Name: Gianni Grippo
Nickname: It has varied from time-to-time but my most recent is “Juvenile”
Rank: Brown Belt
Gym: Alliance / Marcelo Garcia Academy
Length of time training: 9 years
Website, blog, or twitter or facebook links:
My twitter link is-http://twitter.com/#!/GrippoBJJ and my personal facebook page and fan page can be found by typing in “Gianni Grippo.”
Summary about yourself:
I am a full time Jiu-Jitsu athlete while also being a full time college student. While I take my jiu-jitsu as the number 1 priority in my life, I also take my writing career very seriously. I am the writer for the Jiu-Jitsu section of MMA Diehards and I very much enjoy my job. When it comes to BJJ, I love to compete, there is no greater feeling in the world for me when I step onto the “proving grounds.” When I’m on the mats and competing, there is no other place in the world where I’d rather be. Jiu-Jitsu, and the thrill of competition is what gets me up in the morning.
List of titles or accomplishments:
4x World Champion(2 nogi and 2 gi)
7x Overall Worlds Medalist (4 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
4x Pan Champion (3 nogi and 1 gi)
2x New York Open Champion
2010 Chicago Open Champion and Absolute Vice-Champion
3x Renzo Gracie Invitational Champion
3x Grapplers Quest Teens All-American Winner
3x NAGA Kids/Teens All-American Winner
Non-BJJ: 3x Junior Olympic Swimming Qualifier
Varsity Cross Country Runner (Freshman Year)
How did you get involved in bjj?
Before I started training jiu-jitsu, I was a lover of boxing. I actually was in numerous Diamond Glove boxing matches at age 9 and 10 in the 70 pound weight category. But, someone at my gym mentioned a great Jiu-Jitsu school in New York that he thought I would like. My dad, as always, jumped right at the opportunity for his son to try something new. The first day I went to Renzo’s academy I met John Danaher and my mentor Magno Gama. From the very first day I started working at Renzo’s, I fell in love with it.
What is your favorite bjj story?
My favorite story was when I went to Rio De Janerio, Brazil for the first time in 2004 to train and in the end, watch the World Championships at the Tijuca Tenis Club. That trip and that tournament really opened my eyes to how amazing Jiu-Jitsu really was. At only 12 years old, I had the opportunity to be there live when Roger Gracie and Ronaldo Jacare clashed in the absolute final. I remember feeling the building shake and roar with each captivating move the two fighters made. I don’t think I’ve felt a building shake as much as it did when Roger attacked Jacare’s arm, only for him to escape and win at the end. By the time I left the arena, witnessing what I had just witness, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Who are some of the people who have influenced you bjj?
There have been many people who have influenced me in BJJ over the years. The one who has influenced me the most throughout my eight years of training would be Magno Gama. When I joined Renzo’s at age 10, there was no one near my age or size, so for my first three years, all I did was take private lessons with Magno. He helped build my foundation in Jiu-Jitsu and helped make me into the fighter I am today.
What is your favorite position and why?
Honestly, my favorite position is anything that is working that particular day. If my guard feels impassable, I love working from my back in almost any type of guard (half, spider, de la riva, inverted, x-guard or even 50/50.) Yet, some days my favorite position is fighting on top, I love passing the guard and I’m always confident in my base.
If you could start training all over again, what would you change in training routine and why?
I wouldn’t know what to change, to be quite honest. Since day one I’ve treated my body like it’s a treasure. I’ve almost never eaten fast food and I always stay on a healthy diet whether I’m in competition mode or not. I continue to keep an open mind and always incorporate anything I can into my training. 1-2 times a week I go to a wrestling club to help with my standup and my base and get to train with the lions of the wrestling world. I’m also well aware of how important it is to be strong so 3 times a week I workout with Martin Rooney and the Training For Warriors team, continually building up my strength and cardio endurance. Then I train BJJ 5 times a week with great instruction all around me like Renzo and John Danaher. I wouldn’t want to change anything.
How do you think competition helps your jiujitsu?
Competition shows me how important it is to know all aspects of the game. To be a solid fighter, you must be well versed so that you’re prepared for any opponent. To be World champion, you cannot afford to be a one-trick pony because someone will figure you out eventually. You must study everything!
Who are some people you have beat in competition in the past, in which you are proud of and why?
I have had some great wins over my eight years against some really tough guys. Beating top, tough talent like Emanuel Dejesus, Mark Ramos, Nick Schultz, Evan Gideon and BJ Nelson meant a lot. One of my biggest wins came in the finals of the 2010 Nogi Worlds (purple belt, featherweight) where I beat Andris Brunovskis in an absolute war! It meant a lot to me because at that point, he was the man to beat in our division after he won the Gi Worlds with 6 submissions. It was a great win to beat a guy with talent like Brunovskis’ and at the same time, win a World Championship of my own.
How has bjj helped and changed your life?
It has made such an impact in my life that I believe I would be completely lost without it! If I sat around for two days without training, I come to realize, “Man, my life would seriously suck without Jiu-Jitsu.” It’s what keeps me alive! BJJ has literally, given me a reason to live and look forward to tomorrow.
What do you think is not stressed enough in order to better your game in grappling?
Being open to train abroad, and learn from everyone who has something different to bring to the table. I finally started to work on this by travelling to Arlington, Virginia to train with Ryan Hall at 50/50. It was a great experience because I got to learn what others like Ryan and Jeff Glover and Jacob Mackenzie had to show. Also, going to other schools and training with other people cannot be stressed enough. I find it important to roll with as many different people as possible, so when I go into the tournament, there will not be one style of fighting that I hadn’t seen before.
What are your plans for the next 5-10 year?
First, I want to finish all my years at college and get my degree. With my degree I’d like to be able to continue writing in any field I find suitable. But, my writing career must coincide with my Jiu-Jitsu career, because I don’t plan on stopping training any time soon. My goal is to hold a world championship at all belts and compete in and win the ADCC. With this, I’d eventually like to be able to open my own academy
What are three things people may not know about you?
1. I enjoy reading a lot. My favorite books are one’s about real life adventurists such as Jon Krakauer’s books “Into The Wild” and “Where Men Win Glory: The Story of Pat Tillman.” My favorite book would be Aron Ralston’s “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”
2. When I was younger I was a serious swimmer, who swam for club teams for 11 months at a time. When I did both BJJ and swimming, I’d go to swim practice from 4-5:30, my parents would pick me right up, I’d change in the car, and train with Magno from 6:30-7:30 or 8.
3. After every competition I’m in, I always go over to my grandma’s with my parents, who makes us all a big bowl of pasta with meatballs. Especially after a successful day of competing there is not a better feeling in the world than stuffing yourself with grandma’s pasta!
Any shout outs?
I must thank my parents. I could never ask for anything more from them, they have been my biggest supporters and always will be. For years my parents helped pay for my trips to compete (working days and nights to make the money), drove me into New York and back everyday, and never once complained about it. My parents spoiled me with love and support, through thick and thin, I could never thank them enough.
And thank you to Shoyoroll, I can’t wait to work with you guys in 2011 and make this one hell of a year! SYR!!