Interview with Gannon Lang – From Passion to Full Time Job

Last updated on 24.06.2020 by
  • Please introduce yourself

 Hey there, my name is Gannon Lang. I’m 23 and a Brown Belt under Nakapan Phungephorn (Owner of BETA Academy). I live in Fredericksburg, VA and own Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Gannon Lang with Gold Medal

  • What do you do outside of Jiu Jitsu?

  Honestly, I don’t do much outside of teaching classes at Nexus, teaching private lessons, and training at BETA Academy in DC. I play video games from time to time and hang out with students/friends on weekends.

  • Can you tell us more about your daily routine and eating habits?

  I typically give about 2-3 private lessons every weekday morning (starting @ 8AM), next I’ll do conditioning/strength training around Noon, then I’ll teach at Nexus every weeknight. Sometimes, I’ll go train at High Road BJJ afterwards (Owned by one of my sponsors/friend Dave Kierdaisch). I make sure to always hit up at least 1-2 training sessions a week at BETA Academy as well to stay sharp for competitions. As far as eating habits, I eat whatever is necessary to stay within 5 pounds of my competition weight. I’m not a huge fan of cutting weight, so I usually keep it pretty clean.

  • How do you keep up with training during the current pandemic? Do you train as often as you hoped?

I’ve been offering group Zoom workouts + solo BJJ drills for all of the Nexus members, as well as running in the mornings with extra strength/conditioning on off days. I haven’t been able to get much Jiu Jitsu training in during the pandemic, but my hope is that we will be able to get back at it soon.

  • Where do you teach currently and could you introduce your club?

Before the pandemic I would teach at Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu out of Renegade Combat Sports Club in Fredericksburg, VA. Currently, I’ve been limiting the amount of private lessons and classes that I teach.

  • How did the current pandemic affect you and Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been closed since mid March. We are lucky to have such a great group of people that are still willing to support the gym during these tough times and are excited to restart classes as soon as possible. 

  • When did you decide that you want to make Jiu Jitsu your livelihood?

I decided to make Jiu Jitsu my livelihood when I dropped out of University of Mary Washington in 2017. I knew what I wanted to do and I felt that a lot of my time was being taken up by classes that did not interest me at all. I would skip classes to train, watch videos in classes, and skip homework to train with the best people that I could find in my area. I ended up leaving and signing up at BETA Academy shortly after I got my Purple Belt at the end of 2016.

  • How did you become an owner of Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at such a young age? 

I was giving private lessons at Renegade Combat Sports Club and they were interested in having Jiu Jitsu classes. I offered to teach them and the owners (Kelly McCan and Michelle Washington) eventually suggested that I created my own affiliation under BETA Academy. I hadn’t planned on doing this until I achieved Black Belt (I was a Purple Belt at the time), but the opportunity felt right with the status of Jiu Jitsu in Fredericksburg. I felt that people would be interested in learning from someone who actively competes and has a different style of Jiu Jitsu than most in the surrounding area.

  • What are the advantages to becoming a teacher when you are so young?

I feel that I can relate to many different students on a personal and technical level. I can speak openly with the 18 year old hot shot that wants to compete and is super passionate about Jiu Jitsu, because that was me only a few years ago. I also feel that I can speak maturely with the 45 year old hobbyist that wants to protect their family. Competition/training in general has given me the opportunity to evaluate many different styles of Jiu Jitsu, so I believe that I can relay useful techniques to any student that visits Nexus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.Gannon Lang with students

  • What attributes does a great Jiu Jitsu teacher have in your opinion?

I think that confidence and persistence are a huge part of what makes a successful Jiu Jitsu instructor. An instructor needs to believe in what they’re teaching, and they need to be able to teach it to anyone. There should never be a question of whether the instructor knows what they are talking about, and there should never be a reason for one of their students to question whether what they’re being taught is effective. An Instructor is a leader, they need to set an example both technically and in daily life.

  • What are you focusing on right now?

I’m focused on planning an effective and fun reopening of Nexus BJJ. I know people are going to be looking to blow off steam when everything passes, and I want them to see Nexus as the first place they want to be.

  • Is there something that you haven’t done that’s on your Jiu Jitsu “bucket list”?

I want to compete/ place well at IBJJF Pans, it was the first tournament that I watched highlights of back in 2014 that made me want to train/compete in Jiu Jitsu.

  • Where do you see Jiu Jitsu evolving in the next 10 years?

As far as competition goes, I see it getting more professional. Before, there wasn’t a lot of money to be made inside of Jiu Jitsu at all. Nowadays, there are many promotions/sponsors out there that see the value and marketability of Jiu Jitsu athletes. As far as running a school, I see the market getting more saturated. I think that people are starting to understand that you can’t monopolize an area. You have to provide superior service to the competitors, and you have to have friends inside the community.

  • Would you like to give any advice to our readers that would help them either on the mat or in their lives?

Try not to focus solely on improving technique when you train Jiu Jitsu. Relationships that you’re making through Jiu Jitsu are just as important. It is awesome to be a killer on the mats, but it’s even better to make lifelong friends while doing something that you both love.

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