Interview by Cageside staff reporter, Tim McNammara
Be sure to check out Tim's blog: http://zegrapplez.blogspot.com/
Guy Pendergrass and his brother, Rob, run the Pendergrass Academy of Martial Arts in Wake Forest, North Carolina. They are both black belts under Gustavo Machado and have been longtime contributors to the Jiu-Jitsu in North Carolina.
Guy Pendergrass volunteered his time for this interview.
Can you tell me about the start of the Charity Event that is the Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling Tournament known as the Pendergrass Classic?
Back in 2004, our father, George Pendergrass, passed away from leukemia. The following year we decided to honor his name and raise money for Leukemia research. We went through the legal process of founding a nonprofit with the goal to raise and donate a local foundation here in North Carolina, the Leukemia-Lymphoma society
Tell me about the growth of the tournament and charity over the years:
Our first tournament had roughly 70 competitor. Over the last few years we’ve changed the format in an effort to reach more of the grappling community and raise as much money as possible for the foundation. We’ve progressed from doing one NoGi/Submission Grappling tournament per year to beginning in our third year, we went separate Gi and NoGi events. 2014 was our first year running one event combing both Gi and NoGi with a total of roughly 200 competitors
Tell me a little about Cageside MMA’s involvement :
Early on, Boomer (founder and owner of Cageside MMA) offered to sponsor/co-sponsor the event. As long as Boomer’s been in business, he’s been involved in the grappling and mixed martial arts community in North Carolina. He was one of the first people to offer to sponsor the event and he’s been with us the longest.
Elaborate on the decision to move from separate events for Gi and NoGi to one single event and US Grappling’s involvement:
Previously, we had done the tournament with the format of just the Gi, or just the NoGi. Historically, as an event, we did much better with the NoGi events: based on the amount donated. Based on what we’ve been able to donate, we’ll be keeping that format.
US Grappling’s involvement has been over the past 3 or 4 years:
US Grappling offered to help us out with running the event. We’ve known Andrew Smith (Co-owner of US Grappling) for 15+ years and he was kind enough to offer their help in organization and running the tournament smoothly.
Tell me about your father's influence on you and your brothers grappling and or introduction o martial arts?
When we were 12 years old, our dad took us to a local martial arts school (Louisburg, North Carolina) to check it out. We tried out the class but never returned. Not sure why, but I have a feeling our dad couldn't afford it at the time. He said that if we still wanted to get in to martial arts when we turned 16 (and we could pay for it ourselves) he would help us find a place to train. So, when we turned 16 our dad as promised helped us find a place to train. We began to train at Karate International in Raleigh as there were still no martial arts schools in Wake Forest at the time.
Any lessons he specifically taught you that influence Or have become part of how you teach/approach teaching?
There were two lessons in particular that we learned from our dad that I would say have influenced us and how we approach teaching. First, our dad had a great work ethic. He was dedicated and put in long hours. At the same time he found balance by always making time for the family. Secondly, he always told us to never start a fight but never take any mess from anybody. When we teach we try and pass along values that we've not only learned from our instructor, Gustavo Machado, but also from our father. Him role modeling to work hard at whatever you do is one that we try and model for our students. And his value of not starting any fights but being prepared to stand up for yourself is also something we try and instill in our students.
Anyone in particular that you’d like to thank?
In the family, my sister, brother, our wives, and our immediate family. We’d also like to thank Jason Culbreth and and Billy Dowey, ever since we’ve had this event, Team ROC from day one has been consistent about supporting the event with workers and competitors. US Grappling (Andrew, Chrissy and Brian Linzy) has been a tremendous help as well.