John Mendiola, Black Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
John was a Blue Belt at Ken's school in '99. After the school closed, the students dispersed to various other academies in the area. John received a Black Belt from James "Avalanche" Boran in 2011.
I was for the most part, inactive in BJJ when John hit me up to train. I really just wanted to avoid any type of injury at all costs. Injuries fucking suck and I have had enough. I cannot turn down a friend who wants to train. I hadn't seen John in years. He is a huge Mexican grappler, 280lbs, and just a nice guy. I figured I would just let him drill with me for a while and since the NAGA's in 2010, when I grappled a guy his size in the Absolute. The same strategy applied, don't let him overhook me and go left when I'm goin' right, lol. Simple just let him have his way. Do not get injured.
It's our third session and things are stepping up now. He got out of my guard. He controlled my wrist and could sweep me easily. He also submitted me with some locks. But that was coming to an end. I came home and Marissa says" oh baby, what happened to your face?" I looked in the mirror and I had a huge Gi burn on my face from him sprawling crosside and twisting his fuckin' Gi in my face. Hahahahaha. Honestly, I truly missed this part of hard training, but I recognized the horror she must have experienced never seeing me like this before.
A conscious effort on my part was made to step up and be the Jiu Jistu man I really am! It's our fourth session, Big John is preparing for the worlds. He was dieting well and leaning up and looking good. We train hard. We are breathing heavy and catching our breath after 40 minutes and John says" Training with you is brutal Lober. When I get done training with you my ears hurt, my neck hurts, and I have burns all over my face. I can train at Boran's all day long and never get that."
"What is the purpose of Jiu Jitsu, John? To submit your opponent." I said.
John loses in the finals of the worlds. I can tell he is discouraged and reluctant to talk about his loss during our next session back. A sense of embarrassment. We concluded that he needs a plan. Listening to anyone besides himself, that hasn't trained and prepared him would only slow him down and take him out of his game. Take him away from his strength. Be honest with yourself at this point. What is your strength? We formulated a plan to enhance what he does well now. We will not deviate from this and we will take this to the Pan Ams. A competitor does not give up because he lost the finals. He comes back stronger and competes again. It's a numbers game.
The day of the Pan Ams, over text I ask when he competes. "At 5pm, but I am going up against Asa." he writes. "kill him!" I reply. "stick to the plan and you will succeed. " "thanks man" he ended the reply.
In the Absolute Black Belt Pan Ams in Long Beach, Ca 2012, John Mendiola earned a silver medal. He lost by 3 points to Asa in the first round. Beat a pretty famous guy, Amal Easton in the Absolute. Amal was the heavyweight Gold winner in the Pan Ams. John and his family were so happy and fulfilled with accomplishment. Joy. They enjoyed the win during a amazing Easter Sunday.
Although John did well, He was a fucking mess at the end, in his own words. He has an injured ankle requiring surgery ( an injury he had prior to the competition) a popped rib and a banged up shoulder. "I would do it again Lober. As soon as I heal I am going get to 205 and crush some bitches." John texted.
I do not claim to be responsible for John's success, it was in him. I merely joined him in a moment during his life journey and shared in his success. Jiu Jitsu is an amazing lifestyle. We are brothers and Jiu Jitsu is our Mother.