#363 – B-Team Jiu Jitsu: Craig Jones, Nicky Rod, and Nicky Ryan - Transcripts
is a conversation with Craig Jones, Nicky Rod, and Nicky Ryan, who together with Ethan Krellenstien and others make up the B Team, a legendary jiu-jitsu team here in Austin, Texas. It was formed after the so-called Donohar Death Squad, the team headed by John Donohar split up into New Wave jiu-jitsu and B Team jiu-jitsu, both located here in Austin, Texas. There has been a lot of trash talk back and forth, including accusations of greasing and steroid use. And I, as a practitioner and fan of grappling jiu-jitsu and martial arts in general, am here for it. To see the best grapplers in history, go at it, both on the mat and on Instagram. I like the people on both teams, and train with both, and am really happy to see the exciting rapid evolution of the sport that these athletes and coaches are catalyzing on Instagram. And now, a quick use that can mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It's the best way to support this podcast. We got better help for mental health, 8 sleep for naps, and athletic greens for daily multivitamins. Choose wisely, my friends. And if you want to work with our amazing team, we're always hiring.
Go to LexFriedman.com slash hiring. And now, on to the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make this interesting, but if you must skip them, please still check out our sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too. This episode is brought to you by BetterHelp, spelled H-E-L-P, help. There's that quote from Jack Kerouac, the book on the road that I recently finished reading, rereading, rereading for like, I don't know, the 10th at least time in my life. And there's a quote in there about the mad ones, the main character, Sal. It's strange how bad my memory is, but something tells me that his last name is Paradise, Sal Paradise, and Dean Moriarty. And Sal is Jack Kerouac, and the real life name of Dean Moriarty, I don't remember, but the character name is Dean Moriarty, and he represents sort of the weird, the crazy, the chaotic friend, shaman, guide through life, the drop of poison, and a perfectly calm drink, or a perfectly calm pond, or town like Tom Waits says. Anyway, those people, and that part of ourselves is really powerful, that weirdness, that darkness, that chaos.
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Craig, can you introduce everyone? Yep, so we got Nicky Rod here, Brown Bell, two-time ADCC silver medalist, Nicky Ryan here, that's it. Okay, who are you?
And I'm Craig Jones, also two-time ADCC silver medalist. Silver medalist, so the number one loser. Number one loser. And maybe a little bit more, your bio says, widely known as the Black Belt Slayer,
Hail's from New Jersey, the land of pizza and biceps.
Number one loser.
Yes, that's pretty accurate. Okay.
You also do carry a gun on you a lot?
Yeah, I keep it loaded, you know, keep it on me,
keep it on me.
Uh huh, you got one today?
In the car.
That was a mistake, it was your first mistake. I think you're too close.
They're a cover, they're a cover. And you are, Nicky Ryan, what else is there? What else do we know? Gordon Ryan's brother. Gordon Ryan's brother is waiting for that one.
They're a cover.
Gordon Ryan's brother.
Gordon Ryan's brother waiting for that one. All right, so and you're all together part of the leadership of the B team here in Austin. Let's just get out some introductory questions. What in general accomplishment
are the things you mentioned you're most proud of? I mean, I'm proud just to not have to work a full-time job just to get by on the bullshit I've done so far. Yeah. Honestly. Just making money of a thing you love.
Exactly, yeah. When was the first time you made money
on a thing you love? Probably a jujitsu tournament. I think maybe in Abu Dhabi where I won $1,000, I just thought I was rich.
What'd you spend that $1,000 on? Probably something bad. Probably drugs or something at the time. I blew it at the after party.
That's a good introduction to Craig. So what about you? When's the first time you made money on jujitsu? Or what's actually stepping back? Like, what's the thing you're most proud of?
Is it a similar kind of thing, jujitsu? I think I'm most proud of is, I mean, for sure two 80cc silver medals, which hurts because you're so close to getting that gold, but you know, it takes time. I'm understanding that a sport of jujitsu takes quite a while to be at the tip top to be the absolute best. So I'm just being consistent in my training and my craft and I'll get that one spot one day. What failure or loss is the most painful to you? I don't know. I probably have a pretty short term memory. So my loss is I just like, I'll just forget about it. Yeah, I mean, for sure, my loss at this past 80cc in the finals, you know, that one's so good because I definitely thought I was going to win. I mean, like it takes a while to produce the skills or the reactions more so that you need to have to be, you know, to be that number one pound for pound guy. And, you know, pre-80cc, I was coming off an injury. So it took me a little bit to find the right mentality and physicality that I needed in order to, you know, get the wins that required gold.
So yeah, it's just process. Interesting. You keep saying process like it takes a while to build up. So you're not like thinking of a loss, like ADCC as like a specific failures. You're not, you haven't gone long enough
in a particular process to being a champ. Well, I mean, for me, I'm coming, I'm closing in on five years of specifically jujitsu training. I'm about four and a half right now. And yeah, it's just the, you kind of, you constantly have these ups and downs in training where like, as long as you stay consistent, you'll have a gradual raise, but you know, it's still, you'll have these peaks and lows and, you know, just trying to get better every day. I'm definitely not where I will be in a few years, in a few years from now, but my strivings get there.
Are you actually a brown belt? Was that a joke? Brown belt, yeah.
You're a brown belt.
Brown belt, yeah. Like how many stripes? No stripes. No stripes. Stripless. Okay. Is that part of the process that you're working through?
Definitely part of the process. I mean, I think a black belt is just based upon how much knowledge you have. Obviously, like, you know, if you're talking competitive wise, like, from when I started, I was able to beat most black belts. So it's just kind of how I was gifted from my wrestling experience. And, you know, the time will come when it's right, but I'm not in a rush at all. I'm continuing, I just kind of take every day for what it is and try to improve upon that.
I mean, I want to give him the black belt. Nikki Ryan says he's not ready.
What is, I guess, like, as no geek folks, do you take that seriously, like the black belt?
Or like, how much does it come into play into? Yeah, I mean, it's like Nikki Ryan said, you know, it's based off of knowledge. Not just, you know, what you do out on the competition mats cause, you know, like he said, he had years of wrestling experience and obviously he's very physically gifted. So we grade based off
of the amount of knowledge that you have.
Like, how do you measure knowledge? I think teaching is a good measurement of it, like how well you're able to show the moves and, you know, really make sure
that you have an understanding of what you're doing. Yeah. It's an interesting rank. It's like something that takes many years to accomplish. And for a lot of people, it's truly meaningful. It's like it represents a particular step in a journey. But for you guys, it's almost like different because you've been so focused on competition that I guess if you take it seriously, it is a big step for you too. Like as martial artists, that's bigger than just being like top of the world competitors, right? So I thought it was a joke.
You guys are actually taking it seriously.
That he's a brown belt. That he's a brown belt and you're taking seriously the rank of black belt and like,
it's part of your journey. I think by the time I get a black belt, I'll be no one pound for a pound. I think it'd be pretty nice to accomplish that as a brown belt.
And then maybe toss a black belt on top. Maybe get promoted on the podium. What do you guys,
do you love winning or hate losing more? I definitely don't hate losing. If it pays the bills, I don't mind. Oh really? Yeah, but honestly, if I win, I feel more relief than anything rather than like excitement and stuff. I'm like, oh fuck, thank God that's over.
What about you? I hate losing for sure, but I understand that it's necessary to get, to get to where you wanna be. And then winning is like, I mean, what I think winning is probably the closest you can get to like heroin or something. Cause I mean, we're all, like if you do have extreme success in a torment that you've been adamant about training for and competing in for a while and you end up winning it, I mean, I feel like you're on that high for days at a time afterwards. Heroin's gotta be better. You think so? I'm a stick with no, but...
I'm not gonna suck dick to win.
You suck at a heroin. You suck at a heroin.
I guess that's a good point, yeah. I guess that's a good point, yeah. Well, you know, like, because you come from a little bit of a wrestling culture, one of the things I really love is at the end of the match, when they lose, they just run off. They're like almost pissed off. It's like some mixture of anger and frustration
at themselves. I think sometimes people freak out on the mat. And I think that's just to show everybody, they're acting like they cared a lot. And really, maybe they didn't work enough to get to where they expected to be. And they lost, and then they had this big boost of emotion after their loss. But yeah, I mean, I think you just cry in the mirror
and not to everybody else.
Have you ever cried watching a movie?
I don't think I've ever cried, period.
Have you cried watching a movie?
Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. The Notebook. I try to avoid those movies. It's actually a lie, actually. Titanic. The last part of a difficult wake up for me is I try to find a sad movie and at least cry. I better pound out. That really gets me out of the line. Low energy cutting.
The tears. Action. There's other following liquids I could talk to you about,
but let's just continue on.
Low energy. What about you, Nicky?
Love of winning versus hate of losing. I'm a very competitive person, so I for sure hate losing more than I like winning. I do think it's something that's kind of held me back over the past few years, because it makes it so that I'm not as active as I should be, because it's like I really hate that feeling of after a match that you just lost. So it kind of prevents me from competing, so it's definitely something I need to work past.
So when you think about a competition, the possibility of losing, which is always there in competition, is the thing that weighs heavy on you in the months and weeks
leading up to it. Yeah. My whole life, my financial stability, everything depends on my ability to go out there and compete and my ability to teach. So it's a huge hit to the brand if you lose. So leading up to matches, that's definitely
something that's in my mind. So you guys are like world class athletes, but for me more like a hobbyist competitor, I compete a lot. The thing I was, because I really wanted to win, the thing I was probably most afraid of was not just losing, but like embarrassing myself. Even actually winning by stalling, that was the thing I hated the most about myself in terms of crying in the mirror. It's like being too afraid to take risks
after I'm up on two points or something.
I think you've got to, in competition, sometimes it's good to take the emotion out of it. It's too easy sometimes to think about all my girls and the crowd and my family's watching. I want to win because they're there. But at the highest level, if you're emotional at all,
that's affecting you. Yeah. That's tough though. That's tough, especially leading up to when you're on the map
maybe, but leading up to it. I think it's okay to be emotional prior. If we know ADCC is coming up and we have a big match, definitely I'll go out and practice and I'll visualize, I'll put myself in that competition. That way, when it's game time,
it's like I've been there a thousand times already. So not the actual competition, but even leading up to it,
stepping on the map, all the walk towards it, all that? All that stuff. I'll do the same exact warmup for weeks on end until my competition day comes. That way, when I compete,
I'm just like, oh, it's another Tuesday at practice. What about you, Craig?
How do you prepare mentally for a tournament like ADCC? I push it completely out of my mind. Don't even think about it. Try to avoid any visualization, any rituals, warmups, anything like that. Block it out until the last second, yeah. Try not to think about it. I just go to training to have fun, learn a bit. So I try to approach competition the exact same way. I don't warm up training,
do very little warmup for competition. Uh-huh, and you just step on the mat?
Step on the mat.
My philosophy is there's no warmups on the street. We're so vastly different.
All right, so you legit don't warm up.
No, I probably should now I'm 31, but I would just like in the gym, take it easy the first round. You know, like if I look around the room and Nicky Ryan's down, I might go, all right, we'll have an easier first round today.
Jump, jump, jump.
So even for like the most high stakes matches, you try to push it out. Yeah, I didn't even think about it. What about like all the social, like Instagram posts you have to do about that match? You just make a joke out of it and kind of.
Yeah, I mean, it's kind of pretty silly, you know? We're just wrestling each other, you know? We put the meaning into it, but to someone that doesn't feel this sport,
it looks stupid. Well, all of human existence is pretty silly. Like what are we doing? None of us really know what's going on. We kind of have sex to reproduce. We get hungry, we eat, and then we're all chasing money in cars and whatever the hell in a capitalist society, or we worship a dictator in a authoritarian regime. Yeah, and then we get off on, we let power abuse us and then we just murder others because we get off on it. Yeah, and then eventually all of us will die because the sun will run out of energy because colonizing other planets is very difficult. So none of it matters. It's a good philosophy. It's pretty good. That's exactly what I was saying.
How does the sun run out of energy?
Call me there. It's like a, it's a nuclear fusion engine
and it eventually burns up. Like when you get tired of training.
Yeah. It's never happened. I try to get tired. I was like, dude, it's not working.
I was like, dude, it's not. All right, cool. So you legit don't care about losing.
It doesn't weigh heavy on you. I try not to list, like if I win, I try to block out all the compliments, all the niceties and stuff. So I try to do the same with losing. It's happened, move on to the next one, you know? Don't dwell on it too much. And sometimes make a joke out of it. Yeah, exactly. You know, losing, yeah. With the right joke,
we can make money off of the event that's transpired. That's just transpired. That's what's most important. Excellent. Thank you. I have a bunch of your merch.
Oh, nice. This one's the Jordan Burroughs ripoff.
All I see is silver. The way pronounced borrow is very, very sexy. Okay.
I throw lines at people and I try to gauge their reaction. Like sometimes I'll say something to Nicky and I'll be like, all right, that's probably crossing the line. You know what I mean?
We'll turn it down to the public, the public. So yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's not just, right.
You have to think because it's crossing the line. Yeah, yeah. I get as close to it as possible. Yeah.
I feel like you can't really cross it. And then cross it just a little bit. Just a little bit, yeah. Okay. Speaking of which, you said that I'm Switzerland in World War II since I'm friends with both you and Gordon and John. Very rich country. Are you a Hitler or a Stalin, by the way, in this analogy? Would you like to be Hitler or Stalin?
And should you make a t-shirt out of it or? Very rich country. I mean, a Nazi t-shirt, I don't know how well that sells. Yeah. I think it would, you know,
I think that let's brainstorm on this one offline. I think since Hitler lost. So you got second place in World War II. That's true, that's true. I think that makes you Hitler. Anyway, to the degree that you can, can you tell the story of how the time you've had
with the Donahue Death Squad and why you split the tape? That makes you Hitler. I competed against Gordon for ADCC and the EBI in 2017. And I remember I competed against him at ADCC and then we had the EBI event. And then I had a Kasai. I used to compete all the time, every week. I wouldn't even do the preparation or anything. I'd just be like trying to do seminars, make money, and then jump in and compete. And I remember I showed up to Kasai after I faced him twice and they were like four locker rooms and they put me with all the DDS guys. It was just me and all of DDS. And I think we had competed the weekend before. So I thought it was going to be super awkward, but it was actually pretty chill.
And the Kasai was in New York and they suggested to come train that week. So I came trained, hung out with them a bit. Ultimately, the goal was to move to America and join a bigger team just because that flight to Australia is death. Australia is so far away from everywhere. It's kind of like, not realistic to base yourself in Australia when all the tournaments are in America. And then I went and trained with the guys and they just had a massive, massively deep talent pool in that room. Like show up to like a, meant to be 7 a.m., actual 8 a.m. class on Brazilian time. And there'd be like a hundred people in there, maybe, I don't know how many black belts, but a ton of elite guys. And I was coming from Australia, training with Lachlan Giles. But really that room was pretty shallow and like most people had serious jobs and stuff. So it was like, basically me just training with Lachlan, maybe a couple of other guys.
And then to go to New York and have access to a wide array of training partners and guys that are training twice each day, I feel like that's what you really need. You need people that can train as much as you are. Work together. To get humbled in that room at first. For sure, because my style of the time was basically a rip off version of what they were doing. Leg locks came in. I remember just watching Eddie Cummings nonstop and just seeing this guy rip people's legs off. And I was like, you know what? That's probably a good move. You know, that looks like an easier path to victory than trying to beat these guys at what they're good at already, you know? My philosophy at the time was, if it's bothering old Brazilians, it's bothering them for a reason. It's probably effective.
And that's the path I took to sort of try to rip off their moves. And then obviously to go into that room, try to do them to them,
it's going to be a bit more difficult. All right, so that's how it started.
How did you end up here? How do we end up here? We're in Austin, Texas. I mean, I like to think of Puerto Rico as apocalypse now. John Danaher as Colonel Kurtz. Things got very weird in the jungle and the teams went in two different directions. But honestly, I mean, it's not really my story to tell. I had some issues with some of those people. At the time of the split, I got along very well with John. I feel like me and him connected very well. I don't know why that was. Maybe it was just because he missed home.
He missed a familiar accent, Australian New Zealand accent. But I mean, I basically followed Nicky, left with Nicky, sort of that core group of guys left with Nicky. And I mean, I just back, there was personal problems, I just back Nicky basically.
Got it. Just sticking on you for a bit. Is there a part of you that, you know, finds it heartbreaking that DDS split up? Does part of you miss working with John and everybody?
Nick, can you steal man the case for that? I mean, I miss certain aspects of it, but I also do prefer the freedom of being apart from it. It's obviously a very strict regime under John Danaher. You know, obviously there's parts of it. I miss the parts the public doesn't see of John, the behind the scenes banter. I feel like he's very conscious of the image he portrays to the world. But basically it closed doors. He's always making jokes, always finding, I guess more in line with the Australian Kiwi sort of culture. But you don't really see that in the public eye. So that perspective, I do miss that relationship with John. In terms of setting aside personal differences, Gordon was a good training partner. Definitely a good training partner to train with.
But obviously the negative things we can't really talk about outweighed all of those things. And we obviously had to make a decision to leave. But yeah. What is that happening in the jungle? The things that happen in the jungle. Should never be spoken of. That I personally cannot speak of. Yeah, but obviously I do miss certain aspects. Like, I mean, nothing's all bad.
Nothing's all good, you know? Should never be spoken of. Yeah, this goes back to your like,
everything we're doing is silly. Yeah, exactly. That's why I don't get people to take it so serious, martial arts so serious. It's just, it's just pretty stupid really. Especially in the gi, it looks just, it looks bad.
I mean, it's pretty silly with and without the gi. It's just a bunch of apes.
What's silly about? It's just a bunch of apes. What's silly about no gi and what's silly about the gi and just mix and match bottoms there. You know what I mean? Wait, which one?
Sambo, yeah. I see what you're doing. Brother, you come to my house and offend my people. All right.
This is, we're gonna go to every dark place, apparently. Nick, how did you get with DDS? Like, what was that journey like? Is there, try to see if there's things that you remember fondly
that you've gotten from the experience? All right, so the way I started training with DDS, initially I was training for like, well, initially I was a bouncer, right? I dropped out of college to pursue this fitness modeling career, I ended up signing with the Wilhelmina models up in New York, and I was like, trying to get in better shape. And while I was bouncing, kind of the talk of like, who's tougher came up between the wrestlers and a few of the bouncers that trained jiu-jitsu. And, you know, they convinced me to go to a practice and I went to my first practice over there. And for the most part, I just controlled everybody, got on top of them, was able to avoid like, kind of like, you know, shitty submissions. Cause I had an awareness of the sport and, you know, I'm a fan of fighting and whatnot. So, you know, I kind of understood it pretty well. And then soon after that, I joined a school and my second week of jiu-jitsu, I started competing, had pretty good success. You know, I was like subbing a few black belts and beating everybody like, you know, pretty decisively with points and stuff. And about three months into training locally, I got connected with Gordon Ryan and John Danner up in New York and I committed to, you know, make the drive up there as many days as I could. At the time, I lived in South Jersey and it was about two and a half hour or three hour drive without traffic to New York.
Where in South Jersey? Gloucester County, collating New Jersey specifically, but Gloucester County. Yeah, so it was about 130 miles and without traffic, you know, about two and a half hours or so. But on the way back, man, it'd be three plus sometimes, you know, you're catching that rush hour. What year was this, do you remember?
This was 2018. This was in 2018. I forget how young you are. Yeah, I was there before all that. All right, cool. Anyway, you're doing the long drive
and then what, for a bit? Yeah, doing the long drive and then once I won ADCC trials, I was able to make a couple bucks and then I got my silver medal at ADCC and I was able to afford to live up there in New York in North Jersey area. So I lived up there, trained there full time every day and I just kind of sucked with the team throughout the turbulent times and found ourselves in Austin.
In the jungle. In the jungle, yeah.
What are the things we shall not speak of?
What are the things that you remember that you've learned from John Donnerher
from your time spent with him? Yeah, I mean, I definitely learned a ton from John and the team as a whole. Like, you know, you have to be the guy that asks questions in that type of environment, right? Because you're not gonna get singled out to be that specific like star or the best guy in the room when you have all these other stud athletes. So I really had to seek out and figure out the kind of questions that I needed to ask. And once I became a bit more verbal with my training and I'm expressing all my curiosities about grappling to these guys, definitely helped boost my technique
and my career as a whole. Yeah, did you understand what kind of stuff like technically you wanna get good at? What fits your body? What would be good for you?
What are your weaknesses and all that? So initially, when I started grappling, I had an innate ability to just get to opponent's back. So I was like, all right, I'm good at getting to the back. Let me get, let me perfect controlling the back and then submitting opponent via rear naked choke. And then besides that, I really focused on leg lock defense. And then eventually came the Roddy lock pass where, you know, I'm really good at body lock passing my opponents now. And yeah, it just takes quite a long time because you have to find different sequences. And then there's always an abundance of opportunities that your opponent gets from these specific sequences.
So it takes a while. Is there part of you that finds the fact
that DGS split up heartbreaking? I definitely, you know, having one person to go to that runs practice every day, that's, you know, consistent, it was definitely a gift, but now I've also gifted with many, many other partners. I have Nikki Ryan, you know, Craig Jones. Yeah, we have Ethan Krellis, Damien Anderson. So a full team of knowledgeable athletes that I can continue to go to with multiple questions. But yeah, definitely, it took me some time to adjust to training or to learning from, you know,
specifically my team and not just one person. We should mention for people just listening because you can't visually see that Nikki Ryan is currently terrified. And Craig Jones is currently enjoying the fact that Nikki Ryan is terrified. But anyway, can you talk about your, Nikki,
can you talk about your time with DDS?
The fact that Nikki Ryan is terrified. I started training when I was like around 13. You know, my brother Gordon had started prior to me and I really just went into training just as like a means to exercise and lose weight at the beginning because I was pretty fat as a kid. So I went to the first class, loved it, and then just started training every day at Gary's gym, Brunswick. And then during the summer, when I'd get off from school, they would take me up to New York to train under John. And, you know, I just absolutely loved it. I knew what I wanted to do with my life at a young age. So I ended up dropping out of school actually after my freshman year in high school. So yeah, 15, I ended up dropping out and just pursuing jiu-jitsu full-time, you know,
training every day up in the blue basement. Like what aspect of jiu-jitsu made you know
that this is the thing for you? It was just something I just enjoyed being, you know, like on the mats every day. I love that there's, you know, a problem solving aspect to it. So it's, you know, it's mentally challenging, it's physically challenging, helps me get in shape.
So I just, yeah, right off the bat, I knew I loved it. Okay, so then we'll go to the jungle. What happened in the jungle? Yeah. And in general, like, uh, I like this, I like this, this is like this like shroud of mystery that she'll never be penetrated. That she'll never be like-
We've got a book deal. Jungle.
And I like this. It's coming once. Book deal? Obviously he left Oscar, he's not riding him.
Okay, I'll do the Russian translation here.
Okay, so what are things that you enjoy
that you remember from work of John Donner? Yeah, I mean, you know, obviously he's considered one of the best coaches in the world. You know, very charismatic guy when you see him in person. You know, I pretty much was, you know, kind of raised in the DDS, you know, that's where I spent the majority of my time every day. So I obviously had very deep connections, you know, with John, my brother, Gary, you know, even Eddie Cummings and stuff back then. So obviously I miss interacting with those guys every day. And, you know, it's like they said, it's good to have somebody to kind of crack the whip at you every day.
And John was very good at that. When you're like younger in your teenage years, you can kind of, you like have to get humbled, right? There's like a process to that. Yeah, for sure. And-
It's a pretty good room to get humbled in, I guess. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I started training with them just when like everybody started to break out. Gary was like the biggest name at the time, just cause he had 180 CC trials already. And he had a crazy match with Cron, at Cron Gracie, at ADCC. But Eddie was just starting to break out. Gordon just started winning EBI. So I started training under John, you know,
right when everything was exploding. What are the good things about life,
about Jiu-Jitsu you learned from your brother? Both me and my brother never really wanted to, you know, work a full-time job doing something that we hate. And he was always, you know, a very confident person. So he just went, you know, fully started pursuing Jiu-Jitsu. So I'm very happy that, you know, he did that. And I ended up falling in his footsteps because you can ask these guys, I'm a lazy sack of shit outside of the mat.
So that's definitely one thing that I'm very grateful for. That he paved the way like you can make money
doing the stuff you love. Yeah, exactly. And he was a big reason, you know, why my parents eventually let me drop out of school. Because, you know, when they were coming out, there was no money in the sport. It was very hard to make a full living. Like if you wanted to actually make a living, you'd eventually have to transfer to MMA. And I feel like Gordon and Gary and those guys were, you know, some of the first people to make
a very good living off of Jiu-Jitsu. At this party, you find it heartbreaking that you've split up from DDS, but also from your brother
in terms of spending time in the mat every day. Yeah, for sure. You know, I mean, growing up, you know, obviously he's my big brother. I looked up to him a lot. So I definitely, like I said, I'm misinteracting with those guys. I was pretty much raised, you know, in that blue basement, you know, that John was like, you know, a father figure to me. So I definitely, you know,
miss seeing those guys every day. Yeah. Do you have animosity towards Gordon? And does he have animosity toward you? And what is the source of that?
And do you think you'll ever be able to forgive each other? Definitely initially, during the initial split, we definitely hated each other at the beginning, but it's definitely started to calm down. Actually, just prior to, you know, all this social media drama that's going on currently, he had reached out to me. And that was literally like the first time that we have actually talked since the split happened. So we didn't talk to each other for, what is it now, like almost two years. And that was the first time that, you know, we interacted again. And overall, you know, he wasn't, you know, aggressive towards me. I wasn't aggressive towards him. You were cracking some jokes.
So hopefully the animosity is going down. There's this Godfather quote that I wrote down. I recently rewatched it from the Don, from Don Corleone, Vito Corleone. The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other. Is there some aspect of family that you miss, of the blood that kind of connects you,
that you can count on? Yeah, my parents, you know, they both raised us that, you know, like family is everything. You never, you know, betray your family or anything like that. So I definitely, you know, miss them from time to time.
Okay, imagine you're like 40 years from now, sitting on a porch with a shotgun, drinking whiskey, looking over like all the land you've conquered. Looking back to this moment, is the reason you split up a bullshit reason? Or is it a good reason? From the perspective of the king who has now conquered the lands,
have proven himself, have done everything? I think it was definitely like a justifiable reason for the team splitting. Like it just, with the way things were going, it just was not gonna work with, you know, all of us in the same room together. I was, started, you know, affecting training. People didn't feel comfortable in things. So I definitely think that it was a justifiable reason
to split. The things that happened in the jungle, to be told about in the book. Is it gonna be an audio book?
Or is it just gonna be, who's gonna voice it?
Might be a play. A musical, on Broadway.
How's your singing voice? Mine's not so good, but Nicky has a beautiful voice. Does he?
Of an angel? Nicky, I bet.
Okay. Speaking of the social media drama, I should mention that I've talked to, recently to Gordon a bunch. I've talked to him about talking to you guys. And he's had nothing but really nice things to say about you, Nicky Rod. And he has had nothing but bad things.
What were some of the things? Well, let's just go to the social media first.
Because the social media stuff that he said publicly is just like a warmup. It's like a foreplay, I guess. So Gordon sent you, Nicky Rod, flowers for Valentine's Day, posting on Instagram, I've been fucking him in every round and competition since we met in 2018.
The least I can do is buy him flowers.
We didn't get the flowers. No, sir.
Yeah, that was the question. Yeah, that was the question. Did you get the flowers?
You never got the flowers. Did you get the flowers?
He sent it to the wrong address. He did? Yeah.
What do you think he sent it?
It was close, but it was wrong.
Did you appreciate the romantic gesture? I did. I was looking forward to the flowers and potentially chocolates in there,
but it was a bit of a letdown. Could you describe your recent match against Gordon,
the EBI match? Okay, so EBI match on UFC Fightbounce was a 20 minute match. And immediately, no match starts. I pull guard, and then I stand up. He pulls guard. And we have this kind of like back and forth where he's trying to dig for underhooks, trying to get on top of me, and he can't really find success. And then in the midst of me trying to work by body lock pass, Gordon's able to underhook a leg, and we end up in a leg entanglement. And then I'm able to transfer that leg entanglement to a 50-50 position still in the leg entanglement. From that 50-50 position, I'm able to separate his feet and actually get a few pops. And he actually said I broke his foot in that exchange. With the toe hold. The toe hold, yup.
And after that? we had a bit more. I was just being working on top position, trying to get my body lock.
Time runs out and we go to overtime. And overtime. Can you hold on a second actually? Over time. Can you hold on a second actually? What does it mean to break a leg? I was very confused about. Okay, so. Is this like a expression or what do you mean? Which part breaks in a toe hold?
Okay, so. Okay, so in a toe hold, there's a few different grades of it. Like you could get a few pops and have some walking issues. And people consider that a break and then you could break it fully and have your foot be like a limp noodle. You know, I think what
goes that? Killy's was the front of the thing? What goes that? Killy's? Katy's or something? Probably the ligaments. I mean, it's funny, like a lot of people say they broke something. But like to me you break bones, you tear ligaments. So I would imagine you probably had a grade three tear.
Great three how hard do you think is it? I always wondered that with Like a straight foot lock. How hard is it to break the shin or like the actual bones versus to tear stuff?
Depends how many steroids there are and obviously how much you're on You're one of the few guys that I have actually broken bones in competition
Yeah, have I oh yeah, yeah
Which bone did you break a spiral fracture of the fibula? Oh Twisting how did you break it? Oh, it was a heel hook Vinnie always used to say heel hooks don't work leg locks don't work But unfortunately age gets the best of all of us. I think he had some mileage on those ligaments Yeah, and the bone I guess yeah, so it's actually what the bone Yeah, he's ankle like disconnected from the tibia and the fibula, but the fibula definitely
Snouts pretty bad that the
Dynamics of that. Okay. Anyway, it went to overtime. What happened in overtime. Okay, I'll have an overtime Let's see trying to hang. Oh, okay. I go defense first Whistle blows I'm able to escape in like 17 seconds and then immediately after I go on his back and He gets out and exactly a 17 seconds. I'm like shit. All right. I thought I had a good start and then He gets on my back right after that and he's able to ride me out for pretty much the entire round After that he I got back on his back. He escapes and maybe like a minute and some change I think where I went wrong in the overtime is I should have went I should have been less adamant about chasing the submission and more aware of Collecting time if I kind of diverted my attention towards acquiring, you know time on the clock It would have been you know more my favor. But yeah at the end of my Overtime round it would I'm able to lock up a reneged choke over the face But there just wasn't enough time to fully finish, you know, I got a few seconds of squeeze in there I didn't have enough time to adjust then Good.
Do you think if you're on steroids, he would have finished the choke? I yeah, I mean for sure for sure That's what I thought if you're on gear it you're you're changing the biology of your body You're you're adjusting your DNA for sure. If I adjust in my DNA, I mean It's a finish. That's what I thought. It's a finish you're implying you're a natural athlete is what I'm definitely natural athlete. Yeah
Heavy completion. Okay So for people who don't know that the BI rules, it's an interesting rule structure where the overtime you put Yourself in a in like the worst possible position and the task is to escape and the other person gets the same thing
What do you guys think about that rule set? I I like it just because I first of all I don't I don't like the idea of having to put somebody on my back but I do like the Definitive answer in the match like either you escaped in time or you got you know written out So the absolutely like you have a you get to the final winner. That's great I'd much rather have that then a close decision and kind of goes the other way
What about you? I mean, honestly, there's all the different roles when I look at the role sets I just try to think of what rule said I could beat that individual in and I sort of gear myself towards that That's really the strategy there. I think there's some guys that like That stole a lot that you would love to have EBI overtime But at the end, you know, they're stalling until they have to give us a good position But then there's some guys that are so good in those positions. I'm like, oh, maybe we just do a regular match, you know
What are the rules in the streets? Mmm the streets no time limit. Yeah, that's one of it There's also like concrete and cars great biting biting. Yeah poking art. Yeah So you don't like that rule set? Are there some people you would prefer in the street as a rule set?
me probably not I Don't know the EBI, I mean it's tricky, you know depends on the opponent which rule set I'd want to do
What about you Nick? What do you think about the rule set of EBI? Yes I think EBI is is very good from a spectator point of view, you know, people find it very entertaining to watch You know because you're people want to see submissions and you're putting people You're putting the athletes in a position where you know, you have like the highest percentage submission in the sport So obviously you're gonna get a lot of submissions My issue with it is it is a rule set that allows somebody that's overall worse at jiu-jitsu to win a match You know a guy can go out there and just stall and just get completely dominated for the entirety of regulation And then he gets to start on the guy's back. So that's that's one my my one issue with it
But also, I mean it's interesting to see Like the best people in the world have to be put in a really bad position and to see how good their escapes are For example, yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, but it doesn't feel like a realistic. It's it's a fun thing to watch but it doesn't feel like the real fight
Yeah, it feels weird. Yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, I'll claim it if I start an overtime on someone I finish them I'll claim it. But if they submit me an overtime on last you're gonna deny
It's good The issue is people like stalling to just win the overtime So where you got this guy that his whole training camp is just not get subbed and win the overtime
It's a bit boring by the way I have a rose behind you if somebody gave me a Valentine's flower
So if you if you miss the one from Gordon, I got one for you. Well, I'd appreciate that
It's good to feel loved yeah, it's good to feel loved yeah, all right
So, what did you learn from that match like a takeaways technically speaking like what what do you need to work on well I learned that I am pretty good Yeah, pretty good I got a you know a few I know exactly what my weakness is, you know It's the the leg lock department and I'm doing I'm doing a lot To to you know get better in that specific aspect. I think in defense attack. I would say yeah attack defense re-attacks Even if I wanted to offensively enter a leg, you know, I could use some work there as well but I feel like once I solidify like My like if I come in I'll become a black belt specifically in the leg lock department. I feel like I'd be unstoppable
if you Nick you're a definitively beat Gordon Ryan. How would you do it? Buggy, would you do it? Buggy? Choke buggy? Choke buggy? Choke the list of the listener. I Don't even know how to describe buggy. Choke. What's what's the definitive like conclusion on that? Choke does it work? it's a it's a choke that you do when you're in a
What's the opposite of a dominance not submissive in a non-dominant position of bottom side control center?
Yeah, just an embarrassing submission to get caught with really. Yeah, but does it work?
It works on certain people
For the listener he glassed over Nicky
It's embarrassing, but it's also what it's a way to frustrate the opponent for sure Yeah, it's a new part of the spot I feel like the Rotolo's brought her back into fashion and Even if you don't get it because it's one of those movies It's so embarrassing at the first sign of danger the top guy abandoned ship and you can basically retain guard
By attempting a very embarrassing since of the threat of embarrassment. Yes, everybody people pull out very quick to avoid. Yes
Everybody suffering the consequences. I think some people underestimate how
Good of a submission is I mean like once you're locked in there is not too many defenses for a buggy joke. I
I did that you is there an instructional on the way from you and the J Rod actually a little brother has one Oh, yeah, for real. You actually legit have Oh Wow
That's awesome. Well, check it out. I mean there is I mean you're making a joke out of it, but it is a real
Like there's a system to it. I mean, yeah, I don't know we're going to
Mean you take an opponent that was just winning in a in a in a greatly dominant position and then boom in that same position
They're pretty much they're losing, you know, it's a it's an interesting move. What's the name of the what's the name of it? Okay, the the buggy pedia. I thought there'd be something like very Craig Jonesy about it. Okay. Awesome I know you don't want to sort of reveal the secrets of what you're working on but in general, dude
What some guy what does it take to beat Gordon, I guess okay, so what does it take to beat Gordon? I guess it would have to be some kind of a choke. I think any joint lock or anything like that He's just gonna let it break and stay in the match. So I don't even think you'd tap from like a Rania In a practice room. I remember like I had a told a couple times in practice room and he was just comfortable like working there I'm like, I'm not really putting much on it. I think he just, you know, maybe because of situations like that in practice, he kind of didn't respect my toe holds ability in, in a competition. You've done that to me in the practice.
I have. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I gave you a little, you know, give me a little pop and then he let go.
I'll give you a little, you know, just, I was only type of set right there.
Don't get into math. Hey, don't get into math.
Okay. Um, is there some part of that you think is necessary to be a champion is to like this almost unwillingness and competition to tap?
I think it's definitely something to be said for people that are just like, uh, you know, willing to go that extra mile or to take that damage to secure their, their victory. Um, is there a part of you that like would hate to tap or hates to tap? Yeah. I mean, all, all of me hate that. Yeah. The whole part of me.
Yeah. Uh, isn't there a John legend song like that? All of you and all of me, very romantic. Yeah. No, we're sticking on that theme. Okay. I'm sorry. Uh, Oh, one of the things, uh, Gordon asked, I forget how you put it because I think there was a lot of words that would need to be censored involved, but he said, ask them, um,
how it feels to have a zero five record against me with four submissions combined to me. Very romantic. Yeah. I mean, first of all, I wasn't sure he could count to five. Yeah. That's an impressive thing. Um, Oh, and five. I mean, I will say one thing. Nobody beats me four times. I love you so much. I did have a question. I did have a question for you.
There was some controversy on your Twitter about a list of books. Yeah. And I was wondering why Gordon's book wasn't featured amongst that
literature. Yeah. Well, it was only the first 30 books or like the first 20
books. And it would of course be in, uh, something interesting about Gordon.
He's the first author that's written more books than he's read. Pretty good.
Uh, if you, if you face them and beat them, what, like, what's your take on what it takes to be Gordon? I mean, you guys kind of joke and they go pretty, pretty hard recently, uh, on each other. But as a fan of jiu-jitsu, I'm all in on this rivalry. It's just fun to watch. I mean, first of all,
I don't think I go really hard with him. I think Gordon is, he's pretty sensitive. You know what I mean? He's looking for a large insult in a small insult. And for me, like Australians, we just attack each other all day, every day. And for me, like, if I see someone that takes himself very seriously, that's like blood in the water. That's funny to me. To me, if I can just gently provoke and get a strong reaction, that's hilarious. Like Aussies, we would just attack each other. And the first person that gets upset, he kind of loses the exchange. So I think that is very, very entertaining.
Like if you were to beat Gordon, would the mental game off the map be part of it?
Think it would be a fact of a show. But I mean, I'm never going to come out too crazy direct with him. You know, like I don't, I, I find that like, if you get too upset on the line and you're going crazy, I find that I'd be embarrassed to do that myself. Obviously each, everyone's different. Everyone has a different style, you know, but like, yeah, I think mental, the mental aspect would play a big factor. I mean, mainly, because if I were to beat him, I would send him a message every day until I died. Yeah. Just to gently remind him that I got the last one, the last one. It's all that matters. We're not giving it, we're not giving it.
We're not giving it, we're not giving it. So like once you beat him,
you're going to run for the rest of your life. I mean, run, but look back. Yeah.
With messages, ride, ride your horse into the sunset. Okay. Oh, by the way, you've talked very lightly, you've talked shit very lightly against Alexander Volkonovski's opponent very lightly. Have you received death threats or how are you still alive? Like Gordon, I would say people from Dagestan take a joke very well. Do they really? No. Oh,
like, sorry, I'm slow. No, it's too aggressive mode in my head. No, I'm listening to you. No. Oh, like, sorry, I'm slow. No, I'm listening to you. Islam was pretty cool. I wanted to stir it up a bit, you know, because like I felt like that was a massive fight and it probably should have had more attention than it was receiving. So I wanted to just gently stir it up a bit. I feel like Sambo guys are in the same vein as catch wrestlers, very sensitive. You know, like obviously there's only three people in the world that do catch wrestling, Sambo, maybe 10 to 15. So I figured we could really provoke them with that sort of jiu-jitsu Sambo stuff.
Islam took the jokes very well. The Russian fans, not so much, are very serious.
There's not many smiles in Russia, you know, they didn't take it as well. I'm trying to suppress the
anger, the rage is building up inside me slowly. So you guys mentioned steroids. I like that you
bring that up after we talk about Russia for the record. Smooth, smooth segue there for the record.
Smooth, smooth segue there. I cannot condone the statements. I cannot condone that by the Aussie,
but I would love to travel with you to Russia. That would be a good time. Yeah. You might get
killed with me now. Yeah, you might. No, I would be like the first to turn to backstabbing. You're like, I got him here. All right. Are most of the top grapplers on steroids?
I mean, it's hard to say, you know, some people look like shit and they're on steroids. Some
people look excellent and they're not on steroids. It's so, so hard to tell. That seems to be the general consensus that a lot of people on steroids. I'm always a little bit, I don't know, I'll be honest. I've never, I've never seen anyone take steroids. I've never taken steroids. I don't even know if that's the right term to use or like TRT, any of that. So I'm very careful to not let my naive vitae lead me to take conclusions. But I do feel a little bit weird about the witch hunt nature of it. Some people a little bit too eagerly claim that others are on steroids just because they're successful. But at the same time, it does seem that a lot of athletes will do whatever it
takes to be successful. Yeah. I mean, if a sport doesn't test, you got to assume most people are going to do it. And especially now as more money comes into the sport, you got to assume more
people are going to do it, you know? I generally like do AGCC and like, does you just do test? It's actually encouraged. What's encouraged? You get a pamphlet. Okay. They don't test. There's
no test. They test to make sure we're on steroids because obviously it's a big show for the UFC
five plus in the future. You don't want anyone coming in out of shape. Very nice. Do you think using steroids in that kind of context and sports is wrong? Like stepping, stepping away if it's
not illegal. I mean, do you think ethically speaking? I mean, do you think ethically speaking? I like to assume everyone's on steroids and I have to feel bad about using steroids myself. Yeah. Yeah. Do you use all of the steroids? I'm over 30th. I'm over 30th,
TRT, you know, that's the medical definition. That's the medical definition. That's the medical, okay. I'd like to meet your doctor.
Therapeutic use, you know. Therapeutic, right. Like, how do you just feel about it? I mean, it is cheating for sure. Whether they test for it or not, I think it is cheating. Obviously, some people are going to say, oh, fuck, everyone's on it. I should be able to get away with it. Makes it even playing field. You know, but it kind of becomes rush from your leg because it's like, if one guy's taking a small amount and the other guy is taking a huge amount, he's going to reap huge rewards in the short term, probably be dead pretty early, but die a champion, mind you. You
know what I mean? So it's like, I don't know what that line is yet. Yeah. What do you think about
that? Do you think, do you think it's worthy to take health risks just for the glory? I think if you're just for the glory, I think if you're 40 about to die looking at a cabinet of gold medals for wrestling other men, it's probably not going to hit the same way on your death batch, you know? Sorry. In which direction? Like, is that a good thing or not? No, you're probably going to feel
like, oh, fuck, I probably wasted a bit of health on that, you know? You think so? Isn't that,
isn't that like the glory of it? Like you said, other men. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, in my opinion,
I'll maybe wrestle a woman as well. What did you do with Gabby on Valentine's Day? What did you
take her? Did you guys? We filmed some new stuff for Onlyfans. For Onlyfans. We never start working.
The love affair is also a work affair. Okay. I don't know. There's something to that. I mean, like Olympic gold medalists accomplishing the heights, sacrificing everything, everything, the first 20, 30 years of your life for this silly little piece of metal. I think there's something beautiful to that. That's that conspires a lot, a lot of people.
And that's like the height of the human condition in a way. Like, why don't you survive? I'm just
saying if you're in your deathbed early in life, we all die. We all die. All men die, but not all
men truly live, how many views? How many views? How many views are you willing to shave off
for a gold medal? That's a good question. How many? How many are you willing to shave off for
gold medal. For silver medal? I mean for silver medal I'd shave a few off.
I think two silvers makes a gold. It's worth five years.
Five to ten maybe. Shave off the bad years, enhance the good ones.
Well I mean you've sacrificed. You've got to sacrifice a lot of your life.
You continue to sacrifice. You don't see it as sacrifice. It's fun. I think training's fun being a bit adamant about it. Consistent. Gives you, I mean, I think we have a great routine, great ritual.
Definitely enjoy the process. All right well do you guys know this is bro science or or I'm talking bro scientists but do you know how long stairways stay in your system? Forever. Forever. Oh because it's like hey once you do it y'all on it.
Hey once you do it y'all on it. Yeah.
Just the knowledge. Yeah. All right. I think it's different for each steroid, right? I think some of them last longer than others. Depends if it's a urine.
You would think I would do, you would think I would do a little research before this ask you these questions. Why do you think most athletes and coaches don't talk about steroids? Like why is it such like a secret? Why is it so embarrassing?
I think they probably talk about it like amongst the team and whatnot. Again I mean it's only it's gonna be more shady if it's like your your sport is tested or not or kind of in the wild west and the in the grappling world you know.
Yeah but why don't grapplers talk about it? Because the team's cheating.
I mean, it's it's kind of insinuated as a bit of cheating even if it's not like If it's not tested I mean still you're you're taking a person that could you know Maybe has good jujitsu good mechanics you putting them on the leg and they're subbing with a heel hook versus breaking your leg with A hook, you know something as subtle as that can make you know big differences
Alright, this is gonna make me sound dumb But is it possible that steroids are not a huge help in grappling?
I think if you're bad at jujitsu and you do steroids you're going to continue to be bad a jujitsu but if you're great at gear, I'm sorry if you're great at Grappling if you're great at grappling and then you also do gear it's gonna enhance what you're already
You know good at to make you much better
But like how much is the enhancement I guess is the question how much is is muscle valued right? Like if you're question if you're doing gear and you're not changing weight that much Like maybe it helps you a little bit But you know You're gaining 50 60 pounds of pure muscle and it's like that's a huge enhancement.
That's another human, if your- That's the question.
If you're doing- How much does muscle a small human. Yeah. Does muscle matter in jjitsu? I guess is the question because it's possible
that it gets in the way, is it possible?
I say muscle matters, technique matters more. I also think that it will help you develop technique as well because obviously testosterone helps with recovery rate so if you're on gear you're able to train a lot more. Now, that being said, if you're not able to learn, obviously it's not going to help in that aspect. But if you're somebody that knows how to learn and get good at jujitsu, and then you add gear on top of that, you're able to do significantly more sessions throughout the week.
Okay, and by the way, gear's— Steroid. Steroid, yeah.
Steroid, yeah, right, yeah.
I also think that you don't have to be as consistent in your sleep, in your food and stuff. If your own gear you have a little bit of leeway. But, I mean, being consistent in your diet and your sleep definitely would help the process.
Since you use most steroids of any athlete I've ever met, do you think steroids help jiu-jitsu?
I think, obviously, it helps recovery and your ability to train more. But I've seen some guys go on steroids and then suddenly they feel like the incredible Hulk. And now in the training room, they start to rely more on strength than the techniques they had and actually, in some respect, hinders them and makes them gas more in competition because then they're using more of the muscle they never used to have.
So, you've implied that you're a natural athlete.
You said that. You said that skeptically.
Is this something you do for social media to talk shit to Gordon to imply that he's
not a natural athlete? Well, I only, pretty much recently on social media, I had this rebuttal saying that Gordon's on gear. And I only said that because after our match in our most recent match, the EBI rules match, he accused me of greasing, which is lubing up so I'm slippery during our match. And you did not? I did not. I was checked multiple times before and after our grappling event. And he still went out and accused me of this. So I was like, all right, as opposed to telling a lie, I'll just tell the truth about your steroid use, which shouldn't be that big of a deal in retrospect because he kind of admitted it and whatnot previously. So it's, yeah, I just kind of felt like I had to rebuttal and I didn't do it immediately because I was like, all right, I know I have this podcast planned, so I'll wait to do it on my friend Mark Bell's podcast, you know, get a little bit more exposure on it. And yeah, I knew he was gonna bite the bait, I didn't think it was gonna bite the bait that hard. I know he's a little stressed out about the comments.
And that was the origin of you guys going back and forth on?
Well, it wasn't so much back and forth. It was just I went forth and then he kept going back, back, back. Like, I remember one of my guys, the me and they were like, Gordon's made like 68 Instagram stories and 67 of them were all about you. I was like, all right. Well, I'm in his head for sure. Got us a few followers. We appreciate them. We did. They get followers. Even shout it out. Our B team wipeout program. So thank you.
So thank you.
Speaking of which, what's the B team? How's it run? And why is it called the B team? Well, I mean, Craig, was the A team taken? I would have been.
For me. Craig, was the A team taken?
I would have been.
For me, B's for best.
Okay. Best. All right. What does B stand for? For you? What does it represent? What is the ideal? Like, you know, Miyamoto, Musashi, philosophical foundation of B team. Aim low and achieve. If the bar is set low, you can't help but win.
Okay. That's Nikki's philosophy with women as well.
Set the bar incredibly low, overachieved.
Set the bar incredibly low, overachieved. So what is the B team? How do you guys run it? Like what? Yeah. I mean, can you just talk about the school? How you found it? What is it?
What's it like? I mean, pretty much just a regular jujitsu gym. We started it as sort of a pros only purple bow and above team. And we have me, Nikki Rod, Nikki Ryan, Ethan, Damien, as coaches. Am I missing someone? Oh, JB. Your memory is with your old age. Impeggable memory. Yeah. And we got JB coming up to teach wipeouts. But just your stock standard jujitsu team, we focus on more. We lean heavily towards the professional athlete side of things.
We have a lot of high level guys in that. Yeah. Class structure, regular instruction and positional sparring, open rounds. But we sort of took a heavy slant on marketing side of things. We really try to blow up the YouTube channel. Obviously we sell a lot of clothing, merchandise and stuff. So yeah, we just sort of took a modern approach to a standard jujitsu gym because I mean, jujitsu gyms are full of some of the most boring human beings on earth. So we try to highlight. Strong words, Brad Jones. Strong words. Highlight the other side of things, you know, keep it pretty light hearted. That it can be fun.
Yeah, that jujitsu can be fun. I guess that it can be cool too.
You know, it's not just full of steroided up autistic people, you know.
Your memory is with your old age. Question from Reddit. Quote, need to hear some of the stories about drop-ins that led to the making of the gem of a video, the do's and don'ts of training a B team.
Any fun stories? Any ones that stand out, do you guys remember any police involved ever? We had a guy come about to kick him out. He was stalking two of the members. Yeah. Well, I mean, there's just crazy people, you know, like I portray a pretty insane image online. And I guess I am that a lot of the time, but I training, try to keep it while training around training. I'm insulting everyone. But while training, I try to keep it pretty serious.
But obviously the image I portray, Lou is in some of the crazier members. I mean, like the thing is about the, the Jimmy guys run is, is really professional. It's like friendly. It's like the light hearted joking is there, obviously the, you know, like shit talk and all that kind of stuff. But I guess it's a pretty safe environment. Yeah.
But the public persona might attract some, some maniacs. I won't say which places I've trained it, but it's obviously some places you walk into the room and it's very, very serious. Yeah. There's no smiles around. Obviously it's probably average training room in Russia, but no smiles, very serious environment. You know what I mean? And I definitely don't like that. I don't want to show up to training and be walking on eggshells, not know what the coach's moods like that day.
I want to go in, have a good time, keep it light hearted. What was in the video? What are the dos and don'ts?
Cause like the address is public, like anyone can show up. Yeah.
What were the dos and don'ts?
Does anyone challenge you like to a fight? Not yet. Not yet. I mean, probably from other gyms in town, they probably, that's probably coming down
the line, but, um, dos and don'ts. I'm all in on that. I'm, I'm, I would be excited as a fan to just watch. I love the drama. Not the drama. No, no, no. Well, a little drama, a little drop of poison is good, um, but ultimately it's the best grapplers in the world kind of, um, going at it. Yeah. Yeah. It's fun. Cause I may, maybe I'm wrong, but I think there is an underlying deep camaraderie at the end of the day when you're like at the top of the world and you're like in the same
What could possibly go wrong? It's like a shitty Western, but like an epic Western where like clean East, we're like the good, the bad, and the ugly. Of course I love it. I'm here just eating popcorn like that.
Stare in the pot!
I'm not staring at the box. I'm not staring at the box. These questions are from Reddit.
What's up with that?
That one. For sure. What's up with that? Yeah. I mean, what could possibly go wrong if you're the world's best grappler hates you and you're gently provoking him behind the scenes every day? Well, I mean. For sure. In Texas.
Stolen his brother, held him for ransom.
It is like a story of a shitty Western I think. You now allow white belts to train with you.
What's it like to open it up to a bigger audience? We haven't opened it up yet, but it'll be interesting to see. I mean, I feel like your higher belts, they really understand what the training room is. You know what I mean? White belts early, they're trying to find their place in the gym, could be kind of awkward and stuff in that environment. So I think obviously those white belts coming in will change the dynamic, but the white belts will have a separate white belt class is obviously for them. Given it's such a high level gym, it'd be tough for a beginner to be able to enter the more advanced classes. Well, obviously we're teaching more advanced techniques. So yeah, we've separated a white belt program, I believe 6 p.m. On a better Friday. Yeah, maybe we'll have a Saturday one as well, but it'll be interesting to see how it goes. We're trying to do things different, you know, like trying to do your traditional suggested gyms, obviously you're not going to teach beginners wrestling at all.
We're trying to split it at least 33%, top game, bottom game and wrestling. So at least create more well-rounded athletes from day one. Whereas I feel like most traditional jiu-jitsu gyms might have no gi once a week, that'll touch wrestling, very IBJF heavy techniques.
But again, the sport's changing for sure. Just to take that on, how does the beginner get good at jiu-jitsu? Like given that you're starting this white belt, what's your philosophy on that?
Obviously, buy all of my instructionals at full price. Yeah.
Not during a sale. Okay. Not during a sale. Okay. That would go a long way. For those of you who are Russians, I'll send you instructions or all the forms so you know how to steal it. Yeah, discount code. I'll share, I bought them all.
So I'll just send that to you for free. I mean, we do have the Makachow 50 discount code, you know? Yeah. Offering discounts to help him out for the rematch.
I got the, nice.
Well, I got a 100% discount for you if you need it. But that said, your instructionals are both hilarious and brilliant, man. It's one of the most respected instructionals. Oh, thank you.
With incredibly great names. Yeah. It probably loses me sales, honestly, due to removing the seriousness of-
Because they think it's going to kind of suck.
It's going to be some funny gimmicky thing. Oh, I mean, some people don't even know if it's a real product. That's a big hurdle I have to overcome as they see it. And they're like, is that a real thing? That's a problem. But how does the wipeout get good? I think they just, I mean, just have to show up, just have to put in the effort, try to focus on using techniques and training rather than just fighting to the death, you know? Although that is entertaining for us to watch,
to wipeouts fight to the death. Yeah, but what are the techniques you should focus on? Like, what's the process? What does it mean to show up? Like, how much drilling? All that kind of stuff. Like, if you were to optimize the first six months of a beginner, there's a lot of people who listen to this and haven't tried, they've been curious. I have a lot of friends who haven't, who are like, you're just too curious.
They're constantly looking for an excuse to start. I think it's just got to be as simple as possible. You know, like we shouldn't be teaching more advanced movements. I mean, obviously in the grand scheme of things, there's highly advanced techniques and then there's slightly advanced. And I think trying to teach those guys real specific positions even, like real specific types of guard is just beyond them. I think the best way to learn is through problem solving. And I think if you show the technique before they've discovered that problem, the learning is sort of held back. So I like the idea of using kids style games to show them a problem and then use the techniques to fix the problems they've just discovered.
I think that's the best way to learn. Can you give an example of a problem to show them before you give them the techniques?
Like, what are we talking about? All right, so say you wanted to teach posture in wrestling. You could create a game where one guy, the game might be get to a leg or get to two legs, control the leg, like super simple. But the rules, the constraint would be one guy is forced to keep upright posture and one guy is forced, well, not forced, but he's allowed to keep a bent at the hips, lower posture. And honestly, within the kick that constraint, the guy with the better posture is going to have more success. He's going to have a better posture to secure a leg or secure both legs. And therefore you've demonstrated the flaws of bad posture without having to explain it to them
before they really tested that out. Okay, and then the result of that you would realize
that the bent over posture is better. Yeah, you have that aha moment rather than just being having it spoken to you.
You wrote Craig, I'm a big fan of constraint based learning, I guess was just what you're talking about. I love presenting beginners with a problem before the solution like here attempt to hold side control with no cues on how then I see how the guy got out and addressed issue by issue cross face and hip control and so on. Okay, so what are some other examples like side control?
Yeah, that would be an excellent one, side control. Like obviously we say you secure a cross face so they can't turn into you, much easier to have them try to hold someone down without explaining what a cross face is and then use that technique to address the problem they've just encountered. So I think you could do that with a lot of areas of jujitsu, like even more advanced, say 50-50, obviously a mirrored position where you both have access to each other's heels. Most people will stall out of that position and keep their feet crossed. I think a great constraint for both of them, you can't cross your feet. Now you have to learn how to slip the heel hook when they expose her and how to safely re-attack of your own. So the constraint
is you can't be too defensive in that position and I think the rate of learning increases. Why do you think the rate of learning increases? Like why do you think that works?
Because you encounter more problems. Say in that situation they're going to get your heel a lot more in whatever period of time you allocate the drill for than if the legs are crossed. I don't think the hard part splitting the legs to get to the submission. I think the hard part's practicing control while they're trying to slip it at a later stage and then obviously trying to slip your heel when you're in more danger also makes you more comfortable in that bad position if you're used to doing it with open legs.
Yeah, I think that probably that style of teaching forces people to focus on, it's so easy to fall into focusing on memorizing particular details of a technique without thinking like why the hell does this even work. Exactly. If you don't have that you get to focus on from as cliche as it sounds from first principles like how the hell do I get out of this? Why does this even work? Why does wrestling work? Why do you have a bent over posture? You get those start to ask those kinds of questions. Which is kind of interesting because it's not obvious to me that bent over posture is the right posture for Jiu Jitsu, right? I'm confused actually about that. I don't know. About the correct posture? Yeah, for Jiu Jitsu, like what's the right answer?
I think Banaba posture's still good for Jiu Jitsu. Even with the Judo and all that... Like why are so many Jiu Jitsu people like at a high level
the posture's higher up?
I think Banaba posture is still good for Jiu Jitsu. Well, I think wrestling posture is just a bit too low because it's not necessary, right? If wrestlers are like low enough to the ground where your hands can touch the mat But in jiu-jitsu, it's kind of a mix between wrestling and judo or Greco-Roman wrestling. So I think it's just a bit more laxed, and it's bent over, but it's not upright, and
it's also not super low. A bit more room for error, too, because obviously the jiu-jitsu guy's shot isn't going to be
as athletic or as quick as a wrestler, especially a wrestler with shoes. So it actually comes down to the fact that jiu-jitsu people, just on average, even at
the top level, are not good at shooting. I think so, yeah. I think, obviously, all the wrestlers in American stuff, they're starting super early, super young. You know what I mean? By the time they get to the same age we are, really, in our sport and stuff, they've spent
much longer doing the actual sport in the average jiu-jitsu guy. And then there's another level of wrestling, of course, with the Soviet block that's just
unachievable for your kind. But you, an Australian rugby, a former rugby player, did pretty good.
Rugby, is that kind of like American football, but much less money?
Is that what that is? Much less money, much tougher, I would say.
But who knew that the cure to the Dagestani wrestling were the Aussies? Were the Aussies?
Okay, let's go there. Your friend, your training partner, Alexander Volkanovski, you helped him prepare for the Islam Makkachev versus Volkanovski fight. Who do you think, first of all, won that fight?
That's a tricky one. How is that the tricky question? I will say, when I was in the corner going into the fifth, I personally believed live that Volkanovski probably needed a finish to take the victory.
But you have to think that way, right, in general? Or you, like, legitimately?
It's a great area, because the judging, who knows? Plus, I was like, wait, we're in Australia, where's this bias, you know? We've got some Australian judges here. I was really hoping we'd get a bit of bias on that. Unfortunately not. Hopefully they lose their jobs. But again, yeah, it was a close fight. I think sometimes you're blinded in the moment, because again, everyone counted Volkanovski out. The crowd's behind him, so everything he does is going to get a huge cheer. You bias towards the smaller guy. You bias towards the underdog. So whatever the underdog does has a bigger impact in your mind, and sometimes they can bias as the fight goes along.
But yeah, super, super close fight. I would really love them to have a rematch, but obviously that's going to hold up both
divisions, so I don't know if they'll be able to do it.
I was really hoping we'd get a bit of bias on that. Do you think they'll do a rematch soon? I mean, that was an epic fight. I was listening to the fight companion during it. They all thought Volkanovski. So they biased strongly the opinion?
Round two was the tricky one.
Anyway, I'd love to see that like run it back and do three, actually, as there's an epic fight.
What was the brief conversation you had with Islam Makayev and his team? I didn't know how we'd take the joke, because obviously Khabib tried to flying eagle kick Dylan Dennis in the face. So I wasn't sure how my humor would go, but I mean, Dylan must have said some worse things to me. I was just playing around. I mean, you can't really take anything I say serious, come across like an idiot. But so when he was coming up to me afterwards, I was like, oh, I don't know what he's going to say. And again, he maybe he would have been more upset if he had lost, but he just received the judge's decision. But he came up, I went to check his hand, he gave me a big hug and then pretended to throw me. And then I thought the interaction was over and then he circled backs. That's why I was so awkward. I was like, oh, he's coming back. He wants to say he wants something else.
But he just said, why didn't you teach your boy how to escape the body triangle? Oh, wow, interesting.
What did you say to that? What did you say to that? I said, well, I mean, obviously, you've got to learn how to finish a re-naked choke. Is that what you said? No, I didn't say that. I was laughing. I was laughing. By the way, I should have said that, like, get out of here before the Aussie crowd attacks
here, you know? What do you think about the body triangle position that we're in? It seemed like for the first time, it seems almost like Valk was dominant in that position,
which is kind of weird. I mean, damage is meant to trump control MMA judging.
Damage is the number one factor. Do you think the judges saw that?
What did they score that as? I think they all scored four towards Islam. Three and five, two of the judges scored towards Valk's. One of the judges scored three for Islam. It was 49-46 for one of them, and the other ones were 48-47. I think, again, the confusing round was round two.
I don't think anyone scored the body triangle round for Valk's, which I wish they had.
Three and five. Volkanovski was and is still arguably pound for pound greatest fighter in the world.
How long have you known him? I don't know the first time. I met him before he was in the UFC when I used to live in Melbourne. He came down to train at Absolute. And then we really connected on Ultimate Fighter. One of his guys who was going to bring to Ultimate Fighter, Brad Riddell, pulled out last second. So he called me when I was in Puerto Rico, and he's like, do you want to coach on tough for five weeks? And like I said, Puerto Rico was apocalypse now. I was like, yeah, get me out of here. So I jumped on that opportunity, and we were in Vegas five weeks together because he was meant to fight Ortega. And then he got hit with COVID real bad, got stuck in, I think he was in hospital for maybe one to two weeks. And then before he flew back to Australia, they were like, all right, maybe we just do you guys as the Ultimate Fighter coaches.
So I jumped on board with that. And that's really when we've become close. Obviously, I was useful in the Ortega fight, help him get out of submissions. He fought then Korean zombie Max Holloway. I basically just held the bucket at that point in the corner. A couple of striking fights. And then again, yeah, we had to tackle the Islam problem. So I did spend five to six weeks down there preparing for that.
How did you tackle the Islam problem? How do I attack? Was you somebody who barely knows anything about wrestling? Having to...
Obviously, it doesn't take much. How do I attack?
Obviously, it doesn't take much, especially Russian wrestling. Did the beard help or like what? In all seriousness, what were some of the key ideas that you worked on with Volkanovski
to prepare for it? I had the help of Frank Hickman. Hickman was down there too, one of the Hickman Brothers wrestling coach. So we were sort of like problem solving. I mean, basically, we were confident in Volk's fence wrestling, his cage work. He's super good on the cage, super like under respected in that position. And we knew that if you were able to take the scrambles to the cage, he would be effective against Islam. And Islam is background in Sambo freestyle wrestling, but I mean, honestly, he's probably got the same experience on the cage as Volk's. Obviously, some of those wrestling skills will translate very well to the cage, but the cage is still somewhat of a gray area and equalizer. And Volk's, again, incredible ability to stand up, incredible defense on the cage, which you saw. We worked on strategies to get up and a ton of submission defense. Islam loves kamuras.
Obviously, we're naked from the back, armbars, those are sort of in arm triangles, dominant submissions. But again, the guys he submitted, not grapplers, apart from Charles Olivera. And again, Charles Olivera was basically knocked out at that point. So it was still impressive. He submitted him. But again, I always told people this. They thought it was crazy. I was like, Charles Olivera versus Islam in a grappling match, Olivera is going to win
Like submission grappling. Submission grappling. Yeah. I think that's a skill set, I think Olivera is a more dangerous grappler. So we didn't even come into it thinking Islam was this unstoppable boogeyman that people make him out to be. So we approached it from that, just focused on the techniques, ability to get back up, using turtle to get back up, using turtle to scoot to the cage to get back up and hand fighting from there, keeping it pretty safe. But what makes Volk so special, I think is his gas tank, gas tank and his willpower. He's just unbreakable. The Dagestani guys, Khabib, Islam, they are good at submissions, but they break guys mentally and they fatigue him. And then they take the submission that's offered. Olivera is the guy that can jump on submissions and have an incredible technical ability to finish those submissions, whether you're fresh or you're tired. And then you combine that with Volkonoski who, incredible willpower, never gets tired.
You're never gonna break him. And as you saw, he only attempted one submission the whole fire.
Is that learned? Is that trained or are you just born
with that mental toughness? It's a good question. I mean, he's like an anomaly, like the entire fight camp, not nervous at all, supremely confident. The whole fight week, completely confident. He just has an attitude like, oh, everyone cast me out, we'll see. You know what I mean? Islam, he's like, let's see. No doubt. No doubt at all. Super relaxed. Up until about five minutes before, and then he starts to amp himself up, he's like, you are not taking this bell from my family. Gets into that sort of mindset.
He actually says that out loud. You can't teach that survival.
He didn't even take a fight, you know? Have you guys ever been pushed to the limit like that
or broken in a grappling match? I'll do it in practice. I'll push myself to think it might pass out or die or something, as far as how tired you get. Because in a match, they try not to ever get close to that in a match. Yeah, you try to, because it's important to understand where your exhaustion point is. But yeah, if you have to push to that limit in a match, you're probably doing something wrong. You know, like you see in matches where guys sprint the last like minute, they try to win the match in the last minute. And it's like, you definitely had some mistakes leading up to that if you have to,
gotta go balls to the wall. Okay, but has there been other times in competition? Especially like early on, because you wrestled pretty hard and wrestling is pretty exhausting. Like, not wrestling, but you know, wrestling style kind of thing,
going against the best people in the world. Yeah, I mean, I definitely, again, I think in practice it's important to do that hard work that where competition is much easier. You know, I think if you redline in practice and you really push to like death's door, then once you're in competition and you're working with, you know, you're being fresh in a comp,
I mean, it's much better, you know. Have you ever been to that thing where Dan Gable talks about always wanting to be to a place where you can't get off the mat? Like, you work so hard in the training room, you can't get off the mat. I think he says he's failed at that in his career.
He was always able to at least crawl off the mat. Yeah, I definitely never like actually died on the mat, but I felt like I was gonna die, you know? Sure, sure.
Felt like I was gonna die, you know? What about you?
Do you quit all the time? I get a lot of cramp. I'm like, you know what? You got me, man. Let's do this again tomorrow. That's it.
If I'm asking Craig for a role,
he's in the bathroom somewhere. Do you see the value of pushing yourself to that place where you're knocking on dust?
Yeah, but within safety, you know, because obviously the most serious injuries occur when you're tired over training and stuff like that. So I think like taking a page out of what those MMA fighters do, especially Volks with his training, like he's not necessarily pushing crazy in each round, but he's doing extra conditioning, assault bike stuff, crazy workouts outside. And he does do some crazy training workouts, but all safe, very safe. When he's red lining like that in the training room, it's a very controlled, safe setting. I think to do that in Jiu-Jitsu, I guess some of these lunatics out there that are trying to kill you,
especially when you have a name, can be dangerous. So your approach to Jiu-Jitsu is don't warm up and don't try too hard. No safety. For safety.
No, for safety, though. No safety. For safety. No, for safety, though.
Yeah, longevity, you know? And talk shit about Russians. I got it. I got it.
I hear you. I got it. I hear you. Oh, you mentioned cage work. What's interesting to you that you learned over all this time about cage work? What's interesting about the dynamics of that? Are you talking about both the control in the dominant position, but also getting up from the bottom
while you're against the cage, all of that? The added dimension of that cage, that wool being there, changes a lot of stuff, right? So obviously, in some ways, it's a much lower impact wrestling style because you can't be spread on. You can shoot. The cage is gonna block their feet. You're gonna be able to chase down their hips. It's just a completely different fight. And again, because of Islam's judo skills, that upper body control, as you see, he's able to use against the cage, like the inside trips, sort of the Ichimada style, her Aigoshi throws. So obviously, those skills do translate. But yeah, I think the cage is a great equalizer for a lot of things like athleticism and stuff. It takes away a huge speed advantage,
or aspect of the fight. So he's really good at standing up. Is there, I assume he learned all of that from you
and your instructional just stand up? I mean, we were so confident. I was like, you know what? Why don't we put this thing out a month before the fight? Yeah. Maybe the illegal download hasn't made its way to Russia yet,
but it was there for him. Can you explain to me what's in the instructional just stand up?
Like, what are the ideas? I mean, the old school way to stand up, people talk about the technical get up. You know, the old Gracie put the hand, but I mean, that doesn't work for 20 years. You know, if you look at everyone that gets up at MMA, they're using turtle to get up, they're using wrestling to get up. You know what I mean? Yeah. Which is counter to what pure Jiu-Jitsu says. They say, don't expose the back. Don't ever expose your back. I think Jiu-Jitsu is a terrible way to get back to the feet because if you were to retain guard and go half guard or close guard, super hard positions to get up. You're basically putting yourself in a leg tuck for wrestling. So I think you need to borrow from wrestling to learn how to get up in an MMA fight.
So basically how to safely expose your own back while not allowing them to get hooks and use that to get back up, or at least not allow them to get two hooks. And that applies for MMA especially. For MMA especially, because obviously striking is a factor, but if they are striking, they don't have locked hands around your body, means you are able to move. You are able to make an attempt to get back up.
You have to choose between control, submission, or strikes. Post from Reddit, why does Craig Jones push so hard for a bottom is bad, Jiu-Jitsu? What is so bad about playing bottom guard such as half guard or Delahee? Those are the two options. No one likes a bottom. Why would I want to get up? It's the question for all of you.
Is the bottom a bad place to be? No one likes it. I mean, the bottom's bad if you don't want that guy on top of you.
That's why I look at it, you know? That sounds like something a cowboy would say, but I don't know if that's much meaning.
I think the point of Jiu-Jitsu is both are dangerous
being on bottom and on top. I think the longer the match is, probably the favorite is the top guy more, just because every movement the bottom guy makes is probably carrying your weight, carrying that gravity on top of you. So I think it's a bit more efficient passing from the top
as opposed to sweeping from bottom. Bottom's reactive, top is active. The top player decides how to engage, how to approach the guard that can use angles, they can use footwork, they can throw people, throw the legs by. So that's an active position. Bottom's reactive.
Reactive, you're gonna get fatigued. Yeah, I think it's very difficult to gas somebody out while playing guard, but I think it's very easy to gas somebody out
when attempting to pass it. Well, you guys are talking about gassing people out, but is there more dangers from the bottom,
like in terms of submissions and all that kind of stuff? I'm back and forth, because I'm a top player, but I understand the value of being on bottom. When I do play guard, bottom, I feel like the submissions come much easier. And when I'm on top, they come also pretty easy, but maybe I just take a different route.
Talking to two cowboys, talking to two cowboys,
talking about shit, talking about shit, saying, yeah, it's up on the straight bottom
in the shades, that's the thing. What was the hardest part of the training for the training camp for Volkanovski? You're just experiencing world-class MMA fighter's training and giving your approach to jiu-jitsu
of not trying to harden no matter what. I mean, from my perspective, there's a lot of pressure for that. Like that's a lot of pressure for me to go in and think that I could possibly figure out a way to help this guy address this guy that's basically never been beaten. I think he got knocked out once, but basically not really even been put in bad positions. You know what I mean? So that's a lot of pressure on me, because Volkanovski's such a great guy. Jiu-jitsu's different. You coach a guy who loses, he has time to tap, but in every moment, you could get severely hurt. There's a lot more weight in what you need to do as a coach. You have a greater sense of responsibility to their health and wellbeing. Obviously, I know Volk's kids, I know his wife. They're putting faith in you to not just win the fight, but keep this man safe.
So from my perspective, a hell of a lot more pressure
coaching him as an MMA fighter. So almost like the psychological aspect
of doing the best you can for him.
Exactly, yep, yep, yep. What was the hardest about the actual training? Was it the technical aspect of trying to figure out the puzzle of Islam, or was it like being a good training partner in figuring out how the grappling would work, basically playing your best impression of Makachev? Were you trying to actually impersonate him? No, not just visually, but like in style. Yeah, definitely, definitely visually. You're not as good looking, but go ahead.
Yeah, a little taller, yeah, a little taller, but in terms of the training, yeah, I mean, Islam's known as incredibly strong glass. Obviously, I'm heavier than Islam, so theoretically, I should be able to replicate that strength difference. And then in terms of grappling, targeting those submissions that Islam does, like focusing on those in the training room, focusing on the way he holds half guard, and really in the grappling sense, trying to replicate him on the ground, and then, yeah, I wrestle with him on the wall a ton, trying to replicate, obviously, to the best of my ability, a lot of the stuff he does on the wall, body lock heavy, inside trip, Uchimadas, and just constantly putting the work on vox, you know what I mean? Like constantly chaining attacks against him,
really replicating that. As he's trying to get up and escape and all that kind of stuff, so all the submissions,
both judo and submissions, just attack and attacking. Exactly, and there's only so much you can do really, because obviously he's been, I think he's been fighting a long time, so it's like you're trying to polish what he already is good at. You can't just completely create an entirely new game for him in the space of six weeks. So you're trying to take what he's already effective at, add to it. And luckily, a lot of the stuff he's already very good at
was easy to add to for the fight. Question from Reddit. I'm very curious why other MMA fighters don't employ high-profile grapplers from B Team and New Wave to improve their grappling, this from the subreddit. By now, it's clear that they are levels above almost everyone in MMA, simply because fighters there don't specialize in grappling, but it doesn't seem like fighters, even champions, get training partners from the most successful teams. Why is that the case? From your experience, why doesn't it call you?
You might now, nah, nah, put in a good word for me.
Oh, I will.
Yeah, that's right, he takes a joke pretty well.
Yeah, yeah, no, no, you'll be walking with open arms.
I think your average Jiu-Jitsu coach, MMA fighters have bad experience with Jiu-Jitsu guys. Jiu-Jitsu doesn't have a massive place in MMA. Obviously, rounds, stand-ups, it's hard to submit people. Your average Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt doesn't know anything about holding a guy down, doesn't know anything about how to stand up. So I think if you overly utilize that Jiu-Jitsu guy that hasn't had experience in more modern no-gi or training MMA fighters previously, it's gonna be a complete waste of time to them.
I think they're smart enough to realize that. Do you have, and do you guys, do you have interest in MMA at all? Just not even like, well, certainly just competing yourself,
but just understanding the puzzle of MMA. Yeah, I mean, I've been a fan of mixed martial arts for a very long time before I trained Jits. Personally, I'd much rather coach than fight, but I mean, I'd fight somebody for a good check
and I get to pick the opponent, have a proper camp. Okay. I can think of a good Atlanta, you know.
What you doin', what you doin'? Who's that? All right.
Who do you think is the greatest MMA fighter of all time? Craig, I'm gonna start with you. Just as a fan of the sport,
it's somebody who's been deep in it. I mean, from my perspective, after that performance, I'm gonna say Volkanovski, because he was able to decisively out-strike Max Holloway, one of the greatest strikers in the sport, and he was able to hang with the wrestling of Islam, Akhachev. And in terms of Ortega, he was able to survive Ortega, who has some of the most dangerous missions in Jiu-Jitsu.
So I think, in my opinion, technically, he's the best. So even though he technically lost,
he still has the crown. He's proven himself. Given the size difference given he's movin' up in weight. Yeah.
I think all those facts,
I believe so. He's proven himself, really. The underdog, everything, the pressure.
Did you think he would be able to hang in any of the wrestling exchanges with Islam?
No, no, no, no, I was really surprised. That's why in my eyes, like, it's kind of funny, like, winning at the end of the day, I feel like judges influenced that. Although I did think Australian judges would rob the other way, but I was assuming. They kind of, somebody paid somebody and not enough, maybe. But in general, I just thought he won sort of in the eyes of what martial art stands for. Like, sort of go into the fire and survive and thrive and finish the last round strong, which is kind of, like, spiritually is what a victory is. So I wish we kept going, like. One more round. Yeah, exactly, that kind of thing. Well, what about you? What do you think? Like, who are the fighters you admire?
Like, who do you think is the greatest of all time?
One more round. Yeah. I think the fighter I paid most attention to was John Jones. You know, he has a great ability just to mix the high level striking, high level grappling. Although his, you know, jiu-jitsu by itself isn't, you know, probably isn't like, you know, super high level, but his ability to mix everything together, I would say he's the best. And he's a fellow, you know, heavier guy, heavy weight now. So it's nice to see, you know, how those guys move
at that weight.
And a fellow natural athlete. See what I did there? All right, what about you, Nicky?
Yeah, if I had to pick a goat, I would probably have to say Khabib, just because he was undefeated and he had a very, you know, high finishing rate. You know, very few of his fights actually went to a decision. So he just, overall, he dominated almost every single opponent he went against.
The dominance. I mean, we've been joking about it, but Craig, what do you think makes the Pakistani fighters so good? Like from this small region of the world,
so much dominance has come. I mean, obviously the amount of freestyle wrestling champions from that region probably puts their wrestling above and beyond the best in all of MMA. And obviously a lot of, even in the Olympics, a lot of champions out of there, right? So I think that skillset combines with them adding effective pin controls on the ground and Jiu-Jitsu submissions. But again, I think it's that hard training those guys like Khabib would maintain that pressure throughout the entire fight and break guys down. Their ability to fatigue guys to a breaking point.
I think it's something they do best, best. I wonder what that is. What is that technique? What is that? What is it about their upbringing? Because it's just that part of the world. Over with the Satya brothers with the freestyle wrestling side to all the mixed martial arts people. It must be part of the culture also. They must be doing something. I don't think I've never, I haven't seen a convincing explanation of why yet of what's specific about their training, what's specific about their culture that creates that. Okay, what do you think about like the flip side? Do you admire somebody like Conor McGregor who knows how to create a spectacle?
You, Craig, who likes spectacles? Yeah, I mean, I really admire early Conor McGregor because I found him absolutely hilarious. You know, like I felt like that was peak banter. I feel like he just took the American world by storm. Aussies, British, Irish, Kiwis. I believe we have a way better level of banter and attacking each other. And it's almost too easy to pick on Americans that take themselves very seriously. I mean, arguably even other parts of the world too,
the far east of Europe, you know? But that's the tricky thing with Conor. I think he was, I feel like you could have gotten in the same kind of trouble because the Russians really took everything very seriously.
They weren't joking around. Yeah, that's the problem. It's like, it's a bit of, I mean, some things he's definitely takes too far, you know, but I felt like early on he had the right balance where he wouldn't really cross the line, but he would do enough. He just took it to another level, obviously later in his career. But I think early on, a bit of innocent banter.
It gets a lot of eyes on the sport though. It's probably by far the most popular combat athlete of all time because of that. I feel like you have to cross the line. I don't think enough people appreciate the values
he's brought by crossing the line. He's making a sacrifice crossing the line.
That's gonna affect him for the rest of his life, you know? I see, I don't think so. I think he can always walk back. Because I think unlike, people might disagree with this. I, well, yeah, I thought he always radiated a respect for the opponent like afterwards and underneath it. It felt like the same way you do. When I hear you shit talking, I don't see a person who really means it. I see a person who's having fun with it. I always saw Conor McGregor the same way. I don't know. But people took it like extremely seriously. But I saw the respect, like the common respect the martial artists have for each other
that felt like it was always there. If you don't like that individual, you're gonna perceive what they say more negatively than if you obviously were. So I feel like, if you like someone, you're gonna never think they really crossed the line.
That's true. So you're saying I like you. That's why I'm perceiving you. You're a bullshit in a positive light. Are there people that hate you?
You're perceiving me. I mean, some of the family members are disabled.
Most of our students. Most of our students. People that really get to know y'all hate you.
The fans love me. The friends hate me.
That's a good place to be. Keep your enemies close. All right. What do you think is the most important muscle
for jitsu, is it biceps? No, I think a strong, I think a strong back.
I think back one, core second, and then biceps. Okay, biceps. Do you legitimately think weightlifting helps jitsu? It's kind of the discussion on the steroids. It's like the muscle mass, and strength, and power,
and explosiveness, all of that. I think sometimes when we're at that upper echelon of competition, there's only, there's like little minute battles that you have to win, and if you're relatively close and technique, then a lot of times
a stronger opponent pulls it out. But it could be also just the limitation, right? You hold position too long. What about for hobbyists? Do you recommend weightlifting?
Like when you've seen people in the gym? I always recommend weightlifting. I almost see muscle as the body's armor, right? The more armor you have, the more damage you can kind of take, and maybe recovery is a little bit better. And I've always seen weightlifting as a means to stick to my routine. There's no point in lifting if you're not eating right and you're not sleeping, right? So if you kind of put it all together, then it's beneficial.
What about you guys?
Do you go to the gym? I go to the gym, yeah.
Believe it or not. Believe it or not. Believe it or not. Do you eat an elliptical and that butt machine or? Yeah, I focus on the glutes heavily. All right. What about the injury prevention and so on? How do you train to minimize the risk of injury? You guys have all been pretty beat up. You've gotten a major injury with the ACL. Yeah. So how do you train to minimize injury?
Probably not the right guy to ask, hey. Definitely. Actually, can you talk through your injury?
Like what happened? Yeah, so about one week prior to this last ADCC, I was wrestling with this guy named Kenta, who was also competing. And I went to go lift him from like a rear body lock. And he hooked the outside of my leg. And we just felt something pop. He felt a shift with his leg. And when it first happened, it hurt for like the first 30 seconds. And I honestly debated. I was like, maybe it was just some freak thing. I was like, I've literally thought about continuing the session. Then the next day, I woke up and it was like super sore. I was limping around, couldn't do a full squat.
So it pretty much killed all of my training for the entire week leading up to the event. So I couldn't train or anything, messed up the cut. Obviously, there's added nerves with that too. You're not in the gym every day leading up to the competition. I went out there. I wasn't really able to pull guard because I couldn't get full heel to butt connection, which is inevitable with playing guard. And I was very hesitant to shoot as well. So I came out with the idea of just trying to use hand fighting to tire my first opponent out and then mainly look to get to under hooks or over hooks and do mostly upper body wrestling. In the beginning of the match, I successfully got to an under hook. I got to a rear body lock. He tried to roll and I ended up in top position in side control. But it was during the no points period.
And then as the match went on, I gassed out. And eventually, he ended up taking me down and then scoring with two hooks on the back. So what's the injury? Yeah, so I got an MRI, actually, after the event.
I didn't know. I didn't know. Wait, wait.
You waited until after the event?
Yeah, I waited until after the event.
Because like knowledge or ignorance is bliss. Yeah, exactly. I was like, honestly, I don't even want to know what's wrong. I was like, I just go out there, compete. I knew it was like the biggest event to date. And I really wanted to do it. Think about not doing it? It definitely was a thought in my head, especially that the day after, it's always the worst day whenever you have like a serious injury is the day after. And I was like, man, I really can't do a full squat. I was like, I don't even know how I'm going to be able to do this. It got a bit better as the week went on. But I was like, man, I have to go out there and compete.
I was like, it'll always be in the back of my mind.
Like, what if I ended up pulling out? What did you think about this whole? I thought it was just being a pussy.
Yeah. Slap him around, just yell at him.
It was that then. It was that then. I didn't think we pressured you. We just say, you make your own decision, right? We're just like, yeah.
Mine is a tricky thing to do with a heavily serious injury like this.
We don't know. We don't know. We didn't know. That was a thing we didn't know. Honestly, initially, I thought it was, I tore my lateral meniscus. But that ended up not being the case. It ended up being a full ACL tear. I was actually super surprised when I got the MRI results.
So yeah, we didn't know how bad it actually was. What do you think about that situation?
I think Nicky's a tough kid. And I mean, when you're so close to that competition, there's not many. You don't get many opportunities like that to compete in front of 15,000 people. It's like props to you for pushing through it and getting it. And man, he had a close match with one of the best grapplers in his weight class. And it's like a few adjustments here and there. And especially if he was able to train previously,
leading up to that match, I think Nicky pulls it out. So some of the things he mentioned, his nerves. So there's extra nerves just because you're under-prepared? Yeah, I mean, you know.
Feeling under-prepared. Yeah, I mean. Feeling under-prepared. You wanna go into a competition with the confidence. I did everything that I could leading up to this event. I trained as much as I could, and then when an injury prevents that,
you start to doubt yourself more. How do you guys think about injury? How do you train, you know, training with the best in the world, training to be the best in the world and avoiding injury? Because you tore your biases up?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I tore a bicep. Do it, girls, or? Dude, honestly, I was bodybuilding for like seven years, and no lie, I did, I trained biceps like most days, like almost every day in those seven years. Pretty much, I injured myself. That's so Jersey, man, that's great. Anything else, or just the biceps? Just, I mean, no. Yeah, I injured the bicep. Pretty much, the day before a wrestling practice, I had like a killer arm day, and by arm day, I just mean training biceps. Very vigorously getting a sick pump, and I go to wrestling practice the next day, pretty late, I should have been there. I didn't get a proper warmup in, and the first thing I do is I shake hands and I go to shoot a single leg, and boom, I just blew my arm out, the first movement I did. So just not being warmed up properly, in addition to having a very vigorous arm day
a few hours prior. That's so Jersey, man, that's great.
Anything else, or just the biceps? You hear that about warmup? So like, what are some lessons about avoiding injury
and training at the moment? I would say number one is warming up properly,
making sure your body's hot before you do hot stuff. Okay, and what does warmup look like for you?
Is it jujitsu or non-jujitsu stuff? Yeah, just for a warmup in general, I'll do something like a, if I'm talking competition, something like a jog walk back and forth a few times, then a sprint jog a few times to get that heart rate up and down, and then I'll grab a partner. I actually just filmed a DVD or an instructional, specifically on the pre-match ritual. In addition to that, I'll grab a partner, I'll drill some movements. Typically I'll drill some bad things, like I'll start from bottom out, bottom side control, workout from there, and in pretty much like 20 minutes in,
I'm hot and I'm ready to go for rounds. Well, what about you, Greg? So what's the weight of what injury?
What's the worst injury you've had? What's the worst injury? I don't even know.
I'm pretty good, pretty healthy.
Whenever you quit and practice, I'll answer mentally. Has your heart ever been broken?
Many times, many times, many times. But there's a thing I notice, people that spend the most time warming up offer the most injured. It's a strong correlation.
I can't, you can't argue with science.
I remember training with Oliver Tauss. Oliver Tauss would have a 60 minute warm up. Surprise, surprise, always injured. Very common. I find that very common in the training room. Now I think people, it's how they train. Like if you, like me, first sign of discomfort, backpedal, you know? Push through that stuff. Go too hard, go when you're too tired, you know what I mean? Get too emotional in the role. I feel like those are the times that I've been hurt, where I just like, oh, I can't let this guy get me. When I have that attitude and I believe it's how you train
and sort of, obviously. So what does this come from? Like, positionally too? Like, because you're training against some killers. I mean, you're training with him and going probably pretty hard.
Once a month, once a month. If Prey gets a little tired, he's like, yeah, I'm good for today.
Once a month with Nicky, that's it, you know?
And then you quit like 30 seconds in. Just say, okay. Yeah, you know, you gotta be safe, you know?
I like it. What about you? What have you learned from the ACL? Tera, Tera.
Do rehab, yeah.
Yeah, rehab definitely would help.
Oh, so you haven't been like... I didn't get surgery.
I didn't get surgery. I didn't do essentially any rehab. I just have no ACL in my left leg. So what's the...
Essentially any rehab.
So what's it like having no...
Surgery, guys, you've got two options. Surgery, rehab only. Nicky goes, I'll do nothing.
Definitely should pick up on the rehab.
What's rehab for that look like? Like twice a day of doing some weird bands or something? It's good he's learned from it.
He's learned some valuable lessons from about taking care of his body. Yeah.
What's it like just training with no ACL?
So at the beginning, it was definitely a little iffy. You know, I would have an occasional buckle. Like I'd just be wrestling with somebody and go to step back and it buckled backwards a bit. But honestly, now, like I haven't had a single buckle instance in a while. It feels 100% normal when I train. It feels better than my other knee, to be honest. Like I had my meniscus taken out in my right leg and that one gets sore more often than the no ACL leg. Okay, all right.
So putting that aside, is there wisdom you've learned from that experience?
Yeah, definitely should be doing rehab and prehab. You know, I think that, you know, especially if you're a hobbyist or a professional athlete, you should be lifting, you know, whether you're rehabbing an injury
or just for injury prevention. Or no. So I'm actually closer to Craig because I've trained my whole life, like pretty hard. Obviously just a hobbyist, but like twice a day, the judo wrestling, all that, never broke anything, never injured, kind of like similar philosophy, except like last year, I guess, a year and a half ago, I got a tiny like groin pull injury and it still hasn't healed. And I've been using your approach of not giving a shit. Yeah. And like, all right, surely this is going to heal. It'll be fine, but it hasn't. But of course, if I was like an actual athlete, I would like probably still train through it and just fuck it, figure it out. But when you have other stuff going on, you just kind of wait it out. Yeah. But now I think probably rehab, especially as you get older,
you have to do that kind of stuff.
Yeah. I think it's important for people to, you know, determine whether they're, what they're going through is an injury or they're just hurt a little bit. Because injury, you know, for sure take time, rehab it and get better. But a lot of people like those stubble toe or something.
Like you're out for a few weeks, you know, so. That's the problem with the injury I have. It feels like a stubbed toe. So it was like, I'll just wait a couple of days. It'll be fine. And then a couple of days later it's not fine. And you wait. And then I never got an MRI. I never got any of that. It's like, I'm sure it would be fine. Yeah. So it's hard to know sometimes, like what it's hard to know.
I feel like a lot of people will just not check it all be fine because there's several failure cases. There is a failure case of where everything is a stubbed toe. You're like, fuck it. Like you're bleeding everywhere. Yeah, that's fine. Whatever. So you have to be careful. A lot of people can fall into that too. I think I'm in that category. Go to the doctor.
Why do you go to the doctor? Your best approach is typically wait until something else gets hurt so that you'll forget
about the grain. Yeah, exactly. That's all I was hoping. I was hoping to get hurt. I was waiting for the broken heart maybe. Okay. That was very helpful. Oh, you mentioned you're doing a whole thing on the pre-match ritual.
Can you preview what's involved in your pre-match ritual? It's pretty big in the wrestling culture and the fighting culture, like what to do before your competition. But I think a few people are just missing out exactly what to do. So I break it down for them. I break it down to people like four weeks in advance, how you should prep your trading and your nutrition and your sleep for competition. In addition to that, I break it down even to a smaller scale of how early you should get to the event, when you should be visualizing your competition, what to do 30 minutes before, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes. And the kind of mentality you should have throughout those times before you actually
step onto the mat. When are you visualizing how much you're visualizing the actual? When you say competition, you talking about the tournament or the actual people you might
be competing against? A little bit of both. I'll spend time just visualizing the crowd. If it's gonna be an arena with 15,000 people, I'll spend time in practice, and putting myself inside that arena and visualizing stepping on the mat and hearing the crowd scream and that way. when competition time comes, it's kind of the same deal. I'm accustomed to it. In addition, when I get to the arena, I'll step on the mat. I'll kind of look at everything. I'll expose my senses to what it's going to be, and then I'll kind of shut everything off. Some people scroll through their phone and can treat it like normal, have this normal conversations. For me, I like to limit my sensory intake before I go out and compete. I just feel like sometimes we only have so many decisions.
You can make it a day. And I want all of my best decisions
to be made when it counts. What about you? Do you limit your sensory input?
On game day, honestly, no routine. Nothing, eh? I don't know.
Yeah, I don't do anything. I'm just like- This guy's a double silver. We're both double silver.
We should get it. You should buy as a structural.
I help you. I help you. I'll get another silver. No, honestly, nothing. Hey, I just try to relax, treat it like it's before training.
Have a good- Is that visualizations, or no? No, it's not no visualization. So the opposite of visualization? You just avoid it?
Yeah, no, it's not no visualization. So the edit bought it? Yeah, I don't even think about it. I'm just like, eh, we'll have a good time.
You know, try to appreciate it, but I can do it. By the way, when you visualize, are you visualizing tough positions
or you visualizer winning mostly? I definitely visualize winning. I visualize how I can get to- how I'm going to get to my most dominant positions because, you know, in comp, I want to do what I'm best at. And I'm also see- I see my opponent in his best positions and how I'm gonna escape those if necessary, but most of the time I'm just visualizing exactly what I'm gonna do in that match,
and I go out there and do it. Okay, so when your teammate, Craig, is another world-class athlete, has a fundamentally different philosophy than you, do you visualize being frustrated at him?
No, not frustrated, but I'll definitely come into practice with solutions to problems that Craig gives me. You know, like if Craig's catching me at something and giving me issues, like I'll go home, I'll watch a match that he lost for motivation, and I'll come back and I'll put it on.
Just DM him like a highlight reel of him losing. Yup. What about you, like does it affect you
that you're a bit of an outlier? Usually before I compete, right before I go out there, I go, why am I doing this? Do I still need to do this? And I think, fuck, hopefully it doesn't embarrass myself, it affects my instructional sales. That's the last thought. But I don't even put too much thought into the whole competing thing. I'm just like, you know what, train hard, hopefully have a good time out of it.
What about the motivation aspect? Like that voice that says, like, why am I doing this? That voice can break a lot of people. Like, in the weight cut, it can break a lot of people. Like, why am I doing this stupid silly sport, like you said? A bunch of dudes just rolling around,
like what's the point? I'll cool someone with a nine-to-five job, and I'll be like, yeah, that's why I'm doing this.
You know, avoid that. Yeah, for sure.
I saw those DVDs, man.
Yeah, I didn't get too deep on competing. We're so polar opposite,
it's like almost uncomfortable to be around you. Obviously, one of us is a clean athlete. Hold on.
You should do a DVD on that.
What about you in terms of preparing for competition, Mickey, the day before, the day of,
are there rituals that you follow? Honestly, like the few days leading up to it, it's different for me every time. Like, sometimes I'll warm up before I compete, sometimes I won't, sometimes I'll fast, sometimes I'll eat. So it literally is just completely random. I don't follow any specific thing. But in the training room leading up to the competition, I'll definitely, you know, like Nikki Rod, visualize that I'm walking out onto the competition mats. You know, I'll pick somebody that's, you know, similar body type to the person that I'm competing against. And then, you know, we'll start out with some distance between us, we'll come out, smack hands, and you know, act like everything's a real competition. I'll even sometimes have, you know, corners that will yell out times and things like that just to replicate it as much as possible.
It's funny, because I've talked to a lot of Olympic gold medalists, they used to do a podcast with like athletes, and they all sound like Nikki Rod. The two of you are outliers.
I don't know, sometimes I'll do this. Sometimes, anyway.
But that's also Jigizo culture, I think. Maybe the chaos of not taking things too serious is actually really, really helpful. Sometimes, the pressure of taking everything way too seriously can break you. I mean, it's just I don't think it's the biggest swap really.
You know, I think if I compete every day in practice,
it just makes competition much easier. So I just put the pressure on there
on the competition area, sorry on the training, on competing in the training. And that becomes really fun. I don't know, Olympic sports aren't that big either, financially. And people take it extremely, extremely seriously.
Like you don't really get that much money from Judo. I mean, I just don't take Jiu-Jitsu that seriously because like I was just partying, having a good time until 21. And then I was like, oh fuck, do I get a job? Although I pursue professional sports. And I feel like if I can make a career in Jiu-Jitsu with a decision at that point.
And now you just stumbled your way somehow into like
being at the top of the world. Yeah, that's what I feel like. I just walked into it. I feel like I couldn't just do that in wrestling, boxing.
I couldn't do that in other sports. What was the toughest match you ever had that pushed you mentally, physically, technically? This doesn't have to be the best person you faced, but was there like a moment in your career
that was like really defining for you? I mean, I would say like the toughest mentally was just this last ADCC. I just had a big injury leading into it that kind of screwed the whole camp and weight cutting everything up.
So yeah, I would say the last ADCC. Are you proud of your performance there?
Like you stepped on the mat that you pushed through all of it. Like I said, I'm a very competitive person and I hate losing.
So definitely not, yeah.
You had a collapsed lung. I actually.
Oh, man, dude, man, dude.
He was so physically exhausted afterwards, couldn't breathe. We had to get medical intervention.
He thought he had a collapsed lung. He had a collapsed lung.
So once I was the most tired that I've ever been in my life in that match, I actually popped a blood vessel in my eye.
I was trying so hard. He comes out, he walks off of the ADCC mat backstage and I'm like, I'm kind of getting warmed up for my match and Nicky run and come. He walks over a huffing and puffing. His mom's right next to me, he looks at her. He was like, I think I need help.
I think I was a lung collapse. Collapse. That's not true. Dude, no, that's not true. My mom's the one that called for medical help. I was just laying on the warmup mat, fucking dying.
I was just dying. Well, we're happy you're fine.
Yeah. Well, we're happy you're fine. Yeah.
Laid it all on the line.
What about you, Craig? Defining all toughest matches? I mean, they're all pretty tough, you know? I don't know. I can't really pinpoint one. I mean, probably the most annoying one was obviously the one where I had Gordon Amba. I was like, tap, bro. And he wouldn't tap. So I let him out.
Mentally, I was like, I shouldn't have done that. Do you ever have a thing in your brain where it says, should I shit talk now or not? And you say, no, I'm going to be respectful.
I just can't be serious about some of these things. I don't know.
It's just silly. Yeah, all of it, the whole thing.
What about you, Nicky? Dude, honestly, most of my toughest matches are in the training room, right? Because I started with these guys. I started training under them. I started training at DDS when I didn't have any knowledge. I knew wrestling. I knew a knee cut in jiu-jitsu. But I started training with them when I knew almost no jiu-jitsu. And then I had to really work my way up. So definitely in the training room, having one of these guys on my back, or there was a stretch of a few weeks or months when COVID first hit. And there was just four of the best gravelers in the world. And we just did drilling in live rounds with these four guys.
And it was hard. It was very hard. Every round, doing six rounds, seven days a week with the best gravelers in the world. And it's like you get no break. And you're forced to learn on the go. So I think for me in the training room, that was definitely my toughest matches.
And that's where I built those mental calluses. There was a period where I drilled with Nicky Ride probably, what, nine months, 12 months? And typically speaking, like I said, no warm ups. The first round, we should take it pretty easy. First round, you start in the mound. The whole room, the rest of the training room, they take mount very lightly. Me and Nicky Ride would be fighting to the death every day. I felt like we did an extra round every day.
It was very grueling. I'm very mean when I'm in the midst of drilling or live. We would drill wrestling quite a bit, stand up. And in the drilling, I just wouldn't like Craig taking me down. Like we're not going live. We're just drilling. But I just wouldn't let him put me on the floor.
Things like that, you know? I know what escalate. Yeah. So you mentioned mount, so you do positional training. So would that be the hardest versus live training
open starting from guard? I would say mount and turtle definitely, definitely made me very tough. Because you spent all this effort getting off of bottom mount. And then you got to get on top of a guy. And at the time, I'm not that good at holding guys down. So they escape quick. And I'm like, fuck, I just tried to hold them down. Got to go back down. Same thing with a turtle. It's like you start bottom turtle. You're trying to explode, get away. And then you switch.
And this guy gets up pretty quick. And you're like, damn, I got to go right back down. It was that constant circle, man. It's very tough.
But definitely build some character on the mat. What do you think is the value of positional training in general in jiu-jitsu? Actually, this one just interacting with you guys, it's not commonly done in just regular jiu-jitsu gyms. What do you see? Because probably it's not commonly done because most of the experience is just frustrating. Like, if you're evenly matched, you're
basically frustrated the whole time if you're doing it right. It's a psychological battle that happens in the mountain turnarounds. Because maybe you get close to subbing a guy. Or maybe you do sub him. When you start on turtle and you're on their back, you finish them. And then you get this high point. And then immediately, you got to go back down to defensive posture. And it's emotionally up and down.
So it's hard to deal with. Super important if you're one of the better people in the gym. Because it just puts you in positions you don't find yourself in, in regular training. So I think if you're a big fish in a small pond or you don't do positional sparring, you're probably going to get exposed in competition. You might even look silly in those positions. So you really have to force yourself to do it. Despite the fact that you're giving someone worse than you, a position where they might catch you. So you have to put the ego aside.
Yeah, that's one of the things when I was training regularly. Of course, training with you guys, it's trivial. But I didn't work on putting myself in bad positions when you get better and you regret it. The big negative thing it has, consequence it has on competition is you don't take as many risks because you're kind of afraid for your back
to get taken, all that kind of stuff. That was me before I went to DDS. I remember I showed up there in that old position. I was like, fuck this. You better earn this position. I didn't really have escapes.
I was learning this.
You better earn this position.
I didn't care for me for sure. Do you see the value in positional training
or is it just the source of tremendous frustration? Yeah, I definitely think it plays a big part in your confidence when you step out onto the competition, Matt, being confident that even if you get put in the worst possible situations,
you know what to do and know how to work out of them. I had a long argument with Roger Gracie when he visited and he thinks Mel is the most dominant position, and even Noghi versus Beck. Is there a case to be made for that?
I think all of your opponent's utensils, their tools, are in front of them. So, if you're on a mount, there's a few ways to get out a mount. I think if you're on somebody's back, I'd personally much rather be on somebody's back,
than- Flattened out. I'd rather have someone's back and then flattened out.
Boots in and flattened out.
Boots in, flattened out, yeah, yeah. Boots in, flattened out.
not even body triangle, but just flattened. Just completely flat. Almost like the position in my Mayweather, you see guys get finished because they can't get out. I think that position is probably
the hardest position to escape. Can you see what Hager's talking about with Mount? Or is he just that good at Mount? Like he says that.
He might mean the gi, cross collar, you know? I don't know.
Or did he mean no gi? He says controlling-wise, he just believes that you can complete, that there's, he actually thinks there's more ways to get out from the back than there is from the Mount.
Prior to- Getting up, including like physically. Prior to the keeping escape, I would probably agree with him. But that keeping escape is so difficult to manage. It's the funny looking escape where your legs are wiggling. People have a lot of trouble. It's like super hard to learn how to do, but then once you learn how to do it,
the effectiveness is just huge. Yeah, it's a weird one. When did that come to be a thing?
That pretty recent?
I mean, I saw DDS guys using it first, I think. Yeah. Who was the first guy to discover something like that? This seems like a ridiculous thing to discover. He said like what if I just wiggle?
Yeah, not. He said like what if I just wiggle?
I thought it was a joke at first, I was like, you guys really doing this? Yeah.
All right. I remember someone showing me like a technique where like if you just like walk your hand on a mat
or something like that.
Maybe on an armor triangle or something? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I just walked the arm. And it's just like a funny discovery. Like as opposed to like trying to shove it in,
just like walk it. I like doing that to people, but with things that aren't true. You know what I mean? I'll just tell them this is a technique
and watch him try to work out if I'm being serious or not. Yeah, that's what you do when you achieve guru status. They'll just listen to you like you're Steven Seagal. See what they'll believe. Speaking of which, how do you balance, you have to travel all across the world. How do you balance that with running a school,
with being a world-class jujitsu athlete? I mean, the secrets of travel for me are two drugs, Xanax and Modafinil. That's how we time adjust and we hit the ground running. What does Modafinil do? Xanax puts you to sleep. Yeah, I mean, I have narcolepsy, so it's a narcolepsy medication, but.
Xanax puts you to sleep.
How does that work with the steroids? How does that work with the steroids? I mean, they work well together, you know? Yeah, nice. Focus and physical recovery. But in terms of traveling and training and stuff, I mean, we're lucky because we got so many high-level guys, so we can travel and they're still in good hands. I mean, it would be a problem if me, Nikki Rodd and Nikki Ryan left, and the gym had Ethan, that would be a problem. But we've got to make sure it's not just him now.
Although everyone says they're happy when you're gone,
so that's the moment I heard. Happy when I'm gone, but they do miss me, for sure,
until I get back.
Yeah, all right. What about you, just like balancing, do you try to stay completely focused on competing, like for some of the big matches you have coming up,
or are you able to kind of diversify? Well, I like to, yeah, diversify my training to where, you know, if I don't have a competition scheduled, I'm more focused on skill development and, you know, getting better and broadening my tool shed. But, you know, if I'm like six weeks before comp, I really start amping up the intensity that I bring into the mats against bringing some of that visualization towards practice. And maybe I train less volume pre-competition,
but higher output per session. Yeah, what's a perfect week of training look like?
If I'm not in competition mode, I would say Monday, Wednesday, Friday, twice, every other day, just once.
If I'm pre-comp, just Monday to Sunday, once a day. So that's on the mat. You're doing the full, like, positional training,
live training. Bicep curls. Oh, yeah, I do a lot of bicep curls. Yeah, I lift a few times a week now. Yeah.
Yeah, cardio. Yeah, yeah. Cardio or no?
Cardio's all in that stuff. Cardio's all in that stuff. I do do some CrossFit workouts, like CrossFits.
I'll do, like, some EMOMs or some AMRABS or CrossFit terms.
That's for Instagram? Yeah. But, yeah, CrossFit is a good way to kind of, like, push that threshold, sometimes on the mat, because I'm so good, I can't always get that, like, full red line, so I'll hop in a CrossFit gym and I'll do some workouts that, you know,
bring me closer to death. What about you, Craig? What does a perfect week in training look like?
Like, when you're back home training? I try to be at the gym twice a day, every day, when I'm back, just because I travel a bit more than these guys, so I try to be there, eight and 12 every day, hang out in between. Usually, definitely, usually train both of those sessions,
depending on how my body feels. You're doing positional,
doing everything technique, positional, live. I should probably do more positional, but because I'm just trying to work on wrestling and stuff, and especially leading up to the Volcanoski's Last Fire, I was trying to wrestle more and focus on those areas, even before I traveled over there, just some experimentation with some stuff.
But, yeah. How do you experiment with stuff? Like, how do you, so there's, like, regular positional stuff, but when you have ideas, like, where do you do it during the training sessions? Do you do it outside of that?
Do you get together with somebody? Usually, every session I show up with something I'm thinking of. Usually, something from top, maybe something from bottom, but, and then I just try to maybe pick the right people. Some people, obviously, I'm just fighting to the death with. It's not a good time to experiment, and then others, obviously,
you can play around with ideas on. Okay, what about you? What's a perfect week look like?
Maybe, well, you said you're 100% now. Yeah, so yeah, honestly, I have pretty much the same schedule as Nikki Rods, so Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I do twice a day, every other day, once a day. And then, normally, noon practice is like our biggest class. That's where, you know, all the pros go in, so I tend to do more open rounds there, and then we have a 7 p.m. class as well, which is more hobbyist, and that's where I'll do my positional rounds
and, you know, force myself to be put in bad positions. So you have, what, you do 8 a.m., 12, like, in terms of what B-Team has, 8 a.m., 12, 7 p.m., and the hobbyists are more 7 p.m.? Yes. Okay. Do you believe in over-training?
Do you think you can over-train? I used to not believe in it, but then I got hurt.
I was like, all right.
Oh, you attribute that to over-training? The bicep? I think, dude, I'm telling you, I trained, I lifted like a bodybuilder for like seven years, and by lifting on me, I was lifting seven days a week, and I trained arms most days, like, almost every day I would do, like, you know, four or five sets and get a pretty good bicep pump, In addition to my lift, I think I had to contribute somewhat towards my-
What about my entry? What about my entry? Fair enough. Well, what about on the actual mat over training? Like, explaining too much time on the mat.
Well, psychological, physical over training. I think you can definitely over train, but it's more of a, like, as your body's healthy, you have to make sure your mind is sharp. Like, sometimes maybe taking a day away, or even diverting your attention in a different aspect of training can help you be a little bit sharper overall. Sometimes it can be like a, it can get a little, like, stagnant because you're doing the same stuff over and over. But I think if you just keep, like, you know, over training, then your overall baseline just gets higher
and you become, you know, accustomed to that. What about you?
You don't seem like a guy that over, okay. I've heard of it. Never been close to it. Now, I think controlling how hard you train is definitely, protects you from injury. You know what I mean? If you're redlining yourself and then you're fighting to the death in the gym, that's 100% when you're gonna get injured, gonna get sick. So I try to make sure I've had enough sleep. I've had, obviously, enough food post-training and that sort of helps me to train a bit harder,
but still try to avoid redlining myself too much. I think established also, like, what days are gonna be your peak days? Cause you're, you throughout the week, if you're training seven days a week, you're gonna have ups and downs. Like, for me personally, when they, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, usually my best days.
And besides that, I also have other great days. All my days are great. But Monday, Wednesday, Friday are also great. You're like, I'm capable to admit that some days are rougher than others. I love it. I'm always on, bro. Okay.
I'm capable to admit, what advice would you give to people who are not always on hobbyists? How to get better? Like people that are already there, I don't know, purple bells, brown bells, black bells. They're just like doing like a couple times a week or something like that.
Like how do you get better? I think being consistent, like find a schedule that you can consistently train. Maybe it's like, you know, three, four times a week or even a little bit less. Just be consistent over the years. I mean, too, too often, people are like, oh, I want to get really good, really fast. And it's like, definitely takes a long time
to get to where you want. What about, you know, what you're doing during, like, while being consistent?
What kind of stuff are you working on? So honestly, I think one big thing for me, which is something I actually started doing once B Team was formed, was filming all of your rounds and then watching it every day. Because you can see what specific problems you're having and then you can base your positional rounds
around those problems. That's really interesting. It's kind of depressing though. Yeah. Like sometimes I have to, you know, I edited this podcast for a long time. I still do in part and I hate the sound of my voice and like what I look like, it's tough. But it does make you better. Yep. And I also hate the sound of Craig's voice and like what he looks like so,
editing this podcast is what he especially and what he looks like so editing this podcast
is what he especially, this will be doubly difficult. But I'm glad, glad the rest of you are here, I don't know. That's just arisen. Do you watch competition footage of yourself or no? Like do I analyze like Oh yeah. Yeah.
It's my confidence, thats fucking good. That's reassclirus.
Yeah. It's my confidence.
That's fucking good. While you're doing curls. Yeah.
I'm trying not to. Yeah. I'm trying not to watch it because it's my confidence.
Is there advice you, Kerg, you would give for hobbyists to get better?
I mean, just not every round has to be a fight to the death. You know? I feel like you're going to get injured. But it's out of that way.
You're not going to learn as much. It's tough, I would say, just as a black belt who took Jesus very seriously for a very long time. Basically, when you become a hobbyist, your skill is basically slipping. Your age and your skill. And so, not taking stuff seriously is actually its own psychological skill of like... That... It's tough. It's tough. Like, it's tough in a way that is different when you're like a blue belt or something. That if you work hard and you train correctly, you're going to get much better. Here, you're kind of... You're looking downhill.
You're looking downhill. And you're like...
Yeah, I guess I'm going to enjoy the art of it. Reframe the victory. You know? Like, if it's a young upcoming guy and he consummated, you're like, well, that's a moral victory.
You know? Yeah, but then that has to happen. You have to be able to not do that to avoid injury sometimes. Like, if you want. So, yeah, it's a different thing. Plus, with me, just... Because some people recognize me, they... They're coming. You have that, probably. You guys definitely, obviously, have that. I've solved that problem.
How did you solve that problem? Travel around. You do a seminar, anything like that. Yeah, yeah. It's believable that you could get submitted once. But if they catch you, give them a few. If people tell their friends they submitted me to seminar, one time, believable. They got me four or five times. Four times, yeah.
You've robbed them of that. Ten times, yeah. Okay, that's pretty funny. But it's also... They have this energy. Like, they think, you know, they're coming in hot. I usually like to just basically get submitted quickly, twice. And just, it changes everything. It makes it more fun. I've noticed it. Let them submit you twice? Yeah.
Just, like, very quickly. Like, what are the options? We're not...
I've noticed it. Let them submit you twice? Yeah.