Fighter Profile: Dave 'Speedy' Elliott
by Omied Khakshour
The Wallsend Boys Club is infamous in the North East for producing premiership football legends such as Alan Shearer, Steve Bruce and Peter Beardsley. Amidst the many trophies and footballing memorabilia at this iconic club, tucked away in the upstairs judo room father and son, Dave ‘Speedy’ and Tyrone ‘Tyweezy’ Elliott, are working on a legend of their own. Dave is one of an elite few of Brits who have reached the rank of Black belt, and the first in the North East. Tyrone, at 15, is one of the UKs brightest BJJ prospects and is part of the ‘next generation’ of british Jiu jiteiros that have grown up with the art.
I have spent the last year training with Dave and Tyrone at Gracie Barra Newcastle and seen first hand the dedication and skill this father and son pairing bring to the art of Jiu Jitsu. I caught up with them in my last week at GB Newcastle to find out how they got involved in BJJ, Dave’s philosophy on training leg locks and Tyrone’s aspirations of being world champion. Enjoy.
OK: So lets start with some Vital stats – Age, rank, school?
Dave: 39, Black belt, Gracie barra Newcastle
OK: How did you first get into jiu-jitsu?
Dave: I saw an advert in the paper for a VHS of UFC 1. I ordered it and after watching Royce Gracie destroy all his opponents with such ease, I went looking for a BJJ club in the North East. There were no BJJ clubs in the area at that time but I found a Traditional Ju jitsu school. I trained there for 2 years and reached the rank of Brown belt.
I used to be registered on the Gracie Barra website and was given an update about a seminar Royce was doing in the UK. Me and a friend signed up to it but I unfortunately couldn’t make it. When my mate came back from the seminar he was raving about it, he also met Marc Walder there. We kept in touch with Marc and arranged to go down and train with him in Essex.
I turned up in my TJJ brown belt, Marc had on his 3 stripe blue belt and after the class he asked me if I would like to roll. He schooled me, in a very respectful way, and after that on the train ride home I started to think about what I wanted to do in the future and how I could get access to BJJ. I wanted to give it my all and train full time, I spoke to Marc and he was very helpful, he invited me to Essex and sorted me out with a job and I trained full time with him for 3.5 years. There were a lot of great grapplers there at that time: Adam Edwards, Michael Russell, Mark De rel, Paul Bridges, Tom Watson, occasionally Andy Roberts would drop by, it was a good environment.
OK: Where does your nickname 'speedy' come from?
Dave: It's from when I did kickboxing, I had really fast hand speed and it's kinda just stuck.
OK: Tell us about your promotion to Black Belt?
Dave: It was massively unexpected at the time. I took my students down to Marc’s for a seminar with Mauricio Gomes, at the end of the seminar when Marc was giving his ‘Wisdom Speech (laughs)’ Me and Paul Bridges were called to the front. Mauricio pulls out a black belt and starts tying it around my waist. It was scary at the time, in BJJ there is a lot of mystic surrounding the Black belt, it’s understandable with the amount of hard work and dedication you need to gain the belt. I am still relishing it and still can’t believe I have it.
OK: Who have been some of the biggest influences on your jiu-jitsu game?
Dave: When I first saw Royce in the early UFC’s I was blown away and it had a massive influence on me. On a more personal level Marc and Tyrone are definitely huge influences, as without them I probably would have given up a long time ago.
OK: At GB Newcastle all belts levels train leg locks from day one, where many schools frown upon training leg locks, because they feel they are dangerous. Can you explain your philosophy?
Dave: I have been to many schools were it is forbidden to go for leg locks or where they don’t train them until they reach brown belt. My philosophy is that as long as you’re sensible there is no reason why you shouldn’t train leglocks at all belt levels. All my guys learn them from day one, so that when they get to brown belt they will by comfortable with using them and it won’t be an unnatural thing for them to do.
OK: What is your most memorable fight and when will you be competing as a black belt?
Dave: My most memorable fight in BJJ without a shadow of a doubt has to be the fight I had with Luiz Tosta at SENI in 2008. In the first minute I caught him with a footlock, and I felt his angle pop, but he didn’t tap. He spent the rest of the fight running and ended up winning on points. We had a brazilin ref who was happy for him to disengage for the whole match with a busted ankle?!
I have had a few in MMA. In a match with Paul Sutherland he tapped and then denied it so the fight was restarted and we had to go again. I ended up making him tap again. I also had a tough British title fight with Olli Ellis where he spent 3 rounds in my guard and ended up beating me on points.
I am heading towards competing at the Euro’s in Portugal next year. I haven’t fought in this country as a black belt yet as I am 40 soon and starting slow down, so fighting with the younger, fitter guys like Mike Russell would be tough at my age. At the euro’s the level will be high and I will be able to match the guys there in terms of fitness, I think I could do well.
OK: There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Tyrone for many years now; can you describe how you introduced him to BJJ?
Dave: When he was very young I just used to play fight with him and bring him to the gym with me. He used to join in with the training and when Ian (Malone – Dave Elliott brown belt) joined the club, Tyrone and him used to train a lot together, as they were a similar size. Ian has had a massive influence on Tyrone’s BJJ, they have very similar styles with the only difference is that Ty is even more laid back than Ian (laughs).
OK: What makes him so good?
Dave: One of the biggest reasons he is so good is that he has no ego and just loves to train. When he rolls, whether it be with a beginner or one of the experienced guys, he always does so at their level and goes at whatever pace they set. He has been doing BJJ his whole life and it is so natural to him, he has a very intuitive style. I started at 29, so it has taken me a lot longer to get to his level of intuition.
OK: What can we expect from him in the future?
Dave: It’s up to Ty as to what he can achieve. He has the potential to go all the way but he’s a teenager and he wants to be hang out with his friends and do what kids of his age do. I don’t push him into training or competing.
OK: You and your partner (Ritu) are putting on an MMA show in October, is this the first of many?
Dave: It was Ritu who planted the seed in terms of starting the show. I have a lot of experience in the cage and wanted to put on a show that was run by someone who had been in the shoes of the fighters. Ritu has been awesome and has done most of the work from organising the venue, sorting the fighters, sponsors, trophies, etc.
OK: Do you plan on putting on any BJJ gi competitions in the North East?
We have been talking about doing a Gi comp in the North East. We need to look into the schedule of other comps but the plan is to do a competition in the weeks leading up to the British Open to give the guys in the North East and Scotland a chance to prepare for the British. We already have a venue in mind just up the road from the Wallsend boys club.
OK: What are your future plans for yourself and your club?
Dave: To go from strength to strength. We recently had a bad experience with a change of location that went sour and I lost some members, so I want to build the club back up and in the future I would like my own place. I also want to have more guys competing at a high level in the future.
OK: Any last comments?
Dave: I would like to thank Tatami for sponsoring Tyrone, I think it awesome that they have shown faith in someone so young. I’d also like to thank my sponsor, Sportsense and everyone in the BJJ community. We are only small at the moment but we are starting to grow and make an impact on the world stage. With the younger generation coming through, we are going to be genuine world beaters in the future.
About the author:
Name: Omied Khakshour
Profession: Engineering Postgraduate (ie jobless)
Rank and lineage: Blue belt under Dave Elliott (Marc Walder/Mauricio Gomes black belt)
Club: I started training at Gracie Barra Swansea in June 2009. My studies in Durham meant that I have had a year training at Gracie Barra Newcastle, where I was recently awarded my blue belt by Dave Elliott. I will be returning to Gracie Barra Swansea very soon.
Competition record: Gold at the Hereford Open (76 kgs – white belt)
Weapon of choice: My open guard.
Goals: Get a job, win a blue belt competition.
Coming in Part Two: Teen BJJ sensation and son of Dave: Tyrone 'Tyweezy' Elliott