Brenden Boyd is a competitor. Born and raised in Alpharetta, Georgia, Brenden is a high school sophomore who plays football, wrestles, gets good grades, all while training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the past 9 years.
I met Brenden on a rainy Saturday morning during a wrestling meetup at Cambridge High School. It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m expecting to meet a high energy, amped-up kid ready to wrestle. Instead, I met a calm, focused and respectful young man.
As a mutual friend introduced us, Brenden said a few words to him and even fewer to me. I asked if he was comfortable filming and he simply said, “Of course,” then added a kind, “Thanks for doing all of this.”
While the other kids on his team were goofing off, scoping out the competition or frantically rehearsing takedowns and defense maneuvers, Brenden sat calmly on the mat, saying little to his teammates and relaxing. It seemed to be his nature. Is he introverted, or is it something else?
Brenden’s focus is jiu-jitsu. He has been practicing this form of martial arts since he was 7 years old, jumping from gym to gym, until finally settling down at J3 Fitness in Alpharetta.
The name of Pedro Sauer, a legendary Brazillian jiu-jitsu instructor, is in large print above rolling mats as one walks through the doors of J3 Fitness. Although Sauer wasn’t present at the gym, Jamie Williams, the gym owner, instructs with the lineage and attitude of Williams’ predecessors. Williams and Brenden have been teacher and pupil for the last 4 years, with Williams allowing Brenden to side coach the children’s classes.
Williams is more than an instructor or a mentor. Brenden says he is a second dad to him. Williams will say the same thing, “Brenden is like a second son to me.”
With this type of support system, it’s no wonder Brenden was able to climb through all the childrens belts to be capped at green belt until this year. At 16 years old, Brenden was promoted to blue belt, a belt that he currently holds.
During the New Breed Jiu-Jitsu Federation tournament, the first thing I noticed was Brenden’s demeanor. He was just as calm at this jiu-jitsu tournament as he was with his wrestling meet, but this time he was fighting adults with blue belts or higher, rather than high-schoolers.
He won three of his four matches that day. After his only loss, he and Williams discussed what could’ve been done to prevent it.
With William’s instruction, Brenden has amassed over 100 medals from organizations such as the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), New Breed, National Fighting Championships (NFC) and the renowned International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).
Having the experience and a resume as stacked as Brenden’s, I wanted to know where he saw himself in a few years. Anyone would’ve expected him to have huge, glamorous dreams for his future. Curiously though, he gave a simple humbled response.
“I see me… progressing and being able to share what I know, I’d love to be able to teach other people and share what I know. I see me staying with Jamie for a little while.”
Jiu-Jitsu isn’t just a competition or a hobby for Brendan – it’s a lifestyle. He found an outlet for stress and built structure by repetition of this cognitive and gentle martial art. Whether he’s winning gold medals at IBJJF or coaching at J3 Fitness, Brenden will always have jiu-jitsu.