Featured Member: Matt Jukkala
How long have you been doing BJJ?
I started in the winter of 2003 with a BJJ club that was started at the University I was attending. A couple white belts started the club and it went really well for 3 years or so. A few of us got our blue belts by the time we left. It was common to have 15 people at practice and the highest ranking person was a white belt!
With so many options out there, why BJJ and why Alliance?
I did TKD for a few years before I started BJJ so I already enjoyed training. I was big into Bruce Lee’s books at the time, although I never did train JKD. Anyways, I was into whatever I could get my hands on from Bruce Lee’s mantra of “use whatever works”, so when they started the club I was very excited to try something new. As I got more and more into it, I realized there was much more depth to BJJ than anything else I was going to try. I trained hard and got relatively good at it for not having any sort of wrestling or judo background. So it basically caught my attention and I was hooked. As I continue to train I also enjoy the fact that you can train quite a bit without getting too banged up. Pure BJJ done right under knowledgeable and experienced supervision is actually a pretty low impact activity.
Actually, it was the closest school to my new house. I tried it out, and after a very short period of time, I realized I had run into the best school and coach I had ever trained with. Being on active duty Army and starting back home in college gave me the opportunity to train at a lot of different schools, with a lot of different instructors, and with a lot of different people. At Alliance, the focus has grown to be so intense, and the curriculum is pure BJJ. It’s just at a whole other level. Our students are competing at every opportunity and we have either had individuals win or place in their divisions or taken the team trophy home at every tournament that we’ve represented.
Describe Alliance in one word: Focused
5′ 9″, 194lbs, 29 years old, from Upper Michigan, education in Math and 8 years in the Army. Married, no kids. Hobbies: BJJ, hanging out and camping with my wife, working on and driving my Subaru’s, weight lifting and a little bit of kickboxing.
How has Alliance BJJ impacted your daily life?:
Jiu-Jitsu is awesome because it keeps you healthy and in great shape, and you don’t even really think about the fact that you are working out! It’s not like exercising to exercise. You’re too busy thinking about the technical aspects of what’s going on to care about the fact that you are sweating or getting tired. On the mental and long-term side, first off, it’s continual self-development. Every class you attend, every round you train, you are getting better, you are constantly learning something. Every single time you train, you improve something about your life. The impacts of gradual, continual, self-improvement can be very profound. It does amazing things for your self-confidence. And on the same token, it makes you very humble and able to accept the fact that you aren’t the best and probably never will be, and you always have something to learn. You will never know everything. Having to be humble and accept those things allows you to apply that mindset in every other aspect of your life, not just BJJ.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in BJJ?
My proudest accomplishment, I don’t think I have one big event I consider my proudest accomplishment. I will say I am proud to have earned my purple belt, I worked long and hard for it, and Damian, a really good BJJ black belt, promoted me to that level. That level of legitimacy makes me proud to have achieved it. I’ve surprised myself at a few tournaments, especially in the last year and a half or so, and those occasions I’m very proud of as well. From the Army Combatives Tournaments I’ve had the pleasure of competing at, to a few tournaments I’ve competed at in the Midwest.
What are your short term goals? Long term?
Next short term goal: heal up from beating myself up getting ready for the Army Combatives Tournament, and compete and the Combat corner in Milwaukee on September 24th. “Mid term” goal: Compete at an IBJJF tournament in the next 6-9 months. Long term goal: Black Belt. If I ever end up moving to a “small town” without quality BJJ to offer, I’d like to teach & coach BJJ myself.
Tell us something about yourself other members may not know:
I was 150lbs as a senior in high school, had a pony tail that I could grab behind my back with an otherwise shaved head, 3 earings in one ear and 1 in the other, and wore big, baggy pants with extra large BMX bike company t-shirts. Thank god I gave up on that!