Josh Griffiths Interview

Josh Griffiths is one of Marcelo Garcia’s training partners and the recent medio pesado brown belt champion at the pan ams.

Image courtesy of Eric Zippe and Grappler’s QuestWe are hanging out at an underground sake bar on 9th street in the east village, NYC. It’s myself, Dave Cam, Goldi, and Josh Griffiths (nyc Playboy). The music is loud and every song is awesome but I’ve never heard any of them before. We are leaving NYC in a few hours and I wanted to get in one last interview with one of Marcelo Garcia’s training partners and the recent medio pesado brown belt champion at the pan ams.

OTM: How long have you been training?

JG: Five and a half years. I started in September 2001.

OTM: Where do you train?

JG: Studio X, it’s the Alliance school in New York. I train under Fabio Clemente and Marcelo Garcia.

OTM: Why did you start jiu jitsu in the first place?

JG: I went to a UFC at the Meadowlands in New Jersey cause my roommate’s girlfriend in college got us free tickets. After that, I googled “jiu jitsu nyc” and Fabio’s school came up so I started two days later. Sorry to disappoint but I don’t have some dramatic Royce Gracie motivational storey.

OTM: How is it training with Marcelo Garcia?

JG: Awesome. Phenomenal. It is an incredible experience to be able to train with the best p4p grappler in the world five days a week. He has really helped me to further my understanding of jiu jitsu.

OTM: Has training with him changed your game?

JG: Totally. But more importantly, he has changed my attitude towards training. He is so positive and has so much fun whenever he is on the mat that it makes you inspired to train with the same positive drive. He has really made me excited about jiu jitsu again. When he came over to train I wasn’t that focused on training or competing because Fabio and my other training partners were injured. Since he arrived I have been really motivated me to push myself to train, compete, and improve at jiu jitsu.

OTM: How has Fabio Clemente influenced your jiu jitsu?

JG: Fabio has been a tremendous influence on my jiu jitsu. He has obviously helped me get to a good level in competition but he is also a voice of reason when I am slacking off or not taking my conditioning or competition preparation seriously. More importantly he is also a cool guy and a great friend.

OTM: Ok, here are a few quick questions for people to get to know the NYC Playboy a little better:

OTM: Underground sake bar or punk show?

JG: Sake bar. Now that everyone has a fashion Mohawk punk really is dead.

OTM: East coast or west coast hip-hop?

JG: (no hesitation) East Coast. But gotta love the young jeezy.

OTM: Nike Air Dunks or Air Force Ones?

JG: Dunk highs.

OTM: What does Guerilla jiu jitsu mean to you?

JG: Guerilla jiu jitsu means saying you’re going to sleep on my couch for two days and sleeping there for five days and not putting the pillows away which my roommates thought was awesome.

OTM: Your performance at this years pan ams really impressed us at OTM, what do attribute that to?

JG: Everything just came together at the right time. I was in the zone and had a great day. I lost a match in the brown belt final of a GQ about 6 weeks before the pan ams. It got me really motivated to train hard. I did a conditioning program Lloyd Irving suggested to me for the 5 weeks prior to the tournament and I trained a lot with Fabio, Marcelo and all of my training partners and students at studio x. When I looked at the printed bracket the night before the tournament, I was looking for the guy to beat. I didn’t really see too many names I was familiar with so I just decided that I was the guy to beat and approached all of my matches with that mindset. Plus winning is way cooler than not winning.

OTM: Do you teach jiu jitsu?

JG: Yes, I’ve actually been teaching since I was a purple belt. I used to teach in Hoboken, NJ. Now I teach every Tuesday and Thursday morning at Studio X at 6:30am. I also teach private classes on the weekends. I see tremendous room for improvement in the way jiu jitsu is taught. I think the idea of a curriculum would go far in terms of getting guys to a high level in a shorter amount of time. When I teach I try to focus on one position or aspect of a position for about 3-6 weeks. I think jiu jitsu is a lot like math and to ask someone to learn math by memorizing flash cards from addition one day and calculus the next is really confusing to most people. It’s much better to have guys get good a 1 position and then learn the next one in my opinion. Once you really understand one position you it is much easier to learn another one and often times there is a lot of cross over. It’s not about learning jiu jitsu its about learning how to learn jiu jitsu.

OTM: I hear you have a real job.

JG: I do have a real job; I’m a reverse mortgage consultant for BNY mortgage Co. LLC. It’s an awesome job – I work with cool people, get to meet cool people, earn enough to facilitate glamorous playboy lifestyle.

OTM: What’s your best neg?

JG: You must have had a really weird childhood.

OTM: What’s the best thing about living and training in the city?

JG: People here are super open minded and diverse. You can be training with hedge fund managers and bouncers in the same room and everyone is cool with it. You can find anything you want twenty-four hours a day here. Best city in George Bush’s free America.

OTM: Who are your biggest jiu jitsu influences?

JG: Fabio Clemente, Babs O, Marcelo Garcia, Tokuro, all my training partners here at Studio X in NY. Also guys like Marc Laimon, Dave Camarillo, BJ Penn, and other Americans competing at a high level since I started training. I look to Laimon as someone who is really open minded and I agree with his philosophy on studying tape as one of the best tools to progress in jiu jitsu.

OTM: What are your goals in the sport?

JG: To get the black belt from Fabio and to compete and win at the black belt level. Also to continue to learn and improve and teach jiu jitsu in a way that makes sense to students.

OTM: What’s a party-spot?

JG: I’m not sure. We were walking on Ave B and on 2 separate occasions we were given the option to buy one. I think it’s a drug, Dave Camarillo thinks its some kind of party real estate. Only time will tell. If anyone has a good answer, let me know.

OTM: Final words.

JG: I’d like to thank Studio X and my teachers there, my friends and family, everyone at OTM, Brain Cimins and Grapplers quest, Clay Burwell and High Performance Fitness, Paul Kemawikasit for the accupuncture, and Pitchfork New York Hard Wear for being super supportive. Also all the students at Studio X who show up at 6:30am to take my class, Allen Spindel and the great kids at Washington Irving, and to all the guys I teach private classes to. Noda for helping me have high fashion haircuts. If you are in the NYC area and want to train hit up me at or at Lastly my roommates are having a weight loss contest so I want to wish them good luck.

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Paul Schreiner