HHCF Jiu Jitsu Team Profile: Blue Belt World Champion Ed Solis
HHCF: Whats your rank, where do you train and how did you learn about jiu jitsu?
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: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.
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.
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.
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.
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?