Larry Deeder is looking forward to the first time his son, Daniel, chokes him out.
With an 11-year-old kid who is already a 12-time world champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he might not have to wait too long.
“Now and again I get to roll with him,” Larry, who is a purple belt, said. “It’s only going to get better and better because as I get older, slower and weaker, he’s getting older, faster and stronger.”
Daniel, a student at Rosedell Elementary in Saugus, has won four world titles in this year alone, winning in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, the Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation and adding two jiu-jitsu World League titles.
He’s also currently listed at No. 1 in the world in his division in the World League rankings.
He attends two sessions every day for a total of one hour and 45 minutes at Honor Roll Jiu-Jitsu in Santa Clarita.
“It’s kind of weird, but I feel, like, special because there’s not many jiu-jitsu academies in Santa Clarita,” Daniel said. “And I’m in the best one. We’re No. 1 in the San Fernando Valley and I love jiu-jitsu. It’s my passion, and I like coming to it every single day I can.”
Jiu-jitsu is “a full-contact martial art,” according to a press release from Honor Roll. Unlike karate or tae kwon do, the release said, the students do not learn ‘striking’ (punching or kicking). They are taught to use leverage and joint manipulation to control and tap their opponents.
In addition to keeping him in shape, jiu-jitsu has given Daniel confidence and a sharper mind when it comes to decision-making.
“You can be standing up and if you don’t use your head you’ll get taken down really fast,” Daniel said. “And then if you’re on the ground, and you don’t use your head and you’re just sitting there not doing anything, you’re going to get choked out.”
Under the tutelage of Honor Roll professor Bruno Antunes, Daniel has achieved orange belt status, the highest belt he can achieve at his age.
“He’s very athletic,” Antunes said. “He’s smart, he picks the techniques up fast, but the main thing is the discipline to be here every day. That’s what makes him better. I tell him he’s not winning because he’s Daniel, he’s winning because he’s here every day.”
After training with two other professors, Daniel clicked instantly with Antunes.
“He’s a very helpful professor,” Daniel said. “Every time I’m struggling with a new technique, he comes over and helps me. He says, ‘Put your foot here and spin’ and then it helps me, and then I realize that it all just makes sense. That it moves that way.”
A single season of football was attempted — the sport Daniel’s brother, Dominic, plays — but “Yellowmop” — Daniel’s jiu-jitsu nickname — couldn’t stay away from jiu-jitsu.
The somewhat-niche sport demands so much time and energy that he couldn’t do both at the same time. He remains steadfast in his choice, but his mother, Samantha, has noticed some waves surrounding the decision.
“Martial arts, they lump them all into one,” she said. “‘Real sports are football.’ I’ve heard that several times. ‘He doesn’t play a real sport?’ It’s just team sports versus individual sports.”
“At every party, the football moms are all sitting around talking and I can join in because of Dominic, but they say ‘Why isn’t Daniel doing this?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, he’s just doing his thing.’”
Regardless of what a “real sport” is, Daniel’s medals, dedication and passion for jiu-jitsu is as real as can be.