HHCF Jiu Jitsu Team Profile: Blue Belt World Champion Ed Solis

 As promised, here is another profile of one of the HHCF Jiu Jitsu Team members. His name is Ed Solis. Ed is an army vet, he plays the guitar, he runs the Alum Rock Youth Center in San Jose and is an amazing wrestler and jiu jitsu player.  Enough from me. Let me let you hear it from him!

HHCF: Whats your rank, where do you train and how did you learn about jiu jitsu?
Ed Solis: I am a blue belt under Alan “Gumby” Marques. I train at Heroes Martial Arts Academy in San Jose, Ca. I learned about BJJ many years ago from college wrestling team mates who have been practicing for some time. But it was only recently that I finally took the plunge and began my journey.

 HHCF: You also do a lot of work with kids in San Jose, CA. Can you talk about that for a moment?

ES: I moved to San Jose in 2000. Before that I was a Director at the Eastside Boys and Girls Club in East LA. As such I wanted to find a job as fulfilling as that in San Jose. I now work in the Department of Parks and Recreation in a underserved, low-income community. I spend most of my time getting youth and teens pointed in the right direction through recreation and referral services. It’s a great job and I am blessed to serve the kids and families of San Jose.

HHCF: Since you work directly with so many young people, can you tell me about what a lot of them are facing, socially and educationally?

ES:Wow there is so much these kids are dealing with. Many of the youth I work directly with are at risk to be recruited by gangs or become victims of gangs. It’s a hard choice for these kids and so many of their parents are working 2-3 jobs and many don’t speak the language. They can’t relate or understand the dangers that their children face daily. This leads to poor performance in school, high drop out rates, incarceration, and for some death. It’s heart breaking. I do my best to work with the educators, police, and non-profits to coordinate resources for our youth. But in these tough fiscal times, it seems like those resources are becoming smaller and smaller.

HHCF:How much do you think chess and martial arts can help them actualize their potential?

ES: I have created 2 jiu-jitsu programs at our centers and I have raised money to bring BJJ to elementary schools. Chess is next. I feel that exposing inter city kids to martial arts and the critical thinking of chess can bring core human needs like belonging, love, fulfillment, competence, and empowerment to them. For so many youth today, access to BJJ and chess are only dreams. When I see youth discover BJJ, I see a change in so many aspects of their personality and outlook on life. I want to expose as many people to the power of jui-jitsu as possible.

HHCF: Since taking on jiu jitsu as part of your life, a lot has changed for you. Tell me about that for a moment?

ES: I walked into my doctor’s office at the age of 41. I got on the scale and I weighed 262 lbs! My blood pressure was high borderline on dangerously high. My health was in serio9us danger. My doctor wanted to start me on 3 medications. I asked her for 6 months to change my lifestyle. I found Heroes Martial Arts on the web. Called up the academy and set up a time to come in. My first 2 weeks were miserable! I was literally getting sick after the warm ups. But in 6 months I lost 30 lbs and brought all of my levels down to normal. In one year I won my first IBJJF world title and earned my blue belt. I tell everyone who will listen, Jiu-Jitsu isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle. It’s my lifestyle! It may have just saved my life.

HHCF: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned about yourself since learning jiu jitsu?

ES: I think the biggest lesson I learned was that the art of learning never ends. It can happen at any age. I am so humbled by the learning process of BJJ. I am journeyman on this amazing quest of knowledge and everyday I can sit next to my instructor Gumby. I can access his knowledge. We talk for hours sometimes. He’s the best teacher I could have asked for. I can grab onto Justin “Machine” Holder another Ralph Gracie black belt and learn from him. We have so many amazing people at all levels at my gym and they are all willing to teach me. White, blue, purple, brown, and black belts are in almost every class at my academy and I smile when I know that I can put on a gi or rashgarud and learn from them.

HHCF: You are also an accomplished guitarist. Talk about some of your biggest musical influences, Hip-Hop and beyond.

ES: My parents were big music buffs! Growing up in a Mexican-American household in the 70’s I was exposed to some amazing and eclectic music. Everything from Sly and the Family Stone, Kiss, Carol King, David Bowie, Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin were on the turntable. My parents were also proud of our heritage so Mariachi and rancheras were in order. I received my first guitar when I was 10 years old and haven’t looked back. I became a big fan of blues in my teens and of course Hip-Hop. During my time in the military many of my fellow soldiers from NY and Chicago really blew up my walkman (like that) with Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick and EMPD.

HHCF: You just competed in Las Vegas at he ADCC trials and got s silver medal. Talk about those matches for a moment if you could?

ES: I’m such a big fan of BJJ that it was amazing walking by some of the super stars of the sport. Romulo Barral walked by and shook my hand, I watched Antonio Bragga Neto do his thing. Caio Terra was amazing. Then you have to snap out of it and remember you’re there to do a job. I had a barn burner in the finals against the Absolute No-Gi world champ. I came up short 2-0 but it was a great experience. I learned a couple of good lessons and in the end, that’s not a bad thing.

HHCF: You also took a gold medal at the World Championships. How amazing was that?

ES: It was a defining moment in my life. All the hard work, the pain, the sacrifice pays off when you win. It was extremely satisfying. I also finished 3rd in the absolute division so I felt very proud. I know you can’t get hung up on titles but I crack up when my wife says, “Hey World Champ, when are you going to submit that lawn mower?”

HHCF: Any last words?

ES: I just want to thank you Adisa for the honor of being a part of this great effort. I’d also like to thank all the super cool member of the Jiu-Jitsu community around the world. My life has become a bit more fulfilling since I discovered BJJ. Of course a big shout out to Gumby and all of my teammates at Heroes! 2011 here we come! Osssssssss

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