BRIAN ORTEGA

 

BRIAN ORTEGA

//interviewer// Elsv

//photographer// courtesy of BBS

 

BREAKS // You and James Luhrsen known each other for how long?

BRIAN // 4 or 5 years?  I met him through one of my friends Mike.  I went to the Redondo Breakwall.  I was eating a burrito with some thugs that I know.  I recognized him, and I was like, “Hey, what’s up you remember me?  He was like, “Hey, What are you doing hanging out with these kind of people?  That was the first time he like scolded me.  Later on, James was doing some filming, a video he was doing.  He wanted me and Mike to do some Jiu-Jitsu for the video.  We started, and he was like, “How do you feel about boxing?”  I said that I liked boxing.  I’ve been in a couple street fights.  He just kind of laughed at me.  So, he was like, “Tomorrow morning, let’s do a boxing segment.  We’ll go to Scott Park.  Be at my house around 10 o’clock.  I said “Alright.”  I don’t think he thought I was gonna show up.  His brothers are all kind of scary looking, all buff.  I think I was 18 or 19 years old at that time.  I was still skinny, you know.  I went over there.  He was like, “Oh, you showed up!  You actually did it.  Ok ok! Let’s do this, let’s go.”  So I went with him to the boxing gym.  He made me box all his brothers.  I boxed Jude, I boxed Michael, I boxed James.  They were kind of messing around with me, you know.  James was like, “You’d be a better fighter if you know how to box.”  So ever since then, I’ve took my whooping from the brothers.  But then James showed me how to whip them, which I do now, hahahaha.  Just kidding!  But he said to me, “You got a good ground game, but you need to learn how to stand up.  So now, we have this bond.  It came from learning how to box, teaching me about life, and just becoming like a mentor to me.  He’s like a father to me.  I’ve spent a lot of time with him.  Very grateful that we have met.  We’ve told each other that God put us together for a reason.  I really believe that.  Now, we are here as a team. We have fought 8 times.  James and Rener Gracie have trained me for 8 fights.  It’s been a movement going ever since.

 

JAMES // Pretty much his other half training is with Rener Gracie of the Gracie family.  They are the best.  I have my son training over there.  I only see positive, good things with those people.  I’m grateful to be part of this.  It’s a beautiful thing that we connected.  Nothing but respect for that family.

 

BRIAN // Before James and I met, in a fight I’d have to get them to the ground and choke him out.  It worked for me as an amateur 11-0 submission finishes, 1 stor 2nd round finishes, but once you turn pro, the levels of the guys, it goes up.  These guys know how to stop the takedown.  James was like, “You are going to be in trouble if you can’t take the guy down, if you are forced to stand up with him.  If you can’t stand up and throw punches, you are gonna get beat.  Your attacks have been neutralized.

 

BREAKS // Brian, you grew up here?

BRIAN // I grew up in the Harbor area.  I started off in the San Pedro projects.  It was kind of a bad area.  So, I moved over here to Carson behind the General Hospital.

 

BREAKS // First time surfing?

BRIAN //  So James takes me down to Trestles, 6 foot.  My first time surfing. I was looking at the waves from the cliff, and I was like those waves don’t scare me.  I’ll triangle these waves, I don’t care about that.  I was talkin’ smack.  Then James was like. “Be careful don’t talk to mother nature like that.  She will punish you.”

BREAKS //  Ahaha

BRIAN //  I’ll choke her out.  I was just playin’. I was pumpin myself up you know. We get out there, and James gives me his board.  I didn’t know how to paddle. To paddle out, it took me a half hour.  I started to get hit by so many waves, that I started to ditch the board.  My goal was to just make it out. James was like, I’ll walk you through it.

 

JAMES //  I started paddling toward him and I saw him just get smashed.

BRIAN //  I went over the falls you know.  Not going for it, just still paddling, the wave took me backwards and “BOOM” slammed me.  I’ve never been hit like that by the ocean. So, I was in what James calls the “washer machine”. He told me when you are in there, just be relaxed.  I tried to relax and all, but I needed some air.  I didn’t know which way was up or which way was down.  I find myelf going up you know. While I’m going up, another wave hits me down again.  I was like no way, I’m gonna die.  That was the second wave to hit me and I haven’t surfaced yet.  I finaly popped up, took the biggest breath, was so happy!  Then, I took another wave on the head.  After I recouped on that, I was just really humbled.  I apologized to mother nature.

 

JAMES //  Pretty much he has it down now.  He is one of the boyz at the breakwall.  Having fun!  Surfing is tranquility for a fighter.  You release all your tension.   That’s why I introduced Brian to surfing.

 

BREAKS //  What’s the philosophy about as a fighter?

BRIAN //  Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.  Whether it comes from training, whether it comes in surfing, when you get hit by a big wave, your first reaction is to get up.  But instead, you should relax.  Even in fighting, be relaxed.  Let your training take over.  I’ve been at the bottom thousands of times.  You become mentally strong.   The body can withstand a lot. The mind…

 

BREAKS //  BBS, Black Belt Surfing?

JAMES //  It’s not about having a black belt in martial arts, it’s about having the mentality of wanting to be good enough at something like if you were trying to get a “black belt”.

BRIAN //  Persistance.  It’s a goal. I’m lucky I had James and Rener to guide me.  The youth today, they don’t have the type of guidance for the right way.

JAMES //  I am always there for Brian, bottom line.  Win or lose, I’m there for Brian.  Win or lose.  There are people who all they see and care is him winning and winning, that is all they care about.

 

BREAKS //  You guys have not had a lose yet?

JAMES //  No.  He’s undefeated.

BRIAN //  I kind of did have a lose.  I had a championship fight you know, and uh I was on top of the world.  I was winning, and I was the new kid comin’ up.   I was in this Championship fight, and I dislocated my shoulder in the fourth round.  Dislocated it.  I won the fight.  Pulled off two rounds with one arm.  After that, I fell off the face of the Earth.  I couldn’t train.  I couldn’t do my job.  I teach Jiu-Jitsu at the Gracie Academy.  I couldn’t do a lot of things.  All my so called friends, they were gone. The only ones around were my friends from the hood.    I was around with James even when I couldn’t train.  We talked about everything, we went through a lot. My whole world got taken from me.  James use to call me a poo butt, like a wimp, you know. Cause I was like boo hoo me, and boo hoo this.  It really snapped me out of it.  Shoulder was bad, so I might as well do something.  So I helped kids with cystic fibrosis of The Mauli Ola Foundation, and in return that gave me strength and joy.  Afterwards, I took another fight , but I dislocated it three times during the camp.  We canceled the fight.  It was a thorn, you know. It was a problem, my shoulder.  With no health insurance, no nothing, how was I gonna get surgery.   It was rough.  I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.  Finally, we had surgery, but after surgery, you still can’t do what you want to do.  You have to go to physical therapy.  You can’t move your arm. For eight months you are not yourself.  You have to train differently.

 

BREAKS //  How bad was the shoulder?

BRIAN //  The bone was chipped, I got a screw through it and everything.  But during that time, I had a family to support, no job,  My world got shooken.   I took alittle reality hit.  James just kept it positive, just feed me good things.  Here we are now.  Like you said, it’s a long journey.

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