BJJ / Grappling interview: Grapple Nation Promoter Jake Cross

As some may know, I recently did a 20-min submission only jiujitsu super fight at Grapple Nation 7, a well run grappling promotion up in Manchester, in the North West of England (more on my match in a future post). I thought it'd be a good opportunity to interview the event promoter, my friend Jake Cross.

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself? 
Hi Liam, my name is Jake Cross and I am 25 years old from Manchester, England. I am an events promoter that has brought such event as Sub-North, Grapple Nation and now Empire Grappling Events Ltd.

Are you currently training Martial Arts? Is that Full time / Part time?
Unfortunately, I am doing neither. Through working full time in my 9-5 job and running the events, I don't have the spare time to train at this moment but I do sneak the odd session in around different gyms in Manchester when I can but this is a rarity. I am very lucky that I am welcomed to so many gyms that understand my circumstances.

Which arts do you study and under whom?
I originally started training MMA and BJJ under SBG in Manchester in 2009 but moved on when they temporarily closed and moved to Fighting Fit Manchester under Martyn Cahill. I haven't trained hardly since mid-2013 though.

How long have you trained?
I trained full time for around 4 years in BJJ, No-Gi, MMA, Wrestling and Strength & Conditions under so many awesome coaches. I became a Blue Belt in June 2011 and got my 1st stripe a year later under David Onuma (CFS BJJ) which are affiliated to Fighting Fit.

How do you manage to fit your own training around work and family time?
I really don't at the moment and that is one of my current biggest regrets that I am aiming to rectify as soon as possible. I must admit, I enjoy running my events so much and giving back to the sports that I love that it does help fill the gap of not training as I stay in touch with all training partners and gyms etc probably even more so than when I was just training.

I am very luck that I have such a loving and understanding girlfriend that helps me where possible.

Previously, I would just go straight from work and train for 2-3 hours per night 4-5 days per week then head home and do it all again. Those were the days.

Do you compete in your sport(s)? Have you won any competitions?
I have had 7 MMA bouts. Six were amateur A and 1 was amateur B rule sets. I won 2, lost 2 and drew 3. I have also compete in numerous BJJ and No-Gi events and medalled a few times.

What is the greatest thrill you have gotten out of practicing your sport?
I would probably say watching my friends and team mates compete and do great things has been the best thrill for me.

Give us your top 5 tips for time-management (to fit exercise around life)
This really is not the best question for me to answer at this moment. My own training suffers so that I can build my events to be the best that they can be. I always look to try and see where I can sneak an hour at a normal run-of-the-mill gym which is possible as it is a 1 minute walk from my home which is nice.

Now let’s balance that with what you consider the top 5 time-thieves.
I personally spend a lot of time reviewing everything I have done before to see if I can make it better, even if just by 1%. I like to keep in touch with all of my competitors, spectators, gyms, sponsors etc as much as possible to gauge what I should work on.

Do you have any regrets?
Not competing more in the Gi is probably the biggest one as my very 1st event in September 2009 was in the Gi and I never competed in it again as it wasn't a very nice experience. I also do prefer No-Gi (that will cause a bit of a stir I know. To Gi or not to Gi?). I think this is what planted the seed to make events a better experience for a novice competitor.

Why do you train? What drives you?
I trained for myself, I wanted to lose weight and was never a fan of just going to the gym. I loved the sport of MMA/BJJ and felt doing something as a hobby would make it easier and it sure did. I have come across this story with so many other people to and I think this is what brings the BJJ and MMA community so closely together, we are like an extended family in some respects.

You also arrange one of the North of England's largest grappling competitions: Grapple Nation. When and how did that all start?
I was always good at organising and ran Pool teams at my grandmother's pub when I was 15. I knew I would want to run a BJJ/MMA event down the line and was invited to an Interclub in February 2012 (which I won) and I just had the idea that I could do this too.

My first event was Sub-North 1 in April 2012 and had 35 entrants held at Fighting Fit Manchester's Gym. This event was just open to novice competitors (under 2 years experience) and following the success opened it up to all experiences. After 8 events, I moved on and created Grapple Nation and have now run 7 very successful events with the most recent event having over 450 competitors.

What has been the highlight of this competition?
The highlight for me was my most recent events Grapple Nation 7 and seeing how successful it had become. I have by far exceeded my expectations and it has just made me more hungry to continue to make the events I put on the best they can be and set bigger and better goals.

If someone is in two minds about competing at Grapple Nation, what would you advise them?
Contact me anytime with any questions. I am open and always contactable. I attempt to respond as soon as possible to everything. The events I put on are 'By a Competitor and for a Competitor' and always will be.

The event does have some very handsome referees!

Where can we find out more about the event?
Our new website is
Also on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Finally, why do you arrange these events? What drives you?
I am driven to put on the best events there can be for the competitors and will continue to do this.

I'd like to thank Jake for taking the time to answer my questions and for the opportunity to do the super fight, I really enjoyed it.



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