I first met Tim Sledd while visiting my parents in Martinsville, Indiana. I was a blue or purple belt and he was teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at a school that also had gymnastics and Tae Kwon Do. At the time he was a brown belt; and similar to me, started at a school rooted in old school BJJ with a strong focus on self defense. Every time I went back to Indiana I made it a point to stop to visit Tim, and even trained at a painful 6am(after 2 hours of driving through the countryside) in his pole barn. Off the mats, Tim has candidly shared his journey of joining Atos, starting different gyms, relocating from Indiana to California, and many other lessons he’s learned along the way. You’d be hard pressed to find a more honest and analytical Jiu Jitsu practitioner, and he’s an all around good dude.
Tim opened Atos Oceanside just over a year ago; and like all smart business people, he started with low overhead. There is a modest office, a front desk, and a bathroom. There are two curtain stalls for changing and the bulk of the space is dedicated to Jiu Jitsu mats. There are several chairs and a table just before the mats for people to watch. It’s minimalistic, clean, and just gritty enough to remind you of those badass Rocky montages of no frills training that gets you tough and focused.
Walking into a gym being the good friend of the owner always makes for a warm welcome. I made it a point to say hello to all the students on the mat and everyone was extremely friendly. The kids class was wrapping up and you could tell it was a gym well suited for the whole family. Tim is a great mentor and coach, and having 2 daughters of his own, a very passionate ambassador for empowering and teaching kids and adults.
If you want to know details, theory, and micro transitions, Tim will blow your mind. I have taken a liking to a phrase he uses often, “It’s mechanics, not magic.” He starts with a vigorous warm up that ensures you’re ready to train. He is concept oriented and always has a series of technique rather than an isolated move. For kids classes he is more conceptual and worries less about the details.
Tim and I have a long history of rolling. He credits me with an indentation in his chest that resulted from him popping a rib when I was holding him in side control. He also tells a story of my nearly throwing him through that pole barn wall I mentioned earlier. Needless to say, I’m much larger than him. When I outweigh my opponent, I typically pull guard and this roll with Tim was no exception. For his size, Tim is deceptively strong. His passing is very precise and focuses on getting dominant grips and pinning a leg. All of his moves are sequences so defending just one won’t be enough to make progress or keep him from progressing. I find his attacks to be especially crisp and his defense is really hard to break through. I fended off his passing and ultimately swept him from half guard. On top I used a Lucas Lepri pass I really like where you pin the opponents wrist to the ground and drive to mount. I unabashedly used my size advantage to play a pressure game and ultimately was able to take away the space Tim needed to win the match. Tim made it a point to tease me about gooning him and also complimented me on my technique. We spent the rest of the match showing each other the moves we used, which is one of the things I most enjoy about training with him. Win or lose we are both learning and having fun.
What to Expect
I mentioned before that warmups are vigorous. You’ll run, do high knees and heel kicks for about 2 laps longer than you wanted to. There were the obligatory pushups and a modification where you stay in plank and then switch your hips rapidly back and forth. The theme of the class was the 45 North South position and attack series. He started with how to get into the position as well as proper weight distribution and the theory behind why it works. Then he went through a straight armbar, a choke, and a kimura with some details on breaking the grip when your opponent defends. There was ample drill time and because the sequence flows together it helps retention. Prior to rolling he did a seatbelt back take drill for time to get everyone primed and then there were 6 rounds of sparring.
If you get a chance to train with Tim, don’t miss it. The rolling is tough and educational. I guarantee you will learn a detail you haven’t seen from his technique. If he’s too far for you to visit, you can see some of his articles, or check out his very popular Leg Drag workshop DVD. I absolutely love the attention to detail he provides. He has great energy and will keep you engaged throughout the entire class.
Check out Tim’s videos on the 45 North South HERE