Some of you may remember a young wrestler by the name of Aaron Brooks who currently lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, from an interview that I did a few months back.
You’re not sure?
Well then, you had better pay very close attention because the entire world of MMA is about to get “put on notice.”
Aaron is a seven-time national wrestling champion, who has more than 345 amateur wins to his name. All of this was accomplished by the age of nine.
Not impressed yet?
Well, Aaron also set the Guinness world bench press record back in June for boys his age and weight. He now holds the record at 99.21 pounds, which is more than 22 pounds greater than the previously set record, which was 77 pounds.
As a result, Aaron has qualified to represent the United States in the World Championships this upcoming November—however, he will not be competing due to his rigorous wrestling schedule.
Now consider this…
According to Aaron’s father, John Brooks, Aaron has now decided to take up the study of jiu-jitsu and has been getting ready for his very first competition scheduled for Saturday, October 23rd.
Oh, and there’s more…
This is my third interview with John Brooks.
James Ryan: Hey John, how have you been?
John Brooks: I’m good. Just sitting here with Aaron. How are you?
James Ryan: I’m great! Been busy though.
John Brooks: Ya, same here. Football has really been consuming us right now. Aaron’s learning that team sports are a lot different than individual sports. [Laughs]
James Ryan: [Laughs] Very true. So he’s liking football, is he?
John Brooks: Oh ya, he loves it.
James Ryan: So how’s the jiu-jitsu training going?
John Brooks: It’s going great! Aaron just rolled with a 125 pound, 15-year old last night at practice. This kid has about nine months of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience and a few years of wrestling experience and Aaron submitted him every time!
He’s looking good!
James Ryan: Awesome!
So what’s happening with the jiu-jitsu tournament this weekend? Was there a change in the venue?
John Brooks: I’m not sure what happened with that—they ended up cancelling the whole thing for some reason.
Landover was the Grappler’s Quest and that was the same day—the 23rd, so instead, it ended up being the Ultimate Grappler Challenge in Pennsylvania, which is fine because that was the original tournament that I had looked at anyway.
At first, I didn’t know about the Landover one—the club that the boys are training at—the Tactical Combat Academy, was gonna do that one, so they offered to sponsor Aaron and to help with his training. The boys really love it there.
We also have a lot of stuff planned for wrestling and we have a pretty busy schedule coming up, but we’re going to do that one up in Pennsylvania instead, and that’s cool.
So Aaron will still get to do some submission and wrestling training and get a chance to test his skills a little bit. I’m sure it will be different against jiu-jitsu guys, you know? They have a different approach than the wrestlers.
It should be fun. Aaron has been having a good time training. He got to work out in the cage the other day and they taught him a whole bunch of new stuff.
James Ryan: So, what is the expectation here? Will there be a lot of disappointment if he doesn’t come out with a victory this weekend?
That would seem like a lot of pressure at his age, right?
John Brooks: I don’t think he has a lot of pressure on him. I think everybody expects him to win because he always wins stuff, but I really have no idea what to expect with the jiu-jitsu because I’ve never been to any of these competitions.
His trainer, Josh Hummer, says that Aaron’s grappling ability should transfer over to jiu-jitsu pretty well, and this guy has trained a lot of MMA fighters.
Josh has pictures of Tito Ortiz and a bunch of other guys that he has trained on his website, but I don’t know how often he has trained with these guys. He seems like he is very qualified.
He worked with Aaron as a wrestler, as if he was a 25-year old wrestler, teaching Aaron how to counter things and how to tell when someone is attacking him with a submission attempt. Mostly working on things with his strength and teaching him what to do if he does get caught in a bad position.
James Ryan: So what was the motivation to get Aaron into jiu-jitsu?
Aaron has been doing very well with the wrestling—why not just stick with that? Why do the jiu-jitsu?
John Brooks: Aaron has said that his dream is to become an ultimate fighter, a UFC fighter, so the sooner we can show him how to grapple with all the different styles—the sooner he can learn sambo, judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu—the sooner he can learn that stuff, the better he can get at it.
If he can go through the belt systems and maybe get to be a blue or a purple belt even before high school, he will be that much better when he does decide to do it—he will be that much more well-rounded.
And a lot of different styles seem to translate over to the wrestling as well. Some of the throws, counters, and rolls—I think that they will enhance his wrestling. Moving forward, I think that Aaron will have a huge advantage over anyone who is just training in only one certain style, because Aaron will have a lot of different options to pull from.
James Ryan: For sure, I definitely agree with that. As a fighter, it’s important to be as well-rounded as possible.
Sounds like Aaron is going to be in a beautiful position when he gets older. Sky’s the limit.
John Brooks: As long as he keeps working at it. Aaron is a sponge though. He picks up stuff so fast.
Josh Hummer is a Mario Yamasaki disciple too, so that’s pretty cool.
James Ryan: Right on, that is cool.
We have a lot in common, John—in the sense that we are both fathers of young sons who excel in their sports.
Question—do you ever worry about concussions?
John Brooks: I do worry about it with football at a young age.
I told Aaron that he could play football now, but after 6th grade when the kids are 200-plus pounds, he might want to give that up.
He started out playing tailback this year, but as soon as the other kids became good at it, I moved him to wingback. That way, he only had to carry the ball once or twice—mostly now, he blocks.
He also plays linebacker because of his reaction time and tackling ability, but he really just plays football just for fun.
Running the ball is always dangerous and I have no motivation to hand the football over and have him run, especially when I have three or four other kids that run just as fast as him.
Aaron’s older brother, Isaiah, plays football as well.
James Ryan: All great points.
I actually read a rather disturbing article recently on MMeh Fighter, which really analyzed the long-term problems associated with concussions. It really made me think.
There seems to be this misconception out there that getting knocked out in MMA isn’t as bad as the constant pounding that a fighter might receive in boxing, but the truth is that it’s all bad—it’s just different.
Anyway, if you get the chance, you should really read the article. It’s good.
John Brooks: Well, recently, there was one boy, I think he was an Ivey league player, he committed suicide, and they did an autopsy on his brain and he had that concussion syndrome. That brought on a depression. And he never had any major concussions, but blow after blow after blow over the years had finally taken an effect on him.
James Ryan: I hate stories like that.
John Brooks: Most definitely.
So James, would you like to talk with Aaron?
James Ryan: Aaron? Definitely, put him on the phone.
Aaron Brooks: Hello?
James Ryan: Hey buddy, how are you?
Aaron Brooks: Good.
James Ryan: That’s good.
Are you excited about entering into your first jiu-jitsu tournament?
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: So what do you like most about jiu-jitsu so far?
Aaron Brooks: Choking people out.
James Ryan: [Laughs] Is that right? You pretty good at that?
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: That’s cool. So who’s your favourite UFC fighter?
Aaron Brooks: GSP.
James Ryan: I think your dad told me before that you like Josh Koscheck as well, is that right?
Aaron Brooks: Kinda, he likes Josh Koscheck.
James Ryan: [Laughs] Oh, I see. So who do you think is going to win the fight between those two guys?
Aaron Brooks: GSP.
James Ryan: Is that because he’s Canadian?
Aaron Brooks: Ummm…
James Ryan: [Laughs] I’m kidding.
Did you know that I coach football?
Aaron Brooks: You do?
James Ryan: I sure do. I saw the pictures the other day of you and your brother in your football uniforms. Lookin’ good.
So, what positions do you like to play?
Aaron Brooks: Running Back and Middle Linebacker.
James Ryan: My son Jacob plays those exact same positions. He loves the hitting and tackling the most though. Are you the same way?
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: So other than sports, what do you like to do for fun?
Aaron Brooks: I like to ride my bike and play games.
James Ryan: That’s cool. When I was a kid, we used to play a game called “kill the man with the ball.” My son tells me that now it’s called “kill the carrier.” Do you play anything like that?
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: Cool, what other games do you like to play?
Aaron Brooks: I like to play man hunt and I like to play with air soft.
James Ryan: Air soft? Like the guns?
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: That sounds like fun.
Aaron Brooks: Ya.
James Ryan: Well listen pal, I won’t take up any more of your time. I know you’re probably eager to get back to cleaning up your toys, right? [Laughs]
More than anything, I just wanted to finally say hello and I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. Best of luck at the tournament this weekend and I hope that you do really well.
Aaron Brooks: Thank you.
James Ryan: Hey, no problem buddy. Let me talk to your dad real quick, okay?
Aaron Brooks: Okay.
James Ryan: Take care.
John Brooks: Hey James.
James Ryan: Hey John. That’s a really great kid that you’ve got there. Great job.
Thanks for letting me talk to him.
So John, what would you like people to know about your son?
John Brooks: I think that the one thing that I would like for people to know is that the coaches that Aaron has had for the grappling and MMA—the main thing that they point out about him is his demeanour. Aaron is very coachable.
Most of them want to coach him. They want to work with him because he focuses, pays attention and he listens. He’s like a sponge. He picks things up so quickly.
I think you could teach him any martial art and he would pick it up really quickly. I don’t know why, he just seems to get stuff so quick. I watch this man teach him all of these jiu-jitsu things and chokes and ways to set them up, and he executes them perfectly.
James Ryan: You just described a coach’s dream [Laugh].
John Brooks: Oh ya. And that’s the feedback that I get all the time. So that’s what I would like people to know about him, is that he’s amazing to coach.
James Ryan: Wow, that’s awesome John.
John Brooks: Ya, I’m pretty proud.
James Ryan: Best of luck this weekend.
John Brooks: Thanks, Coach.
Aaron Brooks training with Josh Hummer
Aaron Brooks, age 10
This is my interview. If you don’t like it…I have others. Check them out at www.coachjamesryan.com
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ONE WAY OUT…CARRIED OUT!