Break and OC Industries are well established brands on the local BJJ scene. We caught up with their creator Mike Summers and asked him a few questions on how he got into BJJ and what he has in future for his apparel companies.
LL: Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to sit and have a chat with us, let’s quickly jump into things. How long have you been doing Jiu Jitsu?
MS: Just over 6 years now, I started training in England in 2011 then moved across here in 2012. I used to be a commercial insurance broker from around the age of 18 and then I started Jiu Jitsu at the age of 24. I was working in Hereford in the West Midlands, and I was very career-driven so I wanted to get as high up in the industry as I could, working for a great company, earning a great salary and all that. I went through loads of different sports, but never really found anything that clicked with me. I wanted to get into something that would keep me fit, so I looked into martial arts. Not knowing of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at that time so I went down the kickboxing route. It gave me the fitness side I was looking for and, for the shape I was in at the time, it definitely did test me.
There was an instructor I didn’t quite trust – something felt off with him. He was charging a lot for one session a week, he had stories that were not believable and he told me of this local MMA gym that was full of thugs and to stay away from it. When I googled it, it turned tuned out to be The Combat Academy which was under Gracie Barra and run by a well-respected guy called Dave Coles. I changed over pretty much straight away and through there I met a lot of nice people, some who I keep in touch with until this day, so I inadvertently found Jiu Jitsu off the back of someone else’s bullshit.
When I moved over here the timetables suited me better, so my training became more consistent and I earned my blue belt, but there was a time where running Break and training was taking its toll on me and it wasn’t as frequent or fun anymore. I eventually fell in with RMNU under Justin and haven’t looked back since.
LL: What do you love about Jiu Jitsu?
MS: I’m not 100 percent sure on this (laughs) – I’m not even sure what took me back after my first ever class to be honest! I had the crap kicked out of me, mat burns all over my feet but I just wanted more.
LL: You do find yourself in the scenario where you try something and are not very good at it, you maybe are made a fool of, but you keep turning up, for example, with me it’s the take down side of Jiu Jitsu. I’m not very good at it, and because of that I hate it, but I keep turning up for our Judo classes on a Thursday. Its frustrating that I can never seem to pull off a successful take down during a competition or a spar. But it does give me a deep sense of respect for the top guys that can pull it off effortlessly. I keep turning up knowing that I will learn some small detail that will be of use in my game at some point and hopefully something will click with me.
MS: We have a big guy call Dan Soule who recently joined us. He’s just earned his black belt in Judo and is a brown belt in BJJ. I really enjoy his classes, and he’s a great teacher, but I’m struggling to get deeply into it. Something’s not clicking with me on the Judo side, I’m not shunning Judo, but that’s how it is for me at the minute. Certain aspects of my Jiu Jitsu game have gotten better since going to Judo classes, like my guard pull. (laughs)
LL: You started the apparel company ‘Break’ and ‘OC Industries’, have these stemmed off the back of having started BJJ?
MS: Yeah, massively. Break started out as a Jiu Jitsu brand and in 2015 I came up with OC Industries, a vinyl print company. Mostly because Jiu Jitsu was what I was into and that’s what I knew. The premise of OC Industries being: the customer sends us their GI or shorts, I design the back and front of the Gi, vinyl print their logos and sponsorship onto it, package it up and send it back to them. We have had people who have had it done that went on to win lots of big tournaments. Not that its directly because of OC Industries but it is nice to be a part of these journeys.
In the next few months, I’m looking to change it up. Break will move into new markets, dealing with other sports and lifestyle wear and OC Industries will become a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA brand. I am in the process of releasing a NoGi range, where they will be made from recycled materials. Using this technology, I will be releasing eco friendly, ethically made NoGi stuff. Break will be more active wear using the same technology all made within the UK which I’m very happy about. It has been a long time coming, having the business in development for 4 years and I’ve been trading for 3. When I first set out I wanted to have products that were eco friendly and ethically made, and in the past I’ve had to make minor compromises to stay afloat, but its great that I am now in the position to achieve what I originally set out to do.
I am not one to attend events with these brands, but is something that may be looked at in the future. I’m supportive of the event coming up that Ryan Potts and Jason Perry are hosting, Forward Roll. I like to think the local scene has given me a lot, and it is something I am very grateful for, so I’m planning to have a stall there with a selection of items available for sale and I’m really looking forward to it.
LL: How do you think the local scene has evolved in the last few years?
MS: More clubs. There’s so many more clubs in Belfast now than was when I first moved here. I think there were maybe 3 clubs when I started not including the MMA gyms, Kyoujin, Queens and Gracie Barra. The playing field has changed with others like SBG, RMNU, Brotherhood and a few more popping up. You see the memberships growing in each club all the time.
LL: Yes, I think its good to see, because there are more people training BJJ, there is more momentum helping push standards up locally, which in turn forces you to improve your own game.
LL: Do you regularly compete?
MS: I haven’t since 2014. Around that time, I just lost interest in Jiu Jitsu. It’s something I’ve been thinking about again recently. It will just depend on having the time to commit to strict training along with managing the business needs. I will have to figure that one out.
LL: Gi or NoGi?
MS: Gi! Anyone that rolls with me knows I have a stronger Gi game than NoGi. I rely on grips a lot. I like to set a lot of footlocks up in NoGi, and I suppose I do the same in the Gi using the grips more. I do love NoGi, but I know there is a good chance I will get smashed on the wrestling side of it. I love to watch NoGi! I’m a huge Jiu Jitsu fan and I’d say I watch more Jiu Jitsu than anyone I know. I used to watch Budo Videos a lot; it’s like Flow Grappling before Flow Grappling. They used to stream The Worlds and have instructional videos. It was a great resource at the start for me.
LL: What has been your biggest inspiration along your BJJ journey?
MS: There’s not really one thing I can pin point. there’s a multiple of things combined that keep me inspired. My coach Justin has been a big factor in that in recent times. He’s been the best coach I’ve ever had in any capacity, he’s a phenomenal person. I’ve met a lot of legends within the sport – the Estima brothers, Rodger Gracie, Fernando Augusto “Terere” – and the stories of these athletes and their individual journeys are very inspiring.
LL: What would you be doing if you didn’t have Jiu Jitsu?
MS: Working in insurance, being even more miserable!
You can keep up with Mike and purchase his products on all the usual social media platforms or websites listed below:
Facebook: OC Industries