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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hey BJJ Parents and Coaches!
Here’s a quick checklist to use after your child’s latest competition that will dramatically increase the odds of them having a positive experience!
- Never reward what you perceive as success – Your child’s definition of success is going to be very different from your own. Of coruse we all want to encourage positive behavior and reward it, but you have to be incredibly careful with that you perceive versus what your child perceives. You could be rewarding a very different behavior than you think you are.
- Never punish what you perceive as failure – This goes hand in hand with the previous point.
- Don’t evaluate your child’s performance – He or she is competing to have fun, not to earn a grade! If he/she had fun, the day was a success.
- Meet your child’s Needs – Remember the questions you asked and the answers you got as to why your child is training jiu jitsu in the first place.
“Parents need to understand that the period following practice and competition is a crucial time for a young athlete. It’s important she be given the freedom to process it on her own.” -Silby, 2000
One of the most important times for your young athlete is after practice or competition. They are learning coping mechanisms and critical thinking skills, even if they’re just sitting silently next to you in the car.
Since I recently wrote about 3 ways to teach sportsmanship to your kids, I have gotten a TON of feedback from parents! I’m so thankful for all of the responses.
With that in mind, I wanted to add 3 MORE ways to teach and model sportsmanship for your kids:
- Find a moment after the division ends to thank the referee/official. This is realy easy to do when they walk over to the score table after each match. Believe me, refereeing is hard work and you typically get paid next to nothing. BJJ officials are a far cry from the NFL referees making roughly $150k per year. This is especially important if your child lost and you’d be surprised how many awesome friends you meet by thanking the refs.
- Remember to keep BJJ in perspective. Our sport shouldn’t be the most important thing in your life or your child’s life. Undoubtedly, you’re going to have strong emotions concerning your child’s participation in BJJ or grappling competition. Try to keep a handle on them and remember that your relationship will continue with your child for 50+ years after this tournament and what you do today builds the foundation for tomorrow.
Have fun! If you’re having fun, you’re much more likely to be a good sport! After all, that’s what we’re here for, right? RIGHT?
I’m thankful for you.
Plain and simple.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I was reflecting on things that I’m thankful for this year. One of the things that I’m most thankful for is my fans, readers, customers, and friends.
In the next few days, you’ll see a lot of Black Friday sales that offer crazy discounts in an attempt to grab some of your holiday spending money.
You won’t see that from us. You spend your hard earned money on our gear and massively discounting it massively devalues your previous purchase.
I’ve always hated buying a gi only to see it go on sale for $50 less than what I just paid. And I am very, very thankful for each and every purchase made on our site.
So here’s what we’re going to do.…
Here it is.
One of the best reasons that kids need Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in their lives.
I was introduced to Alex My Nguyen by my good friend and partner at GiReviews.Net, Dan (also of DanOfEarth). They trained together at Fairfax JiuJitsu and one day he sent me a highlight video of her competing at 3 different tournaments in one weekend (including a wrestling meet). Alex has excellent in wrestling, judo, and jiujitsu competition and this past summer, she had the chance to live and train in Brazil.
Alex just earned her orange belt in BJJ at her new home, BETA Academy, but as a teenager, Alex had the chance to live and do something so many adults dream of: live and train full time in Brazil. Without further ado, I present Alex!
Sinya Aoki is famous for a lot of things other than wearing colorful tights:
Ok, so mainly his Magical Rainbow Submission Pants.