Ross: The experience overall was amazing. I have to admit I was a little star struck. I mean come on, every big name in the JJ and grappling world was there! People I read about from all over the world…the best of the best, how could you not be excited about that! All of the competitors were treated with respect and taken care of. You really couldn’t ask for more. To me everyone at that tournament was famous! If you don’t live in Detroit and you were at the event to me your famous!
Modafferi: What are your thoughts on the women’s divisions in Abu Dhabi when you first saw the line up, then the brackets, and then the results?
Ross: I thought the women’s division was very stacked. Both divisions really. I have to admit I was a little bummed that alternates were chosen prior to weighing in…AND of course I had to cut weight to 160 then gave up 25 pounds in my first match. That part was a little disheartening. But I realize this was the first opportunity for women there, so the kinks are still being worked out. I think the divisions need to be broken down a little further for women if we are invited back again. Their are a lot of talented women out there that were left out because they weigh 160 plus. Overall I thought the lineup was great. I didn’t predict the outcome. I don’t know that anyone did. There were some surprises for sure.
Modafferi: I understand you have a women’s team. When did you start it?
Three years ago. It was hard because a few girls would come in here and there but never stick around. I started the team so women could find some comfort in learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Now most take the guy’s classes, too. There’s an upstairs changing area so they don’t have to associate with guys if they don’t want to. I still encourage them to roll and train with guys once they feel comfortable.
Modafferi: How many girls are in your class?
Ross: I have twenty two in total. Three are blue belts and the rest are white with stripes. My youngest is a very talented thirteen year old, and my oldest is in her forties.
Modafferi: What kind of school do you teach and train at?
Ross: We have great training facilities. We’re a Caique jiu-jitsu affiliate in Walled Lake, Detroit. We just got a boxing ring and have Muay Thai world champion Matee Jede Petok living here and teaching at the gym. We have five brown belts and I’m one of the five purple belts. Caique comes out every other month to train with us.
Modafferi: How much energy do you devote to teaching and then training yourself?
Ross: Once you become a teacher students demand a lot of attention, so you typically either have to train or teach. The all-girls classes are twice a week, but they were understanding when they knew I had this competition coming up. I cut classes back to once a week so I could train myself, and during the last two weeks I canceled classes. I train with guys to prepare for a competition. It’s a lot of time and energy and is tough to do both, teaching and training. Plus I work a desk job for an ad agency doing product promotions for Burger King, and the work schedule is demanding. Something has to give, and I can’t not work.
Modafferi: You’ve had two MMA fights. Would you consider doing that again?
Ross: I might if something came up, but it’s not something I’m actively pursuing. I’d like to do more gi tournaments. Seems like when I have gone to different tournaments, there haven’t been many purple belts so I always had to take the gi off to compete. Now there’s more of a chance since there’re more women, so I’m looking do to more gi. It’s my favorite.