21 Jul 2010

Fighter Profile: Andy Roberts

Andy Roberts (white gi) v Oli Geddes at BJJ British Open 2010
Andy Roberts is a brown belt under Roger Gracie and runs a popular full time academy (Andy Roberts BJJ)  in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK. Andy is a regular on the UK tournament scene, often combining referee, competition and coaching duties all in one day.

I first came across Andy in his guise as a moderator on the European Fight Network (EFN) forums. Since then I've been made all too aware of his firm stance against what he refers to as the self-righteous keyboard warriors that frequent the boards (me included I guess!), especially on the subject of the BJJ Police. If you've read my previous fighter profile with Rob Taylor, then I welcome you to hear Andy's alternative thoughts on the same subject and to hear about his passion and love for Brazilian jiu-jitsu:


Andy applying a footlock at the ADCC World Pro trials 2009

Meerkatsu: Hi Andy, let's start with your age, rank and serial number?

Andy Roberts: Hi Seymour, I'm 25 for life ;-) and a brown belt under Roger Gracie.

Meerkatsu: Man, you look good for 25!

Andy Roberts: Actually I'm 29.

Meerkatsu: Man, you look good for 29.

Meerkatsu: Okay, erm, tell me about how you began BJJ and where you learned BJJ from?

Andy Roberts: I was helping out teaching at a traditional ju-jitsu (TJJ) school in Sheffield and they brought Carley Gracie in for a seminar. That was back in 1998. After that one session I was absolutely hooked - after that I attended BJJ seminars whenever they were in the UK, I drilled and sparred with the TJJ guys every time and in the end I went to the Gracie Academy in Torrance to do a ten day intensive course.

Meerkatsu: Wow! the world famous 'garage' where Rorion Gracie and all his brothers first introduced their art to America? Tell me what that was like?

Andy Roberts: It sucked!! I had to come home!! No, seriously it was amazing and gave me an awesome start in BJJ both for training and teaching. In fact I still teach using some of the drills i learnt there over 10yrs ago.I trained every day for five hours a day (2 in the mornings, 3 in the eve).

Training there was an incredible eye opener, but the most friendly and welcoming place. By the third day I soon learned the benefits of wearing knee pads, drinking copious amounts of gatorade and fueling up on 12" Subway clubs. Oh, and also not to roll with sunburn ;-(

It was such a cool place to train and also just hangout. Fight vids were always being watched before and after class, there was a juice bar which was randomly manned by two Canadians from Vancouver who I later learned had run out of money and were sleeping in the academy.

It was so enjoyable that I went back the following year. Then I found out about the opening of Gracie Barra Birmingham so I started travelling down there to train.

Meerkatsu: So who did most of the teaching? I presume you trained with Rorion, Royce, Royler and maybe even Rickson?

Andy Roberts: I was mainly taught by Ryron and Renner in the beginners classes and Henrique 'Caique' Elias in the intermediate classes. There was none of the bull that surrounds much of the traditional arts, they really could all talk the talk and walk the walk.

The second time I went it was all change, Caique had left to set up his own academy and it seemed a lot of the higher grades (purples and browns) had gone with him.
This time Royce did most of the teaching and Ralek always wanted to spar with me. The coolest thing though was being instructed by Helio himself and then watching him roll with his grandsons at the end of the class.

Meerkatsu: So you had all this amazing experience in the States, where did you train when you were back in the UK?

Andy Roberts: Well, the Golden Arches started appearing over the doors of the TJJ club where I was a partner in and so I left. I also had to leave the Royce network as I couldnt afford the affiliation fees on my own and I was also training a lot more with the Barra boys - travelling to both Birmingham and London.

I was training with Mo, Roger, Jude, Ande Roberts (GB Brum) and Barry Foley (GB Brum) and Braulio.

My then girflfriend, now wife, is from guildford so we moved down here. I decided to stop teaching and to just train, Roger had just opened up his full time place in Kensal so it was perfect!

Roger Gracie, Andy Roberts, Mestre Mauricio Gomez

Meerkatsu: What does it mean to you to be part of the Roger Gracie Team?

Andy Roberts: It means a lot to be part of the RGA family, although I can't train there as often as I would like at the moment, the knowledge available there and the people training and teaching there are awesome!!

Meerkatsu: How did you feel when Roger promoted you to brown belt?

Andy Roberts: Scared! It was extremely cool and totally unexpected. I felt i was just settling into a rhythm with my purple, as i'd had that just over a year.

Meerkatsu: Tell me about your tournament experience, what is your comp record?

Andy Roberts: How am I meant to know that?? I did keep track at one point, but I don't really keep a count anymore.
Andy (blue gi) at the 2009 IBJJF Europeans

Meerkatsu: I saw you compete at the BJJ British Open and saw some very impressive top level jiu-jitsu there - have you competed at the Mundials or Pans before? If not, would do you plan to?

Andy Roberts: Thanks. I did compete as a blue at the Pan Ams. I got pulled to guard and had my back taken, I defended, escaped and thought 'right, now its my turn!' but then the whistle blew. I was so gutted!!

I personally dont feel I have reached my potential in 99% of the comps I have entered. I am currently deciding which comp to do next and will be putting together a specific training plan for it so I can realise my full potential. Hopefully it will be at the Mundials next year but we'll see.

Meerkatsu: How would you describe your BJJ style (guard, top, aggressive, tactical etc)?

Andy Roberts: I'm definately tactical, from blue through purple I was a dedicated guard player - well I thought I was but watching through some old vids the other day I seemed to be on top the whole time!

As a brown belt, I am trying to develop Roger-esque pressure with my top game, and always, always attempt to win by submission.

In Part Two -  Andy vents his spleen agains the self-righteous keyboard warriors, talks about being a UFC judge, running his own academy, his matches against Michael Russell and how he feels BJJ should be taught and trained...

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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