Peak MMA Show Episdoe 1 with Dondi Morgan
Paul Halme: Before we dive into today’s episode, if you have not yet done so, please subscribe to us on iTunes and leave us a review. Welcome to the Peak Performance Mixed Martial Arts Show. Today my guest is Dondi Morgan. And it’s a cool thing to have him on Episode 1 since he was my first student back in 2003 when I first started Peak Performance. So welcome to the show Dondi.
Dondi Morgan: Well, thank you sir. Thanks for asking me to be here.
Paul Halme: All right. So let’s go back to 2003, you’ve been training for 13 years now, so what got you start the training in jiu-jitsu? So you’ve come from martial arts background…
Dondi Morgan: Yeah, I come from martial arts background, American Karate background. I’ve got a 3rd Degree Black Belt in American karate. Found about jiu-jitsu back when Royce Gracie was submitting everybody in UFC, I don’t even remember when that was, but started training a little bit when I was about 25 and I got addicted immediately.
But what got me started training with you was, I was going through a divorce at the time and I just moved to Fort Worth and I was looking for something to do, so I had two avenues to go down. I was either going to go down the jazz piano avenue or the martial arts avenue again. So I saw a yard sign that said Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and I called the number and was immediately connected to you so went in the next day and signed up with you.
Paul Halme: Nice. Yeah, I remember that day fondly it was like -- first person to come into the gym ever. So it was pretty cool back in ’03 when I started, little different than I probably would have now, I started with no students and just opened up. So it was little bit scary but it was cool.
Dondi Morgan: It’s just grown up quickly now.
Paul Halme: Yeah, it’s been a fun 13 years. So you got started, you are trained in martial arts things like that, so when you got started it was more than just like doing martial arts to -- you said basically you were dealing with something at the time so it kind of helped you deal with…
Dondi Morgan: Yeah, yeah. I was going through kind of a rough patch, going through a separation, in divorce at the time. And quickly found out training regardless of what you are doing, lifting weights, anything helps. But Brazilian jiu-jitsu just seemed to be an outlet, it really was as far as -- it’s exhausting energy, your mind is off of all your other issues and you’re focused on what you are doing. And I’ve never found that with anything else especially lifting weights. I was a gym rat actually when…
Paul Halme: Yeah, I remember that.
Dondi Morgan: …I came in to workout with you. I was in the gym five days a week and it didn’t help me like jiu-jitsu did, it really didn’t.
Paul Halme: Yeah, it’s a funny thing you see a lot and especially -- with me too it’s like doing jiu-jitsu or doing martial arts, it’s an outlet but also helps you deal with just life, sometimes people have anger issues, confidence issues, so it’s a big difference. So it’s like you were saying you’ve been training for 13 years, following our training programs and everything, so how has training in jiu-jitsu changed your life?
Dondi Morgan: Yeah, that’s a good question. Like I said, it helped me power through that divorce. And I guess it really focused me. Me and you’ve met a lot of cool people that had come through the school, we’ve become friends with people that -- they’re going to be my life long friends. I mean like you, you’re one of my life long friends. We’ve traveled all over together, to Brazil, to Thailand, all over United States--
Paul Halme: I think we just have Europe left.
Dondi Morgan: Yes, Europe. So I mean as far as that goes -- I mean I’ve developed those types of friendships. And I’ve gone places that I never would have, had it not been for this sport. I’ve met people that I never would have, had it not been for this sport and through you because you’ve kept me going. You kept me going a lot of times when I wanted to just quit, so I mean that’s a good thing. I’ve learned a lot from you.
Paul Halme: Thank you, thank you very much. Yeah, like I went through the same thing, it’s like travels kept me from quitting. It’s a common thing. Now you’re a school owner, you’ve been running your school for what’s it now?
Dondi Morgan: Almost six years, it’ll be six years in December.
Paul Halme: Oh six years, so you’re seeing it like me, it’s like guys come in, you become friends with them, you see jiu-jitsu change their lives, they get their blue belt or purple belt and then they just vanish.
Dondi Morgan: Yeah.
Paul Halme: People sometimes it feels like to me that they think blue belt is like a -- blue belt is an accomplishment, yes but it’s a baby step on the road to black belt, and too many people I feel like get stuck there where they’re like, “Ah, I got my blue belt that’s cool, and I’m just going to hang out.” It’s sad sometimes because I’ll run into ex-students and stuff like that, people you feel like you’ve helped change their lives and you see them now, they have been training a few years, and they’re fatter than they first came in, they’re out of shape, they’ve got some really bad habits. And for me as a coach it kind of bums me out. It’s like man you could have been so much more but life got in the way and you didn’t power through it, that’s not like lot of people are quitters but jiu-jitsu is unfortunately a tough thing where it’s like--
Dondi Morgan: Sometimes outside influences come in and you can’t train them, I mean it’s where you can’t, but the good thing about it is, it’s always going to be there when you’re ready to come back so--
Paul Halme: Yeah, exactly. We have that happen a lot, you guys go away and come back and--
Dondi Morgan: Yeah, exactly. I mean like Cal, Cal was out for how long? He was like your fourth student, he was a like our fourth guy, and he was out for like 4, 5 years and now he is back again training and it’s good to see him.
Paul Halme: Yeah, it was great to see him. So I’ll switch gears a little bit here so I just want to highlight -- like you said we’ve known each other now for 13 years so trying to think of like cool experiences like we’ve been to Brazil, we’ve been to Thailand, we’ve been to basically California, more times I get Cal -- but I was trying to think like my favorite memory of you in training stuff like that, and I have to say -- I have to think a lot but I’d say my favorite memory is the Copa do Mundo in Rio, when we were in Brazil with that big group that went down there and it was like I was cutting weight and I was dieing because typical -- it was way too heavy, but it was fun, at that time it was probably like the competitive highlight of watching you compete, because I think that’s when you competed extremely well. And it was like -- and then you and Eric of course fought in the finals but it was cool to see you go all the way to the finals in the Copa do Mundo. I think that was a cool experience.
Dondi Morgan: That was a lot of fun, I won’t forget that. I still hold a grudge against Eric for beating me in the absolute, I mean I think I beat him at NAGA like two weeks prior and it was rubbing that in and then he beat me in Brazil at Copa do Mundo.
Paul Halme: In Brazil, the Copa do Mundo World--
Dondi Morgan: Yeah, in the absolute so I was getting back though.
Paul Halme: Absolute, that was fun, that was a good trip.
Dondi Morgan: That was a good trip and that was a lot fun at that time.
Paul Halme: So looking back over 13 years, what would you say as the highlight of your training?
Dondi Morgan: Oh man, I think the highlight actually has to be the -- for me we’ve had a lot of highlights like when we took a team to Grapplers Quest, I mean…
Paul Halme: That was fun, that was fun.
Dondi Morgan: …smashed Grapplers Quest that year and had a lot of fun, we brought home a lot of medals and I think we won belts in absolute divisions, we did real good, watching these old highlights videos that we have back when we were blue belts and purple belts and -- but I think what kind of pulled it full circle for me is this last pro jiu-jitsu event that we did. You fought in it and I fought in it, Juan fought in it, he is a black belt through you. It just was cool that coming from 13 years ago to where we’re fighting on a stage like that, it was cool deal for me. Now being able to compete with you guys, my team, and then now this next one coming up, I’ve got one of my students competing in the thing. So it’s really a cool thing that now this next one coming up, he’ll be fighting in -- my teammates from Peak Performance are going to be fighting on the same event so I think that to me is a really cool thing, it’s just really awesome.
Paul Halme: Yeah, it’s cool, because it’s like you look back at it, it’s kind of a trickle-down almost where it’s like guys do things and then -- it’s getting out of your comfort zone and going and doing something like that opens the door for people that are training under you, kind of like how -- I always look at it like kind of as like trying to lead from the front, set a standard for the guys, it’s tougher -- it’s getting tougher, we’re both in our 40s, it’s a little bit tougher but still you got to set the standards sometimes and open doors for your guys.
Dondi Morgan: Well, that’s one thing that not to be blowing smoke up your tail end, but that’s one thing with you that you always have done, you put in the extra work, you go the extra mile, you go to places to better yourself, and that’s always been an example for me. So when I see you do that, it makes me think well, that’s what I need to be doing as well. So when you’re competing -- when you won the No-Gi Worlds a few years back, that was a big inspiration to me because I wasn’t even competing at the time, I wasn’t even trying to compete, I had little injuries here and I was letting them be an excuse for me not to really push myself. And then when I see you pushing yourself through stuff and going down and competing and winning, it was inspiration to me. I watch how you run your business, I watch how you work with your students and your staff and it’s always an example for me to follow, and I appreciate that thing.
Paul Halme: Man thank you, that means a lot, it’s like going back to 13 years ago when I had no students so it’s fun to build something and it’s even cooler like -- it’s fun for me to build something, it’s cool to see my guys, I consider you guys are my guys and girls but it’s like -- to go and doing your own thing and building your business, your gym, your students because it’s all just a continuation. It’s like, it all started with Royce win the ultimate fighter that got us all fired up and everything just kind of builds from there.
Yeah, this was cool. I had a good time. It’s kind of cool first episode, so will be doing this, The Peak Performance Show, so once again thanks for being on the show Dondi.
Dondi Morgan: Oh man, thanks for asking me man, I appreciate it.
Paul Halme: And everybody up there, keep training hard, keep having fun, you are going to have ups and downs in training but just keep powering through because I promise you the more you go out of your comfort zone, the better the results are.
Dondi Morgan: Don’t quit.
Paul Halme: Yeah, don’t quit. Keep doing it. But in closing, if you got any value from this episode, you know somebody else that would get value from it as well please share it with them, have them follow us on iTunes and subscribe so you can get automatic updates when we drop new episodes.
So with that being said, have a great day.
Keller Mixed Martial Arts
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