The Remarkable Story of a Remarkable Man

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This weekend in Anaheim California the IBJJF No Gi World Championships were held and Gordon Ryan thrilled the grappling world with a double gold medal performance. At the same event another competitor was making his own mark in a way that was equally impressive in its own way.

Some of you may have wonder how it is that I have been teaching for over twenty years but it is only in the last seven that my grappling students have gained renown. Before the squad I was mostly known as an MMA coach. What you may not be aware of is that during this early time I had a room full of grappling killers that never competed - that was a major reason why so many MMA stars used to come to my classes years before the squad.

Most of my early black belt standouts chose not to compete - perhaps it was because I taught Jiu Jitsu in a way that was not focused on grappling competition in those days - more in line with gym grappling where the focus was on getting submissions and fighting. The result was a room full of unknown killers that often gave serious grief to famous world champions. One of the foremost among these men was the formidable Doug Pelinkovic, a former Karate champion who started Jiu Jitsu very late in his thirties.

Despite having a very successful and busy career in real estate and a family of three wonderful boys, he always found time for training. Ultimately making his own gym in the Bronx, where I teach every Monday night. Now fifty, Doug Pelinkovic decided he would do his first ever Jiu Jitsu tournament at the no gi World Championships! Despite having zero Jiu Jitsu competition experience he entered and won Masters 4 super heavyweight!!

What an incredible Jiu Jitsu competition debut from Doug Pelinkovic, a man who trains part time between busy work and family and who started the game late. Now he has a desire to do more! I can’t wait to tell you more inspirational tales of success from this older athlete who to this day routinely mangles elite championship level athletes half his age. I can’t think of a better answer to my readers who ask me about whether students who started late or who are getting older can reach a high level - YES YOU CAN!

John Danaher