Just Scrap Radio | BJ Penn Talks About His Genesis as a Fighter
By Lynn Mitchell:
A segment of the Just Scrap Radio Show was BJ Penn recollecting memories of his father insisting he show up just one time to Tom Callos’ class. BJ was more into boxing at that time and was not interested in jiu jitsu telling his father it wasn’t for him. BJ’ father then promised him
“Just go one time. I’ll tell him- No he doesn’t like it”
BJ’s 1st day of Jiu Jitsu consisted of getting choked, arm locked and tapped. His buddies accompanied him his 1st day and a couple days after that but never came again.
“They must be kicking themselves in the butts because they should be black belts may be with schools or something who knows martial arts is always a good outlet for everybody.”
From there I just remember getting choked out and thinking – if I learn this no one will ever be able to mess with me anywhere. If you know wresting and jiu jitsu to someone who has no clue who doesn’t even know it exists, doesn’t even know it’s coming at all you’re like superman compared to the other guy. He has no chance at all. Stuff like wresting and jiu jitsu is created to make one man be superman. It’s so amazing the different techniques and just the knowledge of everything from there I just started realizing this is something else and it just slowly started taking over my life.
I never did it to be a world champion in jiu jitsu or be a world champion in the Mixed Martial Arts. I was just doing it for fun.”
BJ wasn’t doing much and his dad wanted him to get out of town. His first time out of Hawaii was a trip to California where he talks about meeting Ralph Gracie and telling the Prodigy he could be good.
“…but I was just a guy who watches videos learn leg locks and learn different things. I was just kind of a home study person in jiu jitsu because I had a white belt trainer. I remember we just have some different jiu jitsu videos there were very few at that time maybe Renzo Gracie was one of them – there wasn’t that many…. and the rest is history”
Host Jens Pulver asks BJ about Brazil, his training and competition as he progressed.
The Prodigy remembers his first jiu jitsu tournament he was scared it was a fight and as soon as they called his name he thinks
“Wow, I’m up and everybody’s gonna watch. I was kinda nervous. I was scared man”
BJ was about 18 years old on his first trip to Brazil. He was culture shocked coming from Hawaii– he had no idea what to expect. BJ would arrive either one week earlier than the competition date or leave one week later.
“It was a trip to go down to the Mecca of Jiu jitsu and to see it and to see everybody train.”
He makes mention of Andre Pederneiras, Nova Uniao and all kinds of good guys like Shaolin, Leo Santos, Robson Moura.
The days of yesteryear is long gone. BJ Penn, with more than 10 years history in the UFC – is possibly the only man that has never been submitted, knocked out or even knocked down. The Prodigy’s long list of accomplishments is still being written….
Jiu Jitsu career highlights
- May 1997 – Enters first tournament in Bakersfield, CA and wins both his weight and the open weight class.
- June 1997 – Enters the Joe Moreira tournament as a blue belt winning his weight class.
- June 1997 – Wins submission grappling tournament
- 1997 – Receives blue belt from Ralph Gracie
- 1997 – Enters Brasileiro and places 4th in his weight class, blue belt category
- 1997 – Continues to enter tournaments upon return from Brazil placing first consistently
- 1998 – Silver medal at Brazilian Mundials competition in his weight division; receives purple belt upon return
- 1999 – Bronze medal at Brazilian Mundials in heavier weight class as a newly promoted Nova Uniao brown belt.
- 1999 – Gold medal, Copa Pacifica Tournament in Los Angeles, CA
- 1999 – Receives Black belt from Andre Pederneiras just 3 weeks before the 2000 Mundials
- 1999 – Joins Nova Uniao Competition Team (reserved for the four top team competitors)
- 2000 – First non-Brazilian to win gold medal in black belt division of the Mundial World Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- CBJJ World Championships
- 2000 – Black Belt Pena: 1st Place
- 1999 – Brown Belt Leve: 3rd Place
- 1998 – Blue Belt Pena: 2nd Place
- CBJJ Brazilian Team Championships
- 2000 – Marrom Preta Leve: Nova União, 1st Place
- Grapplers Quest Lightweight Championship Super fight winner
- 1997 Joe Moreira tournament – blue belt, 1st place.
- 1999 Copa Pacific tournament – Gold medal.
- Black belt awarded by Andre Pederneiras
Mixed Martial Arts
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- UFC Lightweight Champion (One time)
- UFC Welterweight Champion (One time)
- Submission of the Night (Two times)
- Fight of the Night (One time)
- Knockout of the Night(One time)
- Most successful Lightweight title defenses (three)
- Most consecutive Lightweight title defenses (three)
- Most Lightweight wins in UFC history (10)
- First and only UFC Champion to challenge another UFC Champion for a chance at holding two belts simultaneously in two different divisions.
- Only man in UFC history to face seven different UFC Champions.
- One of only two man in UFC history to win UFC championship titles in two different weight categories.
- Rumble on the Rock
- Lightweight Championship
- 2008 Beatdown of the Year
- Bleacher Report
- 2000’s Lightweight of the Decade
- Greatest Lightweight of All Time
Check out the full audio on page 2.