The biggest name in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that isn’t “Gracie” is Eddie Bravo, the phenom from Santa Ana, Calif., who revolutionized the martial art’s application in the sport of MMA. Bravo almost single-handedly expanded the way people train without a gi, and coined names for his own submissions, like the “twister,” “electric chair,” and, er, the “crotch-ripper” (we recommend not getting caught in that one). The jiu-jitsu innovator—and part-time conspiracy theorist—sat down with Onnit to talk training, his friendship with Joe Rogan, and his all-time favorite hoax.
Eddie Bravo Q&A
BJJ has exploded around the world and there are many places to train. Why should someone choose 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu?
We do no-gi 24/7. It’s more fun. People aren’t grabbing onto your clothes. It’s grappling like you see in the UFC, so it translates better to MMA if you’re interested in doing that. No matter who you are or where you’re coming from, we train everyone the same way—we turn them into finishing machines.
Scientists recently determined that Pluto isn’t technically a planet, so the official planet count is down to eight. Do you ever consider changing the gym to “9th Planet?”
You’re known for pioneering the rubber guard. Can you describe what it is?
It’s just a way of playing high guard without the gi. Playing high guard with the gi is easy because your legs stick to your opponent’s shoulders and neck. But when there’s no gi and you get sweaty your legs slip down. So rubber guard is a way to play high guard in MMA when it’s slippery.
What is your advice to beginner jiu-jitsu students who get frustrated because they get tapped a lot?
They shouldn’t look at it like it’s a game of who’s getting tapped the most. Think of the game as how long can I survive until I get tapped. Try to survive. Once you get good at that game, you start to add attacks. Getting tapped in jiu-jitsu doesn’t hurt your physically, it just hurts your ego. It’s healthy to have control of your ego. If you quit because you’re getting tapped a lot, it means you need to work on controlling your ego.
How long does it generally take a beginner to hold his own on the mat?
It depends on the person. Their size, how often they train, how much knowledge they retain. Everybody’s different.
How many days a week should someone train BJJ?
Two to five. Two if it’s your hobby and five if you want to compete.
Jiu-jitsu legends like Rickson Gracie have complained that the art has been watered down by its evolution into a sport. Has BJJ lost some of its potency as a self-defense system?
Every martial art gets watered down. But even the most watered down version of jiu-jitsu is one thousand times better than no jiu-jitsu. Anybody can do it—old ladies, children. I have quadriplegics do it.
They just drag themselves out on the mat and do the best they can.
If you were on the street and a guy took a swing at you, what would your immediate reaction be?
I’d tackle him and go for a choke. I’d probably go for a double leg takedown and get his back or get the mount.
You gave Joe Rogan a black belt in 2012. How would you describe his game?
He’s super athletic, super powerful, and explosive. His go-tos are the crotch-ripper, arm triangle, and guillotine. He has a powerful omoplata too.
Have you learned anything from him?
He’s maybe the hardest kicker I’ve ever met, pound for pound. He’s opened my eyes to the possibility of taekwondo kicks in MMA, and you’re seeing more and more of that now in the UFC. Especially with Yair Rodriguez, and Wonderboy Thompson.
Some would argue he’s done as much for the growth of MMA as any fighter has. He’s the greatest MMA commentator of all time. No one’s even close.
What supplements do you take?
I take the HempForce cacao protein in the morning. That’s my breakfast. Just that by itself.
What is your strength and conditioning training like?
Right now I’m just doing yoga because I’m coming back from back surgery. I’m trying to ease back into yoga just to get my back and core strong. I don’t think my back injury was from jiu-jitsu; my doctor said it’s genetic. My discs just wore out.
You’re known for being a conspiracy theorist. What’s your favorite scandal?
The fake moon landings never cease to fascinate me. People think we went to the moon six times and then they trashed all the data and equipment and technology and it’s gone and no one can inspect it. All we have to show for it is some shitty video of astronauts who are clearly on wires. It’s fascinating how easy it is to trick people.
I think the moon landing was a money scam. They were trying to get to the moon and dumping billions into NASA and somebody skimmed it. Tax money is the easiest money to steal because nobody really owns that money. All you have to do is come up with some program and get it funded and then you do whatever you want with that money. Nobody’s going into space.
Punch in satellite on Google images and all you get is cartoons. There’s no pictures of anything.
What else would shock people about Eddie Bravo?
Most people don’t know I produce music and have my whole life. I started jiu-jitsu when I moved to Hollywood and I didn’t want to be a fat rock star. But I was always about music. One of the bands I produce is Smoke Serpent, and Hook Thieves—they’re like Chemical Brothers or Crystal Method. I’ve worked with Danny Lohner from Nine Inch Nails. You can hear my stuff on soundcloud.com/eddie.bravo. If you want to roll jiu-jitsu to a cool playlist, check it out.
Find out more about Bravo and his schools at 10thplanetjj.com