Singapore's youngest Brazilian Jiu-jitsu champion Jedd Tan sacrifices teenage years
What does it take for a 16-year-old to take a different life path from his peers? Learn all about BJJ champion Jedd Tan's sacrifices and struggles to rep Spore.
Striking a balance in life may be as simple as carving out time regularly to indulge in an activity of choice. Yahoo Life Singapore chats with personalities who share their passion for a sport or wellness activity they enjoy, which helps them take on the world with zeal. This monthly series will inspire you to find an interest that will add that sparkle to your life.
At 15, Jedd Tan became Singapore's Youngest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Champion in 2022. A year later, our local champion won the Singapore Jiu-Jitsu Open 2023 by BJJ Roots, defeating the previous year's unbeaten champion in the lightweight category. His passion towards martial arts was stoked at the tender age of 6 when he started Taekwondo. But Jedd calls BJJ his true calling. True enough, he defeated an adult exponent after a mere eight months of training. But, of course, success comes with its fair share of sacrifices. Yahoo Life Singapore chats with the champ, wise beyond his age, about his dedication and discipline towards the sport and the sacrifices he has to make while his peers are living out their teenage years. Also, Yahoo shows you the tools and gear you need to start your BJJ journey.
Yahoo Life Singapore: What is one sport, fitness or wellness activity you love, and how did you get started?
Jedd: I started with an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) dream and quickly realised the sport's dangers. However, a specialised foundational martial arts such as BJJ would be beneficial to build up my skills. It is no doubt a challenging and enjoyable sport that gives me the freedom to compete independently. It has also enforced discipline into my life and made me open to learning and seeing things in a new light. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started watching MMA, and my interest in MMA grew. Coincidentally, it was also the only available sport during that period.
What are its benefits, and what do you love about it?
Doing BJJ helps me to keep fit. Within the first few months of doing BJJ, I lost at least 5kg, felt much fitter, and improved my physique. BJJ also taught me values I could apply, such as treating everyone in the gym respectfully and being disciplined in my diet and training schedule. I love how in BJJ, even the smaller and lighter guys can easily trump bigger and stronger guys due to how technical they are. This fact drives me to get better every day and not be complacent.
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How often do you indulge in BJJ?
Here’s what my training schedule looks like:
- Monday: BJJ Training (Skills & Sparring) 2 hours
- Tuesday: BJJ Training (Skills & Sparring) 2 hours
- Wednesday: BJJ Training (Skills & Sparring) 2 hours
- Thursday: School Rugby Training (Tactical Training) 2 hours
- Friday: BJJ Training (Skills & Sparring) 2 hours
- Saturday: Strength & Conditioning Workout at the gym 1.5hrs
- Sunday: BJJ Training (Competition Team) 2 hours
What's your biggest sacrifice to be where you are now? Have you envied your peers enjoying a normal childhood at any point in your sports career? Any regrets?
It's an uphill stride for budding athletes like myself to break into the professional sports realm, especially in a nation with limited sporting opportunities. BJJ isn't a buzzword here, and the sports scene deserves the spotlight relative to STEM in Singapore. Reversing preconceived notions takes work, but it is a challenge I am driven to take on. I hope to demonstrate that through my fights.
On a more athletic level, mental challenges sometimes arise. For instance, I don't always win every fight, which I must learn to accept. As a result-driven athlete, I put my heart and soul into it, and when the results aren't what I expected, I get disheartened. But a field like this has its moments, and it's okay. Initially, I envied my peers because of how much free time they had to go out together. However, as I delved deeper into my BJJ journey, I enjoyed the grind and didn't feel sad being left out.
Was there any point you wanted to give up? Why? How did you bounce back?
There were many times that I felt like giving up. For example, I feel so tired on some days due to my schoolwork, training and other commitments. During some training sessions, I would get smashed and destroyed by others while sparring with them. I would then question myself if there was any purpose in going through the suffering. However, the desire to win and succeed was stronger than the desire to give up. So when I felt like giving up, I would remind myself to stay tough, stick to my purpose and not let others who support me down.
What gear/tools/attire do you need or wear when engaging in the sport or wellness activity?
Gi, Mouthguard, Headgear, Tape, Cooler Pack, Compression Tights 7.
Sanabul Essentials V.2 Ultra Light Preshrunk BJJ Jiu Jitsu Gi
Champs Breathable Mouthguard
For Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, MMA, Muay Thai, Sports, and Wrestling
MaxxMMA Headgear Black L/XL
For Boxing, MMA Training, Kickboxing, Sparring, Karate, Taekwondo
Hampton Adams (8 Pack) White Finger Tape, Athletic Tape
For Rock Climbing, BJJ Jiu Jitsu, Grappling, MMA, Crossfit and Martial Arts
Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Backpack
Heavy Duty Gym Bag with Waterproof Gi Pocket
Sanabul Mens Compression Base Layer Workout Jiu Jitsu Spats Tights
Share with us one thing you learned from this sport or what you wish others to discover.
I hope that others will get to experience BJJ. Give BJJ a try, and you will realise that strength is not a determining factor in winning. Even though you might be much weaker than someone, you still have the capability to take them on.
As a well-known figure, how do you inject positivity into the public?
I inject positivity into the public by motivating them, posting on my Instagram, and showing my journey and the work/discipline it takes to achieve my dreams. I want to inspire others to be disciplined and chase their dreams.
I implore you to never surrender and continue to envision your aspirations. In a society where such dreams may be seen as unusual or unfamiliar, let us always strive to be pioneers.Jedd Tan, Singapore’s youngest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion
Could you share any insight you have gained thanks to BJJ?
I believe in the importance of discipline when taking up a sport like BJJ. In addition to training, I also have to juggle school and extracurricular activities. It is essential to set priorities right because to achieve the bigger goals; some sacrifices must be made. I always tell myself, "You don't know what you don't know", – keeping me open to learning and looking at things in a new light. I have learned that mental challenges may arise as I don’t always win every fight, and it's something that I am learning to accept.
I constantly remind myself of the following:
i. Focus on the process, and the results will follow
ii. Do not worry about what you cannot control but work on what you can control
iii. Focus on building a better version of myself
iv. There is nothing to fear from my opponent or challenges in life. I am my biggest challenge
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What advice would you give to those who would like to kickstart BJJ?
The following are what serve as my guiding light:
The importance of discipline cannot be overstated. In addition to your sports, you also have other commitments.
Setting your priorities is essential because some sacrifices must be made to achieve the bigger goal.
I always tell myself, "You don't know what you don't know". I keep myself open to learning and looking at things in a new light. Half the fight has already been won with discipline, resilience, and an open mind.
Stay the course
If you want to be better than the average, you have to do more than what the rest are doing. It is very convenient to find resources to improve yourself now. Online resources are so readily available to learn the skills. But ensure that you follow the suitable sources.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love the drive and desire I have to pursue BJJ.
What does your self-care routine like?
I sleep well, eat well and manage my time well.
What’s next for you?
I want to win the upcoming BJJ world championship in the USA and be the world champion. Even after this world championship, I want to continue to win more titles in different competitions.
What else would you like to share with Yahoo readers?
For those who may be grappling with doubts about pursuing their non-traditional or niche dreams, I implore you never surrender and continue envisioning your aspirations. In a society where such goals may be seen as unusual or unfamiliar, let us always strive to be pioneers. Remember, you are never alone. A vibrant community is waiting to embrace and support you on your unique path.
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