June 13th, 2016 | Subscribe to AZSBJJF by Email | Subscribe to the AZSBJJF RSS Feed
By Danny O’Donnell
The physical benefits of jiu jitsu, such as weight loss and increased cardiovascular conditioning, are often marketed as the main benefits of practice to new students. While these aspects of training are certainly evident, experienced practitioners know that the mental benefits like increased confidence, discipline, and determination, often far outweigh any physical gains. David Reilly, head instructor of Undisputed Tucson, is a shining example of this. He started his training in Lexington, Kentucky. “I was a student at the University of Kentucky and met Jason Keaton, a Carlson Gracie Jr. purple belt, at the gym I was working out at. After a short stint in Lexington, I moved to Nashville, TN and started training with Shawn Hammonds under Lloyd Irvin. I was promoted from white to black under Shawn and Lloyd.”
Coming up through the ranks, David was an active competitor. “I had never wrestled or played any individual sports at a competitive level before so this was an entirely new experience for me. Needless to say, I didn’t win right away. In fact, it took me a while before I started winning anything. Learning to deal with losing, all on your own without a team to shield part of that failure, was absolutely paramount in my development as a person. I wasn’t naturally gifted, so I worked as hard as I could at being the best I could be.” David took to the biggest stages jiu jitsu competition had to offer, competing at many of the IBJJF major events.
“The Pan Ams was the very first tournament I competed in as a black belt. I fought a tough opponent named Thiago Ramos and beat him by a slim two-point margin. After that, for the next three years, I lost every single match I had. The mental demons I had to face throughout those three years were super hard for me. I came up with so many excuses as to why I shouldn’t be competing anymore. Quitting wasn’t an option. I knew I’d want to be able to look at all the students training with me and show them that, if I can go out there and push myself to continue searching and fighting for the win after three straight years of nothing but losses, they could too…both on AND off the mats.”
David endured the trials and tribulations of competition and eventually earned medals in important IBJJF tournaments, including the Pan Ams and American Nationals. It was this level of dedication and determination that he wanted to pass onto his students. “I knew that I’d always be involved in jiu jitsu in some way, shape or form since I started training. It wasn’t until I was roughly 26 years old that I realized I was done doing something I had to do to just to earn an income. At 31 years old, I heard about an opening at a gym in Tucson, AZ. After a flight out and a brief conversation, I headed back to KY and sold off all my assets so I could double down and bet on my dream. When I bought Undisputed 4 years ago, we had roughly 300 members. This year we crossed over the 1000-member mark. For the past 2 years we were nominated for and were among the top 5 finalists for small business of the year by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce and among the top five finalists for “Best Gym” by Tucson Weekly.”
Since David’s purchase of Undisputed, he’s worked with his students on setting goals and building plans to achieve them. “Every year I ask all team members to tell me (and each other in a group meeting) what their competitive and personal goals are for the year. Then, we all figure out ways we can help each other achieve them. This year, my personal competitive goal is to compete in at least 5 IBJJF events and be able to walk away from each one with the confidence that I was emotionally intelligent; that I was able to recognize self-defeating thoughts, call them out for what they are, and eliminate them so I can perform to the absolute best of my ability (which will absolutely make competing fun!). I have to give credit to Gustavo Dantas for the above mentioned goal, as this information came from his most recent mental coaching seminar in Tucson. There’s nothing I want more as a coach than to help my team do the exact same. This year, we took 24 people from Undisputed alone to the Pan American Championship. When I first moved here 4 years ago, we took 4 people (including me). I want to continue to elevate and transform the jiu jitsu community around me, beginning with myself, my team, my city, my state, my country and my world.”
If you’d like more information on David and his personal journey in jiu jitsu, be sure to check out davidgreilly.com. For more info on Undisputed, Tucson’s only full service fitness facility that offers boxing, kickboxing, jiu jitsu, fitness and women’s only classes inside a 16,000 sq ft facility packed with a full range of weight and cardio equipment, visit undisputedaz.com.