Jason Gregoriades is currently one of the finest no-gi grapplers in Cape Town (if not South Africa). After taken some time off from jiu jitsu, he blasted onto the no-gi competition scene in recent years, winning both the Alpha and Unanimous tournaments against some tough competitors. In preparation for his no-gi seminar at Infinitus Jiu Jitsu on the 25th of June, I caught up with Jason to share his journey.
Hi Jason, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
For those who don’t know you or your jiu jitsu story, how did you get involved in jiu jitsu?
I initially started training at a submission-grappling/pankration style club with my older brother Nicholas. He used to work with a guy who did MMA (at least some form thereof) who told him about this grappling club and so my brother decided to check it out. I was the younger brother who simply got invited along when he went to go watch the first class.
9 years ago, when I started looking into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there was only one school in Cape Town under the Gracie-Barra South Africa name, at the time run by a certain Jason Gregoriades. Tell us what it was like being the only BJJ school back then?
I’m not sure if I can take credit for being the very first BJJ club back then. There may have been a number of smaller groups or clubs operating of which I wasn’t aware. The BJJ /grappling scene was quite different then to what it is now. There’s a far greater natural following of the sport at this time.
You now run the Maximillian Grappling Academy in Claremont. How is what you are training/teaching now different from your GB days?
Well firstly, as I’m sure most people are aware, I only train no-gi now. The club is also much smaller at the moment given that it is relatively new, but this means that the group of guys have managed to develop a very tight-knit camaraderie. Further, a large degree of my focus is spent on training the students and less on training for myself.
There seems to be a gap between you closing down GB and opening Maximillian, where you don’t appear to have belonged to any jiu jitsu or grappling club. If you don’t mind me asking, were you still training jiu jitsu during this time, or had you decided to take a break?
For the first couple of years I did practically zero training. After that I would do some sporadic training just meeting with a couple of friends or dropping into a particular academy, but it was very irregular.
2015 was an amazing year for you, competition wise. You pretty much reaffirmed your position as one of the best no-gi grapplers in Cape Town, by winning both the Unanimous and Alpha grappling events. Tell us about your decision to enter these events and your experiences in both.
Thanks. Admittedly I was quite nervous stepping back into the competitive scene, it had been so long since I’d competed. Another major element was that I felt really under prepared to compete, given my full-time job, focus on the students and having to grow the academy. I know this might sound cliche, but it was only by God’s grace that I can say I managed to win those two competitions.
Having watched a few of the videos from Unanimous and Alpha, if you don’t mind me saying so, you have what some might call a very ‘classic’ game. One could even say ‘basic’, in that you don’t employ any of the so called modern jiu jitsu moves like berimbolos etc. You are very much like Roger Gracie, employing the simplest of moves in such perfect execution that they are successful. It’s very gratifying to watch. Tell us about your ‘style’ and why you think it is so effective.
Thanks! Yes, I think one could classify my preferred style as straight-forward, and quite basic. I’ve always found the simple, non-flashy techniques and concepts to be the most successful and powerful. I also found that when chasing after ‘techniques of the month’, it could often result in the developing of bad habits and missing the far more important overall concepts.
Maximillian Academy is primarily a grappling (or no-gi) academy. However I also know that you have a black belt in BJJ. Would you call yourself a grappler or a jiu jitsu practioner, and why?
I’d definitely call myself a grappler. I far, far prefer submission-grappling to BJJ . I find it to be more natural and I prefer the fast scrambles which are common. I would get frustrated with the innumerable and (in my opinion) unrealistic uses of the lapels. It’s far more enjoyable for me to focus merely on the mechanics of the body and not worry about the additional dynamic of the gi.
As a top level competitor, who also has a day job and a life outside of grappling, what is your training routine like?
At the moment my training routine is focused primarily around the students. Meaning that I’ll partake in the sparring (and often conditioning) aspects of our group classes which we do three times a week. Occasionally I might manage an extra session where it’s just me rolling with someone.
In your opinion, what is the one key factor (if there is such a thing) to success in competition?
A massive factor in competition (perhaps the biggest I’d say) is heart. You can have a guy who’s far more technical, but heart goes a long, long way. The simple grit and ‘inner-disposition’ of a grappler (or any competitor) is vital to competition.
What is your opinion on the ‘street’ vs ‘sport’ debate that often comes up in jiu jitsu circles?
I think the answer to the question is, ‘Why do you train?’ If it’s for competition, then great, focus on the sport side. If it’s for self-defense purposes then go after that.
What do you like the most about BJJ/grappling?
I particularly enjoy the scramble. I love the accelerated pace of the scramble, which I find also becomes a technical, emotional and physical battle as both guys are vying to the best of their abilities for the ultimate position whilst rolling, turning and moving at a fast pace. I love the fact that it’s also a bit more dynamic than the classic positions which makes it fun and exciting.
If you had to convince someone as to why they should train BJJ or grappling, what argument would you use?
After you get through the initial rough patch of learning the basics, it’s really fun.
What is your favourite technique and why?
Probably a straight armbar from mount. When it’s applied tightly, there is so much power available to the submission. It’s just so satisfying.
Finally, do you have any last words for our readers?
Yeah, we train in Claremont on Mondays and Wednesdays (19:30 to 21:00) and Saturdays (12:00 to 14:00), come on down! 😉
Thanks Jason, we’ll definitely take you up on that offer sometime.
Jason will be presenting a no-gi seminar at Infinitus Jiu Jitsu on Saturday the 25th of June. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from one of the best. The cost is R200 per person and spots are limited, so book now.