Q&A with “The” Tyrone Glover
Easton BJJ sits down with Professor Tyrone Glover after his popular Wednesday night class.
For the past year EBJJ-Denver has been fortunate enough to have the West Coast Phenom, Tyrone Glover, on the mat teaching and training. He has trained BJJ for 15 years and had an extensive wrestling career prior to that. His style of Jiu Jitsu is well rounded and there is no area of the fight game that he hasn’t trained extensively. We recently sat in on one of his famous Wednesday night classes. Afterwards he was gracious enough to answer a few questions.
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How has the evening training in Denver been?
It has been going great. Josh Ford teaches Monday and Tuesday evening and I teach Wednesday and Thursday. Josh is a good friend of mine. We started training together when I first moved out here to Colorado. He has recently made his return to MMA, and I have recently made my return to competition so we are always out there trying to find the best, most revolutionary training techniques. We are always motivated to get guys ready because we are just as motivated to improve. So evening training has just been awesome. There are a great group of guys that are here every night to train and learn. Mondays and Wednesdays are definitely our harder nights of training, and Tuesday/Thursdays are more technique focused days. Wednesdays we frequently have guys from Grudge and other schools come in, so we always have new guys to train with and it is a little more of a competition atmosphere. Tuesdays and Thursdays we really get into the newest and most progressive techniques we are working on. You know we don’t really hold back whereas a lot of schools, I feel like, teach the same stuff for years and never change their style. We are always out there trying to find new stuff. We are trying to keep it fresh, keep it clean, and exciting for our students.
Your classes draw a wide audience. You have Pro MMA fighters coming in to learn from you as well as average Joes. How do these different athletes get the most out of your class and how does such a wide audience train together safely?
My philosophy number one is that Jiu Jitsu is not a one size fits all. As a teacher you can’t expect everyone to come in and do the same thing, and be satisfied with the class. I encourage everyone to be cognizant of what their own personal goals and capabilities are, and then to train accordingly. Set your own personal goals and work towards those.
In my class, I know who is fighting and who is competing. I’m not going to let those guys get away with sneaking out of practice early. I am also aware of who are the working professionals and has a family at home. I know who in my class are young college guys, and all they are doing is training. Those guys aren’t going to get away with getting out of class early the way a family man is who has a nine to five job, who has kids, and is spending the only free time he has here on the mat training hard. By the same token, if you are that family man and you want to push yourself a little harder, then go ahead, just stay within your threshold. If you are coming back after a little layoff, then don’t push yourself 100% your first time back on the mat.
Know your goals, know your limitations and work within them. That is my personal philosophy and it works well in here. We have a diverse class population nightly and everyone is able to train hard and work towards their own prospective goals. Everyone needs to come to class with the idea of leaving your ego at the door. I wish that I could say I came up with that phrase, but actually it was a sign that Jean Jacques Machado had above his school, “leave you’re ego out here”. You know if you are an average person coming in here, just be aware of your limitations and don’t try to do everything that the MMA fighters are doing. However if the MMA fighters are doing something that is within your capabilities and skill set, then go for it.
Recently when we set up competition training you asked for everyone that wanted to compete to sign up with the competition team. What is the rational behind asking people to sign up and can you talk in general about the power of sharing your goals with your peers?
I read in a book years ago that the likely-hood of you achieving a goal increases immensely if you write that goal down, and then it increases even more if you share that goal with someone, and so I have been really big on that ever since then. If I have a goal that I am serious about achieving, then I write it down and make a plan to achieve that goal. Then I share that goal and the plan to achieve it with someone. So by people signing up and not only putting it down on paper, but sharing that goal with their instructor and sharing it with their school they are much more motivated to works towards and achieve their goal.
What does it take to be a champion in Jiu Jitsu?
I really think it takes three things, solid work ethic, consistency, and enthusiasm. I think that you see more improvements if you are consistent over time, you know, consistent and moderate over time, than if you come in sporadically and roll 110% every time you come in. You know I see the guys who are consistently in here working on their game, constantly learning, the guys that are constantly dissecting their game, just being consistent and hard working. Those are the guys that are constantly seeing big gains in their Jiu Jitsu.
You also have to be tenacious to a certain extent and leave your ego at the door. You can’t be afraid of failure, you have to embrace it to an extent. The more times you fail, the more someone taps you, the closer you are getting to your technical threshold. Even as a black belt, when I roll with lower belts, I will let them get so far ahead of me, I will let myself get in so much danger that sometimes I have to tap, but then I know, “ok, thats my technical threshold, that’s what I need to work on”. So you have to get yourself to that point over and over again, constantly facing failure so that you can make improvements in those areas of your game. If you just constantly hang out in your comfort zone and never put yourself in bad positions, then you aren’t going to get better and your partners aren’t going to get better.
The third thing you need is enthusiasm. If you aren’t enthusiastic, if you don’t love the sport, if you can’t respect all of the Jiu Jitsu players, especially the ones that are doing well, then I just don’t think that you are going to improve. You might be hard working, you might be tenacious, but if you are not enthusiastic about the sport and love it, your game is just going to be stale. You need that enthusiasm to constantly want to improve your game. That means showing your best stuff so that it is out there so it can get worked and you can see where there are holes, and where there is room for advancement. Jiu Jitsu is always going to grow, it is a dynamic art, so if your game isn’t growing, guys that were once champions will get passed by those who are open minded, enthusiastic, and hard working.
You are kind of known as a Jiu Jitsu guy that has great wrestling. How did your wrestling background influence your Jiu Jitsu?
I came in with a pretty solid base and a preference for the top game, and take downs. I remember my first blue belt tournament where I won all of my matches by imposing my wrestling, and really working a lot of the basic chokes and armbars from the top position. It also made my Jiu Jitsu very scramble based. I really enjoyed learning how to flow between the positions. I was always looking for a system or a series I could incorporate into one scrambling flow
What advice would you give a wrestler who is starting Jiu Jitsu?
I would say be open minded. I know when I first came into Jiu Jitsu I was very much married to the idea that if you were on top you were winning and if you were on bottom you were basing out so that no one could put you on your back. A lot of wrestlers that come in could make gains much earlier if they just accepted that if you are on bottom, which is possible for anyone especially in MMA, there are a certain set of moves that are very effective in that position. Of course in a tournament it is better to get on top and get the win early, than to ride out the match on top. I feel a lot of wrestlers early on, when they first start learning Jiu Jitsu, rely too much on riding out the top position and neglecting the submission game. Then you get to blue belt or purple belt and then all of a sudden the submission game has evolved past them and they find themselves playing catch up. However if they were to embrace the submission game right off the bat, you know you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but learn a few submissions from each position. For a wrestler submissions off the front head lock, your darces, your guillotine’s, and anacondas are going to come more naturally than triangles, and armbars. The big thing is to stay open minded, the same way you were when you were a little kid wrestling, then you will see the big gains in Jiu Jitsu that you did in your wrestling.
What about the Jiu Jitsu guy that wants to learn wrestling?
I think that there is a certain attitude in the Jiu Jitsu community that wrestling is for these strong , big, athletic guys. However Wrestling is a very technical art. Any time you isolate an art like that, whether it be Boxing, Wrestling or Jiu Jitsu it becomes more technical. Not to say that MMA is not technical, but if you take any of those arts free standing, outside of MMA, you will find that it is a more technical art. Just realize that wrestling is very technical. A really solid takedown artist is every bit as technical at wrestling as a Blackbelt is at Jiu Jitsu. So if you are the jiu jitsu guy that wants to learn wrestling, embrace it as every bit as technical as Jiu Jitsu. Learn how to fall first, learn how to accept a takedown and not post out the wrong way and hurt yourself. Once you realize that you can train it with out getting hurt you will find takedown training more enjoyable and less scary. Soon you will have more confidence on your feet and not panic when you are in the stand up portion of grappling.
Can you tell us about your upcoming seminar here in Denver?
I am going to go over the four basic foot locks. I am going to teach people how to apply footlocks, defend footlocks, and practice them in a safe manner. Practicing them safely is one of the main things. I want people to learn footlocks, but they need to practice them in a safe manner. No one wants to see anyone hobbling around because someone wasn’t being safe.
How can a student improve their proficiency at footlocks?
IBJJF does a good job of laying it out in their rules. The first leg lock you can do under the rules is a straight foot lock only at blue belt, the second is a knee bar at purple, and then the toe hold. Heel hooks aren’t even legal under the rules. That is the danger scale. So when you are a white belt you don’t have any reason to train heel hooks. The only foot lock you should be concerned with is the basic straight ankle lock, and you get that hold by being precise and technical, not by jumping on some guys foot and trying to rip it off.
You know when you train foot locks both people have to respect the submission. If you get a foot lock on someone, and they haven’t left their ego at the door, if they aren’t tapping, then you just have to let it go. Does that guy respect the submission, maybe not. Does that mean he deserves to have his foot injured, definitely not. You just have to know that some guys aren’t going to tap to them. You know when you got it, so just get to a good point where you can hold the position, then let it go. You shouldn’t have to wrench on any move in Jiu Jitsu, you should just essentially get the proper technique your partner taps. When they don’t, you simply let it go.
One of the great things about footlocks is that it’s almost like tag. They are a technique that once you put someone in them, they are going to tap right away. You don’t apply force once you get the hold, it is almost like a game of gotcha, you don’t have to really train them hard to be effective at them.
People often say that Jiu Jitsu isn’t just a martial art, it is a lifestyle. Have you found that to be true? What would you say some key elements are of that lifestyle and how has that affected your life?
You know I definitely have a Jiu Jitsu family, people that I have grown up with training. I have seen their lives changed forever just by being on the mat. I have seen people gain confidence they never thought they would have, doing things they never thought they could do, and going places they never thought they would, all because they embraced the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle.
Have you seen those changes in your own life?
Absolutely. Because of Jiu Jitsu I’ve been all around the world. I feel like I have a friend in every town. I feel like I can show up and have a good solid group of people to hang out with that will go out of their way to make sure that I feel welcome, like I am at home. I feel like there are alot of individuals whose lives I have touched in a very positive way over the years. I feel like that has been possible because of my involvement in Jiu Jitsu, wrestling and MMA.
I feel like a lot of people confuse the idea of the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle with just a small social group that is centered around the gym, but when I think about it and what is means to me, I think back to a time when a lot of people risked a lot on Jiu Jitsu, they put a big personal stake in the Jiu Jitsu and now a lot of those dreams are coming to fruition. we can look back on a time where it was very unestablished and see how far it has come. For all of us old school guys that came up in that time there is a bond that resonates with us.
Thank you for you time and insights Professor Glover.
Thank you, and I hope to see everyone on the mat!
SAVE THE DATE: Join us at Prof. Glover’s footlook seminar on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. at the Denver Academy. Look out for the registration info, coming soon!