Name: Sam Kaye
Location: Lake District, England
Gym: Lake District BJJ Academy
Coach: Ben Poppleton
BJJ Rank: Black Belt
BJJ Weight Class: Lightweight
About Sam Kaye
Sam Kaye is a BJJ black belt under Ben Poppleton and trains at Lake District BJJ Academy in England, or ‘Lakes BJJ’ as it is otherwise known. Sam Kaye is the first and (currently) only disabled BJJ black belt in the whole of Europe. Kaye not only coaches but also competes and has been seen competing on events such as Pantheon, and had plans this year to be on a few other big promotions but due to the current circumstances – those events could no longer go ahead.
Kaye’s last fight was at London Open IBJJF 2020 where he states, “Marcus Phelan kicked my arse in the first round”. However, that was in the January and Kaye had only been awarded his black belt circa six months prior in the May of 2019. Submission wise, Sam states, “All the basic stuff I like. I like solid arm locks and that’s it. That’s all I’m good at – arm locks. Chokes are sneaky. I’ll always go for a choke but if you f*ck up a choke, an arm lock should always be there. Always. I spend most of my training between 60-68kg – I’m not strong at all but arm locks were always my thing. I think it was jealousy.” Jealousy? He continues… “Everyone’s got two arms so I try and rip one off them. It is. That’s why I got good at arm locks. Level the playing field a little bit.” Why not?
Sam Kaye has been training BJJ since 2009 and has been coaching since he was a blue belt back in 2013/2014. Alongside coaching and competing, Kaye is also a husband and father of three – but BJJ isn’t the only sport Kaye has excelled in. Prior to BJJ he was at a high level in swimming, “Before I did this (BJJ) I used to swim, I was at a really high-level in swimming and you used to sign contracts saying that you weren’t allowed to do any other sports so you didn’t get injured and stuff.” His interest in martial arts came from watching MMA promotions like WEC and UFC, whilst recovering from a shoulder surgery – Sam soon wanted to put a bit of it to the test – and that’s how his BJJ journey began.
Kaye describes his fight style as, “counter attacking – or lay and prey – whatever you call it. I just wait for someone to f*ck up. I literally call it lazy jiu-jitsu. I will wait for someone to f*ck up and then try and capitalize on it.” Capitalize on those micro-adjustments! Between the Gi and No-Gi preference, Kaye prefers the Gi but believes he’s better at No-Gi, he explains: “I prefer Gi but I’m better at No-Gi. I prefer the tactical game in the Gi, because there’s a lot more to grab and a lot more to be able to slow people down and workout what you want to do but everyone’s got two arms so they can grab twice as much as me so automatically I compete better without the Gi.”
Wanting to focus on coaching more and helping to bring his brother up to be the next best fighter, Kaye says competing isn’t off the cards though, “ I’ll always compete – don’t get me wrong. I tend to just jump on things when people pull out last minute – I’m the person who jumps in – sod it – why not?” Finding a match isn’t always the easiest as a disabled athlete though, Kaye states sub-only shows can be tough in terms of finding someone that’s willing to fight him – “In a sense of – it’s often enough just a lose-lose for them. If they win – they’ve just beaten a one armed guy – if they lose – they’ve lost to a one-armed guy. You see…” But whoever takes the win – takes the win. They’re both at the same level – and as a black belt who’s been training for over a decade – Sam Kaye isn’t no easy feat.