Gianni Grippo is a multiple BJJ World & Panamerican Champion, BJJ Brownbelt and one of the new upcoming stars of bjj. He currently trains at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York. We met Gianni in Kopenhagen, Denmark, and talked to him in this Interview about the “Globetrotter Summercamp” experiance, his training program, past mistakes and his future plans. If you like the interview please share it with your friends. You can read the Interview in german in our second issue of our magazine.
Hi Gianni, we met at the Bjj Globetrotter Summercamp this summer at which you held many training sessions. Looking back at the experience what was most memorable and what did you learn from it?
Man, I had such a great experience teaching at the BJJ Globetrotter camp that it will certainly be hard to have one most memorable experience! For me, just teaches the classes will be my fondest memory. I really enjoyed the entire experience of trying to help people improve their Jiu-Jitsu and improve how they approached the sport and approached their training; I really do love being able to help people whenever I can. What I learned from it is that the sport has truly grown so much over the years! I remember a time where in the U.S. it was very unknown and unpopular to now where I can travel practically anywhere in the world and be able to teach at nearly any country I am in, and find good people to train with as well! The level of Jiu-Jitsu in Europe is clearly improving as I not only noticed by seeing how knowledgable the students were, but how talented they were training as well.
Right now you are studying while pursuing a professional BJJ career. How do you balance all aspects of your life without drifting too much in one direction?
I have always been able to maintain a good training schedule while still going to school because I always kept a well organized schedule and always knew what I was going to do with my day. If I didn’t keep a laid out schedule I wouldn’t be able to maximize my time on the mats and with studying and without organization, both my training and my school work would suffer. Before each semester in school, I write up a schedule of when I have classes and when I’m going to train and always make sure I stick to that schedule.
How do you structure your training? How much do you choose yourself, how much are you influenced by your school in your training plan?
Now, training at Marcelo Garcia’s Academy my training structure works around the times that Marcelo’s training sessions are. My training sessions are always structured by my academy and by my professor, but I build up the rest of my training myself. I set up my own drilling sessions with my teammates before and after every training sessions and I do my strength and conditioning training early in the morning before going to my first training session of the day. This also works well for me because I am always focusing on maintaining a well organized schedule with my training sessions. Everyday I know what hours I’m drilling and training at, who I am drilling with and what positions I will be drilling on that specific day. Without being organized it is impossible to get as much out of training that day.
It seems to be impossible to go 100% every session, so how does the training intensity differ between the sessions? What are you secrets to recovery? How does training change right before a competition?
It is impossible to train 100% hard everytime, so you need to know how to judge your body and it’s important to know when to take it easy. Think of this, if you continue to train hard every single session of every single day your body will begin to break down as you get tired. When you get tired, your performance in training will get worse and worse. Then, if you continue to perform poorly in training because of your fatigue you will start to create bad habits and those bad habits will translate into the competitions and ultimately cause problems. To counter not wearing myself down too much, I continue to drill a lot. If I am tired, I may not train that day, but I always feel like it is important to continue to go over techniques and refine your game. No one has ever said that the only way to improve is to beat yourself to the ground everyday. The sport also requires usage of the mind, and practicing techniques or studying video is also part of the training and will help you improve in the long run.
My training before competition really never changes besides the last week before where I begin to rest more. The preparation for big tournaments is the same as what I do all year long; I just continually work hard and keep stick to my schedule. The only difference when in preparation for competition’s is that my mindset changes and I begin to focus on certain techniques that I will use in the competition.
How do you deal with injury and the resulting forced breaks?
When dealing with injury, I always try to find a way around it so that I can stay on the mat. I may not be able to train but as long as I can continue to drill, that’s all that matters. If it is a serious injury where I am forced off the mats I will always be studying video of technique or matches- like mentioned before- the sport is not just a physical game, but a mental game as well.
Is a day without training a day wasted?
I used to believe that theory, that a day without training is a day wasted, but I question it now. Resting is part of the preparation, and that has it’s positives in the long run. But, on those rest days I will always be studying some videos and trying to pick up some different techniques to work on. So, no I don’t think a day without training is a wasted day, but I always try to do something productive on those off days.
You´ve been training for a long time with many different instructors. Looking back, what are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in bjj training? What are the biggest wastes of time?
The biggest mistakes people make in training that many believe are the “keys to success” is training hard all the time. I see many young athletes, just training, training, training and it’s great at first but the body begins to break down after a while. Once they lose a match they say “I have to train harder” but in fact, they should be focusing on training smarter. Like mentioned earlier, it’s not all a physical game but it is also mental. Drilling techniques do not beat down your body as much as training yet it is just as productive (if not more than training hard.) I do not discourage training hard as it is essential for improvement, but it cannot be viewed as the only form of improvement.
Which instructor influenced you the most?
The instructor that has influenced me the most over my time in training has definitely been John Danaher. He is a man that always seeks improvement no matter how much he already knows. He is a living example that you can never know everything that that there is always so much more to work on. From him I learned that I can never settle with what skills I already have and must always try to expand my knowledge of the sport and become as versatile as possible. There is never “enough” no matter how good you are, there is always plenty more to learn.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to see myself having accomplished all the goals I have set for myself both in the competition scene and off. I wish to hold a world title (if not numerous) at black belt and hold a title at ADCC. From there I also see myself having my own school somewhere near my home in New York or New Jersey having the ability to teach the sport I love every single day to the next generation eager to chase their own dreams.
Best bjj instructional dvd/book?
Gianni Grippo’s De La Riva DVD set to come out late this year or next year by my sponsor Digitsu! hahaha
Best bjj fighter of all time?
If you could change one thing in your BJJ past, what would it be?
Honestly, nothing. Every win or loss has derived a good lesson that’s made me into the competitor and person I am today.
Your Idol when you were 14 years-old?
My father- Frank Grippo, and still is my idol today.
Mr. Miyagi or Cobra Kai?
Hahaha Mr. Miyagi of course!
Thank you very much for your time and best of luck with your future plans.