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When we first visited Pedigo Submission Fighting in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, it was for this highly praised photo essay about the life of the Wiltse brothers and their life literally living on the mats. That photo essay became the base for what would eventually become one of our most successful film projects to date, Daisy Fresh: An American Jiu-Jitsu Story.
Since that 2017 photo essay, many more men have joined the Wiltse's to live in the former Daisy Fresh Laundromat. When we revisited the gym in 2019, more than a dozen athletes not only trained, but slept, ate, and went about their daily lives with the mat as their bedroom, living room, and kitchen.
I'll give a little summary here of the first three episodes, before Episode 4 debuts on October 21 and then Episode 5 on October 28th:
Episode 1: Panda Express, Wizards And More
The introductory episode introduces you to the core crew at PSF. You have Andrew and Sathye "Bird" Wiltse, Panda Express loving gamers who grew up believing they were wizards with magical powers. Jorge Valladares, a former Marine struggling with depression who thrives in the tribe like environment at the gym. Alejandro Wajner, a former college wrestler who has found happiness in the most unlikely of places. Jakob "Spatchy" Brooks, an Australian former mattress salesman who met the team through Orlando Sanchez and now lives on the mats and attends college in the USA. Last there is Marshall Roberts, the mullet-rocking, scooter-driving local who grew up with a raccoon as a pet.
See how the guys get by, a day in the lifestyle episode that covers everything from cooking to washing their gis in a very untraditional fashion.
Episode 2: The Boys Head To Disneyland (No-Gi Worlds)
Experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in this follow along with the team at the 2019 IBJJF No-Gi World Championship in Anaheim, California. Ride the wave of ups and downs as dreams are either crushed or realized, as these athletes who have sacrificed so much for jiu-jitsu attend one of the biggest tournaments in the sport.
Episode 3: Return To Mt. Vernon
Myself and Simone Khan return to MTV during the COVID-19 era for a check-in with the team, shortly before they make their professional grappling debut at F2W 144 in Dallas, Texas. Meet new addition from Hazard, Kentucky: Jacob "The Hillbilly Hammer" Couch, and learn all about why he puts biscuits and gravy on his opponents. Also, Andrew Wiltse built a house with his $1,200 stimulus check.
Up Next: Episodes 4 & 5
Episode four will cover our travel in an RV from Illinois to Texas, where seven team members compete and Andrew makes his black belt debut. Episode five entails PSF at F2W 146, this time in Austin, Texas, and a special message from Panda Express to Andrew.