Well, it all started off with Football. This is a sport that runs in my family. My father was a football player that turned into a coach over the years and as I grew up it was something that I thought I would just fall into as I grew up. Well that didn’t quite happen, what really happened was….. I got Trucked ( ran over by my own teammate) considering he was almost twice my size and I was about 50 lbs soaking wet. There I was Laid out on the grass completely unconscious; I woke up to being carried away on the stretcher. The EMT CUT everything on me off, My shoelaces, pants, shirt, shoulder pads, Anything that he could cut with those “Trauma scissors” he cut. Needless to say, after that I didn’t even want to step back on the field out of sure ridicule and embarrassment that I got destroyed by my own teammate.
So I told my Dad I wasn’t really into football anymore and if I could do wrestling. At the time I thought that the wrestling that I have seen on TV was the type of wrestling I would be doing. As every little kid was watching it every night they could and doing it on their playground or front yard, I knew I was going to be a showcase for me.
He signed me up for wrestling and it was a whole “Eye-opening” experience. IT was absolutely NOTHING like what I thought it was. I don’t think I have ever seen “College or Olympic” style wrestling in my life at that time. I did my first session and when I tell you I got murdered on the mat, I wanted to give up and just go back to playing street baseball and basketball. But my Dad told me that If I wanted to actually get somewhere in life I would need to focus on it and finish it. He explained to me that I would be better at induvial sports rather than team sports because it’s ALL up to me if I succeed or if I fail.
I did know it at the time but this was the turning point of my young life that started it all.
As I entered middle school, I had already had a few years under my belt from wrestling and figured I would be a sue-in for the team. Boy was I wrong. I went out for the team and even though I had a few years in, I got smoked by the guys on the team and completely thought I was starting over once again but again I was determined to beat one of them. I spoke with my dad about this and we came up with some techniques to try I really started to train harder than I have in my whole life. The next few weeks went by and my wrestle-off for that spot that I wanted was upon us and I was going to get my spot. I put off the fight of my life and still fell short. But I knew now that I was able to beat this kid. I took almost 5 wrestle off to make the Junior varsity squad. YES.. I just made the JV squad. The Varsity squad was all 8th graders and veterans of the program. After seeing them wrestle, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was never able to make the varsity squad as a 7th grader but I knew next year it was going to be my time. As an 8th grader, I made the varsity squad, and I was actually pretty good winning most of the matches and being over .500 for that season.
Then I entered high school, the greatest of Eye-opening experiences, everyone, I mean EVERYONE was bigger than me. The team had a few guys that took me under their wing but I was still a scrawny little guy just barely under 100lbs. I had to once again wrestle for a JV spot but I made it on the first try. Some of the JV guys were first-timers in high school so I felt I had the upper hand, Two matches into the season, I made Varsity. I felt I was in the big times. I wrestled my heart out the whole year and actually placed 6th in my conference championship to earn a ticket to the state championships. I wasn’t able to win any matches at states but to be a freshman to make it that far was cool. My sophomore and junior year were pretty much the same, I got better and better over the year but suffered the same obstacles at conferences and states. I earned my ticket but I wasn’t able to punch it to a higher round.
After that, I was determined to be the best I could my senior year. My father Levin Carn Sr. Worked countless hours and days to help me better my abilities to the where he even enrolled me into, not one but three Intensive wrestling camps over the summer (back to back to back). That summer of 1999 I basically live, sleep, and ate wrestling, I competed in tournaments up and down the east coast weekly, competed out west a couple of times, and trained at three prestigious colleges ( College of New Jersey, Bloomsburg, and Lockhaven). Coming into my senior year, I wasn’t going to be stopped.
Our wrestling schedules were planned out so we had 3 tournaments and 13 dual meet matches. Going into the season I hit my milestone of 100 wins 4 matches into a tournament, but that wasn’t a milestone that I was pushing for or worried about. I fell short of a championship in two of the tournaments placing 2nd place but I was able to secure an undefeated record for my dual meet matches ( 1 on 1 vs schools). I became one of the captains of the squad and I pushed everyone as hard as I was pushed previously through the years and maybe even more.
Then came the Championships that I was waiting for all year long. I was ready and burning to win this Tournament. I’ve trained harder than anyone I knew for this competition, throughout the year I have beaten past champions and top-seeded wrestlers. Nobody was going to get my way. I was pegged as the Outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
My first three matches were all pins, I was on fire going into the semifinals. I had wrestled against a rival that had previously beaten me but I had avenged that loss twice over so I knew that I had his number. The match was out of a storyline. I was destroying him, up 14-5 and he had not a single answer for anything I was doing, I was a machine. Going into the last period I had the choice of position, chose bottom because I knew I could escape. THEN…. The unmentionable happens, I stand up and escape, and my headgear slips off my head and lands on the mat. Instead of stopping the match, the referee let us keep going. I go for a tie-up and slip on my headgear, and BAM on my back… Fighting and all I remember is hearing the referee blowing his whistle to signify I was pinned.. I lost…. Up 15-5 and I LOST…. Slipped on my own headgear and Got pinned. When I tell you my heart was broken, my whole world had shattered. The fans, the table help, and the other referees all stated it should have happened and it wasn’t fair but it happened.
My father came down out of the stands ( thinking he would be disappointed with me) and told me that @(@(# Happens and I still have a job to do. The bigger picture was a state title. I got myself together and ready for my next match in the Consolation Finals, again I had someone that I had completely destroyed earlier in the year and I was super upset and was going to take it out on this guy. The amount of frustration and rage inside me must have been too much for my body to handle, as during the match I was winning 10-0 and completely dislocated my shoulder going for the pinning combination that I have been doing all year long. The match stops and my dad once again comes out of the stand and pops it back into place. I go back onto the mat and continue and again.. Pop it right back out this time it hurts bad. My father then ask me if I would like to continue, I wasn’t about to give this up. So I said yes and a few minutes later, it was OUT! My shoulder is completely out of its socket, and I had to forfeit the match. I was shattered. EVERYTHING that I have worked for over the years was completely blown.
I ended up with 4th place in the tournament, a broken dream, and a blown shoulder. Next weekend would end in the same fate but earlier on. My first match at states went well but in the second round, I blew my shoulder to the point I couldn’t feel my arm and my dad made the call to pull me. It was all over. My Senior year was complete and I had nothing to really show for it.
I wrestled a lot during the office season and even during college for a year and then when I left school I didn’t have anything to feed that hunger I had for competing. Until one day I received an advertisement for Brazilian jiujitsu in the area. I emailed the instructor about my previous wrestling experience and would like to try out the class if possible. That is when Delaware Jiujitsu led by a purple belt Jay Goldberg was teaching. I knew absolutely nothing about this sport but I figure it couldn’t be so much different than wrestling. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. Jay was about 140 lbs older man about 50 or so years old. In my head, I thought I could crush this dude with my abilities and be promoted on the spot. He gave me a beating I would never forget. I got put into so many bad spots and had no possible way to get out of them, I was so stuck I NEEDED to know how this was being done.
I began training fully at eh end of 2008 with him and was able to earn my blue belt under this leadership in 2009. During my years as a blue belt, I competed all over the nation in tournaments, World, National, and local tournaments, and anything I could get into I was there. I was ranked 13th in the Nation at my belt rank in 2010 and placed 2nd at the IBJJF National tournament in GI and NO Gi. I had also been ranked #1 in the Good fight tournament circuit as the overall Blue belt.
Sadly I was given no choice but to change gyms after a falling out with another instructor. He treated me with nothing but disrespect and I wasn’t about any of that. I explained to Jay ( now a black belt) that I no longer could be a part of the gym and I would be leaving.
I continued to enter tournaments unattached to a team and would drop into the gym that would allow me to train for a bit. One day I was at a local tournament and was about 14 matches in ( yes I competed a lot that day) and while I was fighting, I was caught in an illegal move this stranger then walks up to me and says “if you tap you will Win the match” even asked the ref to verify it. Me being delirious after competing so many times that day, blew him off and I, unfortunately, lost the match. The stranger then walks over to me and apologized for coaching me during my match and introduces himself, “ Hi, My name is Jeff Mitchell, I’m a black belt at Elite around the corner”. He began asking me who I train with and how long I’ve been training, you know the regular questions. I explained to him the who back story about my old gym and he invites me to come train at his gym until I find another school.
I Take him up on his offer and I show up at the gym one day and meet a bunch of the guys that I was talking to the whole day at the tournament and a few other that I have competed against. It was seeing old pals from school. “Hey, Shawn you made it’. We got to talking then jeff showed us a few moves and then we all trained. It was the best feeling in the world. Later that night, I told my dad, “Dad, I think I found the gym for me”. I told him how I met Jeff and how his guys treated me when I showed up at the gym.
After a month of training, I was officially a PROUD member of Elite Jiu-jitsu of Delaware under Robson Moura Nations United Organization.