The following is a conversation with Craig Jones, Nikki Rodd, and Nikki Ryan,
who together with Ethan Crelliston and others, make up the B-Team,
a legendary jiu-jitsu team here in Austin, Texas.
It was formed after the so-called Donahue Death Squad,
the team headed by John Donahue, split up into New Wave Jiu-Jitsu
and B-Team Jiu-Jitsu, both located here in Austin, Texas.
There has been a lot of trash talk back and forth,
including accusations of greasing and steroid use.
And I, as a practitioner and fan of grappling, jiu-jitsu, and
martial arts in general, am here for it. To see the best grapplers in history,
go at it, both on the mat and on Instagram. I like the people on
both teams, and train with both, and I’m really happy
to see the exciting rapid evolution of the sport
that these athletes and coaches are catalyzing.
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description. And now, dear friends, here’s Craig Jones, Nikki Rodd,
and Nikki Ryan.
Craig, can you introduce everyone? Yep, so we got Nikki Rodd here,
brown belt, two-time ADCC silver medalist. Nikki Ryan here.
That’s it. Okay, who are you? And I’m Craig Jones, also two-time ADCC
silver medalist. Silver medalist, so the number one loser.
Number one loser. And maybe a little bit more,
your bio says, widely known as the black belt slayer, hails from New Jersey, the
land of pizza and biceps. Yes, that’s pretty accurate. Okay, you
also do carry a gun on you a lot? Yeah, I keep it loaded,
you know, keep it on me. You have one today? In the car.
That was a mistake, that was your first mistake. Yeah, I think you’re too close.
And you are Nikki Ryan, what else is there?
What else do we know? Gordon Ryan’s brother. Gordon Ryan’s brother.
I was waiting for that one. All right, so and you’re all together
part of the leadership of the B team here in Austin.
Let’s just get out some introductory questions. What, in general, accomplishment
of the things you mentioned you’re most proud of?
I mean, I’m proud just to not have to work a full-time job,
just to get by on the bullshit I’ve done so far.
Yeah. Honestly. Just making money of a thing you love. Exactly, yeah.
When was the first time you made money on a thing you love?
Probably a jiu-jitsu tournament. I think maybe in Abu Dhabi where I won a thousand
dollars, thought I was rich. Yeah, yeah. What’d you spend a thousand
dollars on? Probably something bad. Probably drugs or
something at the time. Maybe blew it at the after party.
That’s a good introduction, Craig. So what about you? When’s the first time you made money on
jiu-jitsu? Or what’s actually stepping back, like what’s the thing you’re most proud of?
Is it a similar kind of thing? I think the thing I’m most proud of is,
I mean, for sure two ADCC silver medals, which hurts because you’re so close to getting that
gold. But it takes time. I’m understanding that sport of jiu-jitsu takes quite a while to be at
the tip top, to be the absolute best. So I’m just being consistent in my training and my craft,
and I’ll get that number one spot one day. What failure or loss is the most painful to you?
I don’t know. I have a pretty short-term memory. So my losses, I just forget about them. Yeah. I
mean, for sure, my loss at this past ADCC in the finals, that one sunk in because I definitely
thought I was going to win. I mean, it takes a while to produce the skills or the reactions
more so that you need to have to be that number one pound for pound guy. And pre-ADCC, I was coming
off an injury. So it took me a little bit to find the right mentality and physicality that I needed
in order to get the wins that required gold. So yeah, it’s just process.
Interesting. You keep saying process, like it takes a while to build up. So you’re not like
thinking of a loss like ADCC as like a specific failures. You haven’t gone long enough in a
particular process to being a champ. Well, I mean, for me, I’m closing in on
five years of specifically jiu-jitsu training. I’m about four and a half right now. And yeah,
you constantly have these ups and downs in training where as long as you stay consistent,
you’ll have a gradual raise, but still you’ll have these peaks and lows and just trying to get
better every day. I’m definitely not where I will be in a few years from now, but I’m
striving to get there. Are you actually a brown belt or was that a joke?
Brown belt, yeah. You’re a brown belt. How many stripes?
No stripes. No stripes?
Stripless. Okay. Is that part of the process
that you’re working through? Definitely part of the process. I mean,
I think a black belt is just based upon how much knowledge you have. Obviously, if you’re talking
competitive-wise, from when I started, I was able to beat most black belts. That’s just kind of how
I was gifted from my wrestling experience. And the time will come when it’s right, but I’m not in a
rush at all. I’m continuing. I just kind of take every day for what it is and try to improve upon
that. I mean, I want to give him the black belt. Nikki Ryan says he’s not ready.
What is it? Are you guys, like us no-gi folks, do you take that seriously? Like the black belt? Or
like how much does it come into play into? Yeah. I mean, it’s like Nikki Ryan said,
it’s based off of knowledge, not just what you do out on the competition mats. Because like he said,
he had years of wrestling experience and obviously he’s very physically gifted.
So we grade based off of the amount of knowledge that you have.
How do you measure knowledge? I think teaching is a good measurement of it. Like how well you’re
able to show the moves and really make sure that you have an understanding of what you’re doing.
Yeah. It’s an interesting rank. It’s something that takes many years to accomplish. And for a
lot of people, it’s truly meaningful. It’s like it represents a particular step in a journey.
But for you guys, it’s almost like different because you’ve been so focused on competition
that I guess if you take it seriously, it is a big step for you too. Like as martial artists,
that’s bigger than just being top of the world competitors, right? So I thought it was a joke.
You guys are actually taking it seriously. That he’s a brown belt.
That he’s a brown belt and you’re taking seriously the rank of black belt and it’s part of your
journey. I think by the time I get a black belt, I’ll be no more pound for pound. I think it’d be
pretty nice to accomplish that as a brown belt and then maybe toss a black belt on top.
Maybe get promoted on the podium. What do you guys, do you love winning or hate losing more?
I definitely don’t hate losing. If it pays the bills, I don’t mind.
Yeah. But honestly, if I win, I feel more relief than anything rather than
like excitement and stuff. I’m like, oh fuck, thank God that’s over.
I hate losing for sure. But I understand that it’s necessary to get to where you want to be.
And then winning is like, I mean, what I think winning is probably the closest you can think
you can get to like heroin or something. Cause I mean, we’re on a, like if you do have extreme
success in a torment that you’ve been adamant about training for and competing in for a while
and you end up winning it. I mean, I feel like you’re on that high for days at a time afterwards.
Heroin is going to be better.
You think so? I’m going to stick with no, but.
I’m not going to suck dick to win.
You suck dick for heroin. Okay. I guess that’s a good point. Yeah.
Well, you know, like, because you, you, you’re coming from a little bit of a wrestling culture.
One of the things I really love is at the end of the match, when they lose, they just, there’s no,
they just run off. They’re like almost pissed off. It’s like some mixture of
anger and frustration at themselves.
I think, I think sometimes that people like freak out on the mat. And I think that’s just
to show everybody like they’re acting like they cared a lot and really maybe they didn’t work
enough to, to, you know, get to where they want to, where they expect it to be and they lost.
And then they had this big boost of emotion, like after their, after their loss. But yeah,
I mean, I shouldn’t, I think you just cry in the mirror and not to everybody else.
Um, what have you ever cried watching a movie?
I don’t think I’ve ever cried period.
Okay. Have you cried watching a movie?
Not yet. Not yet.
I try to avoid those movies. Actually, I lie, actually.
The last part of a difficult wake up for me is I try to find a sad movie and at least cry
about a pound out. That really gets me over the line. Low energy cutting.
The tears. Um, there’s other following, uh, liquids I could talk to you about, but let’s just,
let’s just continue on.
What, uh, um, what about you, Nikki? Uh, love of winning versus hate of losing.
I’m a very competitive person, so I for sure hate losing more than I like winning. Uh,
I, I do think it’s something that’s kind of held me back over the, uh, the past few years
because, uh, it, it makes it so that I’m not as active as I should be.
Cause it’s like, I really hate that feeling of, you know, after a match that you just lost.
Uh, so it kind of prevents me from competing. So it’s definitely something I need to work past.
So like when you think about a competition, the possibility of losing, which is always there in
competition is the thing that like weighs heavy on you in the months and weeks leading up to it.
Yeah. My whole life, you know, my financial stability, everything depends on, you know,
my ability to go out there and compete and my ability to teach. Uh, so, you know, it’s,
it’s a huge hit to the brand if you lose. So, you know, leading up to matches, that’s,
that’s definitely something that’s in my mind.
I know you, so you guys are like world-class athletes, but for me, more like a hobbyist
competitor, I compete a lot. The thing I was, uh, cause I really wanted to win. The thing I was
probably most afraid I was not just losing, but like embarrassing myself. Yeah. Even, even actually
winning by stalling. That was the thing I hated the most about myself in terms of crying in the
mirror is like being too afraid to take risks after I’m up on two points or something.
I think you got a competition. Sometimes it’s good to take the emotion out of it.
It’s too easy sometimes to like, uh, think about all my girls and in the crowd and my
family’s watching, like I want to win cause they’re there. Uh, but at the highest level,
if you’re emotional at all, no, that’s affecting you.
Yeah. That’s tough though. That’s tough. Especially like leading up to when you’re
on the mat, maybe, but leading up to it, I think it’s okay to be emotional prior. Like,
you know, if we know ADCC or it’s coming up and we have a big match, like definitely I’ll go out
in, in practice and I’ll, I’ll visualize, I’ll put myself in that competition. That way, when
it’s game time, it’s like, I’ve been there a thousand times already. So not the actual competition,
but even leading up to it, like stepping on the mat, like all the walk, walk towards it, all that,
all that stuff. Like I’ll do the same exact warmup for weeks on end and, uh, until my competition
day comes. That’s why that way, you know, when I compete, I’m just like, oh, it’s another Tuesday
at practice. Uh, what about you, Craig? How do you prepare mentally for a tournament like ADCC?
I push it completely out of my mind. Don’t even think about it. Try to avoid any visualization,
any rituals, warmups, anything like that. Block it out until the last second. Yeah. Trying not
to think about it. I just go to training to have fun, learn a bit. So I try to approach competition
the exact same way. I don’t warm up at training, do very little warmup for competition.
Uh-huh. And, uh, you just step on the mat?
Step on the mats. My philosophy is there’s no warmups on the street.
We’re so vastly different.
All right. Uh, so you like legit don’t warm up?
No, I probably should now I’m 31, but I would just like in the gym, take it easy the first
round. You know, like if I look around the room and Nikki Ryan’s there, I might go, all right,
we’ll have an easier first round today. So even for like the most high stakes matches,
you try to push it out. Yeah. I didn’t even think about it.
What about like all the social, like Instagram posts you have to do about that match? You just
make a joke out of it and kind of. Yeah. I mean, it’s all kind of pretty silly, you know, we’re
just wrestling each other, you know, we put the meaning into it, but to someone that doesn’t
follow the sport, it looks stupid. Well, all of human existence is pretty silly.
Like what are we doing? None of us really know what’s going on. We’ll kind of have sex to
reproduce. We’ll get hungry, we eat, and then we’re all chasing money and cars and whatever
the hell in a capitalist society, or we worship a dictator in a authoritarian regime. Yeah. And
then we’ll get off on, we’ll let power abuse us and then we just murder others because we get off
on it. Yeah. And then eventually all of us will die because the sun will run out of energy
because colonizing other planets is very difficult. So none of it matters. It’s a good
philosophy. It’s pretty, pretty good. That’s exactly what I was saying. How does the sun
run out of energy? You caught me there. It’s burnt out. It’s like a, it’s a nuclear fusion
engine and eventually burns out. Like when you get tired of training. Yeah. It’s never happened.
I try to get tired. I was like, dude, it’s not working. All right. Cool. So you legit don’t care
about losing. It doesn’t weigh heavy on you. I try not to list, like if I win, I try to block out
all the compliments, all the niceties and stuff. So I try to do the same with losing. It’s happened.
Move on to the next one. Don’t dwell on it too much. And sometimes make a joke out of it. Yeah,
exactly. Winning or losing with the right joke, we can make money off of the events that transpired.
That’s what’s most important. Excellent. Thank you. I have a bunch of your merch.
Oh, nice. This one’s the Jordan Burroughs ripoff.
All I see is silver. The way it pronouns Burroughs is very, very sexy. Okay.
I throw lines at people and I try to gauge their reaction. Like sometimes I’ll say something
to Nikki and I’ll be like, all right, that’s probably crossing the line. You know what I
mean? We’ll tone it down to the public. Yeah. So it’s not just, right. You have to think
as it’s crossing the line. Yeah. Yeah. I get as close to it as possible. Yeah. I feel like
you can’t really cross it. And then cross it just a little bit. Just a little bit. Yeah. Okay.
Speaking of which, you said that I’m Switzerland in World War II since I’m friends with both you
and Gordon and John. Very rich country. Are you a Hitler or a Stalin, by the way, in this analogy?
Would you like to be Hitler or Stalin? And should you make a t-shirt out of it? I mean,
a Nazi t-shirt, I don’t know how well that sells. I think it would, you know, I think
let’s brainstorm on this one offline. I think since Hitler lost, so you got second place in
World War II. That’s true. That’s true. I think that makes you Hitler. Anyway, to the degree that
you can, can you tell the story of how the time you’ve had with the Donahoe death squad and why
you split up? I competed against Gordon for ADCC and EBI in 2017. And I remember I competed
against him at ADCC and then we had the EBI event. And then I had a Kasai. I used to compete all the
time every week. I wouldn’t even do the preparation or anything. I’d just be like trying to do seminars,
make money, and then jump in and compete. I remember I showed up to Kasai after I faced
him twice and there were like four locker rooms and they put me with all the DDS guys. It was just
me and all of DDS. And I think we competed the weekend before. So I thought it was going to be
super awkward, but it was actually, it was actually pretty chill. And the Kasai was in New York and
they suggested to come train that week. So I came trained, hung out with them a bit. Ultimately,
the goal was to move to America and join a bigger team just because that flight to Australia is
death. Australia is so far away from everywhere. It’s kind of like not realistic to base yourself
in Australia when all the tournaments are in America. And then I went and trained with the
guys and they just had a massive, massively deep talent pool in that room. Like show up to like a
meant to be 7am, actual 8am class on Brazilian time. And there’d be like a hundred people in
there, maybe, I don’t know how many black belts, but a ton of elite guys. And I was coming from
Australia, training with Lachlan Giles, but really that room was pretty shallow. And like most people
had serious jobs and stuff. So it was like basically me just training with Lachlan, maybe a couple of
other guys, and then to go to New York and have access to a wide array of training partners and
guys that are training twice each day. I feel like that’s what you really need. You need people that
can train as much as you are. You get humbled in that room at first. For sure. Because my style
at the time was basically a rip off version of what they were doing. Leg locks came in. I remember
just watching Eddie Cummings nonstop and just seeing this guy rip people’s legs off. And I was
like, you know what, that’s probably a good move. That looks like an easier path to victory
than trying to beat these guys at what they’re good at already. My philosophy at the time was
if it’s bothering old Brazilians, it’s bothering them for a reason. It’s probably effective.
And that’s the path I took to try to rip off their moves. And then obviously to go into that room,
try to do them to them, it’s going to be a bit more difficult.
All right. So that’s how it started. How did you end up here?
How do we end up here?
We’re in Austin, Texas.
I mean, I like to think of Puerto Rico as apocalypse now. John Danaher as Colonel Kurtz.
Things got very weird in the jungle and the teams went in two different directions.
But honestly, I mean, it’s not really my story to tell. I had some issues with some of those
people. At the time of the split, I got along very well with John. I feel like me and him
connected very well. I don’t know why that was. Maybe it was just because he missed home. He
missed the familiar accent, Australian, New Zealand accent. But I mean, I basically followed
left with Nicky, sort of that core group of guys left with Nicky. And I mean, I just back,
there was personal problems and I just back Nicky, basically.
Got it. Just sticking on you for a bit. Is there a part of you that, you know,
finds it heartbreaking that DDS split up? Does part of you miss working with John and everybody?
Can you steal me on the case for that?
I mean, I miss certain aspects of it, but I also do prefer the freedom of being apart from it.
It’s obviously a very strict regime under John Danaher. You know, obviously there’s parts of it
I miss. The parts that the public doesn’t see of John, the behind the scenes banter,
I feel like he’s very conscious of the image he portrays to the world. But basically,
closed doors, he’s always making jokes, always finding, I guess, more in line with the Australian
Kiwi sort of culture. But you don’t really see that in the public eye. So that perspective,
I do miss that relationship with John. In terms of setting aside personal differences,
Gordon was a good training partner, definitely a good training partner to train with.
But obviously the negative things we can’t really talk about outweighed all of those things.
And we obviously had to make a decision to leave.
The things that happened in the jungle.
The things that happened in the jungle.
Should never be spoken of.
That I personally cannot speak of. Yeah, but obviously I do miss certain aspects. Like,
nothing’s all bad, nothing’s all good, you know?
Yeah, this goes back to your, like, everything we’re doing is silly.
Yeah, exactly. That’s why I don’t get people take it so serious, martial arts so serious. It’s just
pretty stupid, really. Especially in the Gi, it looks just, it looks bad.
I mean, it’s pretty silly with and without the Gi. It’s just a bunch of apes.
What’s silly about no Gi and what’s silly about the Gi and just
mix and match bottoms there, you know what I mean?
Wait, which one?
I see what you’re doing. Brother, you come to my house and offend my people.
We’re going to go to every dark place, apparently.
Nick, how did you get with DDS? Like, what was that journey like?
Try to see if there’s things that you remember fondly that you’ve gotten from the experience.
All right. So, the way I started training with DDS, initially, I was training for, like,
well, initially, I was a bouncer, right? I dropped out of college to pursue this fitness
modeling career. I ended up signing with Wilhelmina Models up in New York, and I was, like,
trying to get in better shape. And while I was bouncing, kind of the talk of, like, you know,
who’s tougher came up between the wrestlers and a few of the bouncers that trained jujitsu.
And, you know, they convinced me to go to a practice, and I went to my first practice over
there. And for the most part, I just controlled everybody, got on top of them, was able to avoid,
like, kind of, like, you know, shitty submissions, because I had an awareness of the sport, and,
you know, I’m a fan of fighting and whatnot. So, you know, I kind of understood it pretty well.
And then soon after that, I joined a school, and my second week of jujitsu, I started competing,
had pretty good success. You know, I was, like, subbing a few black belts and beating everybody,
like, you know, pretty decisively with points and stuff. And about three months into training
locally, I got connected with Gordon Ryan and John Danaher up in New York, and I started,
I committed to, you know, make the drive up there as many days as I could. At the time,
I lived in South Jersey, and it was about a two-and-a-half hour, three-hour drive without
traffic to New York. Where in South Jersey? Gloucester County, Clayton, New Jersey,
specifically, but Gloucester County. Yeah. So, it was about 130 miles, and without traffic,
you know, about two-and-a-half hours or so. But on the way back, man, it’d be three-plus sometimes,
you know, catching that rush hour. What year was this? Do you remember?
This was in 2018. I forget how young you are.
Yeah, I was there before all that. All right, cool. Anyway, you’re doing the long drive, and
then what? Yeah, doing the long drive, and then, you know, once I won 80cc trials, I was able to
make a couple bucks, and then, you know, I got my silver medal at 80cc, and I was able to afford
to live up there in New York and North Jersey area. So, I lived up there, trained there full
time every day, and, you know, just kind of stuck with the team throughout the turbulent times and
found ourselves in Austin. In the jungle.
In the jungle, yeah. One of the things we shall not speak of.
Indeed. What other things that you remember that you’ve learned from John Donahuer from
your time you spent with him? Yeah, I mean, I definitely learned a ton from John and the team
as a whole. Like, you know, you have to be the guy that asks questions in that type of environment,
right? Because you’re not going to get singled out to be that specific, like, star or the best
guy in the room when you have all these other, you know, stud athletes. So, I really had to
seek out and figure out the kind of questions that I needed to ask, and once I became a bit
more verbal with my training and, you know, I’m expressing all my curiosities about grappling
to these guys, definitely helped boost my technique and my career as a whole.
Yeah, did you understand what kind of stuff, like, technically you want to get good at,
what fits your body, what would be good for you, what are your weaknesses and all that?
So, initially, when I started grappling, I had an innate ability to just get to opponent’s back.
So, I was like, all right, I’m good at getting to the back. Let me perfect controlling the back
and then submitting opponent via rear naked choke. And then besides that, I really focused
on leg lock defense, and then eventually came the variety lock pass where, you know, I’m really good
at body lock passing my opponents now. And yeah, it just takes quite a long time because you have
to find different sequences, and then there’s always these, an abundance of opportunities
that your opponent gets from these specific sequences. So, it takes a while.
Is there a part of you that finds the fact that DGS split up heartbreaking?
I definitely, you know, having one person to go to that runs practice every day, that’s,
you know, consistent, it was definitely a gift, but now I’m also gifted with many,
many other partners. I have Nikki Ryan, you know, Craig Jones, Ethan-
Ethan Claus, Craig Jones.
Yeah, yeah. We have Ethan Krelosy, Damian Anderson. So, a full team of
knowledgeable athletes that I can continue to go to with multiple questions. But yeah,
definitely, it took me some time to adjust to training or to learning from, you know,
specifically my team and not just one person.
We should mention for people just listening, because you can’t visually see that Nikki Ryan
is currently terrified, and Craig Jones is currently enjoying the fact that Nikki Ryan
is terrified. But anyway, can you talk about your, Nikki, can you talk about your time with DGS?
I started training when I was like around 13, you know, my brother Gordon had started prior to me,
and I really just went into training just as like a means to exercise and lose weight at the
beginning, because I was pretty fat as a kid. So, I went to the first class, loved it, and then
just started training every day at Gary’s Gym, Brunswick. And then during the summer, when I’d
get off from school, they would take me up to New York to train under John. And you know, I just
absolutely loved it. I knew what I wanted to do with my life at a young age. So, I ended up
dropping out of school actually after my freshman year in high school. So, yeah, 15, I ended up
dropping out and just pursuing Jiu Jitsu full time, you know, training every day up in the
Like what aspects of Jiu Jitsu made you know that this is the thing for you?
It was just something I just enjoyed being, you know, like on the mats every day. I love that
there’s, you know, a problem solving aspect to it. So, it’s, you know, it’s mentally challenging,
it’s physically challenging, helps me get in shape. So, I just, yeah, right off the bat,
I knew I loved it.
Okay, so then we’ll go to the jungle. What happened in the jungle?
And in general, like, I like this. I like this. This is like this like shroud of mystery
that shall never be penetrated. That should never be like-
We’ve got a book deal. It’s coming.
A book deal?
Obviously, he left high school. He’s not writing it.
Okay, I’ll do the Russian translation here. Okay. So, what happened in the jungle?
Okay, I’ll do the Russian translation here. Okay. So, what are things that you enjoyed
that you remember from working with John Donohue?
Yeah, I mean, you know, obviously, he’s considered one of the best coaches in the world.
You know, very charismatic guy when you see him in person. You know, I pretty much was,
you know, kind of raised in the DDS. You know, that’s where I spent the majority of my time
every day. So, I obviously had very deep connections, you know, with John, my brother,
Gary, you know, even Eddie Cummings and stuff back then. So, obviously, I miss interacting
with those guys every day. And, you know, it’s like they said, it’s good to have somebody to
kind of crack the whip at you every day. And John was very good at that.
When you’re like younger in your teenage years, you can kind of,
you like have to get humbled, right? There’s like a process to that.
Yeah, for sure. And-
It’s a pretty good room to get humbled in, I guess.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I was, I started training with them just when like everybody started to
break out. Gary was like the biggest name at the time, just because he had won ADCC trials already.
And he had a crazy match with Kron, Kron Gracie at ADCC. But Eddie was just starting to break out.
Gordon just started winning EBI. So, I started training under John, you know,
right when everything was exploding.
What are the good things about life, about jiu-jitsu you learned from your brother?
Both me and my brother never really wanted to, you know, work a full-time job doing something
that we hate. And he was always, you know, a very confident person. So, he just went,
you know, fully started pursuing jiu-jitsu. So, I’m very happy that, you know, he did that. And
I ended up following in his footsteps, because you can ask these guys, I’m a lazy sack of shit
outside of the mat. So, that’s definitely one thing that I’m very grateful for.
That he paved the way, like you can make money doing the stuff you love.
Yeah, exactly. And he was a big reason, you know, why my parents eventually let me drop out
of school. Because, you know, when they were coming up, there was no money in the sport. It
was very hard to make a full living. Like, if you wanted to actually make a living, you’d eventually
have to transfer to MMA. And I feel like Gordon and Gary and those guys were, you know, some of
the first people to make a very good living off of just jiu-jitsu.
At this party, you find it heartbreaking
that you’ve split up from DDS, but also from your brother in terms of spending time on the mat
Yeah, for sure. You know, I mean, growing up, you know, obviously, he’s my big brother. I looked
up to him a lot. So, I definitely, like I said, I miss interacting with those guys. I was pretty
much raised, you know, in that blue basement, you know, that John was like, you know, a father
figure to me. So, I definitely, you know, miss seeing those guys every day.
Do you have animosity towards Gordon? And does he have animosity toward you?
And what is the source of that? And do you think you’ll ever be able to forgive each other?
Definitely, initially, during the initial split, we definitely hated each other at the beginning.
But it’s definitely started to calm down. Actually, just prior to, you know, all this
social media drama that’s going on currently, he had reached out to me. And that was literally,
like, the first time that we have actually talked since the split happened. So, we didn’t
talk to each other for, what is it now, like, almost two years. And that was the first time
that, you know, we interacted again. And overall, you know, he wasn’t, you know, aggressive towards
me. I wasn’t aggressive towards him. We were cracking some jokes. So, hopefully, the animosity
is going down.
Well, there’s this Godfather quote that I wrote down. I recently rewatched it
from the Don, from Don Corleone, Vito Corleone. The strength of a family, like the strength of
an army, lies in its loyalty to each other. Is there some aspect of family that you miss?
Of the blood that kind of connects you, that you can count on?
Yeah, my parents, you know, they both raised us that, you know, like, family is everything. You
never, you know, betray your family or anything like that. So, I definitely, you know, miss them
from time to time.
Okay. Imagine you’re, like, 40 years from now, sitting on a porch with a shotgun,
drinking whiskey, looking over, like, all the land you’ve conquered.
Looking back to this moment, is the reason you split up a bullshit reason? Or is it a good
reason, from the perspective of the king who has now conquered the lands, have proven himself,
have done everything?
I think it was definitely, like, a justifiable reason for the team splitting. Like, it just,
with the way things were going, it just was not going to work with, you know,
all of us in the same room together. It started, you know, affecting training,
people didn’t feel comfortable and things. So, I definitely think that it was a justifiable
reason to split.
The things that happened in the jungle.
To be told about in the book. Is it going to be an audiobook, or is it just going to be,
and who’s going to voice it?
Might be a play.
Yeah, a musical.
On Broadway. How’s your singing voice?
Mine’s not so good, but Nicky has a beautiful voice.
Does he? Of an angel? I bet. Okay. Speaking of the social media drama, I should mention that
I’ve talked to, recently, to Gordon a bunch. I’ve talked to him about talking to you guys,
and he’s had nothing but really nice things to say about you, Nicky Ryan.
And he has had nothing but bad things.
What was some of the things?
Well, let’s just go to the social media first,
because the social media stuff that he said publicly is just like a warm-up. It’s like
foreplay, I guess. So, Gordon sent you, Nicky Ryan, flowers for Valentine’s Day,
posting on Instagram, quote, I’ve been fucking him in every round and competition since we met
in 2018. The least I can do is buy him flowers.
We didn’t get the flowers.
Yeah, that was the question. Did you get the flowers? You never got the flowers.
He sent it to the wrong address.
Where do you think he sent it?
It was close, but it was wrong.
Did you appreciate the romantic gesture?
I did. I was looking forward to the flowers and potentially chocolates in there,
but it was a bit of a letdown.
Can you describe your recent match against Gordon, the EBI match?
Okay, so EBI match on UFC Fight Pass, it was a 20-minute match.
And immediately, no match starts. I pull guard, and then I stand up, he pulls guard.
And we have this kind of like back and forth where he’s trying to dig for underhooks,
trying to get on top of me, and he can’t really find success.
And then in the midst of me trying to work my body lock pass,
Gordon’s able to underhook a leg, and we end up in a leg entanglement.
And then I’m able to transfer that leg entanglement to a 50-50 position,
still in the leg entanglement.
From that 50-50 position, I’m able to separate his feet and actually get a few pops.
And he actually said I broke his foot in that exchange.
With a toehold.
A toehold, yep.
And after that, we had a bit more.
I was just working on top positions, trying to get my body lock.
Time runs out, and we go to overtime.
Can you hold on a second?
Actually, what does it mean to break a leg?
I was very confused about…
Is this like an expression, or what do you mean?
Which part breaks in a toehold?
Okay, so in a toehold, there’s a few different grades of it.
Like you could get a few pops and have some walking issues.
And people consider that a break.
And then you could break it fully and have your foot be like a limp noodle.
I think what goes to Achilles?
What is the front of the Achilles or something?
I mean, probably the ligaments.
I mean, it’s funny, a lot of people say they broke something.
But to me, you break bones, you tear ligaments.
So I would imagine you probably had a grade three tear.
How hard do you think is it to…
I always wondered that with a straight foot lock,
how hard is it to break the shin?
Or the actual bones, versus to tear stuff?
Depends how many steroids they’re on.
And obviously how much you’re on.
You’re one of the few guys that have actually broken bones in competition.
Yeah, have I?
Oh yeah, Vinny.
A couple, yeah.
Which bone did you break?
Spiral fracture of the fibula.
A lot of power right there.
Is it like a twist thing?
How did you break it?
Oh, it was a heel hook.
Vinny always used to say heel hooks don’t work, leg locks don’t work.
But unfortunately, age gets the best of all of us.
I think he had some mileage on those ligaments.
And the bone, I guess, yeah.
So it’s actually what, the bone?
Yeah, his ankle disconnected from the tibia and the fibula,
but the fibula definitely snouts pretty bad there.
The dynamics of that.
Okay, anyway, it went into overtime.
What happened in overtime?
Okay, I’ll have an overtime.
Let’s see, trying to hang.
Oh, okay, I go defense first.
Whistle blows, I’m able to escape in like 17 seconds.
And then immediately after I go on his back
and he gets out in exactly 17 seconds.
I’m like, shit.
All right, I thought I had a good start.
And then he gets on my back right after that.
And he’s able to ride me out for pretty much the entire round.
After that, I go back on his back.
He escapes in maybe like a minute and some change.
I think where I went wrong in the overtime is I should have been less adamant
about chasing the submission and more aware of collecting time.
If I kind of diverted my attention towards acquiring time on the clock,
it would have been more in my favor.
But yeah, at the end of my overtime round,
I’m able to lock up a renegade choke over the face.
But there just wasn’t enough time to fully finish.
I got a few seconds of squeeze in there.
I didn’t have enough time to adjust.
Do you think if you’re on steroids, you would have finished the choke?
I mean, for sure.
That’s what I thought too.
If you’re on gear, you’re changing the biology of your body.
You’re adjusting your DNA.
For sure, if I adjust in my DNA, I mean, it’s a finish.
So you’re implying you’re a natural athlete is what you’re saying.
Oh, I’m definitely a natural athlete, yeah.
Okay, so for people who don’t know, the EBI rules,
it’s an interesting rule structure where the overtime,
you put yourself in the worst possible position.
The task is to escape and then the other person gets the same thing.
What do you guys think about that rule set?
I like it just because, first of all, I don’t like the idea
of having to put somebody on my back.
But I do like the definitive answer in the match.
Either you escaped in time or you got ridden out.
So you get to define a winner, that’s great.
I’d much rather have that than a close decision
and it kind of goes the other way.
What about you?
Honestly, all the different rules, when I look at the rule sets,
I just try to think of what rule set I could beat that individual in
and I sort of gear myself towards that.
That’s really the strategy there.
I think there’s some guys that stall a lot,
that you would love to have EBI overtime with at the end.
They’re stalling until they have to give us a good position.
But then there’s some guys that are so good in those positions,
I’m like, oh, maybe we just do a regular match.
What are the rules in the streets?
No time limit.
Yeah, that’s one of them.
There’s also concrete and cars and stuff.
Biting, yeah, poking.
Yeah, so you don’t like that rule set?
Are there some people you would prefer in the street as a rule set?
Me, probably not.
I don’t know though, EBI.
I mean, it’s tricky, it depends on the opponent,
which rule set I’d want to do.
Wow, what about you, Nicker?
What do you think about the rule set of EBI?
Yes, I think EBI is very good from a spectator point of view.
People find it very entertaining to watch,
because people want to see submissions,
and you’re putting the athletes in a position
where you have the highest percentage submission in the sport.
So obviously, you’re going to get a lot of submissions.
My issue with it is, it is a rule set that allows somebody
that’s overall worse at jiu-jitsu to win a match.
A guy can go out there and just stall
and just get completely dominated for the entirety of regulation,
and then he gets to start on the guy’s back.
So that’s my one issue with it.
But also, I mean, it’s interesting to see the best people in the world
have to be put in a really bad position
to see how good their escapes are, for example.
It’s interesting, but it doesn’t feel realistic.
It’s a fun thing to watch, but it doesn’t feel like the real fight.
It feels weird.
I’ll claim it.
If I start an overtime on someone and finish them, I’ll claim it.
But if they submit me an overtime, I’m like, awesome.
You’re good to know.
It’s not a real submission.
The issue is people stalling to just win the overtime.
So where you got this guy, his whole training camp
is just not get subbed and win the overtime.
It’s a bit boring.
By the way, I have a rose behind you.
Somebody gave me a Valentine’s flower.
So if you missed the one from Gordon, I got one for you.
I’d appreciate that.
It’s good to feel loved.
So what did you learn from that match?
Like takeaways, technically speaking, what do you need to work on?
Well, I learned that I am pretty good.
Yeah, pretty good.
I know exactly what my weakness is.
It’s the leg lock department.
And I’m doing a lot to get better in that specific aspect.
Attack and defense?
I would say, yeah, attack, defense, reattacks.
Even if I wanted to offensively enter a leg,
I could use some work there as well.
But I feel like once I solidify,
if I become a black belt specifically in the leg lock department,
I feel like I’d be unstoppable.
If you, Nicky Rod, definitively beat Gordon Ryan, how would you do it?
For the listener, I don’t even know how to describe buggy choke.
What’s the definitive conclusion on that choke?
Does it work?
It’s a choke that you do when you’re in a,
what’s the opposite of a dominant?
It’s not submissive.
In a non-dominant position of bottom of side control.
Yeah, just an embarrassing submission to get caught with, really.
But does it work?
It works on certain people.
For the listener, he glassed over at Nicky Rod.
It’s embarrassing, but it’s also a way to frustrate the opponent.
For sure, yeah.
It’s a new part of the sport.
I feel like the Rotolos brought it back into fashion,
and even if you don’t get it,
because it’s one of those moves that’s so embarrassing,
at the first sign of danger, the top guy abandons ship,
and you can basically retain guard by attempting a very embarrassing submission.
So the threat of embarrassment to everybody.
People pull out very quick to avoid suffering the consequences.
I think some people underestimate how good of a submission it is.
I mean, once you’re locked in there,
there’s not too many defenses for a buggy choke.
Is there an instructional on the way from you?
J-Rod, actually, my little brother has one.
Oh, yeah, for real?
You actually legit have…
Well, check it out.
I mean, you’re making a joke out of it,
but it is a real, there’s a system to it.
I mean, yeah.
I don’t know if we call it a system.
It’s a good move.
I mean, you take an opponent that was just winning
in a greatly dominant position,
and then boom, in that same position,
they’re pretty much, they’re losing.
You know, it’s an interesting move.
What’s the name of the, what’s the name of it?
It’s called the Buggypedia, like J-Rodriguez.
Okay, the Buggypedia.
I thought there’d be something like very Craig Jones-y about it.
I know you don’t want to sort of reveal the secrets
of what you’re working on, but in general,
what does it take to beat Gordon, I guess, is the question.
It would have to be some kind of a choke.
I think any joint lock or anything like that,
he’s just gonna let it break and stay in the match.
So I don’t even think he’d tap from like a renegade choke.
I think I would have to put him to sleep.
So putting him to sleep is how I would win.
So Gordon is somebody who really hates losing.
Yeah, like he won’t even tap in the practice room.
I remember like I had a toehold
a couple of times in practice room,
and he was just comfortable like working there.
I’m like, I’m not really putting much on it.
I think he just, you know,
maybe because of situations like that in practice,
he kind of didn’t respect my toehold’s ability
in the competition.
You’ve done that to me in the practice.
I have, yeah.
Yeah, I gave you a little-
Gave me a little pop and then he let go.
And that was only 10% right there.
Hey, don’t get into math.
Okay, is there some part of that
you think is necessary to be a champion
as to like this almost unwillingness
in competition to tap?
I think there’s definitely something to be said
for people that are just like,
you know, willing to go that extra mile
or to take that damage to secure their victory.
Is there a part of you that like would hate to tap
or hates to tap?
Yeah, I mean, all of me would hate that.
The whole part of me.
Isn’t there a John Legend song like that?
All of you and all of me?
Very romantic, yeah.
Yeah, no, we’re sticking on that theme.
Okay, I’m sorry.
Oh, one of the things Gordon asked,
I forget how you put it
because I think there’s a lot of words
that would need to be censored involved,
but he said, ask them how it feels
to have a zero five record against me
with four submissions combined.
I mean, first of all,
I wasn’t sure he could count to five.
That’s an impressive thing.
Oh, and five.
I mean, I will say one thing.
Nobody beats me four times.
I love you so much.
Lex, I did have a question.
I did have a question for you.
There was some controversy on your Twitter
about a list of books.
And I was wondering why Gordon’s book
wasn’t featured amongst that literature.
Well, it was only the first 30 books
or like the first 20 books.
And it would of course be in the-
Something interesting about Gordon.
He’s the first author
that’s written more books than he’s read.
If you face him and beat him,
what’s your take on what it takes to beat Gordon?
I mean, you guys kind of joke
and they go pretty hard recently on each other,
but as a fan of jujitsu,
I’m all in on this rivalry.
It’s just fun to watch.
I mean, first of all,
I don’t think I go really hard with him.
I think Gordon, he’s pretty sensitive.
You know what I mean?
He’s looking for a large insult in a small insult.
And for me, like Australians,
we just attack each other all day, every day.
And for me, like if I see someone
that takes himself very seriously,
that’s like blood in the water.
That’s funny to me.
To me, if I can just gently provoke
and get a strong reaction, that’s hilarious.
Like Aussies, we will just attack each other.
And the first person that gets upset,
he kind of loses the exchange.
So I think that is very, very entertaining.
Like if you were to beat Gordon,
would the mental game off the mat be part of it?
I think it would be a factor for sure.
But I mean, I’m never going to come out
too crazy direct with him.
You know, like I find that like
if you get too upset online and you’re going crazy,
I find that I’d be embarrassed to do that myself.
Obviously everyone’s different.
Everyone has a different style, you know?
But like, yeah, I think mental,
the mental aspect would play a big factor.
I mean, mainly because if I were to beat him,
I would send him a message every day until I died.
Just to gently remind him that I got the last one.
The last one is all that matters.
We’re not giving, we’re not giving a score here.
So like once you beat him,
you’re going to run for the rest of your life.
I mean, run, but look back.
Ride, ride your horse into the sunset.
Oh, by the way, you’ve talked very lightly.
You’ve talked shit very lightly
against Alexander Volkanovsky’s opponent.
Have you received death threats or how are you still alive?
Like Gordon, I would say people from Dagestan
take a joke very well.
You know what I mean?
Do they really?
Oh, like Gordon.
Oh, like, I’m sorry.
Now I was doing aggressive mode in my head.
Now honestly, Islam was pretty cool.
I wanted to stir it up a bit, you know,
cause like I felt like that was a massive fight
and it probably should have had more attention
than it was receiving.
So I wanted to just gently stir it up a bit.
I feel like Sambo guys are in the same vein as catch wrestlers.
You know, like obviously there’s only three people
in the world that do catch wrestling,
Sambo, maybe 10 to 15.
So I figured we could really provoke them
with that sort of jujitsu Sambo stuff.
Islam took the jokes very well.
The Russian fans, not so much.
They’re very serious.
There’s not many smiles in Russia, you know.
They didn’t take it as well.
I’m trying to suppress the anger
that Raysha’s building up inside me slowly.
So you guys mentioned steroids.
I like that you bring that up
after we talk about Russia for the record.
Smooth, smooth segue there.
I cannot condone the statements said by the Aussie.
But I would love to travel with you to Russia.
That would be a good time.
You might get killed with me now.
No, I would be like the first to turn to backstab you.
You’re like, I got in there, get in.
Are most of the top grapplers on steroids?
I mean, it’s hard to say.
You know, some people look like shit
and they’re on steroids.
Some people look excellent and they’re not on steroids.
It’s so, so hard to tell.
That seems to be the general consensus
that a lot of people on steroids.
I’m always a little bit, I don’t know.
So I’ll be honest.
I’ve never seen anyone take steroids.
I’ve never taken steroids.
I don’t even know if that’s the right term to use
or like TRT, any of that.
So I’m very careful to not let my naivete
lead me to take conclusions.
But I do feel a little bit weird about
the witch hunt nature of it.
That some people a little bit too eagerly claim
that others aren’t on steroids
just because they’re successful.
But at the same time,
it does seem that a lot of athletes
will do whatever it takes to be successful.
Yeah, I mean, if a sport doesn’t test,
you got to assume most people are going to do it.
And especially now as more money comes into the sport,
you got to assume more people are going to do it.
I generally like do AGCC and like does Jiu-Jitsu test?
It’s actually encouraged.
You get a pamphlet.
They don’t test.
There’s no testing.
They test to make sure we’re on steroids
because obviously it’s a big show
for the UFC, Fight Pass in the future.
They don’t want anyone coming in out of shape.
Do you think using steroids in that kind of context
in sports is wrong?
Like stepping away, if it’s not illegal.
I mean, do you think ethically speaking?
I like to assume everyone’s on steroids
and I have to feel bad about using steroids myself.
Do you use all of the steroids?
I’m over 30, it’s DRD, that’s the medical definition.
That’s the medical, okay.
I’d like to meet your doctor.
How do you just feel about it?
I mean, it is cheating for sure.
Whether they test for it or not, I think it is cheating.
Obviously, some people are going to say,
oh, fuck, everyone’s on it.
I should be able to get away with it.
It makes it even playing field.
But it kind of becomes Russian roulette
because it’s like if one guy is taking a small amount
and the other guy is taking a huge amount,
he’s going to reap huge rewards in the short term,
probably be dead pretty early, but die a champion, mind you.
You know what I mean?
So it’s like, I don’t know what that one is.
Yeah, what do you think about that?
Do you think it’s worthy to take health risks just for the glory?
I think if you’re 40 about to die
looking at a cabinet of gold medals for wrestling other men,
it’s probably not going to hit the same way on your deathbed.
Sorry, in which direction?
Is that a good thing or not?
No, you’re probably going to feel like,
oh, fuck, I probably wasted a bit of health on that.
You think so?
Isn’t that like the glory of it?
You said other men.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, I mean, in my opinion, I maybe wrestle a woman as well.
But what’d you do with Gabby on Valentine’s Day?
What did you take her?
We filmed some new stuff for OnlyFans.
We never stopped working.
So it’s the love affair is also a work affair.
Okay, I don’t know.
There’s something to that, I mean, like Olympic gold medalists
accomplishing the heights, sacrificing everything,
everything, the first 20, 30 years of your life
for this silly little piece of metal.
I think there’s something beautiful to that.
That’s like conspires a lot, a lot of people.
And that’s like the height of the human condition in a way.
What if you survive?
I’m just saying, if you’re in your deathbed early in life.
We all die.
All men die, Jones, but not all men truly live.
How many years are you willing to shave off for a gold medal?
That’s a good question.
How many are you willing to shave off for a gold medal?
Well, you’re for a silver medal.
For a silver, I mean, for a silver medal, I’d shave a few off.
I think two silvers makes a gold.
It’s worth five years.
Five to 10, maybe.
Shave off the bad years, enhance the good ones.
Well, I mean, you’ve sacrificed.
You guys sacrificed a lot, a lot of your life.
You continue to sacrifice.
You don’t see it as sacrifice.
I think training’s fun.
Being a bit adamant about it, consistent, gives you,
I mean, I think we have a great routine, great ritual.
Definitely enjoy the process.
All right, well, do you guys know, this is bro science,
or I’m talking to bro scientists,
but do you know how long steroids stay in your system?
Oh, because it’s like, hey, once you do it, you own it.
Yeah, just the knowledge.
Yeah, all right.
I think it’s different for each steroid, right?
I think some of them last longer than others.
It depends if it’s a urine.
You would think I would do a little research before this,
asking these questions.
Why do you think most athletes and coaches
don’t talk about steroids?
Like, why is it such a secret?
Why is it so embarrassing?
I think they probably talk about it
amongst the team and whatnot.
Again, I mean, it’s gonna be more shady
if it’s like your sport is tested or whatnot,
or kind of in the wild west, in the grappling world, you know?
Yeah, but why don’t grapplers talk about it?
Because it seems cheating.
I mean, it’s kind of insinuated as a bit of cheating,
even if it’s not tested.
I mean, still, you’re taking a person
that maybe has good jiu-jitsu, good mechanics,
and you’re putting them on the leg,
and they’re subbing you with a heel hook
versus breaking your leg with a heel hook.
You know, something as subtle as that
can make big differences.
All right, this is gonna make me sound dumb,
but is it possible that steroids
are not a huge help in grappling?
I think if you’re bad at jiu-jitsu and you do steroids,
you’re gonna continue to be bad at jiu-jitsu.
But if you’re great at gear,
I’m sorry, if you’re great at grappling,
if you’re great at grappling,
and then you also do gear,
it’s gonna enhance what you’re already good at
and make you much better.
But like how much is the enhancement,
I guess is the question.
How much is muscle valued?
Right, that’s the question.
If you’re doing gear
and you’re not changing weight that much,
maybe it helps you a little bit.
But if you’re gaining 50, 60 pounds of pure muscle,
and it’s like, that’s a huge enhancement.
That’s another human.
Does muscle, a small human, yeah.
Does muscle matter in jiu-jitsu?
I guess is the question.
Is it possible that it gets in the way?
I’d say muscle matters, but technique matters more.
I also think that it’ll help you develop technique as well,
because obviously testosterone helps with recovery rate.
So if you’re on gear, you’re able to train a lot more.
Now, that being said, if you’re not able to learn,
obviously it’s not gonna help in that aspect.
But if you’re somebody that knows how to learn
and get good at jiu-jitsu,
and then you add gear on top of that,
you’re able to do significantly more sessions
throughout the week.
Okay, and by the way, gear is steroids?
I also think that you don’t have to be as consistent
in like your sleep and your food and stuff.
If you’re on gear, you have a little bit of leeway.
But I mean, being consistent in your diet and your sleep
definitely would help the process.
Since you use most steroids of any athlete I’ve ever met,
do you think steroids help jiu-jitsu?
I think obviously it helps recovery
and your ability to train more.
But I’ve seen some guys go on steroids
and then suddenly they feel like the Incredible Hulk.
And now in the training room,
they start to rely more on strength
than the techniques they had.
And it actually, in some respect, hinders them
and makes them gas more in competition
because then they’re using more of the muscle
they never used to have.
So you’ve implied that you’re a natural athlete.
You said that.
You said that skeptically.
Why are you skeptical, Lex?
Is this something you do for social media
to talk shit to Gordon,
to imply that he’s not a natural athlete?
Well, I only pretty much recently on social media,
I had this rebuttal saying that Gordon’s on gear.
And I only said that because after our match
in our most recent match, the EBI rules match,
he accused me of greasing, which is like lubing up.
So I’m slippery during our match.
And you did not?
I did not.
I was checked multiple times before
and after our grappling event.
And he still went out and accused me of this.
So I was like, all right, as opposed to telling a lie,
I’ll just tell the truth about your steroid use,
which it shouldn’t be that big of a deal in retrospect
because he kind of admitted it and whatnot previously.
So it’s, yeah, I just kind of felt like I had to rebuttal.
And I didn’t do it immediately
because I was like, all right,
I know I have this podcast plan.
So I’ll wait to do it on my friend, Mark Bell’s podcast.
You know, be a little bit more,
get a little bit more exposure on it.
And yeah, I knew he was gonna bite the bait,
but I didn’t think he was gonna bite the bait that hard.
I know he’s a little stressed out about the comment,
but you know.
And that was the origin of you guys going back and forth on?
Well, it wasn’t so much back and forth.
It was just, I went forth
and then he kept going back, back, back.
Like I remember one of my guys DMed me
and they were like, Gordon’s made like 68 Instagram stories
and 67 of them were all about you.
I was like, all right, well, I’m in his head for sure.
Got us a few followers.
We appreciate that.
We did, we did get followers.
He even shouted out our B-team white belt program.
So thank you.
Okay, speaking of which, what’s the B-team?
How’s it run?
And why is it called the B-team?
Well, I mean, Craig-
Was the A-team taken?
I would have been.
For me, B’s for best.
Best, all right.
What does B stand for, for you?
What does it represent?
What is the ideal, like, you know,
Miyamoto Musashi philosophical foundation of B-team?
Aim low and achieve.
If the bar is set low, you can’t help but win.
That’s Nikki’s philosophy with women as well.
Set the bar incredibly low, overachieve.
What is the B-team?
How do you guys run it?
Like what, yeah, I mean, can you just talk about the school?
How you found it?
What is it?
What’s it like?
I mean, pretty much just a regular jujitsu gym.
We started as sort of a pros only, purple belt and above team.
And we have me, Nikki Rod, Nikki Ryan, Ethan, Damian as coaches.
Am I missing someone?
Your memory with your old age.
Impeccable memory, yeah.
And we got JB coming on to teach white belts.
But just your stock standard jujitsu team.
We focus on more, we lean heavily towards the professional athlete side of things.
We have a lot of high-level guys in that.
Class structure, regular instruction, positional sparring, open rounds.
But we sort of took a heavy slant on marketing side of things.
We really try to blow up the YouTube channel.
Obviously we sell a lot of clothing, merchandise and stuff.
So yeah, we just sort of took a modern approach to a standard jujitsu gym.
Because I mean, jujitsu gyms are full of some of the most boring human beings on earth.
So we try to highlight-
Strong words, Craig Young.
Highlight the other side of things.
Keep it pretty light hearted.
That it can be fun.
Yeah, that jujitsu can be fun.
I guess that it can be cool too.
It’s not just full of steroided up autistic people.
Question from Reddit.
Need to hear some of the stories about drop-ins that led to the making of the gem of a video,
the do’s and don’ts of training a B team.
Any fun stories?
Any ones that stand out?
Do you guys remember any?
Police involved ever?
We had a guy come around to kick him out.
He was stalking two of the members.
Yeah, I mean, that’s just crazy people.
You know, like I portray a pretty insane image online.
And I guess I am that a lot of the time.
But at training, try to keep it…
Around training, I’m insulting everyone.
But while training, I try to keep it pretty serious.
But obviously, the image I portray lures in some of the crazier members.
I mean, like the thing is about the gym you guys run is really professional.
It’s like friendly.
It’s like the lighthearted joking is there, obviously.
You know, like shit talk and all that kind of stuff.
But I guess it’s a pretty safe environment.
But the public persona might attract some…
I won’t say which places I’ve trained.
But obviously, some places you walk into the room and it’s very, very serious.
There’s no smiles around.
Obviously, it’s probably average training room in Russia.
But no smiles.
Very serious environment.
You know what I mean?
And I definitely don’t like that.
I don’t want to show up to training and be walking on eggshells.
Not know what the coach’s mood’s like that day.
I want to go and have a good time.
Keep it lighthearted.
What was in the video?
What are the do’s and don’ts?
Because like the address is public.
Like anyone can show up.
Anyone can show up.
Yeah, what were the do’s and don’ts?
Does anyone challenge you like to a fight?
I mean, probably from other gyms in town, that’s probably coming down the line.
But do’s and don’ts.
I’m all in on that.
I would be excited as a fan to just watch.
The love of the drama.
Not the drama.
No, no, no.
Well, a little drama, a little drop of poison is good.
But ultimately, it’s the best grapplers in the world.
Kind of going at it.
Yeah, that’s fun.
Because maybe I’m wrong.
But I think there is an underlying deep camaraderie at the end of the day.
When you’re like at the top of the world.
And you’re like in the same town.
What could possibly go wrong?
It’s like a shitty Western.
But like an epic Western.
With like Clint Eastwood, like the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Of course, I love it.
I’m here just eating popcorn like that.
Staring in the pot.
I’m not staring in the pot.
I’m not staring in the pot.
These questions are from Reddit.
They’re not gonna feed me.
That one for sure.
Yeah, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
If you’re the world’s best grappler, hates you.
And you’re gently provoking him behind the scenes every day.
Well, I mean.
And you’ve stolen his brother.
Held him for ransom.
It is like a story of a shitty Western, I think.
You now allow white belts to train with you.
What’s it like to open it up to a bigger audience?
We haven’t opened it up yet.
But it’ll be interesting to see.
I feel like your higher belts, they really understand what the training room is.
You know what I mean?
White belts are early.
They’re trying to find their place in the gym.
Could be kind of awkward and stuff in that environment.
So I think, obviously, those white belts coming in will change the dynamic.
But the white belts will have separate white belt classes, obviously, for them.
Because given it’s such a high-level gym, it’d be tough for a beginner to be able to
enter the more advanced classes.
Well, obviously, we’re teaching more advanced techniques.
So yeah, we’ve separated a white belt program, I believe, 6 p.m.
Monday to Friday.
Yeah, maybe we’ll have a Saturday one as well.
But it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.
We’re trying to do things different.
You know, like trying to do your traditional jiu-jitsu gyms.
Obviously, you’re not going to teach beginners wrestling at all.
We’re trying to split it at least 33% top game, bottom game, and wrestling.
So at least create more well-rounded athletes from day one.
Whereas I feel like most traditional jiu-jitsu gyms might have nogi once a week.
They don’t touch wrestling.
Very IBJJF-heavy techniques.
But again, the sport’s changing, for sure.
Just to take that on, how does a beginner get good at jiu-jitsu?
Like, given that you’re starting this white belt, what’s your philosophy on that?
Obviously, buy all of my instructionals at full price.
Not during a sale.
That would go a long way.
For those of you who are Russians, I’ll send you instructions, or all the forms,
so you know how to steal it.
Yeah, discount code.
I bought them all, so I’ll just send it to you for free.
I mean, we do have the Makachev50 discount code, you know?
Offering discounts to help him out for the rematch.
I got the…
Well, I got a 100% discount for you if you need it.
But that said, your instructional are both hilarious and brilliant.
And it’s one of the most respected instructionals out there, with incredibly great names.
It probably loses me sales, honestly, due to removing the seriousness of the textbook.
They think it’s going to kind of suck.
It’s going to be some funny gimmicky thing.
Well, I mean, some people don’t even know if it’s a real product.
That’s a big hurdle I have to overcome, is they see it, and they’re like,
is that a real thing?
That’s a problem.
But how does the white belt get good?
I think they just have to show up.
Just have to put in the effort, try to focus on using techniques and training,
rather than just fighting to the death, you know?
Although that is entertaining for us to watch, two white belts fight to the death.
Yeah, but what are the techniques?
You should focus on, what’s the process?
What does it mean to show up?
How much drilling?
All that kind of stuff.
If you were to optimize the first six months of a beginner,
there’s a lot of people who would listen to this and haven’t tried.
They’ve been curious.
I have a lot of friends who are just too curious.
They’re constantly looking for an excuse to start.
I think it’s just got to be as simple as possible.
We shouldn’t be teaching more advanced movements.
I mean, obviously, in the grand scheme of things, there’s highly advanced techniques,
and then there’s slightly advanced.
And I think trying to teach those guys real specific positions,
even like real specific types of guard is just beyond them.
I think the best way to learn is through problem solving.
And I think if you show the technique before they’ve discovered that problem,
the learning is sort of held back.
So I like the idea of using kid’s style games to show them a problem
and then use the techniques to fix the problems they’ve just discovered.
I think that’s the best way to learn.
Can you give an example of a problem to show them before you give them the techniques?
Like, what are we talking about?
So say you wanted to teach posture in wrestling.
You could create a game where one guy,
the game might be get to a leg or get to two legs,
control the leg, like super simple.
But the rules, the constraint would be one guy is forced to keep upright posture.
And one guy is forced, well, not forced,
but he’s allowed to keep a bent at the hips, lower posture.
And obviously within that constraint,
the guy with the better posture is going to have more success.
He’s going to have a better posture to secure a leg or secure both legs.
And therefore you’ve demonstrated the flaws of bad posture
without having to explain it to them before they really tested that out.
Okay. And then the result of that,
you would realize that the bent over posture is better.
Yeah. You have that aha moment rather than just having it spoken to you.
Uh, you wrote, Craig, I’m a big fan of constraint-based learning,
I guess, which is what you’re talking about.
I love presenting beginners with a problem before the solution,
like here, attempt to hold side control with no cues on how.
Then I see how the guy got out and address issue by issue,
cross face and hip control and so on.
Okay. So what are some other examples like side control?
Yeah, that would be an excellent one, side control.
Like obviously we say, oh, you secure a cross face so they can’t turn into you.
Much easier to have them try to hold someone down without explaining what a cross face is,
and then use that technique to address the problem they’ve just encountered.
So I think you could do that with a lot of areas of jujitsu, like even more advanced,
say 50, 50, obviously a mirrored position where you both have access to each other’s heels.
Most people will stall out in that position and keep their feet crossed.
I think a great constraint for both of them.
You can’t cross your feet.
Now you have to learn how to slip the heel hook when they expose it
and how to safely re-attack of your own.
So the constraint is you can’t be too defensive in that position.
And I think the rate of learning increases.
Why do you think the rate of learning increases?
Like why do you think that works?
Because you encounter more problems.
Say in that situation, they’re going to get your heel a lot more
in whatever period of time you allocate the drill for than if the legs are crossed.
I don’t think the hard part’s splitting the legs to get to the submission.
I think the hard part’s practicing control while they’re trying to slip it at a later stage.
And then obviously trying to slip your heel when you’re in more danger
also makes you more comfortable in that bad position
if you’re used to doing it with open legs.
Yeah, I think that probably that style of teaching forces people to focus on…
Because it’s so easy to fall into focusing on like memorizing
a particular details of a technique
without thinking like, why the hell does this even work?
If you don’t have that, you get to focus on like,
from like as cliche as it sounds from first principles,
like why the hell do I get out of this?
Like, why does this even work?
Why does wrestling work?
Why do you have a bent over posture?
You get to start to ask those kinds of questions.
Which is kind of interesting because it’s not obvious to me
that bent over posture is the right posture for Jiu-Jitsu, right?
I’m confused actually about that.
I don’t know.
About the correct posture?
Yeah, for Jiu-Jitsu.
What’s the right answer?
I think bent over posture is still good for Jiu-Jitsu.
Even with the Judo and all that.
Like, why are so many Jiu-Jitsu people like at a high level,
the posture is higher up?
Well, I think wrestling posture is just a bit too low
because it’s not necessary, right?
If wrestlers are like low enough to the ground
where your hands could touch the mat.
But in Jiu-Jitsu, it’s kind of a mix between like wrestling
and like Judo or Greco-Roman wrestling.
So I think it’s just a bit more relaxed
and it’s bent over, but it’s not upright.
And it’s also not super low.
A bit more room for error too,
because obviously the Jiu-Jitsu guy shot
isn’t going to be as athletic or as quick as a wrestler,
especially a wrestler with shoes.
So it actually comes down to the fact that Jiu-Jitsu people
just on average, even at the top level,
are not good at shooting.
I think so.
Yeah, I think obviously, I mean,
all the wrestlers in American stuff,
they’re starting super early, super young.
You know what I mean?
By the time they get to the same age we are really
in our sport and stuff,
they’ve spent much longer doing the actual sport
than the average Jiu-Jitsu guy.
And then there’s another level of wrestling, of course,
with the Soviet block.
That’s just unachievable for your kind.
Who knew an Australian rugby?
A former rugby player.
Rugby, is that kind of like American football,
but much less money?
Is that what that is?
Much less money, much tougher, I would say.
But who knew that the cure
to the Dagestani wrestling were the Aussies?
Were the Aussies?
Okay, let’s go there.
Your friend, your training partner, Alexander Volkanovsky,
you helped him prepare for the Islam Makachev
versus Volkanovsky fight.
Who do you think, first of all, won that fight?
That’s a tricky one.
How is that the tricky question?
I will say, when I was-
All the shit talk you’ve been doing,
how is that the tricky question?
When I was in the corner going into the fifth,
I personally believed live that Volkanovsky
probably needed a finish to take the victory.
But you have to think that way, right?
In general, or are you legitimately-
It’s a gray area, because the judging, who knows?
Plus, I was like, wait, we’re in Australia,
where’s this bias?
We’ve got some Australian judges here.
I was really hoping we’d get a bit of bias on that.
Hopefully they lose their jobs.
But again, yeah, it was a close fight.
I think sometimes you’re blinded in the moment,
because again, everyone counted Volkanovsky out,
the crowd’s behind him,
so everything he does is going to get a huge cheer.
Your bias towards the smaller guy,
your bias towards the underdog,
so whatever the underdog does
has a bigger impact in your mind.
And sometimes that can bias as the fight goes along.
But yeah, super, super close fight.
I would really love them to have a rematch,
but obviously that’s going to hold up both divisions,
so I don’t know if they’ll be able to do it.
Do you think they’ll do a rematch soon?
I mean, that was an epic fight.
I was listening to the Fight Companion during it.
They all thought Volkanovsky-
So they biased strongly the opinion?
Round two was the tricky one.
Round two’s the tricky one.
Anyway, I’d love to see that run it back
and do three, actually, because it was an epic fight.
What was the brief conversation you had
with Islam Makhachev and his team?
I didn’t know how he would take the joke,
because obviously Khabib tried to flying eagle kick
Dylan Danis in the face.
So I wasn’t sure how my humor would go.
But I mean, Dylan must have said some worse things to me.
I was just playing around.
I mean, you can’t really take anything I say serious,
come across like an idiot.
But so when he was coming up to me afterwards,
I was like, oh, I don’t know what he’s going to say.
And again, maybe he would have been more upset
if he had lost, but he just received the judge’s decision.
But he came up, I went to shake his hand,
he gave me a big hug and then pretended to throw me.
And then I thought the interaction was over.
And then he circled back.
So that’s why it was so awkward.
I was like, oh, he’s coming back.
He wants to say, he wants something else.
But he just said, why didn’t you teach your boy
how to escape the body triangle?
What did you say to that?
I said, well, I mean, obviously you’ve got to learn
how to finish a rear naked choke.
Is that what you said?
No, I didn’t.
I was just laughing, I was laughing.
But then they ushered us out.
They were like, get out of here
before the Aussie crowd attacks here, you know?
What do you think about the body triangle position
that we’re in?
It seemed like for the first time,
it seems almost like Volk was dominant in that position,
which is kind of weird.
I mean, damage is meant to trump control, MMA judging.
Damage is the number one factor.
Do you think the judges saw that?
What did they score that as?
I think they all scored four towards Islam.
Three and five, two of the judges scored towards Volk’s.
One of the judges scored three for Islam.
It was 49-46 for one of them, and the other ones were 48-47.
I think, again, the confusing round was round two.
I don’t think anyone scored the body triangle round
for Volk’s, which I wish they had.
Volkanovski was and is still arguably pound for pound
greatest fighter in the world.
How long have you known him?
I don’t know the first one.
I met him before he was in the UFC,
when I used to live in Melbourne.
He came down to train at Absolute.
And then we really connected on Ultimate Fighter.
One of these guys he was going to bring to Ultimate Fighter,
Brad Burdell, pulled out last second.
So he called me when I was in Puerto Rico,
and he’s like, do you want to coach on Tough for five weeks?
And like I said, Puerto Rico was apocalypse now.
I was like, yeah, get me out of here.
So I jumped on that opportunity,
and we were in Vegas five weeks together.
Because he was meant to fight Ortega,
and then he got hit with COVID real bad.
I got stuck in, I think he was in hospital
for maybe one to two weeks.
And then before he flew back to Australia,
they were like, all right, maybe we just do you guys
as the Ultimate Fighter coaches.
So I jumped on board with that.
And that’s really when we’ve become close.
Obviously, I was useful in the Ortega fight,
helped him get out of submissions.
He fought then Korean zombie, Max Holloway.
I basically just held the bucket at that point in the corner,
a couple of striking fights.
And then again, yeah, we had to tackle the Islam problem.
So I did spend five to six weeks down there preparing for that.
How did you tackle the Islam problem?
Was you somebody who barely knows anything about wrestling,
having to help-
Obviously doesn’t take much, you know?
Did the beard help or like what?
In all seriousness, what were some of the key ideas
that you worked on with Volkanovski to prepare for it?
I had the help of Frank Hickman.
Hickman was down there too,
one of the Hickman brothers wrestling coach.
So we were sort of like problem solving.
I mean, basically we were confident in Volk’s fence wrestling,
his cage work.
He’s super good on the cage,
super like under-respected in that position.
And we knew that if you’re able to take the scrambles to the cage,
he would be effective against Islam.
Because again, Islam is background in Sambo freestyle wrestling,
but I mean, honestly,
he’s probably got the same experience on the cage as Volk’s.
Obviously some of those wrestling skills
will translate very well to the cage,
but the cage is still somewhat of a gray area and equalizer.
And Volk’s again, incredible ability to stand up,
incredible defense on the cage,
which you saw.
We worked on strategies to get up
and a ton of submission defense.
Islam loves Kimuras,
obviously rear naked from the back,
armbars, those are sort of,
and arm triangles, dominant submissions.
But again, the guys he submitted,
apart from Charles Oliveira.
And again, Charles Oliveira was basically knocked out at that point.
So it was still impressive he submitted him.
But again, I always told people this,
they thought it was crazy.
I was like,
Charles Oliveira versus Islam in a grappling match,
Oliveira is going to win that match.
Like submission grappling.
So in a pure grappling skillset,
I think Oliveira is a more dangerous grappler.
So we didn’t even come into it thinking Islam
was this unstoppable boogeyman
that people make him out to be.
So we approached it from that,
just focused on the techniques,
ability to get back up,
using turtle to get back up,
using turtle to scoot to the cage to get back up
and hand fighting from there,
keeping it pretty safe.
But what makes Volk’s so special,
I think is his gas tank,
gas tank and his willpower.
He’s just unbreakable.
The Dagestani guys, Khabib, Islam,
they are good at submissions,
but they break guys mentally and they fatigue him.
And then they take the submission that’s offered.
Oliveira is a guy that can jump on submissions
and have an incredible technical ability
to finish those submissions,
whether you’re fresh or you’re tired.
And then you combine that with Volkanovski,
who incredible willpower, never gets tired.
You’re never going to break him.
And as you saw,
he only attempted one submission the whole fight.
Is that learned?
Is that trained?
Or are you just born with that mental toughness?
It’s a good question.
I mean, he’s like an anomaly,
like the entire fight camp, not nervous at all,
The whole fight week, completely confident.
He just has an attitude like,
oh, everyone cast me out, we’ll see.
You know what I mean?
Islam, he’s like, let’s see.
No doubt at all.
Super relaxed up until about five minutes before.
And then he starts to amp himself up.
He’s like, you are not taking this belt from my family.
He gets into that sort of mindset.
He actually says that out loud?
You can’t teach that survival.
He didn’t even take a fight, you know?
Have you guys ever been pushed to the limit like that
or broken in a grappling match?
I’ll do it in practice.
I’ll push myself to like,
I think I might pass out or die or something.
As far as how tired you get,
because in a match-
You try not to ever get close to that in a match.
Yeah, you try to,
because it’s important to understand
where your exhaustion point is.
But yeah, if you have to push to that limit in a match,
you’re probably doing something wrong.
Like you see in matches where guys sprint the last minute,
they try to win the match the last minute.
And it’s like, you definitely had some mistakes
leading up to that if you have to go balls to the wall.
But has there been ever times in competition?
Especially like early on,
because you wrestled pretty hard
and wrestling is pretty exhausting.
Like not wrestling,
but wrestling style kind of thing
and going against the best people in the world.
Yeah, I mean, I definitely,
again, I think in practice,
it’s important to do that hard work
that where competition is much easier.
I think if you redline in practice
and you really push to death’s door,
then once you’re in competition
and you’re working with,
you’re being fresh in a comp,
I mean, it’s much better.
Have you ever been to that thing
where Dan Gable talks about
always wanting to be to a place
where you can’t get off the mat?
Like you work so hard in the training room,
you can’t get off the mat.
I think he says he’s failed at that in his career.
He was always able to at least crawl off the mat.
Yeah, I definitely never like actually died on the mat,
but I felt like I was going to die, you know?
What about you?
Do you quit all the time?
I get a light cramp.
I’m like, you know what?
You got me, man.
Let’s do this again tomorrow.
Dude, if I’m asking Craig for a role,
he’s in the bathroom somewhere.
Do you see the value of pushing yourself
to that place where you’re knocking on death’s door?
Yeah, but within safety,
because obviously the most serious injuries
occur when you’re tired,
overtraining and stuff like that.
So I think like taking a page out
of what those MMA fighters do,
especially Volks with his training,
like he’s not necessarily pushing crazy in each round,
but he’s doing extra conditioning,
assault bike stuff, crazy workouts outside.
He does do some crazy training workouts,
but all safe, very safe.
Like when he’s redlining like that in the training room,
it’s a very controlled, safe setting.
I think to do that in jujitsu
against some of these lunatics out there
that are trying to kill you,
especially when you have a name, can be dangerous.
So your approach to jujitsu is don’t warm up
and don’t try too hard for safety.
No, for safety though.
Yeah, longevity, you know.
And talk shit about Russians.
I got it, I got it, I hear you.
Oh, you mentioned cage work.
What’s interesting to you
that you’ve learned over all this time about cage work?
What’s interesting about the dynamics of that?
Are you talking about both like the control
in the dominant position,
but also getting up from the bottom
while you’re against the cage, all of that?
The added dimension of that cage,
that wall being there changes a lot of stuff, right?
So obviously in some ways,
it’s a much lower impact wrestling style
because he can’t be sprawled on.
You can shoot, the cage is going to block their feet.
You’re going to be able to chase down their hips.
It’s just a completely different fight.
And again, because of Islam’s judo skills,
that upper body controls,
you see he’s able to use against the cage,
like the inside trips,
sort of the Uchimada style, Haraigoshi throws.
Obviously those skills do translate,
but yeah, I think the cage is a great equalizer
for a lot of things like athleticism and stuff.
It takes away a huge speed advantage aspect of the fight.
So he’s really good at standing up.
I assume he learned all of that from you
and your instructional just stand up.
I mean, we were so confident.
I was like, you know what?
Why don’t we put this thing out a month before the fight?
Maybe the illegal download hasn’t made its way to Russia yet,
but it was there for him.
Can you explain to me what’s in the instructional just stand up?
Like what are the ideas?
I mean, the old school way to stand up,
people talk about the technical get up,
you know, the old Gracie put the hand,
but I mean, that doesn’t work.
It hasn’t worked for 20 years.
You know, if you look at everyone that gets up in MMA,
they’re using turtle to get up.
They’re using wrestling to get up.
You know what I mean?
Which is a counter to what pure jujitsu says.
They say, don’t expose the back.
Don’t ever expose your back.
I think jujitsu is a terrible way to get back to the feet
because if you were to retain guarding a half guard or close guard,
super hard positions to get up.
You’re basically putting yourself in a leg tuck for wrestling.
So I think you need to borrow from wrestling
to learn how to get up in an MMA fight.
So basically how to safely expose your own back
while not allowing them to get hooks and use that to get back up
or at least not allow them to get two hooks.
And that applies for MMA especially.
For MMA especially.
Because obviously striking is a factor.
But if they are striking,
they don’t have locked hands around your body.
Means you are able to move.
You are able to make an attempt to get back up.
They have to choose between control, submission, or strikes.
Post from Reddit.
Why does Craig Jones push so hard for a bottom is bad jujitsu?
What is so bad about playing bottom guard
such as half guard or De La Riva?
Those are the two options.
No one likes a bottom.
Why would I want to get up?
It’s the question for all of you.
Is the bottom a bad place to be?
I mean, the bottom is bad
if you don’t want that guy on top of you.
That’s the way I look at it.
Yeah, that sounds like something a cowboy would say,
but I don’t know if that has much meaning.
I think the point of jujitsu is both are dangerous
being on bottom and on top.
I think the longer the matches,
probably favorites the top guy more
just because every movement the bottom guy makes
is probably carrying your weight,
carrying that gravity on top of you.
So I think it’s a bit more efficient.
Passing from the top as opposed to sweeping from bottom.
Top is active.
The top player decides how to engage,
how to approach the guard.
They can use angles.
They can use footwork.
They can throw people, throw the legs by.
So it’s an active position.
Reactive, you’re going to get fatigued.
Yeah, I think it’s very difficult to gas somebody out
while playing guard,
but I think it’s very easy to gas somebody out
when attempting to pass it.
Well, you guys are talking about gassing people out,
but is there more dangers from the bottom,
like in terms of submissions
and all that kind of stuff or no?
I’m back and forth because I’m a top player,
but I understand the value of being on bottom.
Like when I do play guard bottom,
I feel like the submissions come much easier.
And when I’m on top,
they come also pretty easy,
but maybe I just take a different route.
Fucking two cowboys talking about jiu-jitsu.
Top on the straights, bottom in the shades.
Yeah, there you go.
What was the hardest part of the training
for the training camp for Volkanovski?
You’re just experiencing world-class MMA fighters training
and giving your approach to jiu-jitsu
of not trying too hard no matter what.
I mean, from my perspective,
there’s a lot of pressure for that.
That’s a lot of pressure for me to go in
and think that I could possibly figure out a way
to help this guy address this guy
that’s basically never been beaten.
I think he got knocked out once,
but basically not really even been put in bad positions.
You know what I mean?
So that’s a lot of pressure on me,
especially because Volkanovski is such a great guy.
Jiu-jitsu is different.
You coach a guy, he loses, he has time to tap.
But in MMA, you could get severely hurt.
There’s a lot more weight
in what you need to do as a coach.
You have a greater sense of responsibility
to their health and wellbeing.
Obviously, I know Volk’s kids.
I know his wife.
You know what I mean?
They’re putting faith in you to not just win the fight,
but keep this man safe.
From my perspective, a hell of a lot more pressure
coaching him as an MMA fighter.
It’s almost like the psychological aspect
of doing the best you can for him.
Exactly, yep, yep.
What was the hardest about the actual training?
Was it the technical aspect
of trying to figure out the puzzle of Islam?
Or was it being a good training partner
in figuring out how the grappling would work
basically playing your best impression of Makachev?
Were you trying to actually impersonate him?
Not just visually, but in style.
Yeah, definitely, definitely visually.
You’re not as good looking, but go ahead.
A little taller, but no.
In terms of the training, yeah.
I mean, Islam’s known as incredibly strong guys.
So obviously, I’m heavier than Islam.
So theoretically, I should be able to replicate
that strength difference.
And then in terms of grappling,
targeting those submissions that Islam does,
like focusing on those in the training room,
focusing on the way he holds half guard,
and really in the grappling sense,
trying to replicate him on the ground.
And then, yeah, I wrestled with him on the wall a ton,
trying to replicate, obviously, to the best of my ability,
a lot of the stuff he does on the wall,
body lock heavy, inside trip, uchi matas,
and just constantly putting the work on Vox.
You know what I mean?
Constantly chaining attacks against him,
really replicate that.
As he’s trying to get up, and escape,
and all that kind of stuff.
So the submissions, like both judo and submissions,
just attack and attacking.
And there’s only so much you can do, really,
because obviously he’s been,
I think he’s been fighting a long time.
So it’s like, you’re trying to polish
what he already is good at.
You can’t just completely create
an entirely new game for him in the space of six weeks.
So you’re trying to take what he’s already effective at,
add to it.
And luckily, a lot of the stuff he’s already very good at
was easy to add to for the fight.
Question from Reddit.
I’m very curious why other MMA fighters
don’t employ high-profile grapplers from B-team
and New Wave to improve their grappling?
That’s from this subreddit.
By now, it’s clear that they are levels above
almost everyone in MMA,
simply because fighters there don’t specialize in grappling.
But it doesn’t seem like fighters,
even champions, get training partners
from the most successful teams.
Why is that the case?
From your experience, why doesn’t Kabib call you?
You might now.
Put in a good word for me.
Oh, I will.
That’s all right.
He takes a joke pretty well.
No, no, you’ll be welcome with open arms.
I think your average Jiu-Jitsu coach,
MMA fighters have bad experience with Jiu-Jitsu guys.
Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t have a massive place in MMA.
Obviously, rounds, stand-ups, it’s hard to submit people.
Your average Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt
doesn’t know anything about holding a guy down,
doesn’t know anything about how to stand up.
So I think if you overly utilize that Jiu-Jitsu guy
that hasn’t had experience in more modern no-gi
or training MMA fighters previously,
it’s going to be a complete waste of time to them.
I think they’re smart enough to realize that.
Do you have, and do you guys,
do you have interest in MMA at all?
Just not even like,
well, certainly just competing yourself,
but just understanding the puzzle of MMA.
Yeah, I mean, I’ve been a fan of mixed martial arts
for a very long time before I trained Jiu-Jitsu.
Personally, I’d much rather coach than fight,
but I mean, I’d fight somebody for a good check
and I get to pick the opponent, have a proper camp.
I could think of a good opponent.
Who do you think is the greatest MMA fighter of all time?
Craig, we can start with you.
Just as a fan of the sport, as somebody who’s been deep in it.
I mean, from my perspective after that performance,
I’m going to say Volkanovski
because he was able to decisively outstrike Max Holloway,
one of the greatest strikers in the sport.
And he was able to hang with the wrestling of Islam Akechev.
And in terms of Ortega, he was able to survive Ortega,
who has some of the most dangerous submissions in Jiu-Jitsu.
So I think in my opinion, technically, he’s the best.
So even though he technically lost, he still has a crown.
I believe so.
Given the size difference, given he’s moving up in weight,
I think all those factors really.
The underdog, everything, the pressure.
Did you think he would be able to hang
in any of the wrestling exchanges with Islam?
No, no, no.
I was really surprised.
That’s why my eyes, like, it’s kind of funny,
like winning at the end of the day,
I feel like judges influence that.
Although I did think Australian judges
would rob the other way,
but I was assuming they kind of,
somebody paid somebody and not enough, maybe.
But in general, I just thought he won
sort of in the eyes of what martial arts stands for,
like sort of go into the fire and survive and thrive
and finish the last round strong,
which is kind of like spiritually is what a victory is.
So I wish he would kept going, like-
That kind of thing.
What about you?
What do you think?
Like who are the fighters you admire?
Like who do you think is the greatest of all time?
I think the fighter I paid most attention to was Jon Jones.
He has a great ability just to mix
the high-level striking, high-level grappling.
Although his jujitsu by itself
probably isn’t like super high level,
but his ability to mix everything together,
I would say he’s the best.
And he’s a fellow heavier guy, heavyweight now.
So it’s nice to see how those guys move at that weight.
And a fellow natural athlete.
See what I did there?
What about you, Nikki?
Yeah, if I had to pick a goat,
I would probably have to say Khabib
just because he was undefeated
and he had a very high finishing rate.
Very few of his fights actually went to a decision.
So he just overall,
he dominated almost every single opponent he went against.
I mean, we’ve been joking about it,
but Craig, what do you think
makes the Dagestani fighter so good?
Like from this small region of the world,
so much dominance has come.
I mean, obviously the amount of freestyle wrestling champions
from that region probably puts their wrestling
above and beyond the best in all of MMA.
And obviously a lot of, even in the Olympics,
a lot of champions out of there, right?
I think that skillset combines with them
adding effective pin controls on the ground
and jiu-jitsu submissions.
But again, I think it’s that hard training.
Those guys like Khabib would maintain that pressure
throughout the entire fight and break guys down.
Their ability to fatigue guys to a breaking point,
I think is something they do best.
I wonder what that is.
What is that technique?
What is that?
What is it about their upbringing?
Because it’s just that part of the world.
What were the Satya brothers
on the freestyle wrestling side
to all the mixed martial arts people?
It must be part of the culture also.
They must be doing something.
I don’t think I’ve never,
I haven’t seen a convincing explanation of why yet,
of what’s specific about their training,
what’s specific about their culture that creates that.
Okay, what do you think about the flip side?
Do you admire somebody like Conor McGregor
who knows how to create a spectacle?
You, Craig, who likes spectacles?
I really admired early Conor McGregor
because I found him absolutely hilarious.
I felt like that was peak banter.
I feel like he just took the American world by storm.
Aussies, British, Irish, Kiwis,
I believe we have a way better level of banter
and attacking each other.
And it’s almost too easy to pick on Americans
that take themselves very seriously.
I mean, arguably even other parts of the world too,
the far East of Europe, you know?
But that’s the tricky thing with Conor.
I feel like you could have gotten in the same kind of trouble
because the Russians really took everything very seriously.
They weren’t joking around.
Yeah, that’s the problem.
It’s like, it’s a bit of,
I mean, some things he definitely takes too far,
but I felt like early on he had the right balance
where he wouldn’t really cross the line,
but he would do enough.
He just took it to another level,
obviously later in his career.
But I think early on, a bit of innocent banter.
He gets a lot of eyes in the sport though.
He’s probably by far the most popular
combat athlete of all time because of that.
I feel like you have to cross the line.
I don’t think enough people appreciate
the values he’s brought by crossing the line.
He’s making a sacrifice crossing the line.
That’s going to affect him for the rest of his life.
I see, I don’t think so.
I think he can always walk back
because I think unlike people might disagree with this,
I, well, yeah, I thought he always radiated a respect
for the opponent afterwards and underneath it.
It felt like the same way you do.
When I hear you shit talking,
I don’t see a person who really means it.
I see a person who’s having fun with it.
I always saw Conor McGregor the same way.
I don’t know.
But people took it extremely seriously.
But I saw the respect, like the common respect
the martial artists have for each other
that felt like it was always there.
If you don’t like that individual,
you’re going to perceive what they say more negatively
than if you obviously were.
So I feel like if you like someone,
you’re going to never think they really crossed the line.
So you’re saying I like you and that’s why I’m perceiving
you’re bullshit in a positive light.
Are there people that hate you?
I mean, some of the family members at this table.
As far as students.
People that really get to know you all hate you.
The fans love me.
The friends hate me.
It’s a good place to be.
Keep your enemies close.
What do you think is the most important muscle for jiu-jitsu?
Is it biceps?
I think a strong back.
I think back one, core second, and then biceps.
Do you legitimately think weightlifting helps jiu-jitsu?
It’s kind of the discussion of the steroids.
It’s like the muscle mass and strength and power and explosiveness, all that.
I think sometimes when we’re at that upper echelon of competition,
there’s like little minute battles that you have to win.
And if you’re relatively close in technique,
then a lot of times a stronger opponent pulls it out.
But it could be also just a limitation, right?
You hold position too long.
What about for hobbyists?
Do you recommend weightlifting?
Like when you see people in the gym?
I always recommend weightlifting.
I almost see muscle as the body’s armor, right?
The more armor you have, the more damage you can kind of take.
And maybe recovery is a little bit better.
And I’ve always seen weightlifting as a means to stick to my routine.
There’s no point in lifting if you’re not eating right
and you’re not sleeping right.
So if you kind of put it all together, then it’s beneficial.
What about you guys?
Do you go to the gym?
I go to the gym, yeah.
Do you go to the hotel gym to use an elliptical
and that butt machine or?
Yeah, I focus on the glutes heavily.
What about the injury prevention and so on?
How do you train to minimize the risk of injury?
You guys have all been pretty beat up.
You’ve gotten a major injury with the ACL.
So how do you train to minimize injury?
Probably not the right guy to ask, hey.
Actually, can you talk through your injury?
Like what happened?
Yeah, so about one week prior to this last ADCC,
I was wrestling with this guy named Kenta, who was also competing.
And I went to go lift him from like a rear body lock
and he hooked the outside of my leg and we just felt something pop.
You know, he felt a shift with his leg.
And when it first happened, it hurt for like the first 30 seconds.
And I honestly debated.
I was like, maybe it was just, you know, some freak thing.
I was like, I literally thought about continuing the session.
Then the next day I woke up and it was like super sore.
I was limping around, couldn’t do a full squat.
So it pretty much killed all of my training for the entire week leading up to the event.
So I couldn’t train or anything.
Messed up the cut.
Obviously, there’s added nerves with that too.
You know, when you’re not in the gym every day leading up to the competition.
I went out there.
I wasn’t really able to pull guard because I couldn’t get, you know,
full heel to butt connection, which is inevitable with playing guard.
And I was very hesitant to shoot as well.
So I came out with the idea of just trying to use hand fighting to tire my first opponent out
and then mainly look to get to underhooks or overhooks and do mostly upper body wrestling.
In the beginning of the match, I, you know, successfully got to an underhook.
I got to a rear body lock.
He tried to roll and I ended up in top position and side control.
But it was during the no points period.
And then as the match went on, I gassed out.
And eventually he ended up taking me down and then scoring with two hooks on the back.
So what’s the injury?
So I got an MRI actually after the event.
I didn’t know.
You waited until after the event?
Yeah, I waited until after.
Cause like knowledge or ignorance is bliss?
I was like, I honestly, I don’t even want to know what’s wrong.
I was like, I just go out there, compete.
I knew it was like the biggest event to date.
And I really wanted to do it.
Think about not doing it?
It definitely was a thought in my head.
Especially that the day after, you know, it’s always the worst day.
Whenever you have like a serious injury is the day after.
And I was like, man, I really can’t do a full squat.
And I was like, I don’t even know how I’m going to be able to do this.
It got a bit better over as the week went on.
But I was like, man, I have to go out there and compete.
I was like, it’ll always be in the back of my mind.
Like, what if, if I ended up pulling out?
What did you think about this whole?
I thought it was just being a pussy.
Yeah, slap him around.
Just yell at him.
I don’t think we pressured you.
We just say you make your own decision, right?
We’re just like, is that a tricky thing to do?
Like with a heavily, like a serious injury like this?
We didn’t know.
That was the thing we didn’t know.
Honestly, initially I thought it was, I tore my lateral meniscus.
But that ended up not being the case.
It ended up being a full ACL tear.
I was actually super surprised when I got the MRI results.
So yeah, we didn’t know how bad it actually was.
What do you think about that situation?
I think Nikki’s a tough kid.
And I mean, when you’re so close to that competition, you know, there’s not many,
you don’t get many opportunities like that to compete in front of, you know, 15,000 people.
It’s like, you know, props to you for pushing through it and getting it.
And man, he had a close match with one of the best grapplers in his weight class.
And it’s like, you know, a few adjustments here and there.
And especially, you know, if he was able to train previously,
leading up to that match, I think that he pulls it out.
So some of the things you mentioned is nerves.
There’s extra nerves just because you’re underprepared.
Yeah, I mean, you know, feeling underprepared.
You want to go into a competition with, you know, the confidence.
I did everything that I could leading up to this event.
I trained as much as I could.
And then when an injury prevents that, you start to doubt yourself more.
How do you guys think about injury?
How do you train, you know, training with the best in the world,
training to be the best in the world, and avoiding injury?
Because you’ve gotten, you tore your bicep.
Yeah, yeah, I tore a bicep.
Dude, honestly, I was bodybuilding, you know, for like seven years.
And no lie, I did, I trained biceps like most days,
like almost every day in those seven years.
Pretty much I injured myself.
That’s so Jersey, man.
Anything else or just the biceps?
I mean, yeah, I injured the bicep.
Pretty much the day before a wrestling practice, I had like a killer arm day.
And by arm day, I just mean training biceps, very rigorously getting a sick pump.
And I go to wrestling practice the next day, you know, pretty late.
I should have been there.
I didn’t get a proper warm up in.
And the first thing I do is I shake hands and I go to shoot a single leg.
And boom, I just blew my arm out.
The first movement I did.
So just not being warmed up properly, in addition to, you know,
having a very vigorous arm day a few hours prior.
You hear that about warm up?
So like, what are some lessons about avoiding injury and training?
I would say number one is warming up properly.
Making sure your body’s hot before you do hot stuff.
Okay, and what does warm up look like for you?
Is it jujitsu or non-jujitsu stuff?
Yeah, just for a warm up in general.
I’ll do something like a, if I’m talking competition,
something like a jog walk back and forth a few times,
then a sprint jog a few times to get that heart rate, you know, up and down.
And then I’ll grab a partner.
I actually just filmed a DVD, or instructional,
specifically on the pre-match ritual.
In addition to that, I’ll, you know, grab a partner.
I’ll drill some movements.
Typically, I’ll drill some bad things.
Like I’ll start from bottom, bottom out, bottom side control,
work out from there.
And in pretty much like 20 minutes in, I’m hot,
and I’m ready to go for, you know, rounds.
Well, what about you, Greg?
So what’s the way to avoid injury?
What’s the worst injury you’ve had?
What’s the worst injury?
I don’t even know.
I’m pretty good.
Pretty healthy, yeah.
Whenever you quit practice, I’m like, that’s a mental issue.
Has your heart ever been broken?
Many times, many times.
But there’s a thing I notice.
People that spend the most time warming up,
often the most injured.
It’s a strong correlation.
You can’t argue with science.
I remember training with Oliver Tyser.
Oliver Tyser would have a 60-minute warmup.
Surprise, surprise, always injured.
I find that very common in the training room.
No, I think people, it’s how they train.
Like if you, like me, first sign of discomfort, backpedal.
You know, push through that stuff.
Go too hard.
When you’re too tired.
You know what I mean?
Get too emotional in the role.
I feel like those are the times that I’ve been hurt.
Where I just like, oh, I can’t let this guy get me.
When I have that attitude and try.
I believe it’s how you train and sort of, obviously.
What does discomfort mean?
Like positionally too?
Like, because you’re training against some killers.
I mean, you’re training with him and going probably pretty hard.
Craig gets a little tired.
He’s like, yeah, I’m good for today.
Once a month with Nicky, right?
That’s it, you know?
And then you quit like 30 seconds in.
Yeah, you know, you got to be safe.
I like it.
What about you?
What have you learned from the ACL?
Yeah, rehab definitely would help.
Oh, so you haven’t been like.
I didn’t get surgery.
I didn’t do essentially any rehab.
I just have no ACL in my left leg.
So what’s it like having no.
The surgeon goes, you’ve got two options.
Surgery, rehab only.
Nicky goes, I’ll do nothing.
Definitely should pick up on the rehab.
What’s rehab for that look like?
Like twice a day of doing some weird.
Like bands or something.
It’s good he’s learned from me.
He’s learned some valuable lessons from about taking care of his body.
What’s it like just training with no ACL?
So at the beginning, it was definitely a little iffy.
You know, I would have an occasional buckle.
Like I’d just be wrestling with somebody and go to step back and it buckled backwards a bit.
But honestly, now, like I haven’t had a single buckle instance in a while.
It feels 100% normal when I train.
It feels better than my other knee, to be honest.
Like I had my meniscus taken out in my right leg.
And that one gets sore more often than the no ACL leg.
So putting that aside, is there wisdom you’ve learned from that experience?
Yeah, definitely should be doing rehab and prehab.
You know, I think that, you know, especially if you’re a hobbyist or a professional athlete,
you should be lifting, you know, whether you’re rehabbing an injury or just for injury prevention.
So I’m actually closer to Corey because I’ve trained my whole life, like pretty hard.
Obviously just a hobbyist, but like twice a day, did judo, wrestling, all that.
Never broke anything.
Kind of like similar philosophy.
Except like last year, I guess a year and a half ago, I got a tiny like groin pull injury
and it still hasn’t healed.
And I’ve been using your approach of not giving a shit.
And like, all right, surely this is going to heal.
It’ll be fine.
But it hasn’t.
Of course, if I was like an actual athlete, I would like probably still train through it
and just fuck it, figure it out.
But when you have other stuff going on, you just kind of wait it out.
But no, I think probably rehab, especially as you get older,
you have to do that kind of stuff.
I think it’s important for people to determine whether what they’re going through is an injury
or they’re just hurt a little bit.
Because injury, for sure, take time, rehab it and get better.
But a lot of people like they’ll stub a toe or something, like you’re out for a few weeks.
Well, that’s the problem with the injury I have.
It feels like a stubbed toe.
So I was like, I’ll just wait a couple of days.
It’ll be fine.
And then a couple of days later, it’s not fine.
And you wait.
And then I never got an MRI, never got any of that.
It’s like, I’m sure I’ll be fine.
So it’s hard to know sometimes.
It’s hard to know.
I feel like a lot of people will just not check it out.
I’ll be fine.
Because there’s several failure cases.
There is a failure case of where everything is a stubbed toe.
You’re like, fuck it.
Like you’re bleeding everywhere.
Yeah, it’s fine.
So you have to be careful.
A lot of people can fall into that too.
I think I’m in that category.
Go to the doctor.
Why do you go to the doctor?
Your best approach is typically wait until something else gets hurt
so that you’ll forget about the grain.
That’s what I was hoping.
I was hoping to get hurt.
Waiting for the broken heart, maybe.
Okay, that was very helpful.
Oh, you mentioned you’re doing a whole thing on the pre-match ritual.
Can you kind of preview what’s involved in your pre-match ritual?
It’s pretty big in the wrestling culture and the fighting culture.
Kind of what to do before your competition.
But I think a few people are just kind of missing out exactly what to do.
So I break it down for them.
I break it down to people like four weeks in advance.
How you should prep your training and your nutrition and your sleep for competition.
In addition to that, I break it down even to a smaller scale.
How early you should get to the event.
When you should be visualizing your competition.
What to do 30 minutes before, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, five minutes.
And the kind of mentality you should have throughout those times
before you actually step onto the mat.
When are you visualizing?
How much are you visualizing?
When you say competition, are you talking about the tournament
or the actual people you might be competing against?
A little bit of both.
I’ll spend time just visualizing the crowd.
If it’s going to be an arena with 15,000 people,
I’ll spend time in practice and whatnot,
like putting myself inside that arena and visualizing stepping on the mat
and hearing the crowd scream and whatnot.
That way, when competition time comes, it’s kind of the same deal.
I’m accustomed to it.
In addition, when I get to the arena, I’ll step on the mat.
I’ll kind of look at everything.
I’ll expose my senses to what it’s going to be.
And then I’ll kind of shut everything off.
Like some people scroll through their phone
and can treat it like normal, have this normal conversations.
For me, I like to limit my sensory intake before I go out and compete.
I just feel like sometimes we only have so many decisions
you can make in a day.
And I want all of my best decisions to be made when it matters,
when it counts.
Oh, what about you?
Do you limit your sensory input?
On game day?
Honestly, no routine, nothing, eh?
Yeah, I don’t do anything.
This guy’s a double silver.
We’re both double silver.
You should buy his instructional.
It might help you.
I’ll get another silver.
No, honestly, nothing.
Hey, I just try to relax, treat it like it’s before training.
Visualizations or no?
No, no visualization.
So the opposite of visualization.
You just avoid it before thinking about it.
Yeah, I don’t even think about it.
I’m just like, yeah, we’ll have a good time.
Try to appreciate it, that I can do it.
By the way, when you visualize, are you visualizing tough positions
or you visualize winning mostly?
I definitely visualize winning.
I visualize how I’m going to get to my most dominant positions
because in comp, I want to do what I’m best at.
And I also see my opponent in his best positions
and how I’m going to escape those if necessary.
But most of the time, I’m just visualizing exactly
what I’m going to do in that match.
And I go out there and do it.
So when your teammate, Craig, is another world-class athlete,
has a fundamentally different philosophy than you,
do you visualize being frustrated at him?
No, not frustrated.
But I’ll definitely come into practice with solutions
to the problems that Craig gives me.
If Craig’s catching me at something or giving me issues,
I’ll go home, I’ll watch a match that he lost for motivation
and I’ll come back and I’ll put it on.
Just DM him a highlight reel of him losing.
What about you?
Does it affect you that you’re a bit of an outlier?
Usually before I compete, right before I go out there,
I go, why am I doing this?
Do I still need to do this?
And I think, hopefully I don’t embarrass myself,
affect my instructional sales.
That’s the last thought.
But I don’t even put too much thought
into the whole competing thing.
I’m just like, you know what?
Hopefully have a good time out there.
What about the motivation aspect?
That voice that says, why am I doing this?
That voice can break a lot of people.
In a weight cut, it can break a lot of people.
Why am I doing this stupid, silly sport?
Like you said, a bunch of dudes just rolling around.
What’s the point?
I’ll call someone with a nine to five job
and I’ll be like, yeah, that’s why I’m doing this.
Sell those DVDs, man.
Yeah, I didn’t get too deep on competing.
We’re so polar opposite.
It’s almost uncomfortable to be around you.
Obviously, one of us is a clean athlete.
You should do a DVD on that.
What about you in terms of preparing for competition, Mickey?
The day before, the day of, are there rituals that you follow?
Honestly, the few days leading up to it,
it’s different for me every time.
Sometimes I’ll warm up before I compete.
Sometimes I won’t.
Sometimes I’ll fast.
Sometimes I’ll eat.
Literally, it’s just completely random.
I don’t follow any specific thing.
But in the training room leading up to the competition,
I’ll definitely, like Nicky Rod, visualize
that I’m walking out onto the competition mats.
I’ll pick somebody that’s a similar body type
to the person that I’m competing against.
And then we’ll start out with some distance between us.
We’ll come out, smack hands, and act like everything’s
a real competition.
I’ll even sometimes have corners that will yell out times
just to replicate it as much as possible.
It’s funny because I’ve talked to a lot
of Olympic gold medalists.
They used to do a podcast with athletes,
and they all sound like Nicky Rod.
The two of you are outliers.
I don’t know.
Sometimes I’ll do this.
But that’s also Jiu-Jitsu culture, I think.
Maybe the chaos of not taking things too serious
is actually really, really helpful.
Sometimes the pressure of taking everything
way too seriously can break you.
I mean, I just don’t think it’s that big a sport, really.
I think if I compete every day in practice,
it just makes competition much easier.
So I just put the pressure on there.
On the competition, yeah, yeah.
No, sorry, on the training,
competing in the training.
I don’t know.
Olympic sports aren’t that big either financially.
And people take it extremely, extremely seriously.
You don’t really get that much money from Judo.
I mean, I just don’t take Jiu-Jitsu that seriously
because I was just partying and having a good time until 21.
And then I was like, oh, fuck, do I get a job?
Or do I pursue professional sports?
And I feel like if I made a career in Jiu-Jitsu
with a decision at that point.
And now you just stumbled your way somehow
into being at the top of the world.
Yeah, that’s what I feel like.
I just walked into it.
I feel like I couldn’t just do that in wrestling, boxing.
I couldn’t do that in other sports.
What was the toughest match you ever had
that pushed you mentally, physically, technically?
This doesn’t have to be the best person you faced,
but was there a moment in your career
that was really defining for you?
I mean, I would say the toughest mentally
was just this last ADCC.
I just had a big injury leading into it
that kind of screwed the whole camp
and weight cutting everything up.
So yeah, I would say the last ADCC.
Are you proud of your performance there?
You stepped on the mat that you pushed through all of it.
Like I said, I’m a very competitive person
and I hate losing.
So definitely not, yeah.
You had to collapse long.
He was so physically exhausted afterwards.
We had to get medical intervention.
He thought he had to collapse long.
I was the most tired that I’ve ever been in my life
in that match.
I actually popped a blood vessel in my eye.
I was trying so hard.
He comes out, he walks off the ADCC mat backstage
and I’m like, I’m kind of getting warmed up for my match
and Nikki Ryan comes over to me and she’s like,
I’m like, I’m so tired.
I’m like, I’m so tired.
I’m like, I’m so tired.
I’m like, I’m so tired.
I’m like, I’m so tired.
And Nikki Ryan comes, he walks over, huffing and puffing.
His mom’s right next to me.
He looks at her.
He was like, I think I need help.
I think I got a lung collapse.
That’s not true.
My mom’s the one that called for medical help.
I was just laying on the warmup mat, fucking dying.
Well, we’re happy you’re fine.
Laid it all on the line.
What about you, Craig?
Defining our toughest matches?
I mean, they’re all pretty tough.
I don’t know.
I can’t really pinpoint one.
I mean, probably the most annoying one was obviously the one
where I had Gordon Arnby, I was like, tap, bro.
And he wouldn’t tap.
So I let him out.
Mentally, I was like, I shouldn’t have done that.
Do you ever have a thing in your brain where it says,
should I shit talk now or not?
And you say, no, I’m going to be respectful.
I just can’t be serious about some of these things.
I don’t know.
It’s just silly.
All of it.
The whole thing.
What about you, Nick?
Dude, honestly, most of my toughest matches are in the training room, right?
Because I started with these guys.
I started training under them, started training at DDS
when I didn’t have any knowledge.
I knew wrestling.
I knew a knee cut in jujitsu.
But I started training with them when I knew almost no jujitsu.
And then I had to really work my way up.
So definitely in the training room, having one of these guys on my back.
There’s a stretch of a few weeks or months when COVID first hit.
And it was just four of the best grapplers in the world.
And we just did drilling and live rounds with these four guys.
And it was hard.
It was very hard.
Every round, doing six rounds, seven days a week with the best grapplers in the world.
And you get no break.
And you’re forced to learn on the go.
So I think for me in the training room, that was definitely my toughest matches.
And that’s where I built those mental calluses.
There was a period where I drew with Nicky Rod probably, what, nine months, 12 months?
And typically speaking, like I said, no warm-ups.
The first round, we usually take it pretty easy.
First round, you start in mount.
The whole room, the rest of the training room, they take mount very lightly.
Me and Nicky Rod would be fighting to the death every day.
I felt like we did an extra round every day.
It was very grueling.
I’m very mean when I’m in the midst of drilling or live.
We would drill wrestling quite a bit, like stand-up.
And in the drilling, I just wouldn’t let Craig take me down.
We’re not going live.
We’re just drilling.
But I just wouldn’t let him put me on the floor.
So things like that.
I knew it would escalate.
So you mentioned mount.
So you do positional training.
Would that be the hardest versus live training, open, starting from guard?
I would say mount and turtle definitely, definitely made me very tough.
Because you spend all this effort getting off of bottom mount.
And then you got to get on top of a guy.
At the time, I’m not that good at holding guys down.
So they escape quick.
And I’m like, fuck, I just tried to hold him down.
Got to go back down.
Same thing with a turtle.
You start bottom turtle.
You’re trying to explode, get away.
And then you switch.
And this guy gets up pretty quick.
And you’re like, damn, I got to go right back down.
That constant circle, man, it’s very tough.
But definitely built some character on the mat.
What do you think is the value of positional training in general in jiu-jitsu?
Actually, this one, just interacting with you guys,
it’s not commonly done in just regular jiu-jitsu gyms.
Probably it’s not commonly done because most of the experience is just frustrating.
If you’re evenly matched, you’re basically frustrated the whole time.
If you’re doing it right.
There’s a psychological battle that happens in the mountain turtle rounds.
Maybe you get close to subbing a guy, or maybe you do sub him.
When you start on turtle and you’re on their back, you finish them.
And then you get this high point.
And then immediately you got to go back down to defensive posture.
It’s emotionally up and down.
It’s hard to deal with.
Super important if you’re one of the better people in the gym,
because it just puts you in positions
you don’t find yourself in, in regular training.
If you’re a big fish in a small pond,
you don’t do positional sparring,
you’re probably going to get exposed in competition.
You might even look silly in those positions.
So you really have to force yourself to do it,
despite the fact that you’re giving someone worse than you
a position where they might catch you.
So you have to put the ego aside.
Yeah, that’s one of the things when I was training regularly.
Of course, training with you guys, it’s trivial.
But I didn’t work on putting myself in bad positions.
When you get better and you regret it.
Because the big negative thing it has,
consequence it has on competition
is you don’t take as many risks.
Because you’re kind of afraid for your back
to get taken, all that kind of stuff.
That was me before I went to DDS.
I remember I showed up there in that old position.
I was like, fuck this.
You better earn this position.
I didn’t really have escapes.
That was a learning curve for me, for sure.
Do you see the value in positional training?
Or is it just the source of tremendous frustration?
Yeah, I definitely think it plays a big part
in your confidence when you step out
onto the competition mats.
Being confident that even if you get put
in the worst possible situations,
you know what to do and know how to work out of them.
I had a long argument with Haja Gracie when he visited.
And he thinks mount is the most dominant position.
Even Nogi versus Beck.
Is there a case to be made for that or no?
I think all of your opponent’s utensils,
their tools are in front of them.
So if you’re on mount, there’s a few ways
to get out of mount.
I think if you’re on somebody’s back,
I’d personally much rather be on somebody’s back then.
I’d rather have someone’s back and then flattened out.
Boots in, flattened out.
Boots in, flattened out.
So not even body triangle, but just flattened.
Just completely flat.
Almost like the position in MMA
where you see guys get finished because they can’t get out.
I think that position is probably
the hardest position to escape.
Can you see what Haja’s talking about with mount
or is he just that good at mount that he says that?
He might mean the gi, cross collar, you know?
I don’t know.
Or did he mean-
He says controlling wise, he just believes
that you can complete, that there’s,
he actually thinks there’s more ways to get out
from the back than there is from the mount.
Getting up, including like physically.
Prior to the kipping escape, I would probably agree with him.
But that kipping escape is so difficult to manage.
It’s the funny looking escape where your legs are wiggling.
People have a lot of trouble.
It’s like super hard to learn how to do,
but then once you learn how to do it,
the effectiveness is just huge.
Yeah, it’s a weird one.
When did that come to be a thing?
Is that pretty recent?
I mean, I saw DDS guys using it first, I think.
Who’s the first guy to discover something like that?
This seems like a ridiculous thing to discover.
Yeah, like what if I just wiggle?
I thought it was a joke at first.
I was like, you guys really doing this?
I remember somebody showing me a technique where
if you just walk your hand on a mat or something like that.
Like an arm triangle or something?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
On the arm high?
And it’s just a funny discovery,
as opposed to trying to shove it in, just walk it.
I like doing that to people, but with things that aren’t true.
You know what I mean?
I’ll just tell them this is a technique
and watch them try to work out if I’m being serious or not.
Yeah, that’s what you do when you achieve guru status.
They’ll just listen to you like you’re Steven Seagal.
See what they’ll believe.
Speaking of which, how do you balance,
you have to travel all across the world.
How do you balance that with running a school
or being a world-class Jiu-Jitsu athlete?
I mean, the secrets of travel for me are two drugs, Xanax and modafinil.
That’s how we time adjust and we hit the ground running.
What does modafinil do?
Xanax puts you to sleep.
Yeah, I mean, I have narcolepsy, so it’s a narcolepsy medication.
How does that work with the steroids?
How does it work?
I mean, they work well together, you know?
Focused and physical recovery.
But in terms of traveling and training stuff, it is.
I mean, we’re lucky because we got so many high-level guys,
so we can travel and they’re still in good hands.
I mean, it would be a problem if me, Nicky Rod and Nicky Ryan left
and the gym had Ethan, that would be a problem.
But we got to make sure it’s not just him there.
Although everyone says they’re happy when you’re gone,
so that’s the moment I heard.
Happy when I’m gone, but they do miss me, for sure, until I get back.
All right, what about you?
Just like balancing it.
Do you try to stay completely focused on competing?
Like for some of the big matches you have coming up,
are you able to kind of diversify?
Well, I like to diversify my training to where, you know,
if I don’t have a competition scheduled,
I’m more focused on skill development and, you know,
getting better and broadening my tool shed.
But, you know, if I’m like six weeks before comp,
I really start amping up the intensity that I bring into the mats
against bringing some of that visualization towards practice.
And maybe I train less volume pre-competition,
but higher output per session.
Yeah, what’s a perfect week of training look like?
If I’m not in competition mode,
I would say Monday, Wednesday, Friday twice,
every other day just once.
If I’m pre-comp, just Monday to Sunday once a day.
So that’s on the mat, you’re doing the full,
like positional training, live training.
Bicep, oh yeah, I do a lot of bicep curls.
Yeah, I lift a few times a week now.
Cardio or no?
Cardio’s all mat stuff.
Cardio’s all mat stuff.
I do do some CrossFit workouts, like CrossFit’s,
I’ll do like some EMOMs or some AMRAPs or CrossFit terms.
That’s for Instagram?
But yeah, CrossFit is a good way to kind of like
push that threshold.
Sometimes on the mat, because I’m so good,
I can’t always get that like full red line.
So I’ll hop in across the gym and I’ll do some workouts
that bring me closer to death.
What about you, Craig?
What is a perfect week in training look like?
Like when you’re back home training?
I try to be at the gym twice a day, every day when I’m back,
just because I travel a bit more than these guys.
So I try to be there 8 and 12 every day,
hang out in between.
Usually, definitely, usually train both of those sessions,
depending on how my body feels.
So doing positional, doing every technique,
I should probably do more positional,
but because I’m just trying to work on wrestling and stuff,
and especially leading up to the Volkanovski’s last fly,
I was trying to wrestle more and focus on those areas
even before I traveled over there,
just some experimentation with some stuff.
How do you experiment with stuff?
Like how do you, so there’s like regular positional stuff,
but when you have ideas, like where,
do you do it in during the training sessions
or do it outside of that?
Do you get together with somebody?
Usually, every session, I show up with something
I’m thinking of, usually something from top,
maybe something from bottom.
And then I just try to maybe pick the right people.
Some people, obviously, I’m just fighting to the death with.
It’s not a good time to experiment.
And then others, obviously, you can play around with ideas on.
What about you?
What’s a perfect week look like?
Maybe, well, you said you’re 100% now.
So yeah, honestly, I have pretty much the same schedule
as Nicky Rod.
So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I do twice a day,
every other day, once a day.
And then normally, noon practice is like our biggest class.
That’s where all the pros go in.
So I tend to do more open rounds there.
And then we have a 7 p.m. class as well,
which is more hobbyist.
And that’s where I’ll do my positional rounds
and force myself to be put in bad positions.
So you have, what, you do 8 a.m., 12,
like in terms of what B team has.
8 a.m., 12, and 7 p.m.
And the hobbyists are more 7 p.m.
Do you believe in overtraining?
Do you think you can overtrain?
I used to not believe in it, but then I got hurt.
I was like, all right.
Oh, you attribute that to overtraining?
I think, dude, I’m telling you, I trained.
I lifted like a bodybuilder for like seven years.
And by lifting, I mean, I was lifting seven days a week.
And I trained arms most days.
Like almost every day I would do like four or five sets
and get a pretty good bicep pump in addition to my lift.
I think that had to contribute somewhat towards my training.
What about, okay, yeah, fair enough.
Well, what about on the actual mat overtraining,
like spending too much time on the mat?
Psychological, physical overtraining.
I think you can definitely overtrain,
but it’s more of a, like, as your body’s healthy,
you have to make sure your mind is sharp.
Like sometimes maybe taking a day away
or even diverting your attention
in a different aspect of training
can help you be a little bit sharper overall.
Sometimes it can be like, it can get a little like stagnant
because you’re doing the same stuff over and over.
But I think if you just keep like overtraining,
then your overall baseline just gets higher
and you become, you know, accustomed to that.
What about you?
You don’t seem like a guy that over, okay.
I’ve heard of him, never been close to it.
No, I think controlling how hard you train
is definitely protects you from injury.
You know what I mean?
Like if you’re redlining yourself
and then you’re fighting to the death in the gym,
that’s 100% when you’re going to get injured,
going to get sick.
So I try to make sure I’ve had enough sleep.
I’ve had obviously enough food post-training.
And that sort of helps me to train a bit harder,
but still try to avoid redlining myself too much.
I think established also,
like what days are going to be your peak days?
Because throughout the week,
if you’re training seven days a week,
you’re going to have ups and downs.
Like for me personally, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,
usually my best days.
And besides that, I also have other great days.
All my days are great.
But Monday, Wednesday, Friday are also great.
You’re like unable to admit
that some days are rougher than others.
I’m always on, bro.
What advice would you give to people
who are not always on, hobbyists?
How to get better?
Like people that are already there.
I don’t know, purple bells, brown bells, black bells.
There’s just like doing like a couple of times a week
or something like that.
Like how to get better.
I think being consistent,
like find a schedule that you can consistently train.
Maybe it’s like, you know, three, four times a week
or even a little bit less.
Just be consistent over the years.
I think too often people are like,
oh, I want to get really good really fast.
And it’s like, definitely takes a long time
to get to where you want to be.
What about what you’re doing during,
like while being consistent,
what kind of stuff you’re working on?
So honestly, I think one big thing for me,
which is something I actually started doing
once B team was formed,
was filming all of your rounds
and then watching it every day.
Because then you can see
what specific problems you’re having
and then you can base your positional rounds
around those problems.
That’s really interesting.
It’s kind of depressing though.
Like sometimes I have to,
you know, I edited this podcast for a long time.
I still do in part.
And I hate the sound of my voice
and like what I look like.
It’s tough, but it does make you better.
And I also hate the sound of Craig’s voice.
It looks like this would be doubly difficult,
but I’m glad the rest of you are here.
I don’t know.
That’s, that’s, do you watch
competition footage of yourself?
Like to analyze, like, yeah, my confidence.
While you’re doing curls.
Is there advice you,
Craig, you would give for hobbyists to get better?
I mean, just not every round
has to be a fight to the death, you know?
I feel like you’re going to get injured,
burnt out that way.
You’re not going to learn as much.
I would say just as a black belt
who took Jiu-Jitsu very seriously
for a very long time.
Basically, when you become a hobbyist,
your skill is basically slipping.
Your age and your skill.
And so not taking stuff seriously
is actually its own psychological skill
of like, that it’s tough.
Like it’s tough in a way that is different
when you’re like a blue belt or something
that you’re, if you work hard
and you train correctly,
you’re going to get much better.
Here, you’re kind of.
You’re looking downhill.
You’re freaking downhill.
And you’re like, yeah,
I guess I’m going to enjoy the art of it.
Reframe the victory, you know?
Like if it’s a young upcoming guy
and he comes to me, you’re like, well,
that’s a moral victory, you know?
Yeah, but then that has to happen.
You have to be able to not do that
to avoid the injury sometimes.
Like if you want.
So yeah, it’s a different thing.
Plus with me,
just because some people recognize me,
they, you have that probably.
You guys definitely obviously have that.
I’ve solved that problem.
How did you solve that problem?
Travel around, you do a seminar,
anything like that.
It’s believable that you could get submitted once.
But if they catch you, give them a few.
If people tell their friends,
they submitted me to seminar,
one time, believable.
They got me four or five times.
You’ve robbed them of that.
Okay, that’s pretty funny.
But it’s also, they have this energy.
Like they think, you know,
they’re coming in hot.
And I usually like to just basically
get submitted quickly twice.
And just, it changes everything.
It makes it more fun.
Let them submit you twice?
Just like very quickly.
Like what are the options?
Make it last longer.
But then it’s like, it’s very hard to like,
yeah, if you’re a very serious competitor
and so on, you take it seriously, then yes.
But like, then people go,
people, what they try to do,
this probably is what happens to you guys.
They try to impress you by going super hard.
I have people every day come to my gym,
try to take me out.
I just stay sharp.
Come to practice.
Let’s get it on.
Do you feel that energy?
I feel like I need to talk to Craig here first.
Like at a seminar,
like somebody is coming in like really hard,
like a brown belt will come in.
Like, and they really want to impress you
with like their technical side of their big fan.
They’ve been watching your DVDs.
Like, what do you do with a guy like that?
I make a complete joke out of the row.
You know, give them the pause,
mess with them, do stupid shit.
Like rub them of the realness of it.
Because it’s stupid.
I’m not going to roll hard with strangers.
I feel like you should roll with a circle of people you trust.
Injuries happen rolling hard with strangers
because that’s the same way you get injured in competition
because you don’t have that relationship with them.
And I should also mention,
that’s probably not a good way to impress somebody’s big,
just going ape shit, going 100%.
Oh yeah, that’s not at all.
I think the beauty of jiu-jitsu is like the camaraderie of it.
Like as you get to know each other,
it’s like technical, like different ideas you have and all that.
Do you think Gi Jiu-Jitsu is dying in popularity, Craig?
Yeah, it’s long dead.
I think it’s just, I mean, it just shows like,
I mean, I have heard some numbers on the viewership
for the Gi Worlds finals
and they don’t even compare to the undercard of like,
who’s number one events.
So I think like,
when I was coming up and competing in the Gi all the time,
you looked at those guys that won Black Belt World Championships
and you were like in awe of them.
It almost had that ADCC champion feel,
but now that’s not the case.
You know, I just feel like that,
the younger generation aren’t looking at
who’s winning Black Belt, Gi Worlds.
I personally don’t think,
and I don’t think they’re like,
they want to be that guy.
They want to be like a Rotolo, Gordon,
you know, those are the people they want to emulate.
So you think like the Gi,
like ABJJF Gi tournaments will just keep declining popularity?
I think people will still do it.
I mean, it’s easier.
I think as you’re over 30,
because the Gi is a bit of a slower thing
and the Masters participation is bigger in the Gi,
because obviously a no Gi is now heading in a wrestling direction.
Wrestling and heel hooks, you’re over 30,
that’s a terrifying prospect, you know?
What’s terrifying about the Gi?
So I think in a participation rate,
the ABJJF will still be good,
but I just don’t think people are as interested as they used to be.
Why is wrestling and heel hooks terrifying?
Like heel hooks, I can vaguely understand
if you don’t understand heel hooks.
You work a desk job and you’ve never wrestled
and a guy doubles as you,
that’s gonna probably break your back, you know?
I think the older guys are scared of wrestling.
It’s hard to wrestle at 40.
To learn wrestling at 40.
I mean, I think it’s even just hard in general
to do wrestling at 40,
but it’s easy to pull half guard in the Gi at 40.
I think it’s hard to do Judo at 40
and people still do it at 40.
Judo hurts more.
Judo is scarier than all of them.
I think, does wrestling really hurt in 40?
I don’t know.
I’m looking at you.
I feel, I agree with you saying that Judo
looks like the most dangerous.
Like even their practice partners,
they’re just getting slammed flat.
Yeah, I did.
I mean, I did Judo for a really long time.
There’s a lot of people that are 40, 50, 60 do Judo
and they get-
They’re the ones that are still alive though.
You do a little bit of Judo, right?
Me, I’m a yellow belt.
You’re a yellow belt in Judo?
I should be an instructor.
Promote you to orange.
I got a yellow belt in the sixth grade.
I believe it was the sixth grade.
I did it for about, I don’t know, six months.
But you’re also using Judo in competition, basically.
Aren’t you doing like Harai type throw,
like you’re doing-
Yeah, I don’t know where I learned that.
I just started doing it.
You just started lifting your leg in various ways
until the worst?
Just figuring it out, yeah.
Doing different kinds of trips?
I looked at the sandboat guys doing it.
I was like, can’t be that hard.
Gave it a crack.
Well, they looked at your foot locks
and they said, that can’t be that hard.
They said, can’t be that hard.
Ban it from the tournaments.
What do you think is the best takedown in Nogi Jiu-Jitsu?
Like what, like if people were trying to train
for competition and so on,
like where you see the trends heading?
I think the foot sweep is like catching fire nowadays.
See a lot of foot sweeps and arm drags,
I would say pretty popular in our sport.
She’s just got arm drag to, okay.
Arm drag either to get them,
like get to behind them
or even just to cause reactions,
make them pull away and we can start reattacking.
Are you talking about it in a context of
what’s the best takedown to score?
What’s the safest takedown to mitigate the risk
of guillotine submission or most effective in general?
Yeah, most effective combined.
Combined, yeah, yeah.
I mean, ultimately it’s about scoring.
I think any sort of body lock,
you know what I mean?
Locking your hands around the body,
you’ve been able to put it to the floor that way.
I feel like that’s most effective,
safest might even have arisen out of a leg attack,
a leg entry, upgrade to the body.
What about like foot sweeps,
like outside foot sweeps?
I would say, yeah, you know,
foot sweeps from outside foot sweeps
or even like something like you’re tossed
on a opponent body and you’re sweeping the foot.
Yeah, those are all pretty safe.
See, why is that scary?
I don’t understand.
It’s not scary at all.
I think it’s the lifts that are scary.
The lifts, yeah.
Who’s lifting people?
I like a good lift.
No, not you.
I mean, in master, like,
we’re talking about older guys doing no geek.
Some of those old bosses take it very serious, you know?
They just start lifting.
They’re coming to impress.
Grab a lift.
All right, just for the gram.
Okay, what about submission?
What’s your favorite submission?
And what do you think is the most effective submission?
Except the buggy choke.
I would have to say the rear naked.
It’s definitely the one that’s hit the most
and the highest level of competition.
Was that, that was pretty interesting to see you escape all that
and to put it on.
That’s the cool thing about EBI,
to see like the world-class athletes.
I was surprised that it’s possible to escape
with you on his back.
Gotta try some B cream.
B cream, as it helps.
What’s in the, what’s the formula?
Or is that a secret?
That is a proprietary blend, for sure.
Okay, but that’s what you use for greasing.
That’s what you greased before, allegedly.
Does it have other application outside of grappling?
I’m sure you can get creative.
All right, thanks.
Asking for a friend.
Is that RNC for you as well?
Rear naked choke.
I mean, overall favorite for like solidifying a finish.
Cause like you can push, you can put somebody to sleep, right?
Even if they don’t want to tag, put them to sleep.
But as far as like something I’ve been working on now
that I’m now starting to implement in competition,
Yoko Senkaku side triangle is like, it’s a beautiful thing.
You have multiple options.
You have the triangle to finish.
If that fails, you have the Kimura.
You could break the arm.
You could also just transfer and take the back.
So Yoko Senkaku, I’m a big fan of
and I continue to progress and get better at it.
Have you ever broken anyone’s arm?
I mean, the first few competitions,
cause I was like, you know, pretty athletic grappler
or athletic wrestler going against
like local black belts and brown belts.
Like one of my first matches, I broke somebody at Kimura.
Pretty much every time I’ve got a heel hook,
which is only twice I’ve broken an opponent.
If I have a joint lock, it’s probably going to break.
Like a lot of times it breaks before they tap.
You seem like a really friendly fella.
How hard is it to break an arm or break a joint?
Well, I don’t think it’s that hard.
I think like if you’re talking like about an armbar,
we have this position to where like
people are kind of holding on, holding on.
And then it slips and their arm starts going.
And then it just breaks before they even,
you know, get a chance to tap.
I love this point.
I knee barred a guy and he didn’t tap one time.
And it was actually, it was surprising.
I had to put a lot of force into that
as opposed to arms, shoulders,
and the ligaments in the knees and ankles.
But to fully, this kid, Sambo kid, fully let it go.
And he tapped it.
I think the angle is like up here.
They’re built different.
Hopefully he can be reconstructed.
He’s rebuilt different.
What about a straight foot lock?
You’ve ever, do you guys do straight foot locks at all?
I don’t know.
I mean, I’m learning them now.
We had some kid come in the practice one day
and like fucking full lock all of us, dude.
For the straight foot lock.
Straight foot lock.
Just this little like Polish kid.
Not only did he foot lock everyone,
but he told the entire world.
He sent out a fucking email.
Including his friends and family.
We practically put a hit out on him in practice
and he just stopped everybody.
It’s always interesting when you get like,
yeah, people that specialize can surprise you
that this could be effective stuff.
Do you think there’s other stuff
that could be still discovered in Jiu Jitsu?
Like what areas do you think are ripe
with techniques to discover?
Like wrestling is really interesting now.
There’s a lot of innovation happening in wrestling.
I think there’ll be more innovation
when we get people that are more adamant
about standing up from bottom position.
I think if we get more of the community,
they’re like, all right, I want to get off the bottom.
Just stand up.
Just stand up.
How Jiu Jitsu doesn’t work.
We actually changed the name.
How Sambo doesn’t work if you just stand up.
Did you really?
I’ll change it to Jiu Jitsu when I pirate it
and send it for free to the entirety of the Soviet block.
Hey, Nick, you’re right.
Do you think ego is useful for martial arts
or does it get in the way?
Okay, I think you need to use it in both ways.
For sure, have an ego,
like if you’re training competition,
but also it can prevent you from learning
and progressing if your ego is too high.
Like you really have to shut the ego down
when you’re in the mode of learning
and trying to develop skills
because you’re going to put yourself
in these bad positions.
You’re going to have issues with training partners
that aren’t necessarily up to your skill level,
but because you’re in these bad positions,
you have to make these certain sacrifices.
And for sure, ego can be a good or bad thing,
but if you’re able to shut the ego off and learn,
then that’ll have huge progression
when it’s time to put the ego on into use
When’s the last time you shut the ego off?
It’s been a long time.
What about you, Craig?
I mean, you seem to be super easygoing.
Like is the ego just not part of it?
Oh, for sure.
I just don’t want anyone to know
they’ve damaged my ego.
You know, you have to suppress it deep down.
There’s a child underneath all of it crying always.
I think ego is good for a bit of perseverance,
you know, like it’ll help you stick it out
against a tough battle with a training partner,
for sure, a bit of ego’s on the line.
Plus the banter back and forth,
we’re trying to like stir each other up a bit.
I think that helps hone, sharpen the ego a bit.
Oh, what about you?
Do you try, do you seem like a super humble guy?
Is there like a monster underneath?
So it’s a total act.
It’s an act, who’s in the basement.
I definitely think ego’s a big motivator.
You know, I think it’s very good to have
in the aspect that it like,
it’ll drive you to help,
to want to be one of the best in the world.
But like Nicky Rod said,
you need to be able to turn it off in the training room
and, you know, force yourself into bad positions
where you may not be winning.
Are there like, you know, Donaher’s mentioned Boris.
Are there like grapplers, like Boris,
this is a question from Reddit actually.
anybody you’ve trained with in the past
who doesn’t compete,
but is just an absolute beast in training?
Like people you’ve met that are just like.
Well, somebody that I think has a probably
the best like submission grappling in MMA,
I think like Gilbert Burns is a,
is his submission grappling is very, very good.
I trained with him early on in my grappling career
and I was really impressed by his ability to move,
hold down opponents that are trying to stand up.
And as a whole, you know,
he can get submissions and put people away.
Have you, when’s the last time,
have you trained with him recently or no?
No, it’s been a few years.
Which is impressive ability to submit, you’re saying?
Yeah, like, I mean, you know, you would see,
I’d see Gilbert go against a few like
pretty decent black belts in the room and farewell.
And, you know, maybe he gets to their back,
puts a choke in and it’s like,
Gilbert’s super high-level grappling
or submission grappling.
Yeah, but he’s pretty widely recognized as a monster.
So I don’t know, you didn’t really answer the question.
It’s like, you’re not even listening anymore.
What was the question?
All right, well, is there people,
like you’ve done all these seminars,
are there just, especially in the Eastern block,
you’ve seen, like you went to Kazakhstan,
is there killers out there that-
Oh yeah, there’s tough guys out there.
Obviously, I don’t remember the names
nor could I pronounce it if I did,
but definitely some tough guys out there,
obviously carrying skillsets over from wrestling for sure.
Not Sambo, but wrestling.
But yeah, are there just people that surprise you
that just don’t compete, that are really good?
Are there, have you met those?
I feel like it’s less so today
because there’s so many more athletes in the sport.
But definitely when I was coming up
back like in Australia and stuff,
there were guys I’d trained with that wouldn’t compete
and that would be like super tough rounds for me.
And there’s so many more avenues for competing in general.
So yeah, what about you?
Have you met some monsters?
Yeah, one guy I could think of in particular is Jason Rau.
He trains up in Long Island, I think, right?
Opened up his own gym out there.
He used to compete, but he would never be able to compete
at the same level he would train at.
So now he’s just focused on mainly opening up a gym
and teaching his students.
But he was a guy that was extremely good
in the training room, world-class.
I still think to this day,
he’s legitimately one of the best in the world,
but just doesn’t compete anymore.
Who wins in a fight, a lion or a bear?
This is for you, Reddit.
No, not a polar, well, yes, it’s a good question.
See, polar bear is pretty impressive.
No, grizzly bear.
I think a grizzly bear wins.
Well, who was the most threatening predator in Australia?
Well, I mean, it’s a tricky question here
because everyone’s scared of the animals in Australia,
but I mean, you get bitten by a snake,
you get bitten by a spider.
That’s not that bad.
Bear, America, bear will just hold you down and eat you.
That’s a much more terrifying prospect for me.
Even sharks, shark’s gonna be quick.
No one sees the shark coming.
The shark’s just gonna bite you in half.
A bear will take a bite and chew.
A bear just holds you down and eats you.
So that’s frightening for me.
Australia is a bunch of just weird shit that can kill you.
Did you see Cocaine Bear, the movie that’s coming out?
I saw the trailer.
It looks good.
So there’s not every bear.
There’s like black belts and there’s black belts.
There’s bears and there’s bears.
So I think that’s what they often don’t talk about.
Everybody puts lions and bears in the same category.
I think there’s just some weak bears.
A lion would kill a black bear, I think.
Not every black, again, I’m trying to tell you there’s difference.
But grizzly and polar bear, I’m betting on those.
No, I think grizzlies have the size,
but actually every video I’ve seen of grizzlies,
they tie out within like 20 seconds.
They get bored.
That’s the gas tank?
Yeah, the gas tank.
That’s a Nicky Ryan gas tank right there.
Yeah, that’s all they got.
And they try to just take a breather.
Like there’s these crazy fights between bears
and they last like 20 seconds.
I heard this story about a Russian family
that was attacked by a bear in Russia and killed the dad.
And it took so long to eat the daughter.
She made three phone calls to her mom
when I was eating her.
And the first call, the mom thought she was pranking her.
That’s way scarier than what we got there.
Give me a snake bite any day.
You know what, let me change the question.
If you had to fight a bear or a lion,
how would you try to defeat it?
Do you think you have a chance at all?
Well, I think I’d attack a lion a little bit differently
than I’d attack a bear.
What would be the difference?
Well, I’ve seen this video where a lions are eating
and you have three like skinny guys walk up behind them
and kind of scare the cat off of their food.
I think maybe I produce some props,
scare the lion away, right?
But if I have to fight it straight on,
I mean, the thing is that even if you take the back,
like you can’t like bite it or choke it,
the mane is too big to lock your hands around, you know?
Are you sure about that?
The mane is just hair.
Yeah, it’s thick hair.
It’s like matted hair, right?
I don’t know.
So I think-
You think you can maintain back control on a lion?
Maintain, yeah, yeah.
But getting there, I think I fake how I go low, right?
Make them think I’m going for the foot or something,
a little pulse sweep, and I take the back.
What about a bear?
I feel like they’re easier.
That might be easier to take, to hold back control.
The thing is if the bear falls on its back,
it’s just going to crush it.
It’s so big, substantially bigger than a lion, right?
Like a full-grown grizzly.
And they’re also like terrifyingly loud
with their roars and stuff.
Yeah, I think, so first of all,
if I saw a grizzly, I’m like,
all right, he’s going to attack me.
I try to yell a little bit louder than them,
maybe deter him a little bit, like give him a, oh, nope.
And then, yeah, for sure, I try to get behind it.
I probably go like something weird,
maybe like pull the eyes out or something, you know?
For sure, I mean, I’m going for the vital organs, you know?
And then oil check it.
There’s no pride in that.
Wow, pride even matters.
See, the ego, the same advice you gave,
you got to put the ego aside with a bear.
Even then, even then, would you,
how would you fight a bear or a lion?
Just play dead?
Play dead, yeah.
Could you beat a kangaroo?
I’d beat the shit out of a kangaroo.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean, are we boxing gloves?
We just like-
How would a kangaroo attack a human?
Try to kick him with the claws.
Knock him down, and then they choke him.
Stand on that tail.
The kangaroos do?
They choke each other, yeah.
They don’t choke each other.
You don’t believe me?
You want to watch a video?
They choke each other out.
I’ve seen this, yeah.
Is it real?
With a headlock or what?
Yeah, they knock him and just grip like this and hold him.
What’s the grip?
Like little paws.
How are they gripping?
I promise you, I’m not lying to you.
Pretty sure I’ve seen the video.
They also do strange shit,
like if there’s a predator around, they’ll wait in a pool of water.
And then if it comes to attack, they drown it.
They’re pretty smart.
Okay, speaking of which,
what’s the most effective martial art for winning a street fight?
You talked about rule sets and streets.
I think you’ve talked about being a street-
Have you ever been in a street fight?
Yeah, just one.
Nothing special, nothing crazy, hey?
Yeah, you don’t talk about that time.
Like for self-defense purposes,
what would be a strategy on the street?
Whoever wins the street fights,
whoever’s willing to take it the furthest, the fastest.
You know what I mean?
If you’re thinking you’re going to box
and he’s biting you, poking your eyes,
that guy’s going to win.
He wants it more.
You know what I mean?
That’s why the crackheads fight.
They go for the kill straight away.
So I feel like it’s more about who’s willing to do the most
that’s going to win that fight.
Fastest, the most fastest.
Who’s got the least to lose, you know?
Okay, we could also define winning differently
because you could also run away.
But in terms of technique-wise,
I think if it’s a one-on-one, I’d go wrestler wins.
But if it’s like multiple people,
you got to go Muay Thai, stay on your feet.
Can’t go down to the ground if it’s more than one person.
Yeah, big double leg maybe.
Yeah, double leg, put him asleep on the impact, right?
Forehead to the ground.
Yeah, what’s the goal here?
Is to win the fight and not go to prison?
I haven’t thought of it through that way.
Yeah, certainly, yeah.
Yeah, not to kill the person.
You got mutual combat here in Texas, we’re good.
Is that in Texas?
Do you know what the paperwork for that looks like?
Do you have to actually sign something?
I hope I don’t need to find out.
I did hear a story where guys were on Sixth Street
and they looked at a cop,
they were like mutual combat, mutual combat
and just got the cops to say yes
and just duked it out.
That could be false though.
That sounds crazy, I’m saying.
I kind of admire that,
but I’ve also been playing Red Dead Redemption recently.
So I’ve internalized the cowboy a little too much.
Just to return to gym stuff.
No, because it’s a business,
because you’re running a business,
there’s money involved, but you’re also friends,
but you’re also training partners.
Is there a tension that money creates
that threatens to destroy friendships?
That’s something I always worry about with money.
I try not to go do any kind of business
with friends or family.
I think if it were all very clear and honest
and open at the start, it makes it much easier.
I think people have issues when there’s like,
kind of like things are written in fine print
and nobody knows the exact answers.
And a lot of jujitsu guys can’t read.
We’re learning that today.
Definitely complicated though.
Yeah, I mean, it’s not always obvious
how to be transparent and stuff about everything.
Have you felt that tension?
Because in the jujitsu world, money’s not really unlimited.
Just running a school, what’s that like?
Because it’s the first time you’re running a school,
running a gym.
Yeah, I mean, it’s just constantly updating people
about what’s going on, what your expectations are.
You know what I mean?
We’ve had some problems with coaches
who I feel like think the pie is bigger than it is.
You know what I mean?
They feel like maybe we’re getting rich out of this
and they’re missing out on things.
So it’s like, even amongst managing staff,
that can be challenging too.
So yeah, I mean, it’s a constant work in progress
to make, not only to make sure everyone’s happy,
but to make sure they’re comfortable enough
to reach out and tell you they’re unhappy.
But I feel like those challenges are common
amongst any small business.
Still, it sucks.
Just to mention, I’m clueless to this,
but I’m just now learning this.
Somebody I met and talked to and I really like is Isaac.
I just learned, because you’re also active on Reddit.
What’s your name on Reddit?
It’s John Belushi’s mom.
As undercover as possible, you know?
Oh, it’s not you.
It’s actually John Belushi’s mom, right?
So I’ve done my research, I guess.
And I guess you guys had a falling out and have split.
I just want to say that, I don’t know,
the few interactions I’ve had with him,
he’s a beautiful human being.
And that just shows to me-
Visually, maybe not internally.
And sexually, just the experience.
He’s just a kind person.
I don’t know.
I liked him a lot.
Like to me, in a business setting,
yeah, tensions are created and it sucks.
I don’t know.
I mean, I suppose money,
all the stuff that happened in the jungle aside,
probably money had a role to play to create extra tension.
Money and egos about like,
who is the leader, who is not the leader?
It’s tough to manage that kind of stuff.
I’ve seen it happen with jujitsu schools a lot.
I don’t know exactly what,
because it’s like,
there is also a hierarchy inside grappling jujitsu schools,
like people that are better or not.
There’s literally ranks, black belt and brown belt.
There’s like competitors that are better.
I mean, it’s a weird dynamic in which to operate.
Because like, usually there’s more politeness
and like humanity layered into the way a company works.
But here there’s just a bunch of,
I mean, it’s like violence laid on display,
Is there something you could say to that?
Like how you try to minimize?
Or something you want to comment on, Isaac?
I mean, it was unfortunate situation,
but it just didn’t work out.
You know, like there’s going to be personality clashes.
I can’t imagine anyone having a personality clash with you.
It’s hard to imagine.
You know, I mean, I didn’t even know what to say on that.
I don’t want to touch on it too much,
but obviously his expectations about his role in the gym,
obviously different from ours,
led to some personality clashes.
It was sort of unresolvable.
You know, some things happen that can’t be resolved.
You can’t fix those things.
You know, obviously a lesson, I hope for both of us,
definitely a lesson for me from a management role
to try to address these things sooner.
But also sometimes I came up in a different time
where there was no money, no opportunities.
I had to pave that way totally for myself,
especially coming from Australia.
Like being a professional athlete in jiu-jitsu was not a thing.
So I had to pave a lot of opportunities for myself.
And I feel like sometimes…
I don’t know what the right word is.
Sometimes people don’t appreciate some of the ways you help them.
And they just think, feel like almost they deserve
or are entitled to certain things.
And that is very difficult to manage.
But I think, again, like we both see the situation different.
I do hope he finds a better, a more comfortable place to train.
But yeah, obviously I’ve known him for a long time,
sort of like a brotherly relationship.
So that’s gonna really make personal problems a lot worse
when you’re that close to someone, you know?
I just hate it that like I’ve seen in jiu-jitsu especially,
but in other places where like close friendships were destroyed
because of like gym stuff, like people running gyms.
And it just, as a person who is, in this case, just a fan,
but in general, just like a student, it’s like sucks.
But again, in my position, sometimes I wonder
if there really was a friendship or mere opportunity.
I have to be careful of that with some people in the sport.
Is it a sincere relationship?
Or like, I mean, it’s difficult for me to tell.
Or am I a means to an end?
Sure, but I think it’s actually a trade-off
because I think a lot of close friendships we have,
like even relationships we have, like when tested,
like can break if they’re not properly communicated.
Like some of it could be just misunderstanding
of like for a prolonged period of time.
It’s not explained through just like a lack of integrity.
It’s just like you have to like talk through that shit.
Like just be honest with each other.
Take some MDMA and really get down to it.
Exactly, drugs solve everything.
You’ve already heard it from this conversation.
I’ve actually haven’t done MDMA yet.
People say that that’s something I would enjoy a lot
because my brain is, I think, natural on MDMA.
I’d recommend it for sure.
For sure, all right.
Is that what you did with Gabby on the All Titan?
She drugged me.
In general, why does there always seem to be drama
in the Jiu-Jitsu world?
Like outside of what’s going on here or is it just-
I think it’s universal to anything.
Drama is everywhere and then drama rises to the surface.
Drama makes the money.
Yeah, I wish there was a little bit less.
You have a bunch of, like we mentioned some of them,
you have a bunch of instructionals out.
What are some interesting things that you’re looking forward to
like exploring in terms of teaching?
So Just Stand Up is your most recent one, right?
Yeah, you also have one called Power Bottom
Inclusive Modern Approach to the Guard.
What are some other ones?
False Reap Allegations.
False Reap Allegations, yeah.
By the way, people talk about Power Bottom, again, hilarious title,
but they say it’s a really good instructional on the guard.
Yeah, I try to at least be innovative, you know,
like everyone else I feel like’s ripping off John and Gordon,
putting some sort of slants on that.
So I’m trying to take sort of a different approach.
I think you can actively influence the sport
with what you release,
because people are going to try to emulate that.
So I think those type of instructionals,
Just Stand Up, Power Bottom,
like approaching the sport differently,
I think definitely has a positive impact
on how people play the game.
Yeah, are you working on something now?
Probably a fundamentals course,
just because we’re bringing out,
we’ve got the White Belt program coming in.
So I’m trying to develop a fundamentals course
along the line of the constraint-based learning stuff
we were talking about today,
like a way to approach learning as a beginner
to sort of speed up the process a bit
and not make it as so technique dense,
at least have it a bit more fun.
And focusing in on just like examples of problems to solve.
Approaching judicially learning that way.
Like, I mean, kids learn quick through games.
I think adults are capable of that
to a certain extent as well.
You’re releasing that instructional
on pre-match preparation?
What other stuff?
Do you have a thing on a body-lock pass?
Yeah, I have a body-lock or a body-lock DVD,
Yeah, I have the pre-match ritual coming out.
I also have, I’m filming
how to build athleticism for grappling.
I’m just really trying to capture different angles,
kind of like the same,
what Craig’s doing,
trying not to do the same thing
that everybody else does.
There’s a ton of wrestling,
ton of jujitsu instructional, so.
And the steroid results are coming out.
Oh yeah, yeah.
More plates, more dates.
Derek runs that.
He hit me up for a blood panel test,
like an impromptu thing,
and I did it a few days ago,
and I believe the results will come out shortly.
Do you know the results?
What are you betting on, Lex?
What do you think?
It’s hard to believe.
Yeah, it’s very impressive.
You’re putting me in an awkward position here.
Do you think you’ll face Gordon soon?
Um, I’m open to it.
I don’t know.
I don’t know how soon,
maybe in the next six months.
I could see me facing him before ADCC Worlds.
I think that’s a great rivalry.
I think it’s a really interesting one.
It’s fun for me.
Is there any chance that the two,
the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany get back together?
That DDS, under whatever name, gets back together?
No, absolutely not.
I mean, we kind of did this to back up Nicky Ryan,
and we’re sticking with our guy.
So what do you think?
Yeah, I think there’s just too many personality conflicts
for it to really ever work again.
Do you think there will always be war in the world?
I think from the beginning of time,
it’s been some kind of war, some kind of battle.
Controversy is what helps people evolve.
Until AI, super intelligent AI,
becomes way more powerful than humans
and humbles all of us with its power
before it destroys us.
Well, until it runs out of batteries.
You guys are screwed.
I’m really fortunate to be able to hang out with you,
to train with you,
and thank you so much for talking today.
That’s the best ending.
Thanks for listening to this conversation
with Craig Jones, Nicky Rod, and Nicky Ryan.
To support this podcast,
please check out our sponsors in the description.
And now let me leave you with some words
from Miyamoto Musashi.
You must understand that there’s more than one path
to the top of the mountain.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.