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Allen Causevic Interview
I am very excited to introduce you to Allen A. Caušević. He is one of the best competitors in the Chicago area. Many of you know him, some of you don’t, but you will hear more about him as time goes on.
Allen is extremely eloquent and thoughtful in his answers. We talk about “fighters”, gi vs. legs, the Austrian economy, the big guy, his favorite grapplers and his hair.
BJJinChicago: Allen, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You are currently training with Jay Valk. How long have you been training there and what do you like most about the academy?
Allen Čaušević: I have been with Mr. Jay Valka since May 2005. I started at Carlson Academy downtown and mostly attended afternoon classes that Jay taught. After Jay left on his own, I followed him to his new school in 2007. Since then, the school has grown dramatically. I attribute the growth to the same reasons I love academia. We are very open to the exchange of knowledge and ideas. I have visited many schools around the country and many instructors stick to that pure jiu-jitsu game. Unfortunately, this is a shame for the sport. MMA is evolving. Like Jiu-Jitsu. With the addition of RJ Cohen and his world class Judo skills, along with the Division 1/All-American wrestling skills of Timothy Foley, we are on the rise.
The transition from top stand-up game to top floor game is the future. This takes the exchange of ideas and knowledge I mentioned earlier, and for many, a journey out of the comfort zone. Jay has done a great job of creating this conducive environment. This “idea-friendly” environment is best seen during the Saturday open mats, where everyone is free. As a result, we see a wide variety of people with different skill levels. Exposure to different styles of local, national and international visitors has made us all better catchers. As the sport evolves, I am excited to see the future and our successes.
BJJiC: What are some of your biggest tournament accomplishments so far?
AC: I don’t look at Jiu-Jitsu as a fight. The mentality I follow is that it is a competitive game. That being said, I always look to play well during every game. Being able to perform under pressure is what separates champions and I work very hard to keep my composure and work on techniques that put the odds of victory in my favor. As a result, my best performances were during:
2011 NYC International Open Purple Belt Super Heavy: Gold
2010 Chicago International Open Purple Belt Super Heavy: Gold
2009 NYC International Open Blue Belt Super Heavy: Gold
2009 Abu Dhabi Pro-Gi Qualifications- Blue Belt-Heavy-Gold
BJJiC: What are some tips for bigger guys just starting jiu-jitsu?
AC: Don’t be discouraged when the conventional wisdom you followed turns out to be false. When I started training, I was 240 lbs., lifting weights, and constantly eating a post-workout meal of Burger King Whoppers and Original Muscle Milk. Yes, that’s about 1700 calories. We’ve been led to believe that there is a correlation between the amount of weight you throw around in the gym and your fighting ability. How many times have you heard, “Wow, he’s huge! Don’t mess with him!”? Well, in 2007 I got the red pill and my world turned upside down. I’ve been destroyed by guys half my size. Taping to the last naked choke on someone who weighs 135 lbs. definitely destroys one’s ego. You soon realize that you have been following the wrong path in life. For some it is devastating. My advice would be to work on your technique as much as possible and don’t get discouraged when you lose to a smaller opponent. Finally, protect yourself as much as possible. Working on your weaknesses and taking yourself out of your comfort zone will pay dividends later in your career.
BJJiC: If you could go back in time…what would you say to yourself as a white belt?
AC: Stop eating Whoppers. Do not begin competing in No-Gi until you are promoted to blue belt. There is a long debate about the merits of Gi versus No-Gi. I’m of the school that believes that a good Gi game will translate into a good No-Gi game. I would try to knock some sense into my old self to start working hard on my Gi base and then move to No-Gi after that.
BJJiC: Royal Rumble – Your hair, Jay’s beard, RJ’s hair and Mike’s beard. who wins?
AC: My hair down. I could ride to a jiu-jitsu class at night and then have Gray Goose on the rocks at a world-class country club right after with my perfect hair part. It doesn’t budge no matter how hard I strain. It is the source of my power. Second place goes to Mike Cornille. His beard is one of the most protective shields known to man.
BJJiC: Who is the best person you have ever played with?
AC: This award goes to Mr. Roberto “Cyborg” Abre. I visited his school in Miami, FL in December 2010 and was humbled. I was amazed when I felt the level of his skill in action. The road of Jiu-Jitsu is long and that experience helped me realize that I am not at the level I would like to be. Seeing where I’m at has helped me train differently and work harder in many different aspects. It’s always good to take a step back and see where you are and decide where you want to go in the future.
BJJiC: Who is the best person you have ever competed against?
AC: This title would go to Mr. Luke Costello from the UK. He is my last defeat which happened at the 2011 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. After watching the video, we have a very similar game, but he was better that day. He took me down with a great Uchi Mat, which I haven’t seen in a tournament setting in a long time. I lost my composure and was subjected to a bow and arrow choke. It’s ironic; I was thrown with one of my favorite throws and choked out with my favorite submission. Eating the taste of your own medicine was not tasty. I look forward to a rematch in the future.
BJJiC: How many times a week do you train?
AC: During the holidays I’m usually there 4 to 5 days a week. If I’m training for a tournament then I’m in the gym 6 days a week. I added strength and conditioning 3 to 4 days a week to my regiment as well. Hopefully this new combination will lead to new found success in the future.
BJJiC: What types of activities do you do outside of jiu-jitsu?
AC: Similar to doing the following in no particular order:
1. People looking at Wholefoods.
2. Filmmaking and graphic design.
3. Improving knowledge about the Austrian School of Economics.
4. Eating food that has not been processed or altered in any way.
5. Volunteering at animal shelters.
6. Sharpening culinary skills.
BJJiC: Who are some of your favorite grapplers to watch (and why)?
AC: I love watching Cyborg Abreu and Braga Neto. I’m a bigger guy so of course I like to watch big dogs. Watching their matches helped me become a better grappler.
BJJiC: What are your plans for competing in the future?
AC: I plan to compete in the 2011 Chicago International Summer Open, of course. But the big year-end tournament I’m looking at is the Melbourne Open in Australia. I’ve never been, so I’d jump at the chance to compete in such a big international event and see the sights afterwards.
BJJiC: What else can we expect from you in the future?
AC: I want to improve my judo game to the highest possible level. I see myself traveling and competing in high level tournaments on the US Judo scene in the future. Training with the best judoka will take my Jiu-Jitsu game to a new level and I’m excited to learn new techniques.
BJJiC: Any last comments?
AC: Yes. With the explosion in popularity that MMA & Grappling have seen in recent years, the behavior and behavior of the subculture that has risen in parallel is appalling. Crazy full sleeve graphic tees/tattoos have lowered the respect of the sport considerably. All too often I see these individuals in social settings bragging to people about how “fighters” they are. This disillusioned mentality must stop. Athletes should raise themselves to a higher level and strive to be gentlemen. Poor sentence structure and incorrect grammar is not cool. This, of course, has nothing to do with SubCulture clothing. They have done a great job supporting local athletes and are very active in the BJJ community. The SubCulture is the only Gi I wear for competitions and training. I highly recommend them.
Favorite Takedown: Uchi Mata
Favorite submission: Bow and arrow choke
Favorite position: Knee on stomach
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