Training with the one of the Dirty Dozen of BJJ

I must admit that I have lived a very fortunate and fruitful life thus far, especially in terms of martial arts. Just this year alone I have had the opportunity to train with the likes of Demian Maia,Eddie Bravo, Rigan Machado, and Tim Cartmell. Over the last 3 years I have had the great fortune to train with three of BJJ’s “Dirty Dozen:”David MeyerJohn Will – and over this last weekend Roy Harris. The “Dirty Dozen” is the unofficial label of the first 12 non-Brazilians to attain black belt level in the art of BJJ. They are as follows:

  • Craig Kukuk (Renzo Gracie) – 1992
  • Ken Gabrielson (Reylson Gracie) – 1992
  • Bob Bass (Rigan Machado) – 1996
  • Rick Minter (Rigan Machado) – 1996
  • Chris Haueter (Rigan Machado) – 1996
  • Rick Williams (Rigan Machado) – 1996
  • David Meyer (Rigan Machado) – 1997
  • John Will (Rigan Machado) – 1998
  • Roy Harris (Joe Moreira) – 1998

Rather shy and introverted when I first walked in and met Mr. Harris, he immediately came to life and took command of the room just before the seminar started. While some last minute stragglers were still getting dressed, Roy took about 15 minutes before the seminar started to open it up for any questions from the attendees. We covered some grip breaking questions, and a few tips for escaping someones back control.

Anyone who is savvy to the BJJ world knows that controversy surrounds Harris. I do not wish to drag up dirty laundry here, just search around the web for a minute and you will find plenty of good and bad stories surrounding Roy Harris. This was partially the reason I wanted to check him out; as it has often been my experience that people with “reps” on the web are one of two types of teachers:
– Completely and utterly full of themselves, and often full of shit
– Technically sound, solid, really good teachers who often make others feel threatened or inferior, hence the “others” doing their best to drag said teachers name through the mud.

Now I cannot speak for the “truth” out there, but one thing is certain, Harris does NOT fall under the first category of people I have experienced!!

“Technically sound” does not even start to describe the seminar and Roy’s teachings! “The devil is in the details.” was a sentence used over and over by Roy this weekend and let me tell you the details he offered on various aspects of BJJ were worth three times the money I spent!

To my delight, we started the morning session with leg locks! Harris is renowned for his leg attacks in the BJJ community. He is so good at them (especially straight ankle locks) that when he was training at the Gracie Academy Rorion pulled him into the office one day as a blue belt and told him he was no longer “allowed” to use leg locks in class! His DVD’s on the subject are excellent as well.

To be honest nothing he taught was “new” to me, as two weeks prior I had Tim in town doing a leg lock seminar, and for those who do not know Tim credits Roy Harris with teaching him many of the finer aspects of his leg lock game via seminars when Tim was a blue belt! So this was a great review of the principles and mechanics that Tim offered, from one of his teachers. I look forward to doing some more leg attacks this weekend with Aaron Fields here in Seattle, WA. who is doing a Sambo seminar on leg attacks.

The second session of the day was working submission chains; working one submission from another that just failed or was defended well. The tips Roy taught for the triangle (and subsequently for the single leg pass defending the triangle) were amazing!!! Those interested in the details are welcome to class over the next couple weeks where I am happy to “share” them with you! Roy was quite candid with teaching tips that many teachers either do not know, or do not wish to share with others. If nothing else it is the love and passion for teaching that Roy posses’ for the art of BJJ that will be an ever lasting impression left on me.

Roy took time to answer any and all questions. Was very polite (thanked ME for allowing him to work on ME!?!?!?!) and to the point. One of the best aspects of the training was I was Uke (demo dummy) for the whole day! This was not only an honor, but an education in and of itself! First of all Roy is a LOT bigger than I thought he was! As you can see from the picture; he is my size! And his pressure is AMAZING!!!! My broken ribs did not like the pressure, and I am sure he was being nice for the demo! I wish I could have rolled with him. Secondly one learns SO much kinesthetically from a teacher who works on you.

Roy was hosted by his black belt student Roy Dean in Bend, OR. which is a gorgeous town found in central Oregon, saturated with some wonderful distilleries and breweries! I highly suggest the Coffee Stout found on the nitro tap at Bend Brewing Co. It is un-fucking-believable!!!!!!

Mr. Dean has one of the most beautiful dojo’s I have been in, with a wonderful view of the South Sister straight out the front window. His students were all out going and very friendly, and the few I worked with were great partners. Obviously Roy Dean is doing a great job raising these young mat rats!

I also had the privilege to observe Jimmy DeSilva’s brown belt evaluation. He did a phenomenal job and was awarded his brown belt after making it all the way through the almost hour long test! Congrats Jimmy! Here is the video for it:

I see this post is just going on, and on, and……
So in closing if you get the chance to train with Roy Harris I HIGHLY suggest you take it! He offers seminars worldwide, as well as doing seminars almost quarterly at his academy in San Diego, CA. His technical prowess is second only to his passion for teaching, both of which I find quite important and endearing in my instructors. Also if you are looking for a nice vacation that is not too far, Bend is beautiful and Roy Dean would welcome you to stop in and roll with his guys. Great group! Great training! Great life! Live it!

Train Hard,