AGF Featured Champion - David Allen Parker
World Champion Grappler David Allen Parker Means Business
By Brett Hart
SEPT. 1, 2016 -- Careers and family obligations have a way of taking on a life of their own. David Allen Parker, a 37-year-old husband, father of four, HR manager and business owner, uses Brazilian jiu jitsu to handle the stresses associated with it all. Because of BJJ, he's become a healthier and happier man - and a World Champion.
Falling into BJJ
His journey in martial arts began for health reasons - and a little by chance. Ten years after completing his amateur wrestling career, Parker found himself working and desk job and 55 pounds heavier than his high school graduation weight of 120 pounds.
''I was pretty sluggish and was on heartburn medication and other medication - just feeling bad,'' Parker said.
In 2011, an MMA school opened on the other side of the wall of the grocery store where he worked, and Parker stumbled across a Groupon for the gym.
''I could hear them punching the bags every day,'' he said.
With his wrestling background, he figured MMA should be similar and decided to give it a try.
''I did cardio kickboxing for two months and was getting bored with that,'' Parker said.
That's when he looked into the back of the gym and saw some guys running in a circle.
''I like to run. I can run,'' he said to himself. ''They've got mats down. That's got to be something. I ran in a circle with them, and they stopped running and starting breaking into drills. I literally tried to walk out of the room, and the black belt grabbed me and said, 'Stay.' From there, I fell in love.''
Driven by competition, Parker really became hooked when he realized there were competitions he could attend every month.
Parker trains and is now a co-owner of a BJJ gym - Guetho Texas - which is part of the Guto Campos Family and Atos Jiu Jitsu team a lineage that prefers training with a gi. That wasn't easy for him in the beginning.
''I'm a wrestler. I don't understand this gi thing,'' he said at first. ''The more I've done it, the more I've come to the point of view of there are probably millions of intricacies with the gi that without the gi is not there.''
He describes the difference as, ''Gi has a gas and break pedal. No Gi is all gas pedal.''
Four year's later he won the IBJJF World Master Jiu Jitsu Championship as a blue belt in the Master 2 Male Light Feather Division and placed third in Open Class, where he defeated an opponent that outweighed him by about 80 pounds. Oddly, he's never won a no-gi match.
Five years into his training and halfway to his black belt, Parker was down to a healthy weight of 137 pounds, was off his heartburn medication and attempted to defend his world title Aug. 25-27 at the the 2016 World Master Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF Championships at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada where he placed third in the Purple Belt Master 2 Male Light Feather Division.
When Parker isn't competing for world titles, he's working 45 hours per week for his grocery store chain, working for GR1PS Athletics and has owned two previous businesses.
''I like business,'' he said. ''That's my degree.''
Oh yeah, and he earned that degree while serving as a foster parent and adopting four children, owning a salon and lingerie store.
He passes up on his lunch each day to train under the tutelage of his business parter Chad Smith, who promoted to black belt a few months ago.
''May stress level was through through the roof,'' Parker said. ''I don't stop in my jiu jitsu or my life.''
''Jiu Jitsu was my safe place,'' he added. ''When someone's trying to choke you, you can't think about the stress in your life. You can only think about that moment.''
Now its the mental piece of jiu jitsu that piques his interest - ''the mental strength it takes and the lightbulb moments that happen every day. Those are so rewarding. ... It keeps my brain going. It makes me better at work, a better dad. It makes me be a better friend.''
It's also something he's passing along to all four of his children, who range from 5 to 9 years of age.
The Business of BJJ
Always the business man, Parker views his newly cauliflowered ears as a great advertising tool for his gym and the sport he loves.
''It's a big giant billboard walking around on my head,'' Parker said. ''I use it for business purposes to draw people in. I really believe in jiu jitsu. I really believe in what it can offer people.''
Parker, a longtime fan of the American Grappling Federation events, is now an AGF-sponsored athletes and competes in about 10 of its tournaments per year.
''I love AGF,'' Parker said. ''I think it is one of the best run tournaments. They're almost always on time. When they say things are going to happen, they happen. They're good at listening to what the market wants and then adjusting the tournament if possible to those adaptations.''
To learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Grappling Federation Tournaments and athletes visit Greatmats' AGF Tournament Resource Page.