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The History of Elite MMA

Elite MMA has such a rich history and so many incredible instructors and members of their mixed martial arts family. This page provides some background for where Elite MMA got its start and why technique and the history of mixed martial arts is so important to them.

Eric Williams began wrestling at 9 yrs of age. Growing up on a wheat and cattle farm along the Kansas/Oklahoma border made for a good wrestling environment. The strong work ethic from the farm combined with a love for technical wrestling knowledge led Eric to 7 national wrestling titles. At the early age of 15, Eric was selected to the Olympic 200 project (a select team of 200 Olympic hopefuls who were taken to the Olympic training center for specialized training and instruction). Unfortunately, his Olymic dream never came to fruition though. Along with being a skilled wrestler, Eric was also an accomplished tailback in football, leading the state in rushing yards 3 consecutive years in a row (with personal desires to wrestle and play football in college). However, a cervical injury playing football would lead to a “broken neck” and a paralyzed left arm. Eric was told he would never compete in athletics again. It would be a year and a half before Eric’s arm began to function again. Two weeks later, he returned to wrestling and won another national championship (pinning everyone in his weight). Although the doctors said he needed to stay out of wrestling, the “if you set your mind to it, you can do anything” attitude was back in play. It would be only 6 months before tragedy struck again. Eric re-injured his neck and his left arm became paralyzed again. Doctors told him he would likely never get the use of his arm back. Defeated, Eric retired from all athletics and gave up on his Olympic dream. The daily rituals which were taken for granted for so long (i.e., buttoning up one’s shirt, putting toothpaste on a tooth brush, going for a swim) were now supposed to be life long challenges.

Since athletics were out of the picture, Eric shifted his focus to his academics. The plan of attending college on a sports scholarship was gone. Another year passed with a paralyzed left arm. It would be God’s will that he gained the full use of his arm back in 1983. The blessing of an academic scholarship to Oklahoma State University replaced the athletic scholarship as well.

Along with wrestling, when Eric was 12 he had begun studying Karate. He continued his study of Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Moo Do Kwon during college and after graduating college (eventually achieving the black belt in Karate). Eric had moved to Houston, Texas after college to pursue an internship in international affairs with the Institute for International Education. With his arm functioning at a near normal level, Eric decided to endeavor into Thai Boxing “just to stay in shape”. Full contact sports were still “off limits” according to the physicians. However,  he thought hitting Thai pads and some light sparring surely couldn’t hurt if one was careful.

Driving 45 minutes to an hour in Houston traffic seemed a small price to pay to get to attend the Thaiboxing classes. One year into the Thai training, the instructor, Tim Mousel, found out that Eric used to wrestle. Tim said, “Oh man, you have got to see these submission holds Guru Dan Inosanto taught me. They would go great with your wrestling.” Eric was infatuated with the holds Tim had learned from Guru Inosanto, Larry Hartselle, and Yuri Nachamora. Eventually Tim told Eric that he thought they should start a submission grappling class. There was no one around doing it so they would have to learn and grow together.Eric stated that he couldn't, with his past injuries and that he didn't want to risk becoming paralyzed again. Yet, the torch had been lit again and Eric decided to consult a neurologist just to see what he thought. Again, the Neurologist determined that it would be too risky to participate in contact sports. After a few months though, Eric could not stand the temptation and Mousel’s Self-Defense Academy began teaching the first submission grappling class in Houston with Eric instructing.

Mixed Martial Arts had begun! Tim teaching Thaiboxing, boxing, and JKD and Eric teaching the takedowns, body control, and rudimentary submissions. It was a small, rugged class. The third student to join was a skinny 130 pound, fifteen year old kid named Hai Nguyen. Eric told his wife that he was sure this new kid would quit. Hai’s training partners in the class consisted of a 235 lb. power lifter and Stanley Phillips (a 200 lb. ex-Army Ranger who served in Vietnam). However, Hai proved to be a very determined young man.

12 years later, Hai now teaches with Eric at Elite Mixed Martial Arts. A couple of months after starting the submission grappling class, the first UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) was held. The sight of Royce submitting everyone really got everyone hooked. Eric began traveling to seminars around the state and going to California to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “We would go learn as much as we could in a week, take great notes, then come back and drill the techniques for hours” stated Eric. In the early days, the only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools were in California and one in New York. Eric got the privilege of training with Royce Gracie, Rorion Gracie, Rickson Gracie, and the Machado Brothers. In 1995, Rigan Machado invited Eric to join the Machado Competition team and participate in the Pan American BJJ championships. Mark Lyons, a Machado brown belt, had a big influence on the way Eric approached BJJ during this time. Eventually, Carlos Machado would move to Dallas and it was a much celebrated shorter distance to train. That was B.C. (before children). Blessed with a new baby girl and boy and working 80 hours per week did not leave opportunity to travel to Dallas to train. Eric began fighting NHB fights and was 3-0. Guy Mezger, who was fighting in the UFC and Pancrease, came to the school and trained one day. Guy and Eric hit it off and Guy asked Eric to start fighting in Japan. It would be with great deliberation and reserve that he would pass up the opportunity. “It would have been a great opportunity for me personally, but my family would have suffered,” stated Eric. Eric and his wife had a 6 month old and an 18 month old at home who needed him financially, emotionally, and physically. Even without another neck injury, it would have been too much of a toll for his family.

Around this same time, a young black belt named Pedro Alberto moved to Houston. He would eventually take over teaching the submission arts at Mousel’s and Eric became his student. Leaving the Machado team was difficult but traveling was no longer an option given the young children and jobs. Eric’s new BJJ instructor, Pedro Alberto, proved to be a great instructor and a great friend. Hai, Ed Liem (another student of Eric’s submission grappling class), and Eric flourished under the tutelage of Pedro. Pedro brought a new type of game to the table. He taught his students the same way he was taught by Sylvio Behring and Roberto Traven. He taught the concepts of BJJ - not just the moves. The fluidity in Pedro’s technique was what the Brazilians called “jinga”, something that the students had been lacking. Two years passed and Pedro returned to Brazil to accept a job with a prestigious law firm in Saul Paulo, Brazil. The original plan of continuing a PABJJ program at Mousel’s fell through following a disagreement between Tim and Pedro near the end of Pedro’s stay. Eric, who to this day considers both Tim and Pedro good friends, was caught in the middle of the disagreement. With great melancholy , Eric would end up moving to a different location to teach BJJ. And this is how Elite Mixed Martial Arts was born.

Elite Mixed Martial Arts has been the host to several BJJ world champions who have come to Houston to vacation America and share some of their BJJ “secrets”. World/Mundial Champion Black belts Ze Mario Accord “Esfiha” and Felipe Silva have taught extensively at our school in Houston. Early in 2006, we hosted BJJ brown belt "Beto," then later that year Octavio Couto Jr "Ratinho" came to teach. For the beginning of 2007 Ratinho has come back to stay for several months. When the guys from Brazil are not able to visit, we at Elite travel to Brazil to train. Frost Murphy, a black belt instructor teaching in Baytown, trained for 6 months in Rio. While in Rio, we train at the BRASA TEAM’s academies with Octavio Couto Jr. “Ratinho”, Felipe de Costa, Vinny Campelo, Muzio de Angeles, and others.

Now you know all about our BJJ family, why not be a part of it? Check out our instructors page to put faces with the names from the story! We have your spot reserved, schedule your free lesson today!

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