Zebra Athletics is happy to announce our newest measure of Team Zebra: Jimmy Dolan. Jimmy is an up and coming jiu-jitsu blue belt who took some time to tell us about his entrance into the BJJ world, what he’s been up to lately and where he is going.
Here’s what he had to say.
1. What led you to begin training martial arts?
I was born in Las Vegas, NV at Nellis Airforce Base, but I grew up in Cuyahoga falls, OH. When I was 4-5 years old my parents were looking to have me get involved in sports. They tried just about every sportsball game that they could think of. Most of the time I was wandering around doing my own thing, oblivious to the games in the first place.
In kindergarten my best friend was going to be put into karate by his parents so I asked if I could do it too because I thought power rangers were the coolest thing on earth. (I was kicked out of preschool for playing “Power Rangers” with the other kids). Karate had my undivided attention and I went on to practice it for 8 years — doing kumite, kata, and sanbon kumite tournaments and eventually reaching my brown belt in shotokan karate at the age of 13.
When I moved up to 8th grade I found wrestling and absolutely fell in love with the sport, so much so that I dropped karate completely. Even though I struggled in the beginning I stayed for the comradery and wrestled from 8th grade to my senior year of high school. After high school I moved to Washington state where I was just lifting to stay in shape but I always felt like I was looking for something more. It was then that my dad recommended that I find a jiu-jitsu gym.
Once I discovered grappling again, that was all she wrote.
2. How did you move from training to deciding to fight?
Once I found jiu-jitsu I knew immediately that I wanted to compete. It seemed like a natural progression to me competing in karate for years then going into wrestling where we had duals and open tournaments year round. I felt confident in jiu jitsu until the referee said “combatch”, and it was as though I forgot everything. But I was determined to improve. Since then I’ve had some wins and some losses just — like everybody else — and through that I’ve found a love for the competitive lifestyle.
3. Which martial art do you enjoy training the most (striking, grappling, etc.)?
In my youth I had a blast doing striking but right now I’m having the most fun with grappling, mainly because of the new and exciting things that there are to learn and the fact that it’s constantly growing every day.
4. What is your life like outside of training? What big events have happened in your life lately?
Currently I work a full time job as a jobsite foreman for a concrete resurfacing company. the company does work in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. I’m on the road a majority of my time, but when I’m not working or training I like to listen to podcasts, improve my weekly meal prep, lift and spend time with my girlfriend. As far as big events I’ve had some family members pass but other than that I feel as though my big life events have yet to come.
5. What are your goals in martial arts?
My goals in martial arts are pretty simple: I want to grow physically, mentally and spiritually and one day help those around me to do the same in their own personal journey.
6. Tell us about where you train/your coaches/your teammates
I train at North Sound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo (NSBJJ) in Lake Stevens, WA, a Zenith school under Rodrigo Cavaca. When I first started looking around for a jiu-jitsu gym in my area I just typed in jiu-jitsu into Google’s search bar. There were gyms a little closer to home but I had told myself that I was going to go around and “taste” the different gyms in the area and just work down the list. NSBJJ was the first gym I walked into, and after one class it was clear to me that there was no need to go anywhere else I’d found home. Not having any sort of social life from constantly working and moving to Washington, the instructors and other students treated me like family the moment I walked in the door. Just like other schools, everyone comes from all walks of life and backgrounds. All together we have 10 black belts that are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, all of them working full time jobs. Competing isn’t necessary but it’s encouraged at all belts.
7. What made you decide to partner with Zebra?
Over the last few years I met some of the team members from Zebra on the Grapplers Escape cruise. As I came to know them it was evident that they were good people, and relationships with good people is what this whole game of life is about. I knew I couldn’t waste the fact that good people have belief enough in me to offer me such an opportunity.
8. What are you looking forward to about working with Zebra?
I am really excited about this partnership and I want to put my best foot forward by representing Zebra to the best of my ability on and off the mats. With Zebra’s help I hope to make this my most competitive year yet.
Follow Jimmy Dolan on Instagram @jimmydolan_bjj.