I was born in Chamberlain South Dakota. And my parents were Farmers in Buffalo County South Dakota. About 5 miles from a 20 person town called Gann Valley. In 6th Grade my mother asked if I would like to wrestle. This was my first introduction to Martial Arts. I ended up wrestling thru High School.
In May of 1992 I graduated High School and that fall I went college in Aberdeen South Dakota. I walked on to the wrestling team. I made the team but was later kick off the team for my grades. (Farm kid goes to college drinks to much story.) I started doing JKD and Muay Thai with one of the wrestling coaches. And then later in 1993 I was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu by Royce Gracie. Royce won the first UFC and I was hooked. I bought his cousins Renzo's instructional VHS series. While still in South Dakota to try to teach myself Jiu-Jitsu.
I later moved to Texas in August of 1997 to train with Carlos Machado a cousin of the Gracie's. Carlos received his Black Belt from Carlinhos Gracie Junior, the founder of the IBJJF tournaments. I met Carlinhos in 1998 at Gracie Baja when I was training for the Worlds in Rio Brazil. I went on to place 2nd as Blue Belt in the 1998 Worlds. I submitted every Jiu-Jitsu match I had ever had until the finals of that Tournament. I went back again in 2000 and placed third as a Purple Belt. Back then registration was the day before the Tournament. And registration was held at Carlinhos house in Baja. Alot has changed since then.
Carlos Machado was brought to Texas by Chuck Norris. Chuck had trained with Carlos in California. He recruited him to be his instructor in Dallas. Since he was spending most of his time here shooting the Walker Texas Rangers TV series. In fact Carlos first BJJ Gym was on the set of Walker Texas Ranger. It was reported that Chuck considered Carlos to be the best Jiu-Jitsu teacher. And that is why he was chosen to move here to Texas.
I received my Black Belt June 1st 2002 from Carlos Machado. At the time I was the first Texas Black Belt. There weren't that many American Black Belts. For me this was a big deal. Carlos gave out a total of 4 Black Belts that day. Tim Burrill, William Vandry, and Clay Pittman. I had trained with Clay and Tim but never William.
Clay, Tim and I had even fought locally against each other in BJJ Tournament's that Carlos use to run in Texas. I really consider myself extremely luck to have trained with Carlos. As a teacher I feel like I couldn't have had a better Jiu-Jitsu teacher then Carlos. And after training with as many different people as I have had the chance to train with I still feel that way today.
Conclusion: A few years ago Royce who is friends with Buddy Clinton came to do a couple of seminars. The seminars were at my BJJ Gyms here in Fort Worth. Royce is one of those guys who makes everyone feel like they are important and teaches a great seminar. Royce even offered to help me train for a fight that I had coming up.
I really felt then that the circle was complete. From being from a small farming community in South Dakota. And watching him win the first UFC. To having Royce in my gym helping me train for a MMA fight. I don't think I could have wrote out a better story for myself. Thank you to my first Wrestling coach Waldo. My first Jiu-Jitsu coach Carlos also thank you to Royce for inspiring me to change my stars.