Elisabeth Clay: How Important My Training Partners Are to Me

The longer I train the more I realize that without partners who support you, push you and encourage you, success cannot be obtained. So, let me tell you a little about each of my closest training partners. Meet the ADCC team.

Let Me Start With Kalei Talamoni

Kalei Talamoni is a phenomenal man and single father of two. He works on the North Slope of Alaska, doing shift work of two weeks on and two weeks off. He works 12 hour days and still trains up there with men from all over the United States.

During the two weeks he is home, he spends his time with his kids and keeps training hard. He takes his children to school and all of their activities and still usually manages to make daily takedown training sessions and noon classes as well as competition classes two days a week. He even gets to his open mat on Saturday and sometimes Sunday.

He is the one who pushes the group and always expects more. He is the “smash pass” man.  He has a different game from the other guys so he rounds us out. I can count on him to push me beyond where I am comfortable. He has been my corner and my rock.

Then There is Grant Birmingham

Grant Birmingham is my daily partner when Kalei is not here. He is about to finish his masters degree in engineering.  He is at every noon, night, comp and judo class and more.  If a class needs coverage teaching he even fills in for Professor Jordan.

Grant is the one we call the “Care Bear.” He makes sure we all feel good about ourselves and remain optimistic. At the end of tough comp classes he will be the one to make sure our feelers are good.  When we are trying to figure out something new or brainstorm how to make something work, he is the best partner. Whether we succeed or fail he is always there to back us up. He is the steady stable one of the group.

Dennis Grogan is Next

Dennis Grogan is an integral member. He is the nogi and leg player. He also works full time in town, so he comes to noon class when he can but hits almost every night and comp class along with open mats on Saturday and Sunday. He has long legs, which challenges us every single day.

Last But Certainly Not Least

Professor Jordan Kontra is the glue that holds us together. He rolls with us and encourages us, all the while challenging our game and mental strategy. He is a master at keeping us in the moment and is always focused on what we are working on. He analyzes the games and constantly challenges us to be better.  

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