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In The Arena Blog

Student Talks About Training Jiu Jitsu with Chris Leben

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This is Joe’s story of why he decided to learn Jiu Jitsu and Grappling at The Arena, and what it’s been like for him to train with UFC Legend Chris Leben.


Joe O’Connell:
My name is Joe O’Connell, I’m from Berne, Connecticut. What brought me into here is I moved to San Diego. And I started doing security work downtown and realized security in San Diego’s a lot different than security anywhere else in the country because everybody kind of knows martial arts and how to handle themselves.

So one of the door guys told me to come here. I’ve been coming ever since, for the last two and a half years.

Where I come from, I’m more a bigger guy. I used to be 300 pounds. I’ve kind of whittled myself down to 200, but I’ve been in the 200 pound range. I’ve always been able to muscle people around. Here it’s a complete different story. Very humbling getting to see some of these little guys and technique and flexibility.

It’s really inspired me to lose weight and keep my flexibility up and work on technique just as much as strength, which is my go-to pretty much every time.

Chris is awesome. I’ve been working with Chris since day one here. Sometimes you forget that this guy was big time, but then when he throws you across the gym or takes you down doing something super technical, you’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s Chris Leben.”

But it’s just amazing that going from watching some guy on TV, now I get to roll with him. Keeps me coming back through every day.

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