Shane McCarthy (aKA Wakaflaka Shane)

How long have you been training

12 years

Why did you begin training?

I originally started training as a means to lose weight. I was nearly 400lbs and wanted a more engaging way of getting into shape that didn’t involve lifting weights or running on a treadmill in a gym. I signed up at a local MMA gym and really enjoyed the class structure and community that it provided. Although once I started sparring in MMA/Striking I didn’t enjoy getting hit in the head all too much, but I liked challenging myself. I decided to try Jiu Jitsu since I felt it was a safer option, and I instantly became obsessed.

What encourages you the most about your practice?

My favorite aspect of Jiu Jitsu is the endless cycle of learning and sharing techniques. Nothing gets me more excited than learning a new concept/technique/skill than being able to share it with our students.

What challenges you the most?

My biggest challenge as a practitioner has been overcoming my physical limitations. Before Jiu Jitsu I was an aspiring musician and focused all my time and energy into honing that craft. I wasn’t a very physical kid growing up. Jiu Jitsu has challenged me to become stronger and more physical in order to better move my body efficiently enough to execute a technique properly.

How have you evolved as a result of it?

When I realized I needed to develop my physicality I decided to take my training more seriously. I invested in a strength and conditioning routine for Jiu Jitsu and spent more time drilling techniques until I built myself into a completely new person. I’ve lost 130lbs and I’ve gained so much more physically and holistically through this process. I learned that I can challenge myself and overcome anything I set my focus on.

What is something that you learned about BJJ that was unexpected?

It’s wild that I can care so much and put a ton of time and energy into earning a black belt, in a martial art most people are completely unaware of. The common reaction I get is “Oh my 5 year old son has his black belt in Karate too!” It never gets old.

Any notable accomplishments, interests or facts you’d like to share?

Multiple IBJJF Open Gold Medalist and all around cool guy.