BJJ Interveiws: The Part Time Grappler Interviews the Winners of the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition Part 1 of 4

One of my passions within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the community and the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design competition that Meerkatsu and I ran recently (sponsored by Tatami Fightwear) was a great example of an event that not only drew people together and garnered attention from practitioners around the globe and was discussed on The Fightworks Podcast, but it also opened the gates for peoples’ creativity. Judging the submissions was not an easy feat and the judges banged their heads together for a long time. As you all know, three winners were decided upon:


Evan Mannweiler with 'Pin up '
Evan will get his gi custom made by Tatami Fightwear.

Aaron Shiels with 'Scorpion'
Aaron wins an Estilo Premier gi

Francisco Arias with 'I'm Lovin' Jitz'
Francisco wins a Zero G gi

For picture of the winning designs you can check out our competition blog.

But I want more. I always want more. I contacted the three winners and asked if they’d be interested in an interview. Luckily, they were excited by the idea and very generous with their time. The resulting BJJ interviews are both very interesting, very diverse and very educating! I'm now inthe final stages of editing the interviews (they were huge!) and part one (of four) will hit a screen near you before the end of this week!

The Part Time Grappler Interviews Mr Evan Mannweiler, Mr Aaron Shiels and Mr Francisco Arias, winners of the Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself? (Name, Age, where you are from)

EM: My name is Evan Mannweiler. I'm 24 years old and I was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, USA.

AS: Hello! My names Aaron Shiels, I'm 23 and I'm from Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK (north eastern area)

FA: Francisco Arias // Los Angeles, CA. I entered this contest (The Crazy Ass BJJ Gi Design Competition) on behalf of my blog/website/brand, at Seymour’s request.

Are you currently working / studying? Is that Full time / Part time?

EM: I just graduated from Indiana University with degree in Journalism and a degree in Fine Art. I'm looking for a job though. Desperately.

AS: Currently working full time, have been for the past 4 years, work as a thermal insulation estimator, family-run company which has been operating for 30 years, great place to work.

FA: I work full-time as a business affairs executive (a negotiator) for CBS Television Network. I’m an attorney by trade/education.

You also set aside time to practice a sport. Which sport(s)?

EM: I train BJJ only. In the past I've trained some in a few different styles and dabbled in Rugby for a few years but BJJ is the only one that stuck.

AS: I've been practicing Brazilian JuJitsu lately, but started out with traditional Japanese 'kata' JuJitsu

FA: I train Brazilian jiu jitsu.

How long have you done that?

EM: I've been training just a few days short of seven years.

AS: I trained in the traditional Japanese JuJitsu for 8/9 months and have been training roughly 6 months in Brazilian JuJitsu, I am currently a white belt (2 stripes). I train BJJ 5 - 7 times a week

FA: 12 years about. I’ve been training continuously at Street Sports BJJ, Santa Monica, CA with my coach, Renato Magno, for going on 11 years. About a year before that training NHB/grappling with another camp in San Pedro, CA.

Do you follow any special diet? Do you use any dietary supplements?

EM: Not at all. For a few years I was on the college student starvation diet, which kept me pretty firmly in the featherweight division. Now I'm enjoying Mom's cooking and have gone up to a healthier weight. I don't drink, smoke or use drugs of any kind though, I guess for some people that counts as a diet. I was always of the mindset that you can use nearly anything as fuel if you burn the engines hot enough. I have a friend who is a nutritionist who has informed me in no uncertain terms that my idea is completely false.

AS: Since starting BJJ and talking with a few of the more experienced guy's at our club, I started eating much more healthier, and taking more notice of how much I was eating. I also starting taking protein shakes (whey) at the start of the day/after training to boost muscle recovery and drinking 'cherry active' to help with nagging injuries, and stay fresh for the next train session.

FA: I follow a pretty strict diet that is very high in lean animal protein (chicken, egg whites) and vegetables and very low in fat and simple carbohydrates.

How do you manage to fit your training around work, study and family time?

EM: haha...well...without a job, I find there is PLENTY of time for BJJ. Even when I was in school though, there was always plenty of time. I was pursuing dual degrees and teaching at the same time. I found the secret for me was to make BJJ a habit and not let myself miss a practice. Once I start ducking out I find that the slope gets very slippery. Consistency is key.

AS: Luckily I work 7:30 - 4:30 and then BJJ isn’t until 7 in the afternoon, so I get to spend time with my gf/son/family in between, plus weekend sessions start pretty early so youo have the rest of the day, if you love something enough it should fit into your life!

FA: Jiu jitsu is basically my 3rd highest priority after family and work. But, I prioritize it above most other things

Do you compete in your sport(s)? Have you won any competitions?

EM: I competed a lot through white and blue belts. I won most of the tournaments I was in. I found that I was really competing because other people wanted me to, though. I never enjoyed the atmosphere in the gym, all of the nerves and people hyping themselves up. I really liked the part where I was actually on the mat though. Ultimately the rising cost of tournaments and the fact that I didn't enjoy them very much led me to stop. Maybe some day again but probably only if I can get the finances figured out (helloooooo sponsors?) and probably only in a submission only format.

AS: Coming out of doing traditional Japanese JuJitsu and before I had even done my first BJJ class I entered a No-Gi comp just to see what it was like, I seen my current BJJ instructor (Ian Malone - Brown Belt under Dave 'speedy' Elliot GRACIE BARRA NEWCASTLE) finish someone with a flying armbar!! If I wasn't hooked on BJJ/grappling beforehand, I was now. Unfortunately haven't won any competitions

FA: Yes. My best victories were Pan Am gold as a blue belt and bronze as purple. I won gold Gracie Open (Rorion’s Tournament; no longer held) as a purple belt and was awarded my brown belt at the podium (in Helio’s presence). It was awesome.


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Meerkatsu said...

What? You end it there?
Man, now I won't be able to sleep until I read parts 2,3,4.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Sorry dude, but they were very generous with their time and the interviews were huge!

Part 2 today.