We recently got to sit down for a chat with the faces behind the brand ‘Forward roll’. These lads have popped up on social media recently with the tag line ‘Events for BJJ – coming 2018’ and we were intrigued so we contacted Ryan and Jason to see what they had in the pipe line.
LL: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, for anyone who don’t know who you are, give us a quick intro.
R: I’m Ryan and I’ve been training for about 2 years now with RMNU Ireland. I’ve recently started up an events company called ‘Forward Roll’ with my friend Jason and hopefully we’ll have it up and running very soon.
J: I’m Jason and I also train out of RMNU Ireland under Justin. Ryan was the one who got me into the sport, and having originally come from a youth work background we got together and started working on ‘Forward Roll’.
LL: So how did you get into BJJ?
R: Well after moving to Ballymena I was looking for somewhere to train and something new to do since I wasn’t playing football anymore, so I tried MMA. I was enjoying it a lot but found I liked the ground game a lot more than the stand up so I started looking for a Jiu Jitsu club to train with. My Brother-in-law happened to be working at the Valley Leisure Centre and told me that RMNU were training there, so I called in, gave it a go and haven’t looked back since!
J: As I said, Ryan got me into it. There was a stage when I stopped playing sport and I’d seen that Ryan was getting more and more into BJJ, and every other Facebook post was something about Jiu Jitsu so I wondered what it was all about. I could see the impact it had on Ryan straight away with regards to confidence and motivation, plus he lost about 4 stone in weight through it! He asked me to come to training with him up in the Valley, and so I met all the guys there and met Justin. I totally fell in love with the club, the vibe and the sport.
LL: What’s your go-to move?
R: In the club at the minute there are different teams working off different positions. I’m focusing on the Kimura and working different angles and attacks with it. It’s really good and a very effective grip to play with. We’ve been exploring the opportunities from stand up, side, Turtle and a few others but it’s been great. The plan being: we come together every few months and showcase what we learned.
LL: I like that idea of teams working different positions or grips. It means you learn to defend other set attacks while trying to figure out how you can find ways to sneak in your move and work it into an attack for you.
J: I’m working off the same grip too. I’m finding that if I go to North-South I go for the Kimura grip a lot so I’ve been working different positions off of that.
LL: To be honest, I came across ‘Forward Roll’ on social media one day and didn’t know what it was, but I noticed all my friends that followed it were Jiu Jitsu guys so assumed it was related somehow and was intrigued. Can you tell us what ‘Forward Roll’ is and what it’s about?
R: ‘Forward Roll’ is basically going to be a collection of training events and possibly competitions in-between. The idea is that they will be semi-structured open-mats for the BJJ community. We will host a workshop on BJJ, Yoga, Judo takedowns, Wrestling and these will run alongside what we’re calling a ‘Jiu Jitsu Clinic’ where people can ask our coaches questions and drill with anyone.
If you want to come down and have a look to see what’s involved with Jiu Jitsu, you can get a sense of what it is with us. We have guys who’ll bring along a pop up gum shield clinic so you can get fitted properly and buy gum shields. We’ve been in talks with a sports therapist so hopefully people can go along for mini consultations and book themselves into sessions if they’re nursing any injuries or would like further advice. There’ll also be two brown belts who will supervise the open mat and answer any questions people may have.
LL: It sounds impressive and well thought out. So you’re extending open mats to everyone with workshops and support on the side. Is it open to all clubs?
R: Yes, our events are open to everyone. Robson Moura had talked about different gyms keeping to themselves and not having open training days, but in California clubs all know each other and have open training days, and it’s a more relaxed vibe. We like that Californian philosophy of growing the sport while training with everyone who enjoys the sport as much as we do.
LL: That’s true, you can train and roll with others from different clubs while still representing your own club.
R: The aim for ‘Forward Roll’ is to facilitate these events and make a successful company out of it at the same time. If we can cover costs at the start or make a bit of money, it will all go into making the next event an even bigger success.
J: It’s like we’re hosting a Jiu Jitsu buffet where you can pick and choose what you would like to do with a variety of classes, advice and pop up shops, all with guys from different clubs, all there for the love of the sport. From our own experience, we both love open mats and competitions, so at ‘Forward Roll’ we are trying to combine them into scheduled events throughout the year that will move around the country popping up in different places, hosting a great day for everyone.
R: It would be great to go to an event where there’s 60 people all there for Jiu Jitsu and a variety of people to roll with, you’ll get a better range of guys in your weight class that you maybe wouldn’t otherwise get at your club during normal trainings.
LL: That’s a good point, it can be hard to find guys that might fit into your weight class at your own club – sometimes you end up rolling with smaller guys who are fast as hell, or larger guys who have more weight to use against you, or much stronger guys that you find it hard to do anything with – it’s good training all the same.
J: I think it allows you to get over the barrier of fear where you think to yourself, “am I good enough to enter a competition or will I just get my ass handed to me?” I think rolling with guys who come along to the events will give you the confidence and exposure to different levels of Jiu Jitsu. You’ll think, “You know what? I could do okay at this competition.” Talking to people who are higher belts can sometimes encourage you to try it; it gives you that opportunity to roll with someone you’ve never rolled with and it’ll help you to gauge what the standard of the community is.
LL: What inspired you to start ‘Forward Roll’?
R: A couple of months ago I had said to Jason, ‘Lets start a business’. We were both at the same stage of our lives with young families and married, both really like our job, but wanted to build something on the side. We had discussed running a grass roots competition – something closer to home – then we weren’t sure if people would come to something we set up, having never heard of us before. Then we toyed with ‘a big mat day’ where we could start to build the brand and get our name out there. We continually brainstormed ideas until we eventually landed on the idea for ‘Forward Roll’.
LL: It seems really good timing given that the BJJ scene has exploded in the last few years and has no intention of stopping any time soon. Most BJJ competitions seem to be down South so events like ‘Forward Roll’ will be good to have on the circuit up North.
J: We like the idea because we are very passionate about the sport. We have the goal of hosting events with fair prices for competitions, open mats and workshops so everyone can be involved. Some people can’t afford to compete in all the competitions, or they maybe don’t have the means of transport to travel so our events will provide them the opportunity to roll with new people and test their skills without the fear of getting beat in the first match while being down £40 for an entrance fee plus any travel costs on top of that. We want to minimise costs for the events, keeping them as low as we can and not having a fixed location so we can be more accessible to everyone.
‘Forward roll’ is a business at the end of the day so we hope to break even at the start but we also just want to put on a great day out. If we do make any money, we’ll use that money to help make the next event a success so we can build the brand and get our name out there. We want people to see our events and think, “Those lads put on great events – they’re affordable and in my area – I’m going!”
We don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes, we just want to create something else people can enjoy and promote local brands and small businesses with the pop up stalls at our events and all the different types of coaches we are bringing along with us.
LL: Where do you see ‘Forward Roll’ in a few years?
J: Hopefully a well known branded name that people see and instantly get excited on what we will deliver. We want people to see ‘Forward Roll’ events as a great experience that’s great value for money.
R: We want these events to be held 3 or 4 times a year, popping up in various places and hopefully some really cool venues. We want ‘Forward Roll’ to be unique and to be a name that everyone in the community knows. We will be hosting maybe 1 or 2 competitions in between the big mat days and we want it to be something that people see as a go-to event. We want to do our bit for the sport on a local sense. We love what we do and we hope to make this something that reflects that.
We are still in the planning stages, but have a great foundation that we have put in place and are building on. We’ve approached ‘Aware NI’ to be involved with our first event, and in the future we hope to have ‘Mens’ Health’, ‘Women’s Health’ and some youth groups involved within our events. It’s all really exciting for us and we can’t wait to get everything up and running.
LL: I’m excited too! I think it sounds truly inspiring and I’ve no doubt ‘Forward Roll’ will be welcomed into the BJJ scene with open arms.
The first event will take place on Sunday 14th of January 2018 at the cost of £20 per person. The venue is still to be confirmed. All details will be posted on the social media platforms.
You can follow these guys on the usual platforms;
Facebook: Forward Roll
or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org