Ian McPherson, the last to leave

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By Bart Stevens

I recently sat down and interviewed Mr. Ian McPherson, 24 years old, number 5 on GRACIEMAG’s list of who to watch out for in 2010.

The brown belt from Atlanta, Georgia is known as one of the nicest guys in the entire Alliance organization. He will work repetitions of the most basic techniques with the newest white belt for hours, just out of love for the sport. Ian is always the first one at the academy and the last to leave. His competitive drive is second to none.

How do you feel about being featured as one of the “rising stars” according to GRACIEMAG?

It is truly an honor.  I feel very proud to be recognized in a sport with so many talented and remarkable athletes.

What was your first academy?

My first and still current Jiu-Jitsu academy is the Alliance headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.  There has always been an absolutely electrified feel to the place that encourages learning and camaraderie. (Romero) Jacare has always been my instructor and has shown great dedication to the sport and his students.  He also has a work ethic like nobody else I know.

What can you tell us about your personal history?

There’s not much to say really. I am originally from Atlanta and have lived here all of my life. I was originally a wrestler in high school. My coach, Pat Harvey belonged to Jiu-Jitsu and used to show us (painfully) various submissions. At the end of my third season I thought I’d try it in the off season to stay in shape. I ended up not wrestling during my senior year because I was in Jiu-Jitsu instead. When I was selecting a field of study for college, I wanted something that would be applicable to Jiu-Jitsu. I ended up getting my degree in Exercise Science and am currently working on getting my master’s degree in the same field.

I was a terrible wrestler” Ian McPherson

Were you an athlete before you got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Not so much. I was a terrible wrestler, but did a little distance running, which kept me in shape.  This is the only competitive sport I have ever seriously pursued, and I never really thought of myself as very athletic until recently.

What is your competition history?

I try to compete often, in both the large events and the smaller local ones. I find it to be a great way to stay sharp and stay motivated to continue improving my game. My goal is to compete every month, but usually end up with about ten competitions each year.


What is your proudest Jiu-Jitsu accomplishment?

That would have to be my victory in the brown belt middleheavy division at the last Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. That was when I finally started to feel I had a working understanding of the game. I also placed third in both the Pan and Mundial absolutes that year. In 2007, at purple belt, I won the Pan absolute and placed second at the Worlds in the absolute.

What is your training regime like, in preparation for big tournaments?

I believe in staying in peak condition through the entire year. Some other guys will train hard in the weeks leading up to a major event, but I’m training hard all year long. This also means that if I hear of a tournament with only one week to prepare, I’ll handle it ok since I’m already prepared for it. I feel better staying sharp and focused throughout the year rather than allow my level to rise and fall.

Do you follow a special diet?

I mainly do my best to eat healthy and get plenty of fluids. I’ll try to eat a ton of carbs for fuel before an intense workout and plenty of lean protein afterwards for recovery. I also vehemently oppose the concept of cutting weight because you will not only be fighting in a weakened state, but also hurt your ability to fight in the absolute division.

What are your overall goals in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Overall, I would love to eventually travel and hold instructional seminars everywhere. I also want to win at least one world title at black belt. Then of course I would like to open and instruct at an academy of my own, but that’s far in the future. Right now is the time to get to work and train hard.

What are your favorite techniques?

The omoplata and the straight ankle lock are my favorites because they are high percentage submissions that can be employed from a variety of positions and present minimal risk of counterattack.

Who do you look up to in Jiu-Jitsu?

I would say Tarsis Humphreys because I love his aggressive style and tough attitude. Cobrinha too because he sets a great example for anyone who has seen him in action. He emphasizes hard training and self-discipline within the school and on the mat.

Does anyone else in your family do Jiu-Jitsu?

My father does. At the academy he is affectionately known as “Mr. Jim”. We joined Jiu-Jitsu nearly eight years ago and still both train together regularly. He does well despite his age.  Nobody else in my family seems to “get” the sport, though they are highly supportive and proud of my efforts. I have an older brother, but he’s more interested in technology kind of things, so sadly, it’s not for him.

What are you tips for people who are new to Jiu-Jitsu?

My message would be to stay focused and continue to work hard and learn despite any setbacks.  Our sport is the most punishing and demanding one of all, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.  But the rewards are by far the greatest for those who will learn.  Most people who have gone on to receive their blue belt will agree.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped me so much over all the years. There are far too many to name, but they include my instructors Jacare and Cobrinha, my father Mr. Jim, my supportive girlfriend Christine, my training partners at Alliance, and the entire Jiu-Jitsu community!

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