I am very sad to report that my jiujitsu coach Nick Brooks passed away today. Nick was a huge figure within the jiujitsu community here in the UK and we are all heartbroken and shocked by the news.
My first encounter with Nick was back in the late 1990’s when he was teaching traditional jujitsu out of a sea scouts hall in Mill Hill north London. My own traditional jujitsu club and his club would often visit each other to share ideas and generally just have martial arts fun. I remember those sessions vividly – Nick (who began his training under Roger Gracie) even taught me my very first BJJ technique (closed guard scissor sweep). It was sufficient inspiration to give me the bug to try BJJ myself.
In 2007 I had moved to a new location which was very close to Nick’s recently established Mill Hill BJJ club. Naturally enough I did not hesitate to join his academy, which at the time was still training out of the Sea Scouts Hall. I was instantly welcomed by Nick and all the training partners – who would quickly become my life long friends.
Nick trained under Roger almost every day. He also travelled to Brazil regularly to train and compete. A little mentioned fact is that Nick is one of the fastest to have gone from white belt to black belt (all belts awarded by Roger Gracie in a touch over five years) – a testament to his natural skill and legendary dedication to the sport.
I have so many wonderful memories training under Nick. He was warm and generous and funny too. He showed some tough love too and was outspoken on many aspects of the jiujitsu scene. But Nick showed me what it meant to be a good BJJ instructor – he welcomed everyone that stepped foot in his academy. When Nick taught a class, he lit up the room and never left anyone out – his sessions were inclusive of everyone.
Nick’s technical detail was incredibly meticulous and there was always a story that accompanied each technique he taught. A common compliment others gave about Nick was that he was a walking jiujitsu encyclopedia – and it was true, he knew the answer to any BJJ related question you asked him.
Nick was always so generous of his time. He would help people out and never ask for recompense. One time, my wife (unbeknownst to me ) had asked Nick if he could arrange something to celebrate my birthday. Nick went out of his way to get me a private lesson with Roger Gracie – even though Roger was super busy at the time and as a rule doesn’t teach privates – but Nick made sure it happened.
Nick also supported my Meerkatsu business and my BJJ club start up and so many other aspects of my jiujitsu life. He was like that with everyone, often going well out of his way to help others.I cannot emphasise just how much of a huge influence Nick Brooks has had on me as a person and me as a martial artist. The world has lost a titan of the sport, one of the first generation of UK BJJ black belts and a man who coached and inspired a huge community of students.Nick leaves behind his beloved wife Shelley and his two beautiful sons.
Rest in peace sensei.