John Piper is a black belt instructor at Great Grappling BJJ. He leads up our 4-6 year old program, and teaches classes on Tuesdays & Thursdays. He’s also a father of two amazing kids and a husband of 16 years to the love of his life. When he’s not training or teaching BJJ he’s most likely watching BJJ videos and cleaning up the house.
1. Did you train BJJ prior to coming to Great Grappling? If so, where and for how long?
Up until I received my purple belt I trained in a satellite school of Marcelo Alonso (a 5th degree Carlson Gracie, Sr. black belt) with Dan Graff in Bend, OR. Then my wife had an amazing job opportunity all the way across the nation here in SC. Moving away from your instructor in BJJ is a hard thing to do. I found a small gym headed by 3rd degree black belt Paulo “Mushu” Elsimaani in Charlotte, NC, where I trained for almost three years before coming to Great Grappling.
2. What sports did you play prior to training in BJJ?
I played semi-pro football for a few seasons. I also enjoyed lifting weights and bodybuilding. In high school I was on the diving team. I love to challenge myself in different ways, and I try to always be learning.
3. Why did you decide to begin training BJJ?
I’m not exactly sure what the draw was but when I walked into the BJJ gym weighing 250 lbs with almost 20” arms I thought there was no way this 150-pound purple belt instructor would last one minute with me. Man, was I wrong… I was arm-barred at least 20 times. I felt so helpless and I’m really not a fan of that feeling. That sparked my love for the sport and it has turned into my passion outside of my family.
4. What are your training goals?
Well, one of my goals was to win a “world” title and that happened last year at the Masters Worlds in L.A. as a brown belt. I would love to do that again as a black belt!
5. How has grappling improved your life?
BJJ has changed so much about my life it’s hard for me to say. It’s helped my relationship with my son so much. It’s also made me calm and confident in almost any situation outside of BJJ. I love it and am lucky to have found it!
6. What’s your favorite submission, position, or transition, and why?
I like the back mount primarily. I’m not a big guy anymore and the advantages from that position work in my favor. As far as submissions go, I’m a fan of chokes in general I would say a one-arm rear-naked choke is my current favorite from the crucifix position.
7. What’s your proudest BJJ-related accomplishment?
My proudest moment was achieving my black belt with the support of so many. My journey has been an interesting one with many ups and downs, with so many amazing people influencing my style and learning. I’m humbled by the opportunities I have had to meet such great people, and to have them in my life!
8. What would people be surprised to know about you?
I would say I’m a skilled woodworker and love to cook dinners for my family and friends.