Lance Emery: Some background, when, where and why did you take up bjj?
Gianni Grippo: I started training Jiu-Jitsu in NYC at the Renzo Gracie Academy when I was 10 years old. The real honest reason to why I started training Jiu-Jitsu came because of the push from my dad to try it out. I did a lot when I was younger- I was on competitive swim teams, I did karate for years, I boxed in amateur boxing matches, and of course I did the generic sports like baseball, basketball and soccer. So when my dad found out about Renzo Gracie’s in NYC he jumped right at the opportunity to have me try it out and it just so happen that Jiu-Jitsu was the sport that would stick.
LE: What do you feel bjj done for you?
GG: I feel that jiu-jitsu has helped make me into a more humble person than others sports would have. In Jiu-Jitsu we all take our beatings from time-to-time, and that is what keeps me grounded. I don’t think of myself too highly because I know, no matter what, there are always higher levels to reach in this game.
LE: What is your ultimate goal with bjj?
GG: My ultimate goal in Jiu-Jitsu is for it to be my life, in numerous ways. I want to continue to compete for numerous years but I also want it to become my way to make a living. I want to continue to have the ability to teach seminars and go around the country and around the world, trying to help anyone that is willing to learn and seeking improvement in their game. I also have a great desire to someday have my own team that can cater to anyone. I want to help the hobbyists enjoy their experience training while continuing to learn while at the same time, I hope to build up a strong competition group someday as I find a greater joy finding others succeed rather than myself.
LE: How much of an influence has seminars been to your learning bjj? (Whose have you attended and what has been the significant take away been from them?)
GG: I have been to a lot of different seminars and always taken at least one thing from their game that I could utilize and make into my own game. Whether it was Romulo Barral, picking up some key details to his spiderguard or the Mendes Brothers with their berimbolo, I try to take the best of everyone I implement it into my own game. By doing this I’m always keeping an open mind to incorporate new things, and always finding ways to stay well rounded.
LE: How has that influenced how and what you teach with your seminars?
GG: 5. Taking seminars has influenced on how I approach my seminars. I also pay attention to how they structured their seminars and I see the ways that I learn best so I try to apply that way going into the seminar. Now I try to stay focused on one specific position and try not to stray away. I feel as though it throws the student off too much if you show numerous positions during one class period so now I always try to focus on one position for the entire position, regardless of what position that may be.
LE: What have you learned while teaching? Has there been anything that had shaped your have game?
GG: 6. I have learned while teaching how important it is to stress each detail in the technique. I see that the more I break it down, the easier it is for the student to digest. So now with that even when I drill on my own, I’m thinking more about making each detail of the move with perfection. Stressing the details when teaching has made me focus more on the details in techniques while drilling and training.
LE: What do you hope someone takes away from your seminars?
GG: 7. I simply hope for them to take something away from it, it doesn’t matter what it may be. Whether it’s a technique I show, or the way I teach, or a concept I explain. I really believe that if the student is able to pick up one or two things that can help benefit their Jiu-Jitsu in someway, the seminar has been a success. Even if it’s a grip that I do from one position that they realize they can use in another position they prefer, and therefore it helps there game, I will be happy.