Q&A With Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Tomas Grinkevicius
We recently sat down with Emerald Smoke Jiu-Jitsu Instructor Tomas Grinkevicius in between training sessions where he gave us an account of his first fight and his path to becoming a trainer. He also shared his advice for anyone just starting out in the world of MMA.
Q: What made you decide to become a fighter?
A: I’ve been involved with sports since I was little. I started to train in boxing in the 5th grade, but my parents weren’t very fond of that, so I had to stop. When I did get a chance to train in martial arts, I wanted to see if it worked, so I became a fighter. I wanted to test myself. I wanted to test my technique and my spirit.
Q: What do you attribute winning your first fight with a TKO in the first round to?
A: It was my reach. He underestimated it — I’m a tall guy. I was actually pretty nervous, but just before the fight I felt calm. I don’t know why. I stepped in, and it was over in 16 seconds.
Q: What advice would you give other fighters getting started?
A: Train smart and believe in yourself.
Q: How did you start training other people?
A: I was studying physical education in Europe to be a basketball coach, when I got involved with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I saw the benefits, both physical and mental. One way or another, I knew I’d be teaching and when I learned about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, it felt right.
Q: Can you tell me more about the mental benefits?
A: It gives you self-confidence. The kind that allows you to walk away from a confrontation. You don’t have to prove anything. Also, when you train or work out, you lose all that aggression in the gym. It’s a form of meditation.
Q: Do you encourage people to train in MMA even if they aren’t interested in fighting?
A: Especially if they don’t want to fight! Gracie Jiu-Jitsu gives you the confidence to walk away from a fight.
Q: What was it like training under Sifu Eddie Camden, world renowned Martial Arts instructor and founder of Tiger Academy of Martial Arts in Atlanta, Georgia?
A: The Tiger Academy is my second home. All the students and teachers there are my family and I love all of them. Eddie Camden is one of the best martial artists around. Not only is he one of the best as an artist, but also as a teacher. I can’t say enough about him.
Q: Do you have a motto or philosophy when it comes to training or competing?
A: No rest for the best!
Q: What is the one thing you want people to know about MMA?
A: Remember what the letters stand for: mixed martial arts. It is first and foremost an art.
Q: What are you most excited about with the opening of Emerald Smoke?
A: The people who have made it happen. They are a very positive group of people. I hope that we will transfer that positive energy to the gym and to the students, and create a place where it’s fun to train. That is the most exciting part to me. The positive energy!
Q: Who’s your all-time favorite fighter?
A: There are too many to list! But if I had to pick, I would say Rickson Gracie and Fedor.
Q: Do you have a favorite entrance song?
A: Before a fight, I am focused on the fight. I don’t even hear the entrance song.