Interview with Norwegian BJJ brown belt champion, Joseph Karim, on his switch to MMA and the Oslo Submission Series (OSS) event he promotes

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1. Please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Scandinavia?
My name is Joseph Karim and i’m a brown belt under Eduardo “teta” Rios. I’ve competed in nearly every grappling tournament possible both gi and nogi. Some notable achievements are winning the Euopeans as a purple belt and taking third in the same tournament as a brown belt. I’ve also won several tournaments around europe as the ibjjf London open, the Munich open, Nordic open, Swedish open etc.

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2. What is your Jiu Jitsu story
I started out in jiu jitsu as a 15year old at Frontline Academy Drammen, an affiliate of the Frontline Academy in oslo, that is run by Nic Ruben Nikolaisen. I stayed with him for 4 years and recieved my purple belt under him. When i moved to Oslo to study i got to train at Frontline Headquarters with master Teta. I and have been training and competing in jiu jitsu untill i recently made the switch to fight amateur mma.

3. You recently made a moved to Pro MMA, tell us why you made this move and main difference between full time BJJ to MMA training
After 4 amateur fights I am finally looking to make my pro debut. It was always a dream to fight mma and as a lot of people it is what made me start jiu jitsu in the first place. I quickly fell in love with jiu jitsu and stuck with that. After all these years i finally decided to make the move and test myself in the cage. MMA training is very different in many ways. First of all there is elements like striking and wrestling that has to be focused on right away, but a lot of the jiu jitsu has to change as the mma game is very different from the competition jiu jitsu. Dividing the time between the different martial arts along with strenght and conditioning training is definitely one of the greater challenges. Also the difficulty of getting fights is something a lot of people dont see. We sometimes forget how easy it is in jiu jitsu to just sign up for a tournament, train and compete without worrying about whether or not there will be anyone to grapple with come competition day.

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4. All your MMA fight ended up in submission, is it because of your BJJ Background you have the submission as goal?
It definitely is. I know that all my years spent grappling puts me at a high level on the ground, at least compared to a lot of these guys fighting amateur. Also under pressure it is easy to resort to what you are most comfortable doing and for me that has been the ground game. Despite of that I am still working on my jiu jitsu to be better and more mma adapted. With the help of teta I believe my jiu jitsu will keep improving day by day.
I also focus alot on my striking with coach jack hermansson and coach mohsen bahari so i am ready for whatever.

5. Tell us about your training regime?
I usually train nogi 2 times a week, striking 3 times a week and 1-2 mma sessions. I also
get atleast 2 strength and conditioning workouts in. The training regimen varies a bit from week to week, but the amount of training stays at about 9-10 practices a week. Some are light and technical and others are more intense.

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6. Tell about you academy?
Frontline Academy is one of the best academys in all of europe. We got super highlevel grapplers (tons of black -and brownbelts) and a strong MMA proteam. I think we are also gaining notoriety all over sandinavia as many professional fighters have made the way over to train just the last year. The gym has a stunning number of competetive grapplers (had over 50 competitors in the european open this year) and the competitive thaiboksing team is growing as well.

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7. You are organising for the second edition of Oslo Submission Series (OSS), how did it all start and why you decided to make a submission only event?
My good friend and training partner Martin Moen and I decided to do something different for the grappling community in Norway. For us the coolest tournament to watch was always the ADCC where there is a small bracket with incredible talent and it is easy to follow the brackets as they go along in contrast to the bigger gi tournaments where there are 12 mats running at the same time. For the competitor that is great, but for the audience it is very hard to follow the action. Thats why we decided to make a smaller invitational only tournament so that the audience actually can sit through all the action and be entertained the whole time by the best grapplers we can get our hands on. There has also been an increase of submission only type tournaments with the likes of metamoris, EBI, Polaris etc. and the outcome is often really cool matches due to the rules. We wanted to do something similar, but more local so that up and coming young talent can compete and gain experience, but at the same time it is on a bit of a bigger stage than usual and with a more professional production than many local grappling tournaments.

8. What are the new features for this coming OSS?
The biggest feature with the new OSS has to be the location. Last time we were fortunate enough to have the tournament at Frontline Academy Oslo, but this time we have moved the location to Chateau Neuf, a big venue in central Oslo. there will be a bar at the venue and the competition will be in the evening, so people can get a bit of a different experience than the usual grappling events. Another new thing is the addition of 2 amazing superfights to spice things up a bit and give the opportunity for a few extra people to compete and showcase their skills.

As last time we have teamed up with Fatstone tv who will make sure we will have a great stream with live commentary. We understand how valuable it is for the competitors to have quality footage of their matches to get their name out there, so this was an important point for us.

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9. What are your plans for 2016?
Personally my plans for 2016 is to make my pro debut, rack up some wins and most importantly improve every day. As far as OSS goes I hope the event will be a success and that the competitors and audience have a great time. I certainly will.

10. Thank you and feel free to send a message!
Thanks to all coaches and trainingpartners at Frontline Academy! I want to give a shoutout to my sponsor Voss Kiropraktorkontor for helping me out.
Also a big thanks to our eventsponsors and those who help make OSS #2 a reality.
Make sure you all follow the Oslo Submission Series page on facebook and the event. The event takes place on march 4. Bring your family and friends!