Interview with Ahmed El-Sayed – experienced competitor and certified Yoga instructor

Interview with Ahmed El-Sayed – experienced competitor and certified Yoga instructor

2018-04-14T01:54:31+00:00Blog|

Ahmed El-Sayed is an experienced competitor fighting out of Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. He competes successfully in the purple belt masters division and he recently completed his 200 hour Yoga teacher training with Grace Morales.

He also happens to be a sponsored athlete of ours here at Yoga for BJJ and we did not hesitate when we got the opportunity to interview him and ask some questions about his enthusiasm for jiu jitsu and yoga. The responses are trully great:

Before any competition, I warm up with a short vinyasa flow and it’s helped with getting my blood moving, loosening my body and focusing my mind with breath. It’s really calming before any competition. In short, Yoga has been the ultimate compliment to my jiu-jitsu game.

Hey Ahmed,

My name is Ahmed El-Sayed and I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for the past 7 years. I’m currently a purple belt under Roberto Traven. I found jiu-jitsu while living in New York and like many other folks who came to jiu-jitsu, needed to make a lifestyle change. I had been working in sales for 8 years after graduating college, and if anyone knows about a lifestyle in sales, it’s conducive to drinking. I certainly was no stranger to it, and that lifestyle led to poor choices. I don’t think I’m different from a lot of other jiu-jitsu practitioners in that I have an addictive and competitive personality.

A friend of mine who’d been doing jiu-jitsu for a long time, recommended jiu-jitsu because he knew my personality trait. I had wrestled in high school and thought, hey why not, let’s give it a shot. After doing some research, I joined Vitor Shaolin Ribeiro and fell in love with jiu-jitsu. Everything about it, the physicality, the chess match, the workout, self-defense. I stopped drinking and found a healthier addiction where I could apply myself. I trained with Professor Shaolin and Professor Marcos “Loro” Galvao before moving to Charlotte, NC for a new job. I now train and actively compete with Mitch Phillips and Jae Ho Lee under Roberto Traven and can honestly say jiu-jitsu changed my life in the most positive way. I love it.

Whether you look at jiu-jitsu as a sport, an intense exercise, self-defense or all three; if you do it, you’re going to get injured. I’ve certainly had my fair share, with the worst being a back injury that required surgery. Injuries can be mentally debilitating, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to competitively train in jiu-jitsu again. A coworker suggested trying Yoga as part of my rehabilitation process. It was very difficult at first, but I stuck with it because the way I felt afterward. It relaxed me. After a couple of months of going to yoga a few times a week, I noticed my core strength considerably get better, which is essential when coming back from a back injury. Yoga became essential to me with recovering from injury and then preventing injury.
Believe it or not, I got stronger. Core strength is essential in yoga and it helped my jiu-jitsu tremendously in that aspect. I play bottom and invert in jiu-jitsu, the gained flexibility WITH strength has been invaluable. My hips, lower back, hamstrings have really opened up, but being flexible in jiu-jitsu is one thing, being flexible with strength is totally another.

Yoga is essentially breathing with movement, and while practicing it, you’re always reminded to come back to your breath, especially in moments of discomfort or strain. Breathing is energy for the body and calming to the mind. It’s helped my breath control in jiu-jitsu. Before any competition, I warm up with a short vinyasa flow and it’s helped with getting my blood moving, loosening my body and focusing my mind with breath. It’s really calming before any competition. In short, Yoga has been the ultimate compliment to my jiu-jitsu game.

I was encouraged by a few friends from yoga to try an arm balance workshop with Grace Morales because they knew I like them. I had no idea who Grace Morales was at the time, but after doing her workshop, her instruction and attention to detail helped me with getting into poses I did not think I could do before, and her message gave me a feeling that I could do much more with my yoga practice.

Grace’s message of trying something different and maybe even intimidating, was very invigorating as I left. It is hard to explain, but it made me want to not only try yoga teacher training but also make me push the envelope with my jiu-jitsu and try new things with my game as well too. I was not exactly sure where the journey would take me but I knew Yoga Teacher Training was something I wanted to do.

Yoga Teacher Training was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. Because Grace takes an approach of teaching not only the physical alignment of poses, but she ties in the spiritual element of the seven chakras, I found myself going through a lot of self introspection. I learned a lot about myself in that I can recognize certain poses, life situations, jiu-jitsu can put us in states of vulnerabilities.

Through YTT, I found it was important to embrace these vulnerabilities because I think in those moments we can find true strength and courage. The parallels between yoga and jiu-jitsu with respect to embracing moments of discomfort, vulnerability or even levels anxiety and find strength within them, to be undeniable. It’s was evident that there’s an opportunity to marry the two together, and I am firmly intent on doing so.

I think it’s awesome. The physical, mental and depending on how much you want out of yoga, the spiritual aspect of it can greatly help your jiu-jitsu. I intend on teaching yoga in to my jiu-jitsu team and I’m currently implementing vinyasa flows for our warm ups. I think the work that Sebastian is doing for the jiu-jitsu community is needed and I hope that more people give it a try. I believe 100%, you will find benefit in your game and everyday life, and the videos from Yoga for BJJ can help all types of people and flexibility levels. Do not let lack of mobility inhibit you from trying Yoga for BJJ. I am honored to be part of the Yoga for BJJ Squad.