Passion and dedication paying off for JW Wright
It seems to be more of a modern expression to 'follow your dreams' and aim big whilst breaking the mould. In the formative school years, we toe the line and jump through hoops to get the grades we need. However, it's very rare that any of those involved in your academic education will be pushing you to pursue your passion, regardless of how outlandish it may sound at the time. It's a good job some people have a vision and desire inside of them to do it regardless. It might come immediately, although that's unlikely. More often than not, it takes a lot of years of hard work and sacrifice to see a goal through to its conclusion. And those real visionaries usually aren't happy there either. JW Wright is an American BJJ black belt who owns Gracie Humaita in St Louis, and for as long as he's been involved in the game he's been looking to further his own study, and to help spread it far and wide. In 1999 he began training under Royler Gracie and David Adiv, and the passion he gained for the art has stayed with him since, and also infected those around him; family, friends and students. Here's some of what Wright has given to the BJJ community, from an article on him in the Jiu Jitsu Times.
In the year 2002, he started with local tournaments with Midwest Grappler, running 7 or 8 events each year until 2011/ 2012. This is when, his now partner, Vince Anzelone came to him with plans to design and make his own Gis and call his company KOZEN. Then in 2012 the need came for a sponsored tournament, JW then approached Vince about combining his line of apparel and the tournaments to help each other give more to the people of Jiu Jitsu. From there it skyrocketed. People are constantly asking “When is KOZEN coming here?” and so he delivered. JW then took the mats to as many places as he could, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Illinois were some of his frequently visited venues. He took Jiu Jitsu to kids and adults in places that otherwise would never know how it felt to stand on a podium and hold their medals high. However; this was not enough for JW and his crew. Seeing the future of such fights as, The Eddie Bravo invitational and Metamoris, he decided to announce his Respect 1 super fight tournament this passed February. With names like Renato Taveres, Kyle Watson, Piet Wilhelm and himself on the fight card it was surely going to be an amazing event. The success of this event was mind blowing! He hosted a sold out venue, amazing show of skills across the board, and, of course, the amount of respect from each fighter on the card was unbelievable.Not content to remain static, Wright was looking for more opportunities to spread the reach of BJJ and gain more coverage, first across the US and then further afield. What he'd need was committed partners who have the tools to help the seeding of new grappling activity in regions that don't have the same frequency of competitions. Enter FUJI SPORTS, and owner Jimmy Pedro: “JW Wright is a highly respected instructor and business professional in the world of jiujitsu. Through the Kozen Fighter tournaments, he’s created a great customer experience, and it aligns perfectly with the FUJI mindset. We’re excited to create the FUJI BJJ Championship Series Tournaments where we can combine our expertise and reach with JW’s, and produce well-organized events for even more athletes across the country.” Wright was also positive about the collaboration. "We’re going to markets where people train but have had less ability to compete. We’re affordable. We’re focused on education and respect for the sport. And by increasing opportunities with high-quality events, we may be helping create the next world champion.” Not only is the partnership great for regional jiu jitsu players who can express their training more in competition, but it also gives FUJI the chance to reach new audiences too. "These franchises will support the growth of jiu-jitsu in U.S. markets serving under-developed markets with professional tournament platforms," said Pedro. "Plus FUJI Mats, gis and gear. We’re excited to show the growing FUJI brand to more athletes.” For more information head to www.fujibjj.com. To buy Fuji products in the UK, find FUJI SPORTS on Fightstore Pro.
- Jay Furness