Taking the fight from the street to the mat

Jon ‘Judo’ Williams is a 28-year-old martial arts competitor who says the sport helped him develop confidence to keep the fight on the mat and out of the streets.

Williams wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter because he was being picked on and believed training would toughen him up.

Williams started training different martial arts at age eight and joined the wrestling team at Albert Street Middle School. He wrestled until Grade 10 at Fredericton High School then joined the Fredericton Judo Club.

“Later, I met my coach, Dana Dickeson, and joined his club, Fredericton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We then joined forces with Andy Young and trained at Evolution Fight and Fitness, and we are now with Synergy Training Center.”

Dickeson was fighting mixed martial arts at the time and training Jiu Jitsu.

Williams still wanted to be a MMA fighter, but he eventually ended up falling in love with Jiu Jitsu and out of love with MMA.

“I wrestled and did judo,” said Williams. “Jiu Jitsu is like those sports, but is more focused on the submission game, and submissions intrigued me more than throws and pins.”

The first time Williams trained Jiu Jitsu, he made everyone in his class tap-out because he had experience with wrestling and judo.

“(But) until I rolled with my coach Dana Dickeson, he whooped my butt and humbled me. After (that), I felt tired but excited for the next day of training,” he said.

Williams has been training Jiu Jitsu for nine years now and he has his brown belt, he is working towards a black belt.

Williams thinks if more people joined Jiu Jitsu, there would be, “less meatheads going around thinking they are tough.”

He believes the sport has a humbling effect.

“You learn that you aren’t shit, but then you get better and get your confidence back,” he said. “But it isn’t arrogant confidence; you still know that you can get beat, but you know you can handle yourself.”

“You also learn that fighting at the Tannery is pointless, and you don’t need to prove yourself because you already know what you’re capable of.”

Williams has medalled in many local competitions and competed in 10 MMA fights. His greatest success was scoring 2-0 at Submission Series Pro, which is a submission-only show that runs like a fight card.

“Competing in Jiu Jitsu was different from when I fought MMA. Jiu Jitsu is less stressful because it’s only grappling and submissions,” he said. “I love it because it’s more fun to me and I am better at Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling competitions.”

“For someone who is starting out competing, it can be nerve wrecking, but I always tell the students at Synergy not to worry about what the other guy does (because) it causes most of the performance anxiety,” said Williams.

“Instead of worrying about the other guy, focus on what you are going to do.”

Through Jiu Jitsu, Williams started a journey that changed his life he said. He wouldn’t be where he is today if he never joined.

Today, Williams helps teach Jiu Jitsu and has started college.

After graduating from FHS in 2005, he dedicated his life to fighting. Now, 10 years later, he’s studying biology and anatomy. He started out in a class of 12 that is now down to seven.

“The course has had a high dropout rate,” he said. “I think the reason I am lasting and passing is because I learned how to work hard while fighting, doing Jiu Jitsu, and never giving up.”

“My long-term goal for Jiu Jitsu is to teach it and share it with people. Jiu Jitsu has changed my life and made me a more confident person. I simply wouldn’t have the confidence, I don’t know where I’d be in life if I didn’t join,” he said.

Williams has been recovering from a strained tendon in his shoulder cuff-muscle that has kept him from training for three months. He started training again a couple weeks ago, and he feels his injury is healing.

“A couple weeks ago, I trained but (had to do) my rounds of sparring with one hand,” he said. “I trained tonight (March. 25) with both arms, and my shoulder seems to hold up. It’s a little sore right now, but as long as I take care of it, I’ll be able to get into it harder.”

Williams received his injury while rolling with his training partner, Matt Derouche, an undefeated MMA fighter who was on the Ultimate Fighter, Canada vs. Australia.

“Matt was trying to arm-bar me and I was resisting, and my shoulder popped,” he said.

Before William’s injury, he trained Jiu Jitsu four days a week. Prior to enrolling in college, he trained twice a day. Williams plans on getting back on track when his injured shoulder heals.

Williams looks up to Dickeson and Rickson Gracie, a Brazilian 8th degree black and red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a retired mixed martial artist. Williams also studies guys like Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings, Jeff Glover and Ryan Hall.

Williams encourages anyone to join Jiu Jitsu not hesitate, it will change your life for the better.

“It will be hard at first,” he said. “You are going to get tapped every day, there is no way around it, and it’s part of the process of improvement. Don’t give up, because a day will come that it will click.”

“I have been told by people before that grappling isn’t really fighting. But with Jiu Jitsu, all you have to do is grab a hold of someone and take them to the ground, and you will have full control,” said Williams.

“Most people know how to throw a punch, (but) not too many people know how to grapple. So if you know Jiu Jitsu it’s going to give you the upper hand if you can utilize it,” he said. “I don’t think I can beat everyone that I get in contact with, but if the situation goes down, I know my Jiu Jitsu will be there as an equalizer.”

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