They Didn’t Think I Could Become a Champion at My Age, But I Did
Chad Hawkins was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but grew up in small towns in Illinois. At the age of 15, he was starting his first job selling cars. He wouldn’t hear about jiu jitsu or really have any inkling of its existence for another 14 years, until a friend introduced him to it. By this time, Chad was 29 - certainly not old, but past the age at which a typical white belt still dreams of competing at a high level. As it turns out, Chad is not typical.
At first, he wasn’t even quite sure he liked jiu jitsu. Then, a year into training, he decided not only did he like it, but he was going to open his own academy and teach it better. Recalling this period of his life, Chad says: “I actually went to Tokyo and trained with Carpe Diem, and when I came home, I thought I was inventing something special. This was around 2012. Shortly after, I found out I was clueless and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was all over the place and I sucked. So I started to grind non-stop.”
This tenacity has proven worthwhile, as Chad now considers himself quite versatile, with many strengths in his game that includes: closed guard, open guard, spider guard, reverse de la riva, passing and smashing, loop chokes, armbars, and triangles.
Chad has explored several of these strengths in courses here on Jiu Jitsu X.
You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New
You’re also never too weak, or too out of shape, or too lacking in self confidence! Oftentimes, we let these self-set limitations hold us back from the very thing that might catapult us towards the success we’re seeking. Don’t reject an opportunity to grow because you’ve let yourself believe there’s a qualification you need to meet before you can even start.
Want to get stronger? You don’t have to lift weights for 6 months before you’re “strong enough” to start jiu jitsu. Training jiu jitsu will build strength!
Want to get in better shape? You don’t need to diet and do a ton of cardio before you get on the mats for the first time. Your goals will be supported and you will be welcomed as you are, AND you’ll naturally get in better shape while doing something fun!
And confidence is something that will - I mean WILL - develop over time. You just have to show up!
That being said, if you googled “jiu jitsu” for the first time ever and ended up here, hi, hello, this is a safe place!
Chad’s Beginner Jiu Jitsu Blueprint course is perfect for you. You’ll be able to learn about jiu jitsu fundamentals in whatever setting is most comfortable to you. It’s a great course to watch before you even start training at an academy. With Chad’s guidance, you’ll be able to recognize terms like closed guard and mount and what those positions actually look like, and how they’re used in an actual match. You can enter your first class without feeling like you’re starting from scratch, which should make it less stressful if you’re already nervous!
You can also totally check out the course if you’re NOT new to jiu jitsu. Whether you’ve taken a hiatus from training and need to refresh, or you’re just seeking out a more detailed breakdown of the basics, you’ve found the right course for you.
Chad’s other two courses, Daisy Fresh Triangle Equations and The Great Escapes each offer a focused exploration of specific facets of jiu jitsu.
Triangle Equations is of course, if it wasn’t totally obvious, all about triangles. Take a stroll through the sprawling city of knowledge Chad has about triangles, with options to:
Set up the triangle
Defend the triangle
Attack the triangle while passing
Transition to and from the triangle
And drill specific triangle techniques
Great Escapes is here for you in all those moments where you’re suddenly stuck in a bad position and can only think well crap what do I do now? What you do right now is check out Great Escapes so you know what to do the next time you find yourself needing to escape from:
And spider guard
Using Competitions as Training
Chad’s range of skills certainly didn’t develop from no effort on his part. Realizing he had to step up his game to be able to hold his own against the often younger, highly skilled jiu jitsu athletes he regularly found himself facing, Chad focused on competing as much as possible. Despite some serious nerves around competing, he went on to win at many major events, including: 9x Master 1 IBJJF Worlds Gi & No-Gi, 6x Gi & No-Gi Pan Ams, 15x Chicago Open, and several others.
With the support and confidence of his coach, Heath Pedigo, he racked up around 300 total wins. Unfortunately, right before his last Master Worlds, he herniated a disc in his lower back. Among numerous previous injuries, this one stood out as the most difficult to overcome, based on the game Chad usually liked to play. He ultimately had to take a break from competing.
Understanding Things Won’t Always Go As Planned
Chad experienced several losses following his hiatus from competing. Each of these losses “hit [him] hard because in [his] mind, the goal was to win.” The pressures of keeping up with the competition were not singularly focused, as he felt his performance was important in validating and spreading the word about his academy and team as well as simply proving his ability to succeed to himself.
His training for a competition became about losing as much as possible. Sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but it worked for him. He sought out training that would push him far enough to discover where he was making mistakes, and show him at what points he would start to give up.
To this day, winning is still his ultimate goal, but he’s able to concede to the fact that things won’t always go as planned. Of this outlook he says he wants to “win in all ways of life. On the mats and off the mats. Being a great competitor, significant other, father, coach, teammate, all around good person. Nothing can stop me except for myself and I choose to always move forward no matter the circumstances.”
Giving Back to the Sport that Opened So Many Doors for Him
For the past decade, Chad has lived and breathed jiu jitsu, saying it’s given him “a doorway to see the world, to inspire others, to teach others, to create content, to teach seminars, to take [his] family to really cool places, and even create a tournament,” King of the Mat, “that pays athletes.” He’s even gotten to train Mario Lopez!
He’s immensely grateful for the fact that, through jiu jitsu, he “went from working a job [he] completely hate[d] to now having 2 schools [he] run[s], and lots of incredible people in [his] life.” Due to involvement with those in need, fundraising efforts, and donations, he was celebrated as a top leader under 40 in his local community.
He hopes to continue giving back on a wide scale by offering online instruction, such as with his three current courses on Jiu Jitsu X. Speaking of giving, make sure you check out the 9 free techniques from Chad’s courses! Three are available on each individual course page.
Continue to follow Chad’s success (and keep an eye out for future course announcements) here on his instagram page! Also check out his video podcast on YouTube, The Heyyy Show!