LOVE AND WAR
Anyone who has trained in the art of jiu-jitsu can attest to its gentle magnetic pull that will be sure to lure you onto the mats. In most cases, a casual encounter with the sport will quickly escalate to an obsession. So when I had the chance to team up with one of the sport's most successful and innovative brands Hyperfly on a photography project, we decided to document the jiu-jitsu obsession as it played out in lives of one of their sponsored athletes. The result was "Love and War", a photo essay which was published as a four-page spread in one of the industries top magazines, Jiu Jitsu Style.
Website: link to magazine spread | Commissioned by: Hyperfly | Publisher: Jiu Jitsu Style | Mediums: stills and text
The road to any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is long and arduous, full of tides both high and low. For star brown belt Jeremy Jackson, the road to a super fight against an archenemy is simply, a part of life.
Hidden in a small kitchen cabinet, inside Jeremy Jackson and his wife Ashlee’s one bedroom Silicon Valley townhouse, lies an impressive assortment of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition medals. The number: too many to count, the types (gold, silver or bronze): well, the cupboard make it too dark to decipher. Why would a man who dedicates 4 hours a day to training and even more mental and emotional equity to the sport seemingly discard his hard earned hardware? The answer to that question just may be as complex as the man himself.
It takes only a few minutes for your unavoidable fascination with Jeremy’s pitbull-esque exterior to fade, as the depths of his humanity will quickly reveal itself. You will begin to notice the unrelenting pace of his speech and find that it is simply a product of the breadth of his intellect. You’ll learn that he runs a profitable marketing business, that he has delicately crafted to facilitate predictable, nearly turnkey results. He will end up gushing over his wife Ashlee, showing not only a deep and honest admiration for his life partner, but a healthy respect cultivated by nearly a decade of growing into adulthood, together. Lastly, you’ll get to jiu jitsu.
Jiu jitsu is Jeremy’s contraction, constantly grappling with his hyper-rational mind. Why give so much to such an notoriously unforgiving sport with little to no commercial market for its best athletes. He will rattle off convincing philosophical aphorisms that will give merit to the value of jiu jitsu, however at the core of his commitment is simply an irrational and inexorable love for the gentle art.
Jackson stretches in preparation for his 7:00am Olympic lifting session at NC Fit in San Jose, California. Jackson has incorporated an intensive weight training program into his weekly regimen, seeing significant gains in both weight and strength.
Weightlifting coach Doug Beringer silently observes Jackson as he works through a set of weighted dips. Beringer oversees the Olympic weightlifting portion of Jackson’s weight training program.
After a 2 hour weight training session it’s back home where Jackson gets straight to work at his at home work station. Jackson runs a successful search engine marketing company which is highly automated and allows him to train multiple times a day.
One of Jackson’s top training partners, Danny Bohigian, black belt under Dave Camarillo works his grips after taking Jackson’s back.
After a hard sparring session at Samurai Jiu Jitsu in Campbell, California and a weight training session earlier in the day, Jackson is spent.
Jackson and his wife Ashlee get in some weekend cross training at a local track in Campbell, California. As husband and wife, their support of each other extends far beyond their home and the academy. The two consistently work out with together, pushing each other to their limits.
More than a jiu jitsu competitor, Jackson teaches classes at Heroes Martial Arts every Friday. Here, he teaches a leg drag passing sequence outlining multiple counters to his opponent's attempts to retain guard.
Jackson attempts the pass the guard of a training partner while sparring at his home academy, Heroes Martial Arts, in Downtown San Jose.
After teaching and training an hour long class, Jackson and his wife Ashlee discuss their lunch plans. Ashlee is undoubtedly his number one fan and the biggest catalyst for his personal growth.
Time to roll! Jackson ties his belt as he steps foot on the mats at Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu in Pleasanton, an academy located 30 miles away from his house in San Jose.
Jackson and Bohigian square off again, this time on Bohigian’s home turf. The two sparred for three rounds, exchanging both crisp technique and a competition style pace.
Entering Kezar Pavilion the night of weigh-ins, 24 hours before Fight to Win Pro 8, it’s clear the venue awaits a long night of overhaul. The production value of Fight to Win is one of the key selling points of the league for both athletes and fans.
Grappling superstar Garry Tonon steps onto the scales as Jackson eagerly waits his turn.
Jackson shares a satisfying grin as he weighs in safely under the 165lbs mark. Three days prior to weigh-ins he was 8lbs over weight.
Upon entering the venue the night of his super fight, Jackson takes a few minutes to acclimate to the atmosphere and visualize his match that is only hours away.
45 minutes before stepping foot on the mat, Jackson begins warming up with a series of dynamic stretches, lunges, and ultimately moves on to pushups.
Only minutes away from taking center stage Jackson stays cool amidst (left side of the frame) Alpha Male Brown Belt David Mitchell, Jackson’s Professor Alan “Gumby” Marques, Jiu Jitsu Legend and Ralph Gracie Head Instructor Kurt Osiander, (right side of the frame) Stella Freeman of Inside BJJ, and (behind) his opponent Pedro Silva.
Bright lights, thousands of cheering spectators, the mat, and his opponent awaits. After 45 days of physical and mental preparation, Jackson finally stands face to face with his moment.
Download the Jiu Jitsu Style four page spread