Don’t compare your journey to others, there is no comparison between the sun and the moon; they shine when it’s their time.
In this month’s instalment, we interviewed Australia’s own rising star; Sydney born brown belt Levi Jones-Leary. At only 20 years of age, his journey so far has been one of relentless commitment and passion for BJJ fuelled by will and determination. His journey is one of both expanding and improving skillsets on the mats but equally evolution of his mind off the mats. BRAUS Fights very first athlete, we have supported him since his white belt and take pride in calling him one of our own. Thanks Levi for taking the time, OSS!
Tell us about growing up and why you chose to leave school?
From a young age, school never caught my full interest unfortunately. I always seemed to be messing around and it just didn’t fit with me. By high school I found myself mixing with the wrong crowd doing less conducive things which I would prefer not to mention. At a point where I was lost for options, along came Jiu Jitsu. I still remember the feeling, I found something that looked cool and that I really thought I could do full time and enjoy. Finally I found something to be excited about, a passion.
Tell us about that first BJJ experience
When I was in year 9, I was put on a program for kids at risk of leaving school, it was called Links-To Learning – designed to support kids who were struggling to stick with school. Alongside 10 other kids that were misbehaving or not connecting with school as well at the time, we were taken out of school for the day to visit a MMA class. I guess this was designed to support us considering more healthy alternatives we could add alongside our schooling journey. Not long after this day, I found an academy and joined. Looking back now, I realise how influential and impactful this moment was in time on my life and the new future I was going to create. .
You experienced MMA that day, so why Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
I feel like it chose me. I fell in love with the strategy of the game. I began to watch The Miyaos at purple belt level after that day and loved the way they could win fights against anyone irrelevant if they were physically much stronger than them. This inspired me. I love the strategy and technique of the game. So much is about the mindset and thinking strategically. I was born to do BJJ.
What was and is your goal on your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey?
From the moment I chose to leave school and follow my dream and up until now, I am focused on being a black belt world champion multiple times. That is always on my mind. On the journey of achieving that, I am sure further goals and dreams will evolve. More immediately Black belt world champion 2019 after this I have some more plans to make jiujitsu a bigger sport!
Which black belt has been a constant source of your inspiration?
There are a lot of black belts and in fact other belts and people who continually inspire me. But probably most prominent is both The Miyaos; these guys have such will power, I’m inspired every time I see them train. And also Murilo Santana, he is such a master of the game. He knows the ins and outs from every position. I want to be like that one day.
What is your daily mantra to help keep you focused?
I always tell myself that I am the greatest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor of all time. I believe the mindset you believe is so important in succeeding. I also remind myself of things I am grateful for throughout the day. Both of these things keep me mentally strong.
What motivates you every day as well as at comps?-
It’s just about improving, learning, growing. I love the feeling of progression and I tend to get down if I’m not in some way moving forward. I feel motivated if I’m always able to look at the positives, win or lose, in the comp or at training and then always seek to improve from that.
What do you do on days you can’t train?
I study BJJ. I watch youtube videos of the game, forever learning and trying to increase my knowledge of the sport. You can never stop learning. Otherwise family time is always important to me.
You now spending half your time here and half in New York. Tell us about that:
I wanted to expand my experience so decided New York was the way for me. Living in New York and training at Unity Jiu Jitsu under professor Murilo Santana is the most rewarding thing you can experience. The level of dedication in that place is what inspires me. Even when I’m away I think to myself. What would Murilo do now? Or what would The Miyaos do? Their motivation is something that is hard to find. it’s rare in any field! Murilo is a great coach and has as changed the way I see jiujitsu completely. The way he operates motivates me to work hard. One day, I want to be able to give back to others as he has given to me.
When you’re in Sydney, Garage Jiu Jitsu is your home, when did first start with them?
I started training at Garage Jiu Jitsu after I had just turned 16. Prior to that I was training my BJJ at a local MMA gym, but it was difficult to get the amount of hours training in that I had wanted. When I moved to Garage, Professor Gui Neves and Gabi welcomed me in and instantly made me feel a part of their family. They trusted in me and provided guidance and support, even giving me my first job in Jiu Jitsu teaching kids as a white belt. Their support and belief in me continues to this day, for that I am eternally grateful.
When I look back and see how far I’ve come, my progress, and the achievements I have made so far, I definitely feel proud. More importantly though, I’m proud of what jiujitsu has given me spiritually and mentally. It has helped me become a stronger person, I look at things really differently now to before, I have a new level of respect and discipline. I have learnt to keep a positive mind and always find the silver lining in any situation if I look hard enough. BJJ has taught me that and I am proud of my mind control now. It’s also taken me to great places along the way so far, and given me the opportunity to meet incredible people. For all those things I’m proud but more importantly grateful.
What has been your biggest challenge to overcome to date?
Definitely living overseas away from my family is the toughest thing for me. I’m very close with them and I really feel the distance. Especially during the tough times but, that said, whenever i look back they are the most exciting times as well, and the times that have helped me improve and evolve the most both mentally and physically. Change is a good thing. It’s just how you respond to it.
What advice would you give to others chasing their BJJ dreams?
Just go for it! Go with the flow, train hard, stay focused, study the game and don’t be afraid of the future. Setbacks along the way are all part of the learning journey. Set your mindset right and the rest will follow. You need to visualise your dream and believe in yourself. If you can see it in your mind you can hold it in your hand.
Thankyou for taking the time to speak with us Levi and for being a huge part of our growing brand and family. It’s an honour to have you as part of the team.
No worries. I would also like to add how grateful I am to be a part of Braus Fight. It’s not just about the support you give me but more the belief you have had in me since day one. It’s the people that believe in me which motivates me to work hard and whom I want to give back to one day. Thankyou for letting me be a part of your family – I truly feel you are family.
Create the life you can’t wait to wake up to