This week we are sitting in with David Garmo a BJJ practitioner from Michigan, USA. He has created a MAKEACHAMP campaign which reached 100% of its goal which allowed him to get a 2nd place at the 2013 Pan-America no gi championships in New York. This interview highlights his successes and struggles in and out of competition. We talk about struggling with injuries and how mental preparation is essential to success. Lastly, we also talk about the lack of funding for BJJ athletes and how MAKEACHAMP can help.
Check out David Garmo’s campaign: http://makeachamp.com/DavidGarmo
Check out the full video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veg1tM0pGnc
Here is the full script of the interview:
Question: Introduce yourself to those that might not know who you are:
David Garmo: My name is David Garmo, I am a 23 years old, living in Michigan. I’ve been training jiu jitsu for about 5 years now. I am a purple belt under Master Caique… (Click on CV here to learn more:http://makeachamp.com/DavidGarmo?blog?201301024)
Question: You just came back the 2013 No Gi Pan American, you got the second place, congrats! Tell us a little bit about that:
David Garmo: It was a really good experience, you know, I went out there, felt pretty good. This is a tournament that I wanted to do for a couple of years now but for some reason I couldn’t do it… something always came up… sometimes money or something else… different tournaments. But finally I was able to go this year and I was really happy about it. New york… is an amazing city… I always kinda wanted to go and compete there, it was really fun, a really good experience.
Question: That’s great, you ended up winning your first four fights, right?
David Garmo: Yeah, I won my first four fights but lost my 5th which was the finals to a really good competitor, Edwin Najmi.
Question: You also got injured no?
David Garmo: Well, I actually had a previous injury, I competed at the Chicago international open in the no-gi division. That was in september and I was fighting, I was in the finals of that tournament and I ended up hurting my knee a little bit, I ended up winning that fight and winning that division. I wasn’t able to train as I wanted to for the No-Gi Pan-Ams. If anything at all, I didn’t get to train as much, about a weeks worth of training, so I went in, but I was mentally prepared, physically not as much, but everything came to me, everything aligned, I was able to do pretty well, I was able to compete at a high level, impose my will and impose my game plans - for the first four fights, but my fifth fight in the finals, didn’t go as well for me. I was put in a situation where I couldn’t do much, tap and make sure I didn’t hurt myself any further and was able to continue train and continue to compete at a high level
Question: Wow, so you didn’t have much time to train for this competition, you were injured. But what is interesting that you said that you were mentally prepared, not so much physically but mentally. We hear athletes say that more and more, how important the mental game is and being a judo athlete myself so how do you prepare mentally for a competition like this. I know when I am injured, I get angry, my motivation goes down and I can’t hit the gym and I can’t do what I want, how do you not get discouraged? What do you do mentally to prepare?
David Garmo: Well, most, I am a guy that has pretty much all the confidence in the world, and so you know, in that aspect I almost always know I can beat anyone, doesn’t matter who it is, you can put olympians in front of me, you know I still think I can beat them…for me, when I was injured, I didn’t stay home, I didn’t stay away from jiu-jitsu, I was at the gym everyday, twice a day most of the time, I would do physical therapy and rehab and constantly doing something, I never sat at home to think “hey this sucks, I am hurt”. I was always in the gym BSing with my teammates and friends, almost like I was practicing but without practicing… you know all the stuff I enjoy about jiu jitsu, I was, for the most part, able to do the comradery with my teammates and my coaches all that stuff… the hanging out afterwards and hanging out before, you know I wasn’t able to do the moves, to roll and stuff like that but thats just a small part of why I love jiu jitsu so much, but I was able to do the other stuff. So that kept me mentally focused and all that.
And another thing, lately this past year and half I was working on game plans and strategies. And I was going over strategies I had over and over in my head, every minute I had, I had my strategy and I had my game plan and as long as I could do those things before the no-gi pan-ams, and thats why i felt confident because I could do those things, just had to stay from those position and I did that up until the last match, but you can’t stay away from everything but I felt mentally prepared. Always have confidence in myself and even if I am hurt … always confident that I am going to win.
Question: This tournament was a little bit special partially because you had a MAKEACHAMP campaign before the tournament. Tell us about how that played its part in the tournament, did you feel the support from your supporters, did it help you with your competition?
David Garmo: Yes it definitely did, if I didn’t make this MAKEACHAMP profile and use your website, I’d probably not be able to go to New York and be able to compete. So that was the biggest thing, the website and the profile, got me to the tournament.. which is you know is a big part of the battle. I compete and travel a lot and it costs a lot of money and I don’t do anything besides jiu jitsu, I don’t have a full time job or even a part time job really… , my own funds were lacking and with the campaign people were able to see that I was working towards this goal and the amount of support I got was ridiculous you know… people that I have never met before, people that I have met only once, you know, were wishing me luck and you know supporting me and sharing my profile and sharing my campaign and even contributing to it. And it really made me feel good about myself and what I was trying to do, you know, people supported me and you know, its like “these guys believe in you, you should definitely take what they are giving you and go to New York and kill it over, you have to…
[10:30] Question: if you had a chance to tell all your supporters couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
David Garmo: Thank you guys so much, what you guys did for me was amazing, I will never forget it. The most important medal I ever got was this one at the No Gi Pan-Ams and you know all of you guys, everyone of you, you helped me get there and I really appreciate it and I’ll never forget it and like I said before, this was one of my dreams, and you know you helped me get there and if you guys ever need anything from me just let me know, I’ll do anything to help.
[11:00] Question: BJJ athletes aren’t getting a lot of support, what do you think can be done to fight this?
David Garm: I am luck because I have people in my academy who help me a lot with certain things… but for these other schools that don’t have that support, you just got to really keeping knocking on doors.. I mean thats what I do somethings, I sit all day send emails to people to see if I can get support. To get jiu jitsu to have more support, it takes time you know. Thing is even the best in the world in our sport aren’t making millions competing.. so its going to be when the sport grows and hopefully can hit superstardom status in the world and I think it can, we will just have to wait and see, time will tell.
[13:05] Question: If you had a chance to tell another athlete about MAKEACHAMP, what would you tell them? Give them some advice on how to run a campaign. Is it easy/hard… what to do to run a successful campaign
David Garmo: I’d tell them you know to make it count. Make it for something important. Tell them exactly why you want to go, what you want to do and what your goals are and show these people that you’ve been working at these goals before you made this campaign… if you do those things and you are able to get to a wide audience, you’re going to do well. If you are sincere about what you are going to do and you’re not just trying to put some extra cash in your pocket, I think people will help - show them exactly what you are going to use this money for, don’t make it vague, so every dollar is accounted for and I think that helped, I think people saw that the money I was receiving was going straight to my plane ticket to food, to food and lodging and transportation and all of that, you know I didn’t make money in terms of put it in my pocket.. all of that went towards my tournament funds. That one thing, i’d tell them and make it important.
[14:35] Question: In terms of marketing, facebook, twitter, things that you founds useful
David Garmo: I’ve never used twitter but I do use facebook a lot, I mean I am lucky I have a lot of supporters that want to see me succeed so they were sharing my campaign and I was sharing it as well. And like, you guys said, when someone donates to you, thank them and make sure that they feel appreciated… when they do, other people will see that and you know they will want to contribute as well and thats basically what I did… You have to share it and you have to let people know it is going on in order for them to contribute.
[15:50] Question: What is next for you? Besides healing up from the injuries, what is the next tournament for you in the near future?
David Garmo: Its the 23 of october today and I leave next week, next friday November 1st to go to the no gi worlds, I feel good, I feel strong and my knee feels a lot better than it did 3 weeks ago. I feel very strong and I feel very good that I am going to come out on top.