Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview with Phillipe Gentry

Alliance Brown Belt Phillipe Gentry recently did an interview with georgiafighters.com to promote the Fighting For The Future Charity Tournament

Phillipe Gentry: The New Face of Jiu Jitsu in the Southeast!

123A few new MMA promoters have popped up on the scene recently in Georgia, jumping on the exploding popularity of the sport, but one recently turned 30-year-old, Phillipe E Gentry has chose a slightly different path and is fast becoming the one and only face of Sport Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the Southeast, far outpacing the growth of NAGA.

Jiu Jitsu Tournaments are one of the most important training grounds for anyone wanting to become involved in MMA , so with the sport of MMA having the type of popularity right now, Jiu Jitsu tournaments are an essential ingredient for the continued growth of not only the pure nature of sport Jiu Jitsu and for the development of our kids in the sport, but also as a type of testing ground for anyone even thinking about competing in a MMA fight.

With this in mind, and the constant complaints about the poorly run, but largest Grappling tournament in the nation,NAGA, Phillipe recognized an opportunity and Lutador Grappling was born, which has really put Georgia on the map in the Grappling world !

We got to sit down with Phillipe and ask him a few questions on how it all got started, and he also let us in on a few exciting projects he has lined
up in the near future, plus he also let is in on some personal family info.

How long have you been doing jiu jitsu?
I started training BJJ in 04’. Since then I have trained under a number of amazing professors. Old school Brazilian BJJ thought would consider me a traitor for bouncing around but, I’ve found that it opened up my game quite a bit and I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many awesome people. I guess it’s more an American thing. Currently, I train at Alliance and see it being my home for a long time. It’s where I started so, I’ve gone full circle.

It seems like everyone in Jiu Jitsu has a nickname, do you have one?
LOL, yeah I have a bunch. A few of which I can’t say here. LOL. The others are “Phillie”, “Chicken Wings” and “Tagarela”. “Phillie” is an old nickname I got from my high school and college friends. My real name is Phillipe E Gentry, so, it just kinda fit. I got the nick name “Chicken Wings” a couple years back while doing strength and conditioning training with Diego Saraiva. We were at Oglethorpe University doing stadiums and sprints and stuff. In one of the exercises we had to carry each other on our backs up the stadium. At first it seemed easy but, ¾ of the way up it was like hitting a break wall. My legs started shaking and I got a little wobbly. Diego yells out, “hey man, you better not drop with those chicken wings!” LOL. Obviously, he meant to say chicken legs but, it was so funny that it stuck… “Chicken Wings”. “Tagarela”, is the latest. I either got it from Jacare or Cobrinha. I’m not sure, it just kinda happened. Tagarela, means talks a lot or chatterbox (or something similar) in Portuguese. Cobrinha, believes in hard training, not social training. I’ve done a good bit of push ups for my mouth thus far. LOL. What can I say. I work hard and when I’m on the mat, I like to B.S. some while I’m training.

What accomplishments do you hold in jiu jitsu?
I have won some medals and even an absolute division here and there but, I really didn’t do anything spectacular (in my mind) until this year when I went to the 2009 Pan American Championships in Cali. I won the gold medal after submitting everyone in my division including a flying triangle that I hit in the semi’s on one of Saulo Ribeiro’s guys. Shortly after that, Jacare and Cobrinha gave me my brown belt.

Why do so many choose the mma route and why did you stick with jiu jitsu?
It’s funny that you say that because I just took a fight on Sin City Fight Club’s January 16th card. However, to answer your question, I direct the majority of my energy focusing on BJJ as opposed to MMA because of the beauty of it. It amazes me that for every move there is a counter move and then a counter to the counter add infinitum. Sport BJJ (in the gi) is really a chess game with your body. I see it as more of an art than MMA and the art part intrigues me. If you play football you learn to catch and throw and run and hit etc. etc. There are techniques that are used when doing certain things but, at a certain point that’s it. There’s no more to learn. You just get better at doing the same things. You become a faster runner or a better catcher, or a better hitter etc etc. However, in BJJ there is always something new to learn. It’s ever evolving and never ending. There are new techniques developed almost every day. It’s crazy. Granted BJJ is boring as hell to watch if you don’t understand the sport. I think that’s the primary reason MMA has gained more popularity. Everyone understands an ass kicking to a certain extent.

So why are you fighting again?
This probably sounds lame but, I just turned 30 and I’ve been on this weird bucket list like kick. The birthday came with a realization that I won’t be young forever so, I want to do everything I can while I still am. (LOL) Even though I won my last fight, I wasn’t happy with it. I thought I looked sloppy so, I want to push myself to put on at least 1 good performance before I hang up the gloves. I imagine this will be my last fight though, win or lose. I’m really grateful for the opportunity but, the intense training sucks so far. I really admire the fighters out there, that day in and day out train like machines. It’s tough stuff.

Who is lutador grappling?
Lutador Grappling is a company run by Derik Crouch, Jason Evangelista and myself combined with all of our volunteers and sponsors that host BJJ and submission grappling tournaments. Our goal is to continue to be recognized as the premier event in the South East and to grow into something huge. Our focus has always been about the competitor and spectator experience as opposed to just making money. That’s why we offer all the cool stuff that you will never see at any other tournament. The only down side to throwing Lutador is that I can’t compete in it. LOL. I know I’m biased but, it really is the best tournament around. We are perfectionists almost to fault so, we are always looking for new ways to improve. Ultimately, I think that’s where the other tournaments are lacking. I’m not sure but, it seems like some of them just don’t care to get better. They just want to be profitable. At the end of the day, it’s not just a business to us. It’s a passion.

Why and when did u create it?
Lutador was started in Sept of 08’ and I joined the team after their first event. Jason and I have been training partners for years and after the first event I was so excited about what him and Derik were doing they brought me on as a partner. Even though I wasn’t there when Lutador was created, I can definitely tell you why it was. We were tired of paying big money to go to unorganized tournaments with mediocre mats, medals and prizes. When I came on board we as a company had already decided to take our experience competing all over and use it to throw the best tournament the South East has ever seen. This year has been a great year for us. We learned a lot and feel that we have truly found who we are as a company and the direction that we want to head.

How did you come up with the name?
We wanted something that represented BJJ competition internationally. Lutador actually means fighter in Portuguese.

It seems to be growing into something greater than just a grappling tournament with some charity work being included, what is the charity your involved with and what else are you working on through Lutador?
We’re working with One Childhood and Toys for Tots to help them put on their own tournament Saturday, December 12th at Riverwood H.S. It’s not really a Lutador but, it is backed by us. We will be handling the bracketing, reffing and so on along with using all of our equipment. One Childhood is an organization that helps children from single parent households participate in sports and other activities where they wouldn’t normally be able to. Coming from a divorced home myself, I can really relate and want to do what I can for these kids. We like doing what we can for charities. In the past we’ve worked with GA Firefighters Burn Foundation as well. My partner Jason is a firefighter as well so, it’s something he feels passionately about. Next year we would like to look at developing a relationship with one charity that we all feel good about and donate a portion of all of our proceeds to them along with doing a 100% charity tournament for them at the end of the year.

Other than that, we are just working on growing and growing. Like I said, this year, we discovered who we are and the direction we really want to go in. Our goal is to host 2 huge events a year (plus help a charity do their own event around Christmas) and to bring in a bunch of amazing talent from all over the World. This year was awesome for that. We had some unbelievable guys compete at our events like, Cobrinha, Samuel Braga, Rafael Dos Santos, Fabio Costa, Ranieri Paiva, Chris Moriarty, Diego Saraiva, Bruno Amorim, Mark Fletcher, Jonathan Tooker, Ian McPhearson and on and on. There’s probably not time for me to mention everyone.

You seem to be fast approaching over taking naga as the premier bjj competion to be at locally. Just how far away are you from accomplishing this and once you do are you thinking of expanding outside of GA?
Personally, I think we’re already there. There is no other tournament in Atlanta or the South East for that matter that does it like Lutador. No one has the top of the line Zebra Mats or the barriers or computerized brackets, or the cash payouts, or the IBJJF certified refs etc. etc. The coolest thing about us, is we just keep pouring everything we make right back into it. Next year we are going to blow people’s minds with the medals and other stuff were adding to it. We’re even getting swords or nunchucks or something like that for the kids. We also have a free massage therapist and sports chiropractor (Dr. Wax from Pro Sport) there, and traditional Brazilian foods and all kinds of other vendors there with all of the hottest gear on the market right now.

As far as travelling, we are going to stay right here for now. Our focus is quality not quantity. If down the road our tournament grows beyond our imagination and there is a demand for it elsewhere, we will consider travelling. For now though, we are happy here. Looks at all the talent in the South East and more specifically GA. This is the spot that’s about to blow up like Cali and Vegas did.

Not satisfied with one project, you have also created your own line of athletic and competition wear, tell us about wicked jitsu.
Wicked Jitsu is in it’s infancy stage right now but, is working hard on becoming a solid brand. We’ve had some manufacturer and investor issues as all start ups do but, we are finally getting in gear. The company is more of a gi company that offers shorts, rash guards and t-shirts to as opposed to a straight up fight gear company. I started it because at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of reasonably priced American styled gi’s for competitors to wear. There were fight shorts and T-shirts but, no hot gi’s. There were some hot outrageously priced gi’s and then all the Brazilian style gi’s that didn’t really do it for me stylistically. The other concerns I always had was fit. Everyone’d body is different but, there are some common builds out there like mine that I think there should be a perfect gi for. I never had a gi that fit me properly and didn’t shrink or fade or something. So, I started this Wicked Jitsu to solve all of my problems and hopefully help out a lot of people as well. So far, most of my sales have been out west but, there’s been a lot more people rocking it here. Wicked Jitsu just started sponsoring a few people including Douglas Lime who’s about to fight in the finals of Sin City Fight Club’s Grand pre for the $10,000. I’ve also got a few other bad asses on the come up both in BJJ and MMA.

How did you come up with the name?
It’s funny because, I had been thinking about a name for a little while. Then one day I was training BJJ and getting ready for a competition. (When I’m getting ready to compete, I pick up the pace quite a bit and become a bit more aggressive.) A buddy of mine (Steve) was watching me and made the comment that I was practicing Wicked Jiu Jitsu. For some reason it stuck in my head. I thought it to be a little long though so. I cut out the Jiu and Wicked Jitsu was born.

Where can people find your line to purchase?
I have a booth set up at all the Lutador’s but, it’s probably easier to buy it online at www.wickedjitsu.com. The sites a work in progress right now but, it does the job.

What’s Wicked Jitsu’s goals?
Our goal as a company is to provide people with the hottest quality gear and to continue to grow. The focus is the same as Lutador in the sense that I’m doing it because of my passion for it. Eventually, we will develop our fighter profiles and use a lot of videos and interviews to build sponsored fighters. Once you train with as many people as I have you’ll find that there are a lot of diamonds in the rough. My goal is to Wicked Jitsu as a platform to build these competitors up while building the brand. Hopefully bringing attention to these people will build the sport as well.

Phillipe thank you ,and we are really excited about all that you are doing for our sport and your charity contributions!

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