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July 25, 2016 40 Under Forty 2016

Brian American

Brian American Brian American
Brian American with student Connor Belanger, an expert champion and straight-A student, at his National Honor Society induction ceremony.
Brian American participating in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition.

Age: 36

Company: Team Link BJJ

Title: Owner/Head Coach

Town where I live: East Windsor

Town where I work: Enfield

College: Roger Williams


What do you do? I own and operate Team Link Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Enfield and I just retired from active duty last month.

What are your goals for your community involvement? I conduct free sexual assault seminars and I'd like to do the same for bullying. Bullies who have the misfortune to target one of my kids will get a very painful lesson in BJJ.

What's your biggest passion? Teaching children. The pressure from parents is no match from that of peers. It's not cool to be a good student and 'Just Say No' was a slogan by someone who went to a private all-girls school in the 1930s. When a child has a mentor, pressure from others is replaced with motivation from within.

What's are your future goals? I just want to enjoy life and experience this freedom concept I was defending for 20 years. I want to see the world, have fun and spend time with my students, family and friends. I'm going to train like I've always wanted to and win the 2017 World Championships.

What role can young leaders play in shaping Hartford's future? By understanding that the role 'leader' is self-imposed and nobody wants to be thought of as followers. Leaders assume their followers are looking to them for a solution. In corporations, a surefire way to increase productivity and efficiency is to ask the person that actually does the task everyday what would make their job easier.

If you want a safer city, ask a gang member, or drug addict where they went wrong and why there wasn't a greater incentive to choose another path. How often are soldiers/cops who are on the ground asked about strategy/policy change? To shape the future, start by asking the future how they can best be shaped.

The best leaders empower those they lead by appreciating their expertise and giving them responsibility to implement change and shape themselves. Personally, I will shape the future by continuing to give my kids the tools they need to be themselves and make the right decisions.

List four reasons why you deserve to be a 40 Under Forty:

  1. Built the most successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team in Connecticut (six-time NAGA Connecticut Champions) while also serving active duty in the military.
  2. Martial Arts Hall of Fame; 2014 Martial Arts Instructor of the Year.
  3. Awarded the Bronze Star for leading a platoon of Infantry soldiers at a remote combat outpost in Afghanistan. Successfully brought all soldiers home alive despite constant close-range firefights, near ambushes, large-scale attacks on the outpost, suicide bombings, IED's and frequent mortar fire.
  4. Student retention and loyalty is unrivaled as the first seven students to join are still training after 10 years.

Time Tested:

What hobby did you develop at a young age that you still enjoy today? Martial arts

Twenty years ago, what did you envision as your future profession? Soldier/martial arts instructor

Who do you consider your mentor? Marco Alvan, Team Link Founder and previous 40 Under Forty winner

See the complete list of Forty Under 40 Winners for 2016! 

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