Dan Reid is from a small town 30 miles from Edinburgh called Dunfermline. His interest in BJJ & MMA began around 2005, when he watched the first ultimate fighter and decided he would give it a try. This didn’t actually begin until 2008. Better late than never as we all know.
Having played basketball on an international level growing up it was all he did up until he started Jiu Jitsu around the age of 25. As we all know it soon consumed his life. Soon, the life of the Jiujitero led him to a nomadic lifestyle not so uncommon with men and women in BJJ. This then led him to meeting a man in DC asking if he would like to visit Taiwan, a turning point in the young(ish) Dan’s life.
During a Southern Taiwan trip he met the right people under the right circumstances and the rest as they say, is history. Soon he became a full time coach based in Kaohsiung that soon developed into a full blown team that has now achieved the Taiwan No-gi Team trophy of 2018.
Curiosity gets the better of me and I ask him to let me interview him.
Luckily he agrees and I start off with the cliché questions; who are his roles in the sport, in Dan fashion he answers quite emphatically.
‘There would be plenty of role models that come to mind and they would all represent different things for me. I don’t have many competition role models, I was impressed with Craig Jones and how he was able to become world class in the middle of nowhere. Or with Christian Graugart who was able to build a BJJ movement out of just being a fucking good dude. Or with someone who’s youtube videos I’ve been watching a lot recently Priit Mihkelson who has such an analytical approach to teaching and that’s something that I definitely admire.’
Quite plain and simple in his views of those he respects.
As for his preference of Nogi it all stems from his original desire to fight MMA and his preference to see a roll as a fight.
‘I am not so interested in the more elaborate creations in the gi as I still like to pretend that we are sort of fighting even if we are not.’
Regarding his view on competition it’s quite clear he finds it important considering the amount of students who competed at the Taiwan open and the results they achieved.
‘At the end of the day competing is the thing we are practicing to be able to do, why would you not want to battle test your techniques and strategies. I guess with competition you get a no bull shit review of your game and that has to be invaluable information when going back to the drawing board and deciding how to improve.’
As much as he encourages his students to compete he realizes that competing is no for everyone at every stage of their life, therefore when he wants to push students he finds it always best to positively reinforce rather than push.
When I pushed him later on our encounter in Taiwan and how he felt watching me compete.
‘He was definitely a sandbagging son of a bitch 😉 A purple belt competing against blue belts, however he was a white belt in the bar. A white belt drinking amongst black belts haha.’
Dan means this literally and figuratively as we ended up drinking with a lot of black belts later and I in actual fact blacked out. Just to note because of this Scotsman I’ve had 3 of the worst hang overs in my life. Once in Taiwan, then in Vietnam and the last in Tokyo, the man has a knack for killing my liver and sanity.
But I digress, pressed on who his main influences in BJJ were he sees himself more of a ‘crowd-funded’ machination. His students are now his greatest influences and now, as a passionate full time coach if there’s one thing that he feels he misses out on it’s the time to worry less about his students competing and more on him as the competitor.
‘The only main thing that is different is because I am such an active coach (I will sweat more than the students most of the time), coaching takes a lot out of me. I feel like one coaching session equals two training sessions as far as energy consumption. So I don’t get to train as much as I used to but I do have a room full of killers to do it with so it evens itself out. Also at the big competitions on the island it’s very hard for me to compete and corner 60 guys in the same day, so I have had a couple of fights I wish I could do over without cornering all my guys first. Can’t we have the black belts fight first then we can corner all out fighters?’
Having seen his ‘coaching’ up front and personal I have seen his passion come right out on the mats. I have never seen a man shout so loudly as Dan did in Vietnam asking a referee if there was a sweep there. As much as it can cause disruption I understand that this is a man that loves his students. There is that other incident in Manila but that’s a story for another time.
‘I coach on the sidelines the same way as I coach in the gym; I put my heart and soul into it. I love and respect all my competitors and I will do anything I can to help them. I love to see BJJ growing, more options mean we don’t have to put up with competitions that are run like crap (cough HCMC).’
When pushed for his worst competition experience as both competitor and coach Dan replies quite matter of factly.
‘Worst for my students was the two guys who have lost against you, I still feel shame to this day about that.’ Honesty is the best policy I guess…
You may be wondering why I’m writing this article.
Why now, why Dan Reid is of interest to me and why I write this as a personal story as well as a story about him. It may be partly be because he’s a fellow countryman in an unlikely location in Asia as I am.
But it’s quite simply that he’s a good guy who deserves the recognition of being a passionate and personable coach who goes out of his way for his students, even to those who aren’t even his students. He saw 3 of his students go up against me, he could have been resentful of the whole situation but he wasn’t, he invited me out to pizza, we all got pished and I now have a friend in Dan as well as his great students. Except James, screw that guy.
Another reason is that one of the two gyms in Southern Taiwan suffered a fire in the building which damaged most of their equipment and despite having insurance, they are getting screwed over by the insurance company.
My desire in this article was I wanted to bring light to this and get something sorted for him and to gain some traction for support, but thankfully so many kind people stepped up and helped in different ways.
This included a gofundme account that really eased the stress of starting over.
‘So thank you so much to everyone who donated and helped me keep BJJ in Tainan alive. We signed a lease on a new place and my sponsor Alma Fightwear/Martial World gave me some mats, so although we have a long way to do to get it back to how i want it at least we can continue rolling.’
Dan having set up his new gym in no time is now set to coordinate ADCC Taiwan October 20th in Kaohsiung. Slightly disappointing that his super fight fell through with another prominent nomadic Jiujitero in Stuart Cooper.
If you’re ever in Southern Taiwan I highly recommend you go and visit Kaoshiung BJJ. He’s a great coach, a great competitor and a true Scotsman in the pub. I will personally forgot the latter and get some time on the mats soon.
How I met Dan Reid
‘You’re a dick Mac.’
‘Because of you registering for this competition in Taiwan, we won’t get promoted until after it.’
So promotions were pushed back on account of me competing and those that were soon to be purple belts were postponed as a result. Quite the reaction, at the same time I wasn’t going to cancel plans because some of them were whining.
So on the 3rd of December 2016, I flew off to Taipei for the first time, alone. Team mates who were supposed to go couldn’t make it and I was stuck on my lonesome, traveling to Taipei. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it’s nice to have team mates traveling and competing with you. Plus the after party is always fun as your alcohol tolerance is down the pan after abstaining for weeks to keep training.
A rule that some of my team mates do not adhere to.
My first impression of Taiwan was it didn’t feel that much different from Japan.
It had its own unique style but I felt very welcome and relaxed considering I was traveling alone. I get to the hostel, get changed and decide to walk around the night market and get a little meal. On weight or no you have that slight doubt as to your weight. The streets are packed with people well after 8pm and the smells and atmosphere is great, walking around my pre-comp anxiety dissipated.
Getting back to the hostel shortly after my light dinner I notice that I am now sharing the hostel with a fellow guest. Judging by his mannerisms I guessed a Japanese guest, we bowed, closed our respective doors and shut off for the evening thinking of the coming competition.
Little did I know that he was here for the same reason I was.
The morning walk to the venue was a brisk 15 minutes, the gymnasium reception directs me to the venue and soon I’m looking through a window where 3 mat spaces are set up with people teeming around the enclosure waiting for the white belts to weigh in and commence the tournament.
‘Weigh ins is going to be a while for blue belts.’
Bugger, so I test my weight, sit and sip on some water to hydrate. Then, by some chance the hostel guest appears and we realize we have a common friend in one of the referees at the venue. We introduce each other, bow again, meet his other team mates at the venue and bunch our luggage together. Then we ask each other the million dollar question, what our respective weight and divisions are. We were not in each other’s category and we laughed with anxious relief.
Hungry and wanting some bananas after my weigh in I go for a walk to find a convenience store. I happen to bump into 2 westerners with gi pants on and ask them where to go. Nice enough couple, as it turns out I would compete against them both in my weight class and absolute division but a little more on that later.
Weigh in finally done, I eat some granola bars and bananas (a little pre-competition ritual now) and find a quiet space to stretch and relax. Once I get called it’s show time, I go through to the mat allocated and watch the first round competitors going at it. Getting a by in the first round, I find myself against a local guy, once we slap and bump the guys immediately goes for an ankle pick and dives in to pull guard after his failed attempt. After a lot of back and forth and myself 2 points down against his 4 points, I do what any rational man does and panic.
I came all the way here only to lose in the first round? A sloppy kiss of the dragon later and I’m taking the guy down and being locked down from just about passing. One advantage saves me from losing in the first round, exhausted and hand raised I sit and chat to the guy and he’s surprised I’m Japanese. He quips ‘Usually you guys play guard!’ So he was surprised when I played top throughout the match.
Props to the guy, he was tough and by 1 advantage difference my hand was raised. It could easily have gone the other way.
The second match gets called and who do I see but one of the guys directing me to a store across from me on the mats. The match ends in a submission with my hand raised. Thank god, he was tough and he was savvy in leg locks which I had very little knowledge in.
What I noticed throughout the match was someone coaching him with a heavy Scottish accent. Curious I introduced myself after the match and asked him where he was from. Turns out this guy was the head coach and founder of Danimal BJJ in Southern Taiwan, Dan Reid.
You can understand the guy being taken aback by my accent given I look nothing like a Scot and I just beat one of this students, still, we shook hands and my final match is called.
Again, I end up being matched up with one of his students. A top heavy MMA fighter from Dan’s other branch in Tainan. All’s fair in love and war, neither of us wanting to work off of our back we fight for take downs and eventually I get on top pass the guard and finish. The rush of relief just washes over me; I came all the way to prove to myself that I deserved the ‘next level.’
I felt vindicated from Hong Kong, I shook my opponent’s hand, Dan’s hand and I go and let everyone know the results outside the venue as reception was non-existent in the venue.
Congratulations later they convince me to do absolute. Fair enough, division won, medal received, and I am back on the mats against a lightweight competitor, with nothing to lose I do what I never do, pull guard.
The sub-par guard gets me to the submission and as I walk off the mats I realize that the taller of the couple from Danimal BJJ is my next opponent. Well bugger, 94kg, 6”4 and the other Taiwanese competitors look at me like I’m about to get stomped on. Fair assessment given the man’s size but I step up and fight to the very end and lose on points.
Thus ended my competition in Taiwan, elated by the result I look forward to a Taiwanese dinner and a short flight back to Bangkok the next day. What happened instead was a lot of Pizza and bad wine with the Danimal crew.
Just as I’m getting out of my sweaty gi Dan comes over and asks if I would like to join him and his team for some dinner.
How good of him to invite me considering I just competed against 3 of his guys. At dinner and a few beers down me I get to learn more of his team, where he was from and how a fellow Scotsman ended up in Kaohsiung of all places.