FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The world of mixed martial arts continues to evolve, and for local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu professor Clint Parker, it’s important to make sure athletes are progressing through the curriculum without missing key fundamentals.

Because he’s affiliated with the legendary Carlos Machado Jiu-Jitsu Club, a cousin of jiu-jitsu pioneer Carlos Gracie, Parker is able to maintain the highest standard of training, and his athletes have a clear roadmap for developing their skills at each belt ranking.

“About six or seven months ago, I affiliated with the Carlos Machado Jiu-Jitsu Club. He trained with Carlos Gracie, he’s a cousin of the Gracies, and he’s a very important guy in the jiu-jitsu world,” said Parker, who added that he was surprised to be aligned with such a reputable name in the sport. “I was kind of shocked and really happy to get affiliated with them. They checked me out, tested me, and then I became a certified Professor under them.”

Being part of a larger club with around 200 affiliate schools all over the world, Parker says his athletes could theoretically attend tournaments and seminars all over.

“Basically a free flight down there because we’re a part of this affiliation. It’s cool. It’s not our area per se, but we have open doors for people now that flights are allowed again. They can fly down and compete with massive teams, bigger than me.”

Parker says, with the outlook around COVID-19 looking much more encouraging than this time last year, he’s hoping to host an event out of Fort St. John.

“My guess would be towards the end of the winter when everything really slows down with COVID.”

In addition to a potential event, Parker has been hard at work with a new program for high school students. Fellow martial artist and NPSS teacher Ian Forbes will be running the program.

“Nothing’s for sure. We still have to do the full curriculum to get it approved by the school board, but we’ve been given the go-ahead to apply for our curriculum, and we’re going to be teaching jiu-jitsu right at the high school.”

One of the added benefits of being affiliated with the Machado club is Parker’s ability to give teaching status for certain belt ranks, helping to keep experienced athletes involved by becoming teachers.

“The reason that Machado is doing that is because, within four years, we will have 800 black or brown belts in our organization. We don’t want to lose that knowledge. We want these people as teachers.”

Parker admits not everybody with skills and experience makes for a good teacher. That’s where the affiliation helps develop teachers as well as athletes.

“Instead of just throwing them to the wolves, I’ll take two students and say, these guys are at this ranking, what do we teach them? So it actually forces them to be a really good teacher. [Olympic gold medallist] Michael Phelps might be the greatest swimmer in the world, but maybe he’s a bad coach and he can’t really tell you how he does it.”

With clubs around the world, it’s inevitable that there will be some variance to the way skills are taught, and at what pace. Having a standardized curriculum ensures that an athlete in Fort St. John can be confident going to another gym and competing with another athlete in a different region, province or country.

“Machado has made it this way, they wanted to have it very standardized, so my blue belts could go down to Texas, and they wouldn’t be caught off-guard by anything. They might have slightly different skills or moves, but the basis of what it took to get that belt should be the same.”

While Parker has spent years studying all forms of mixed martial arts, being recognized in 2013 by the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame as coach of the year, he knows he can’t compete with the knowledge that the Machados or the Gracies have developed over decades in the sport.

Being able to tap into their expertise is valuable for the affiliate club in Fort St. John.

“Machado and the Gracies, they’ve been the gods, the originals of jiu-jitsu. I can’t fathom the number of hours they have spent trying to build a curriculum that’s super strong. Right down to where we tie our belts a certain way, they want us to look professional.”

Parker’s MMA record includes 21 wins and three losses in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has a record of nine wins and six losses in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. He holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.

Parker is one of three black belts in jiu-jitsu in Fort St. John, including Ben Marsh and recently ranked Stephen Beard.