Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @zer0darl3rdy
Full Name: Alex Baker
Belt Colour: White belt; 3 stripes
Professor: David Adiv
Short Term Goals: Place First in a competition
Alex is someone that used to get into trouble and was going down the wrong path. Through the help of Mickey Gall and Jiu-Jitsu, he managed to change his self-destructive mindset into a champion's mentality. He trains hard and when I say hard I mean 30 hours a week with some really talented practitioners. Don't let his troublesome past fool you though, he is quite intelligent and his thoughts and philosophies on this sport/art can't be ignored.
This young man's potential is endless and his story is one that everyone can gain inspiration from. It's mind-blowing to see the type of impact martial arts has had on his lifestyle. Scrolling through his Instagram, you can clearly see a difference in attitude and outlook in his life once he starts training in jiu-jitsu. Alex is an excellent addition to the Submission Shark Community and is a prime example of how anyone can change for the better.
Please read until the end because there is an essential message that he conveys through his life experiences and I believe the rest of the community would greatly benefit from.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
Where do you train out of?
I train out of Gracie NJ Academy (Gracie Humaita NJ). The gym is based in Lebanon, New Jersey
Do you prefer the gi or no gi?
My academy is primarily a Gi academy, so I train in the gi more, but I would have to say that I like the pace of no gi better. For me it is about even though, I love them both.
Placed second in no gi this weekend, back to the lab. Thanks to @mickeygall Jamie and Russ for the coaching and support also congrats to Russ on first in gi and second and no gi
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Directly, my professor hasn’t really helped me, but also because I haven’t asked for help. I do know for a fact he does help others in my academy, and anybody really. My professor has given us speeches though that related to jiu-jitsu and to other aspects of life which were very insightful speeches.
This past year you've taught me so much about this sport it's unbelievable and I just wanted to say thank you and wish you the best endeavors with your move to North Carolina. Appreciate it, bro!
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
"Never had much but a dollar and a dream." -Alex Baker
Jiu-Jitsu has taught me many things. One of the most important being self-discipline. It has also taught me that everyone is different but when we come together and share knowledge it enables every one of us to grow, because what someone may know I may not know, and what I may know they may not know. So we should share our knowledge with each other so we can make each other better and grow together.
Jiu-Jitsu also taught me that not everyone is who they seem. I say this for one main reason. Jiu-jitsu practitioners are among some of the most dangerous/deadly people in the world, but yet most people who train are among the nicest people that I’ve ever met also.
How often do you train?
I train about 5-6 days a week, anywhere between 1-5 hours each day.
"No days off. Gettin busy on the mats on Christmas Eve." -Alex Baker
What made you want to start training?
As a kid I used to always “wrestle” with my friends, even though none of us wrestled, we always just loved beating each other up. Then growing up I got into some trouble, I use to do a lot of stupid things just because I was bored and had nothing better to do. I often found myself getting into fights or altercations. Not to like an extreme extent, but more than the average person should. Then I got in some legal trouble again, and I thought to myself well we’ve been down this road before so we know how this goes. I told myself I had to find something productive to do with my time because if I didn’t I was going to keep getting in trouble, and just end up in jail.
Now I always wanted to train martial arts, so I decided maybe it’s time to try it. I did about a day and a half of researching gyms, and no matter what I searched, Gracie NJ kept popping up, so I decided that I was going to do a trial class, so I set up the trail class, and the next day I was training.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
Yes, I plan on training my whole life. If I can’t train my whole life I still want to be involved with martial arts in some way, but for as long as I’m able too, I plan on training. I definitely plan on getting a black belt and hopefully one day owning my own academy.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
I don’t think its just one thing, I think it’s a bunch of factors, maybe even everything. From the social factor to the confidence boost it gives you. I don’t know about other gyms but my gym is pretty small so everyone knows each other and it's like a big family, we all look out for each other.
I also think that when you see how beautiful it is when it is performed at the highest level, it just gives you hope and makes you want to get there and to be that guy. It also isn’t a false sense of protection. Jiu-jitsu is real it is for everyone, especially the weaker smaller guys, and I think that plays a significant role in it being addicting is, that it really is a fair sport. Lastly, for me at least, when I finish my day of training and leave the gym all sore, I know the only thing that is going to make me feel better is getting back on the mats the next day.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
Jiu-jitsu is an exercise itself. It really works your core muscles and gets your whole body moving in sync. It has also made me stronger in a way weightlifting couldn’t. My cardio has increased drastically since starting jiu-jitsu also.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Jiu-jitsu has been a major benefit to my mental health. It is such a big stress reliever. It’s a place you go where once you get changed into those clothes, nothing else matters. For instance, I got in a car accident on my way to training once. I was completely bummed until I got there, I started talking to friends and training and forgot all about my car… until training was over, and I realized I had to go back to dealing with real-life issues. But that’s what I like about jiu-jitsu is it gives you an escape from life and all its problems.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything different?
Well, considering I am still very new to the sport, I never thought of that… but if anything I would have just kept notes from the beginning. I just recently started keeping a notebook and it’s one of the best things I ever did for myself. Also just make sure I went as hard as I could every day I was on that mat.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I definitely want to get a black belt. I want to compete and medal at every belt level, I definitely would love to have some jiu-jitsu company’s sponsor me, but I know those will come with the training, and I would love to have super fights in jiu-jitsu, but my aspirations are more in the MMA scene than just jiu-jitsu.
"Try to swim in water with the sharks you gon drown." -Alex Baker
What’s your favorite move?
Honestly, my favorite submissions are triangles, armbars, and guillotines, but I live for a good scramble!
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
Honestly probably dead or in jail
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
I would love to see jiu-jitsu become more mainstream. In my opinion, it’s one of, if not the most beautiful martial art, and when performed at the higher levels it is something that definitely should be televised... but at the same time, I do like how jiu-jitsu is almost underground in a sort of way.. I feel that’s what makes all practitioners bond better together is because we’re all one big culture that a lot of people are clueless about!
Has any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Not just any of them but all of them honestly. Big shout out to everyone over at Gracie NJ! Especially all the MMA guys, they push me the most. One of the people who push me the most is my teammate Mickey Gall, he always keeps it real with me, and calls me out on things and corrects my mistakes. A true professional and someone I can definitely say has a major impact on my training. But everyone at that gym pushes me every day. We have some real good talent coming out of here in the next few years and training beside them is a blessing every day.
I would also like to thank my teammates Kris Gratalo and Russ Korbol. When I thought about doing a competition but was worried because my previous one didn’t go so well, they both came and did the competition with me just to have teammates around who are more experienced to support me. It was honestly the most fun competition I ever did, and it was a great thing for them to do for me.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Honestly, defense was so hard. My first few months of training I strictly trained off my back so I could deal with it and learn to survive early.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
The simple fact that If I can do it anyone can and I see potential in everyone
"When you're struggling, sometimes you just need to relax and survive it until you can come out on top. What doesn't kill you make you stronger and you just gotta know you gonna make it out by any means necessary" -Alex Baker
What would you tell someone that wants to try jiu-jitsu but is anxious about starting?
I would tell them to do it. It’s worth every penny, and it’s knowledge that’s just handy to have just Incase you need it
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
Yeah honestly just recently for like year or so I had been dealing with legal issues, and training kept my mind off of it. It also kept me from getting in more trouble. It has been my biggest crutch since I started.
What was the exact moment like when you realized you wanted to make the switch in your lifestyle to something more positive?
It was like 1:00 am and I was driving home from a night out, and it was like 2 weeks before my 19th birthday and while I was in the car I was just thinking in my head randomly and I just got this like weird message through my body and it was like this year is the year. Then I turned 19 and 2 weeks later started jiu-jitsu.
How has Mickey Gall helped you in your journey into martial arts and how did you meet him?
Okay well to start, I met Mickey my second-day training, I got like a double leg takedown and he was like “that was awesome what’s your name” I told him my name is Alex and that’s when He told me he was Mickey. But anyway, he’s been like a big brother to me.
As I said before he’s real. He’s not like an average famous person or anything like that. One of the nicest most down to earth guys I know, he will never mislead you, and he’s straight up, he’s a stand-up guy. Mickey coached me in my first two competitions, and since then he has been spending time in California. But we still stay in touch all the time, the night before my competitions he calls me to make sure I'm in a good spot mentally. He calls me after the competition. Even when we're in the gym he works with me. I can never thank him enough because for him to work with me it isn’t really doing anything for him but he still takes the time to do it anyway.
Every step of the way he’s been there for help if I needed it. I also like that he won’t beat around the bush, like if something needs to be fixed he’s on it and he will work with you until it looks right. Just a great guy to be around and an awesome teammate to have and it's awesome to have someone like that to look up too on this crazy journey.
What would you tell someone that’s going down a negative road right now and wants to change?
Get into training and don’t stop. Also, we all go down bad roads, you gotta hit rock bottom to see the top, so don’t give up your light is coming, keep fighting! You should do it sooner than later because there’s gonna be a point where it’s too late (ex. Going to jail).
Alex, your story really captured my attention because I can relate. Although I try and promote positivity through this community, I was not always the most positive person. To be honest I had a serious attitude problem and was going down the wrong path as well. I'd be in similar shoes as you with some petty legal issues but I got lucky and thanks to martial arts my whole mentality has changed and I am happy to see the same has happened to you.
You have a bright future but came from dark ways and your intellect is evident in the way you expressed yourself through those answers. Your work ethic is no question one of your biggest advantages. 30 hours of training a week are incredible, to say the least. You are a prime example of how anyone going down the wrong path can make a complete switch in direction and change for the better. Change is possible for anyone, you just have to decide it's time.
" A smart man learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from other's mistakes"