Lex Fridman Podcast - #343 - Roger Gracie: Greatest Jiu Jitsu Competitor of All Time

The following is a conversation with Hodger Gracie,

widely considered to be the greatest

jiu-jitsu competitor of all time.

And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor.

Check them out in the description.

It’s the best way to support this podcast.

We got Bambi for HR services,

Mizanamane for style,

Blinkist for nonfiction,

and Athletic Greens for nutrition, delicious nutrition.

Choose wisely, my friends.

And now onto the full ad reads.

As always, no ads in the middle.

I try to make this interesting,

but if you skip them,

if you must sinfully,

with a regret in your heart, skip them.

You don’t have to have regret in your heart.

Let go of regret.

Live without regret, my friends.

Please still check out the sponsors.

I enjoy their stuff.

Maybe you will too.

This show is brought to you by Bambi,

spelled B-A-M-B-E-E.

It’s an outsourced and automated

human resources solution for businesses.

It was built to give businesses

a dedicated yet cost-effective human resource option

at just 99 bucks per month.

There’s so many things involved in running a business,

only some of which I deeply enjoy.

Doing the innovation, the engineering,

the details engineering,

whether that’s software, hardware,

mechanical materials, all of it.

I love the engineering.

I love the early design stages

when you’re coming up with ideas.

I even love the product design,

so coming up with a short-term and long-term vision

of how to design things,

how to bring joy to the world by building cool stuff,

and then doing that at scale, doing mass manufacturing.

Even that is super interesting.

But to make all of that work,

you have to do all of the glue,

the cohesive chemistry that makes a business run,

and a big part of that is managing the people.

It’s after all the people

that do all the magic in a business,

and managing the people

is what’s in English called human resources.

So you gotta use good tools for the job,

great tools for the job,

and hopefully affordable, cost-effective tools for that job,

which is exactly what Bambi is.

You can schedule your free conversation today.

Go to bambi.com and type Lex under podcast when signing up.

That’s spelled B-A-M-B-E-E.

This show is also brought to you by Mizanin, Maine,

the maker of comfortable, stylish dress shirts

and other menswear that I’m currently wearing,

and I just popped my collar,

like just because I’m feeling pretty good about this.

I’m feeling stylish, I’m feeling sexy.

This feels like an SNL skit.

What was it?

When the guy’s like looking in the mirror

and doing positive affirmations.

I don’t think I’ve ever looked in the mirror and said,

boy, you’re looking sexy today.

The moment I am, I think I’m on a slippery slope

to a place I don’t wanna be.

But anyway, so I’m obviously doing it just for jokes.

It feels comfortable.

I just like the way it feels.

I like the way it looks.

My favorite thing to wear is a suit and tie

for more formal or for when I’m doing

more serious kinds of engagements

like podcasts or presentations,

or just something I wanna take super seriously.

And then the most relaxed thing is just a T-shirt,

but in between that is a dress shirt.

For dress shirts, comfortable, sexy dress shirts,

I go to Mizzen and Main.

I highly recommend them.

I obviously wear a black dress shirt.

Right now you can get a special discount.

Just go to Mizzen and Main and use promo code Lex.

This show is also brought to you by Blinkist,

my favorite app for learning new things.

Blinkist takes key ideas from thousands of nonfiction books

and condenses them down into 15 minutes

that you can read or listen to.

I’m not exactly sure why the pace of this segment

of the program is being delivered

at an increasingly fast pace.

I wish I was able to talk this quickly

during regular conversation.

I think people criticize me for speaking too quickly.

Oh, sorry.

Well, that’s a Freudian slip.

Well, not a Freudian slip, but a misstatement.

I think nobody’s ever criticized me

for speaking too quickly.

Too much, maybe, yes.

Too slowly, yes.

Boring and monotone, yes.

Check, check, check, but not too quickly.

I think because I’m really thinking on the spot a lot

and I like the silence.

I think the silence between words, at least for me,

helps me think.

It also helps calm down the pace of the conversation

where the other person can think.

Oftentimes the reason I’m talking

is not necessarily to express an idea,

like I really, really wanna express an idea,

but it’s really to express an idea

in the service of the conversation,

in the service of inspiring the other person

to build on top of that idea.

I really don’t just want to sound smart

or say something that I believe needs to be said.

Most of the time, I’m trying to dance.

I’m trying to be a good dance partner.

So anyway, all that said,

the fuel, the catalyst

for being a good dance partner in conversation is wisdom.

And I gain some of my wisdom,

to the small degree that I have it, from reading books.

And you can read them in full or you can read them in part,

and that’s where Blinkist comes in.

Really the greatest of all time

summaries of nonfiction books you can find anywhere.

It’s just incredible.

I recommend it very highly.

You can claim a special offer for savings

if you go to blinkist.com slash Lex.

This show is also brought to you by Athletic Greens

and it’s AG1 Drink, which is an all-in-one daily drink

to support better health and peak performance.

All-in-one, all-in-one daily drink

that I drink twice a day.

So it’s all-in-one, but twice a day.

But I think most people drink it once a day,

but I have double the fun and double the deliciousness.

Anyway, it’s the way I guarantee

to have a nutritional basis on which I can do,

on top of which I can do all kinds of crazy stuff.

All the nutritional diet stuff I do,

whether it’s eat once a day or fast

or doing long runs, like 12, 15 miles,

doing long stretches of mental work,

just all the crazy stuff I do.

Or when I do carnivore, it just ensures

that I’m getting the basic nutrients into my body.

It’s like a amazing multivitamin,

but it does just a lot more than that.

And they’ll give you one month’s supply official,

another thing that’s essential thing that I take every day,

when you sign up at athleticgreens.com slash Lex.

Take care of your body and mind, friends.

It’s the only one of each that you got.

This is the Lex Friedman Podcast.

To support it, please check out our sponsors

in the description.

And now, dear friends, here’s Hodger Gracie.


Let’s start with possibly the greatest match

in Jiu-Jitsu history, your second match against Buchacha.

Let’s go through the details.

Let’s go through the whole thing.

So the walk leading up to it.

You always do this walk, this epic walk.

You post that on Instagram.

Hanzo posted on Instagram this calm walk towards the mat.

Well, let’s go to that match in particular.

What was going through your mind?

You’ve been away from competition,

facing probably one of the greatest,

and at that time, many people considered

the greatest Jiu-Jitsu competitor of all time in Buchacha.

Here’s the old man, the old timer, getting back out there.

What were you thinking?

Yeah, I think that’s the first time

since probably I got my black belt

that I wasn’t the favorite to walk into a fight,

I have to say.

Like a lot of people thought,

consider him the favorite.

I mean, understandable.

You know, I was out of competition for a while.

He was just winning everything.

So, you know, you’re saying about the walk,

like for me, you know, the fight starts way before

the referee say go, you know.

It’s all the focus and concentration

that I think is very important for me to start before.

Like, you know, I almost walked blind to the mat.

Many times I passed like great friends

and I couldn’t see anyone.

You know, they’re trying to talk to you

and I’m like, I’m 100% focused on my opponent already,

even though that I cannot even see him in front of me.

So I think that’s, for me, was always very important

to try to clear my mind out from everything.

Are you visualizing the opponent or are you just clearing?

Not at that time.

Is there, what’s in your head?

Is it like a calm river with birds chirping?

It’s blank, just blank.


Yeah, darkness.


And that’s what we see in that calmness,

is just blankness.

How hard is it to achieve that blankness?

It’s difficult to say because I think I don’t remember

when, I’ll say probably as a black belt,

I try to focus like that, not to think.

Because it’s probably something you learn,

is the more you think, the more nervous you get.

And there’s nothing that you’re gonna gain

by thinking of the fight or the possibilities,

what you can do, what can go wrong, what can go right,

because it’s unpredictable.

You have absolutely no idea.

It’s impossible to predict the fight.

And you discover that if you just let

those nervous feelings go and empty your mind,

it actually is pretty effective.

It is.

It makes you feel better.

You kind of control your emotion,

control the adrenaline on your body up to a level.

So it absolutely helps you focus in the fight.

I’ve learned that in jiu-jitsu and in general in life,

that whenever something feels really shitty,

you can just take that thought and not think about it.

Like I do that on long runs or a fast run or,

yeah, in jiu-jitsu, especially when I’m getting older,

out of shape, that feeling of exhaustion.

Well, you can always get to the feeling of exhaustion.

You can just not think about it,

not think about being exhausted.

And that somehow relaxes you.

I think maybe in the face of exhaustion,

all the fears start to creep in.

Maybe your muscles tighten up.

I don’t know.

This is for the amateur jiu-jitsu person.

But it’s kind of funny how you can just take that thought

and let go of it.

So you get, as a black belt competitor,

you get used to, you get good at letting go

of any thoughts.


When you mention to exhaustion is,

I mean, that’s another good example of it.

It’s, you know, there’s a lot of times in the fight,

you’re getting tired and you’re getting pretty tired.

So it’s like the last thing you wanna think of it

is how tired you are.

It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t.

What are you gonna do, quit?

I mean, it doesn’t matter.

It’s how tired you are.


Yeah, there’s no value thinking about it.

There’s no value.

You just have to go through it.

So when you’re like, you know, many minutes into the match

and you’re slowly moving, as you sometimes do,

tying your belt, catching your breath,

you’re not thinking about anything.

You’re trying to let go of thinking.

I’m trying to like to save everything to the fight.

Like nothing goes to waste.

It’s, you know, every move unnecessary,

it’s just gonna make you more tired

or it’s gonna take something out of you.

Like, you know, I try to calculate every single move I make,

save as much energy as I can

so I can fully, you know, be focused 100% in the fight

with no waste, especially energy-wise.

And that’s instinctual.

Like minimizing the amount of moves.

You’re not like explicitly thinking,

should I do this or not?

It’s just don’t move unless it’s absolutely required.

Yeah, because fight, you cannot really,

there’s not really time to think much.

You know, it’s like your instincts are playing.

It’s like it’s, you know, you already have your weapons,

let’s say, you know, the things that you do.

It’s just wait for the perfect moment.

The beauty of it is there’s the right moment to everything.

If you feel one second too late, it doesn’t work.

No, you get messy.

So it’s, you know, you’re trying to catch that moment.

That is, you know, and for that,

you have to be fully focused in what you’re doing

because one second, you’re out.

It won’t work.

But you’re not exactly known as somebody

that moves super quickly.

So the moment, it’s not about how quickly you move.

It’s about the right moment.

So you move slowly.

Yeah, yeah.

It’s not like it’s speed.

It’s not like you have to move at the speed of light.

It’s the move itself at that precise moment.

It doesn’t have to be super fast

because your opponent’s not moving super fast, you know.

So it’s a combination of moving between you and him.

I mean, the same thing happens in judo

and the movement can be really small.


I think judo is a bit more explosive.

You know, the moves are slightly faster.

So it does require a bit more explosiveness in judo.

But even just the right timing for an off balance,

just a little tough.

Yeah, yeah.

It’s not that, you know, moving the speed

is not gonna count that much.


It’s the timing that you initiate that move.

You see that with foot sweeps.

There’s nothing more beautiful

than like Olympic level athletes

going at it in the Olympics

and a perfect foot sweep.

And it’s just, and you see one man’s life

flash before his eyes and realize,

like, I’m supposed to be the top three person in the world.

Did I just find, they have this look on their face

like, I don’t know what just happened.

It’s beautiful to see.

You don’t see that, I guess you see that in boxing,

knockouts and stuff like that.

You don’t know what the hell just happened.


It’s that precise moment of movement

that you get caught.

Like, it’s that one split second, that’s it.

Do you get that in jiu-jitsu at all?

Because judo has, because of the explosiveness,

because of the point scoring system

that incentivizes these giant throws,

has these moments where everything

just turns in a single moment.

Do you have that in jiu-jitsu too?

Not really, because then it’s points.

Yes, you get like, you know, two points.

So it’s, because I think regarding the submission,

it’s not just one precise movement that changes everything.

I think judo is the takedown that counts as a submission,

like Ippon, fight over.

Jiu-jitsu don’t have that.

So you will score points.

But I think in terms of submission,

you need to get to a dominant position first,

and then the submission will come slowly.

It’s a process.


Okay, let’s go back to that guy with his mind.

So actually, in the weeks leading up to it,

in the days, in the hours, in the minutes,

is there some fear in you leading up to this?

I mean, I’m not gonna say that I’m fearless,

because everybody fears something, you know?

The fear is there,

but it’s like how much you let that control you.

I think I was a lot more confident than fearful,

for sure, walking into that fight.

Like, I was pretty confident that I could beat him.

What was the source of that confidence?

My belief on me, this.


I can take the world.

That’s, you can take anyone in the world,

but is there a specific strategic,

like, you know, talking to Donahair,

he believes that there’s no such thing as confidence,

or rather, the way you get confidence is through data,

like that you have proven yourself effective

in previous situations, but with Buchecha,

you don’t have much data.

It was a very, the first time you faced him

was a very tough, that was also one of the greatest matches

of all time, it was very tough.

So doesn’t that creep in, like that doubt,

because you don’t have enough data

to be confident based on that?

Yeah, I mean, okay, if I never have fought before,

you know, suddenly walk into a fight with someone like that,

then would I be that confident?

I mean, probably no.

You know, so that history of what, you know,

what we’ve been doing, what we’ve been achieving

just gives you confidence.

If that was my first fight ever,

I wouldn’t, probably I wouldn’t be that confident.

But the time off?

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter?

It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.

You don’t have the fear or the actual physical experience,

the psychological experience of being rusty,

of being out of the competition?

That will come out on training.

So you, okay, so you simulate some aspect of that

in the training?

Yeah, I mean, the training will tell you how you are.

Okay, did you increase the intensity of the training

leading up to this?

Yeah, I mean, I train normal.

Let’s say compared to the first fight,

the second was a lot more confidence

because, you know, like I say on training,

the training for the first fight, they were terrible.

What do you mean?

I think I was focusing on MMA for a while,

for a couple of months,

and I wasn’t really focusing the gi.

And, you know, by the time I accept the fight

and start training,

like all my responses on training were off.

Like all my training partners that I used to train with

that I destroyed.

I mean, now they’re like, they’re beating me.

You know, it’s like I cannot beat them

the way I was used to.

But, you know, so I knew something was not right

for the first fight.

But then it’s, you know, no points,

it’s submission or draw.


Yeah, for people who don’t know,

it was the Mudder-Morris, which is a 20-minute match,

submission only, so there’s no,

the winner is determined only by submission,

otherwise it’s a draw.

So physically I wasn’t myself on that fight.

I was tired, my body wasn’t responding.

Anyway, so the confidence was different

from the first, the second.

I think I was confident enough

that I wouldn’t get tapped out on the first,

that I was still gonna fight

because he has to tap me out to beat me.

And I trust on my defense.

I’m confident enough on my defense

that he will not tap me out.

But in terms of winning, you know,

walking to the second fight,

I was a lot more confident.

What can you say about that feeling

when something’s not right?

Isn’t that a thing that breaks people?

It breaks, it’s weird.

Like people crack, they give up.

You know, it’s a big test

because it’s like being really tired.

It’s the same thing.

It’s like a lot of people crack

because they just feel they cannot give in more.

They have nothing more to give.

So they just like give up.

It’s too hard.

So what do you do?

Just, again, take the thoughts out?

There’s no giving up.

I mean, I don’t mind, I don’t care.

Like just giving up is not an option.

It’s not.

That’s always the way you thought?


About jiu-jitsu?


I’ve never gave up.

I mean, I tapped.

It’s, you know, not giving up is not tapping.

That’s just stupid.

Especially, you know, doing training.

Like it’s, I get caught, I tap.

I’ve never, ever hurt myself by not tapping.

I get, you get angry, you know,

it’s train hard, you know, improve,

make yourself better.

You got caught.

Accept that you made a mistake,

give up, tap, then try harder.

So, you know, the not tapping,

it’s, you’re sacrificing your body

and, you know, you will never be the same.

Like if you let your elbow popped,

the elbow will never, ever be the same, ever.


You let yourself go to sleep,

your resistance drops.

So it’s, everybody has a,

has a limit of resistance until they,

you know, to resist a choke before you pass out.

The moment that you go to sleep,

that resistance will dropped.

According to-

I’ve never heard anyone say,

yeah, that’s awesome.

So that’s true.

So tap, so that’s the reason,

because people usually say it’s-

No, it’s the same or you’re getting knocked out.

You get knocked out the first time,

your resistance dropped.

Your jaw get weak, gets weaker.


Just for the record,

I’ve never gone to sleep again.

Which means my resistance is high, right?

I don’t know.

Must be.

Oh, your defense is pretty good.

I don’t know about that.

Because it doesn’t make sense to me,

or maybe in my case,

I think my understanding of when I’m screwed

is pretty good.


Like there’s no-

You’re not in trouble.


One of the things I regret the most

about my jiu-jitsu journey

is not having given enough time

to being in really bad positions.

Like the better I got,

I think the less I started being in bad positions,

which is a terrible-

It’s because you spar.

That’s how you train.


Because you used to just spar.

When you spar, it’s difficult to be in bad positions a lot.

You train with better people,

but I mean, let’s say five, six minute rows.

How long you gonna be in a really bad position?

Not long, right?

So you don’t really have time to develop.

That’s why people, they don’t train being in bad position

because you have to start there over and over again

to be used to it.

Yeah, or put yourself there.

I just didn’t have that mindset, I think.

I think you start-

I mean, part of the fun of jiu-jitsu

is as you get better and better,

you have certain people you go with,

you have these puzzles that you’ve figured out

that you’re playing very specific details,

you’re working out,

you’re trying to improve your main techniques and so on.

But yeah, just the percentage of time you spend

being submitted or even going against lower ranks,

trying to escape basic submissions is low.

I don’t know if that’s true for most people.

Probably is, right?

Most people have very bad defense

because they don’t allow themselves to be there

because, I mean, who wants to get tapped?

Because you will until you work on your defense.

Of course you’re gonna get tapped

or you’re not gonna escape, you’re gonna struggle to escape.

So people, they don’t want to be there.

I regret it most because of the effect it clearly had

on how I competed.

It was clear that my competition

was constantly driven by conservative thinking,

like don’t take risks.

I think because of a weak defense, honestly.

And I think a lot of the, any of the fear,

like for example, exhaustion was accompanied by fear

because of weak defense, I think.

If I were to psychoanalyze myself,

and I regret it, I regret it a lot.

But speaking of which,

I don’t think anyone’s ever submitted you in competition.

So you were…

Well, I was a juvenile, yes.

Yes, so when you were a young person.

Does that still haunt you?

No, it’s, first I was winning that fight by a large,

I mean, I think by six points or four,

something like that.

But I was like, I was done with it.

You still remember it though, huh?

By the details.

Yeah, that’s funny.


You ever beat him again?

He never competed again.

Whoever you are, please, let’s do a podcast.

We’ll talk shit about Hajar the whole time.

No, but what do you attribute to that too?

You were saying you were confident,

you were confident that the top of the world,

the number one buchacha would not submit you.

So where is that confidence grounded,

and what do you attribute the fact

that nobody was able to submit you?

First, it comes from training.

You know, I train a lot, bad position.

Like my defense is good

because I practice over and over again,

as much as I practice all my offensive position.

So it’s, you know, you have to train both equally,

not just being in a good position, you have to be in bad.

So I think that’s a very strong part of my game.

You know, to be a complete fighter,

you know, a complete martial artist,

you have to be good in every single position,

every single one.

Those that you’re not, you have a weakness.

So it’s, you know, to be complete,

you should have no weakness.

So that was always my, you know,

I was always very particular on that,

like it’s where my weakness,

where I don’t feel good at it.

If you put me in a position where I struggle,

how do I escape, how do I get out?

Everything, any submission locked,

penny position, you know, back mount, everything.

It doesn’t matter which position I’m at,

I practice over and over again.

So that when I, if I get there in a fighting situation,

I will know how to get out.

At least I’ll have a direction, you know,

I will know this is my way out.

Do you practice both escaping the bad position

and the transition into the bad position, avoiding it?

Because that’s how it happens.

You know, jujitsu, you start in a neutral position.

No, the transition then becomes the fight itself.

Being there is the most important.

It’s when you’re there,

then you have to know how to get out.

That’s your weakness.

Stopping the person getting there is something different.

They’re two different things.

Either you practice one or the other.

So both are important, I guess.

But stopping the person is easier to practice

because that comes naturally in training.

What was the actual process?

Like what was your biggest weakness throughout your,

like just remembering,

what was annoying to you to figure out?

I mean, side control is always-

Bottom of side control.


It’s, regardless how much you practice,

it’s not ever easy.

You’ll never be easy.


It’s so annoying.

It makes no sense.

Yeah, someone pins you down.

He doesn’t want to move much.

He’s a big and strong guy.

Regardless of who, it’s not going to be easy to escape.

So some situations are just hard.

That must be the, sorry to interrupt.

I’m interrupting Haja Gracie as he discusses Jiu-Jitsu.

But you just made me realize,

if you’re really good,

if you’re going against the perfect Jiu-Jitsu competitor,

probably side control might be

one of the hardest positions to,

is it the hardest position to escape?

It’s one of them.

If the person doesn’t want to progress,

they’re just concerned about pinning.

Like the best pinners in the world.

I mean, partially because I’ve just seen Judo people

that know how to pin.

Go escape their side control is a nightmare.

It’s a nightmare.

It doesn’t matter how much you practice.

It’s a nightmare.

And it’s also just frustrating.

I think, I guess it is also frustrating

because a lot of people in that position

will be about maintaining control, not progressing.

And usually people when they’re in back control

are usually trying to progress towards the submission,

which opens up opportunities for escape.

So what’s the actual process of just time and time again,

putting yourself in a bottom side control?

Yeah, over and over again, starting there,

escape, get back, escape, get back.

If it mounts you, get back.

Any situation outside that, stop, start again,

stop, start again.

And it has to be, I’ll say five minutes

because it’s the repetition that will teach you.

If you train like three minutes on top,

you have time to one thing and then time out.

It’s the repetition there over and over again.

When you try the same move over and over again,

then you’ll see what can go wrong.

And is it understanding the details of the movement

or actually doing the movement and feeling it?

It’s both.

First, you have to understand the movement

and then practice.

But most important thing is defense,

escape coming second.

Because he’s attacking you.

The one thing is if he’s not trying to submit you,

but the other one, if it is,

let’s say if a person is very good,

has a very good attack,

the first thing is defense, not just escape.

You can expose yourself to an even worse position

because that is very risky.

When you’re trying to escape,

you’ll always expose yourself to a worse position.

So avoiding that, first is defense, not getting caught.

And then when you’re escaping,

don’t be in a worse position than you are.

So defense, in jiu-jitsu, when you’re wearing a gi,

what does defense entail?

Is it mostly grips?

Is it mostly the positioning of your hips and legs?

It’s everything together

because it’s a whole body movement.

It’s constantly moving your arms, legs, body.

Everything works together.

Going back to the mind of that guy,

so confident, no fear at this point.

Is there a bit of ego in there too?

Yes, like I said, I’m not gonna say I’m fearless.

Of course, there’s concerns.

That fight, I would have to say,

was probably the fight that I got nervous the most

walking in because I knew what that meant, that fight.

It meant everything for me,

all my legacy was on the line

because if I’d have lost that fight,

forever I would be number two, forever.

And I mean, Busheche is a great guy, great competitor.

Jiu-jitsu is very good, but I’m better than him.

I knew that.

But he’s competing nonstop at that point.

No, no, he’s a great competitor,

taking nothing out of him.

He’s super tough, very tough, very good.

He’s probably the best competitor in Jiu-jitsu.

He won 13 times the world championship.

I won 10.

So as a competitor, he has more titles than I do.

But in terms of analyzing the game,

I consider technically better than him.

So knowing all that, everything that I build,

all my legacy, it’s if I lose-

Writing on this match.

If I lose this fight, I’m forever number two.

And none of that is going through your mind?

No, I knew.

I mean, it’s not at that moment.

I already knew that.

I remember just before the curtains open,

I’m standing and before they call my name

and I mean, my legs were like,

I feel the adrenaline kicking on my legs

and I’m like, you know, I’m hitting the legs.

I’m like, wake up, you know, get off,

get the adrenaline off me, you know.

So it was intense.

It was intense.

And this was in Rio?

That was in Rio.


My hometown.

So this is, I mean, and you know,

Rio is not exactly known for its calmness in its fans.

So this is like, wow, wherever they hosted the Olympics

the year before.

So this is like, I mean, this,

like the whole basically martial arts community

is watching this.

Watching the fight.


I mean, is there some, was Hanzo there?

Yeah, yeah, he was there.

So people are just, I mean, there’s a tension.

It’s also, I mean, I don’t know if you felt that in part

but you’re also fighting for the Gracie name.


In our hometown.

The greatest-

Where the Gracie really established.

Gracie competitor of all time, arguably.

In the hometown.


I mean, okay.

All my family, my best friends, my friends,

everybody watching, everybody there.

There was a lot of pressure.

A lot.

And then were you thinking

that you would be able to submit him?

No, it’s at that point,

like I don’t predict how the fight will go.

That I never did because it is unpredictable.

It’s, I never tried to set any strategy for any fight.

I think, oh, okay.

That I did, but that was the only time

that I set any strategy into a fight.

There was a 15 minutes fight there.

And I said, first five minutes, I’m going to play defense.

He’s bigger, stronger, younger.

I don’t want to play his game.

And I know he comes in very fast.

Every single fight he had, you know,

he comes very aggressive.

So my strategy walk into the fight,

I say five minutes, I’m going to play defense.

I’m not going to try to attack.

I’m not going to try to match his pace.

I already expected, you know,

maybe I’m going to start losing the fight

because, you know, if he comes in,

there’s a risk of me maybe getting takedown,

you know, or something happen.

I’m like, I’m going to stick to the game plan.

Five minutes, I’m going to start picking up the pace

because then it’s 10 minutes to go,

which 10 minutes is a long fight.

So I don’t need to start fast,

but I’m going to start being more aggressive.

And then, you know, try to take him down or pull guard,

you know, by then I’m like,

that’s as far as strategy goes.

So no specific stay on the feet.

Were you comfortable being both bottom and top

in this strategically?

Yeah, I’m always comfortable being bottom or top.

I prefer to be on top because being in the bottom,

the person on top dictates the pace of the fight

because he’s on top over you.

So I always prefer to be on top

because I can dictate the pace.

I can implement my own pace.

And being the bottom, they can slow me down.

So it’s harder.

So if I can choose, I will always be on top.

But I think by then I was like,

it’s, you know, five minutes, hit it.

I’m like, he’s pretty big and strong.

I’m going to spend a lot of energy taking him down.

I pull guard.

How did it, how did it feel?

So here you’re stepping in, by the way, Puzzle Maths,

this is old school, as old school as it gets.

So calm and relaxed here for people just listening.

We’re watching the early minutes of the match.

So just feeling it out.

He seems pretty calm too.

He must be nervous too.

I wonder how, did you ever talk to him?

You guys are friends.

Yeah, yeah, we’re friends.

Did he ever say how nervous he was?

No, we never spoke about that fight.



He probably lays late at night thinking about it.

Maybe, I don’t know.

That SOB.

Yeah, I mean, so you see the first five minutes,

he kept, I knew what he was going to do.

And I studied his game.

His stand-up is most basic, is basic in takedowns,

leg attacks, double leg.

So he goes single, double, and he charges in.

That is pretty much his stand-up game.

So you try, you get a grip.

Yeah, but we got penalized.

So do you like to use the,

do you like to pose with your left?

You have a right foot forward usually.

You’re a righty, right?

I’m a righty, but I know he wants my leg.

So I’m playing my stance just because of his game.

All my grips, the first five minutes

was to kind of try to neutralize his attacks.

So he wants to get your left leg.


Yeah, right there.


So how hard is that to stop that?

I mean, he felt pretty strong coming in.

So I’m pushing the head down,

trying to play with his balance.

Yeah, wow.

If you see that there was a pause, go back there.

He charged in, there’s a pause,

me standing in front of him.


I did that on purpose.

What do you mean?

Just in front of him, because he tried,

and I’m like, you fail.

I’m here.

There’s a, okay.

So you could feel the frustration.

I could feel his frustration not be able to take me down.


So now, and this is just psychological battles.

And you see me walking straight into the middle of the mat

and he’s circling out.


See, I’m going very slow, recovering.

And he’s computing like shit.


Because he just made an effort, tried to take me down.

He needs to recover.

And I mean, you need to recover.

The other guy’s there waiting for you.


And do I go for another takedown?

Because this one failed.


Do I need to recalculate the strategy?

Yeah, and he kept trying over and over again

and keep failing.

I think that frustrated him a lot on that fight.

I felt him kind of slowing down suddenly

because he was getting nowhere.

So we’re five minutes in.

Yeah, he keeps.

So you never got that takedown in the early?


Let’s see.

So at this point, do you pull guard?

Yeah, okay.

So that’s when I felt like he’s,

mentally he’s worried now.

Did you try to pull close guard here?

No, I knew he was gonna bring Danny in.


Because that’s the defense against pulling close guard?


But I like that.

I like people bringing Danny between my legs

because see, I’m gonna close my guard

even with his leg in.

Okay, he’s stopping the,

well, this is awkward, but I guess.

Because I was holding his arm,

that’s why he felt he had no hand to post.

Got it.

But still, it puts a leg in,

but you’re able to close your guard.

So you’re okay with that?

I do that really well.

I sweep people from that position a lot.

What’s the sweep?

I just pushed.


Like to your left side?



Because he has no,

oh, it’s almost like you’re basically

around his back a little bit.

And he knew that,

like I swept a lot of people with that sweep.

So you see he kept leaning to his left,

to my right.


So I wanna push them to my left.

So you see him leaning over to my right a lot.

What’s the right answer for him,

to like roll or something?

No, I mean, he’s stuck.

He does not really,

he’s stuck there.

But the one thing he did,

he kept off me completely.

See that he’s leaning to,

like he’s too afraid of my attack now.

Because he should lean on me.

You know, you should bring the fight to me.

So when I fell him,

like I knew he was like,

he’s too worried about my attacks now.

Oh yeah, that’s right.

So he can’t,

if he comes back to the center,

he has no like.

So he’s not engaging now.

At that time, he’s 100% just defending.

So I felt that.

I’m like, he doesn’t wanna engage.

And he’s looking,

I knew at that point,

he wants my foot.

Because our first fight,

I had the exact the same position.

I wasn’t holding his arm.

And he went to attack my foot.

Which he did, you know, he got into attack.

Like a toe hold or what?



So I knew he’s looking at my foot.

Which foot?

Sorry, your right foot?

Yeah, my right foot.


But I’m holding his arm.

You’re hiding it?

I’m holding his arm.

And now you’re going to the back

as an arm drag type of thing.

So the moment that I came off,

now I’m holding his arm.

So he cannot come up.

So, you know, I’m holding his left arm.

So he cannot post a hand on the floor and come up.

And he’s holding your right to try to get you.


Basically to prevent you from attacking.


Oh, that’s interesting.

And he rolls.

Yeah, he tried to get me off balance.

So see, now I’m switching,

I switch the grip on his arm

so I can free my left arm.

Can I ask you a question?

Like, was there a chance he sweeps you here?

I mean, there’s always a chance,

but very hard.

Like that?

Yeah, but see, my left arm is free.

Oh, so you can post.


Why was your left arm free?

Oh, because you were using it.

You got it.

I got it.


So, I tried the hook.

Now you will see.

Still got your arm.

Yeah, but when I knew, he’s panicking

because he did a move

that he completely opened himself up.

Like I’m holding his left arm.

So by holding the arm,

that prevents him from defending the hook on that side

because his arm is being held across.

So the arm cannot block the hook.

And I mean,

The hook with your left leg?


So you see when he come up,

but I would say, I mean, that’s my guess,

but Boucher, he’s a big guy.

You know, he was like 110 kilos, 112, something like that.

Which is?


Yeah, all right.


What were you at the time?



Yeah, 220.

A nice slim 100 kilo, okay.


So, his defense are not amazing.

He’s good, but you know,

he’s not known to have amazing defense.

So by being the big guy in the room when you train,

you used to get out of situation because of your size.

You shake people off.

You know, it’s because of your size,

you shake them off, you get off some bad positions.

You can, I mean, I could feel in the first fight,

I’m side control, you know, suddenly he explode out.

So, you know, I’ve seen him doing that a few of his fights.

Not in the most technical way, just I’m getting out.

And he did because of his size.

And he did the same thing,

like he tried to stood up when I’m on his back.

He completely opened up the hooks.

You will see the next move, his head gonna come up

and he gonna try to get off the floor.

So basically, come up, shake you off kind of strategy.

There was no defense for the hooks.

I put both hooks in straight away.

Oh, his arm is.

Yeah, I’m off balance.

Yeah, see, I didn’t bring him up, he came up.


And now I’m attacking his neck

and he’s worried about the hooks.

That’s fatal mistake.

That’s like defense always come first.

Remember what I just said now?


Defense first, escape second.

So he’s not worried more about the points than his neck.

So it was like a progression of mistakes.

That’s why I think he got frustrated

when he couldn’t take me down.

And then when I pull guard,

he was frustrated that the fight wasn’t going his way.

He’s very good about taking down.

He try over and over again for five minutes.

And here he was frustrated about the hooks.

So he’s like, it’s almost like the frustration,

things like, no, no, no, these hooks shouldn’t be here.

Like I pull guard on the grips that I want.

He’s not comfortable inside my guard.

He’s not in a position that he wants to be.

He’s over leaning to his left.

He’s not engaging or trying to pass.

He’s trying to get the foot, but his arm is trapped.

He’s gonna get nowhere.

And then when I swept him,

some of his words start collapsing.

You know, he couldn’t take me down.

I pull guard, I’m swept in.

He tried to roll me over.

No, he didn’t get me anywhere.

The first movement that he tried to escape,

I’m on his back.

I mean, now he’s lost.


That, if you just go back to him standing up.

See, both hook goes in no difference.

Like there was nothing on the way of those hooks.

Because he tried to come up.

As he’s coming up, you’re high enough on him

to where the weight was just probably immense.

It just felt too heavy.

I mean, you’re already going for the choke.

Yeah, of course.

There’s no time to lose.

Look at that.


So you’re not like worried I’m gonna get shaken off.

You’re going for the choke.

Okay, you got your right hand on his lapel.

He’s not shaking me off.

I’m on your back now.

We’re in this together.

And your right hand is opening up the lapel.

My right hand is holding his arm.

I’m still holding the sleeve.

Oh, sorry.

You’re holding the sleeve,

but I’m holding the sleeve

and I’m already going for the neck.

Because it’s timing.

At which point do you let go of the sleeve

and open up, help with the lapel,

or do you not need it?

No, I did that.

But first I wanna try to make a grip.

Like then I need to establish control

before I let go of his arm.

Got it.

So I kept holding that a bit longer.

And then when I fell,

okay, I have a good control over the back,

then I let go.

Do you, okay, so you have like a light grip on his lapel,

but you’re thinking you need that.

No, I need to adjust that.

You need to adjust that.


You’re like holding it there

and you’re thinking, okay,

at some point I need to adjust this.

All I need, all I want is to get under his chin.

Then I know it’s, I mean, now I can go for it.

Because if it’s over, there’s no choke, right?

The wrist needs to be under.

Can you choke Buchecha over the-

No, I can’t.

That’s just not right.


It’s not right or it doesn’t work?


It’s not right and it doesn’t work.

I mean, would you tap to a choke on your chin?

No, it’s just pressure.

You hurt, but it’s not gonna choke you out.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I’m not, let me argue this.

I love this.

Arguing with Roger Gracie about chokes.

This is great.


Like clock choke.

It was always interesting to me

because in Judo, it’s illegal to have the gear on the face.

And so it was kind of liberating for me

to be allowed to have a gear on the face.

No, it’s just-


No, you don’t have to worry about it.

Of course, it’s more effective to go under the chin,

but I’m surprised just because the amount of pressure.

It’s all about how much you can take it.

You can take a lot.

But it feels like-

No, it doesn’t feel comfortable.

I mean, sometimes on your mouth, it cuts your mouth.

Now you’re bleeding.

It feels horrible.

No, but that’s not the feeling.

It might not be a joke,

but the feeling like it’s a pressure

that everything’s just closing in.

But it doesn’t take you anywhere.

Like, you’re not gonna go to sleep.

You might not go to sleep.

So it’s just pressure.


So pressure, it hurts, it’s uncomfortable,

but it’s not gonna break your face

and it’s not gonna put you to sleep.

So if I don’t get the neck, I don’t go for the kill.


I’m holding his collar.

You know, my wrist is almost under.

It’s, you know, I’m trying to kind of dig in.

If I can’t dig in, then I would adjust the collar,

but first I need to dig in.

Dig in first, then adjust.

Can you do all that with one hand or no?

I did.

So you can tighten the choke with just one hand?

No, I need the second one to open the lapel.

To open the lapel.

But you’re like digging in with one hand.

I’m digging in under the chin.

Under the chin?

Now I need to go deeper.

The going deeper requires the second hand?

It does.


It does.

But that requires you letting go of the other hand.

Yeah, I have to let go eventually.

Yeah, see?

All right.

Well, that’s over.

Yeah, because I’m already under his,

like the first hand got under the chin.

Do you need the hand on the second lapel?

Of course, otherwise he turns and he’s out.

That’s to control the turning

versus the tightening of the choke?

Yeah, it does both.

It helps tighten the collar

and stop the person rolling out.

Were you feeling pretty good about this position?


I just felt it’s getting tighter, tighter,

tighter, tighter.

Because it wasn’t super tight from the beginning.

It wasn’t like the perfect choke.

So it was still, I mean,

I knew it was like it’s very close to the end,

but I still need to adjust.

There was still the risk of maybe escaping.

Is it possible for his head to slip out?

It’s possible, yes.

But I’m closing that gap.


Right here.

What did that feel like?





Somebody on Reddit asked,

ask him about the cross grip he used to sweep

followed with a genius grip switch

when Buchester was inverted.

Did you use a cross grip when you sweeped?

I guess the cross grip in the arm.

That must be it.

Oh, that’s the cross grip.


What’s the genius behind that?

Or was that just the,

do you like that kind of grip?

Yeah, because I always like close guard.

And no one wants to be in anyone’s close guard, right?

It’s open guard, it’s the step to pass.

So everybody, when you try to close the guard,

they bring their knee in the middle.

Like if you’re not standing,

if you’re lower on the ground,

and they’re open guard,

if you’re close to me, you need that knee between.

So it’s a must.

That’s when I start developing the attack.

You know, I managed to have long legs

to close my legs around people even with that.

And then I just developed that sweep.

When did you start developing that?

I don’t remember when,

but I would say before black belt.

Okay, so your answer to that is not to figure out

how to prevent them from putting the knee in.

Is there an answer to that?


The good guys will always try to get the knee in.

No, you can’t remove their leg out of the way.

That’s not possible.

Well, maybe off balance them enough to where there’s not.



I mean, you can try, but like it’s hard.

If you can off balance, then you sweep them.


So that knee’s gonna,

so you’re gonna have to solve that problem.

That’s a full sweep, yeah.

Because that’s, it’s extremely common to have that.

I mean, if I’m on your guard, open guard,

you know, if you have your legs,

if I’m between both of your legs in the open guard,

my knee will be between your legs,

because it’s a must.

My knee cannot be on the floor.

Since Henzo was there, what did he tell you before?

I think just motivate you.

I think that’s,

Henzo always did that fantastically well,

to motivate me, like before in fight or match.

I think that, you know, the confidence,

you know, his energy being around you,

it’s, I think that’s the,

it’s the great thing to have Henzo in your corner.

It is the motivation that he gives you.

What did you learn about jiu-jitsu in life

from Henzo Gracie?

We got to hang out with him in Vegas a little bit.

He’s a character.


He’s one of the historic coaches and jiu-jitsu competitors,

but also personalities in the martial arts world,

in the world in general.

There’s very few like him.

Henzo is a fantastic person.

It’s, you know, what I’ve learned most from him

is like, it’s, you know, you can take any challenge.

It’s, you know, it doesn’t matter when, where,

what, you know, who.

It’s, you know, you have to be ready.

And, you know, with that warrior spirit that he has,

he, you know, he always took any challenge,

ready or not ready.

Was it you that said it,

or he said it where not until you go in,

you know, to do something difficult,

do you discover the strength that you have.

So like, if you really think about it,

you might think that you don’t, you’re not good enough.

You don’t have the strength to take on something difficult.

I fully agree.

I think we are measured not when we’re on the strongest,

but when we are on the weakest.

That’s when we truly measure ourselves, our character,

who we are, not when we’re in a position of power,

or when we’re in a position of weakness.

Have you surprised yourself, like how damn good you are?

Like, is this really how good I am in this situation?

Where in retrospect, you might think,

how the hell was I able to accomplish this?

Not how good I am, because otherwise I wouldn’t be there.

So, you know, being there in the first place,

it’s already not a great thing.

But I say, you know, every single time I found myself there

I was super proud that I’ve never cracked.

Like, I’ve never gave up, ever.

Any second, any fight, never.

Never been broken in competition.


Even, it’s not about winning or losing,

it’s about you giving up.

I’ve never doubted myself.

I always fought to the very end, always.

That I’m most proud of.

Because there was moments, you know,

it’s, you’re in a terrible position,

you know, mainly like,

there was moments that I was super tired,

but like, exhaustive tired,

when it was easy to give up.

Like, I had nothing more to give, but I pushed.

I took energy out of my soul, I would have to say,

because when my body had zero,

my spirit, my soul, pull it out.

Is that, in part, just not allowing yourself

to have, to ever, ever quit?


I have one other thing I regret.

I remember like a blue belt match.

I remember, I’m not gonna say who it was against,

but I remember just being extremely exhausted

and just constantly fighting.

A guy was really good mount, really good guard passing.

And I just remember him passing my guard, eventually.

So it was just like the finals

of one of the IBJJF tournaments.

And then right away going to mount and just,

I don’t know, the level of frustration,

I mean, I quit at that point.

So I remember that still.

Like, it’s not about losing, winning or losing,

but I just remember I was like teary eyed, frustrated.

And then I knew there was a lot of fight still left

in there somewhere, and I quit.

And I regret that to this day.

Because I think the reason I regret that

is because it gave me an option to now quit.

In every other aspect of life, this is an option.

Yeah, it is.

It sucks.

Yeah, it teaches you, you know?

It makes us stronger.

I think it made you stronger.

Yeah, it makes you stronger that you did that

to learn that don’t do that again.

But still, like you said, just going to sleep and training,

I do think it made me weaker.

It did make me weaker in the rest of my life, too.

Those, you know, I’ve quit a few times in my life

on small things, and you realize,

okay, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s fine.

Like, who cares?

But what you learn over time

is that voice always comes there.

Like, obviously, maybe it does for you too,

even at the highest level, of like,

it’s not that big of a deal.

Like, it’s okay to quit here.

Like, it makes sense, everybody would understand.

You know, in some sense, like, you’re,

you know, many people would say you’re past your prime

in this match with the Buchecha.

Like, it makes sense, you’ve been focusing on MMA.

Makes sense.


Makes sense to lose.

Yeah, I don’t know, that’s a weird voice.

And in some sense, it’s that voice

and a voice that says, like, why are you doing this?

Like, this is silly, this doesn’t make any sense,

just stop, just stop, just stop.

And shutting that voice down

and never allowing yourself to quit,

that’s a really powerful thing.

Like, everybody I’ve met, everybody that’s successful,

yeah, down to the, even engineers, CEOs, Elon Musk,

just never quitting.

Like, when everybody around you says quit,

never quitting, it’s weird.

I don’t know what that is.

Might be genetic.

It might be like using the stubbornness

to just never allow yourself to develop that,

it’s basically developing a calluses to that voice

that tries to tell you to quit.

You never quit, huh?

What would you attribute that to?

It’s like how much you want to get

to the destination you chose.

Like, it’s how badly you want to get there.

If you quit, you’re never going to get there.

And you always wanted to.

I always wanted to.

Is there some thing you remember from that match,

some things that happened before and after

that stand out to you, just since in Rio?

Yeah, there was an interview, like, prior to the fight,

there was a big fight, we were doing media every day

before, me and him, we were meeting for media.

And it’s like five days before,

you know, five, six days before, I’m quite chatty.

It’s, you know, the closer we get to the fight,

the more focused I get, the less I talk,

stop, joke around, playing, you know, with people.

But I remember, I think it was maybe three

or four days before, we were doing an interview together.

I think my cousin Kira was there,

she was doing one of the interviews with us.

And I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about,

but I just remember, we were talking about the fight,

of course, and then it was, you know,

we were standing beside each other.

And I’m like, and then I, you know,

suddenly I jump in and grab him by the neck.

I say, I’m going to tap you by the neck.

And then he’s like, you know, very shy.

And then I let go, I say, no, I’m going to grab,

tap you by the arm.

And I could feel he was like, he wasn’t comfortable,

you know, with being there, it was, you know,

me saying that I’m going to tap him out.

There was like, I was so relaxed joking about it,

but I’m joking that I’m going to tap him out

in a fight that we’re going to have in four days time.

And yeah, I felt he was like, not comfortable at all.

Do you think you got in his head a little bit?

Yeah, I did, I think.

Did it give you a little bit of confidence?


You’ve said that jiu-jitsu is a reflection

of your personality.

So both your jiu-jitsu and your personality,

there’s a calmness.

What is that?

Why are you so calm?

Is there like an ocean underneath that’s boiling?

Is this developed or is this your personality?

Are you basically leveraging who you are already

to develop a game around the jiu-jitsu

or did jiu-jitsu make you calm?

I think both.

I was always very calm since I was a kid,

you know, since very young.

I was never very, you know, fiery person.

So that is a reflection, you know,

you reflected on my jiu-jitsu, my life,

on my fights, the way I fight.

So it’s a direct influence of my personality.

And I think it’s also in the day, you know,

the more you develop, the more you practice,

the more you fight, it’s like, you know,

you don’t want to get nervous.

You don’t want the adrenaline in.

So you just learn how to shut that off from your mind.

So the less I thought about it, you know,

it’s like how many times I fought, you know,

let’s say the week before the fight,

that’s when you start more, when you’re concerned the most,

because now it’s getting very close.

Before it’s just far away.

You know, it’s normal to think of the tournament.

You get a bit nervous, but it goes away quick.

But the fight, you know, the week before,

now you’re constantly thinking of that day.

And every time you think, adrenaline pumps in,

your heart accelerate, you know, it doesn’t,

you know, it makes it, it’s like, why am I feeling this?

What difference will it make?

So you’re kind of, you’re shutting that thought

out of your mind, because you don’t want to feel

the adrenaline, your heart accelerating.

It’s not going to add you anything.

So it’s, you know, it’s the practice also

that I think I, it helped me to shut that off my mind.

Has that helped you in regular life?

Yeah, of course.

It’s, you know, it’s suddenly when you go into any,

any situation that might be stressful, you know,

like an important meeting or super, whatever it is,

it’s like, how much would you worry about that before?

Worry is not going to help you anywhere.

It’s the opposite.

Just going to make you more nervous,

your heart will accelerate.

Your ability to think clearly is going to be

damaged by that.

So it’s like, the more calm, the more relaxed you are,

the better you can think of.

Do you ever get angry?


Like in traffic?

Do you ever get like, not calm, just like you’re screaming?

Not in a screaming situation, no.

But just angry?


What does angry look like?

Is it still calm?

Yeah, like, you know, a few seconds of complaining,

but then it goes away.

Have you ever like thrown a cell phone at a wall

or something like that?


Just that.

No, I never get that angry.

Because that’s just silly.

It’s like, if I would have done that,

I would not be able to control my emotions prior to a fight.

There would be a lot of reflection.

Letting yourself lose.

Yeah, and losing control that will reflect other times.

Do you think it has, in part,

made you more emotionally closed off from the world?

It’s harder for you to be vulnerable to others?


Yeah, but I heard that a few times.

I’m emotionally closed.

It’s, yeah, maybe.

I think that influenced it, yeah.

Have you ever cried in a movie?

Yeah, not for many years,

but for, I think, maybe I’m getting older.

Do you remember the movie?

Something, it’s a silly movie.

I mean, it’s, no, I mean-

Is it The Notebook?

No, I mean, I would say the last few years

I’ve been crying more than before for some reason.

I don’t know why.

Like, silly movies.

Like, nothing suddenly brings tears to my eyes.

Yeah, well, I’ve already just,

having met you and interacted with you,

I can see that you’re kind of opening

your heart and mind to the world.

You could see, like,

here’s this historically great athlete.

Now, like, the wars have been fought,

and you’re now, like, waking up to the world.

It’s cool to see.

Probably, I’m bringing my guard down now.

I don’t have to keep it up all the time.

You don’t have to fight.

You can even do some podcasts.

You said you watched, like,

movies beforehand sometimes.

Mentioned Braveheart.

What were you doing?

Did you watch something beforehand?

Like, the day before?

I used to, yeah.

There was, like, I think Braveheart,

and Gladiator.

I mean, there’s a few others

that I’ve always watched the day before,

because the day before I used to do nothing.

I just wanna be at home, in bed, watching TV,

like, saving energy, stretching by myself.

So, it’s like, I just wanna save energy.

I don’t wanna waste my energy going out, going around.

So, you know, those are the movies

that I always like to watch.

Kind of try to bring some, you know,

hyper excitement, like, you know,

I’m getting ready to war tomorrow.

So, I’m like, let me watch some movies

that, like, brought that, you know,

some of that warrior spirit into me.

Yeah, what is that about human nature?

Braveheart, I love even more.

Should you put your life on the line

for a thing that matters,

or run away just so you can live?

It’s like, running, you may live,

but, like, years from now,

when you look back at this moment,

would you trade all the days

just to come back to this moment?

And tell the English.

You could take our lives,

but you can’t take our freedom.

I mean, oh, man.

What is that about human nature?

Is there some aspect of, like,

the glory you were able to achieve

being more important than anything else?

There’s some aspect of that,

that that’s greatness, you know?

Yeah, I never pursued glory.

So, it just came, you know,

it came with it, but that was never my goal.

I never cared for glory.

Were you able to experience, like,

like, I’m at the height of this thing.

Whatever humanity is able to achieve in various things,

holy shit, I’m flying.

I felt like,

no one can touch me.

I can destroy people, yeah.

Prolonged periods of time, or just momentarily?

I always knew, you know,

from before I got to a black belt,

that, like, I can be great,

because, you know,

I used to train with the best in the world.

I used to, you know, for many years,

and I used to see my progression with everybody else.

So, I knew I was getting somewhere.

I knew I could be the best.

And that was always my goal since very, very young.

And I always believed that I could be.

And that, over the years,

that kept telling me over and over again,

because I’m getting better and better,

faster than everybody else.

So, it’s, I just need to carry on with what I’m doing.

But I think you’ve said that you wanted to,

and maybe you thought you could be the greatest of all time,

like, at the very beginning,

like, when you sucked.


Yeah, not the greatest of all time,

because, and I never really thought about that,

but I thought, I’m gonna be the best in the world

when I sucked, when I sucked.

Okay, so, what is that,

what is that, like, that self-belief?

Is there a component to that self-belief

being a prerequisite?

It’s difficult to say,

because that was a decision, I think.

Like, why did I believe that I could be?

I can’t tell you that, because I don’t know.

But you think you decided to be?

I decided to be, and I believed I could.

You think there was, like, a day somewhere,

when you were young, where you were like,

huh, you’re sitting on a couch, eating Cheetos.

I don’t think it was a day, like, a moment,

because for many years,

I wasn’t really training much as a child.

I’ve done a bit of, I used to train,

and then stop, done a bit of Judo.

Never stay away from it much,

but until, you know, like, from 10 to 14,

I barely trained Jujitsu much.

I used to, there was no greasy school

near where I used to live,

and I was doing, there was a Jujitsu, a Judo school.

I used to go twice a week.

I went to a Jujitsu tournament.

I lost in five seconds, left crying.

The guy, he pwned me in five seconds.

Anyway, so when I was 14,

I went to the south of Brazil to see my Uncle Helium,

to spend summer holidays.

I was there for, like, four weeks, I think.

And when I got there,

my cousin Hollis was living with him.

Hollis, like, bigger than me.

It was, I think it’s four years, four years older.

So I was 14, he was already 18, 17, 18.

Purple belt competitor.

And I think that was the first time in my life

that I felt what it mean, what it meant to be a greasy,

in terms of having a school, teaching, training,

you know, living that, you know, Jujitsu lifestyle,

what a greasy mean to be.

And I’ve just, I’ve loved it.

I was out of shape.

My uncle was like, you know,

was incentivizing me to lose weight, to train.

But you’re not training, why?

You know, it’s like, you’re out of shape, you need to diet.

So I used to run every day.

I was eating super well.

I start, you know, I start, that when I start changing.

So when I go back to Rio,

I was super motivated to follow up, carry on.

And he, you know, he invited me to go back there

to live with him, but I couldn’t.

It was too soon to change schools and everything.

And my mom said, no, but maybe next year,

if you want to go, you can.

So I kept that in my mind.

Next year, I moved to the South to live with him.

I was 15.

And it was him, my uncle Helion, and my uncle Carlin.

They both used to live very close to each other.

They used to have their own schools close to each other.

So I was with both.

And I stayed there for almost a year.

I mean, I was the youngest in the academy.

There was some, you know, blue, purple belts, normal guy,

but already competing, training ahead of me.

And I just joined the group of training.

I didn’t compete while I was there

because there was no competition back then.

And I wasn’t really ready, but it’s not about competing.

It’s more about the training.

And I start training every day, start improving.

And a year after that, when I came back to Rio,

I was already on a mission.

I was like, I love this.

I’m just carrying on training every day

with my uncle Carlos, Carlos Gracie Jr., Gracie Barra.

And then when I got there,

I was training a little bit there before,

but I just 14, 15.

But when I got there, there was a, you know,

there was one of, that was one of the most competitors,

one of the biggest Jiu-Jitsu schools at the time.

There was so many high-level world champions,

competitors in every single belt.

And so, and I’ve kind of joined in with that.

And I’ve carried on, I don’t remember when,

but I remember, you know, looking and saying,

I’m gonna be the best in the world.

But I used to be, I was at the bottom of the stairs,

you know, no one really believed me.

I didn’t shout, you know, to the skies,

but, you know, I told a few people,

I’m like, I’m gonna be the best.

And that’s, I think, I was just losing,

but I’ve never, ever doubt,

I’ve never diverged from that mission, I would say.

Did anyone believe you when you said you’re gonna be great?


It didn’t matter.

I don’t care, I don’t need.

Even people that like love you?

Everybody, my mom, my dad, I mean, no one thought,

no one in my family thought I was gonna be here today.

Nobody, because I just started late.

You know, I’ve never had any start that people,

oh, that kid’s gonna be really good.

You know, I was a chubby kid that didn’t barely train.

I mean, people used to look at me,

he’s just another Greece, this, you know, what more?

What do you learn from that?

Do you think most people lose that self-belief?

They quit when everyone around them doesn’t believe?

Yeah, I think if those that need approval, yes.

I see you shouldn’t have approval.

I never need approval from anyone.

I don’t care if you believe me or not,

if you’re not my problem.

It’s tough, it’s tough.

I don’t need approval, but you’re surrounded

by people older, wiser, better than you,

and they’re kind of directly or indirectly saying,

you stop being silly, kid.

No, no one ever told me that,

because that was not something

that I used to say all the time.

I maybe say it just very, very few times.

I just, well, you know, maybe that’s the secret.

Of course, I mean, if you start shouting,

then you’re just being silly.

Then it’s not what you really want.

You’re saying that for another reasons,

if you say it over and over again,

because you shouldn’t.

I mean, why?

Well, to push back, one of the reasons

you might want to say it is to find

the right people that believe in you.

Yeah, but no, if you say it over and over again,

then it’s just, then you’re just bragging.


Because one thing is to say it,

but the other one is to do it.

So it’s, you know, you say it once or very few times,

but now you have to do it,

saying it’s not helping you getting there.

Was there sacrifices you had to make?

Everything, everything.

That was my priority in life.

Everything was secondary.

Like social life?


Career paths?

Yeah, everything.

And is it from 14, 15, 16,

as you get better and better and better and better,

it was just becoming sharper, the focus on this thing?

Yeah, it’s just over and over again,

over and over again.

It’s just training, training, training.

And I mean, how many times I lost, I have no clue.

So on the mat, you were getting beat up.

I’m getting smashed by everybody.

People my age, I was chubby, I was physically weak.

I mean, I’m tall, but physically,

I’m not physically strong.

I’m normally strong for my size,

but physically, if you want to measure strength, I’m weak.

Because we can measure strength lifting weights.

I’m weak.

I don’t lift.

I lift weight, same as people much lighter than me.

Everybody my weight, lifts heavier weights than me.

And the people that train with you

often talk about how strong you are.

They sound super strong.

Because I generate a lot of strength.

I can create, I put myself in the right angles.

So then I can be strong.

I’m not strong.

And the only person who I listen to saying that

is Comprido, one guy that I fought, Rodrigo Medeiros.

I fought him a few times.

And he’s the only one that I heard saying about me

that’s like, no, Roger’s not strong.

He’s not.

He’s technical and he can create strength,

but he’s not strong.

He meant that as a compliment?

Yeah, I think so.

No, I think he was honest,

because I think he’s the only one who could see that.

So I think that’s a compliment.

So he’s technically really strong.

So you had incredible matches with him.

Is there insight you have about how you went

from a person who was not very good,

but had a dream, a confident dream,

a vision to somebody that was actually good?

Was there something to the practice sessions?

Were you getting reps on a specific techniques?

I’d never done anything special,

because I’m in a gym training equally with everybody else.

So I’ve never did anything on the side

different than anybody else.

So I was in the school training

the exact the same way as everybody else.

Well, in terms of schedule, yes.

But what was, can you reverse engineer

what was going through your mind?

Because there’s so many different ways

to actually mentally approach

the same exact training session.

I’m gonna try to beat you.

Okay, so in some part it’s competitive.

Like at the core of it is I want to be better

than these particular people.

You’re gonna keep beating me.

I’m gonna keep coming back at you.

And to do that, I have to solve problems.

I have to figure out how to do stuff well.

You catch me once, I’m gonna keep on coming,

trying to not get caught in that.

At which point did you develop a game

that was basically the famous white belt game

of the very basics, the very fundamentals of jiu-jitsu?

Like saying, I’m going to beat you.

Never, there was never a conscious decision

to try to have a basic jiu-jitsu.

First, I think there’s a big misconception there.

Okay, what’s the misconception?

My jiu-jitsu is not basic.

Mr. Roger Gracie, it’s not, you’re right.

It’s not basic, it’s not old school.

No, I think people, they just don’t see that.

It’s extremely complex.

In a way that people, they cannot copy.

I teach people, you know, I can teach you

the cross-collar choke.

But the one thing that people, they don’t realize

is not the move, is you need to practice

the move until you learn.

It’s the practice over and over again.

Like it took me years.

When I say years, I’m like years after I was a black belt,

I was able to choke people out

with a cross-collar choke in the mouth, effectively.

Years after I got my black belt.

So that’s something that you learn first day, first week.

So I can’t teach you, it makes no difference.

You know the theory, but until you apply it in them,

it will help you, of course, the more details you learn,

you know, the more tools you have to practice,

but it’s still very complex.

Because it’s not about the move itself,

it’s about how can you control the movement

of the other person?

He’s resisting, you’re blocking,

you cannot predict what he would do,

and he’s doing a whole bunch of moves to block you.

Every single move you do, step of the way,

because it’s a progression of move from beginning to end

till I apply the choke.

It’s a progression of move, and there’s not one way

to get that, there’s many ways,

because how many ways can you block?

You can put your arm in every single angle,

we have both arms, you can bridge.

So it’s dealing with all that,

that is the complexity of the position.

But that goes for everything, like every single move,

my strong moves, I would say,

it took me years developing them, years.

So it’s, and you’re gonna tell me that’s basic?

So go try and do it.

What the other person is defending, that’s the thing,

because most of the things that I do,

I’ve been doing them for years.

And they know that I’m gonna do,

and I can still get it most of the times.

That’s the hardest, is when they know what’s coming,

and you can still do it.

And you said that the way you’re able to do that,

you just have to do it right.


What do you learn by doing all the steps along the way?

And just for people who don’t know,

cross-collar choke from the mount.

So Jiu-Jitsu starts in a neutral place,

there’s people on their feet,

and then you either, then you get to the ground somehow,

and then there’s the person on top and on bottom,

and then there’s a guard with the legs

between the two people, and then you can get past the guard.

As you get past the guard and you,

into side control and so on,

you get more and more and more dominant positions.

And so mount is considered to be

one of the most dominant positions.

It’s when you’re past their legs,

sitting on top of their stomach,

putting pressure on them.

And cross-collar choke is using their jacket to,

how would you explain that?

To choke them with their jacket.

So you have the collars,

I put my both hands on your collars,

and when I squeeze, you press your neck,

so it blocks the vein, you go to sleep.

So it’s a, you choke people with your hands,

and the wrist, you put them, you know,

you grab the collars, you get the wrist

around people’s neck, and you squeeze.

Yeah, the discovery of that is fascinating.

I mean, because it’s interesting.

It’s like, you know, you can imagine

there’s all kinds of ways to choke a human being.

What animals do it with their, like, mouth, right?

They put, like, their jaws around the,

and the fact that you can kind of discover this methodology

of the right kind of positioning,

and then it becomes an art form,

like, of why this?

Why not this, right?

Or why not this or something?

Like, to figure all that out.

We practice, that will come easy.

Over time, you figure out what works and what not,

and then more, further and further details

and subtleties start to emerge.

Anyway, on that process of beating,

of being able to beat some of the best people in the world,

and the thing they know is coming,

what’s the difference between the White Belt doing that

and Hodger Gracie doing that,

the thing that’s so hard to explain?

What do you think you’re picking up?

Is it some tiny, tiny details of muscle movements?

It is.

It’s many tiny details,

because it’s the whole movement itself.

It’s the perception from beginning to end.

Like, every step of that movement,

it’s important and precise.

So it’s, you know, you miss one detail on the way,

you collapse.

So when I say it with the Black Belt,

the Black Belt has no control over the whole movement.

He’s thinking beginning and end.

So he goes straight to your, you know, straight to your neck,

regardless, he cannot read the other person.

If it’s, you know, if it’s time to let go,

if it’s the time to go for a neck,

should I be pushing here before I get my hand in?

You know, is this the right time to go deep,

or should I deal with this first before the second hand?

That’s at the beginning.

So it’s at the White Belt.


At the very beginning of the journey.


The White Belt, you just think, finish.


And then, as you get progressed,

you see that there’s like this giant tree of possibilities

that you’re almost feeling your way down.

I mean, would you be able to teach?

Do you even know what you’re doing?

By the details.


But it’s hard to convert into words, probably.


That’s possible.

Then you don’t know what you’re doing.



So what is the most important details

that you could say, maybe positioning of the hand,

the gripping, is it the positioning of your body,

the posture?

Is there some interesting insights that people research?

It’s a combination, because first,

you have to put your body in a very strong position

that you don’t require your hands to hold them out.

So the choke is that first,

because I cannot use my hands on the floor

to stop you escaping.


So if I have to, my body has to handle that.

The way I position myself,

I have to do it in a way that don’t require my hands

for balance.


Why is the mouth such a dominant position?

It doesn’t make any sense, right?

Like, you’re just sitting on top of the stomach of a person.

It makes all sense.

If you think, forget fighting, forget jiu-jitsu.

Like, you’ve never trained.

What’s the one position, the most dominant position

you can get over another human being?

One, the most.

For you, which one it is?

Like, the most dominant position

that you can get over another human being.

So if we were just,

because the way I think about it is putting myself

in like a six, seven, eight-year-old self

without knowing any martial arts,

and I had an older brother who’d beat the shit out of me.

Yeah, it probably was mouth.


But, well, yes.

Okay, so we both didn’t know.

But if we knew something, it’d probably be back control.

If in the back control, you’re under the other person,

do you think being under is the most dominant position

you can be over another person?

You mean like a back control?

If I’m on your back.

Oh, like that.

You can move, you can roll.

I cannot stop you rolling.


Maybe you can even stand up.

How dominant is that?

Yeah, but if we’re the same size,

we’re both untrained.

It doesn’t matter.

Have you seen kids, they do that.

Okay, mouth looks and feels like dominance

when you’re two eight-year-olds fighting.

Okay, I don’t know.

I don’t know why it feels that way.

It could be some animalistic thing.

Maybe it is actual dominance.

I don’t know, but it feels like if you’re untrained,

you can just buck your way out of it.

It feels unstable.

It feels unstable to hold mouth

unless you know what you’re doing, right?


If you’re mouth, you put both of your hands on the floor.

Just your hands.

You think it’s easy to take somebody off?

Yeah, maybe not.

You think it’s easy to remove the hand and bring them out?

The hands on the floor, arms straight.

I’m leaning in.

Yeah, you’re right.

It’s hard.

I mean, you don’t need to know fighting

to hold yourself there.

Yeah, but you’re right.

When you take the arms off and balancing,

then it gets tricky.

Because when you’re trying to,

I think what happens, I’m thinking back to eight-year-old.

My brother’s five years older than me,

and he would do the usual stop-hitting-yourself thing.

I think he would be in mouth,

like hitting me with my own hands.

Out of place of love, of course.

I love him deeply, and it was very formative

and a positive experience for me.

Okay, I think, yeah, the weakness is when he takes,

well, when the person who has you in mouth

takes their arms off to do something.

But even if you keep your hands up in the air,

when I’m falling.

Yeah, you can.

When I’m falling, so.

I’m speaking about untrained people.

I feel like they get greedy.

They try to do stuff.

The other day, I watched my nine-year-old daughter.


We’re in a friend’s house.

There’s a whole bunch of kids there.

They’re playing.

And when I looked, she’s mounting a boy,

her age, her size.

He cannot escape.

Wow, she probably has seen some footage.

No, she trains.

She’s been training for, I’ll say, a year and a half.


I mean, she’s a nine-year-old daughter,

a girl over a boy.

Has she seen footage of you?

Maybe she picked up from that.

No, but she’s been training for a year and a half,

so she has an idea what mount is.

But, I mean, in terms about skills,

I don’t never taught her the mount.


She has, you know, she had lessons at the academy,

like any other kid.

Did she make him cry, or?

No, but he couldn’t escape.

Which other position would she be able to hold the boy?

In the back, he would roll her out.

That’s true.

Like, he couldn’t come out from underneath her.

She’s, they’re kids.

Like, there is no other most dominant position

that you can pin the other person.

Couldn’t you argue, from that perspective, side control?



Because side control, you have to hold the other person.

And it’s, you’re not free.

You cannot release them.

But in side control, your hips are not on top of theirs.

So, they can’t buck you off, right?

Can’t you, if you’re holding them a little bit,

and you can hit them with one hand, like slapping.

His head is here.

You’re gonna hurt him here.

By the time you’re doing that,

but then he has his arms free.

And if you turn towards your legs,

then he’s away from your arms.

He not even has the perfect angle.

I mean, it is a good position.

You can hit, you can dominate.

But it’s not the best position to be over the other person.

He can knee you in the head.

At the same time you’re punching,

then there’s a knee coming to your head.

I love playing devil’s advocate with Roger Gracie

about two eight-year-olds fighting.

And your head is closer to his head.


Maybe he can throw you a punch.

All right.

So, would you choose to be in side control of a mount?

Getting in the head?

Well, for a person who, in competition,

prefers knee on belly over mount.

But that’s my weakness.

That’s my failure as a human being.

Holding mount can be tricky.

It’s very hard.

Of course it’s hard.

But what is easy?

Tell me easy.

Side control and knee on belly is easier.

But to submit-

Knee on belly is easy.


I’m not saying black belt level.

I’m saying, well, maybe even black belt level.

Easier for what?

To hold somebody?

To make them squirm and hurt.

To create openings.

Yeah, but go to there with a big guy.

Yeah, you can’t.

You can’t.


He’s gonna push you back and come up.

In the mount, he can’t sit up.

Not when you’re mounted him.

The thing is also about mount

is people on the bottom of mount panic more.

So, they fight harder.

Of course they panic.

They’re exposed.


It’s the most exposure you have.

Because the person’s arms are free.

You cannot touch him.

His head is too high.

There’s nothing he can do.

His legs won’t get you anywhere.

He might touch your lower back.

It’s like nothing.

You’re most exposed being in the mount.

I read you holding side control a thousand times

the amount of me having to look up

for your fist come down on me.


Side control.

I hug you.

You cannot hurt me.

Okay, you hold me, but I’m hugging you.

If I hug you tight, what can you do against me?


It seems maybe it’s just from,

and again, I’m arguing just for the fun of it,

but it seems like a more difficult skill to learn

to apply a huge amount of pressure and weight from mount.

You don’t have to apply pressure and weight from mount.

Not apply pressure, but be heavy, right?

You don’t necessarily need to be heavy.

You don’t?


Why do you, as people say, you feel extremely heavy?

If I’m being heavy, I cannot attack.

I have to choose.

I can be heavy just to pin them,

take the energy out to make them suffer,

but the moment that I decide to attack,

I can only be heavy if I’m sitting up straight.

That’s when all my weight drops down.

If I’m high, then I’m sitting on your chest,

on your solar plexus.

That’s the worst position to be seated on the person

because that’s where he breathes.

So you’re in a high mount, sitting up straight,

that’s when you can, I can be very heavy.

I can make people feel my weight and be very uncomfortable,

but I’m not in a position to attack.

The moment that I wanna attack, my body has to lean forward.

I have to approach the neck or the arms.

The moment that I do that, my weight comes off my hips.

It goes to my knees.

The weight is off you.

But at that point, if you have-

Now I’m attacking, I’m no longer heavy on you.

But you want to be at that point

to remove any of the defenses they have

or some of the defenses by getting their elbows.

Now I’m like either trying to get your collar

or bringing your elbow across or tuck the armlock.

So what are some interesting details along the way

that are tough to get, to figure out?

What were the big leaps for you from white belt

to the best in the world?

It’s trying to attack the neck,

putting one hand in the collar.

You’re priving yourself that hand to place it on the floor.

So now you’re vulnerable to get bridged, to get rollover.

Because if your hands are free trying to roll you over,

you’re stopped.

The moment that you put your hand in the person’s collar,

now you have to be very careful with your body positioning.

Very careful.

The distribution of the weight.

Yeah, and how high you sit,

how tall your upper body goes.

And then the biggest challenge comes

as you’re trying the second hand.

For the choke, that’s the biggest challenge,

the second hand.

Because you already don’t have one hand.

Now you are trying the second hand.

And if one of my hand is in,

you as defending yourself have two hands.

One hand is already on one side.

This side is getting attack.

You have two hands blocking that.

I have one hand.

There’s no help for that hand.

I cannot remove anything.

That’s the biggest challenge.

Getting one hand, getting past you

and not getting rollover.

But I also have two hands on bottom.

I have two hands and can also turn

and do all kinds of stuff.


And my whole mind and everything

is focused on that second hand.

Yeah, it’s a big challenge.

It’s hard, very hard.

Is there an art to getting the first hand

into a place where you-

It’s less of an art because it’s easier.

I’ll say most times I get my first hand in

is when you’re trying some move.

You’re trying to escape, you’re pushing.

I get the first hand in as an opportunity.

And it’s gonna sit there for a while.

And now-

And I go as deep as I can.

So the first hand,

because the second hand is the hardest,

I have to compensate the first hand

to be as deep as I can.

If I cannot get the first hand in deep,

I won’t try the second.

I need that first hand deep,

then I go for the second.

And it’s deep and everything is super tight?

Super tight.

The first hand has to be super tight,

otherwise the chance of failing is very big.


Does the opponent usually feel like

they’re screwed at that point also?

Not as you put in the first hand in.

The moment that I position myself

just prior to attempt the second hand,

I think the way my body is positioned,

the way I’m collapsing with my weight

and they feel this like it’s,

you know, this is terrible.

Yeah, how long did it take you to figure out

how to reposition your weight once the first hand is in?

Very quickly,

because we get breached out.

Okay, so there’s a good feedback loop there.

Yeah, because one mistake you out,

like one off-positioning you out.

But you still have to do that

against the best people in the world.


Where’s the way out for most people?

Like if you were in Mount against Przestrza

or some of the best defenses in the world?

The way out is to,

obviously is to defend themselves

and prevent the first hand to get deep.

And I’ll say the best thing that they could do

is try to change my positioning on the mount

in a way that, you know, push me to a very low mount.

You know, try to change the way I’m dominating you

not to be, you know, to get me off the high mount,

pretty much.

Are you always, is it a slow, is it a fast thing

to go from low to fast mount?

Slow, slow, slow, slow.

A high mount.

Slow, very slow.

Because I need to beat your arms,

because you’re holding me down.

And the arms need to come out.

It’s a slow process.

Okay, and you just, is there like a?

Yeah, so I use my legs against your arms.


So it’s my legs pushing your arms.

But how do you get them,

how do you get your legs into the elbows?

As long as it’s, you know,

it has to come under the tip of your elbow,

because now the legs will start forcing your arms up.

So your legs aren’t like spread out.

They’re in.

Your elbow cannot get inside my leg,

because that means I’m in a very low mount.

And then I cannot attack,

because I cannot ignore that.

Because the moment that I attack,

that will, it will start pushing my leg to push me up.

What’s the secret to getting the second hand in?

There’s two ways.

Either you go four fingers inside,

which is the hardest,

because the moment that your two hands are defending,

you’ll be blocking the, you know, the way.

And I cannot clear and attack two hands against one.

So I go thumb in, I go behind the ear.

So my grip goes, because for you to defend,

you need to get there.

And when you get there,

you elevate your elbow, you expose the arm lock.

So it’s hard.

And so you put the thumb in,

and then there’s the dreaded,

like the other person just waits for you to loop

the arm over.

Yeah, but that, this over.

It’s, once you get the thumb in, it’s over.


No, but when I’m there, it’s, if I get the,

because they’re bridging, you know, they’re trying.

I’m not using their hand to pose.

Now your head is, your head is high.

My head is very close to the floor.

When I’ve tried to bridge, and you know,

my forehead would touch the floor,

that would be used as a hand.

But it’s not on the floor.

Not necessarily.


Because if it’s on the floor, my body’s collapse over you.


So there’s no place for my hand,

for me to work on your neck.

So I need some space between us.

So I don’t completely collapse.

Maybe you can bob up and down.

Yeah, yeah, but I try to keep a gap between us.


So that pursuit that takes many, many, many, many years.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

The, doing the simple thing, that’s not so simple,

but it kind of looks simple,

of the over and over and over and over and over,

and presumably getting much better.

It becomes very simple.

It becomes very simple.

But you’re picking up details probably along the way.

There’s wisdom along the way.

What is that?

Is that, there’s like lessons

that you just kind of accumulate over time.

Like one training session, you’ll see maybe,

like the positioning of the thumb,

like this detailed positioning of the thumb

or something like this.

And then you’re like, okay.

You like load that in.

That would be very basic

because there is not that many different ways.

Maybe one, two.

I just do one.

Any other is not as strong

because it’s about getting a strong grip on your collar.

I mean, the thumb is,

the thumb goes inside,

is it the thumb in or four fingers in,

but it’s getting a strong grip on the collar.

As long as this is just holding and feeling strong.

So that’s just two options.

So it’s the dynamic stuff along the way.


And then some of that is timing too.

It’s timing.

Are you also like making people,

like faking them out,

making them think about something else?

No, not at that point.

That’s not,

because I cannot fake anything else at that point

because I will have to change my positioning

to maybe to fake an arm lock.

Then I have to move out from that.

So then I will lose the control I have.

So what’s the process towards mastery?

If you were to convert that

to something that generalizes beyond jiu-jitsu,

how can you get that good at a simple thing?


That simple.

The same exact thing over and over.

It’s just a matter of how long it will take you.

So all,

that’s true.

That’s true.

I mean, like I said,

look how long it took me.

People give up along the way.

There is intricacies to that journey towards perfection.

There’s a lot of people that do jiu-jitsu for decades

and don’t get better.

No, because they don’t train the way they should.

They don’t train to get better.

They train to get tough.

That’s a big difference.

Most people, they train to get tough, so they are tough.

Like we were talking before,

they don’t practice their weakness.

You want to be good at,

you want to be really good at jiu-jitsu,

you have to practice your weakness, not your strength.

You have to practice everything,

but you have to be equally strong in every position.

They’re all exactly the same.

Your guard, top, bottom,

side control, top, bottom, turtle,

half guard, mount, back.

I mean, you pick, take down.

And then you get into details of escaping triangle,

applying the triangle, escaping arm lock,

different scenarios of,

the one thing is defending the arm lock

when you have your arms very close to your body.

The other thing is to defend the arms

when your arm is almost getting,

and then when you got your arm.

So there’s so many things to practice

that you need to repeat them over and over again

until you’re confident enough

that when you get there, you have a chance.

And you can do the same kind of thing

for even the final stages of a cross choke from mount.


I mean, of course, like you don’t practice

escaping the arm lock with a full arm straight,

because that’s gone.

I mean, you practice escaping the arm lock

when he takes your arm,

you have a chance of trying to escape,

but you don’t practice.

You know, okay, take my arm.

When I say go, go.

I mean, you got, you know, you pop the arm.

That is like, you get injured doing that.

Escaping the cross collar choke, it’s,

I mean, escape not letting the person get there.

You can escape, you can practice escaping triangles

because, you know, it’s like,

you have a way better chance of escaping triangle

than, okay, mount on me, put both hands in my neck.

I mean, it’s over.

You know, don’t be there.

What’s the best submission in jiu-jitsu?

Choke, I would say.

From which position?

If I gave you a billion dollars to start in a position

like in a submission, and you only get the billion,

if you get the submission, which one would you start?

Cross collar choke in the mount.

Cross collar choke in the mount.

Not from the back?

No, you have a better chance escaping from the back.



Even with the hooks?

Even with everything.

Do you think some people disagree with you?

I don’t care.

I have a better escape, I have a better chance

escaping from the back than if you mount on me,

put my hands on my neck.

So, if you were facing yourself,

and I would give you a billion dollars to escape,

you would pick?

From the back.

Thousand times over.

Like, no competition.

But you have like, with hooks, with like a triangle?

It doesn’t matter.

You can do whatever you want.

Like a body triangle?




Like a thousand times over.

No questions.

So, to you, the mount is a super controlling position?

It’s not just?

Because cross collar choke in the mount,

the moment that you put both hands on my neck,

you know, you have to, your arms need to be very close

to your body to attack.

So, that means there’s very little space between us.

So, that means there’s very little escape space

for you to work on your escape.

And the moment that you cannot bridge,

let’s suppose I have, you know,

the person has a good mount,

so you cannot bridge him off.

What else?

You don’t have space to try to work on your defense.

Being in the back, I have all the space around me

to work on my defense, so my arms,

I have the mobility to bring them anywhere.

So, I, because of that,

it gives you and me a much better chance.

And you cannot, I can move my body.

If you’re on my back, you cannot pin me.

I cannot take you off my back.

First, I need to defend the choke,

but you have no control over my body.

So, that means there’s still a lot of movement

that I can try to use to escape.

In the mount, there’s no movement.

I’m pinned down, I cannot move,

and I have no space between us to escape.

Well, the argument against that, this is great,

is that on the bottom of mount,

I do have my hands between.

So, you’re saying they’re pinned, there’s nothing.

Between where?

I mean, you could get them in theory.

You could somehow, you could.

But there’s no, you can, but then there’s no space.

They’ll be squeezed between our bodies.

If it’s an incredible, if it’s an incredible mount.

No, it does not mount.

Like, how, standing.

If I put both hands on your neck,

if I’m gonna go for the cross-collar choke,

after I get my hands in,

the next step is to pull you close to me.

So, it’s this.

My arms needs to be close to me.

But I can put, there’s the hands that could do something.

They can come in,

but they are very limited space between us.

Yes, yes.

No, I mean, to push your body away,

to decrease the power of the choke.

Only if we’re standing,

not if your back is against the floor.

Okay, the argument against the mount is,

or the argument for back control

as being the most dominant position is,

even though I have hands,

I can’t really use them effectively.

As effective.

Not in the mount.

There’s no space.

In the mount, there’s no space.

There’s no space.

You can try.

I mean, you can squeeze your hand in.

I mean, there’s still things that you could do,

but they’re so limited.

So, if you polled the 100 best competitors of all time,

what do you think they would answer to that?

Do you think most would agree with you?

I don’t care.

It will show me their skills, their ability to see.

Okay, so the perfect mount versus the perfect back control.

There’s no question.

Okay, there’s no question.

For me, I mean, argue with me, like, show me,

because I’m not being stubborn, because I’m being.

I’m being scientific.

Exactly, so explain it to me why the back,

it would be harder, it would be better to your position

to finish than mount.

If you can explain it to me why, I might change my mind.

I was trying to, but I don’t have the cred.

I’m like a middle school science student

trying to talk to Einstein here.

Okay, besides you, who do you think

is the greatest jiu-jitsu competitor of all time?

Can you make the case for some of them?

Marcelo, Buchecha, Leandro Lowe.

I’ll have to go with Buchecha,

because look at how many titles he has.

I mean, he has by far more than Marcelo.

Marcelo stopped quite early.

Leandro Lowe has eight, but Buchecha is better than him.

What do you think makes Buchecha so good?

He’s a heavyweight that moves like a lightweight.

He moves very fast, but he’s very agile for his size.

So the agility combined with aggression.

Yeah, so it’s very hard to control him

because he moves fast and he’s 112 kilos,

115 sometimes, or 110, I’m not sure,

but he’s about around that, so 240 in pounds.

So when you’re agile, 240 pounds,

that makes it very hard to control you.

What about making the case for some others?

What about the little guys?

What about Marcelo, if you were to make the case

for him being the strongest?

What makes Marcelo good?

Marcelo Garcia is extremely technical.

I mean, I think he’s one of my favorite jiu-jitsu fighters

because in a technical way,

I think he’s probably one of the best.

Because raw technique and a bunch of different positions

for submissions.

He’s not very powerful.

Physically, he’s not very strong,

but he can make himself very strong

and his technique is very, very high level.

Have you ever trained with him?

No, I fought him twice.


But he’s much smaller than me.

What happened in those matches?

The first fight, I tapped him, I think, five minutes.

In which submission?

Choke from the back.

Collar choke from the back.

And the second time, I beat him by points,

but a very large, I think 12-2.

Actually, just to continue,

I wonder if John Donahoe would agree with you

about mountain back.

I can’t wait to, this is a bear versus lion conversation.

I’m looking, there’s statistics about,

I’m not letting this go.

There’s statistics about,

oh, look at that, Hodger.

What do you know?

Looking at Hodger Gracie’s statistics

for most successful submissions,

choke from the back is the most.

So how do you explain that, Mr. Scientist?

Because people panic when I’m out.

They turn their back.

I choked them out.

That’s one explanation.

But for people, it is interesting that,

of course, this doesn’t capture,

but this captures a lot of your major matches.

And we should say that you’ve submitted

most of your opponents, so you rarely win on points.

You usually win submissions.

Choke from back is most of them,

then cross choke from mount.

Arm bar is a lot, too.

So 18 from choke from back, 12 cross choke,

10 arm bar, five RNC rear naked is for no gi, okay.

So Ezekiel in there, too.

So in 2000, Ezekiel is very powerful.

I took, he’s a strong weapon.

Yeah, also from mount.

Also from mount.

Oh, that’s when you can’t get the one hand in.

No, because the Ezekiel most times I use against people

is the attack that as soon as I get to the mount,

when they’re trying to escape the open up,

and I get them.

It has to be at that initial timing.

So it’s not a thing you use to bother them

in order to create.

Either I get it right away,

or I don’t bother trying much.

Got it.

Because you need to keep one hand behind the head,

and you’re naturally on that position

as soon as you mount, most of the times.

And the moment that you mount someone,

no one accept that.

They go mount it, they’re gonna explode to get out.

So holding the head, it gives you a better way

to dominate them initially,

to deal with that explosiveness on the initial,

on the beginning.

And then, but then you have to let go to try it.

You’re very limited holding the head.

In terms of goats, Shonji,

I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit that he deserves.

He had an extremely dominant performance in competition.

What about Salo and Shonji Hibero?

What are your thoughts about what makes them so good?

He had a bunch of tough matches with Shonji.


And Salo.

Eight times.

Yeah, fought eight times, Shonji.

I fought Salo once.

I think I’m bringing up a sore point.

Oh, did Shonji tap when you,

or did the time run out in that,

was the last time you guys faced each other?

Yeah, 2008.

That was incredible to watch also.

I think you pulled guard with one minute left

working towards attacking.

I mean, it’s probably very tough to get anything.

And I think he’s a very good fighter.

It’s very tough to get anything.

And for people who don’t know,

time ran out, you had something that looked like

an arm lock, and Shonji looked like he may be tapping.

But it looked like he might be just celebrating,

which is most likely.

I’m not sure.

I’m not sure.

It was, I’m not sure.

Because I think his arm was just,

just straight his arm time finish.


So I’m not sure if he was tapping

to let go, time’s up.

Or because I would say most likely the time was up.

Yeah, and also, there’s a thing where you start,

you realize there’s only three, two seconds left.

He’s to kind of start celebrating.

You realize that Hadji’s not gonna be able

to finish this arm bar in the time left.

So you start celebrating.

No, I think he tapped to say the time is up.

The time is up.

Anyway, what do you think,

like the longevity especially is impressive

with Shonji?

How long?

I think he doesn’t get credit as much as he deserves

because he pushed his career very far.

And the last few years, he was on his best.

So he’s, if he would have stopped before,

people would remember him on his highest.

But he kind of pushed more than his peak

let’s say.

How hard is it for you to walk away?

We’ll talk about the journey into MMA as well.

But you basically, especially with the second match

against Bucceschi, basically walked away on top.

Beating arguably the greatest competitor of all time.

And just walking away.

It wasn’t that hard to be honest

because that was something that I was considering

for a while.

Because the last few years of my career, let’s say,

it was fighting MMA at the same time as fighting jiu-jitsu.

And it’s very challenging to do both.

Like I don’t, there’s not another person who ever did that

because the training is a confliction

with the way you train.

Everybody who start doing MMA, start focusing MMA,

their jiu-jitsu gets worse

because they stopped training with the game.

Everybody, no exception.

Was your jiu-jitsu also getting worse?

No, because I made sure I kept training with the gi

and I kept fighting at least the world championship

once a year.

That was my goal.

I’m like, I’m going to go for MMA.

But I love jiu-jitsu and I still want to fight

the highest level.

So I kept fighting once a year for a few years.

It was a challenge, especially because

the two or three times when I competed at the world’s,

it was right after MMA fight I had.

And no gi, you don’t have the grips.

So my grips, it made a big difference on my grips.

So I was weaker grip-wise.

So I felt that.

So I knew it was like, it’s unnecessary risk

because I’m not, if I cannot be a hundred percent,

so why am I doing this?

But I’m stubborn, I love jiu-jitsu.

That’s like, I love fighting jiu-jitsu.

I never loved MMA.

I’ve liked it, but I think if all grace,

I wouldn’t have done it.

So the thing you felt the most is the grips.


Because you won a gi world championship without gripping.


Like just pretending it’s no gi match,

they get to grip you, but you don’t.


So grips are essential.

Of course.

How can you choke someone?

Like it’s, if your grips are weak,

your forearms will fatigue,

and then you will have no power,

and then you cannot do anything.


You could still arm lock, and you could…

So I meant more not for the submission,

but for the control, the game of it, the dance.

But you need to grip to get there.

To get there.

And if your grips are weak…

But you also have grips in no gi.

Can’t you use those grips?


This is a thought experiment.

I’m trying to understand how essential…

When I get a no gi guy go far with the gi, they panic.

They panic?

Of course.

Everyone panics.

A bear panics when they’re in the water with a shark,

but that doesn’t mean the bear can’t still win

when it stops panicking and relaxes.

It’s not possible.

That’s another discussion.

Can a bear beat a shark in the water?

Actually, I need to, maybe a polar bear,

because they’re pretty good at swimming.


I say not possible for the no gi guy to win.

Bears is a further discussion.

What was, to you,

the biggest difference between mixed martial arts

and jiu-jitsu?

What are some interesting differences,

some interesting insights,

even just about the grappling within both sports?

So the biggest difference for me between MMA and jiu-jitsu

is first is the speed.

Like jiu-jitsu, like a 10-minute match,

I can take my time.

There’s no dangers that forces me to move fast.

MMA, you have to be 100% sharp and fast

from the first second of the fight,

because punches are coming.

You can get knocked out any time.

One mistake, you’re out.

Jiu-jitsu, you don’t have that.

Like it’s, I don’t have to worry about quick submission,

because it’s all about the way my body’s positioned.

You know, my grips.

It’s easy to avoid.

It’s easier to see it coming.

It’s like a quick submission, a surprise.

It only works if you make a mistake,

if you’re not correct positionally.

Otherwise, it’s impossible.

It’s extremely difficult.

MMA, it’s not.

I mean, one split-second mistake,

and when the person comes, you have to respond.

You have to match his pace.

I mean, you can slow down,

but it’s like you’re forced to respond.

So it’s not much fast.

It’s a lot more physical, a lot more,

and you need to be physical,

much better conditioning, faster.

It’s explosiveness.

It’s much harder.

Is it possible in the MMA to calm things down?

If they change the rules, yeah.

Five-minute rules, no.

Ah, I see.

So like, I just meant actually technically speaking,

is there ways to take an opponent

that’s being exceptionally aggressive?

You can, clinch.


But then he takes you down, he keeps moving.

I’m saying it’s hard to control that pace.

You can.

If you play defense, you save more energy

than if you try to be the aggressor and respond.

And even getting to the clinch is very difficult.

Yeah, you have no way to hold yourself there.

So that was the biggest challenge for me in MMA,

is the speed, because I’m a very slow start fighter.

If you look at my matches, I start very slow,

because if I go hard, you know, I fatigue faster.

So for me, that was the hardest part of,

is to start fast.

What about on the ground?

Is there something different,

more challenging on the ground?

Being in the bottom, yes.

There’s punches, punch coming.

How fundamentally different is Jiu-Jitsu

with punches on the ground?

Ah, it changes everything.


Which parts?

The distance that you allow your opponent to be on you,

the techniques that you choose to apply.

You know, you have to,

your body has to be aware of the punches,

and you are a lot more limited on your attacks.

So you’re known for your close guards.

How does your close guard have to adjust?

How does the positioning of your hands have to adjust

when you’re on the bottom of close guard?

So in the guard, especially in the close guard,

you have to either keep the person very close to you,

or you have to kick him away.

That’s in the guard, is either I’m hugging you,

or get away from me.

And in Jiu-Jitsu, you’re allowed to have a middle?

Yeah, in Jiu-Jitsu, there’s a lot of,

you can’t allow the person to be.

What about getting a arm lock

or a triangle submissions from the guard?

Is that fundamentally different

because you don’t have the middle game?

It’s much harder.

There’s barely no open guard in MMA, very little.

Because open guard, there’s a distance between you and him.

There’s a distance you cannot control.

It’s much harder to control that punch coming.

And I have to position myself away to block that,

and it limited my attacks, my options of attacks.

Is there a reason, correct me if I’m wrong,

but I don’t think you do open guard much

in Jiu-Jitsu and No Gi.

Is there a reason for that?

It’s harder with the explosive person

because when they’re moving fast,

then you have to try to slow them down.

So you like guards that allow you to control the person?


And closed guard is the ultimate control?


It’s not ultimate control,

but closed guard puts you in a position

that I’m attacking and you’re defending.

You cannot attack me from my closed guard.

We can argue that there might be one or two attacks,

but it’s like very, very, very limited

and depends who you’re fighting against.

I hate the closed guard.

Being on top against a good closed guard is very-

No one likes, it’s terrible.

It’s horrible.

It’s one-sided.

So you’re in the guard and it’s one-sided.

The person in the bottom has the advantage.

I can be completely relaxed in my closed guard,

and I cannot be completely relaxed.

You know what the most annoying thing is?

It’s somebody who is both good

and extremely confident with a closed guard

because they have that smug energy about them.

They know how much unpleasant,

how much work it takes to pass this.

Anyway, especially people with longer legs.

Is there something you wish you did differently

in how you started training at MMA in that trajectory

in figuring out how to train, how to get good?

Like what have you learned about getting good at MMA?

From having done it.

If you were to start now, for example.

I think I would have to dedicate it more.

I didn’t dedicate enough.

Both like literally time, number of training sessions-

Training, yeah.

But also mental-

Training-wise, physical.

I think a lot more the physical part of it.

The strikes, everything?

The strike from the beginning.

It’s because, I mean, I love jujitsu.

Like it’s, I truly love all the aspects of it.

Fighting, training, the practice, the competition.

I don’t have that for MMA.

So it’s hard to give your heart to it,

something that you don’t have the passion to it.

Like jujitsu, I gave my heart to it.

Like I did everything that I had to.

MMA, I never, I didn’t do that.

So that’s why it was,

I won’t say it was wrong for me to do it

because I don’t regret doing it.

I mean, I always, looking back as a kid

when I decided to be, to take jujitsu for life,

I already knew that some point I would have to do MMA.

There’s almost like that’s the path of a Gracie.

When you’re ready, you go do MMA.


So there was like a duty versus a love.

Yeah, there was not a choice.

There was like, I have to.

It’s just the life I took, it will lead that way.

Are you proud of that step?

You know, go against the natural love

and towards more duty?

I think I don’t regret it

because if I hadn’t done it,

I would feel there was something missing.

So I don’t regret doing, I would regret not doing.

The tricky thing is the choice to go to MMA

could have compromised your ability

to win against Brxesha and it didn’t.

And it’s a fascinating case study.

It still doesn’t make sense to me

that after all those years, you’re able to come back

and go against the best person in the world and beat him.

Yeah, and I had to because the first fight we had,

I had something stuck in my throat for a long time.

So you think about that?

Oh, yeah.

I’m like, as soon as that first fight finished,

I had said, that got stuck in my throat

that I already, at that point, I knew

I’m gonna have to fight him again.

I knew.

I always knew.

Because there’s no choice, I have to.

Oh, man.

All right, well, in terms of Nogi,

who do you think is the best Nogi competitor of all time?

There’s no question, you know, it’s Gordon.

I mean, I don’t think it’s right to say

the best competitor of all time

because he’s still very young.

I think that’s something that he can be angry

in the end of when the person.

You don’t want him to get lazy.

You know what I’m saying?

No, no, I mean, but you cannot praise someone

in the middle of his career, you know?

So you cannot call him the best ever.

He’s 26 or 27.

So it’s, I mean, he’s great, he’s very good.

He’s ahead of all of other competitors, I think.

And I mean, he’s having an amazing career.

You know, he’s doing amazingly well.

So I mean, when he’s, when he finish,

when he finally retired, then you can argue like.

You know what?

There’s wisdom in that.

It matters how you finish, right?

Of course.

It’s very interesting.

I think that Nogi is relative new, that Nogi scene.

There was not, there wasn’t a scene before.

I think he started now on his generation, you know,

his time.

Because before, like when I was competing,

Nogi was just ADCC.

There’s nothing else.

Every two years, first was only in the Emirates.

You know, you had to go there to compete.

So there was not even a scene.

It was like this one tournament that gives a lot of money

to, you know, to competitors, to fighters.

And brings fighters from other modalities.

You know, Marker, Van Narsdale, you know,

some wrestlers, Greco Roman, you know,

that can compete against each other.

And they, you know, they create that set of rules,

try not to favor anyone.

So that was it.

So you cannot be called the greatest Nogi of all time

if you only have one tournament every two years.

Only in Emirates, they have to be invited to.

But I think now, you know, it grew a lot.

Now we have so many different tournaments.

Now we have a scene.

You have people that only train Nogi,

they’re fully dedicated to Nogi.

And you have supervised different tournaments.

So now it’s, you know, now it’s professionally.

You can do just Nogi now, which before was unheard of.

Because you have one or two tournaments.

If you cannot be called a Nogi fighter,

fighting once every two years.

Twice every two years.

Yeah, now there’s entire systems

that are optimized for Nogi

that could be fundamentally different.

Like what do you think about the body lock?

Like this passing with the body lock.

I don’t know if you get an understanding of it.

Yeah, I think it’s okay.

It’s a popular way to, what is it?

Maybe to apply.

To stay tight.

To stay tight.

Very close to your opponent.

So he can’t push great distance.

He can push away.

But somehow it shuts down the hips as well.


Makes it more difficult to defend.

Yeah, kind of trap your legs.

You see, your back is stuck against the floor.

Are you like scientifically curious

about these new developments?

Do you think, do you have answers in your head to them?


So body lock is one interesting one.

Obviously foot locks is another.

And that’ll mean just the foot locks,

but the whole like control aspect of foot locks.

That’s interesting.

And there’s other interesting stuff.

John is really into the wrestling.

But not wrestling, wrestling, but wrestling everywhere.

Jiu-Jitsu at all levels of the plane.

That’s very interesting,

because obviously Jiu-Jitsu has not really been,

you know, unlike like freestyle wrestling and so on,

has not been like a systematic, scientific,

rigorous exploration of wrestling.

It’s like you’re on your feet and you’re on the ground.

Not into mixed.

There’s a lot of interest.

John is academic.

He tried to, you know, numbers, mathematic, everything.

You kind of are too.


No, I mean, I am,

because you have to understand what you’re doing.

You know, there’s a,

everything there’s a step-by-step,

like logistic, like details.

Every single move, there’s a reason for it.

You know, there’s things around that happens.

It’s, the more you know, the better you are, right?

The more knowledgeable, or competitor, or whatever.

So I think with the foot locks, with the Nogi,

like if you look back,

you know, if you think of,

used to be seen as a really bad thing to attack the foot.

It wasn’t seen as a good options of attack.


What is that?

Respectable gentlemen don’t attack the leg, or what?

No, because if you look back,

you know, the tournaments, when they were created,

all the rules and everything else was to simulate

a real fight with no punches, when I was having Nogi.

I mean, if you ask, what is Jiu-Jitsu?

Like, what are you trying?

What’s the main goal of Jiu-Jitsu?

To dominate your opponent.

What’s the main goal of fighting?

It’s, we’re fighting.

It’s, of course, submission is the ultimate goal.

But the, you know, before that,

the main goal is to dominate you.

Like, we’re fighting, I have to dominate you.

And then the submission comes.

And foot locks, it’s, I don’t require any domination on you.

I don’t need to be in a dominant position

to attack your foot.

And it’s, if I attack your foot,

you’re still free to knock me out.

If your body goes down to my foot,

I can still come close to you or stand up

and I’ll punch you.

So it’s not a good position to be in a real fight.

Yeah, to attack in the foot.

I mean, how many times you’ve seen that going bad?

That going bad in an MMA fight?

I mean, of course you had, you know,

some sort of success with the hooker.

It’s no questions.

But how many times went wrong?

People were knocked out attacking the foot.

So you can’t say it’s the best position to be.

It’s okay to go,

but it’s a very high risky position to go.

So that’s why it’s not in a real situation,

it’s not seen as a good thing.

So when you translate that to Jiu-Jitsu,

when attacking the foot,

it’s not seen as a good thing

because when you reflect that to a real situation,

it’s not gonna go down well.

So it was always seen as a easy way out,

you know, easy cut.

You’re trying to do the easy path.

You can’t pass my guard,

you can’t dominate me,

and then you’re trying to attack my foot.

That’s why it was always seen as a,

you know, not as the best,

a great submission, a way to win.

But the sad side effect of that

is it was completely underdeveloped because of that.

Exactly, of course.

So people never really developed that.

But now, the tournaments, the fighting,

it got completely,

not completely, but it got some,

it’s not longer seen as,

you know, as a simulation of the real thing.

Now it’s a sport.

It’s only seen as a sport.

So now it doesn’t matter.

If you attack my foot, you cannot punch me.

So why is it bad now to attack the foot?

So it’s not seen as a bad thing anymore.

And now it got really developed.

I don’t know.

That’s another bear versus shark question.

But, you know, there is,

in a street self-defense situation,

it’s possible to imagine where foot locks

would be effective for Haile.

But I guess if you invest 10,000 hours,

it’s better to invest it in chokes.

Yeah, to dominate.

If I’m, you know, if I were fighting,

it’s way better for me to be on your side,

control on the mount,

where I can pin you, be completely safe,

than to stay inside your legs,

trying to attack your foot.


People would argue that there’s a lot

of very dominant controlling positions

in the whole foot lock game, right?

It is, but it can go bad very quickly.


No, I mean, there’s some great ways

to control someone that he cannot escape,

but it can go bad very quickly.

That’s the thing.

Well, even back control can go bad

very quickly on the street.

So mount, I don’t know.

Is mount a really good position?

But then there’s no good position then.

There’s no good position.

There’s no-

Every position, there’s a risk, okay?

Attacking the foot is a way higher risk

than side control, mount, back.

That’s what I’m saying,

the back is not the best way to pin someone,

unless you’re underneath me.

Because if you try to rotate,

I can sacrifice the back

and just let you pin the mount.

Okay, there you go.

Would you prefer mount or back mount

where they’re flattened?

Like a-

Still mount.

Thought I’d get you.

So yeah, going back to Gordon,

what do you think makes that guy so good?

We were just at ADCC,

we get to see him historically dominant performance.

His dedication, the way he trains,

and how much he trains.

And of course you have to add his mind,

his belief to really try to be good,

the best, or you know, I don’t know what his goals are,

but I know he tries to be better than his opponents.

So his belief are very strong.

His dedication, he probably trains more than everybody else.

I mean, I haven’t seen firsthand it,

but from what I hear interviews with him

and everybody else training,

and you know, the way everybody trains.


You know, trying to, for my little knowledge I have,

I’ll bet he trains more than everybody else.

And most important, how he trains.

And when I, I kind of already knew,

but when I heard John podcast with you the other day,

John was explaining the preparation,

the training for the ADCC,

and that kind of gave me a very strong idea

how they’ve been training all these years.

So, you know, when we said,

it’s you have to work on your weakness,

so you have no weakness.

He trains a lot on his weakness,

which not everyone does that.

You know, if you look all the,

I’m not going to name, but you know,

all the main schools, when like very strong competitors,

great competitors, super tough people,

but super tough, not great,

because they train, they spar very hard.

That makes them tough.

If you want to be good,

you have to work on your weakness,

because when you spar, like we’re saying,

how many times you’re going to practice

escaping a bad position,

like a submission hold or a pinning position,

side control, mount,

it’s very little the amount time you get to spend

on those positions if you don’t start there.

So that, he’s very smart the way he trains.

And part of that is also cerebral.

It’s not just putting yourself in those positions,

but talking through different ideas.

Like they talk, they like experiment.

It’s very like, at first glance,

it’s like philosophical almost,

because you’re trying to create systems constantly.

You’re trying to understand

how this fits into this big picture.

And then he goes back to what is fighting.

He’s fighting for dominance.

You know, he’s fighting for the ultimate dominance positions,

which is back and mount.

There’s no others.

And from that, you finish.

So if you look back at his,

you know, over the years of his past fights,

before he used to mainly focus in legs,

and over the past few years,

now he’s mainly focusing in finishing from the mountain back.

Well, that’s when he became really good.

So part of that is Mr. John Donahart.

What do you think, you’ve known John for a long time.

What makes that guy interesting, special, and good?

What have you learned about jiu-jitsu

and life from John Donahart?

He’s super smart.

I mean, eccentric.

And he lives through jiu-jitsu.

He’s 24-7 thinking better ways to teach,

how to make his competitors better.

And that as a coach,

when you have that dedication as a coach,

that it makes the most difference of your athletes.

Like, which other big team will have that coach

with that motivation?

All the other schools,

it’s either someone that competes,

that push the training, like Andre Galvao.

It’s not, he’s one of the competitors.

So he brings the hype in everyone else,

but he doesn’t have the time.

He doesn’t spend the time working individually.

I mean, I’m sure he does,

but it’s limited because he’s also a competitor.

And, you know, looking most of the other big schools,

like, you don’t have that nowadays.

All the leaders, the main coaches

for the other big schools,

they have other things in their lives.

They don’t fully dedicate it to the athletes.

Jonas, you know, look at the interview.

He spends hours and hours a day studying

how can a weight, a system, you know,

to make his athletes better.

Look at the results.

I enjoy just sitting back and forth.

You can actually just get him,

you control him essentially by sending interesting videos

and you could just see his mind.

He’s gonna do research on that.

Because I kept sending him videos of bears

because he claimed that a lion would beat a bear

because, I’d love to get your take on this.

Okay, so the bear is much bigger, much stronger.

But his take is that the bears don’t have experience

of fighting to the death.

That’s not part of the culture.

They’re more scared.

In fact, he keeps sending me footage

of like even like a small mountain lion

scaring a bear away because they don’t want to fight.

So his idea is that it really matters your life experience,

how much you fight.

It’s not necessarily the skill,

like the dimensions, the characteristics you have.

But then I send him, here I’ll show you.

People should Google this.

It’s bears fighting of any kind.

It’s pretty much the most epic thing ever.

Here, I’ll show you.

The cardio, though, is interesting.

You know, it’s funny.

I was gonna mention that

because I was flipping through internet.

I came around that video.

Look how big these guys are.

No, they’re huge, but see, they don’t bite each other.

You think it’s just play?

They’re trying to, no, intimidating

because they don’t want to get hurt.

So they try to size each other up.

You know, you’ll see the whole fighting

is sizing each other up.

There’s a lot of pushing.

And the fur is so thick,

so the cloth doesn’t really damage much.

They’re using the tree, so maybe they, yeah.

I mean, there is bites, but see, there’s very little.

So the whole time, they’re trying to

intimidate the other one,

like winning the fight by their size.

And mostly about, like, the way drunk college kids fight,

which is like some kind of display of dominance

versus actual.

Yeah, they’re not fighting to kill.

And bear or tiger, you know, they fight to finish,

unless the other one runs away, like one will die.

Yeah, lions and tigers.

Yeah, I, but look at the cardio.

Look how bad their cardio is.

I wonder how, my favorite part is when one of them

just, like, stands behind a tree and says, all right.

He’s holding.

He’s getting the breath.

Let me catch my breath.

He sits down.

It’s like, all right, you can’t, it’s over.

It’s like, it’s the equivalent in the forest tapping out.

All right, all right, you got me.

Let me just, let me just catch my breath.

Look, they’re both, like, just shot.

And, but see, the thing is that I was trying

to make an argument for is that

we get this rare footage.

It’s not rare.

I mean, it was like hundreds of videos,

but it’s not millions of videos

because there’s a huge number of bears.

And I was trying to say that there’s some bad-ass bear

we don’t know about because he just goes in there

and just does work.

And we just don’t know about it because he’s, like,

everyone, see, the thing is,

if you kill a lot of other animals,

you probably have a territory

that nobody’s going to mess with you.

So it’s very hard to catch the,

the, like, the Hodge and Gracie of bears, you know?

He’s just going to be sitting there doing nothing.

So I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I feel like, of course, when you corner him,

John will say that if you put a bear in a line in a cage,

the bear will win if it’s, like,

if they’re forced to be to the death, but I don’t know.

Oh, let me ask you another ridiculous thing

before I ask you serious questions.

So Joe Rogan thinks that a tie

is an effective way to attack somebody.

I don’t know if, I can’t believe I haven’t,

in the time in Vegas, I didn’t talk to you about this.

I think it’s not.

Have you ever explored this?

As the best choker in the world,

have you ever explored the use,

because, like, Jiu-Jitsu has the jacket,

but the tie, to me, is a pretty shitty way

to choke somebody.

Intuitively, it thinks like it’s a good way,

but it can slide around.

It feels like there’s no way to really pin.

You would need to.

Right, so you use it the way you use a belt, essentially.

Yeah, but then-

I would guess so.


See, I don’t think it’s,

and I think if it gives you,

it actually has the reverse effect,

which it gives you the false sense of confidence

that you can use it,

and instead it’ll just distract you.

So you think it’s a stronger way than the collar?

Or just a stronger-

Yeah, yeah.

Stronger than the collar?

Stronger than the collar, yeah, yeah.

I don’t see how.

Maybe, I just, I can’t say.

Well, in a street fight scenario, right?

By the time you grab the tie,

the guy goes punch your nose.


What George St. Pierre thinks

is the best use of the tie

is to actually, what do you call that?

So, basically, to off-balance them,

which is an interesting point,

to push that down.

That can be used to, yeah.

Well, you could use the jacket

for the same kind of thing.

Yeah, I don’t know.

I haven’t really fully tested it.

I’ll say jacket or tie,

for that perspective of off-balancing the person,

it can be, yeah.

Because you have control of the person’s neck.

The collar, the jacket moves.

So for the purpose of off-balancing the person,

I would agree with George.

See, the thing is,

that’s the thing about martial arts,

is you can say all kinds of bullshit,

but until you really test it in over a period of years,

the competition, you won’t really know.

I think that’s where my gut says,

just how easily the tie moves,

my gut says the collar.

There is something really powerful about the jacket.

There’s the way it sits.

I mean, the fact that the arms trap it from rotating.


It’s a weird piece of clothing.

It’s a really dangerous piece of clothing

that we put on ourselves.

Like, and it’s kind of cool

that we’ve developed this whole martial arts system

that allows you to use that to do a lot of damage.

It’s very interesting.

So when we’re saying something that you develop

over the years or practice over and over again,

going back to the efficiency of the mount or back,

by experience of attacking people,

people always had a much higher chance of escaping

from the back than from my mount.

So it’s, I feel if I mount and you get both my hands

on your neck, you cannot escape.

If my hands are deep, it’s over.

Like, I don’t remember anyone escaping,

but I do remember if my hands are deep on your collar

or even a real naked choke, it’s still a hassle.

Like, it’s not clean.

You have some data on this.

Is there some aspect to how your body is,

the characteristics of your body

that fits a particular set of techniques?

So if we just look at jiu-jitsu broadly,

do you see most techniques being able to work

for most people?

Like, what you’re saying about mount versus back control,

is it possible for a different body type,

the mount is not as effective?

Yeah, of course.

I’ll say very big people, they should mount.

You don’t think of yourself as big?

No, big, I mean fat.


They should stay off the mount.

Why is that?

That’s a counterintuitive question.

Because it’s mobility, it’s like it’s,

I think that, you know, you don’t see any,

you know, like there was a few ways,

like 160 kilo, like, you know, in pounds.

I don’t know, 270 pounds of a lot of fat.

It’s, you need a bit of mobility,

and that would, it would play against you.

So great.

Even back.

Even back is the same.

A great mount requires mobility.



Even though it doesn’t look like you’re moving very much

when you’re doing mount, that requires mobility?


Because you have to reposition and weight redistribution.

Constantly adjusting your body.

All right.

The legend goes, you got very good by training

mostly with lower ranks.

What was your training like in that environment?

So when I first moved to London, I was 20 years old.

I opened my school there, and I had nobody to train with.

I had one guy that was teaching with me,

a black belt, middleweight.

He was good.

And that’s it.

Braulio was, he moved to the same,

he moved to England the same time as I did,

but he was in Birmingham.

So we did got together, you know, maybe twice a week,

close to, you know, when we were preparing for something.

If not, then not very often.

As often as we could, but let’s say not that often.

And I had just color belt students.

There was no one high level,

there was no one world champion in any belt to train.

Then you need to create a scenario that simulates,

that can simulate, you know, like a realistic fighting.

So I think on that aspect, you know, when people said,

you know, people ask, why do I have such a basic game?

I think that also influenced me sharpen up all my skills

when I moved there.

Because, you know, if you practice with people,

you know, lower level than you, you cannot,

there’s nothing to learn from them.

Or, you know, you can learn things and practice with them,

but I would say very complex things on them,

it is not the best.

So it’s, I sharpen up all my skills.

So, you know, that when I really improved everything

that I already knew to a higher level.

But how can you sharpen something

if the resistance is much lower level than?

A purple belt can makes it very hard

for you to skip side control.

Doesn’t have to be a world champion black belt.

It’s, you know, if it’s one is holding you,

it can be very hard.

What about on the attack?

How do you become literally by far the best person

at the cross choke from mount

by training with purple belts?

It’s sometimes purple belts defense

way better than black belts.


See, a lot of people listening to that would be like,

that makes no sense, Hajo Gracie.

How does that make any sense?

Because like a lot of the black belts,

even world champion, they get to the black belt,

they’re really good in what they do.

Let’s say in the guard, you know,

on top or the bottom position, but their defense are not.

Like very, very few people, high level,

have a very good defense because they don’t practice.

Then that goes back to how you train.

You know, you can be very tough.

Very tough will make you terrible defense

because you’re not gonna practice your weakness.

So your weakness still gonna be terrible.

You’re gonna have the best guard in the world.

Impossible to pass.

The day people pass your guard, you’re nothing.

Like it’s, your guard is high, the highest level,

but your side control defense are not.

Your mount defense are not.

So some purple belts, they practice the mount

way more than the black belt did,

so naturally their defense is better.

So they get to experience the defensive position

much, much, much more, and especially training with you,

they get really good at defending.

And then over and over again,

you attack them with the same thing over and over again,

and they know what’s coming, they will block.

They will develop a defense over that.


Way better than most other high level black belts.

So both put yourself into really bad positions

with lower ranks and just keep attacking the same way

over and over and over.


And with that, you’re able to be at the top of the world,

at the world championships.


I mean, can you give some,

what was the preparation like to a world championship

with lower ranks?

I mean.

I did a lot of boxing, a lot of conditioning.

No, but the-

Conditioning is a big part of it.

But the one thing that helped me extremely

living in England, in London,

was training judo at the Budokai in London.

That helped me massively

because it gave me the motivation to learn something new

because by then at the Budokai,

the standup was, I’m sure today it is too,

but by then was even higher than it is today.

Like there was some very high level judo guys

training there.

And I mean, the first time I went there,

my standup was terrible compared to theirs.

I mean, it was bad, but compared to them, it was terrible.

So I was getting thrown like a child.

And that motivate me to keep coming back and get better.

So that made my jiu-jitsu much stronger.

I became, my base got better, my top game improved,

my pressure game improved.

Did, does Neil Adams train?

Ray Stevens.

No, I’ve never met Neil Adams.

Have you met Neil Adams?

He’s the voice of judo.

I don’t know if you watched the tournaments.

He’s incredible.

Yeah, Ray Stevens is a silver medalist in the Olympics.

He won European, he won a lot.

So you did some judo training.

What’s your favorite throw?

Like a soto, like you don’t-

Uchimata, I’ll say.


If I would pick one.

So that made you better at jiu-jitsu as well?

Yeah, yeah.


And back then, like for the first,

I’ll say maybe three years, maybe four,

I went to Brazil for like two months before

every major tournament.

Got it.

So I say, you know, I moved away from the school

and I really focused, so I was really well prepared

with my judo and everything else,

sharpening up my skills and then went to Brazil

to train with like really high level people.

So that way I would manage to compete in the highest level.

What advice would you give to,

let’s start with a complete beginner.

So, you know, a bunch of people come up to me

and they still want to start doing jiu-jitsu.

What advice would you give them?

Try to absorb as much technique as you can

and try to be as relaxed as you can.

Don’t, you know, don’t desperately try to fight so hard.

Like learn and move slow.

Move slow and relax.

That’s the hardest thing to do, the hardest.

You know what I find with people,

it seems like it’s hard to even know

that you’re not relaxed.

It’s like the introspection.

They don’t even know what it feels like to relax.

Not even know the tense.

Yeah, right.

They try to relax, they look at you, say,

what, what do you mean relax?

I’m relaxed.

You feel it.

And in terms of going slow, they’re like,

yeah, well, I’m going slow.

No, you’re not.

Yeah, there’s a grace and elegance of movement

that you can probably pick up from a lot of other disciplines.

Like for me, I think that came from just learning piano

at a young age.

It’s for, I think any mobility thing,

to learn how to move efficiently,

you have to know how to move efficiently.

And I think that’s the hardest thing to do.

To learn how to move efficiently,

you have to know how to relax.

So it’s just the fact that you can,

like the body can be tense or it can be relaxed.

Just knowing that fact.

Now imagine your shoulders tense.


You think you play piano well?

No, everything has to be relaxed.

I guess some of that is mind too,

but just knowing that and being self-aware.

But see like, even me, you know, approaching a thing,

I’m not, I don’t know anything about being a beginner.

You’re going to tense up.

And like, it actually takes a conscious effort

to think to relax.

I mean, that’s-


That’s why learning things as an adult

is much harder than as a child.

Like it’s very hard.

And as an adult, it’s like to get to the highest level,

it’s not possible.

Because you will never relax the way you should.


Relax in the way that you become like water,

but then you solidify in the right places.



Is there advice you can give to an adult?

So like somebody that has a job, like a hobbyist,

like how to progress, how to get-

I mean, train, just need to train as much as you can.

Not, you know, five, seven days a week

because you’re going to get injured.

I mean, two, three times a week to start

is the best way to, you know,

to initiate your jujitsu journey

and practice the same thing over and over again.

When they don’t work,

it’s just because you’re not doing well,

not because, you know, you have to learn something else.

Do you see some value in just picking a set of techniques

that seem to draw your heart in?

Like, for example, I’ll give you an example.

You’re going to yell at me,

but I never learned close guard well.

It just never connected with me.

You could say it’s body mechanics, whatever.

It doesn’t matter.

The point is, it’s just like my heart

never connected with it.

You know, the way I justified it to myself

is I felt like when you’re bad,

you’re using the close guard,

just like you could use the half guard to stall.

So I was really drawn to the butterfly guard as a beginner

because I thought, or open guard in general,

I have no options to stall, so I’m going to learn.

My thinking was, let me do the guard

that enforces me to learn.

And then I fell in love with the butterfly guard

and the open guard and so on.

And I never, I never really understood the close guard.

And the other thinking was,

do I really need to understand the close guard?

Because it’s always by choice that I go there.

So I can avoid not really learning.

I mean, you can avoid anything you want.

I mean, you don’t have to do anything.

In this life, yes.

But it doesn’t make you complete.

That means you have a weakness.

But do you want to be complete as a,

this is the question,

how valuable is it to be complete to get good?

Depends how good you want to be.

Okay, let’s go.

Well, there’s several questions there.

Yeah, okay, like to be the best in the world,

do you need to be complete?

Of course.

The best in the world, of course you have to be complete.

Otherwise you, somebody is going to be better than you.

But what about like, so to understand, to defend,

you have to be also good at the offense

in every single position.

Otherwise you have a weakness

and someone can capitalize on that weakness.

Okay, what about to be like a hobbyist?

Then you don’t have to.

But can you, or is it still bad?

I mean, it’s not bad.

I mean, nothing is bad.

I mean, if you, as a hobbyist, you start late.

I mean, it doesn’t matter how far you’re going to get.

As long as you enjoy it, just train as much as you can.

If it’s twice a week, twice a week it is.

You’ll be limited how good you will be training

twice a week, of course.

Then the guy that trains twice a day.

You know, it’s just, the more you train, the better you get.

But you have to select what you train.

That’s what I’m asking.

I don’t know, yes, but like for how long?

Like there’s some point in your life

that you might try something, see if you like it.

You know, there’s some point in your life

that you might, okay, let me try close guard.

You might not like it now.

Maybe in two, three years from now.

Still don’t like it.

I kept trying it.

Listen, because, listen, it’s very difficult

to get any respect in jiu-jitsu.

It’s hard to get to black belt and beyond in jiu-jitsu

at a respectable place and not have a good close guard.

Close guard is-

Yeah, I mean, then don’t do it.

It’s not necessary.

Yeah, I’m being a rebel.

No, no, it’s not.

I’ll say because it’s not a position

that you want the pressure,

that if you don’t, no, you’ll be in trouble.

You’re not gonna be in trouble not to know the close guard.

You’re just gonna go straight for open guard.

I mean, the-

It’s not a problem.

The main limitation is if you don’t do close guard a lot,

that you don’t quite,

you don’t get a full, complete picture

of understanding how to attack close guard

when somebody puts you into a close guard,

when you’re on top.

So it’s nice to know both sides of it,

just to understand.

Yeah, but you can have a pretty good understanding

of how to defend from the top and not having any bottom.

I mean, some of it is also just like

the length of legs and just the geometry of your body.

I’m sure Marcel Garcia has a good close guard, but-

I’ve never seen it.

That’s exact, that’s the point I’m trying to make.

In theory, you can imagine it.

But for a hobbyist, I think it’s interesting

to think of that.

Like, is it possible to,

is it possible to focus on a small set of techniques

that help you to develop?

Yeah, of course.

Still into a good jujitsu player.

Yeah, of course.

And still enjoy and still be able to be-

Most people hobbies in the jujitsu world, 99%.

I mean, people that compete.

Yeah, even the people that compete and-

1% max.

And you have high-level competitors

have no clue what close guard is.

Okay, thank you for making me do it.

No, I think you would say that most people don’t have,

close guard is such a difficult position to understand.

Maybe one day we’ll brainwash.

Yeah, good.

I felt it’s too easy to stall versus attack.

That was my main concern.

It’s like, I wanna be forced in every way

to always be attacking, to always be moving, to always be.

And it felt like, if I got really good,

I’ve seen it happen with half guard too.

It’s like, when people get really good at half guard,

it just feels stall-y.

If you just look at the matches and so on,

you just slow things down to a thing that’s not,

you don’t get reps on learning.

You don’t get action in interesting ways.

So that was my worry, that I’ll get old and fat

and just sit in close guard all day,

holding on to the white belts, trying to kill me.

Cause it’s also, I mean, that’s the other thing

for hobbyists and for everyone is to,

like when you first start, I think,

you have to relax in the face of the fact

that you’re just getting your ass kicked nonstop.

That can also be really tough on the ego.

I think probably the right way to see that

is you’re growing as a person.

You see that clearly when they are like in a bad position,

let’s say side mount or mount.

Like a beginner, he will never relax on those position.

The moment that you say go, they like trying

to push you out and explode.

There’s no relaxation and work on the defense.

It’s like, no, it’s a out and go until I have zero to give.

Until I’m exhausted, my arms cannot move.

It’s kind of fun to watch actually.

What’s the role of drilling?

Do you like drilling?

I do not like drilling, but I’ll tell you why.

I think fighting, it’s mechanic, right?

So it’s very important to drill a move

until you learn the mechanic.

Of course it’s important.

If someone wanna teach you an arm lock,

you wanna practice that movement

until you learn the mechanic of it,

but the guy’s not resisting, so it’s easy to apply, right?

So you apply as many times as you have to

until you know the mechanic of the moves,

until you can apply the mechanics.

The moment that you know how to apply,

there’s no more point in drilling.

Now you have to practice.

Now you have to practice with resistance.

Of course you’re not gonna practice

with the guy fully resisting.

The guy’s better than you

because he’s not gonna give you a chance

to practice that move,

but you have to practice with resistance.

So where does drilling comes on that?

It’s most of people, they flow drill and everything.

Whatever you do, you’re conditioning your body

to do something.

You repeat the same move over and over again.

Your body’s conditioning to apply that movement

or that technique.

Drilling is not realistic

because the other person’s not resisting.

The flow movement or whatever.

After you go beyond, when you already know the mechanics,

the drilling with no resistance

is not gonna teach you anything

because you will never know how to apply the movement

with resistance.

So it’s pointless to carry on drilling

after you learn the mechanics.

See, but you’re making it sound easy

to learn the mechanics.

I would argue.

You can drill as many times.

I’m not limiting how much you drill.

You drill as long as you had to.

I mean, it doesn’t matter how long.

The benefit of drilling,

I’m just playing devil’s advocate with you.

The benefit of drilling is that

you can more efficiently get a higher number of reps in.


What are you gonna gain with those reps?

Understanding the mechanics of the movement.

And what I would like to argue

is you don’t necessarily need resistance

to deeply understand the mechanics of something.

Now, I don’t know.

There’s some, no.

There’s some moves.

Like, I bet you,

you could drill your way to an incredible mount.

Like, mount is a good example of that.

You don’t really need a resist, what?

I can imagine a world

in which the resisting opponent is not essential

for developing some of the very fine details

of the mechanics.

Which one?

Because I don’t know any.


You say mount.


What are you gonna achieve by drilling with no resistance

after you learn the mechanics?

In mount.

But see, what I’m trying to tell you,

the learning of the mechanics

isn’t a thing where you get a certificate and you’re done.

You’re gonna learn the fine details

of the way you redistribute your weight.

You’re going to learn how to move your,

I don’t understand mount, so.

Against a dead body.


Yeah, against a dead body.

Like, everything you do is a slow process and timing.

You have to understand moving.


It’s the guy’s resisting.

Like, he’s not,

I’m not gonna grab you and apply the movement.

I need to grab you and feel when is the right time to do.

Like, that only comes with movement.

If you’re not fully resistant, how would I know?

You couldn’t infer through it.

It’s like a.

With no movement, with no resistance.

Like arm lock.

There’s some resistance.

Okay, arm lock.

Let’s say arm lock.


Okay, let’s say you’ve been drilling for a week.


Five hours a day.

You should be an expert with the mechanics.

But now, are you gonna carry on drilling

with no resistance?



After that week, drilling five hours a day,

the arm lock, you still have no clue how to apply

the arm lock against a resisting opponent.

No clue, zero.


So you don’t know the movement, you know the mechanic.

Which is, you know, it’s like how long you have to drill

and how, that doesn’t matter.

It varies of the person.

You can drill for a month.

After that month is over, you should understand

how the mechanic works.

You still have no clue how to apply the movement

against a resisting opponent.

You will never ever know how until you apply

with a fully resisting opponent.

That’s the only way to know, to really learn a movement.

Yes, well put.

But the question is, can you have a small percentage

of time when you go against a resisting opponent

to get the wisdom and the insight of what it takes

to perform that movement and you spend a large percentage

of other time just practicing the mechanics of it?

So like, do you need to, as you get better and better

at technique, to basically drift away completely

from drilling and more into the sparring?

I’d like to, I just.

You like drilling?

No, I don’t like drilling.

Well, yes, I like drilling, I would say.

But I just see, it always bothered me

in the jiu-jitsu community how few people

really saw the value of drilling.

I see it in wrestling, especially in the Russian style

of wrestling, like the value of drilling.

I don’t necessarily mean that it’s like a dead body

or like a dummy or something like that,

but just getting the reps in, really focusing

on the high amount of reps.

I agree in wrestling and judo.

I agree that drilling is very important.

Initial drill, 1,000 times each move.

Yeah, judo’s a really big one for that too.

It is, because it’s the movement, the timing,

you know, it’s the precision of the movement.

It has to be perfectly, because it’s one movement.

Then you learn about the timing of the movement

when you’re fighting, but during fighting,

you only need to know the time,

because your body movement is exactly the same

when you drill.

That’s really well put, yeah.

The mechanics is much more important there.

Yeah, but it’s completely different for jiu-jitsu,

because let’s say from jiu-jitsu, like the arm lock,

for example, we use that as an example.

Let’s say from the close guard, even my close guard.

Before I go for the arm lock,

I need to have a set of grips.

Let’s say I have your collar and your arm, right?

And then, you know, when you’re drilling,

I’m gonna grab your arm, I’m gonna grab your collar,

and I’m gonna drill my body

until I can apply the arm lock and finish.

And I can do that 1,000 times.

Okay, now we’re fighting, we start with the grip.

The moment that I initiate the arm lock attack,

you will defend, the arm lock will not work.

So it’s not the one movement

that will get me to attack the arm.

There’s a combination of other things that I need to do.

I need to feel about your weight.

You know, I need to get you close to me.

There’s so many other things involved

that I need to feel that only comes

with a fully resistant opponent.

Yeah, so pretty quickly, it has to be live.


And then it comes how you practice, how you train.

You’re starting on that position and just saying, let’s go.

And the moment that we disengage from that position,

we go back, that’s when you really learn.

Because everything that you do wrong,

you’re gonna go back there and you’re gonna try again,

try again, try again.

And the repetition, it will teach you,

have a feeling of timing, when to go.

If there’s other combinations,

which you always has, to go with it.

By the way, for the internet that’s currently yelling at me

for arguing with Haja Gracie about drilling,

that’s called playing devil’s advocate

to strengthen, to explore ideas.

I’m not actually arguing.

Okay, I forgot to ask you,

if you had to fight against the bear, lion,

gorilla, or anaconda to the death,

which one would you choose

and would you be able actually to win against any of them?

A bear, a lion, a tiger, or anaconda?

Oh, a gorilla too, gorilla.

You can go gorilla.

I’ll probably choose the anaconda.

Let’s see.

I mean, you’re not allowed to run away though.

So you’re in a cage.

Do you have to kill?

Still the anaconda.

So the other one.


I think I have no chance against any other ones.

Zero chance, that’s what John thinks.

I think-

I have a tiny little against the anaconda.

I just wait it out.

You don’t think it’s possible to be,

I just, it feels like technique

can do something against these animals,

but they have so much strength, so much aggression.

You know, the real naked joke,

translating to Portuguese, is kill the lion.

So ever since I was a kid,

I always thought that maybe if I get behind a lion,

the real naked joke, which, you know,

in Portuguese it says, mata leão.

So mata leão means kill the lion.

So I always thought that that’s the only way

to kill a lion, or to, you know,

if you’re fighting against a lion,

you go behind and put the real naked joke,

I think you put him to sleep,

the name mata leão is like kill the lion.

Someone came up with the name.


Somebody must have.

Maybe someone went to a fight with a lion,

choked him up.

There you go, John, there you go.

I honestly, do you think,

or so actually, yeah,

you understand controlling positions.

Do you think an animal like a gorilla

or a lion would shake you off?

If you had back full, you’re locked in.

Well, say the one that’ll have the biggest chance

of staying there is the lion,

because it’s the thinner body.


It’s smaller than a tiger, I guess.

Think tigers are bigger?


So do you think they can shake you off, though?

I think I’ll have a bigger chance of staying

against a lion’s back than any other animal.

Still not answering the question.

Do you think you have a chance?

If I start on the back?

Yeah, start full, locked in, full controls.

Let’s say it’s a small enough lion

that you can actually have a full.

I would guess so.

I mean, I would like to believe so.


Well, just like you said,

somebody must have been able to do it.

Throughout your journey in jiu-jitsu,

have there been low points?

Like, has there been points

where you really doubted yourself?

No, I’ve never really doubted myself.

There’s low points in defeats.

Those are the low points, when I lost.

How did you deal with defeats?

I just went back to the gym next week

and say, I need to get better.

That every time I lost, I’m like,

I need to get better,

because I need to choke them out.

I need to submit them,

because, you know, win by points.

It’s, as a black belt,

I have very little loss, I would say.

I mean, I don’t like to sound like a crying baby,

but I’ll say most of those loss

was very, very controversial.

Yeah, it was not a dominant, clear performance.

It’s about referees and points and so on.

Everything, since I was very young,

I always fought against my opponent and the referee.

Like, if there was ever in my whole life,

since I was a kid,

there was ever a doubt,

they always go to my opponent.

Always, always.

That was just something that I had to deal with

my whole life.

Yeah, what’s the motivation behind,

what led to the fact that you win most of your matches

by submission or in dominance?

Like, are you chasing?

Because that’s the only way to prove you better.

And I never fought to win tournaments.

That was never my goal.

That was the consequence of me trying to be the best.

Like, I don’t care how many titles I have.

I care about, I need to beat all my opponents.

And not win, because win is not enough.

I have to submit them.

That’s the only way to prove I’m the best,

to submit them.

If I win by advantage or at a point,

that means I was better than them that day.

That does not mean I’m better than them.

If there’s no way to stay top,

if I take you down, pass your guard,

mount you and submit you,

there’s zero questions who’s the best.

Like, there’s nothing you can say about it.

If I foot sweep you,

you put your butt on the floor,

I get an advantage,

we carry on fighting and I win,

means nothing.

Not even means I’m better than you.

And if that happened, that would haunt you.

For me, it’s not enough.

I wouldn’t be happy.

What advice would you give to young folks

who look at you,

who are able to accomplish from a place

where you’re not very good,

to becoming the best in the world at a thing?

What advice would you give them

to have a journey like that?

To have a journey where they could be successful

in their career and their life

to such a high level?

Determination is the most important thing.

You need to know where you’re going to get there.

So you need to have a goal,

which whatever that goal is,

like you need to set that goal for yourself

so you know where you wanna go.

And to have the determination to get there

and be sure that you will fail many times.

You cannot let your failures bring you down

because you will fail many times.

Everybody does.

So you said you didn’t look to external sources of belief.

You just believed in yourself.

Is there something to that

where you have to try to

be your own source of belief,

flame the fire within yourself?

Was that something difficult to do?

That was just very natural for me.

I said you can surround yourself with great people.

That is extremely important.

Don’t surround yourself with failures

because they’re not gonna push you to,

they don’t know what it is, how to get there.

Everybody knows,

but when you surround yourself with winners,

you will know what it took them to get there.

Use them as an example.

Yeah, there’s a certain kind of aura

to people that just achieve great things

and being around them.

But it’s still, it’s hard to find people that,

especially at that early stage.

Any area.


Any area.

That’s right.

Yeah, greatness has a certain,

I think it’s almost humbling just to see,

okay, any human,

like at least that’s a lesson I learned.

Almost any human can do, can be great.

I mean, one, I’ve used Muhammad Ali as a great example.

Look at his belief.

Look at how much he believed himself

before he was Muhammad Ali.

Look at the determination he had,

the way, the confidence he had fighting,

even on his loss.

That never changed him.

Not when he fought Foreman, George Foreman.

Not one person in the world

thought he was gonna win that fight by himself.

He never doubted himself.

Everybody else did.

He won over all odds against.

So it’s, I mean, when you look at people like that,

you can, you don’t have to be a boxer

to try to follow his example.

But see, those are like epic, giant battles.

But I feel like you fight the same kind of battle

when you’re young and your parents tell you that,

you know, just with their whole energy,

that this is silly, don’t be silly,

don’t be silly to chase.

It’s harder, it is harder.

But as a kid, it’s harder to deal with that

because, I mean, to go against adults,

especially parents telling you otherwise,

like the amount of strength you need is gigantic.

I don’t even know how much strength you need

because that was not my case.

So I can understand what you have to go through

with the force of your parents telling you otherwise.

But it’s how much you want,

it will dictate how far you’re gonna go,

where you’re gonna go.

So it’s, you know, if you can break through that,

you’ll get nowhere.

It’s that simple.

And actually, one of the really nice things

the internet does that I would give advice to young people

is like you can find,

even if your parents are not a source of that,

your teachers, your community,

you can find people on the internet who will believe in you.

It’s kind of cool.

It’s kind of cool how the internet opens the possibility

of like a community of like 10, 11-year-olds

like building shit.

I see this all the time.

Engineering, and they, I mean, they’re fueled by belief.

They want to be like,

they want to create the next trillion dollar company.

Right, there’s that fire in their eyes.

And not for the money, obviously,

but to do something really impactful.

And I think that fire is extinguished often

by teachers and parents.

Because I think the logic that parents have,

and teachers, they look at a kid,

and they don’t, on the surface level,

they don’t see greatness, right?

They just see kind of mediocrity.

And so to them, it’s like, no, right,

the world is more complicated than that.

In order to get great, you have to,

they somehow kind of always try to be reasonable with you.

And in so doing, extinguish the flame, it’s weird.

I think most people are afraid to even try.

So you can call them cowards for not trying.

Because you are a coward for not trying,

not putting yourself at risk, right?

So I would say a big part of society

are cowards for never trying,

never pursuing what they really want.

So there is a weight, a pressure,

everyone, most people, a lot of people,

I’ll say around you, that because they were afraid to try,

they don’t incentivize people to do so

because they want everybody to be like them.

Because imagine if everybody around you

suddenly are not afraid and everyone is trying,

and you look yourself in the mirror

and say, I was too scared, I’ve never tried.

So you feel really bad about yourself.

So it’s easier to have people around you

that think exactly like you than otherwise.

So that reflect a lot on the kids.

It’s, you know, society almost like press them down

to be like everybody else, to have a normal life,

normal job, it’s, you know, don’t take risk

because you can lose it all.

I mean, that’s the worst thing you can tell everybody.

Take all the risks, lose it all a few times.

That’s how you’re gonna build things.

Especially when you’re young.


You can recover much quicker.

Exactly, what’s the point of not trying?

You should try, and you will lose everything.

Doesn’t matter what it matters to lose everything.

It does matter, it will teach you resilience.

You know, try harder, go after, you know.

Don’t live a normal life

because otherwise you mean what we’re here for.

Yeah, take big risks, take a lot of them,

fail and fail and fail and fail.

Of course, fail you a thousand times until you succeed.

And then you’re gonna, you’ll be the most proud of yourself.

Like there’s, then it’ll be priceless.

It’s, then we’ll change the world.

It is true that most people are not necessarily cowards

but have cowardice in them.

It’s most people are just afraid to try, you know.

And a lot of it comes from a place of love

because, you know, if you try and you fail, you get hurt.

It hurts.

I mean, it’s not a pleasant thing to fail.

I mean, you feel terrible to think, you know,

when I lost any tournament was a good thing.

You know, and think when I was getting beat up

at the gym over and over again was a good thing.

When I was getting there

and getting smashed by all the good guys,

I think I liked it.

Well, I hate it.

But it’s my resilience that, you know,

make me carry on until I succeed.

Think I like to get tapped.

Well, I’m the most competitive,

one of the most competitive person you know.

I hate to lose.

But it’s, I accept.

I mean, I just need to get better.

Every single time I lost in the championship, I hate it.

I’ve never screamed.

No one never saw me screaming,

shouting that, you know, I got robbed.

You know, I should have won.

The referee, you know, screwed me over.

I mean, it’s okay.

It happen.

Shit happens.

I need to get better.

Because I don’t want to be in that position ever again.

So when I fight, if I’m better,

if I tapped him, there’s no question.

I don’t need to wait for the referee to decide

that there was points or no points.

His interpretation, that made me better.

Because I was even more determined to be better.

In my mind, I have to tap everybody else.

Winning is not enough.

It’s just objectively speaking,

what you learn the most from

is really wanting to succeed and then failing.

And doing that often.

That’s the reality from a parent,

from a teacher perspective, from anybody.

From people you love.

If they really want to do something,

help them do that thing.

If you think they’re going to fail, good.

Help them do that faster so they fail faster.

They’re going to learn.

The only way to succeed is failing.

There is no other way.

That’s what people have to understand.

Without failing, there is no success.

Since you’ve gotten a little softer,

a little more emotionally open,

what’s the role of love in the human condition,

Hajo Gracie?

Probably the most important thing.

That’s the basic of everything, right?

It’s, I mean, love brings the best of us.

It’s if we had more love and compassion

from the other person,

I think the world would be a more evolved species.

The world would be a much better place than it is now.

Did friends, family help you along the way?

Yeah, a lot.

I always had a lot of love and help from many people.

That’s why I succeed.

I never got here by myself.

I had a lot of people who loved me,

believed in me,

and helped me get to be here today.

Well, I’m glad they did.

I’m glad you’re here today.

I’m a huge fan.

It was an honor to meet you.

It was an honor to hang out with you in Vegas,

to hang out with you again today.

I’ve just been a huge fan for a long time.

My pleasure, man.

Thank you for everything you’re doing.

Thank you for this conversation.

It was awesome.

Thank you very much.

Thanks for listening to this conversation

with Haja Gracie.

To support this podcast,

please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now, let me leave you with some words

from Haja Gracie himself.

Jiu-jitsu is simple.

You just have to do it right.

Thank you for listening,

and hope to see you next time.


comments powered by Disqus