Updated 12.2.2013 to reflect Joe's recent promotion to black belt
If you are looking for a strength and conditioning coach or BJJ instructor in central NJ, then Joe Castellano is a good place to start. Joe is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, instructor for Team Oliveira/SAS team under Ademir Oliveira, and runs his own strength and conditioning school out of the Howell, NJ location called Optimal Fitness and Conditioning. Rolljunkie recently spent some time with Joe to talk about his schools, training, and much more.
RL: Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to talk with us about your school and your programs. To start, can you tell us some background about yourself? How old are you, where are you from, and when did you start training?
Joe: I’m 41 yrs old originally from Sayreville, NJ currently residing in Jackson NJ and I started training BJJ about 8 yrs ago.
RJ: How did you first get started with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Joe: I was always into fitness and martial arts growing up. I achieved a 2nd degree Black belt in issinryu Karate when I was 19 then focused on fitness after I became a police officer. But 9 yrs ago I got the itch to get back into martial arts and joined a boxing and grappling school but it didn’t fill the void so one day I was driving home and saw “Team Oliveira BJJ , stopped in took a class and the rest is history.
RJ: I know you have had some success competing at BJJ tournaments in the past. Can you tell us about some of your accomplishments and experiences?
Joe: When I was a white belt I entered a NAGA competition , didn’t know much after 9 months of training but I took first in the beginner no gi division and I got hooked. Since then I’ve won 2 Pan am world championships, placed in another and have taken first in NJ, Pennsylvania and Long Island Pride tournaments. I’ve taken a break for the past year and a half, focused on teaching and family but I’m getting ready to compete again in 2014.
RJ: How long have you been an instructor at SAS team? Can you tell us a little bit about the team and the BJJ programs you offer at the academy?
Joe: I’ve assisted in teaching for about 3 years and have been overwhelmed with requested for privates in the past year. Our academy offers traditional BJJ gi and no-gi, wrestling, muay Thai and MMA. We have kids and adult classes for everything. We are a tight knit family oriented school. Our team (SAS) has numerous world champions and MMA fighter throughout the east coast at this time.
RJ: In addition, to being a BJJ instructor, you also provide coaching for strength and conditioning programs. Tell us some more about this training and who can benefit from them.
Joe: I recently became NASM certified Personal Trainer; TRX certified and have implemented numerous programs for our MMA and BJJ fighters or just the average student looking to get in shape.
RJ: How important do you think a strength and conditioning program is for improving you jiu-jitsu game?
Joe: Alot, most guys I roll with say since I’ve been using the conditioning programs I’ve learned, I’m stronger and my cardio is amazing. But we all know the best way to condition a BJJ fighter is rolling!
RJ: You must coach a lot of students, both in BJJ and for strength and conditioning. Care to tell us about some of your most active and competitive students?
Joe: We have so many to mention, we have a kids program and have a few 9-12 yr olds that fight 40-50 times a yr in tournaments. We have a few up and coming MMA fighters who have a great potential too. My first fighter under my conditioning program just won by submission a few months ago so that felt good.
RJ: What advice would you give someone who is looking to get started with BJJ or strength and conditioning program?
Joe: Learn the Basics….and DRILL DRILL DRILL its easy to get frustrated your first few months but the famous saying,..”a Black Belt is a white belt that never quit” is a great one. With strength or conditioning know what your goal is, tell your trainer so he can develop a program for your needs..were all different!
RJ: Any final words or thoughts to jiu-jitsu or fitness people out there who may be reading this article?
Joe: BJJ and Conditioning go hand and hand, at 41 yrs old I can keep up with the 20-30 yrs olds because I gear my fitness towards that, my #1 rule “listen to your body”. There’s a time to push but if you ache that’s fine but don’t push an injury!
If you would like more information about Joe Castellano and his training programs, use one of the contact methods below:
Email: jllanobjj at gmail.com