I first met Russell when I was 16 years old. At that time, he started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Maxercise Sports and Fitness in Philadelphia. Since I was the youngest one and a teenager in a school or gym of tough guys, I think Russell took a liking to me right away. I can still hear his voice, “Tonyyyy!’ Every time. I was like this the long e sound at the end of my name. Russel was always happy to see me. Of course, Russel could not see me and he would have his guide dog with him. And through the years the guide dog would change; however, what also would change was how very good Russell would become at jiu-jitsu. Even if he never saw the techniques. He could feel them! Enough to win 3 times the Masters/Seniors World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Brazil!
Russell was very respected in the society hill area of Philadelphia. He was a self-made man and the first person I think I ever met at the time that was a millionaire many times over. Yet the things was, Russell to me was the guy at the gym that always gave me a fun jiu-jitsu match during sparring, we would laugh and when he talked to me he always gave amazing advise. It was like a philosophy session where he would continue to question me until I found the right insight to my questions about life, business, or life after high school. I credit a lot to those talks with Russel leading up to my move to Los Angeles from Philadelphia after high school. When everyone thought I was crazy to move to California to enter instructors training, it was Russel that would write my letter of recommendation with the letter heading from the United States department of civil rights mentioning that I am one of the most single-minded people he has ever met and I did not get caught up in my moods. And it was with that letter and confident I headed out to California with a one way ticket and my dreams of success.
Please take to time to watch and listen to my first mentor Russell Redenbaugh at the TED event. I remember all that he shared with me 20 years, but it very nice that he is sharing it with the world now.
Prof. Tony Pacenski
2nd Degree Black Belt
BJJ Revolution Team
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Redondo Beach
Elite Training Center
1628 South Pacific Coast Highway,
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Other Blogs about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Below:
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Redondo Beach Sports, Practice & History
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Redondo Beach Safety Tips
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Redondo Beach The Home of the BJJ Revolution Team
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Redondo Beach Podcast interview with Prof. “little” Tony
Russell lost his sight at the age of 16 and has learned to “read the world” without being able to “see” any of it.
Russell has a skill for learning — not just information, but how to move in a changing and uncertain world. Forming a commitment not to live like he was blind, regardless of how others treated him, he graduated 6th in his class from Wharton.
His journey from welfare to wealth has included working as a Partner and Chief Investment Officer for a $6 billion investment firm, being a Commissioner on the US Civil Rights Commission, and becoming a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)