“I have never done anything with such hunger and drive, and that makes whatever happens, win or lose, worth it!”

Work ethic, dedication, consistency, balance, and drive, qualities many strive for and characteristics that when possessed can achieve much. This is the not-so-secret sauce, the formula that has guided Diego Bispo Academy’s newest Brown Belt to find success on the mats. Brandon Gebel a staunch competitor in both the No-Gi and Gi divisions has been a practitioner of BJJ for more than half the last decade.

In that time, he’s brought home numerous medals and spent his fair share of time on the podium, but in his eyes his greatest accomplishment has been his consistency. The path to the top isn’t always stepping stones marked with “W’s.” Some steps, the valuable ones are lessons in patience, progress, and focus.

One of Brandon’s biggest challenges is managing a full time job, while coaching, teaching, and allotting time dedicated to his own BJJ training. By staying healthy and consistent with his profession he has created a balance that allows him to make the most of his time. His ability to recognize how hard work translates into all other aspects of his life has proven beneficial.

For many, managing a career and finding time to train Jiu Jitsu as individual is a full plate. Yet Brandon recognizes the importance in sharing and passing on the skills he has learned, to both DBA youth and adults alike. This dedication is not without reward, “Coaching the kids and teaching ‘Fundamentals Class’ has really allowed me to absorb an amazing amount of knowledge.”

Growing up in an athletic-oriented and health-conscious family he learned early on that “Although some people are more athletic and potentially inclined for the sport, personal improvement only comes through time spent actually training on the mats.” His awareness, that it is not how long you’ve been training, but the actual hours spent on the mat practicing and rolling has reinforced his personal tenet that adequate and appropriate time must be allotted to drilling “The key to success in BJJ.”

To aid him in his journey, Brandon often consults with the “higher belts” for advice, especially his professor, Diego Bispo. Over time this has helped him compile tips from many training partners and coaches. Now as a Brown Belt he has the opportunity to and is avidly fulfilling the role of mentoring junior teammates.

Although Brandon does refer to the Internet for a lot of quality BJJ, assessing various drills and innovative set ups, he warns “There is also a lot of garbage out there, so be wary of what you add to your repertoire.” Instead, he recommends having a group of BJJ friends that share techniques back and forth to help vet quality content over time wasting party tricks.

The naked truth however, the “what’s most important” comes in the form of taking pleasure in what you’re doing when you train, otherwise he questions, “Why are you training?” Medals may be an end goal, but the path must be appreciated and enjoyed.

Furthermore, Brandon demonstrates the wisdom of training what’s best for you as an individual. He doesn’t try to emulate someone else’s style, instead his training is mainly drilling and rolling within the game plan he sets up with his professor. Focus on sharpening the skills and techniques that work best for you. You will become deadly, like Brandon who predominantly attacks from somewhere underneath his opponent looking for sweeps or leg locks.

Is there IBJJF gold in Brandon’s future? Magic eight ball* says, “Without out a doubt!” But what this new Brown Belt is most interested in, is the personal road of proving to himself that he can be a better him, every day. “It amazes me sometimes, to look back as I am teaching or training, and see all of the knowledge that I have gained so far in my journey and all of the knowledge that is still out there for me to learn.”

One thing is for certain, there will always be new and evolving techniques and styles within the Jiu Jitsu game, but as you continue your personal BJJ journey Brandon’s word of advice is simply, “Breathe!”

*Yes, there happened to be a magic eight ball in the office as I wrote this. Yes, this was the actual response it gave. Yes, it was the first and only response. No, I do not believe in magic eight ball responses, but I do believe in my teammates!