Find your special gift, work hard to develop it, believe in your ability to express it – the of Nick Rodriguez: One of the most inspiring stories to come out of the World Championships is that of blue belt Nick Rodriguez. The young man from New Jersey was a former high school wrestler with an additional year of D3 college wrestling, took up Jiu Jitsu because he preferred the idea of a submission hold over a pin. Gordon Ryan brought him into the basement and he would travel four hours a day to get to class and learn. In preparation for ADCC the great question was how to take a raw talent with very limited in the sport and get him ready for championships level opponents. Obviously he was not going to win with pure Jiu Jitsu nor with pure wrestling. Step number one was to give him a cast iron defense to the biggest to a blue belt – submission holds. He soon became extremely difficult to control and finish. Next was the question of how he would win. In order to create a winner you need to give them a skill that they do better than their rivals – but how do you make a blue belt better than Champion black belts? The answer was not wrestling but rather the fascinating INTERFACE between wrestling and Jiu Jitsu where there is a world of possibilities in scrambles for a well prepared athlete to beat people he would ordinarily not be capable of beating. Mr Rodriguez developed an amazing ability to scramble to the back in the grey zone between takedowns and ground and between bottom position and standing position. Once that was allied with our back finishing system it created a monster who shocked the hell out of everyone in the gym – and then at ADCC – everyone in the grappling world! With a silver medal at the world championships in such a short time there is a valuable lesson here for all of us – start with a cast iron defense, then build an around your unique talents/ that really works for you. Then out there and ignore all the preconceptions people have about how long it takes to be competitive among the best – your skill level, not your years of training- determines the outcome