At The Heart of X-BJJ!

At The Heart of X-BJJ!
03 Jun 2015

You might be familiar with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. An amazing martial art based on ground fighting and popularized by today’s mixed martial arts. But what is this X-BJJ thing all about?

Many of you know that we have recently opened our all new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. And with world class players within the reach of your fingertips, what makes X-BJJ different?


I was introduced to ground fighting and BJJ in the late 90’s thru the eyes of JKD Grappling. It was an integral part of my education, and one that left many unanswered questions. You should know that my heart always resides in Jeet Kune Do and BJJ is simply a part of that love.

When I first began grappling, it honestly scared the crap out of me. I had NO ground experience and spent my entire life in striking based arts. My first training partner was a 6’3″ 300lbs police officer who had wrestled into college. Needless to say, I learned how to get back to my feet real quick!

Once I got a bit more comfortable on the ground, I spent more time there with the JKD mindset. But it inspired more questions that I simply did not have answers to. So I began to venture off to other BJJ schools to explore.

Unfortunately, my time exploring worked in the wrong direction. I met instructors who were trying to turn me into a gold medalist, or just used me as an able bodied grappling dummy for their competitors. When I would ask “what should I do in xyz situation,” the answer was “You’ll figure it out.” I realized quickly that they were more concerned about being a competitor factory rather than educating me. The other experience I had was even worse….they were belt factories handing away ranks like Halloween candy. Luckily, I knew better than to fall into that trap!

In 2007 I met Professor Roy Harris. Ultimately I became his student in JKD/Kali, but he is globally known as a pioneer in BJJ so I would ask him to help me. He kindly would show me a few easy things to work on. As Sifu Harris is based out of San Diego, CA, I couldn’t spend the consistent time with him like I wanted to. So I kept digging for answers locally. Eventually having a sour taste of BJJ, and even walking away from it for several years.

2013 I met Alex Embry, at that time a brown belt in BJJ. He came to my Carpentersville academy to do a private BJJ lesson with Prof. Harris as he was in town for weekend seminars. In the oncoming weeks Alex and I stayed in touch and became good friends. Trusting Alex, I asked him if he could help me with my BJJ and he kindly invited me to his academy.

As Alex and I began to train, it became a regular thing. Sundays were 3-4 hours of private time with me and Alex working on my BJJ from ground zero! His enthusiansm for BJJ was contagious! For the first time I was being taught BJJ as an art and not as a sport! Heck, he even got me into a gi which is big NO NO for us JKD guys! But I don’t care, I was loving the lessons and the art.

Late in 2013 I spoke to Alex about developing a BJJ program for my Bartlett location. He asked the best question I ever heard…”What do you want your BJJ to do?” I had never been asked that, so it took a couple days of pondering.


When it came down to it, I knew what I wanted for BJJ. It was a simple list.
1) Classes had to be fun and educational
2) It should teach us aspects in self defense, competition, and artistic
3) The program should welcome ALL! Men, Women, Old, Young, Ferocious and Meek. Let them make the decision of what THEY want from BJJ.
4) I wanted to have a program for the love of BJJ and perpetuate the art to the best of my ability.
5) It should be technical and applicable.

These were the important items for me. SO our approach was never to push people to compete (as some schools it is mandatory), nor was it to start an MMA program, nor was it for a colorful belt!


With my time with Alex, he invites me to his classes and open rolls where I can witness how he teaches and helps everyone progress at their own pace. I was blown away with his relaxed approach! And with the program that we designed, progress and refinement is enevitable as it is a part of the education. Nothing forced, nothing unconsumable by someone who has zero experience!

“Take your time and have fun with it.” This was the advice given to me by Alex, Prof. Roy Harris, and Prof Roy Dean!


Classes in our academy are on a steam roll. JKD people who are exploring BJJ, FItness ladies who wanted to learn something new, new people from other gyms who simply want to be a part of a great learning environment fill our mats! Each week we introduce a new topic and repeat/refine/repeat/refine all week long. And then tie it into the following weeks lessons.

The friendly energy on the mats ensures safety for everyone, along with an environment that is conducive for learning.


Having a new program is exciting. And to make sure that we all grow, and that the quality of the program is never compromised I have taken some unique measures that is rare in martial arts.

First, you should know that I spend a great deal of time talking with Alex Embry about the material being taught. Furthermore, I am on the mats with him 2-3 times per week getting folded up like oragami! Neither him nor I believe in being complacent.

Second, Alex will be stopping in to teach class every few weeks. He wants to make sure that we are up to the calibre that he demands of himself and his students at Alpha Jiu Jitsu, Woodstock, IL.

Third, often I take a few students with me to Alex’s academy to experience his methods and work with his students. This is even more rare in martial arts as instructors have a habit of keeping secrets to themselves. Here’s some news…there are no secrets except get on the mats and do work!

If you are intereted in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as an art, science, method….an answer to many questions, a vehicle to personal improvement….then come by Xtreme Training Academy and try the X-BJJ Classes. We are the ONLY BJJ program in the Bartlett area! If you are in the McHenry County area, go see Alpha Jiu Jitsu in Woodstock, IL and tell them that Xtreme sent you over.

We hope to see you on the mats soon!

Sifu Nik



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