Sydney’s most recent and Icc’s first Bjj world champion – Steven Tong

FAVOURITE POSITION: Side Control

FAVOURITE SUBMISSON: Shoulder Locks

FAVOURITE JIU JITSU MOMENT: It must be the recent World Masters Championships. Testing myself against the very best in my division and I remember hearing my wife from the sidelines cheering me on as I locked on the submission in the final. We had come a long way to fulfil a Jiu Jitsu dream and to be able to see my wife’s big beaming smile when my hand was raised as the World Champion is a moment I will never forget.

HOBBIES: Not too many people know this but prior to Jiu Jitsu, I was a successful dog obedience competitor. I would like to one day revisit this. I have way too many hobbies and not enough time. Everything from home renovation, carpentry, gardening. I have a moto, ‘Always give something a try’.

JIU JITSU GOALS: When I first started Jiu Jitsu, competing was the furthest thing on my mind. I was always encouraged to start by my younger brother (who is also my coach) but too many things got in the way, family work, just life. It was not until my three boys wanted to give Jiu Jitsu a go that I got more interested. I was in my 40s when I attended my first Gi class, being one of the smallest and oldest in the class was a challenge. I have always enjoyed the common bond that Jiu Jitsu offers, we get to meet people from all walks of life that become your Jiu Jitsu family. As I have progressed through the ranks, I just love sharing the knowledge that has forged my Jiu Jitsu journey and help others reach their potential. These days I focus more on learning to be a better teacher/coach, getting the best out of the students and help them define their own Jiu Jitsu journey.

WHAT DOES JIU JITSU MEAN TO YOU? Jiu Jitsu has taught me to be the best that I could be under the toughest of situations whether that be on or off the mats. How one deals with pressure on the mats does correlate on how one handles situations outside of the mats. Outside of the gym and in my professional life, I find I am a lot calmer in stressful situations and constantly look at different ways to solving problems just like the intrinsic value that Jiu Jitsu teaches you.

HOW IS IT PART OF YOUR LIFE? Jiu Jitsu keeps me fit, it makes me humble, it’s character building and I get to spend time with my family on the mats. I focus a lot of my time teaching and running our gym and I love sharing my knowledge with others.

WHAT DOES YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE LOOK LIKE? If I’m not travelling for work I train 2 hours a day, 3 days a week, which also involves teaching. If I’m preparing for a competition, I may add an extra session during the week. My approach to training is that I have to be efficient with my time and body. As an older competitor you just can’t maintain the pace of some of the younger full time athletes. Injury management and allowing the body to recover is key. Over training has led to a lot of injuries for many athletes – slow down and listen to your body and talk to your coaches and other professionals.

THOUGHTS ABOUT COMPETITION: I believe everyone should consider competing at least once in their Jiu Jitsu journey. The end game is not just about stepping on the competition mat and touching hands with your opponent. One has to embrace the lead up, the extra focus, the hard grind, the clean diet and the self-doubt that will inevitable cross you mind – ‘Why am I doing this?’. This is the self-discovery that defines the person, the mental toughness of the individual and the willingness to push through unchartered waters. Win or lose it is the preparation that I value the most out of competitions.

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