Legends – GSW Connections

Over the years GSW has had some amazing BJJ exponents come to our school. For the full story of GSW, read the GSW Story >>
Below are some of the people that have influenced our training and given us inspiration and direction.

First and foremost is John Will. John has been our coach and inspiration since the inception of GSW in 2000. Through John we have had the privilege of hosting BJJ God, Rigan Machado.
Our association with Will / Machado Australia has also given us access to some to the regions most well know and respected BJJ Exponents, including, Richard Norton, David Meyer, John Jensen, Elvis Sinosic, Doug Meijer and Tahi Burns.

We have also had the distinct pleasure is hosting and attending seminars by Royce Gracie, Clark Gracie, Tony Eduardo, Michelle Nicolini and Steve ‘Sugapop’ De Silva

John Will – Our coach and mentor

John WillJohn WTFJohn Will - SweepJohn InvertedJohn Will - Hook SweepJohn Will - Group Shotjohn_aust_1995John Willgsw_newlands_seminar_02ko_john_geoff2003_012003_03

Rigan Machado

Rigan Machado is a legend in the BJJ World. It’s only through our connection with John Will that we are able to host Rigan in New Zealand. Rigan has been to GSW every year since 2008. His seminars are always mind blowing and spaces on the mat are filled is an instant. Being park of the Will / Machado Australasia organisation afforts us access to some of the worlds greats, like our friend Rigan

Rafael Mendes

In November 2014 GSW had the amazing privilege of hosting one of the worlds best competitors for a seminar on Gi techniques. The seminar was extremely well attended with students from several local schools braving the GSW mat as well. Rafa is a generous and warm person and his teaching style and ability was well received by all who made the effort to attend. Rafa also rolled with many of the senior grades after the session. Dispatching everyone with ease and showing why he is a world champion.
A full image gallery is available on the GSW facebook page here>>
Geoff and RafaPat, Amy and RafaRafa and DarrenIRafa teachingRafa rolling with GeoffRafa Mendes
Group Shot

Steve Da Silva

Other than John Will, no one has influenced my early BJJ more than Steve. Most of the world doesnt really know who Steve is.. He mainly goes by the name “Suga pop” and is an incredible dancer and choreographer who has worked with some of the worlds best entertainers, including Michael Jackson (he danced and helped create the Thriller moves).. But to us he’s just a random, super friendly dude that I met in a Martial Arts supplies store in Wellington in the late 90s. I got a call one day from a friend who worked at the store and he told me to come down and meet this American dude. My friend knew I had an interest in Grappling as we had had many talks about it. So I went down and met Steve. He was a blue belt at the time and training with John Lewis in Las Vegas. Steve spent hours with me and my training buddies just sharing his love for BJJ.. I owe him a lot.
He’s dropped into our mat a few times over the years but we dont see him anywhere enough.
He’s Robert Drysdales first instructor and trained BJ Pen in the early days.. The man is a BJJ legend!
Steve Suga pop Da SilvaSteve Suga pop Da SilvaSteve Suga pop Da SilvaSteve Suga pop Da SilvaSteve Suga pop Da SilvaSteve Suga pop Da Silva

Robert Drysdale

Robert Drysdale is a BJJ Black Belt, 6 time BJJ world champ with over 90 competition titles and the 2007 ADCC Absolute Gold winner.

In a stunning coincidence Roberts first BJJ instructor was Steve da Silva, the same guy that gave Geoff and Ko their first taste of BJJ. Even more stunning is the image of Steve on this page was used by Robert in 2006 for an article in a Japanese magazine about his instructors!
Flickr set from the seminar 2011
Flickr set from the No-Gi session 2010
Flickr set from the Gi session 2010
Flickr set from Roberts Chopper excursion to the south coast
Robert Drysdale footlocks Geoff
Andrew Caven Robert Drysdale halfguard passgeoff_robert_garethgeoff_robert_gareth_choppergi_seminarrobert_braborobert_nogirobert_kataRobert shows the trianglerobert_footlock_nastyness

Sophia McDermott Drysdale

in 2011 Sophia accompanied Robert on his trip to NZ. We took the opportunity to host a seminar for the ladies at GSW.

Group Shot
Sophia McDermott DrysdaleSophia McDermott DrysdaleSophia McDermott DrysdaleSophia and AmySophia McDermott DrysdaleSophia McDermott Drysdale

Michelle Nicolini

In 2013 Amy had the opportunity to connect with Michelle and managed to secure some time for her to make the flight to Wellington during her brief visit to NZ. What started out as a couple of hours training and a seminar, quickly escalated into 2 full days of private lessons and both a Gi and No Gi seminar. Awesome opportunity for the crew at GSW to once again be exposed to the very best in to world. Michelle is a 10 time world champion an incredible competitor!
Michelle Nicolini at GSW
Michelle Nicolini at GSW
Michelle Nicolini at GSW

Clark Gracie – 2012

Clark graced our mats in 2012 in Taranaki St. Craig Rofe had trained in San Fran with his father Carley and Clark was in Aussie doing some seminars so Craig invited him down to New Zealand..
Awesome dude, super cool and fierce competitor. Rolled with everyone after the seminar and tore them up.. Omoplata anyone..
Soon after leaving NZ Clark competed in the states. After being photographed attempting his signature submission looking completely relaxed, the image was picked up by the BJJ community and went viral.. memed to death!

Clark Gracie and Craig RofeClark Gracie and Craig RofeClark Gracie and FernandoClark Gracie and FernandoClark GracieClark Gracie Seminar at GSW

Richard Norton

Once again GSW had the immense pleasure of hosting another BJJ Black Belt under the Machado Brothers.
Richard is a 4th degree Black Belt under JJ Machado. He’s also a prolific movie star and holds black belts in several other styles including an 8th Dan in Zen Do Kai.
I first met Richard in 1996 while attending a seminar run By Jean Jacques Machado at John’s Geelong academy in Australia.. Super nice guy.. Very approachable and willing to help..



Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga Geoff Grant BJJ

Royce Gracie

royce_gracie_geoff_01royce_gracie_gsw_wellingtongeoff_tv3royce_gracie_callum_geoff_darrenDSCF0204 copy

Tony Eduardo


John ‘The Rev’ Jensen


Dave Meyer


Elvis Sinosic


Doug Mejier


Tahi Burns


Donate / Sponsor

GSW Martial Arts Wellington - Home