Keith Owen Interview

After doing the review I thought why the hell don’t I interview the guy and find out a little more about this Pedro Sauer black belt?Keith Owen speaks to the Fighting Photographer

Keith Owen contacted me after reading one of my DVD reviews on website and asked me to review his new DVD release, Favourite Moves Volume 1. After doing the review I thought why the hell don’t I interview the guy and find out a little more about this Pedro Sauer black belt?

CF: Keith, let’s start with the new DVD release; how did the project come about?

KO: Thanks for interviewing me Carl, this project came about because all the videos that I was watching seemed to be the same old tired stuff or for the most flexible of people. If you’ll look around you’ll see a lot of videos that you have to be Gumby (editor’s note: “HEY!”) to pull off moves. Pedro Sauer Jiu-Jitsu isn’t like that. It’s all about easy ways to make a person tap for the “average” person. You can’t get more average then me so I decided to give it a shot and do a video and see if the BJJ and MMA Community liked it. I was going to show people literally MY favourite moves. The moves that I do all the time. These are moves that many can be done without the gi so it would appeal to the largest crowd. People shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that I’m wearing a gi. They will be pleasantly surprised to see that for many of the techniques, no gi is required.

CF: What else do you feel sets your DVD apart from the already crowded BJJ instructional world?

KO: I see a lot of videos that are done by “World Champions.” I want to say that I’m not a “World Champion” Jiu-Jitsu player. What I am, at the risk of sounding a bit egotistical, is a World Champion TEACHER. I am highly sceptical that many world champions are going to be giving away there best moves on DVD’s for their competition to get a hold of. Me, I don’t care! Take my best moves; I’ll come up with others! And what’s more, world champions might be able to do the moves but can they teach “you” their moves. From what I have seen lately, it appears not.

CF: Who would you like to thank in connection with the DVD?

KO: I want to thank my camera man and director Tren (not Trent) Long. He is one of my blue belts and is a camera whiz. He came up with a new concept for the video where we would do break away shots (A and B Roll) instead of having me turn my partner for a different angle for people to see every time. It’s amazing and makes the whole production top shelf. I owe him a lot. I want to also thank my assistants in the video Jim “crazy eyes” Pardy on Video One and Matt Owen who will be on Vol 2. They both took my abuse and didn’t complain once.

CF: Please tell me you’re going to be releasing a volume 2 soon?

KO: Tren is working on editing the video now and we should have it in another month or so. I am already getting requests for it. I can’t believe it!

CF: This might be a personal question but for all the fantastic material, how come you only charge $24.95. You could probably get away with a bit more, don’t you think?

KO: That was very personal Carl (smiles) but we felt that video pirating is out of control in the BJJ world. We knew that if we charged too much- people will just pirate the video for their friends. We believe that people will see the inexpensive price and awesome moves and say “Hey I’m just going to buy this video.” Also, we want to give an extraordinary value for the money including free videos on You Tube and my website

CF: You credited a number of instructors on your DVD regarding the techniques used; have you made any adjustments to these techniques or have you kept them as they are?

KO: Nope, I just taught them the way I learned them. But I have come up with a bunch of new moves from the Sitting Mount, where you sit on your opponent’s chest for various techniques. You can find the sitting mount on

CF: Where do you teach Keith? How many clubs do you have?

KO: I teach in Boise Idaho. Idaho is a wonderful state and I love it there.

CF: Do you teach anything else besides BJJ?

KO: I teach several programs at my school. I teach Bruce Lee Gung-Fu, Tai Kung-Fu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are all separate programs. I have about 150 students at my school, with about half being BJJ kids and adults.

CF: How did you meet Pedro and how long have you been with him?

KO: I found Professor Sauer about thirteen years ago. He was only one of about 5 people in the nation teaching BJJ at the time.

CF: Did he give you your black belt?

KO: Yes and I count myself fortunate for saying it.

CF: How did you get into BJJ?

KO: I watched Royce Gracie in UFC 1 and 2 and said I have to learn that!! I was already a black belt in Kung-Fu and had my own school. I was about 23 at the time. I met a guy named Dean Heilieman, he asked me if I had ever heard of the Gracies and I said yes. I told him I was going to go look for an instructor in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I found Professor Sauer in Salt Lake City Utah and then Dean and I started training together. I would show Dean what I learned from class. Dean died of cancer several years ago but not before getting his BJJ Black Belt from Professor Sauer. Dean achieved something great in his short life.

CF: Has anyone else graded you apart from Pedro?

KO: No, but I did study with Sergio Penha when I lived in Las Vegas for two years. That guy knows a lot of Jiu-Jitsu. He beat me like a rug. He is a very great man. I also studied with Lowell Anderson for a short time.

CF: How big an influence is Pedro in your jiu jitsu and in your life?

KO: I want to say right now that Professor Pedro Sauer is the greatest Jiu-Jitsu instructor in the world. He knows more tricks and easy moves then any instructor I have ever seen. He has forgotten more moves then I’ve learned. He is the only instructor I have ever witnessed who gets ovations for showing a move. I know he gave me my black belt and I’m supposed to be loyal but he really is the best teacher in the world. I want to tell the story of one of my black belt friends and four other Pedro Sauer black belts who took a private lesson from the Professor recently. When the lesson was over all the black belts got together and they all said that none of them had ever seen any of that material. They couldn’t believe how awesome it was! My friend then went on to tell me, and I quote, “NONE of us are even pimples on the Professor’s ass, he is that good!” I’ve known that for a while.

CF: What other instructors have made an impact in your life?

KO: I only like instructors who are very technical. My personal favourites are Sergio Penha, Rorion Gracie, Rener Gracie, Roy Harris, Craig Kukuk, Ricardo Peres, Saulo Riberio, Carlos Machado and Jean Jacques Machado.

CF: Are you active on the seminar and competition circuit?

KO: I don’t personally do a lot of competition but I do a lot of seminars. I work heavily with the Idaho Police Academy teaching police officers all over Idaho how to ground fight. I’m very proud to help them and one day I know I will have saved a life.

CF: Have you trained in any other martial arts?

KO: I have two other Black Belts, 4th Degree in T.A.I. Kung-Fu and a Black Sash in Wu Wei Gung-Fu under renowned Bruce Lee Instructor Joseph Cowles. I’m also a very accomplished firearms instructor and just so you know my British friend- Glock is the best pistol in the world.

CF: Do any of your family train in BJJ and martial arts?

KO: All of my three boys, Alex, Carrigan and Chance

CF: Did your team go to the Mundials this year?

KO: No but we did go to the Pan Americans. Many of my guys are expressing more of an interest in the sport aspect of BJJ, so be looking for the Keith Owen Team.

CF: The Mundials and ADCC have had their main events in the US; is this a sign of the popularity of the sport in the US?

KO: You bet! It’s only getting bigger. I personally think that the Americans will one day dominate the sport. Look at what America did at the FILA World Games. We took 9 medals out of 9 Competitors including Ricky Lundell a Pedro Sauer Black Belt. Let me be clear though, we owe it all to the Brazilians!

CF: In your time in BJJ in the US, have you travelled out of the US in search of jiu jitsu?

KO: I haven’t needed to. Just go to California for a while. Some of Brazil’s greatest instructors live there.

CF: Have you trained with any of the Gracies?

KO: I have been to many Gracie Seminars but never trained exclusively with any one of them. I would really like to train with Renzo Gracie though. I’m still waiting for Renzo to make me his friend on MySpace (laughs).

CF: How big an influence where the early UFC’s for you in the US?

KO: Like I said, Royce Gracie is the reason I’m training in Jiu-Jitsu today. Rorion Gracie whether you like him or don’t like him was the pioneer of the sport and we all owe him a debt of gratitude, no matter where you train.

CF: The UFC is well established in the US and branching out into the UK; do you keep tabs on the event?

KO: I’m addicted to it. I’m currently in a twelve step program to try to recover (laughs).

CF: Who are your favourite fighters?

KO: My Favourite Fighter is Genki Sudo, we are all one Genki! Come out of retirement. He is quite the showman. I have other ones including Jeremy Horn, Mirko CroCop, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei, Randy Couture and of course the toughest UFC fighter out there, bar none- Reggie Warren Jr.

CF: What are your plans for the next five years with jiu jitsu and your academy?

KO: Well right now Jean Jacques Machado has liked my material enough to allow me to be a guest instructor on his on-line training program at That was quite an honour from one of my heroes. I am going to make more videos both gi and no-gi. I might write a book and get more involved in the tournaments as well. To be honest Carl, I really want to be known as the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher in the world and spend my golden years travelling the world giving seminars. Is that too much to ask?

CF: No it isn’t Keith, Where can people get Keith Owen Favourite Moves Vol 1?

KO: At my website at Thanks Carl, what an easy interview!

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Carl Fisher