Hi, Danny. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi guys, I’m Danny Duckworth from Huston, Texas. I own an Alliance school in Huston with around 250 members. The school has been open for about 5 years and I am at the BJJ summer week to help promote this camp in the American market, specifically the Texas market.
When did your Jiu Jitsu journey begin? How did you find out about BJJ?
I began Japanese Jiu Jitsu about 14 years ago because I wanted to get in shape, lose weight, and learn self-defense. When my school closed down, it actually moved to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school about 3 years into my training and realized that we could go about 100 percent with our technique. So, I switched from Japanese to Brazilian, but I did get my brown belt in Japanese. So, I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for about 10 years now.
Traveling and globetrotting are trending in Jiu Jitsu. What is your opinion about this?
I personally love the fact that Jiu Jitsu is becoming a world-known sport. It allows us to travel, meet people from all over the world. I think it’s important for everyone around the world to meet different walks of life so we don’t have such judgmental humans. We have a tendency to think that everyone is like us and where we’re born from and if you’re not, you’re wrong. Traveling around the world allows you to certainly get a different perspective on life. So, I think globetrotting, BJJ summer week and all the other camps in other countries are a great opportunity for people who train to go and meet other people they’ve never met before in their life.
You have an Alliance academy in Texas, can you tell us a bit more about it. How many people are currently training?
My academy is in Huston, Texas. It started about 5 years ago. It was started mainly to help my prior instructor whose academy broke down. So, I wanted to invest and help him out. I’ve been in Alliance for 6 years, one year before opening a school of my own. I’ve been training under Raul Jimenez, who’s under Roberto Jimenez. He won double gold at the world’s purple belt last year. So, we have Muay Thai, yoga, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We have over 35 classes a week and about 250 students.
I have to make sure I treat my academy just like I treat Jiu Jitsu. So, by going to these events and seminar I always try to add new styles and techniques to training. I also do business seminars, I study how to run a school correctly, how to do marketing, taxes, curriculum, staff training. You pretty much have to treat your academy the way you treat your mat, constantly working and giving it the care and attention. Building a good culture within your academy is an incredibly important thing and you’re going to keep people longer. The longer the people train, the better this world is. There are really multiple goals, not necessarily to create champions, but to introduce them to as many people as possible because it has helped me out so much and I know it’s going to help them as well.
How popular is Jiu Jitsu in Texas?
In my opinion, Jiu Jitsu in Texas is number two State in America, right after California and you can compare us to New York. We certainly have more schools than New York and we’re probably better. I actually run a website www.txbjjcalendar.com that coordinates schools, events, and seminars all over Texas. I started about three years ago when my school used to have about 40-50 schools. Now, there are probably about 80-90 schools. Dallas at the time had more schools than us and it still does. It’s getting really big there and there’s strong competition. We monitor our competitors and we do very well. We actually have a decent percentage of those medals coming back home to our State. Plus, there are also a lot of Brazilians moving here mainly because it’s cheaper than California. We have a handful of world champions located in all the major cities. They’ve helped our Jiu Jitsu get better and Texas is really big in sports.
Are you doing anything aside from BJJ? Tell us about your schedule.
I actually have multiple jobs that I run in my school predominately in the evenings. I have a primary career that I work from home from 9-5. So, I teach in the mornings at my school and go home and work until 5 pm. Then, I stay at my school until 9 or 10 pm for the most part from Monday to Friday. I am there for about 4 hours on Saturday and I try to rest on Sunday, but that’s not always the case. It’s kind of like Jiu Jitsu, you always go, you always got to train, keep moving, and I treat my life no differently. I don’t have a lot of days off as I’m really busy. I sleep only about 5 hours a night, but my body is feeling it.
Do you have any hobbies?
I try to pick up new hobbies here and there. I picked up mountain biking. I hurt my knee a couple of weeks ago and mountain biking has helped me get a bit better and I’ll probably continue doing that. I also love traveling, going out, having fun and meeting people. I used to be part of the music scene, so you might find me in clubs. My other hobby is IT, computers and I know how to do videos, websites, network admin, which I’ve been doing for 27 years and it’s my profession.
Tell us more about the Texas BJJ Calendar.
As I mentioned before, I started this calendar about 3 years ago. I started bringing in seminars to my school, but I wasn’t getting the attendance that I wanted from my own schools. So, I learned that when I am bringing a big name at my school, so is another school on the same day. That was becoming a problem and I started thinking about a way to fix it. So, it came to my mind that there needs to be a calendar that tells all the schools where everybody is doing events and seminars.
So, I created the calendar in order to throw seminars that aren’t competing with any other major tournaments, events, and seminars and raise the attendance at my seminars. In doing that, I ended up creating a gym platform where all gyms can register themselves so we can map it on a State scale and we can see where there are events in other cities. We don’t mind traveling between cities, so people can use the calendar to see where there is an open mat or event which unites all of the people who train within the State itself. It’s just uniting all schools and keeping everybody on the same page. So, we can grow faster, have better exposure when we bring these big names.
How do you sense that someone from your students is ready to get promoted?
I follow the Alliance methodology pretty closely. We do an attendance base and it’s different for kids and adults. For kids, every fifteen class is a stripe as there are a lot of belts for kids and it’s a 12-year program. For adults, it starts with 20 classes per stripe until blue belts and then it goes to 65 classes to get your purple, 75 to get your brown, 85 to get your black. We don’t expect people to be able to train often at the beginning because your body can’t handle it. You have to start adapting and go from 2 days to 3 days of training a week. The idea is that you really should be progressing for over two years, but every two years you should start training more and more.
So, you first have to meet our attendance for us to promote you. Second, some people are going to be promoted faster than others if they have a judo or wrestling background, because they understand the movements. But once you get into purple or brown belt, technique has to show in order to be promoted and it’s no longer about athleticism. Our curriculum is very high paced so you’re going to learn a lot in class and that’s why I stick to the Alliance methodology. Through my experience, I’ve learned to treat everyone the same and not give any special attention because when you do that you create ego and problems.
Do you have any advice for the readers? On the mat and outside the mat?
The same thing I say to my students every time, I didn’t become a black belt because I am great nor because I had any special athletic ability. There is only one easy solution, you just don’t quit. That’s what I tell my student, if you don’t quit, you’ll become a black belt. It might take 10, 20 or even 30 years but I guarantee you that if you don’t stop training, you’ll reach that goal. Once you become a black belt you realize that was never my goal, to begin with, but my goal was just to learn to live healthily.
I focus more on the martial art mindset in my gym than I do being a great Jiu Jitsu person. When I do my speeches in my class, it’s all about mindset, being a good person, preparing everything correctly, and treating everything in life the way you treat Jiu Jitsu. So, study for whatever is important in your life and put that love and care just like you do in Jiu Jitsu. We get addicted to Jiu Jitsu very fast and we try to speed up the process, but we don’t tend to do that with everything else in our life. It doesn’t make any sense to me why people don’t understand that until you get to black belt and you realize what this wonderful art does for us.