Ben Johnston is one of the BJJ instructors at TFC. He has had quite the journey to achieve his purple belt in one of the fastest growing combat sports in the world. He’s no stranger to combat, with a career in Muay Thai that has seen him reach the pinnacle of the sport by capturing the WBC World Muay Thai Championship title. Although the demands to reach the belt were tremendous he was still able to find time to practise BJJ. Let’s learn more about Ben’s journey into the world of BJJ.
1 Brazilian Jiu What
Back in 2009 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wasn’t anywhere near as popular as it is today. In fact, it was so unheard of that there was practically nowhere to go and train in the discipline. Bare in mind this was 16 years after Royce Gracie proved how effective BJJ could be. Check out our article on UFC 1 and the birth of BJJ’s global popularity here.
Why no love for Aus?
Although the UFC had been around for over a decade by this point, they were yet to come to Australia. This didn’t happen until a year later at UFC 110 Nogueira vs Velasquez in Sydney.
Dipping his toe in
Ben got his first taste of BJJ at an MMA gym that ran the only sessions in town which lasted 4 hours each time! He didn’t have the time nor energy to dedicate to his BJJ journey back then. However, he got a taste for it and really liked the sport. It was when he rolled again with a friend he had previously easily dominated but who had continued training when he realised how powerful BJJ could be, he found himself getting subbed again and again!
2 Traveling to the homeland of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
It was in 2012 when Ben decided to travel the world to evolve his ability as a martial artist. One of the destinations he found himself in was Rio De Janeiro. Although he had first tasted the sport 3 years prior, it was in Rio where he got his first stripe. This was under the tutelage of Yuri Barbossa, at the Gracie Gym in Leblon.
Picking the minds of the best
Ben also had the opportunity to train under Leandro Lorenco. A respected practitioner that trained directly under the infamous UFC and Pride fighter Wanderlei Silva aka ‘The Axe Murderer’. He also spent some time training at Robert Drysdale’s Las Vegas facility in 2013.
3 More More More
Upon arriving back in Australia in 2013 the BJJ scene had really started to get moving. Interestingly this was around the time that Robert Whittaker first entered the UFC, later going on the win the middleweight championship title, the first Australian to hold gold. It didn’t take long for Ben to find himself back on the mats training 1-2 times per week. He felt his abilities going from strength to strength and found being under the tutelage of Vicente Cavalcanti an ideal fit for him.
Finding the time
Although he was still training Muay Thai at the time, he found gaps in his schedule to earn his blue belt under Vicente, a proud moment for him.
4 Focusing on gold
While Ben absolutely loved both BJJ and Muay Thai, it started to become clear that a decision needed to be made about how his time was being spent. As he continued to rise up the ranks in the Muay Thai world the level of dedication necessary for training, recovery and injury prevention meant that BJJ was no longer a viable option as a hobby.
Healing over hobbies
There were many times where fights would leave Ben’s shins split open, making even the thought of rolling afterwards a stomach churning prospect!
5 Champion of the world
In 2018 Ben was able to secure the WBC Muay Thai World Championship title! It was a glorious moment. One that served as an opportunity to begin focusing more time on BJJ with his goal achieved. With his body recovered he was able to start partaking in 3 sessions a week at SouthSide BJJ. His dedication to martial arts shone through, earning his purple belt in the discipline by the end of 2019.
6 Coming back after COVID
It was a slow return to the mats after COVID hit with gyms opening up around mid 2020. Due to finding it difficult to find the time between teaching classes at TFC Ben found that dropping into BJJ sessions run by Paul ‘Pasha’ Stolyar and Vicente ‘VC’ Cavalcanti was his only option.
Making it work
While Ben still works with the Southside BJJ crew, his commitment to BJJ was well and truly on the rise. The decision was made to start hosting private BJJ sessions at the TFC premises where Ben is currently found consistently working on his ground game.
7 Growing from strength to strength
Interest in our BJJ sessions continues to grow week upon week. We believe it is due to the unique approach that we take. A bunch of guys and girls looking to learn, experiment and enjoy learning one of the most dynamic combat sports in the world. Without any of the BS that is far too common. Offering sessions multiple times a week at different times of the day we have done our best to give an opportunity to anyone interested in starting their journey into the world of BJJ in a warm and welcoming environment.
Come join Ben and the team on the mats! We’d love to welcome you to our family at TFC. You can experience one of our sessions for free by signing up online or just showing up on the day. Don’t worry about feeling nervous, you’ll feel right at home with us. Start your BJJ journey with us.
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