“Do you want to roll?” It’s not a typical question you’ll hear a student ask another in most college classes- but this class is different. It’s held at Roy Dean Academy, and the subject matter is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Pupils learn how to defend themselves, handle larger opponents effectively, and become physically and mentally focused. The owner and namesake of the school is Roy Dean, who fused his passion for martial arts with a degree in media, and created Jiu Jitsu videos that have been viewed by millions of people worldwide.
Dean, a health and human performance instructor at COCC, stands out in the martial arts community as not only a world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor, but as someone who has adapted to the rise of technology in business economics, distributing his apps and DVDs to a global audience. His education began when Dean was 16, living in Japan as an exchange student.
He was required to take an elective after class, with one of the options being Judo; an Olympic sport which emphasizes throwing an opponent to the ground. As Roy vividly recounts in his bestselling Blue Belt Requirements DVD, the first six weeks of instruction consisted of learning how to fall.
“I remember thinking at the time ‘Put your effort into this and you won’t regret it,’” Dean said.
By the end of that year, after many hard practices and competitions, Roy was awarded his first degree black belt in Kodokan Judo. He continued to study other forms of martial arts after returning to the US, focusing on various forms of Jiu Jitsu.
Persistence runs in the family
Roy’s mother stressed education and then led by example, receiving her master’s degree while in her 60’s. While he pursued his associates degree in Monterey California, he apprenticed under a Japanese Jujutsu master, resulting in a third degree black belt in Seibukan Jujutsu, with additional black belts in Aikido and Iaido.By the time he transferred to the University of California San Diego, Roy had also received his first rank in BJJ, the blue belt.
It took nine and half years for Roy to obtain his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After graduating from the UCSD, Roy was awarded the prestigious rank by Professor Roy Harris, one of the original “Dirty Dozen,” or first 12 Americans to receive their black belt in the art.
Many martial arts schools charge students to advance in rank. Dean’s academy is unique in this regard. He doesn’t charge students to test when they are ready to move up. Instead, he leverages his media skills to create a video of the student’s rank demonstration, then places it on YouTube to inspire others to explore the world of jiu jitsu.
“My goal is to train a generation of black belts,” Dean said. “Distribution platforms like YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon have allowed me to help students outside of my own Academy.”
However, even with Dean’s passion for his art form, starting a business wasn’t easy.
“The worst part was fear; you don’t know how to run a business, you have to wear many hats, and not all ideas are successful. The best part is you get the full benefit of what you do,” Dean said.
Roy’s pursuit of continuous education, on and off the mat, has paid off in being able to do what he loves and share it with others, including COCC students.
“If I can do it, you can do it too,” Dean said. “Everyone should take a look at jiu jitsu, and see if it can help them take control of their lives. The journey isn’t easy, but it’s more rewarding than you can imagine.”
Renee Kaufman | The Broadside