Full Name: Mikey Hothi
Belt Colour: Brown
Professor: Cesar Gracie
Short Term Goals: I want to Compete as often as possible and help others improve their techniques
From being bullied to being an active competitor, Mikey managed to turn his bad experiences into inspiration for others. Through the guidance of Cesar Gracie and the Diaz brothers, Mikey has become a role model in both the BJJ world and his local community through his actions as a politician and teaching others at the Nick Diaz Academy. Martial arts can make a significant impact on many practitioners and this story is another great example of the benefits of this art form. This interview is great for anyone looking to become inspired by a positive attitude through adversity and dedication.
Visit the bottom of this page for an audio transcription of this interview.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
12 to 13 years
Where do you train out of?
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Mainly by example. Eating healthy, working out in addition to BJJ. One time we went to Cesar Gracie’s to train and we were eating afterwards at Whole Foods. I got a sports-drink and was scolded by Nick Diaz because it had high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. I never bought that drink again.
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
Always be humble. You never know who has the ability to choke you out.
How often do you train?
5 to 6 days a week. Even more, if I’m training for a competition.
What made you want to start training?
I was getting picked on by this guy when I was a teenager so I decided to learn self-defence. I had heard of the Diaz brothers and knew they trained in the area so I decided to check out their spot and never looked back.
How did it make you feel going through bullying situations?
I felt helpless.
What advice would you give to those that are currently getting bullied and don't know what to do about it?
Train BJJ. It’s not as intimidating as you’d think. You’ll get in shape and meet some incredible ppl along the way.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In observance, I challenge everybody to check out your local martial arts academy. I started training Jiu-Jitsu back in 2007 after I experienced some incidences of bullying in high school. It turns out that bullies are less inclined to harass ppl who can defend themselves. So if you live in Lodi, check out Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Lodi and learn from some of the best. You won't regret it!
If you could speak to the bully/bullies that made you try jiu-jitsu, what would you tell them?
I’d ask if they wanted to roll :)
"They would make fun me for my hair, for wearing the same pair of shoes or pants a couple of days in a row, for not owning a house and having to rent, for being fat, it was rough." -Zac Cunningham
"It is seriously an honour to hold the position I hold and to represent the Gracie Family in the way I do, and just because I'm in this awesome position it doesn't mean now I'm good and get to relax, now the real work begins, its time to do my best to affect people in a positive way with jiu-jitsu and just hope and pray for the best as they gain these skills and are able to become bullyproof and/or be able to defend themselves." -Zac Cunningham
Learn More about Zac Cunningham's inspiring story by clicking the image above! He's a passionate practitioner under Ryron and Rener Gracie at Gracie University in Torrance.
How can BJJ and martial arts help prevent bullying cases?
You learn how to defend yourself and walk through life with confidence.
Do the members of your academy and your instructors know about these bullying cases? If so, what advice did they give you?
Yea and they actually know who the bully was. They’d say to keep training.
For the Nate & Nick Diaz fans, what's it like training?
I’ve known and trained with Nick & Nate since before they were famous. They’ve always been friendly and willing to show me moves/train with me. Their skills are undeniable.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Yup BJJ for me is a way of life. I’ll train until I no longer have the ability to.
Almost 80 years of grappling experience captured here
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
It’s a form of meditation for me. It doesn’t matter how rough of a day I’m having, I hit the mats and instantly feel better.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
I used to be overweight. The only reason I lost weight is that I found the one thing I love more than food, and that’s BJJ.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Yes anytime I’m dealing with personal issues, I’ll train and reground myself.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
I would’ve started around the time I learned how to walk.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Just show up. That’s the hardest part when you’re starting out. To get tapped out repeatedly and still show up.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I’d like to someday become a black belt and teach other ppl the art. I’d also like to continue competing and collecting medals.
What’s your favourite move?
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
I’d be out of shape, lacking self-confidence, and who knows what else.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Yea I love seeing the growth of these years and I expect that BJJ will only get more popular.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
All of them by just showing up.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Focusing on the basics. It’s easy to get lost trying to do the fancy stuff. You have to know the basics first.
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
I was pretty lost before I started training. I’d hope to help others who are trying to find their passions.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
I went to UCLA for undergrad and put training on the back burner for a few weeks because I wanted to focus more on studying. My life became pretty out of balance until I started training again. It’s important to have balance in all aspects of life including studying.
What got you interested in politics? And what aspirations do you have in this field?
I was born into a pretty politically engaged family and always aware of the consequences of political decisions. My dad actually gained citizenship because of a bill that passed Congress.
Submitting my first bill! An official apology from the State of California to Japanese Americans who were unjustly fired from state employment during WWII.
As an Indian American, have you faced injustice/discrimination due to your cultural background? And would you say to those that are feeling ashamed of their culture due to bullying?
I grew up in an area that wasn’t the most diverse at the time, so I did my best to blend in. I used to be embarrassed when my mom would wear traditional Indian clothes to the grocery store and I’d ask her not. I feel embarrassed with myself today for being such a fickle kid. I love my family’s background and I believe it contributes to the richness of our community.
November is Sikh awareness month in California and these are pics of me wearing a turban at my cousin's wedding. Throughout history, but especially since 9/11, turban-wearing Sikhs have been discriminated against, assaulted, and murdered because ppl equate the turban with terrorism. 99% of ppl who wear turbans in the US are Sikhs. I'm fearful of what this election means for my family and friends in the Sikh community. I will maintain my optimism nonetheless.
Do you believe jiu-jitsu can help break down cultural barriers and help others accept each other's differences?
Yup BJJ brings together everybody from gun-toting republicans to pot-smoking liberals and everybody in between.
What would you like to say to everyone that's supported you on your journey?
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as somebody who always had a positive attitude and never quit, even through significant adversity.
What are your thoughts on this interview? Let me know what you think in the comments below and make sure to share this article with others!
Next week dive deep into the indigenous culture within the BJJ community as we interview one of the most resilient and inspiring women in combat sports today. Stay tuned for this heart-warming story of perseverance through martial arts.