With over 180 matches as a competitor in Jiu Jitsu tournaments, and 16 years professionally coaching students in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA, Robert Naumoski knows martial arts. Since opening in 2003, Roots St George has become the longest established and most reputable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym in the St George area, well known for its skilled instructors, fun but challenging classes, friendly culture and team spirit.
What do you do at Ultimate Defence Academy/Roots St George?
I’m the head instructor of Roots St George Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the MMA Instructor.
When did you start Jiu Jitsu? And how long have you been doing it overall?
Most of my life… over 30 years. I started training martial arts in 1987 and started BJJ in 1996, and haven’t stopped training since then.
What level of achievement have you reached in your discipline?
I’m a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, black belt in Ninjitsu, Pankration and Iaido, which is the Japanese martial art of the ‘katana’ or samurai sword. I’ve also trained boxing for 10 years, wrestling, and knife fighting with Ray Floro.
What made you want to start martial arts?
I was out on my push bike one day when I was twelve years old, and I rode past a local scout hall in Hurstville. I saw they were swinging bokken’s around, which are these big wooden swords. I had watched Conan, the movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I remember thinking “like Conan!” That was it, after that. Growing up, I’ve always loved watching action movies with Bruce Lee, and I’ve got great memories of my dad taking me and my brother to the movies in the school holidays, but Conan was definitely my favourite as a kid.
Why was he your favourite?
He was big, he was strong, he had a sword… what more could a twelve year old want in a hero?
What drives your motivation for this discipline?
I love the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Training Jiu Jitsu keeps my body fit and my mind very sharp. The friendships that I’ve developed as I’ve trained with like-minded people, year in, year out, we support each other and develop our Jiu Jitsu skills together, they become family. I’ve been friends with the same Jiu Jitsu training partners for the last twenty years, and I look forward to the next twenty.
What do you enjoy most about coaching others?
I’ve watched my students as unconfident white belts transform into Jiu Jitsu world champions. Seeing the positive change in people’s characters when they learn to protect themselves is very rewarding. I really enjoy teaching people self defence techniques that they can apply to the real world, as they better themselves by improving their confidence.
What’s a unique achievement or event you have experienced in your discipline?
The greatest highlight so far has been developing twelve formidable black belts, some of whom have gone on to have their own clubs and students. Each black belt represents a long and meaningful journey, and the friendship that I have with each of them is lifelong. As well as that, I was honoured to be inducted into the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2016.
Looking forward, what do you hope to achieve with UDA/Roots St George?
I want to reach out more to the local community and watch our academy grow. I want to have an active role in school programs for self defence and anti-bullying. I also want to continue the development of techniques in Jiu Jitsu and watch how people’s characters are strengthen and change.
Can you share some tips about succeeding in whatever sporting discipline an individual may choose?
Take it slow and easy. Getting yourself into a regular pattern of training is more beneficial than going too hard and too fast and burning yourself out. Remember, you need to enjoy any activity you do in order to succeed at it. No matter what challenges you’re faced with in life, or whatever hardships you face, just remember to keep moving forward.