Global Training Report
What took you to the Torrance Academy in the first place?
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.
What was it like in the early days? Training, instructional
methods, people you met there, memorable incidents challenges
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
How long were you there?
I don't remember exactly but it was for a few years.
Rorion is said to be a good teacher. What, if anything, did
you learn about teaching from Rorion?
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.
How was Rorion's jiu-jitsu?
Did you ever roll with him or watch him roll with anyone?
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.
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?
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.
What, if any, perspective did you get on the Rorion / Rickson
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.
Why did you leave?
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.
What belt did you have when you left?
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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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)?
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 :)
How do your teaching and training methods differ from Rorion's?
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.
You are on record as disliking Rorion. Why is that?
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.
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?
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.
Since you fight in no gi competitions, you obviously probably
train no gi. But apart from this, do you prefer no gi
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.
Could you explain what you think are the relative merits of gi
and no gi training?
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
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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?
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?
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
easy. You really need to pay your dues unless you are
Specifically, how does someone get hooked up with Pride?
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
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?
Sure. I have an opinion about everyone
|"I would love
to fight Genki. He is as exciting as they
come. I would train wrestling and ground as
much as possible."
rounded. Would love to fight him and see how
our ground compared."
Takase (in a
|"I would just
train Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu and I know I would
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."
|"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."
|"He is good.
Has an awkward style but would be fun to roll
thinking we will be fighting soon so we will see.
He has a great open guard and I want to show I can
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
(recently fought Rampage and Wander)-
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
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
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
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
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
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!"
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."
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."
You really do have opinions about everyone. Now, changing
the subject a little, knowing what you know now, what
you think is best for dealing with a typical "street
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
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).
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