My name is Jay Gaulard and I’m what I’d like to consider an average fellow. I breath the same air as most people, walk the same streets as most people and eat the same food as most people. In most respects, I’d get lost in a crowd. But there are some areas where I’m sure I’m different. Areas I stand out. And I’d like to use this page to describe those areas.
First and foremost, I’m fairly tall. Standing at almost six foot three, I wouldn’t say I tower over people, but I’d admit I’m uncomfortable when there’s someone taller in the same room. I’ve gotten used to being the tallest guy around, so change is challenging. I’m also a redhead. There aren’t many redheads around anymore and when you do come across one, they tend to be sprinkled about. Besides the typical locations (Ireland), you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent grouping of redheads anywhere.
I’m an independent sort of guy. I’ve always gravitated towards individual sports; tennis, swimming, martial arts – things like that. I don’t enjoy the “same-side” competition that I’ve often found in group sports, such as baseball and football. Besides, things like that have too many rules. Swimming is fairly simple. To me, a simple thing is a good thing.
There are three areas I’ve tried to nurture in the past few years. They are (in order of importance, but can one really be more important than the next?) writing, brazilian jiu-jitsu and photography. Another area is blogging, but that’s simply a culmination of all three. My avenue of expression, if you will.
Writing has grown to be a very personal love of mine. I’d like to call myself a writer, but as many before me who’ve written have discovered, someone else needs to consider you a writer before you consider yourself one. I suppose it’s a confidence thing because I know plenty of people who would call themselves anything if it lent itself to some sort of profitability. For things to be pure though, I feel that I would need some sort of validation. From at least someone who’s been there and who is much more talented than I’ll ever be.
I’ve been writing since 2005. It started with a personal blog about my first house purchase but quickly spiraled to much more. I began including topics such as nature, hiking, sports and people. Today, I write about all sorts of things – from restaurant reviews to videography. I’ve even tried my hand at completing in novella, which is in its final throes of editing.
Something that’s come up much more recently than my attempt at writing is my attempt at the study of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I began this endeavor and while I’m sure I can fill your ears with many a tale, I’d prefer you visit my dedicated Jiu-Jitsu website. I’ve appropriately dubbed the blog “JayJitsu.com.” You can read about my background and my challenges there. Start with the “About Me” page.
Lastly, my heart’s been captured in the past few years by photography and videography. You’ll have an opportunity to view most, if not everything I do right here on this website. I post anything that worth posting and am making an effort to get out and capture things you wouldn’t ordinarily see on a day to day basis. I’ve also set up a Youtube channel for anything I record. I post most videos on my blog as well.
A few paragraphs above, I mentioned that one of my interests is blogging. It was sort of in passing, but I don’t want to understate its importance in my life by any means. If it weren’t for WordPress and all the technology that allows me to do this on a daily basis, I’m afraid that all I would be doing is studying Jiu-Jitsu. That’s one out of three, and while some consider that “not bad,” I would almost consider that a life not worth living. If you had any idea how much I’m consumed by these interests, you’d understand. I eat, sleep and breath what I do. And I love every minute of it.
Please read through these pages. I’ve written them for you. If I didn’t have an audience, things would get awfully lonely around here and I just might not get as much enjoyment out of the things I do as I do. So enjoy and please let me know of any feedback you have – bad or good.
Jay [at] Gaulard.com
UPDATE: I recently began merging my jiu-jitsu blog into this one, which means I have to add that “About Me” page over here. It’s not a problem because I’ll just post it below. With this merging of sites, you can now read all about my jiu-jitsu journey here. Enjoy.
ABOUT MY JIU-JITSU JOURNEY
Stands and says ever so sincerely; My name is Jay Gaulard and I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since March of 2008. That’s the admission and if you’re anything like me, you need help. What Kind of help? Well, we’ll hopefully discover that in the following pages.
I don’t like using the word “possess” to often. It’s so cliché. It’s like, “What would ever possess you to do something like that?” I’ve heard it too much, but really, I have to ask the question – What would ever possess anyone to play the game of Jiu-Jitsu? If meeting someone for the first time one minute and rolling around on the ground, in a sweaty mess the next appeals to you, then by all means go for it. But for the average folk, I say stay away. There are chances of injury, rashes, skin infections and all around mental anguish. There’s a lot of risk out there. Who’s the guy you’re about to tap out? Is he crazy? Who’s stream of sweat is puddling on your face? Is he clean? Who’s got you in north-south? Where am I anyway?
Back in the beginning, I remember sitting at my computer looking up local Karate schools. I had no idea what was what. Taekwondo, Aikido, Judo – they were all the same. All I knew was that if I found something I liked and joined up, I was likely to have to bow to my Sensei (think Napoleon Dynamite). It wasn’t the most appealing scenario, but I had wanted to get into martial arts for a while. At 35 years old, I thought I should probably swallow my pride and make the leap.
As I found and browsed through local school websites, I became more and more energized, yet slightly discouraged. I supposed the energy was born from the fact that yes, there were, in fact, schools available locally. The issue was, while they all seemed to suffice, they didn’t quite mesh with who I was. FYI – I’m a free spirit, a fun loving kind of guy who doesn’t necessarily like following dogma. The whole bowing to the Sensei thing was starting to freak me out.
After a few days, I eventually worked up enough courage to visit a Taekwondo academy here in Hebron. It’s one of the more popular establishments because – well, it’s the only one. After calling and speaking to the owner, I was invited to sit in the waiting room and watch a class.
During that visit, I made two observations; 1. During warm up exercises, the instructor made the students bark out the numbers one through ten in Korean. 2. There were 40 year olds and 10 year olds in the same class. Not to mention, what they were doing confirmed the idea that this type of thing didn’t fit my character. I left that night with one idea cemented into my psyche – don’t do Taekwondo.
My second go round with checking into what I thought was interesting came via a Karate school up in Glastonbury. I’m not sure of the name, but I do remember walking in, not finding anyone and leaving. I found myself driving back to the house, more determined than ever to see if there was something out there for me. By this point, I had become “vested” in the endeavor.
When I made it to my computer, I looked on Youtube for the school I had just visited. I discovered that while they did teach Karate, their primary focus was on those gymnastic type tournaments. You know the type; guys and gals flipping around on mats only to finish their routine with a kick to an easily broken board. Ugg, this was what the world had to offer me?
So I kept on looking. I would say a week had passed when I probably mistakenly threw the wrong keyword into Google and watched it spit out something called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu? “What’s that?” I said.
I poked around for a bit and found two websites for Jiu-Jitsu schools in Glastonbury, CT. They were fairly close to one another and both seemed probably (and I say probably because I was fairly beaten down by this point) decent. Since I had developed a track record of picking the wrong thing, I didn’t have hopes that were all too high. But nonetheless, I called the phone number that was listed on one of the pages. An answering service took my information and promised a call back.
Then, I sat and thought. Right in the middle of my thinking, my phone rang. It was Jeff Giroux – the owner of Giroux Bros Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – the place I just called not more than a moment before. Jeff sounded nice enough and invited me to do the same thing the guy from the Taekwondo place did – come in to sit and watch. What the heck. I did it once so I’ll do it again. Jiu-Jitsu seemed more interesting, so I didn’t have much to lose.
I’ll give you a quick run down of what happened that night. You need to remember, it’s been four years, so things are getting fuzzy. Plus, I’m getting older, which doesn’t help.
I arrived at Jeff’s place and was greeted warmly. Especially warmly by a guy we’ve since nicknamed, “Mersh.” The word Mersh is short for his full last name, which I’m not about to tell you here. Mersh is also big poppa at Jeff’s place. When I first began, he was 60 years old and an inspiration to us all. He’s in impeccable shape and shows many of us that in just a few short years, we’ll be only hoping to train at this level. Mersh is a good guy.
I was also greeted warmly by Jeff himself and another good friend named Pete. Pete’s been scarce lately because he’s decided to grow a family. If you’ve grown your own family, you’ll certainly agree that it can have a dampening effect on training. We do hope Pete returns to the mats someday soon though because he’s an extremely talented player as well as teacher.
Now, about Jeff – when I first met him that night, he was wrapping a blue belt around his waist. He told me he had been training for about four years. Four years? At that moment in my life, four years seemed like an eternity for this type of thing. Pete had been training for eleven months and I thought he was a wizard. In my opinion, four years brought someone to the level of grand master. Jeff was at that level and during the hour I watched the class go by, I learned that what they were practicing looked strikingly similar to what I had been doing in all my years growing up – wrestling in the front yard. Ground stuff. Not learning how to kick wood, not learning how to put routines together. What they were doing looked like what happens when the rubber hits the road. It was the meat of fighting and self defense – it was on the ground and I liked it.
After the class was over, Jeff approached me to ask if I wanted to stop by to watch again. I practically tossed my money at him and asked where to sign. I loved what I had seen and I wanted to get in on it as fast as I could. The weeks I had wasted looking for something like Jiu-Jitsu had come to a head and I was ready to rumble. Needless to say, before the week was through, I was wearing some creepy pair of sweat pants, was on the mat and was practicing my first martial art ever.
Guys – I don’t know how to do this. My history is so much longer than what I’ve just written and I don’t suppose you have the time or patience to read much more. But what I’ve given you only scratches the surface. It was written unintentionally. I got on a roll, but I’ll make it up to you. I’ll go through my belt promotions on this page and leave the rest of this website for recollection and reflection. There really is too much to cover during the beginning of anyone’s journey like this for one article anyway. A lot goes through the mind. Go take a break and get something to drink. Then, come back and finish up what I’m about to tell you.
The first three months of training went very slowly for me. They reminded me of dating my first real girlfriend, where every month, we were to celebrate something I termed, “monthiversaries.” She called them anniversaries, but there was nothing annual about them. And after a while, I wondered why I had celebrated these months at all. They eventually turned into years and seemed relatively insignificant.
Jitsu training is the same way. In the beginning, every minute counts. I wondered when my first stripe would be taped around the end of my belt and was ecstatic when it finally was. It didn’t come without its hardships though. I was stretched, bruised, twisted and broken. I still get made fun of because of the way I used to handle pressure and smothering – I would tap. Pete likes to bring that up to the newer students. “The minute my stomach would lay across Jay’s face, he’d be slapping my back for me to stop.” And then that little chuckle Pete is so famous for.
I didn’t know much, but I will tell you this – I knew more after six months and even more than that after nine. By eleven months, Jeff was telling me that my blue belt was right around the corner, so I had better brush up on my technique. He was big into white belts being able to “survive.” Jiu-Jitsu is nothing if not survival. Even at 90 years old, Helio Gracie told Saulo Ribeiro that he would not be beaten. Saulo was a world champion at the time of the conversation and wondered what Helio meant. After some training, Saulo learned that Helio was correct – Saulo had not beaten Helio due to Helio’s superior survival skills on the mat.
A story I like to tell the students is about how I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month leading to my blue belt test. Jeff had a funny way of springing these things on us, so we were never fully prepared for the night. We also used to go pretty hard during these tests. One of my primary enemies was exhaustion. If there was anything that would happen during my blue belt test, it would be that I would give up. Hence, the sandwiches. I think they have me the comfort of knowing I had just a tad bit of stored energy somewhere. Usually, I ate nothing before class, so they helped.
The night of my test, I walked through the door to a bunch of people looking at me. Mind you, back then blue belts were a big deal. We’re getting into the era of purple and brown, but years ago, blue was where it was at. I walked in, people smiled and I swear they heard the gulp. I got dressed and walked out to the mat, stretched and began what I thought was the most grueling night of my life.
You can see me in the picture to the left. I’m the guy in the blue gi – the one with the really red face.
I can remember Pete on top of me in the mount position telling me to fight. I guess he didn’t think I was doing enough and was trying to spur me on. I replied that I actually was fighting. I was battling my own worst enemy – me being so worn out that I would actually have to tap on the night of my blue belt test. Either tap or pass out. I chose to stay relaxed as to not overheat myself and it worked. My survival technique was one of the most basic in Jiu-Jitsu and that’s to simply stay alive to fight another day.
The time it takes from blue to purple belt can seem like forever. It took me three years of wearing a blue belt to even be considered for a purple. By this time though, Jeff had made his school an affiliate under the one and only Brad Wolfson of Soulcraft BJJ in Hamden, CT. This was a smart move because Jeff was becoming more and more concerned that our promotions might be stunted because of the infrequent visits of our previous affiliation. With Brad at our side, Jeff had every confidence that any and all promotions he deemed worthy would be blessed by the area’s newest black belt (under Marcio Stambowsky, by the way – a legend in his own right). This strategy proved fruitful because it didn’t take more than a few months for me to receive invitation to Brad’s school for a “night of rolling.” I suppose the surprise was that I would be rolling with a shiny new purple belt.
A few others had received belts that night as well. These were pretty tough guys – guys that may have previously made me doubtful of my own skill. But if the years prior to that night showed me anything, they showed me that I can take care of myself on the mat. And that’s accurate, because the night of my purple belt promotion, I must have rolled with ten different guys. Almost all of them told me that I certainly deserved what I had earned. It made me feel good.
Now, I’m really going to stop. This page has become far too long, but I’ll tell you one thing – I am going to continue on throughout every corner of this website, weaving stories and experiences throughout. Use the tools, lessons, pictures and videos to your advantage. I can tell you that time flies when you get involved in this type of thing and whether you know it or not, the further you go, the more you’ll wish you had recorded. I’m just glad I found the gumption to do something about it when I did. Enjoy.
NOTE: Please read my update below this picture. Keep scrolling down.
Even though I’ve only been at this academy a few weeks, I can definitely tell that my game is heading to the next level. If you’re interested in my progress, please keep close to this blog because I’ll be posting my thoughts, reviews and feelings on BJJ in general.
After six months in Florida, I decided to move to Maine. I have to say that I landed on my feet, because I’m now training with another really great group of people at a school called, The Foundry. Very technical, high level instructors and a nice mix of competitive students. I couldn’t ask for more.