Martial arts can and will provide you ways to not only take down a potential opponent (especially in a real life scenario), but also completely transforms your mental game. Whether you practice martial arts to compete, to gain strength and confidence, or meet new people – no matter what, you will gain the mental and emotional strength to tackle what life throws at you. I’m excited to share what local BJJ purple belt, Tyler Hayes, had to say about how martial arts helps him in all aspects of life.

Please list your team, belt rank, training academy and how long you have been training.
Phantom BJJ (Maple Valley), purple belt, 5 years at Phantom.

Tell us about you! Where are you from and what was life like growing up?
My name is Tyler Hayes. I am 30 years old and I am from Otis, Oregon. I had a great childhood, a loving family and lots of freedom to live and learn. I currently live with my girlfriend in Enumclaw, WA and work full time as a landscaper in Bellevue, WA. I have embraced the BJJ lifestyle. 
What made you decide to start training in jiu jitsu?

Around 2009, I had friends that were training for Amateur MMA fights that first showed me an armbar and chokes in person. I had seen how effective it was watching UFC. I trained with my friends in their garage for about two years and ended up having 4 MMA fights. MMA wasn’t for me and after a 6-year break I decided I would try the lower impact version of fighting, jiu jitsu.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you have learned as you have gone up in belt level?
It takes a family. You can’t train in BJJ by yourself. The better the team is, the better you are. The best you can bring only makes everyone else better. You can learn from anyone and learn from losing even more than winning. On a technical side, I am seeing that the human body cannot defy physics and the techniques operate according to certain rules that are repeatable. You start to see principles reoccurring in different places of the game. Your technique goes from something like, I’m going to try and knock the guy down, hold him down and smash him, to more technical thoughts of perfect position and posture. You learn how to create and predict opponents openings and reactions. You start capitalizing on and achieving position and control using leverage, structure and efficient movement to take away options of escape. Control before Submission. This is a thinking man’s game.
What are other workouts or ways that you train outside of jiu jitsu?

I ride my bike for cardio and have been working on my flexibility and recovery a lot. I try and do most of my work on the mats.

Has COVID affecting your training at all? If so, how have you overcome the socially distant obstacles?
COVID has had minimal effect on my training. I keep my circle small and I build my immune system with exercise, fresh air, clean food, water and a positive mindset. I’m not into living in a bubble of fear.
The team snacking between helping coach the kids at a competition.
What does a typical week of training look like for you?
Three days a week, I help coach our junior’s program and immediately after that, I train for about two hours. Then over the weeken, I’ll usually get a 1-3 hour open mat and a 2-hour competition class in on Sunday. On my off days, I’ll recover and study BJJ when I have time. 
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.
I try and make my competition days relaxed and typical. It took me a while, but I learned to just take the matches as they come and not overthink them. All the work is done at the gym, so just go roll. Then you get to the best part which is hanging with your training partners afterwards and analyzing the day’s battles!!  
What advice would you give someone who wants to start jiu jitsu training?
Find the nearest gyms in your area and go check them out! Be open minded and respectful. Be patient! Its hard work. 
What advice would you give someone who is already training but wants to start competing?
Study the game and train hard, go and test your skills. You will learn and become better, no matter what – win or lose. Enjoy the battles! 
Giva Santana, James Foster and Bingo Crook seminar at Foster BJJ.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of jiu jitsu, especially with the incorporation of MMA and UFC?
Jiu jitsu is amazing. A physical chess game where the pieces change every time you play. People are so smart and creative in MMA and BJ,J it is inevitable that it evolves. You live-test techniques and really find out what works. BJJ benefits from MMA because it keeps it honest. You shouldn’t do certain things in a full contact fight that you can get away with when no strikes are being thrown in a BJJ match. In a way, my jiu jitsu is a mixed martial art because I use wrestling and judo in combination.
Would you recommend learning various forms of martial arts in addition to jiu jitsu?
It depends on your goals. I think there is benefit in every martial art to a certain level, but you need to examine and test the techniques on a variety of opponents to find out what is real. In addition to BJJ, I would recommend boxing, Muy Thai, wrestling and Judo. 
What are your ultimate 2021 goals?
Get close with family. Become more grateful. Grow as a person and a man. Find more ways to contribute to my local community and create the life I can feel in my heart and see in my dreams.

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