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March 4, 2024

Warrior in a Garden: From Fighter To Martial Artist

Jason Kramer

Warrior in a Garden: From Fighter To Martial Artist

Under the samurai top knot and smile stands a man with a heart of gold and a beast purple belt on the mat.

Brian Rogers

Brian Rogers grew up competing and testing himself. As a chubby kid who didn’t see any merit in street life, he stood out as someone different and got teased for it.

There was something inside of him that saw another way, something in him that understood the beauty in being different. This is exactly what led Brian to a life of athletics and into a pursuit of the martial way.

Before he became a professional MMA fighter for Strikeforce and Bellator (2006 – 2017), Brian grew up excelling in football, wrestling and track at Kent Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio. After HS, he became a 4-year letter winner and a 3-year starting linebacker at Walsh University, located in the Hall of Fame city of Canton, Ohio. Brian graduated 2nd all-time in career tackles at Walsh and was entered into his college’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Just ask the guys competing against him in ADCC trials about getting tackled.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Brian also has his Masters’s Degree in Coaching and Leadership from the University of Akron. Today, he runs a business focusing on brand strategy, marketing, and business development.

[Pro MMA Fighter and Easton Black Belt Bojan Velickovic on Self-Reliance, Versatility and Living Fully]

Every day is a test

As a fighter, Brian believes that every day is a test, and the spirit of the fighter should be present and ready to show up for any of life’s challenges.  Anywhere. Anytime.

That spirit has led him on a path from fighter to martial artist. In 2011, he discovered Judo, which he still practices regularly, believing it’s good to get of your comfort zone. He was introduced to Judo through MMA and fell in love with the art while training with an Armenian champion. He encourages everyone to learn some Judo and its philosophy!

The founder of Judo, Kano, explained that one of the core principles of Judo is Jita Koyei, or “mutual welfare and benefit,” a concept that resonates with Brian and his business Reciprocity Creative Coalition. This philosophy aligns with his journey to become the best version of himself to raise up those around him. You will always find Brian before and after class helping others, making connection and making a difference.

Brian has a deep love of learning. While he stopped fighting professionally in 2017, Brian joined Easton Arvada in late 2021. As a martial artist, Brian enjoys learning the intricacies of BJJ. Much of the art isn’t necessary in MMA, but it becomes essential in BJJ competition. A true student of the game, Brian chooses to learn the art while pressure-testing it in the Absolute Division.

Competing in BJJ has been different for Brian, however, as he’s made connections, friends and a network unlike other competitive arenas.

While discussing his first tournament after getting back to competing in 2022, Brian recalls submitting a competitor quickly. The two became friends just as fast. A few short months later, without asking or seeking anything, that same friend came through for Brian unexpectedly.

“That,” Brian says, “is the beauty of BJJ — the community and connections.”  Something that, he says, Easton does very well through its socials and culture.

[Easton Students Gelsey Malferrari + Neal Ritter: Primitive Fuel For A Modern Community]

When not on the mat or connecting with others, you’ll find him competing at Grappling Industries and the ADCC West Coast trials. Juggling competition, personal development, and building a business is a lot of work, which is why discipline is a must for Brian.

He’s up early in the morning, like all successful people, getting wins over the day before more people are out of bed. He might hit the gym and work out before a 6 a.m. BJJ class. He refers to what Mike Tyson said about discipline: “Discipline is doing what you hate to do, but do it like you love it.”

From a fighter to martial artist, Brian believes that discipline, community and focus equal success on the mat and in life. How each of us achieves it is unique to us. Follow his example, and find your way. Be different. Be you.

You can learn more about Brian on Professor Marshall’s August 27, 2021 podcast: The Blueprint with Eliot Marshall: Ep 197: Brian Rogers – Stepping Into Your Power (


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