My high school and early college years involved Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing (then I moved away from my gym and never ended up getting back into it). I still remember watching some of the early UFC fights on PPV in the 1990’s when the Gracie family became a household name. I’ve always been fascinated by martial arts and what it did for me both mentally and physically during my formative years. I still love attending competitions and watching UFC on Saturday nights, so I was stoked at the chance to interview local BJJ purple belt, Logan Vieira.

Logan (Photo Credit: Brandon Wilson)

Please list your team, belt rank, training academy and how long you have been training.
I’ve been with Phantom BJJ in Maple Valley for about 5 years and have been promoted to Purple belt.

Tell us about you! Where are you from and what was life like growing up?
I was born in Oregon and moved up to Washington when I was about 8 years old. I’ve been local to the Maple Valley/ Kent area my whole life since then.  I went to school at Kentlake where I started my martial arts fondness with the Judo program through the Kent School District my senior year. My dad had done Karate most of my life and he joined me at the Zenyu Dojo in Maple Valley to learn Judo. We both ended up helping teach and I ended up coaching Kentlake High School for a few years. My dad and I both got our black belts at the same time in Judo. He started  jiu jitsu when Bing (head coach) opened his gym, Phantom BJJ, in Maple Valley from Covington. I started the year after him.
Logan and his dad after his dad received his purple belt.

What made you decide to start training in jiu jitsu?
My dad started and enjoyed training with the people there and the gym community, I came here and there for open mats on Saturdays and soon I was becoming a regular  3-4 times a week and even some double-days. I couldn’t get enough. I have also really enjoyed the time and hobby with my dad.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you have learned as you have gone up in belt level?

To stay relaxed and breathe, it might sound easy but if you are able to put on a “poker face,” your opponents are more likely to stop short of finishing “X” move or submission.

The team from the last big class with Foster.
What are other workouts or ways that you train outside of jiu jitsu?
Through the gym, I have met some people and started to go on hikes with them. Although, not as much as I used to, we were doing – 75-mile backpacking trips on week breaks. We were hiking on off days from training and backpacking/ camping almost every other weekend.
Has COVID affecting your training at all? If so, how have you overcome the socially distant obstacles?

COVID has definitely impacted training! Getting motivation to workout on my own has been extremely hard with the shut down. We had Zoom classes working on movements and techniques but it was hard without partners. I know some people had their designated friend to be their training partner that would come over and be each other’s resistance. There was a sure spike in the purchase of stuffed “dummies” to practice on and have something. There was even the taking of an old gi (the jacket and pants), and stuffing them with clothes to make a homemade dummy. We all had to be conscious of how one was feeling and staying inside controlled pods or workout groups was a must to prevent the spread and minimize contact.

Training partners: Tyler, Brandon, Logan
What does a typical week of training look like for you?
On a normal week, pre-COVID, I would try (depending on my work schedule) to make it on Monday, Wednesday, Friday (no gi) and Sunday (Competition class).

It’s competition day. Walk us through what the day is like from the time you wake up until the time the competition is over and you are going to bed.
Competition day, Saturday. Wake up around 8-10 a.m. depending on when my group is scheduled to go (normally they have the schedule on the website). Now it is getting down to 10-15 minute times with updates. I check my weight, make oatmeal, brown sugar, milk and a little butter. Depending on how my nerves are that day, coffee or no coffee  if I already have butterflies. I pack up my bag – normally two gis and then a no gi outfit depending on the venue and if I am in both brackets. Then, I head out to the venue and find the team sitting area and hang out with them. Normally I have to go to the bathroom from staying hydrated throughout the day and my nerves. Thirty minutes out from my bracket, I change and warm up. Then I go out, compete, eat a snack, and then go back out to compete in a second bracket (no gi). Normally part of the team goes out to a restaurant on the way home and eats some food. Then I get home, shower, eat whatever I’ve been saving and eye balling all week when I was being good with my weight and eating healthy. I’ll maybe watch a movie or hang out then go to bed.
AX Fight Night at Team Wise Center after Logan won his match, and everyone who came out and supported him (and some competed as well)
What advice would you give someone who wants to start jiu jitsu training?
Starting is the hardest part. The easiest thing you can do is start and make a habit of it for 6 months.  No excuses, no missing classes you know you can make. There is nothing you can train or do to not be tired and feel like you are out of shape when you first start. Everyone starts at the bottom, I have seen religious CrossFitters come in and be exhausted because it is muscle you can’t train unless you are doing jiu jitsu.
What advice would you give someone who is already training but wants to start competing?
The worst thing that can happen is losing, but losing with grace and realizing there is more to work on is better than being afraid of trying. This was a hard one for me when I got my black belt in Judo. There were four of us and we all stopped competing. I asked myself why and I came to realize I was afraid to lose to someone who was a lower rank or younger, that I didn’t measure up to being a black belt or on that level. Once I came to that thought, I started competing more. I’d lose here and there but the thought of not competing because I was afraid to was such a wake up call. Be smart about it, train and be prepared but get out there and compete. There isn’t going to be anything like it, just don’t bring your ego and tap put before anything serious happens. We all have tomorrow and we all have jobs.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of jiu jitsu, especially with the incorporation of MMA and UFC?
I enjoy seeing the combat side of jiu jitsu. The open hand slaps they have in combat brings back a realness that reminds me that a lot of the stuff I like and enjoy is sport jiu jitsu, but there is the “street” survival side as well what would happen in real life if someone is trying to harm you or loved ones. I think these things bring out a different style and will have different ways to answer problems or positions in MMA and UFC when it comes to ground fighting.
Green River submission-only competition with teammates, Tyler, Ryan and Logan
Would you recommend learning various forms of martial arts in addition to jiu jitsu?
Yes, I think everyone should do one form of martial arts, to build confidence and body coordination, and help promote a healthy body and mind. Working out helps my mental health more than I ever knew. There are weeks I miss classes (sometimes life happens) and by the weekend I can tell I feel cranky and irritable, so if training in any form that someone likes and enjoys doing, I think they should!
What are your ultimate 2021 goals?
Get back in to the gym training regularly and hopefully get on one of the Fight to Win Cards and win. I have been on two, one for jiu jitsu and one for Judo and lost both. I want to do some local tournaments at Green River College and just help give back to the gym and people in it that have allowed me to get to where I am in my skill level and rank. By making everyone in the gym better, we ourselves have to become better and improve our technique. I love seeing the skill level of people improve when rolling from time to time.

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