Where did the idea of starting 1914 BJJ come from? What is the meaning behind the name, the logo?
1914 really just came from a longing to offer something more and different than what is out there today in terms of our company as a whole. As for the name it is a reference to the year Mitsuyo Maeda came to Brazil, if you don’t know the significance of that then shame on you!!! haha. Now our logo was made to pay homage to the japanese roots and the brazilian roots as well. The bottom half is part of a triangle which is a significant symbol that is used by many bjj gyms including but not limited to the Gracie family, while the top half is taken from the Japanese symbol of the rising sun with the rays.
What is the conception behind 1914 BJJ?
The concept behind 1914 is really all about offering premium products from training gear to apparel with a style all our own. These days it seems like everyone copies everyone else and originality is on the decline. A lot of it has to do with my own personal style really and what I find to be aesthetically pleasing. We have a deep desire to do many different things to pay pack to the bjj community and grow the sport. I also have a desire to expose the world to new artists through design and apparel projects and as a former professional musician I also want to help underground bands get a little exposure through soundracks to our videos and other projects. For instance we have a killer band called Bad Sports playing on our product reel that everyone should check out… Awesome music to train to.
You are a purple belt under Rafael Lovato Jr. and an avid competitor, at what time did it interest you to start your own jiu jitsu brand?
Well I actually thought it would be awesome to get into the gi game about 2-3 years into training and it was something I would often think about. For instance always picking out what I liked and disliked about certain gi’s both on a functional level and stylistically. I think this is natural for a lot of people to do and people are always looking for the next best gi… It has now been over 5 years of training BJJ and my list of ideas for 1914 has grown rather large.
How hard is it to train to be a world class competitor and run a business at the same time?
It isn’t the easiest thing in the world but for me it is worthwhile and it is far from being too difficult to manage. Like the saying goes, ” if it were easy, everyone would do it”. Some guys do have the luxury of being able to train full time and not worry about too much else but for most competitors I would imagine they still have jobs, school, ect so it isn’t too bad at all, especially since I have the fire to be successful in both arenas. BJJ is my life and my chips are all in so to speak. A basic day for me would be to wake up and drill for about an hour, followed by strength and conditioning with the Lovato Comp Team strength and conditioning coach Luke Tirey, have lunch, go teach fundamental BJJ class at Lovato’s, and then I train at night learning new techniques from Rafael Lovato Jr and roll and drill for a few hours. When all of that is said and done I go home, cook dinner, and work on 1914 projects and business. The next day I am ready to do it all over again. I follow this routine 5-6 days a week.
How long did it take to get 1914 BJJ going and establish it?
1914 has been in the works for around 2 years now and I would say we are still hardly established. It took us a long period of trial and error to figure out exactly who to work with to make the finest products and how to make our dreams a reality. We now are in a spot where we have all the kinks worked out and are charging full steam ahead.
Who is behind the brand besides yourself?
Aside from myself there are 2 other owners/ awesome dudes that have been critical in getting 1914 off of the ground. First off my boy and fellow purple belt Jason Lee who is an incredible person and by day is a pediatric dentist who also specializes in fixing children with cleft lips and cleft pallets. Then there is the other brother, Blake Kerr who by day is an accounting wiz and very tough blue belt. There is no way I ever could have made it happen on my own, without either one of those guys things just wouldn’t have been able to come together the way they did. Everyone plays a crucial role in what we are doing with 1914.
What is your favorite product of your brand, 1914 BJJ?
My two favorite products are definitely our gi’s since they have been such a labor of love with so much thought going into the design and our current hoodie design for this season. I just love the overall look of both products.
What is next for your brand? What can we expect?
With our gi line we have our “Classic” gi which comes in traditional white, blue, and black which you can purchase in either our light weight pearl weave or soft gold weave. These are our mainstays and we will always have these gi’s but we are now in the works of doing a killer navy blue gi but I won’t ruin the details on that one yet. We have all sorts of cool products in pre production right now that I can’t wait to release. One other thing you guys can expect is some awesome free technique videos that are professional quality sponsored by us just for you guys with the worlds best bjj athletes. We don’t just want to sell products, we want to be one of the few companies that actually give back to the bjj community for free and on the sports side of things we want to help grow the sport and get the athletes the recognition they deserve. From us you can expect a grass roots company with big ideas.