BJJ Interview: Progress Kimono Founder James Tighe

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself? 
I'm James Tighe, 32, From Salford, just outside Manchester.

Are you currently training / teaching Martial Arts? Is that Full time / Part time?
 Yes.  I currently train at Stealth BJJ in Manchester.  I started training in September 2009.  I train part time, in the evenings and weekends after work.  I have Not yet started teaching as I am still a blue belt but would love to one day, maybe only once a week though, people say it helps improve your own game.

Which arts do you study / teach and under whom?
I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Steve Campbell, black belt under head of Gracie Barra Carlinos Gracie.  I think Steve is one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent Jiu Jitsu black belts in the UK.  I'm lucky he is in Manchester!

I also train at an MMA gym - 'ASW Manchester' once a week with Kam Atakuru, who is an incredible grappler, and pro MMA fighter.

How long have you done that?
5 years, 3 months :)

Please check out their range at Progress Jiujitsu.

How do you manage to fit your own training around work and family time?
With difficulty! haha.  I run two businesses, Progress Jiu Jitsu and one other which can be a 24/7 thing, so training is basically as and when I can get down.  Works been busy lately so it's only been 3-4 hours a week recently :(  I could do a bit more but I start getting a bit of grief of my girlfriend if i'm out more than three nights a week.

Do you compete in your sport(s)? Have you won any competitions?
I tend to compete about twice a year.  I have never won gold at a comp, the best I have done is take silver at the Blackpool open as a blue belt in summer 2012.  I just got back from California where I competed at the world masters. It didn't go very well, I got submitted after about three minutes but it was good fun, i'll be back next year.

I have also competed in other sports my whole life and I love pretty much all sports. I've played and football, cricket, rugby league, boxing, judo, golf, snooker and loads more.  I've competed at most of them too. Basically I've had a go at everything, I'm a huge sports fan.

What is the greatest thrill you have gotten out of practicing your sport?
Out of BJJ it has to be submitting people in competition.  It's a great feeling.  Second to that it's always a rush to submit higher belts in sparring, even tough you can't celebrate like a comp and you have to keep cool, inside you're euphoric.

Please check out their range at Progress Jiujitsu.

Give us your top 5 tips for time-management (to fit exercise around life)
Well I'm probably not the best person to ask because my fitness is terrible at the moment.  However I'd say preparation.  I've started getting my kit bag together at night so I can get straight to training after work instead of stopping at home.  Same goes for meals.  I've just got a cool 'nutri bullet' blender, so I'm making fruit/veg smoothies and taking them to work.  Saves a lot of time.
Structure is important too, I think it helps to plan your week and know exactly what classes you will go to that week.

Now let’s balance that with what you consider the top 5 time-thieves.
1. Laziness
2. Work
3. Traffic
4. Girlfriends/wives/kids
5. Beer
6. iPhones
Sorry that's 6.

Do you have any regrets?
Loads.  BJJ regrets would be:
1. Not starting training a year sooner when I had the chance
2. Not training enough
3. Not competing enough
3. Not staying in shape

Why do you train and teach? What drives you?
Jiu Jitsu is a totally unique sport.  I can't really put my finger on what I love about it but I just love being on the mat.  I'm in a great mood when I know I've got training at night.  I love Jiu Jitsu people too, they are generally the most chilled people I've ever met.

What is your involvement with Progress. How long have you done that for?
I started the brand in 2012, I now run the brand with my nephew Sam who is responsible for the graphic design and photography.

What has been the highlight of this company's history?
If I had to pick one it would be Garry Tonon repping our shorts at ADCC china.  Not a lot of people had heard of him before that (I had been a big fan for a while) and you could not have written the script, especially 'that arm bar escape' against Kron.  That put us on the map a little bit.
But every time one of our athletes competes its a big highlight for us.  Our guys represent the brand so well and we are lucky to have such great personalities on board.

If someone is in two minds about purchasing a Progress Gi, what would you advise them?
Good question.  I could never say anything salesy or cringe-worthy.  Probably something like 'support smaller brands'.

Summarize the brand in 5 words.
cool, clean, classy, creative and....Progressive.

I'd like to thank James for his candid answers and for taking the time to do this interview. Please check out their range at Progress Jiujitsu.



Check for more resources on

No comments: