David Meyer - First Black Belt in America’s History

David Meyer - First Black Belt in America’s History

1. David Meyer’s Details

David Meyer’s Details
Name David Meyer
Pro MMA Record N/A
Nickname Dirty Dozen
Date of Birth October 1962
Nationality American
Born Los Angeles, United States
Height  N/A
Weight  N/A
Stance Danzan Ryu
Last fight  N/A
Weight Class Peso Medio(181.5lbs)
Rank 5th Degree Black Belt
Career Disclosed Earnings  N/A
Fought out of  N/A
College/University University of California, Los Angeles
Trainer/Coach Sensei Jack Seki / Prof. Wally Jay
Team Cesar Gracie/Machado JJ
Foundation Style N/A
Lineage Carlos Gracie -> Helio Gracie -> Carlos Gracie Jr -> Rigan Machado -> David Meyer

2. David Meyer’s Biography

David Meyer , born in October 1962, is one of the first 12 a.k.a “Dirty Dozen” people to get their BJJ black belt outside of Brazil in 1996. He’s a 5th-Degree black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter. David is recognized as a pioneer of the sport. He is the first American to get a medal in the 1998 IBJJF World Championship. He is also a founder of Adopt-a-Pet, America’s largest non-profit pet adoption site.

David is currently working for various Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in San Francisco and Los Angeles, coaching and training with the Cesar Gracie team.

3. David Meyer’s Early life and Amateur Fighting

David started training at the age of six . He had a keen interest in martial arts. He started his sports life with the modern style of Japanese jiu-jitsu. When Meyer was in school, he and his brother were bullied by a classmate. David’s parents thought that learning self-defense would be a morale booster for the brothers so they could easily fight for themselves. So, David joined Seki’s training center.

David practiced jiu-jitsu rigorously throughout his formative years, achieving his black belt at the age of 16. He went on to achieve three more degrees on his black belt ranks, all of which were authorized by Sensei Seki along with his student, Sensei Skip Koepke. During high school, David continued to train in kung fu with Sifu Douglas Wong as part of his weekly schedule.

David joined UCLA in 1980-1985, learning how to master Danzan Ryu jiu-jitsu, a combat style created by Professor Henry Okazaki in Hawaii.

In recognition of David’s training and experience in similar martial arts, he was requested to serve as an instructor during his period at the university. David earned an honorary black belt in Danzan Ryu jiu-jitsu under the mentorship of Master Wally Jay.

When the Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles in the summer of 1984, many of the region’s sporting facilities were rented out to the teams competing in the tournament.

Aside from David’s own UCLA facility, David searched for a mat to rent for the summer and ended up leasing a time slot at Tenshin Dojo, a new Aikido school.

David took a year off after graduating from college to travel, working at the Tenshin Dojo until 1985. He also began training in Thai boxing to exercise his interests in sports.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Career

As evidence of the high-level training at his school, David began cross-training in a different jiu-jitsu style under a Brazilian instructor. The MMA enthusiast David chose to follow his student and enrolled in one of these classes to explore what was unusual about the new Brazilian way of training.

Before UFC 1, David trained with people he met in college, whom he called “Brazilian guys.” He had years of experience in grappling but within only six months of training with them, he improved his skills to a great extent.

The gym praised by David’s students that was recently opened was called “Rigan Machado School.” Though, Meyer did not have the opportunity to meet the head coach on his visit to the Machados due to unexpected circumstances. Instead, John Will, a purple belt at the time, was responsible for Meyer’s introduction to BJJ. Meyer was sufficiently impressed with John's performance and invited him back, despite his lower rank.

3.1. David Meyer’s Historic Fights

David chose to take a deep dive into this combat style with both John Will and Rigan Machado over the training of two weeks. To accomplish this goal, David opted to close his own martial arts workgroup.

In 1994, a tournament between the Tarzana and Redondo Beach Machado Brothers schools took place. It was a cross-school competition between the two institutions. David had won a number of “super fights” at regional and National Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu events , both Gi and No-Gi competitions.

In 1995, David had his first major Panams tournament. David’s rise through the ranks of jiu-jitsu under Machados (John, Rogan, Roger Machado, and Jean Jaques) was extraordinarily fast for the time but it was fully understandable looking at David’s substantial martial arts training and experience.

In December 1996, David was promoted to black belt in less than six years during a ceremony officiated by Rogan Machado.

International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Championship 98

During the IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 1998, David became the first American to ever win a medal in an Open Weight Class, considered the gold standard of BJJ black belts. David is likely to have been the first non-Brazilian to ever win a gold medalin this division at the Mundial.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu America Website

At the time, Meyer was working on a variety of animal-welfare related projects. He also launched the BJJ America website, which he co-developed with Dirty Dozen member John Will. The BJJ curriculum videos were sold to martial arts academies all over the world for a few years before the global BJJ boom. This curriculum served as an important tool in raising awareness of jiu-jitsu in areas where the sport/martial art had not yet made its way.

As an animal rights activist, David has been a vegan since 1985 and is a member of the Vegan Society. He created the website to demonstrate how MMA and BJJ competitors can be vegan or vegetarian while seeing increases in strength and endurance.

David Meyer Books

  • He wrote “Training for Competition: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Submission grappling

In this book, Meyer begins with

  • Goal setting
  • Game plans
  • How to do’s
  • Taking risks
  • Coaching

All of these lessons are interwoven with Meyer’s life experiences. He has emphasized that he gained something from the experience, regardless of whether he won or lost . Every encounter provided an opportunity to identify a weakness and work to overcome it, ultimately leading to understanding and success.

It is a complete guide on discovering and training the competitor within you. A competitor's path to better prepare for a competition is explained by David in clear and succinct detail, using photo illustrations to help the reader understand what the competitor must do.

  • He has also written “The Triangle” which he co-authored with Rogan Machado.
  • He and John Will collaborated on the development of the Grappling Curriculum for the Chuck Norris Karate Association.

Though David Meyer is one of the most well-known black belts in American history, he never chose to create his own school, claiming his desire to “not convert the thing I love into something I 'have’ to do”.

3.2. Animals Welfare

Aside from his multiple grappling accomplishments, David Meyer is also a well-known figure in the animal rights community. Meyer expressed his motivations for making this altruistic lifestyle. As the co-founder and the president of, he has become a vocal advocate for homeless and abandoned animals.

He says:

“I am a life-long animal lover and I felt it doesn’t make sense to pay for people to kill animals to eat them if you don’t have to. That was my initial motivation and it is still my motivation to this day. It’s also much more sustainable for the environment in terms of the use of resources and because of the pollution it creates through run-off and waste. It’s simply about not harming other living beings if I don’t have to. That’s what it means to be a protector of life.”

In 2000, David and a group of like-minded acquaintances conducted a meticulously researched annual study on how to prevent pet overpopulation. It was decided to create, which was then renamed in 2008.

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, David volunteered to coordinate the pet rescue in New Orleans, Louisiana. He coordinated more than 1000 volunteers and was responsible for saving the lives of more than 17,000 stranded dogs, cats, and other animals during the hurricane season. He was immensely praised for his bravery and determination.

After the Hurricane Katrina pet rescue, David concentrated his focus on making even more effective in its efforts to save animals' lives in the future. With the support of Nestle Purina Petcare, Petco, the Petco Foundation, and Bayer Animal Health, has grown to become the world's biggest non-profit homeless pet adoption organization, displaying pets from thousands of animal shelters and reaching millions of potential adopters every month.

"We work with 15,000 animal shelters across North America to help them place their dogs with loving families. It's simply a natural outgrowth of my affection for all creatures."

3.3. David Meyer’s Championships and Accomplishments

  • 1st American Black Belt Winner
  • 1st American to win a medal at BJJ World Championship
  • Nine World Championship Gold Medals
  • Four American National Gold Medals

4. David Meyer’s Main Achievements

Year Event Position
2019 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2019 BJJT American Cup 1st
2019 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 3rd
2018 BJJT US Open 1st
2018 JJWL World Championship 2nd
2018 BJJT US Open 2nd
2018 BJJT American Cup 2nd
2018 IBJJF World Championship 3rd
2017 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2017 BJJT American Cup 1st
2016 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2016 BJJT US Open 1st
2016 BJJT US Open 2nd
2015 JJWL World Championship 1st
2015 VJJT American Cup 2nd
2013 BJJT American Cup 2nd
2012 BJJT American Cup 1st
2012 IBJJF Masters and Seniors International Tournament 2nd
2011 IBJJF Pan Championship 1st
2011 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2011 BJJT US Open 2nd
2010 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2010 BJJT US Open 1st
2009 IBJJF World Championship NoGi 1st
2009 IBJJF American Nationals 1st
2009 BJJT US Open 1st
2007 IBJJF Masters and Seniors International Tournament 1st
2005 IBJJF Pan Championship 2nd
2005 IBJJF Pan Championship 3rd
2004 IBJJF Pan Championship 1st
2004 IBJJF American Nationals 3rd
2000 Copa Pacifica Championship 1st
1998 IBJJF World Championship 3rd
1997 Joe Moreira V Championship 1st

5. David Meyer’s Main Achievements

This fighter doesn't have a professional record breakdown so i’m compiling the data from here

Year Event Achievement Belt Weight Class
2018 American Cup Silver Medal Black Belt Open Weight Class
2018 American Cup Silver Medal Black Belt Medium Heavy Weight
2017 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2017 American Cup Gold Medal Black Belt Medium Heavy Weight
2016 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2016 US Open Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2015 Jiu-Jitsu World League Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2014 American Cup Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2013 American Cup Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2012 IBJJF Masters and Seniors World Championship Silver Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2012 American Cup Gold Medal Black Belt Middleweight
2011 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Mediumweight
2011 Pan Am Games Gold Medal Black Belt Mediumweight
2011 Us Open BJJ Silver Medal Black Belt Mediumweight
2010 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Mediumweight
2010 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Openweight
2010 Us Open BJJ Gold Medal Black Belt Openweight
2009 American National Gold Medal Black Belt Mediumweight
2009 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Medium Heavy Weight
2009 IBJJF No-Gi Gold Medal Black Belt Openweight
2004 Pan Am Games Gold Medal Black Belt Medium Heavy Weight
1998 IBJJF World Championship Bronze Medal Black Belt Absolute Division

6. David Meyer’s Professional Record Breakdown

No Professional record

7. Video Links

2004 David Meyer vs Fabio Santos

John Will & David Meyer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training Seminar

Is Eating Less Animal Products Really a Smarter Diet?

Interview With David Meyer-BJJ World Champ

Photo credit: @usadojo , @ramareddy

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