HHCF Jiu Jitsu Team Profile: Purple Belt Bobby Ditona

Bobby Ditona of the HHCF Jiu Jitsu Team is a purple belt under Marc Laimon/Sim Go at Cobra Kai in Las Vegas Nevada. He is also taught the Philipine Merchant Marine Academy with his brother Eugene (who will be interviewed soon) and they both have done a lot to raise money for Philipine typhoon victims. Bobby is as kind off the mat, as his is a savage on the mat. This interview is long over due and I'm happy to share it.

HHCF: Being from the Bay how did you end up at Cobra Kai?

BD: I started Jiu-jitsu at the Ralph Gracie academy in Mountain View while still in college. I eventually transferred to Crosley Gracie's academy who was teaching under Ralph at the time. Vegas was booming in 2001, I had just recently married my wife Michelle and we had a daughter Kamryn and moving to Vegas at that time gave my family and I a bettter opportunity. After moving to Vegas I had quit training. I kept thinking I'll eventually get back but not until 3 years later did I decide to step back into a jiu-jitsu school. There's probably a number of reasons for the long break but kids(had my son Isaiah) and a crazy graveyard shift work schedule were the main ones.

Coming from a successful school like Ralph's I was very picky about where to train. After checking out 4 of the more known BJJ schools in Vegas I decided on making John Lewis's JSECT academy my new gym. I did not know of the recent separation of Marc Laimon and Lewis at the time I started and slowly a lot of the students were leaving JSECT for Laimon's gym. I got my blue under Lewis about a year later and that's when I started contemplating leaving. I already knew of guys like Sim Go, Sonny Nohara, and Jeff Glover at Cobra Kai and thought training and getting taught and beat up by them could only help my game. So I decided to transfer to Cobra Kai and I was right about getting beat up and learning and getting better.

HHCF:  You brought Sim Go out to Heroes Martial Arts Academy in San Jose for a seminar to help the Philippines typhoon victims. How did that come about?

BD: I believe it was my brother who came up with the whole idea. And if I can back up a bit I just wanted to say my parents have inspired us to do these kind of things. My father opened up a library under his fathers name at the elementary school where he attended and where my grandfather was a teacher. My mom a retired nurse joined a group of medical professionals and doctors who do medical missions. She has done a couple in the Philippines. Through the company my wife works for Green Valley Med Supply, my mother was able to purchase at a great rate some vitamins and supplements much needed to the sick in the Philippines. That was a big help in the medical mission.

Sim happens to be a very respected grappler, the competition resume speaks for itself and happens to be filipino and the Bay has a lot of Filipinos training and who are down to spend money on something positive like the seminar and my brother knew all this. He put 2 and 2 together and it ended up being a success. It's a huge bonus to us grapplers who attended this seminar that we were able to learn some legit jiu-jitsu techniques on top of donating money to the cause.

We recently visited the area that was hit the hardest from the typhoon which is close to where both of my parents are from in Zambales. It was a humbling experience. To know that through this seminar people got much needed shoes(that were mainly donated by CLAE shoe company), it made it all the more worthwhile. To see the direct positive effect on people is beyond words and truthfully there wasn't much effort on our part. My brother and I are blessed to have friends who care and have something to give. I wish everyone could have seen what we saw in the Philippines during our short time there but for now you will have to take my word for it.

Sim Go BJJ Seminar for Typhoon Relief by lyricalswords
HHCF: What has BJJ given you beyond the skill to defend yourself?

BD: Mainly confidence in myself and that goes a long way. Like I mentioned earlier I stopped training my health wasn't so great, I started up again and my health got better. It's better than medicine. I've always been into sports and competed all my life. I can honestly say I got more injuries the few times I played basketball and football after high school then I've gotten through grappling. It has also given me the opportunity to help others. I have kids and eventually the knowledge that I have can be passed on to them. That's just scratching the surface of what BJJ has done for me.

HHCF: I heard they have a chess scene in the Philippines. Tell me what you saw.

BD:  can honestly say I'm not a big chess guy. I'd like to be and now being named to the HHCF jiu-jitsu competition team there's much more inspiration for me to get started. That being said I did not go to the Philippines having chess on my mind but what did happen is it came to me. In America chess doesn't come to you. You have to go search for it. In the Philippines there were chess boards the size of a big living room with the chess pieces the size of Uriah Faber. This was free to use and inside the biggest mall in all of Asia. Pretty amazing. Whats more amazing is during my stay there I saw stolen toilet seats, gates to graves(my own grandfather's was taken), and just about anything gets stolen but what didn't get stolen is anything related to chess. I saw chess boards in numerous public places like hotel lobby's and all of them were intact. They steal toilet seats but no chess pieces. Trip out.

                     Bobby is in the front row L of the woman in the yellow gi. His brother Eugene is on the R of the woman in the yellow gi. Casy Cruz is right behind Bobby.

HHCF: What's your favorite memory of teaching in the Philippines?

BD: As probably mentioned earlier or in my brother's interview the seminar with the students of the Phillipine Merchant Marine Academy was great. But my favorite memory is probably training and teaching at the academy ran by Stephen Kamphuis/Team Fabricio KMA. A friend of ours Casey Cruz, who also started out at Mountain View Ralph academy trains there. The students wanted to learn some techniques that I actually use and it was really nice to show people something and see them fall in love with it. It's a great feeling to know you may have helped someone's game progress.

HHCF: What has been your most memorable lesson from competing in Jiu-Jitsu?

BD: There's a bunch. One story I want to share is a match I had with a guy who had already beaten me in a previous Grapplers Quest championship match. He won a tough close match by points and I was very disappointed because I had the chance to win my first gold medal. I never thought I'd get the opportunity to have another go with him but I did about a year and a skill division higher later. The match itself was back and forth and towards the end I was down on points. In my previous semi final match I had felt my big right toe pop out of place but it went right back in, so not too big of a deal. But in this particular match as I was trying to turn the corner on a double leg my same toe got caught in the mat and completely dislocated. I looked down and saw my toe pointing in the other direction away from the other toes. It was so bad the ref (Brian Cimmins-president of the Grapplers Quest) asked if I needed time. Like any true warrior I said yes. LOL. I was in the moment and fortunately was able to pop my toe back in place without too much pain. I ran around looking to tape my big toe to the toe or toe's next to it just to keep it from popping out again. I couldn't find any and the ref and the other guys coaches were making a fuss to start the match back up so I was forced to go on without tape and the possibility of it popping out again(because thats what it felt like would happen). Long story short, I was so pumped up in this match something had taken over me and I used that energy to win the match. Although it wasn't winning the worlds it was the greatest feeling I had of winning and competing than any other match because of the injury and it being a revenge match.

So the lesson here is not giving up. I'm not the toughest dude on the planet but in that moment I was doing it for all the reasons I mentioned as well as my family and my team(competitors know what I mean, all these thoughts can go on in your head in a matter of seconds) and I refused to lose that match. Another thing I want to add since we're on the subject of lessons and Jiu Jitsu is the idea and practice of consistency. Consistency is so important in all of the martial arts. I've been through school, work, kids, more kids, marriage, injuries, and other stuff but I promised myself I'd stay consistent with my training. Consistency for the next "phenom" could be not missing more than 2 days in a week or training 2 times a day M-W-F but My consistency could mean not missing more than 2 whole weeks and staying up to date with my techniques. Either way consistency is important to me because it gives me a way of measuring how I balance out my training along with my hectic work/life schedule.

HHCF: Whats your ultimate goal in BJJ? Is it to teach? Get my black belt? Win a world title?

BD: Not to sell myself short but the black belt isn't the ultimate goal, thats for sure. I try to be realistic and the way I look at it as a purple, I can't see or think of a black belt until I get my brown. I want to continue learning and competing to get to a point where I can teach not only my own family but maybe the students at my own gym possibly. As a purple most guys in the jiu jitsu community may think I'm qualified to teach kids and beginners. I don't. Maybe because I've had instructors through the years like Marc, Sim, Sonny, Glover, Bill Cooper, Chris Holdsworth, just a bunch of studs and champions and it has really humbled me and I've been blessed to have been a student with the likes of these guys. I naturally feel like I need to step my game up to be able to be "qualified" as a solid teacher. As far as winning a world title I guess thats not too far fetched. Let's say I'm a purple for 11 more years and I stay "consistent" but never get promoted to brown and I compete in my age division(over 40 years by then), then yes I can win. LOL. Seriously winning a world title at any division at any weight or age or skill level is a realistic goal. Everyone who competes might as well strive for that.

HHCF:  For people who don't see the connections between chess and BJJ what would you tell them?

                                                   Training Philippine Merchant Marines

Since UFC 1 and the Gracie Jiu-jitsu domination of the martial arts we have heard the announcers say, "It's just a chess match." Because of my lack of knowlege of chess I can't speak on it too much but Jiu-jitsu is a thinking game and obviously so is chess. You have to say focused and continue to practice in both games and the better the teacher you have the better chances you have of being successful. If you compete to have fun and have in the back of your mind you will get better from the experience of winning or losing then this is a good example of both games.

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