Team Kool Katz
I was doing photography work for the USBJJ Grappling Tournament back in August of 2013 when I first moved to Wisconsin and I met a young man who really stood out to me. His name was Alphy. He came up to me and asked if I did jiu jitsu and when I said yes we talked for a few moments about jiu jitsu and grappling in general. I told him about my association with GiReviews.net and eventually we became Facebook friends. I noticed that anytime I was at a tournament doing photography, Alphy was there. His facebook page was loaded with pictures of him on the podium of multiple local tournaments. When I saw him at the Combat Corner Grappling Championship tournament a few months later, he talked about all of his friends that were at the tournament with him. If there was someone enthusiastic about Jiu Jitsu, it’s Alphy.
Then one day I noticed something on his Facebook page I hadn’t noticed before. Alphy had started a BJJ club out of his garage for people who couldn’t afford to train at a regular academy. They gave their team the name “Team Kool Katz” and got matching shirts to wear to local tournaments. Alphy didn’t do any of this for fame or recognition, but simply because he has a love for grappling and wanted others to be able to love grappling too.
Their team was in need of some logo love so I messaged Alphy one day and said “hey man, this is for you”, because I think a lot of the times we should just help people simply because we can. He’s doing a great service to people for free, so why shouldn’t people support him for free? BJJ’s very essence is about helping people right?
I wasn’t the only one helping out Alphy and his team though… a Gi brand named Quantum Kimonos offered to sponsor Alphy’s team when a local tournament organizer reached out to them and explained their situation.
Alphy has a wrestling background and has been training for a few years. Despite being a teenager, Alphy has no problems tangling with the Adults and earning his spot on the podium. So not only is he an awesome person, but he’s also an awesome grappler.
Eventually, his skills were recognized by his referee at Combat Corner who just so happened to be Justin Morris from Third Heaven Jiu Jitsu in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Justin is a Black Belt under Marcello Monteiro, a fourth degree Black Belt under the legendary Ricardo De La Riva. Justin invited Alphy up to his school after the tournament and promoted him to Blue Belt, officially bringing Team Kool Katz under Justin Morris’ watchful eye for their grappling development and promotions.
I sat down with Alphy and asked him some questions about his motivation to start the team and where he would like to end up with it.
1. What’s your grappling background? How long, what styles?
I started wrestling in sixth grade for my grade school, Stanton Middle School located in Fox Lake. I continued wrestling for the next six years. Summer of ’08 I started Jiu Jitsu at a local gym which was called RFO (Respect, Focus, and Obedience) owned by Randy Otto. I trained there for about a month under Master Daniel Wanderly who is currently at Roufusport. After a month of training and learning my closed guard techniques I was informed the gym was closing due to the bills not being paid. I have trained bjj in my basement, ever since.
2. Why did you start TKK?? Who are the founders?
Back in ’08 a buddy of mine named Noah Drabek and myself were going all over the Midwest competing in many grappling tournaments. But at every tournament we always signed up as independent. After a while we got tired of being no namers and we knew we didn’t have the money for a gym so we decided to make up our own team, Team Kool Katz, and that is were it all began at a C3 tournament in Gary IN. The other reason I started Team Kool Katz is to help the kids who can’t pay every month for a top notch gym, for the kids that want to learn but don’t have the resources, and to help kids get off the streets and out of trouble. We may not have had a black belt until just recently but we have a solid team that works hard for what we want. No cost. No catch. No problem.
3. Where is TKK located?
TKK is located in Inglside IL at 35737 Watson ave. My uncle Lenny Miles has been Generous throughout all theses years and supportive to let me have my gym at his house.
4. Describe an average session at TKK for me, who leads? Is it typical class style?
Our classes are your typical BJJ class, we go over technique in the beginning on class and end off with a round robin rolling session. Sometimes we get creative and have a mini tournament to help the nerves of new competitors. Typically I do lead the classes but I like to show that we are all on the same level and no-one is better. But also from time to time I let the assistant coach Ronny Uribe go over technique due to that fact that his submissions are very solid.
5. Where do you find the knowledge that is shared in class?
Throughout my life I have been invited to many different gyms all over and I have always capitalized and gone to each gym and learned multiple types of technique, also YouTube is a great help.
6. How did you go about getting sponsored by Quantum Kimono’s?
The way that we got involved with Quantum Kimonos was all thanks to a close buddy of mine Mark Stevenson who runs with Badger Land Ju Jitsu and also runs a great tournament called King Grappler. Mark actually went out of his way and talked to them for me and later I was contacted by them and we have been working together ever since and for that I am greatly thankful to Mark and Quantum.
7. How did you meet Justin Morris? Can you tell us about your experience at his academy?
I met Justin Morris at a local tournament called Combat Corner, he was actually my ref for my NOGI and GI matches and right before we walked out of the tournament at the end of the day he came up to my team and asked me why I didn’t have a blue belt. After talking for a couple minutes he invited me to come out to Beaver Dam, WI to test for my blue belt. I immediately took the offer and went out there that Wednesday. I got to his gym at 6:45 and didnt leave until about 10:30 and I can assure you that every minute there was not wasted and I was introduced to a whole new side of BJJ.
8. What do you think the major differences are for your team compared to a regular academy?
The major difference between my academy/club and anyone else’s is I truly do care about all of my competitors as if they were blood. I am not in it for the money what so ever and I show that by never charging anyone a dime and even helping many of our guys pay for our tournaments. I just see so much potential in every kid it would be a shame to let it go to waste. We’re also at a disadvantage because many gyms have the money and power to have pull in the BJJ world and then you have my team just making a name for themselves.
9. How does it make you guys at TKK feel seeing so many people try and support what you’re doing?
Truthfully I have never been in it for the attention. I did not realize that people actually took us seriously, for the longest time people laughed at my idea but now I feel like what I am doing is really helping the kids and my gym is very glad people do support us
Can you do more for the BJJ Community?
I don’t ask the question because I wan’t people to feel guilty, but rather because I want people to question whether there’s new ways they could help the community that they hadn’t considered before. You may surprise yourself. No one HAS to help anyone else, but people really appreciate it when you do. People who do BJJ have tons of different skills that can be used to strengthen our community. I think BJJ is inherently about helping people, and even in the smallest ways everyone can help someone else. Just showing up to class is helping someone get a training partner, just keep your eyes peeled for those moments you can give back.