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The sponsor who sports a gi

Brett Collins atop American Nationals winners' podium

GRACIEMAG.com sat down for a conversation with Brett Collins, the heading of marketing and sales at VersaClimber, a brand of exercise equipment investing heavily in Jiu-Jitsu and sponsoring athletes like Dan Henderson, the Diaz brothers and others. Brett, a Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, is enthralled by the gentle art and has been coming up with solid results as a competitor, like at the last IBJJF American Nationals, where he won his brown belt division. Find out what he has to teach us in the following interview:

When did you start training Jiu-Jitsu?

It was April 2005. I had no clue what BJJ was, so I showed up for my first class and haven’t stopped since.

Tell us about your passion for Jiu-Jitsu.

I’m probably what you call obsessed with it. I read about it. I watch videos. I train incessantly. I’m constantly trying to improve my game and unravel the mystery of this sport. I’m totally fascinated by how much there is to learn; it blows my mind. BJJ is made up of so many positive attributes from the mental and strategic components to the health a fitness aspects to all the friends I’ve made. I like being physically, mentally and emotionally pushed, almost to the breaking point – that is the addictive part to me. I find that BJJ is a great stress reliever too.

A couple of weeks ago you took first place in your brown belt weight division at the American Nationals. How did that go?

Yeah, I have to admit I was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect competing as a brown belt. So what did I do? I signed up to compete both in Gi and No-Gi at the US Nationals.

On Saturday I had two Gi matches. First match I won 5-0 and the second match I won via triangle choke for the gold. On Sunday, for No-Gi, I had two matches. Both matches were tough, but I felt more comfortable competing having won the day before. I ended up winning by points in both matches to take home the gold.

In your opinion , what are the benefits of the practice of Jiu-Jitsu?

JJ has done so much for me. It really has had such a positive influence on my life over the last six and a half years. The learning and discipline it has taught me. The respect and knowledge I have acquired. The mental toughness I have learned. The higher fitness level I have maintained – I’m in the best shape of my life. The confidence of knowing how to defend myself. The lifelong friendships I have established.

You are a Jiu-Jitsu athlete and the marketing/advertising/sales director of the brand VersaClimber. VersaClimber is is investing in the Jiu-Jitsu and MMA business . Do you feel your vision to invest in the sport comes from your being a Jiu-Jitsu athlete?

Absolutely, I invest in MMA/BJJ because I train, respect and understand BJJ/MMA. I have a true love for the sport and those who dedicate themselves to pushing themselves to the breaking point. There is no truer test than two warriors putting it all on the line competing against each other – the only person you rely is yourself and your cardio. I have an immediate connection with those people who are passionate, as I am, for BJJ. Therefore, I include my job of marketing VersaClimber into the MMA industry. VersaClimber training is a perfect fit for fighters, it really does go hand in hand; one cardio machine that can take their cardio to the highest levels possible – which is required in beating your opponent.

Who are your idols in Jiu-Jitsu?

Andre Galvao, Murilo Bustamante, Robert Drysdale.

Where do you train BJJ , and which team do you represent?

Brazilian Top Team, with Juliano Prado and Adriano Nasal at Total MMA Gym, in Tustin, California.

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