Interview with Denmark’s first BJJ Black Belt: Shimon Mochizuki

Shimon Mochizuki is one of the pioneers of BJJ in Scandinavia, in fact he is the first BJJ black Belt in Denmark under Leo Vieira and Peter Blackwell from the world renowned Checkmat team. Shimon has been competing actively during the last decade and has also produced some of the most successful Scandinavian grapplers including Alexander Trans, Janni Larsson, Shanti Abelha and Joshua Manczak. In addition, Shimon runs Moka hardware, a BJJ gear brand. In this interview, Shimon talks about his story, coaching mindset and the BJJ scene in Denmark. If you want to know more about Shimon, check out this mini documentary.

1. Hi, Please introduce yourself to the BJJ Scandinavia community
My name is Shimon Mochizuki I’m born and raised in Denmark, I’m half Danish and Half Japanese. I’m the head instructor of Arte Suave academy in Copenhagen Denmark, I got my black belt in 2008 from Leo Vieira and Peter Blackwell. Arte Suave is the headquarter of CheckMat in Denmark. some of my achievements include:
● European Champion (2006 master purple)
● Scandinavian Open Champion (2007 brown absolute)
● London International Open Champion (2012 black – Senior 1)
● Swedish Open Champion (2015 Master 1, 2013 Master, 2012 Senior 1)
● European Open No-Gi 2nd place (2012 Senior 1)
● Scandinavian Open 3rd place (2009 black Master, absolute)
● European Open 3rd place (2011 black Master, Absolute)

2. What is your BJJ story?
I’m one of the first people to start to train BJJ in Denmark. I started to train in 2002 though a training partner in WingTsun, at the time there was no BJJ academies in Denmark, so we had to
go to Malmö, Sweden to train at MMA Alliance with Peter Blackwell. After going to sweden for about 6 months ones a week to train, Peter Blackwell wanted to open up a gym in Copenhagen, and that was good for me, less time spent on travelling, so I help him set up a gym. Around 2006-2007 Peter stopped coming to Copenhagen to teach classes, so we took over the academy, at the time we were only about 20-30 people training. 2008 I was the first dane to receive the black in BJJ.

3. You have trained many champions from Alex Trans, Jani Larson, Shanti to Manczak, what is your secret?
I’m not sure if we have any secrets, but I think that we have created a very special environment that helped create some great athletes. That is one of our strongest points, that we have a really special place that people like to spend most of their spare time. We have always been interested in improving, getting more information and learning new things. So one of the things that we have always done, is to bring in high level people to teach at the academy for longer periods of time. We have looked at this as an investment in the academy and a great way to improve the knowledge of the instructors and students. One of the things that I have learned from the great teachers we have had at the academy, is the drills, situation sparring and sparring drills that they used.

4. Being the first or one of the first BJJ black belts in Denmark, in your opinion how is the BJJ scene in Denmark evolving?
I’m the first BJJ Black belt in Denmark 🙂 I’m not sure if we are going in the right direction. It seems to me that many of the other academies in at least Copenhagen are losing some momentum, because the people behind them have moved out of Denmark. And I think that the overall level of Jiu Jitsu is not that high in Denmark compared to the rest of scandinavia. I think that we are trying to set a high standard, but are also one of the few full time gyms in Denmark and the only academy with so many high level people. But hopefully in some years the overall level will improve.

5. Do you still compete?
I try to compete when it is possible for me, but since I became a father, I have not competed that much. But I still like to compete, I had planned to participate in the Swedish open in 2016, but a few weeks before the event I injured my knee and I couldn’t fight. Competing is a great way to challenge yourself and to test your skills. I learn something each time. Things that I can use as a teacher, as a coach and something about myself as well.

6. Tell us about your academy
Arte Suave is the place to be if you want to learn BJJ in Copenhagen 🙂 . We have built up a great atmosphere in the academy, where people like to come and train and hang out. It is a very
competitive environment, but with a friendly atmosphere. It is a place that means a lot to the people that trains here, it is a place for them to unwind. Lately we have made some upgrades to
the place so it is starting to look really nice as well.

7. What is your training routine?
I try to train as much as possible, but having a full time gym, there are many things that has nothing to do with training. If I can, I will try to train 4-5 days a week. I mostly like to train in the mornings, we have sparring 5 days a week at 9.00 in the morning, where many of the good guys show up, so there is always some good rolls. I should do more strength training then I do, to prevent injuries, but I don’t do it that much.

8. What is next for you in 2017?
In 2017 I will host the Danish Open for the first time in Copenhagen and I’m really looking forward to that. We have made a lot of improvements to this years event. We will have tv screens at each mat, so looking forward to that. We are working hard on building the new generation of fighters in the gym, from the small kids (5-10 years) and the Juniors (10-15 years). And we are growing in both areas, and some of these kids are looking really sharp, so wait for them in the coming years. I’m working on expanding to other european countries. Now we are mostly selling in Scandinavia. We have a great partnership with academies in Norway under Jose Carlos and Kimura Norway. At this years Swedish Open it was great to see so many people in Moka kimonos.

9. Favourite technique
I think that my favorite technique would be the omoplata from open guard and half guard. I have some special setups that I do and a sneaky way to take the back from omoplata, I might do a video on that one day 🙂

10. Thanks and feel free to send a message to the BJJ Scandinavia community
You’re welcome. If you are in Copenhagen come and visit us at See you on the mat!