Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more than a sport, it is a community of like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, its membership lost one of its true gems in December 2021 with the passing of Nick Brooks.
Nick was a lot of things to a lot of different people: husband, father, coach, mentor, referee, competitor, and friend. His passing reminds us that we should take nothing for granted, and should make each of our days count.
A GoFundMe has been started for Nick’s family. If you are able to contribute, please consider doing so. If you cannot, please share this GoFundMe amongst your friends.
We interviewed Nick at BJJ Summer Week back in 2018 and have republished that interview here:
Hey Nick, it’s great to see you at BJJ Summer Week again! Can you please introduce yourself and tell us what exactly is BJJ Summer Week?
My name’s Nick Brooks. I’m a 2nd-degree black belt under Roger Gracie. BJJ Summer Week is activities week camp and social event. We bring people from all over the world to get together, train Jiu Jitsu, socialize, make new friends, and have a great time.
When and how did you find out about Jiu Jitsu? Can you compare the Jiu Jitsu now and before? Where do you see Jiu Jitsu in 10 years?
I first heard about Jiu Jitsu in about 1995. There was an advert in a newspaper for UFC 1. Jiu Jitsu now has evolved into something pretty much unrecognizable. Ten years ago, it was: stay down, smash,pass. Now, everybody is rolling upside down and pulling gis between legs. Also, I think that there are more full-time athletes today.
With the internet and more black belts teaching, the information is widespread now. People are training full-time, even blue belts are training full time. Blue belts nowadays probably have the same knowledge brown belts had ten years ago.
So, it has evolved a lot and who knows how fast it will evolve in the future. I don’t really think Jiu Jitsu has an end and we have no idea where it is going to go.
Tell us more about Mill Hill? How many affiliates do you have already? Why did you decide to create your own affiliation?
Mill Hill BJJ is a network of academies throughout seven different countries in Europe. We have 25-26 academies in Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Germany, Netherlands, and the UK. It’s a network of friendship because a lot of the instructors in those countries were my students.
So, they went back home and opened their own academies. Some of the instructors relate to the way we think and want to become affiliated with us. We’re growing steadily and in the right way.
Mill Hill has a lot of active competitors and a lot of good results. Do you separate competitors and hobbyists? How do you find the perfect balance in your classes?
We have many active competitors at the Mill Hill Academy. Myself, I compete a lot and a lot of my black belts compete a lot. We also have a lot of people training for fun and we don’t really separate them.
But, we do have competition classes. A lot of people are training and enjoying these classes to help athletes. So, it’s a mixed bunch and I think it’s a good mix. As an academy, we have probably 30 percent of our students compete which is quite high for an academy.
What is your favorite submission?
My favorite submission, when I had knees– triangles. Now, it’s any choke from the back. I’ve always preferred chokes out of joint locks. Big guys can pat around a lot with a lot of things you don’t expect, everybody has to breathe, so I like squeezing the neck.
You are a referee in Polaris. What do you think about competitions in Jiu Jitsu?
Generally speaking, all the competitors are very respectful, even if the rivalry off the mat sparkles a lot of internet chat. All the guys are respectful to each other, even though sometimes some people don’t get the humor. In the end, I realized it’s all just a game and a gentleman’s sport.
How do you sense when somebody is ready for a higher belt?
There are many aspects. It’s not only your competition results, but it does also go a long way. If you are in the World Championships, you should jump up to the next belt. There is no point keeping to that belt, so you give your best on that day.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be promoted if you don’t win at all. In 6 minutes on the mat, you just can’t show what you can do. Also, who you are as a person and how you behave is very important.
Some people train twice a week, some people train ten times a week. There aren’t strict criteria, but it depends on many things. It comes down to that individual person. Everything is individual for me.
Can you give any advice to our readers? Any tip that can help people on the mat or real life.
The best thing about Jiu Jitsu is just go and have fun. Enjoy it!