In December, I started a monthly tradition with BJJ Girl of the Month, to honor people that are truly dedicated to their personal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journeys. For January, I give you its ‘brother’ series with my first Warrior of the Month post, honoring Josh Hinger of Team Atos.
Getting to Know Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Josh Hinger was awarded his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by Andre Galvao in December of 2013. Since then, he has been actively training and competing at the top level of the sport, working with and among some of the best grapplers in the world, in San Diego, California. While Josh is an active member of Team Atos, he frequently trains at our open mat sessions at Carlson Gracie Temecula. I got to talking with him and started admiring his passion for BJJ; he was nice enough to sit down and discuss how things had gone for him so far in his Jiu Jitsu career.
Josh’s grappling career started as a high school wrestler, scoring takedowns and pins for Chaparral High School in Temecula, California long before he ever put on a Jiu Jitsu gi. He quickly took a liking to “Nogi” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu after graduating, due to how similar it was to wrestling.
Starting his training under mixed martial artist Chris Brennan, Josh was presented with high level moves and practical fighting techniques early on as he sparred with the elite members of Brennan’s team throughout his introduction to BJJ.
Grappling with the Gi
Being that wrestling primarily made up Hinger’s fundamental approach to being a grappler, he was naturally enhanced by the dedication to Nogi training that he was put through training with Chris Brennan. This led to Josh being quite fearsome while fighting in just shorts and a rash guard. However, the focus on Nogi for Josh has placed him in an interesting spot being around Gi Jiu Jitsu stars like Andre Galvao and Keenan Cornelius when he is training at Atos.
There was a lot of talk about what is real Jiu-Jitsu and what’s not real Jiu-Jitsu. Some people say it’s not practical, and argue that you shouldn’t be used to grabbing a sleeve or a lapel to defend yourself. In Nogi, you can always grab a neck or a wrist. The debate annoyed me though, so I just decided to put on a gi and see what the big deal was. I had absolutely no problem. Everything from Nogi transferred great to Gi. It was challenging and different, and gave me a great way to learn something new. I prefer Nogi, because I’m more experienced and more confident with it, but I know, and Andre knows that’s just something mental for me, and I should feel the same way about Gi and Nogi.
Coming to Team Atos
After different opportunities were presented to his teammates, many of them moved on, and Josh Hinger became a Jiu-Jitsu nomad. He began training as a brown belt at an Atos school in Indiana, where he met Andre Galvao shortly after he had won ADCC in 2012. Andre had been out to his school for a regular visit, and Josh ended up getting along very well with him. This led to Josh making it back to Southern California to earn his black belt and train directly under Andre Galvao at his main Atos school in San Diego.
It was obvious to me that Josh was extremely dedicated to his training, and also very happy to be apart of the team he is on now. When I posed the question, “Who’s your Jiu-Jitsu Hero?”, he didn’t have much trouble thinking of a response.
“Oh it’s Andre. Andre Galvao, no question. The guy is amazing. He’s the nicest person in the whole world, the best coach, super humble, and I swear, the hardest worker. When we are training, he is always working harder than everybody else in the room. He’s always killing it. He makes you want to work harder just by being there to train with him.”
Josh on Jiu Jitsu Competition
While I spoke with Josh, I shared with him some of my own apprehensions about training, or actually, training for competition. I told him that I get a little anxious before tournaments, and I wanted to deal with it better in order to calm myself. He gave me some great advice in that I need to push toward finding a spot in my game where I feel most comfortable.
“Your anxiety will go away with more competition and more experience. I know that nobody brings it to me like Andre does, and that means I know I’m ready for anything when I compete. Even if I’m going to fight a seasoned veteran like Marcelo Garcia, that would be huge opportunity and a win-win for me. You learn a lesson no matter what, and you get to go after someone who is trying to perform up to what they are expected to be.”
We also discussed the aspects and arguments around cutting weight. Josh gave me some great perspective on the topic:
If you cut weight, you aren’t helping yourself. I don’t like the way it makes me feel… The goal is to get to, and win the Absolute division. Winning your weight class is cool; winning the Absolute is what matters.
Life, Jiu Jitsu, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Josh gave me some great advice when it came to the overall journey in general. “Just have fun… I look at everyone busy with their lives, and think about how I can’t be envious of them. They should be envious of me; I get paid to choke people. What’s not to love about that?”
Josh Hinger scored a win over AJ Agazarm at the most recent American Nationals in September 2014. Recently, Agazarm took home a win via submission against Oliver Geddes at the first Polaris Pro Jiu Jitsu Invitational, bringing speculation that Hinger himself may be entering the Metamoris and Polaris circuits alongside Keenan and Andre, seeing that he has proved to be extremely able in his Nogi matches, and constantly improving in the Gi.
Look for Josh on his Facebook page: Jiu-Jitsu Josh; you can also find him training hard at the Atos Headquarters in San Diego, California, and helping out as a great training partner at the Carlson Gracie Temecula school.