French MMA and Jiu-jitsu website Riddum.com had a chance to discuss with Budovideo.com's CEO and Rolled Up's host, Budo Jake. Here is the full interview:
Riddum.com: Most of us know you from your work, commentating the world championship or via your own show Rolled Up. But you aren't just a journalist, you are also a jiu-jitsu practitioner, brown belt under Marcio Feitosa. When did you start training jiu-jitsu and when did it become something serious for you ?
Budo Jake: I've been training martial arts my whole like and like many I was first exposed to BJJ from Royce Gracie during the first UFC. While I admired the art, it wasn't until 2005 when Carlos Gracie Jr and Marcio Feitosa moved to California that the circumstances were right for me to start training. I suppose I started getting more serious when I got my purple belt. Rank has a funny way of motivating people.
Riddum.com: Your show, Rolled Up is one of the best on jiu-jitsu. You manage to do a private class with world known instructors or practioners. Are they all enjoying this opportunity, being filmed and presented to a wide audience, or did you meet some guys who didn't want to be a part of the show?
Budo Jake: I think everyone that has been part of the show has enjoyed the experience. We always have fun during the filming. There has been a couple guys that weren't interested in doing an episode however. Not all teachers are comfortable being on camera and some guys don't think they need they need the exposure. I always hear back from the instructor after the episode comes out about how many students they got just because of the show. I'm glad it's a win-win situation like that.
Riddum.com: After a brief interview you ask them to teach you on some specific techniques. Do you choose the technique according to some difficulties you had in your training or do you have some specific questions tailor-made for the instructor (like Barral's open guard or Caio Terra's half guard)?
Budo Jake: Yes, that's right. Sometimes I ask things that I want to learn specifically, but more often than not I try to let them teach their strongest positions. It only makes sense, people want to learn what the world champs are best at.
Riddum.com: Sometimes, I refer to you as a jiu-jitsu hero because you are not afraid to get beat up to learn something. I really appreciate your zero ego mentality. Did your meetings with so much elite black belts humbled you? How does it feel rolling with these elite guys?
Budo Jake: Well first of all, I know my place in the jiu-jitsu world. I'm just a hobbyist who loves to learn and compete a little bit. So when I go against the best guys in the world, I know what's going to happen. (laughs)
It doesn't bother me if I get submitted or out-pointed. What matters to me is that I learn something. There's a poster at the Gracie Barra HQ that is a Carlos Gracie Sr quote (I think) that reads : "In Jiu-jitsu you either win or you learn". I think that's totally true. Every time I get submitted I learn a little bit more of how to avoid getting in that situation or how to escape the submission.
Riddum.com: When will we see an über-wrathful Budo Jake spamming heelhooks to elite grapplers, fed up by getting smashed? (laughs)
Budo Jake: (laughs) Actually the fact that the Jiu-jitsu community can learn from my suffering makes it all the more worthwhile. ;)
Riddum.com: Which Jiu-jitsu fighter impressed you the most? From a physical or technical point of view?
Budo Jake: Every guy on Rolled Up has been awesome and had something really valuable to teach. For me however, I like dynamic movement like you see from Caio Terra, Jeff Glover, Bill Cooper. They are very playful with their jiu-jitsu. I think it's important to have fun with your training and they always seem to.
Riddum.com: What do you think about the weight factor in jiu-jitsu? Do you prefer to roll with someone like Caio Terra/Bruno Malfacine or someone as big and powerful as Erik Paulson? Do you think lighter fighters may be better technicians and instructors or is there absolutely no correlation between size and technical abilities towards teaching?
Budo Jake: Just watch my face when rolling with Erik Paulson and I think you will have your answer. (laughs)
I don't think size has anything to do with teaching ability and I don't think it's a fair assumption that all smaller guys are more technical however just for my safety I like rolling with guys my size (150 lbs). It's important to me to be able to train consistently and sometimes bigger guys can accidentally injure smaller guys.
Riddum.com: In some episodes you train with the gi, in other ones you roll nogi. How do you choose between the two?
Budo Jake: Some guys only do one or the other. If they do both I will ask which they want to do. If it's my choice, I will usually choose nogi.
Riddum.com: What do you think about the gi and the nogi debate?
Budo Jake: I think they are both crucial. I've done both since day 1 and while I enjoy nogi training more I see a tremendous value in gi training and I would never give it up. This debate never dies but I think the best advice I can give is to always enjoy your training. If you don't enjoy gi then don't do it, or vice versa. Just make sure to train regularly and by regularly I mean 3 or more times a week.
Riddum.com: Can we expect a Rolled Up episode with a female athlete? Someone like Kyra Gracie, Michelle Nicolini or Gabi Garcia?
Budo Jake: Absolutely! It will happen.
Riddum.com: More and more, jiu-jitsu fighters tend to professionnalize their training but jiu-jitsu isn't a money rising sport. Do you think it may change in the future? Maybe with competitions such as Abu Dhabi Pro tournaments?
Budo Jake: It is nice to see some money coming into the sport but still it is not enough to live on. Even if you are the best in the world and win every absolute championship that pays, is it a decent salary? Jiu-jitsu is still a niche sport/martial art. I don't see guys making livable salaries anytime in the near future - unfortunately.
Riddum.com: Year after year we see new moves and techniques created or being imported from other grappling styles to jiu-jitsu. Do you think this will endure in the next years or will the jiu-jitsu curiculum eventually plateau?
Budo Jake: That is the beauty of competition. Events like the IBJJF worlds, ADCC, & Abu Dhabi Pro get the best guys together to compete and this competition breeds new and innovative moves. That's what keeps jiu-jitsu from stagnating like so many of the traditional martial arts. As long as the competitions are growing jiu-jitsu will continue to innovate.
Riddum.com: Do you think that a former jiu-jitsu/grappling champion can make a successful comeback after years keeping themselves off competitions? Are Dean Lister and Robson Moura some jiu-jitsu freaks or can we hope to see more of the old-school generation practitioners coming back to world events?
Budo Jake: Absolutely. While some of these old timers might not know the latest berimbolo sweep, they know timing, grips, balance... all the things that exist in all the top players. They can easily adapt and be back on top. I enjoyed seeing Mario Sperry & Renzo back in action at the last ADCC and I hope we can see more fights like this. Someone please get Roleta back on the mats!
Riddum.com: This year, the ADCC changed its rules for the weigh-ins. What do you think about weight cutting?
Budo Jake: I prefer the IBJJF way of weighing in right before your match. I think they weighing in the day before allows guys to compete below their natural weight and it benefits the guys that are good at cutting weight. It really hurts the guys that don't cut.
Riddum.com: I think you contribute pretty well to a mass public vulgarization need. Especially with the rise of MMA. I think grappling is one of the least spectator-friendly sport that exists (well... unless Jeff Glover competes of course -laughs-) and the majority of the MMA fight fans think grappling is just plain boring. Do you think it will change in the futur or is jiu-jitsu a sport bound to be loved only by its practionners?
Bubo Jake: To put it plainly, if you don't do it, it's difficult to understand or appreciate it. Everyone can understand two people punching each other in the face. The layment can't understand a de la riva sweep. It's unfortunate, but I think BJJ will remain mostly a spectator sport. Put it this way, I wouldn't want to change BJJ to be a spectator sport because it would change the art so much. Just look at Judo. Judo is a somewhat popular spectator sport but it lost so much of it's essence - namely the ground fighting. That being said, I thing professional shows with one match at a time, in a nice environment (like Budo Challenge, Pro Submission League, etc) is about as close as we can get to making grappling spectator friendly.
Riddum.com: I have been to UFC events and ADCC events, one thing that striked me is that elite jiu-jitsu fighters are really accessible and the public is really respectful to the athletes (even when some of them fight local stars like Braulio Estima at this year ADCC). It's the complete opposite in a major MMA event. Most of the ADCC and World Championship public is composed of practitioners of the Art, do you think jiu-jitsu is a kind of a familly and jiu-jitsu fighters feel it when competing in public?
Budo Jake: Yes, that has been my experience also. Almost everyone in the grappling world is friendly and approachable. I don't spend much time in the MMA world, but I think MMA guys are surrounded by a lot more pressures and managers and contracts. I don't know... but yes, the jiu-jitsu community is great.
Riddum.com: Jiu-jitsu is often described being more than a sport, a life-style. What is the jiu-jitsu life-style for you?
Budo Jake: To me it's about keeping up with the big competitions, focusing on my own training, helping others with their training, traveling to other academies to learn, basically keeping jiu-jitsu as one of the main areas of my focus and knowing that wherever I go in the world, my extended jiu-jitsu family is not far away.
Riddum.com: Jake, thank you very much and I hope to see some brand new Rolled Up episodes soon! We let you the last ligns to send a message to our readers!
Thank you for the well thought out questions! Check out the next episode of Rolled Up filmed exclusively on Guam. We had a blast!
Thank you to all the customers of Budovideos.com and fans or Rolled Up.
Keep learning, keep it fun but most all - keep on rollin!
Interview de Loïc T. pour Riddum.com.
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