GTR Archives 2000-2020

 

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Special to 

 

Global Training Report

 

 

 

Interview with 

Chris Brennan

 

 

May 14, 2004

 

 

GTR: What took you to the Torrance Academy in the first place?  

 

Chris: Same as everyone I guess.  I saw Royce fight in UFC 1 and 2 and I was hooked.  I had fighting goals right off the bat though because I was a fairly active street fighter and figured I could do this stuff.

 

GTR. What was it like in the early days? Training, instructional methods, people you met there, memorable incidents challenges etc? 

 

Chris: Training was cool because there were some real good guy like Lowell Anderson, Ethan Milius, Marc Laimon, Richard Bressler, Mauricio Zangano, and many more.  Rorion was a good teacher but never tough.  There were some good challenge matches but not enough in my eyes.  I just wanted to fight.

 

GTR. How long were you there?  

 

Chris: I don't remember exactly but it was for a few years. 

 

GTR. Rorion is said to be a good teacher. What, if anything, did you learn about teaching from Rorion?  

 

Chris: He is a really good teacher in some ways and a bad one in others.  I feel a good teacher not only explains the techniques well but also shows more than one technique.  Rorion didn't keep up with the students as far as helping them get better.  If there was ever a teacher that held his students back it was him.  He would get pissed at the other instructors for showing new stuff in the advanced class.  If he saw one of his instructors showing something and it wasn't shown perfect he would come in to the class and call him out and make him look stupid in front of all the other students.  I think this was classless and it even made him look dumb too because the guy was teaching for him.

 

GTR. How was Rorion's jiu-jitsu? Did you ever roll with him or watch him roll with anyone?  

 

Chris: I never rolled with Rorion but may have seen him roll a few times.  I am sure he was technically good but very frail with ZERO muscle so that might have been a problem.

 

GTR. As far as you could tell, what did the Brazilians who worked for Rorion think about him? In other, that he was giving them a great opportunity to get established in the USA, or that he was screwing them?  

 

Chris: There were no Brazilians working for him at the time besides Royce.  I think besides hooking Royce up in the UFC he really hindered what he could have done.  Royce had so much more potential than Rorion let him show.  I think he wanted to keep him as his little pet and not let him get too big or get away.  In the end it happened anyway but it would have really helped Royce if he would have been able to do it a few years earlier.

 

GTR. What, if any, perspective did you get on the Rorion / Rickson rift?  

 

Chris: I am not sure about the Rorion/Rickson deal but I know Rorion was impossible to deal with money wise so I am almost positive it had to do with that.

 

GTR. Why did you leave?  

 

Chris: Well this might be a long answer.  This was one of the hardest things for me to do in my career.  I knew I was going nowhere there but I was learning how to teach on my own by sitting in EVERY class and absorbing exactly how they taught.  I was at least learning that and that is what was important to me at the time because I wanted to open a school and teach.  I was up and down about leaving and then Rorion called me in to his office.  I was fighting Pat Miletich for the first time in a  few weeks and he said "are you fighting again soon"  I told him I was and he said "do they know you train at the Gracie Academy" and I said "I am pretty sure everyone knows"  and he said "Are they using out name in their advertisements" and I said "no" and he said "go home and get me your contract"  I told him I didn't have it yet and he said I needed to get one and shot it to him.  He said "I couldn't be fighting and training there"  I was like WHAT?  "I can train here, pay you $600 per month, fight here representing your name in challenge matches, but not fight and make some money"?  and he said "YEP"  I basically said FUCK YOU and walked out.  I told Royce if he ever left I would train with him, but not if he was still with Rorion.  Sam Rand (the academy manager) was giving me shit saying "Chris Brennan Jiu-Jitsu fuck me"  "Who the hell is going to come train at Chris Brennan Jiu-Jitsu"  "Who is he"?  Well I realized I needed to make a name for myself before opening a school and I began fighting and ended up in the UFC 4 weeks before opening my first school.  It was perfect.

 

GTR. What belt did you have when you left?  

 

Chris: I was a 3 stripe Blue belt and got my 4th from Fabio Santos after training with about 15 guys in a row and tapping every one of them until the last one (Jeff Riggs) already a purple belt.  We went for about 10 minutes and I took him down about 8 times and we both had position on each other but no tap.  That was from a purple belt and I had just gone through the gauntlet.  Roger Brooking (the guy teaching me at the time) was a Brown belt so he took me down there hoping for my purple belt but no luck.  I ended up fighting in the UFC as a Blue belt.

 

GTR. Can you describe the belt system (requirements for promotion). We know that blue belts are pretty quick to get in Brazil, like maybe 6 months for an average person training 3 times a week. Black belts are also not as rare in Rio as one might get the impression in the USA, since in the USA about until a few years ago, when you saw a Brazilian BJJ black belt, you were generally looking at the best of the best and people who grew up doing BJJ. Of course, most Brazilians in Brazil with black belts are not like that.. Did you sense that the belt system at Torrance was being manipulated to keep students paying for a longer time?  

 

Chris: I am not really sure about that.  I know Blue came pretty fast but then I think the rest were pretty tough to get unless they wanted to have one or needed you to have one for teaching purposes.  I know there are way more Black Belts than there should be.  I know guys are giving belts away for money and that is just bullshit.  My students are a very good blue before getting it and a very good purple before getting it and so on.  I have been teaching about 7 years and I have 4 brown belts and about 4 or 5 purples and a bunch of blue and whites.  I think your ranking is what shows and represents the level of students we have at our school and that needs to be kept at a high standard.  For a long time EVERYONE questions by skill level and belt.  I laughed because I had blue belt students completely dominating tournaments and tapping a lot of Brazilian taught students and their students would still down play my skills.  I think I am beginning to get a little more respect, at least in the skill department.

 

GTR. In other words, Rorion understandably wanted to make money from BJJ. Did you get the feeling that his interest in spreading BJJ and teaching students what they needed to know was subordinate to his goal of making as much money as possible?  

 

Chris: No question making money was his #1 priority.  He wasn't spreading Jiu-Jitsu anywhere.  If you trained there you were not allowed to compete in outside tournaments with other schools or even roll with other guys from other schools.  I truly believe it was because he was holding back from all his students and knew they would get their asses handed to them.

 

GTR. Did you get the sense that Rorion was a megalomaniac, or rather that he was just trying to protect the business he had built from being siphoned off or ripped off by Johnny-Come-Latelys and outright frauds, the kind that the traditional martial arts business in the United States has always been replete with.

 

Chris: Yeah I think he was trying to protect it and that's not bad but he was going about it all wrong.  He was holding back the wrong people and not letting the right people help him build it.  Instead he pissed EVERYONE off.    

 

GTR. It is rumored that you now have a BJJ black belt? Is that true? If so, who gave it to you? Is it possible to get BJJ black belt level skills without training consistently with the gi (assuming that you don't train with the gi)?

 

Chris: Well I do have a Black Belt and I got it from John De La O.  I am not sure if you can get a "BJJ" Black Belt without the gi, nor do I care.  There are many arguments about the gi training and no gi training.  Here is mine.  Train in the gi if you are going to compete in the gi.  Train without the gi if you are going to compete without the gi.  If you are getting ready to race motorcycles do you go practice on a skateboard?  They are entirely different.  Sure there are some things you can do with both but the whole argument that training with the gi tightens up your no gi training is just asinine.  That is a last chance reach the Brazilians are trying to say to get the Americans to keep paying for BJJ and that is it.  How can training with something on that absorbs sweat and slows the game down help you get tighter when you take it off.  That is like saying having sex with a condom on helps tighten up the game when you take it off.  That is complete shit.  It will make it much faster and harder to control once you have it off and you will need to find all new ways to slow it down and control it again.  They are two totally different things and I prefer without :)   

 

 

GTR. How do your teaching and training methods differ from Rorion's?

 

Chris: I feel I am as good of a teacher as Rorion.  I studied the way he taught and feel I improved it even more.  I also have the students best interest in mind in helping them reach the top and he did not.

 

GTR. You are on record as disliking Rorion. Why is that?

 

Chris:  He just wasn't good for me or my career and didn't have room for two champions under one roof and I needed to be a champ.

 

GTR. Everyone basically agrees that Rorion, whatever you may think about his business practices, was the man who made the money possible for everyone in the BJJ and MMA game now. But considering everything, do you believe his continuing influence is harmful to BJJ and MMA, or beneficial?

 

Chris: I think he definitely deserves the credit for bringing MMA here and the UFC but the way he runs tournaments and makes his own rules to benefit him and his students is ridiculous.  Everyone should compete with the same rules and that's that. 

 

GTR. Since you fight in no gi competitions, you obviously probably train no gi. But apart from this, do you prefer no gi training?

 

Chris: Yeah I find it much more challenging.  I think gi training is great, and really tough and very technical but I just like the no gi stuff for what I do and teach.

 

GTR. Could you explain what you think are the relative merits of gi and no gi training?  

 

Chris: I think gi training is for competing in the gi and no gi training is for competing without it or for MMA.  People always say look how good the guys from Brazil do in no gi deals like Abu Dhabi.  Well they are still doing Jiu-Jitsu all their lives so they are going to be good on the ground regardless.  If they would have been training without the gi the whole time they would have been just as good if not better and I think even they are starting to realize that because now many more top grapplers are taking it off permanently.

 

GTR. Can you tell me about your striking background? What styles do you incorporate, where did you learn, who did you learn from, and how do you train?

 

Chris: I began training with a vicious guy named Bill Holland in 1994.  He was and still is the scariest guy I have trained with on the feet.  He is very intense and extremely powerful for 175 lbs.  I now train with Pete Spratt any time I get the opportunity.  He lives in Texas but he has come to Big Bear and my school to help me for a few different fights and he has improved my starving stand up 100%.  We train our asses off over here at The Next Generation Fighting Academy.  We train Muay Thai with fight gloves sometimes just depending on the day of the week. 

 

 

GTR. Your most recent fight was a loss against Daisuke Takase. Could you explain how you prepared for the fight, what your strategy was, and what actually happened? What went wrong?  

 

 

Chris: Well I trained to stand and BANG.  I really trained wrong for the fight.  I really didn't do any ground for the fight.  Didn't have anyone to train with and I was hoping to keep it on the feet because his takedowns didn't look impressive in the tapes I saw.  I forgot to add in to the equation that MY WRESTLING SUCKS and he still took me down.  I just couldn't get my ground game going and he really trained to not let me move and I didn't.

 

GTR. Would you like to give K-1 a try? Genki Sudo thinks that to excel at MMA you have to have a rounded game, and the best way to bring up your striking game is to compete in striking only events, like K-1 (which he did). How do you think about that?

 

Chris: I would love to try it.  I am not sure how I would do but I would give it a try.

 

GTR. Any students that you think are going to make a splash that you'd like to mention?

 

Chris: Yes I have some great up and comers.  Buck Greer is one of my top fighters.  he has a really good record and is fighting Tony Fryklund coming up in Guam.  Adam Lynn is another.  He is coming off and impressive win over Tetsuji Kato in Guam and I am hoping to get both of them in to the Pride Bushido show very soon.  Russ Miura is also a freak up and comer.  He has a submission record of 40-0 and an MMA record of  2-0.  He will be competing in the Abu Dhabi trials in September and I know he will do very well.  Josh Smith and Josh Hinger are a couple others that are also up and coming and doing very well in MMA.  These are just a few of the guys that are making waves out of NG

 

GTR: How does someone go about becoming a professional fighter?

 

Chris: Well I think you need quite a lot of training first.  Everyone thinks they can jump in there and fight with top guys and it just isn't 

that easy.  You really need to pay your dues unless you are a phenom.

 

GTR. Specifically, how does someone get hooked up with Pride?

 

Chris: I would say you need to won lots of fights and make a name for yourself and more importantly be exciting in all of your fights.  That is key.  Trying to make the crowd go nuts.

 

GTR. Could you give us your assessments of some fighters who are generally near your weight, their strengths and weaknesses, and in particular, how you would prepare to fight them if that should ever come about?

 

Chris: Sure. I have an opinion about everyone

 

 

Genki Sudo

"I would love to fight Genki.  He is as exciting as they come.  I would train wrestling and ground as much as possible."

BJ Penn

"Very well rounded.  Would love to fight him and see how our ground compared."

Daisuke Takase (in a rematch)

"I would just train Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu and I know I would beat him."

   

Charuto

"Another guy that no one really knows about.  He is good all over like BJ.  I would also continue to train hard on the mat and striking."

 

Matt Hughes

"I would call 911 in case one of my guys hit him with a bat backstage and broke his shins.  Then I would tell everyone he dropped out of our fight."

Carlos Newton

"He is good.  Has an awkward style but would be fun to roll with."

 

Sakurai

"I am thinking we will be fighting soon so we will see.  He has a great open guard and I want to show I can pass it."

John Lewis

"I have always liked John Lewis.  I think he had a lot of potential and think he should and could have beat a few guys that he lost to.  He has really smooth Jiu-Jitsu.  He is also really tall for a light weight so he has a great reach advantage on almost anyone.  If I fought him I would defiantly want to take it to the ground."

Minowa (recently fought Rampage and Wander)-

"I have only seen Minowa fight against Silva and he looked really bad.  I guess everyone looks pretty bad fighting Silva as well so it is hard to judge."

 

Erik Paulson

"Erik has fancy ground work.  I think he does a lot of things that are not practical in a fight.  I know he is very technical in his teaching but his ground work seems a little loose during his fights."

Pat Milletich

"One of the most well rounded fighters to ever step in to the Octagon.  I would love to fight Pat one more time because realistically we should be 1-1-1.  His hands are REALLY underestimated though."

Ryan Gracie

"I used to want to fight Ryan but now he is Huge.  His fighting style is different from all the other Gracie's.  He is trying to beat your ass at every moment of the fight.  He adds a little of his street fighting experience to his MMA fights."

Renzo Gracie

"Renzo is someone I have always respected for being the guy who will step up and fight anyone and make no excuses if he loses.  He has students that fight and lay it on the line.  You can't ask for more than that and he doesn't sit back and live off one fight for years or live off his name."

Nick Diaz

"Nick has done HUGE things in the last year.  he is going to be a serious force in the UFC Welterweight division.  He is a product of Cesar Gracie who is also putting top fighters out there and acting as he is just another coach and not sitting back not letting his students fight or compete.  These are the things I respect these guys for and have ZERO respect for Rorion Gracie for.  Have you ever heard of anyone doing anything out of the Gracie Academy besides the Gracie kids?  NOPE!"

Matt Serra

"Slick Jiu-Jitsu but for some reason can't finish anyone in a fight.  I honestly think it is the GI.  he is so used to grabbing and holding that his Jiu-Jitsu is too lose without it in NHB.  He sets up millions of beautiful submissions and NEVER finishes any of them."

Caol Uno

"I think Uno is real good.  He seems to be good everywhere.  I think his lose to Franca was unfortunate because he was completely controlling that fight until he got dropped on his head.  SHIT happens I guess."

 

 

GTR. You really do have opinions about everyone. Now, changing the subject a little, knowing what you know now, what "style" do you think is best for dealing with a typical "street fight" situation? 

 

Chris:  Well I always liked BJJ even if it isn't best for multiple attackers but I think I would get my ass kicked by multiple attackers anyway so I will stick with it.  I would add in a little Muay Thai so I could kick a few guys in the face.

 

GTR: Thanks for the insights Chris. Good luck in your next fight.

**

Global Training Report, May 14, 2004.

Revised June 20, 2015 (links to DVDs added).

 

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Chris has some DVDs. I've seen King of Kimura and it is pretty good. I haven't seen the guillotine set but based on KoK it's probably pretty good too. Chris' DVDs are below (you won't see anythng if you have Adblock enabled).

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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