Full Name: Josh Mckinney
Belt Colour: Black belt
Professor: Kyle Watson
Short Term Goals: I want to grow both of my academies. I just opened a new location about a month ago so that’s where my focus is right now.
Sometimes mothers really do know what's best. From not having a desire to train BJJ, to becoming an instructor himself, Josh Mckinney proves that attempting pursuits outside of your comfort zone can dramatically change your life for the better. It's exciting to see how he gained some amazing friends and confidence through this art. Check out the full article for a light-hearted and fun take on an art form that has helped many practitioners become the best versions of themselves.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
I run HeadnodHQ in Pontoon Beach, IL. But I still train at my coach’s gym Watson Martial arts a few times a week.
I just enjoy training. I don’t particularly care what everyone’s wearing.. As long as no one is naked, I’m not into that type of jiu-jitsu.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Of course! No doubt the biggest thing Kyle has ever taught me is to never stop learning.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
I think the biggest is lesson is to never stop learning. In jiu-jitsu, business, or just life in general. There is always something new you can be learning and applying.
How often do you train?
I train jiu-jitsu 10 times, I lift once a week, and do yoga once a week.
What made you want to start training?
I was overweight. To be honest I had no desire to train. Not that I didn’t think it was cool, I just didn’t have the desire to do much other than play video games.
My mom made me go to my first practice. I fought her about going but finally went. As soon as I was finished with my first class I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
For sure, jiu-jitsu is my passion. It is also how I make a living. So if I want to continue to eat, and buy fanny packs then I better keep training.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
It’s unmasterable(yeah that’s a word, probably). There’s something unique about an art that you can train in every day for 11 years and still learn new things every day.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
I used to be chubby. I still am but now if someone says something about it I can beat them up.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Yes. I never had friends growing up. I had people that I knew from church and school but I never had true friends until I started training. I mean, if your “friends” don’t ever try to choke you, are they really even your friends?
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
Nope. It’s a journey, I’ve made a ton of mistakes in training and mistakes in coaching. But, that’s what a journey is about. Learning from those mistakes and trying to figure out a way to better yourself.
No wait, I take that back. I got styled on once at a tournament by a certain World Champion at brown belt. Dude took my lunch money. I would have hidden under the bed in my hotel room if I knew that was going to happen.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Just come in and try it. You won’t know if you like a food you’ve never tried by just hearing people describe it, you have to try it. You also don't know if you’d enjoy any activity unless you try it.
People have so many hang-ups as to why they don’t train: I’m too overweight, my anxiety would be too bad, everyone would be better than me. But, the truth is most of those hang-ups could actually be overcome through jiu-jitsu.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
Competitively I’d like to win world’s.
As a coach, I want to use jiu-jitsu to positively affect as many people as I can. Whether they’re my students or not.
What’s your favourite submission?
It comes in waves for me. I train very specifically so I will focus on a single submission and only try to hit that. Right now it’s monopalata. Josh Hinger did a seminar at my coaches gym a few years back and I’m just kind of revisiting it now. I really enjoy it.
What's your favourite sweep?
Anything that gets me on top so I can lay on the person and stall.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I honestly have no idea. I have always wanted to be on one of those MTV shows where people try to win money or marry Bret Michaels. I’d probably have all my eggs in the MTV basket.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
The money that would come for competitors would be nice. But, personally, I like that it’s a smaller group that enjoys it. It makes it so much more special when you see someone at Applebee's wearing a bjj shirt.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Every day. We train so hard that sometimes I feel like my main training partners hate me. Especially when they tell me that they hate me.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Aggression, I was such a nice kid that I would go easy because I didn’t want to hurt people.
These two killers got promoted today. They look sweet but they wouldn't think twice before heel hooking your entire family.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
I think Rickson. You always hear these amazing stories about getting beat up by him and it would be fun to get beat up by him.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I look at my dad. That guy inspires and motivates so many people and that’s something that I admire. It’s kind of unfair that I get to look up to this guy that runs a church, a successful personal training business, and got his black belt at 57. That makes me want to have the same impact on people’s lives that he’s had on mine.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
I chose to not go to college. I knew jiu-jitsu was how I wanted to make a living. Without that, I’m sure I’d have a liberal arts degree and a lot of student loan debt.
If you had to pick, which one do you prefer, Training, Competing, or Teaching?
Teaching for sure. I’d live if I were never able to compete or train again. It would be hard, but I would manage. I couldn’t handle not being able to teach my team.
Which competition/match was the most memorable for you? Why?
I won Chicago open’s open class last year as a brown belt. I lost my semifinal in my division and was very discouraged. I sat at the venue 8 hours waiting for open class and then won 4 fights. We didn’t have a hotel so we drove 5 hours home through the night. Every part of the weekend was rough, but winning the open made it all worth it.
What are some helpful tips that you could give to a new practitioner looking to improve?
Listen to your coach, keep an open mind, and follow me on Instagram.
Do you have any advice for someone that is trying to live a healthier lifestyle but doesn't know where to start?
Consistency is more important than anything. So if you have an exercise or weight loss routine that you know you couldn’t possibly do forever then it’s not the answer that you’re looking for.
What is mission 1:11 and how can people find more information about this?
It’s a non-profit that my mom started 3 years ago. She was born in the Philippines and about 15 years ago did a mission trip to Haiti. She knew that helping people in other countries was her calling. For the past 15 years with the support of our community her and a group from our church have been travelling to Haiti and the Philippines to help impoverished people.
Now Mission 1:11 owns a house in both countries where missionaries are able to stay while they work. If you want more information on them here is their website. https://www.mission111.org/
How has your experience been being an emcee for them?
So much fun. They’re such a good group of people and I love having the privilege of working with them for a good cause.
What advice would you give to someone that is having troubles finding the confidence to speak in front of a crowd?
First, be comfortable with silence. I really think the ability to pause and let the last thing you said to soak in is the most important thing when it comes to professional speaking. Most people are so afraid when speaking the punctuations fall of their notes.
That being said, have notes and make sure to practice them. I’ve been to a few very awkward weddings where a best man expects to come up with a great speech on the fly and it’s embarrassing.
You seem like a very confident person in general, were you always this way or did jiu-jitsu/other factors help you reach this level of confidence?
I was so timid when I was younger. As I started training more I really started realizing that other people’s opinion of me doesn’t matter.
What were your first thoughts when you realized your father got his black belt? How has it been sharing a passion with him?
I cried. Tried not to but I did. As hard as I’ve worked at jiu-jitsu he’s worked so much harder. People don’t realize how hard this sport is being over 50 or even over 40. So him achieving his black belt was just so special.
Why do you enjoy wearing fanny packs? and what would you like to say to everyone that is secretly judging you?
I just thought it would be something fun. We were talking about them at my gym one night so I bought one.
To the haters: You are entitled to your own opinion on fanny packs. But, we will see who’s laughing when you have a headache at a tournament and the boy with the fanny pack is the only people will advil.
Fun date night with these 2 non-fanny pack wearing weenies.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Medium rare USDA prime ribeye. Because no one ever high fives after eating a salad.
Which belt promotion was the most memorable and why?
My black belt. I had an idea that I was getting it and it was just so special when my coach called me up. I was able to stay with the same coach from white to black belt, not because I’m this amazingly loyal person but because Kyle is an excellent human being. Getting to be the second person to receive a black belt from him was just so special.
What would you like to say to everyone that has helped you improve as a person and supported you on your journey?
There are so many people that deserve a huge thank you from me.
I look at Lionel from Leao Optics, the guy sponsored me when I was a purple belt and they have been so amazing ever since. Then Fuji keeping me in the freshest gis all the time and putting such great mats in my new gym.
My coaches and training partners Kyle, Jeff, Nick, Junior, and my dad who all 5 kind of share the role of coach and training partner to me.
Plus, all my students who make living the jiu-jitsu lifestyle possible.
Thank you to all of you!
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
TO be honest I don’t care to be known for jiu-jitsu accomplishments and accolades.
I grew up in a very rough area and my gym isn’t in the nicest city in the world. I want to be remembered as one of the people that helped them find it.