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Brian Bird - Owner, Head BJJ & MMA Instructor

  • Brian is a 3rd degree Black Belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu
  • Brian's training theories, coaching methods and technical instruction is how Champions Creed has become a World class club and "The Place" to train in Calgary
  • 5 Time Canadian Team Coach for the Fila Grappling World Championships in Switzerland 2008, Florida 2009, Poland 2010, China 2010 and Serbia 2011
  • Coached MMA fighter Nick "The Promise" Ring to the UFC. Brian is the only coach to create a UFC fighter in Calgary.

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Brian’s Martial Arts journey began in his childhood trying out different styles available at the time such as Karate or Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Many students that come to train at our club also began thinking about Martial Arts at a young age with similar experiences. It was in the year 1995 when Brian actively began focusing his training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, being able to see its effectiveness through the UFC when Royce Gracie was able to beat much larger opponents by using grappling techniques.  BJJ was very difficult to come by at that time so Brian had to learn through any means possible such as videos, books and travelling throughout Canada and the US to get the knowledge.  Brian began training with friends and small groups of people who also wanted to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brian’s commitment and continued perseverance to learn and share his knowledge eventually transpired into becoming the leader and instructor owning and running his own school. In the year 2000 he transitioned from teaching out of rental facilities and other gyms to opening his own academy called National Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in NW Calgary near SAIT. Since Brian began training in BJJ he was searching for a Black Belt instructor to progress his own knowledge and that of his students. In 2001 the club became an Affiliate of Roy Harris, a Black Belt from San Diego. Roy Harris was one of the first Americans to achieve his Black Belt in BJJ.  Brian is a Harris International Certified Associate Level Instructor under Roy Harris. This was how the journey began for Brian and since then he has grown his club to be a successful MMA club with hundreds of students training in BJJ, Muay Thai, Wrestling and MMA. We are still affiliated with Roy Harris and Brian is the first student Roy has ever awarded a 3rd degree Black Belt to. 

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What BJJ means to Brian

Over the years Brian has had many inspiring people to influence him in both his fighting style, training methods and coaching beliefs. The name Champion’s Creed Martial Arts was chosen after many years because of how we teach and train and guide students to be who they want to be and accomplish goals and life experiences through Martial Arts. When you have gone through all the experiences and achievements as Brian has, you can really get a grasp of how much Martial Arts can effect people’s lives in a positive way and this is what Brian wants to pass over to his students. There are no other sports or activities that can teach you the same life lessons you learn through BJJ.  It is a sport like no other.

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Instructors Brian has been influenced by

Giving credit where credit is due is a big part of being successful and appreciating that if it weren’t for these people Brian wouldn’t be where he is today. All these experiences and people gave Brian a different outlook on what he could improve on and become a well-rounded Martial Artist. Brian is continually looking to improve and better his programs at Champion’s Creed. Learning Martial Arts is a life long journey and there is always something new and someone new to learn from.

Roy Harris – Roy Harris is Brian’s BJJ instructor and who Brian has gone from White – 3rd Degree Black Belt under. Roy’s systematic and detailed method of teaching really appealed to Brian’s learning style. Roy Harris lives in San Diego and Brian needed someone to train under that could offer him guidance and continued support from afar.

Clive Llewellyn – Clive is a 2 time Olympian who Brian met when he was just starting in BJJ and was looking for mats to use so he could train at a small room in the bottom of SAIT.  Clive has always helped Brian and the club in so many ways. He demonstrated how effective wrestling was and a compliment to add into the BJJ game. He helped Brian to open his own club and start his own business. Clive still teaches wrestling at Champions Creed.

Paul Knoll – During Brian’s competition days he began training Judo at Ishi-Yama Judo club in Calgary. Paul Knoll was his instructor and friend. Brian spent years competing and working on his Judo under the instruction of Paul Knoll.

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Brian on competition & self defense

People come to Champion’s Creed for many reasons. Some examples of these would be to get in shape, meet new people, learn an effective Self-Defense, improve self-confidence and compete. Competition and sparring is what makes the styles that we teach at CCMA so effective as a self-defense and fighting style. Training at the club is safe, fun and comfortable because everyone is with friends and helpful training partners all looking to help each other get better. Competing tests you mentally, physically and technically in a high-pressure environment where you want to win and succeed. This can be very challenging for people to deal with. Most people that train in Martial Arts would like to think that if they got into an altercation and needed to use their skills for self-defense that their techniques would work and could possibly save their life or the life of their family. Unlike training in classes at the club, in a competition there will be more pressure, an opponent you don’t know and lots of people standing around watching and cheering but most of all there will be lots of nervousness and adrenaline. This experience of competing can be one of the closest things you can do to prepare yourself for a possible self-defense situation because once you step on the mat you will find out very quickly how you perform under pressure. This will give you a fantastic learning tool for later to improve your fight game but mostly it will let you experience what it is like to go up against another human being and deal with either victory or defeat. 

I said all of that to say this: Brian began competing when he was young and just starting BJJ, he continued doing it till he felt confident in his skills and style. Overall, if you ask Brian truthfully he will tell you he didn’t enjoy competing but that he did it more to improve his skills and mental game so he felt confident in his knowledge and ability to perform under pressure. The attention, congratulations or acknowledgment were not important to him. Yes, it was nice to win tournaments rather than lose but that was never his primary reason for competing. Brian competed in submission wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo tournaments. He has numerous competition accomplishments but winning Gold at the 2006 Grappler’s Quest Advanced Division in Las Vegas was one of his most prestigious tournament victories.

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MMA Coaching & Grappling Coaching Accomplishments

5 Time Canadian Team Coach for the Fila Grappling World Championships in Switzerland 2008, Florida 2009, Poland 2010, China 2010 and Serbia 2011

He has produced World Champion students including:

  • 4 time Fila World Grappling Champion winning 7 Gold medals- Sheila Bird in 2008, 2009 & 2010.
  • Fila World Gold medalist John Louro in Gi grappling in 2011
  • Gold Medalist Matt Bagshaw in Combat Grappling in 2011
  • Gold Medalist Brad Cardinal in Combat Grappling in 2011

Brian is the only coach to create a UFC fighter in Calgary. Brian’s student Nick “The Promise” Ring was one of the top competitors to be selected for season 11 of Tuff (UFC) TV show, winning 2 fights on the show until a knee injury occurred and took him out of the competition. Nick was the first fighter chosen by the Team Coach Tito Ortiz and was the only fighter on the show to defeat Court McGee who later went on to win the show.  After Nick’s success on the show Brian went on to Coach and corner Nick in all of his UFC fights in Sidney, Australia, Denver, United States, Calgary, Canada, Brisbane, Australia and Vancouver, Canada.  Nick faced Court McGee again on Calgary’s first UFC to beat McGee again in his hometown with his own Coach Brian in his corner. 

Brian was heavily into not only the Coaching side of MMA but also the promotional side since 1999.  Brian was the first person in Calgary to start an MMA club with multiple styles of Martial Arts such as Muay Thai, BJJ and wrestling. There were no MMA fight cards in Calgary at the time so Brian started running his own fight cards in Calgary to give his students the opportunity to fight. Brian’s events were called “The Punch and Crunch” and “The Smoker”. Since then Brian has created a huge stable of MMA fighters both amateur and professional competing in local, National and International fight events such as UFC, Bellator, World Series of Fighting, MFC, Rumble in Cage and many more.

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On belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has only 4 coloured belts. We all start as white belt, then go to Blue, Purple, Brown and then Black. Unlike other traditional Martial Arts where there could be 8 coloured belt levels and a student could achieve a Black belt in only a few years, BJJ has always been renowned for the fact that it has far less belt colours and longer gaps between each and likely it will take a student 8-10 years to achieve their Black Belt. When someone says they are a BJJ Black belt that means they have put in many years of time, dedication and sacrifice to earn that Belt.   Brian has a different set of skills he requires from his students depending on which belt they are testing for.  The Blue Belt requirements Brian himself has written quite a lot on so I attached his explanation below to read it in his own words. As for the Purple, Brown and Black Belt requirements he has, well there is a huge emphasis placed on performing under pressure with live sparring and resisting partners and the student needing to be successful in his efforts. Having said that, Brian always knows the level that his students are before he performs a test so he is confident in their skills and abilities prior to the test demonstration. Brian currently has trained and promoted 5 Black Belts, 3 Brown Belts, 11 Purple Belts and over 50 Blue Belts.

In Brian’s own words: Becoming a Blue Belt

“First off let me explain my requirements for blue belt. As with most instructors I will expect to see a minimal level of ability on the mat while sparring. Do you understand the hierarchy of positions on the ground? What level is your awareness and sensitivity while rolling, etc. It does not matter to me who can beat who on the mat or how you perform in a competition. A very strong, athletic 20yr old might be able to tap his older recreational blue belt partner because of his attributes. That does not mean he himself is a blue belt. Jiu-Jitsu is individualistic and what I look for will be different from student to student. Also I need to see you demonstrate skills in all the areas I am looking for in a blue belt. You may be a very good guard fighter with a guard that even higher belts struggle to pass, but what if they do pass? Are you confortable with your side mount escapes? Mount escapes? Etc. I do not care if you have a black belt level guard that you can use to crush almost anyone with, if you are a white belt in mount escapes (and I’ve seen guys like this) I will not give out a blue belt. Students need to be competent in all the areas I ask for.

I also require a set of techniques to be studied and remembered that I will ask to be demonstrated. My “blue belt curriculum.” This is a set of movements that focuses mostly on what I would consider the fundamental techniques a blue belt should know. It’s their starting foundation. Over the years of teaching I have developed my curriculum based off what was first introduced to me by my instructor Roy Harris. Roy was one of the first instructors I am aware of to formalize BJJ in this way. A blue belt is considered the “belt of survival” it is heavily focused on the defensive side of BJJ (Escaping mount, side mount, head locks, scarf hold, wrestlers cradle, and passing guard). These techniques give you a variety of options from each area but even more importantly built into these techniques are the majority of core movements that fuel all the techniques you will use in Jiu-Jitsu at any belt level under me regardless of what style of Jiu-Jitsu you gravitate to (as each students games will become more and more individualistic the farther they progress). The curriculum introduces obvious movements like bridging and shrimping, but also many, many other less obvious movements that will become very important as you become more experienced. I.e. Single and double legs swings to create momentum, sitting up with power (turkish get up), etc. This curriculum introduces students to all these movements and makes their learning much easier and faster. It doesn’t matter how detailed or broken down a technique is if the students struggles with the core movement involved they will not perform the technique effectively (or will have to compensate with other attributes like strength). As mentioned above it’s their "starting foundation.” An analogy I sometimes use for this is a mansion. If you visit a mansion you would immediately notice the impressive things such as the giant stair case and the hanging chandeliers. But it’s unlikely you would take notice of the boring cement foundations. But of coarse without the strong well built foundation, the rest of the house would likely fall apart.

That is a quick explanation of how and why I give belts the way I do. This is explained to all my students. I give out the 4 strips on their white belts for time and progression on the mat but at that point if they want a blue belt it’s study time. I do not force them at this point. It’s there choice.

Now off coarse this does not mean student cannot or do not progress in my gym at this point. It just means that they would likely progress faster and guarantee a well rounded game in all areas.”

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Affiliate Clubs

Brian currently has two clubs affiliated under him for BJJ. They are located in Cranbrook, BC and Canmore, AB. The instructors at those clubs train with Brian on a regular basis as well as their students have been promoted through the belt system under Brian using his curriculum and belt standards. Students at Champion’s Creed are welcome to train at the affiliate clubs.

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Brian Bird's training time line

1994 – 1996:
Trained on mats in his high school gym

1996 – 1998:
Used room at SAIT with borrowed mats from Clive Llewellyn

1998 – 1999:
Moved BJJ program to Mike Mile’s National Kickboxing where we ran our BJJ program. Our program was called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy Calgary

2000 – 2004:
Brian opened the first Mixed Martial Arts club in the NW in Calgary where we offered BJJ, Muay Thai and Wrestling. Our school was called National Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is when he first opened his own business starting with only 15 students.

2004 – 2012:
Our space became too small to accommodate our growing student base so we moved our club to NE Calgary into a larger facility. We changed our name to BDB Martial Arts

2012 – Now:
Currently, we are in Central Calgary where we offer BJJ, Muay Thai, Wrestling and MMA and we are now called Champion’s Creed Martial Arts. We have the ability to have multiple classes go on at the same time because of our extra mat space, cage and ring. We have grown since the year 2000 of having 15 students to now having hundreds of students. We will continue to improve and grow and offer our members the best Martial Arts Calgary has to offer.

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