The Unstoppable Sweep Inventor
Mike Fowler started taking jiu jitsu in August 2001 and by 2005 had his black belt. Originally from Virginia Beach, Fowler moved to Hawaii in 2010 and is the owner/head coach of North Shore Jiu Jitsu Club.
Known as one of the top black belts in jiu jitsu on the island, and the third fastest to reach it in America, Fowler spends most of his time these days leading seminars at jiu jitsu schools around the world.
For example, since October, he’s been home for only about two weeks. He just returned last week, and now is preparing for a special match against Rhalan Gracie (son of Relson Gracie) at Hawaii All Star Jiu Jitsu Invitational Feb. 7 at Fix Sports Lounge.
“I hope it will be a repeat of last time (he fought Gracie about two years ago),” says Fowler. “I won 13-0. He felt like he got cheated. I think this is more for him than for me. But I plan to repeat the same thing, except this time it’ll be a little more intense.”
Fowler says he was never fit as a child, and sometimes felt like an outcast. He tried wrestling in high school, but admits to not being really good at it. Then he discovered jiu jitsu and got hooked.
“After I graduated high school, I was doing some off-season tournaments and one of the referees came to our wrestling club and showed me some jiu jitsu moves,” Fowler recalls. “I checked out the gym, and that was it. I signed up right after that.
“For me, I was a part of something where normally I was kind of an outcast. I wasn’t in shape. I was the fat kid. And I wasn’t popular. Jiu jitsu gave me confidence.
“Physically, when you’re wearing that kimono, it’s hot and your whole body is always in action. In essence you’re fending for your life the whole time, and there’s no workout that can really replace what that is. It’s the No. 1 self-defense art. There’s nothing else that compares to it.”
Now 32, Fowler says his goal with jiu jitsu is simply to keep doing it for life and to spread the art. His seminars are in demand, as many schools often ask him to return. “That’s what I’m known for now, more so than my competition, is my teaching style,” he says. “I enjoy teaching. I feel like I can convey the art very well to others.
“I show different techniques and sometimes it’s Q&A. Everyone likes the Unstoppable Sweep, which is a move I made up and have been doing for the past 13 years. I get a lot of questions on that one. Also, how to keep pressure and how do you stay heavy on someone. These are things you learn by feel.”
Also competing at the upcoming Jiu Jitsu Invitational are Marcus Wilson vs. Jeremy Nitta, Neil Andres vs. Luke Hacker, Frank Cabral vs. Joel Bouhey, Brad Scott vs. Alessandro Ferreira, and Scott Junk vs. Patrick Stachel. They will be 20-minute, submission-only matches. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the event starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit HawaiiAllStarBJJ.com.
For more information on North Shore Jiu Jitsu Club, visit northshorejiujitsuclub.org.