son to be the next Cobrinha, but I’m not putting all of my eggs in that basket  ^_^


Here’s a helpful assessment tool to help you decide whether you’re doing everything you can to support your child in BJJ, or any sports for that matter!



kids brazilian jiu jitsu gis youth bjj kimonos

Parents often debate about whether or not their kids should specialize in one sport or play multiple sports. Which is truly better for kids?

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ok kimonos kids youth bjj grappling 2If you’re a parent of a BJJ kid, which by reading this, I assume that you are (or will be!), there are a few things that you really need to watch out for when encouraging your child to take up the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I’ve identified 4 “red flags” that should really serve as a warning to parents that they aren’t releasing their children to participate in the sport!

Parents, here’s a few things to keep an eye on:

1. You’re living out your dreams – Are you trying to live our your athletic dreams through the performance and success of your child?

2. You’re too involved - If you run a Facebook, Twitter, ang blog page for your 6 year old child and try to share in their success, you may need to step back and reassess.

3. You’re trying to be the coach – At a certain point, your child will know more about the sport than you do. If you’re still trying to coach them past this point, you might be doing more harm than good.

4. You’re way too serious - You might just be way too serious about something that should be FUN. Here’s some symptoms:

  • You’re nervous before his/her child’s game.
  • Your child bounces back after their loss faster than you do.
  • You take notes and film every match and force your child to review them with you.
  • You scream and verbally berate referees and officials at competitions.

Keith Owen on why You Should Tap Ten Thousand Times



A few days ago, I wrote a brief introduction to Minimalism and  mentioned why it resonated with me:

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

You can also check out an amazing article on the benefits of Minimalism.  When I have less things and cut out the extraneous crap, my life is easier and I can better enjoy the things that matter.

The shopping mall has become our temple, the credit card our burnt offering…yet, the sacrifice is never sufficient for salvation.

I want better health. Better relationships.  The ability to give my ‘things’ away to people who can use them.

I Challenge You!

For the next 30 days, give away one thing every single day.

That’s it.

Simple, right? (It’s not. Especially when you start giving away things that matter to you, but are of no use.  See below.)

Document It

If you have a blog, I challenge you to write daily (or as your schedule allows) documenting what you’ve gotten rid of.

No blog? Document it on your facebook page, twitter stream, or even your Instagram.  Post up a photo of what you’re getting rid of and maybe a bit about why.

Shoot me an email or comment below this post with a link to what you’ve written so far.

I’ll compile a huge list of all the articles I receive and link to them in a blog post after the challenge ends.

I’ve thought about giving away a prize for a few random participants, but obviously giving you material things as a prize would be counterproductive to the challenge, so it’ll have to be something cooler.

MUCH cooler.

Good luck, and I’m looking forward to your email!

A Confession…

I have to admit something here.

I already started the challenge.

I’ve been cutting out at least one thing for the past few days and as you’ll see in day 1-3 of the challenge, I cut out pretty easy stuff.  But once I started getting into things that meant something to me, it got really difficult.  REALLY difficult. So this challenge isn’t for everybody.  Maybe that’s why we call it a challenge.

I can’t wait for you to see this for yourself.





I have too much stuff.

This isn’t a humblebrag because most of it isn’t even cool stuff.

I keep everything.  Everything (literally) reminds me of something or has some sort of perceived value.

It’s a problem.  A problem that needs a solution.

Even my wife tries to get me to purge things all the time and I never do.

It got to a point where even mundane tasks were debilitating because I had too many options, and would thus choose to do nothing.  This is actually a common scientific phenomenon, but in reality…

It sucks.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs and I happened upon an article about minimalism and I thought to myself, “That sounds like something I need in MY life,” and I wanted to learn more…

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paulo miyao keenan cornelius

A brilliant short video chronicling rivalry between the Miyao brothers and Keenan Cornelius.

Motivating to say the least.


This is how I feel after mailing out the kids gis that were collected to Drive In Jiu Jitsu in Rio.

Except it’s more of those moments right before the Hoth Ion Cannon fired and they weren’t sure the transport was going to make it.

Because these boxes still have a long way to go!  As I mentioned in my huge Gi Drive Update that I posted recently, one of my biggest hesitations was mailing these versus flying them there.

gi drive gis being shipped out 1

Packages to Brazil can be delayed for months, never arrive, or have insane taxes levied on them.  All of which could still happen with these gis.

gi drive gis being shipped out 2

I am by no means a photographer, but just wanted everybody to be able to see the boxes being packaged up and being sent out.

gi drive gis being shipped out 3

gi drive gis being shipped out 6

gi drive gis being shipped out 5

Also, in an effort for full transparency, I wanted to post below a brief breakdown of how the money was spent from the Gi Drive:

$312.18 – Money paid to Subculture USA to send gis to California. I later found that they had the gis to sent Brazil through Brazil 021, but this was never mentioned to me at any point. Either way, I’m glad the gis went to somebody.

$198.35 – Money paid to Subculture USa to make and distribute perks such as tees and patches

$198.24 – Money paid to Da Firma Kimono Company to make Gi Drive gis (one of the perks offered in the fundraiser) as Subculture was unable to make them at the time

$1582.59 – Money paid to UPS to send two boxes of gis to Drive In in Brazil.

gi drive gis being shipped out 4

That totals to $2291.36.  Subtract it from the $2558.16 that we had left after IndieGoGo took their cut of the funding and you have $266.80 remaining.  If we’re charged any import fees on the gis, this money will go to cover that and if not, it will go directly to Drive In to help him put new mats in his gym (or supply whatever other need he has).

Please track the journey of these gis along with me!  Use tracking numbers 1ZE385066793387187 and 1ZE385066760055490 at UPS Tracking.  If all goes well, Drive In should have them by next week!

Finally, I sincerely hope that others will learn from mistakes I made during this project.

I hope that it inspires more people to use their BJJ to help others.

If anybody has any questions about the Gi Drive, please post them in the comments below, email me at okkimonos[at]gmail.com, or hit me up on Facebook.


This post has been a LONG time coming and I’m really excited to make a few announcements at the end of it.  So many people have given their money, time, and support to helping Gi Drive succeed.  Stick with me through this long (nearly 1500 word) post, and wade through my brief bouts of testimony, and you’ll have a very complete understanding of where the Gi Drive (and the Gi Exchange Program) started, how it has gone so far, and where we’re headed in the future.

First, a quick story…

Around 500BC, a group of Hebrew people returned to Jerusalem from exile to find the city in ruins.  Their first mission was to rebuild the temple in the city and while things started well, they didn’t stay that way for long.

The Hebrew people began rebuilding their temple but ran into opposition and, unable to continue, the temple construction was stopped temporarily.  The people stopped construction for 16 years and when a prophet arrived and questioned them, they said the time was not right to rebuild it.

The prophet questioned them about how they could say the time wasn’t right to rebuilt God’s house yet they had time enough to rebuild their own homes and businesses?  How could they put themselves before a project they were doing for God?

I tell that story to tell this one…


A (not so) brief history of Gi Drive

In late 2011, I was charged by a friend to pass on blessings I had received in my life to others.

To glorify God over myself with my jiu-jitsu.

Challenge accepted.

In early 2012, some local friends and I collected BJJ gis that we intended to donate to people who needed them in Brazil.  We ended up collecting over 100 gis so I got in touch with the only person in Brazil I knew of at the time, Dennis Asche of Connection Rio.  Dennis was super supportive and when I told him that I was starting a fundraiser to get the gis down there, he said the best way to get them down was by flying them down and bringing them as baggage.  Dennis mentioned postal strikes and others mentioned shipping nightmares to Brazil that made me nervous to just simply mail them.

In March of 2012, I helped organize a fundraising campaign to get the gis to Brazil.  Although we didn’t meet our goal, we did manage to raise quite a bit of money, $2558 (after IndieGoGo took their cut as our fundraiser platform).  I felt really blessed to be able to see such progress because the goal of this entire project was to give back to the global BJJ community and glorify God above myself.

Obviously, I felt it was a wayyy better option for me to pay for a plane ticket out of pocket and use the funds from the drive to pay for the baggage fees to get the gis down there.  We would be able to get so many more gis there (roughly 3 times versus shipping) and I felt it was much more reliable than shipping them.

The intial plan was to fly down in the summer of 2012 as summer was really the only time I could stage a trip like this because I work in education.  Due to some very serious family issues, we weren’t able to pull off the 2012 trip so I let Dennis know, we re-scheduled it until 2013, and stayed in touch for the rest of 2012.

Right around that time , we decided to send the adult gis we had to a social project in California, and focus all of the remaining money from the Gi Drive on getting kids gis to the kids at Drive-In’s project in Rio.  I also sent six GIGANTIC boxes of gis to Vector Jiu Jitsu but since they weren’t mentioned in the fundraiser, I sent those using my own money.

Once we took care of administering the perks from the gi drive to those who picked them up, and shipping gis to we were left with $1850.

Since Drive In did not speak English and I could not get a message returned from the only email address that I could find for him, I continued to use Dennis as my contact point for the project.  I mentioned to Dennis that I started my own kids gi company and didn’t want to mix money between Gi Drive and the new brand (now Ok! Kimonos!) and asked if I could just send the money we raised to Rio?

I was advised that giving cash directly to any project, BJJ or otherwise, was a bad idea so I continued to focus on getting the gis to Drive In’s kids in Rio.Additionally, we did not want to just send cash to the social project because one of the main goals of the ‘Gi’ Drive was to build a connection between those who had more, with those who had less than they needed.

My son was born in May of 2013 and I didn’t see a way I would be able to leave my wife to care for our newborn son while I traveled to Brazil to deliver the gis.  In August of 2013 (during my first week of the school year), I found out Drive In actually had a Facebook page! I commented (via google translate) on a status update of his and he messaged me right away with a link to his Tumblr.

We had finally made contact!

I was so excited and let him know that the gis would be brought to him and I made it my mission to get the gis to Brazil in the summer of 2014.  Paulo mentioned starting a project in the USA and mentioned how important help like this was.

Two months later (November), I took a position as a high school principal making my time available for travel even less (goodbye summer vacation!)  I decided it was better for me to send the gis now than continue waiting for a time that I could travel down to Brazil.

I also touched base with a student of Drive-In’s named Ian Carr and we decided not only should we send the few gently used kids gi directly to Brazil, but they would also be able to make use of some brand new ones which I’ll be sending for free (fundraiser money is only used for shipping) from Ok! Kimonos.

The gently used gis will ship out thisweek (March 24, 2014).  Once my next shipment of Ok! Kimonos gis arrives (also due to arrive this week), some of those will go as well.  Although it won’t be as efficient as bringing them as baggage, it will still guarantee they arrive faster and get to those who need them most!  Any money not spent on shipping will go directly to Drive In to assist in providing mats for his academy or paying any import fees they incur on the gis.

Brendan, what was the point of the story at the beginning?

Maybe the story at the beginning of this post makes a bit more sense.  It took 2 freaking years for this project to happen. 2 years of personal struggle (for me) and seemingly endless waiting from our funders, supporters, and benefactors.

But that’s way too long for a project like this.

In retrospect, I think delaying the gis getting to Brazil so that I could take them there personally was a mistake (no matter the monetary savings).

Not keeping in touch with everybody about the updated status of everything was also a mistake.

I am a fallible person and I’m not beyond reproach.

I am a man capable of making errors and mistakes just like everybody else reading this post.  But I’m also capable of learning and growing from those mistakes.

I think when you are working on doing anything for the greater good, and especially for God, it’s not an excuse to do it on ‘your’ time.  The Hebrews got all fired up to do work for God and then slowly the project became about doing it when it was convenient for them and I can’t argue that story doesn’t parallel mine very closely.

Some lessons are timeless.

The goal of this was to pass God’s blessings in my life onto others and I hope that any mistakes I made along the way don’t detract from that.

You Can Still Help!

Many people have expressed interest in the Gi Drive and Gi Exchange program and if you do not have a gently used gi to donate to the Gi Exchange, you can still support Drive-In’s project directly!

Please contact Lucio Sergio if you live in the UK or contact Ian Carr directly via Ian’s Facebook if you wish to help make a positive change for these kids!