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BEYOND THE BLACK BELT

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By Kolby Chang

Hayato Atalig poses with girlfriend Brianna Nicole Santos. (courtesy photo)

Hayato Atalig poses with girlfriend Brianna Nicole Santos. (courtesy photo)

Hard work is a term commonly associated with sports. In spite of how cliché and obvious it might be, success in athletics does not come without putting in the work. Hayato Atalig knows this and as a recipient of a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the co-instructor at Carlson Gracie Guam also embodies that notion.

“I didn’t give up, quit, put it on hold or find a reason to delay it,” Atalig said.

A former resident of the Seattle, Wash., Atalig spent 10 years in the Pacific Northwest working, attending the University of Washington and training at Marcelo Alonso Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

This past summer he made a trip back to the Emerald City to visit his old stomping grounds and was also awarded his black belt by Alonso on July 3rd. After more than a decade of training in the martial art, Atalig believes BJJ has been nothing but a positive influence in his life. ‘[It] taught me patience, perseverance, humility, discipline and respect. The key to becoming a better human being,’ he said.

Atalig’s journey through BJJ began after he graduated from Father Duenas Memorial School in 2000. Mixed martial arts along with BJJ was just starting to blossom on island and Atalig got his introduction to the scene from a famed local standout.

“A co-worker of mine, Jesse Taitano, at the time was active in the MMA scene and he encouraged me to give it a try,” Atalig said. “Jiu-jitsu was part of the curriculum so naturally I went and learned.”

A portion of the training session from Atalig's classes. (courtesy photo)

A portion of the training session from Atalig’s fitness classes. (courtesy photo)

The journey took a brief hiatus when Atalig relocated to Seattle later that year and shifted his focus to furthering his education and acclimating to city life. As fate would have it though, Atalig and BJJ would cross paths again almost as if it was planned.

“One day on my bus ride home from school I noticed a sign that said Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After seeing that multiple times on my way home I told myself I want to get back into jiu-jitsu,” Atalig said.

In addition to BJJ, Atalig began delving into fitness and personal training around 2005. In 2008 he earned his certification under the National Federation of Professional Trainers and began training clients at LA Fitness afterward.

Atalig nows conducts personal training sessions out of Carlson Gracie Guam and his passion for teaching as well as a desire to help people achieve their fitness goals are what drives him. His approach to exercise is simple but as the cliché goes, it takes a lot of hard work.

“There is no secret to fitness. Eat clean, train hard and see results,” Atalig said.

After honing his craft in martial arts and fitness for the past several years, Atalig has found a home at Carlson Gracie Guam in Anigua where he shares instructional duties with the academy’s founder Gabe Baker. Baker said Atalig has been a great help and he is proud of his teammate’s promotion.

“I’m very happy for him. He’s a legitmate black belt considering who he got it from,” Baker said.

20131020_115148Much has changed since Atalig first donned a gi at the turn of new millennium. Gone are the days of being a fresh faced rookie with a clean white belt. Now a veteran of the game, Atalig is witnessing a new generation of locally grown BJJ players like Mike Carbullido making noise abroad.

“[He’s] strong, technical and hungry for success,” Atalig said of Carbulldio. “I wish him the best.”

Atalig also has a strong sense of admiration for the pioneers of BJJ on island. ‘I have a lot of respect and appreciation for John Calvo. He was one of my first teachers and has always been a positive figure. [Also,] James Quan for introducing me to a different side of jiu-jitsu. Something more than just drills and technique [and] for that I’m very grateful,’ Atalig said.

Atalig appreciates the support he has received from his mom who he said is his best cheerleader. He also thanks his girlfriend Brianna for being an amazing woman and always remaining positive. Atalig also thanks Gabe Baker for welcoming him into Carlson Gracie Guam and making him part of the family.

Atalig also thanks Alonso for being incredibly knowledgeable and for giving the Atalig the privilege of letting him become one of Alonso’s black belts. ‘It is truly an honor,’ Atalig said.
Anyone interested in training with Atalig can contact him at [email protected]

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

http://www.akguam.com/ou/tamuning-scion/

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(courtesy photo: Hayato Atalig poses with famous BJJ instructor Marcelo Alonso, whom Atalig received his black-belt from.)

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More members of Atalig’s training regiment working with the kettle bell. (courtesy photo)

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