May 21st, 2016 | Subscribe to AZSBJJF by Email | Subscribe to the AZSBJJF RSS Feed
By Danny O’Donnell
Being an art that didn’t gain its foothold in the U.S. until the 90’s, American born jiu jitsu practitioners have come from a wide variety of backgrounds. “My jiu jitsu journey had a very nontraditional start,” explains Kevin Scott, head instructor at the Phoenix BJJ & MMA Academy. “I actually started out with the goal of becoming a professional wrestler. When I was 14 years old, ex-UFC fighter Ken Shamrock came in to professional wrestling with his gimmick being he was a real fighter. I became very interested in him and purchased his biography to learn more. In Ken’s biography he showed about 15 techniques, each with 1 picture and a small paragraph under them.” Kevin practiced these techniques and found a love for grappling that he would continue to build through high school wrestling. “I wrestled my first year on JV and ended the season 21-5. I continued training submission wrestling the entire time and would show my wrestling teammates things I learned and then test it on them.”
Throughout his high school wrestling career, Kevin’s interest in jiu jitsu never faded. “I found out there was going to be a submission grappling tournament in my state called Grapplers Quest. It was the first Grappler’s Quest ever and it was being held an hour from my house in Montclair, NJ. I was 15 and at the time the kid’s division had no weight classes and there were no points. I ended up taking 2nd place overall submitting my first 3 opponents.” While Kevin did well for his first ever jiu jitsu tournament, he realized that he was doing a lot of the techniques incorrectly. This led him to seek out gi training under a Steve Maxwell blue belt on the east coast. “Over the last 18 years I moved many times causing me to have different instructors but this was my start.”
“I knew I wanted to teach and own a school from white belt. I understood it would be a long road but I always wanted to at least have a small school that I could teach at part time. I actually received a lot of opportunities to teach classes at different places as a blue and a purple belt, reinforcing my goal of instructing full time.” Kevin eventually relocated to Arizona and in 2010 opened Goodyear BJJ, which was originally part of a local Tae Kwon Do studio. “The next 2 years I worked hard to grow the program with the goal of getting bigger. The father of 2 of my students became my business partner and we subleased a bigger location which became Phoenix BJJ & MMA Academy. Then in 2013 we moved into our own space in Goodyear and have been here ever since.”
Phoenix BJJ & MMA Academy is an affiliate of Atos, one the most prolific competition teams in the current jiu jitsu scene. “Competition gives you a goal to work towards and a reason to train consistently. Some people do well without competing because they are able to set good personal goals and keep themselves accountable, but I always found competition made me better. As a school we try to compete at most tournaments in Arizona and sometimes travel out of state for some of the bigger tournaments. I believe being part of Atos has really helped spread the competition culture throughout our school. Atos is an incredible team and the fact that San Diego is so close allows us to travel to each other very easily!”
Kevin encourages students of all ages and ability levels to compete. “One of the great things about BJJ is it is separated out by age, weight, and belt level. I love this about jiu jitsu because it allows for even match ups regardless of where you are in your journey. The advice I would give an older practitioner would be give competition a shot. You will be matched up with somebody just like you and you will come out of the competition knowing so much more about yourself.” Kevin also makes sure not to pressure students into competing, definitively stating “My goal is to be a great BJJ instructor, to grow my school, and to help people reach their goals in jiu jitsu regardless if it’s for competition, fitness, weight loss, etc.”
“I just want to say thank you to all of the coaches that taught me over the years. All of you had a part in forming my BJJ. Also thank you to my family for the support. This has been a very long, hard road. Lastly, thank you to my business partner Warren Abraham for believing in my dream and helping it become more real every day!” For more information on Kevin and his school, Phoenix BJJ & MMA Academy, visit www.phoenixbjjmma.com.