A fixture in the Northern California BJJ community, Eliot Kelly might just be one of the nicest guys in the game. He’s also one of the most active as well. You’ll regularly see Eliot competing in all kinds of events from open tournaments to Fight 2 Win events. He’ll step onto the stage again next week on Jan. 11th when he takes on Tex Johnson for the Masters Black Belt NOGI title.
It should be an exciting matchup between 2 bulls at the Grand Hyatt in Sacramento. See more on the event here then read on to learn more about Eliot Kelly and what drives him to succeed.
Eliot, tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something we don’t know.
Something people don’t know about me, I grew up in Japan until I was 14, where my parents were English teachers. Now, I’m a jiujitsu coach / competitor and I also teach Japanese at CSU Sacramento. Before jiujitsu I wrestled in college at UC Davis, coached by Lennie Zalesky and Mark Munoz. I didn’t start jiujitsu until after I moved back to Japan in 2008, in a small town called Minakuchi, at a dojo taught by brothers Marcio and Michel Miyashita. At the time, I needed a healthy hobby that wasn’t wrestling and was more than watching YouTube videos. Four and a half years later, I earned my black belt from Professor Marcos Torregrosa. My wife and I have two kids, age 4 and 6. I love the community jiujitsu offers, you can travel to anywhere in the world and meet incredible people on the mat.
I didn’t know you were a family man. Any other hobbies?
I teach kids & adults jiujitsu, but I also teach Japanese at the college. I’m also a volunteer PE coach at my son’s elementary school. If I’m not at Jiu-Jitsu, I’m teaching Japanese, reading manga, or rolling with my family. I’m a hobby farmer with chickens, bees, and vegetable garden.
What has jiujitsu done for your life?
Jiujitsu has helped me think about balance, a constantly evolving practice. Training is also opportunity to think and get to know myself better. In general, I have a reserved, shy personality, jiujitsu has opened me up some.
What’s training like?
it’s a busy day of training & teaching at our academy in El Dorado Hills. 6am, noon, and evening classes. My jiujitsu influencers are incredible people; Marcio and Michel Miyashita, Marcos Torregrosa, Sergio Penha, Dan Lukehart, and Tanner Rice.
it’s important to find the fun in every challenge. Pursue victory with honor. Laughter.
What’s one of the hardest things you’ve ever done?
Graduate school was intense. The commute to SF. Sleeping some nights in my car. Training jiujitsu (thank you Kurt Osiander for the open doors), Teaching jiujitsu, working as a graduate intern, managing a business, becoming a Dad… All that was a challenge! If it wasn’t for my family and friends who encouraged me I would have quit.
How do you approach competing in Fight 2 Win?
F2W is an opportunity to put on a show. It’s one of the most exciting shows I’ve participated in! It’s different from tournaments with points, in F2W it’s important to attack and put on exciting display of jiujitsu and perform.
Any thoughts on what to expect from Tex Johnson?
Nothing but the best! I predict sparks and fireworks!
Any last words before the match, for your fans?
Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I’m humbled by your support! I’m looking forward to putting on a show!