Tag Archives: chrissy linzy

Interview: Chrissy & Brian Linzy On Women’s Classes

The earliest extended interaction Can ever had with Chrissy was when she wrote some articles for slideyfoot.com about the women’s class she was running. It was therefore a question Can was keen to ask in 2014 upon finally meeting her in person, especially as this was when he was still planning the Artemis BJJ women’s class.

So, in this last section of a five part interview, Chrissy and Brian Linzy talk about women’s classes and teaching, before wrapping up. They talk about their start in BJJ in the first part of the series here, the second section focuses on US Grappling here, while the third and fourth parts (going into yet more detail about US Grappling) can be found on the Martial Arts Illustrated website, here.

CAN: Ok, moving on to a topic close to my heart. What’s your view regarding women’s classes?

CHRISSY LINZY: After being in jiu jitsu so long, I have kind of a different opinion about women-only classes. I think they can lead to women segregating themselves and it hurts our jiu jitsu. If you’d asked me five years ago, I would have had a completely different answer and said it was absolutely imperative. I think it’s great what Val is doing with the camps and it’s great to let women come together, but when women come together just so they can talk about how mean boys are, it’s not helpful.

Now Groundswell is moving to co-ed camps as well, which I think is fantastic. I think that is going to be huge for jiu jitsu, in just letting men see “Oh, women can teach jiu jitsu?” I think there are a lot of men that need to see that. I mean, you’ve rolled with Val, she’s kind of good at jiu jitsu. [laughs]

BRIAN LINZY: After the women’s camp, in I think Chicago three or four years ago, there was a picture of a bunch of women sitting in a line. They were doing something like the sit-ups with their legs interlaced.

But they weren’t really doing anything, they were all just laughing. It was posted on Facebook – or whatever the Facebook was at that time, maybe MySpace – and a lot of people responded to that picture saying, “Oh, this is what women’s jiu jitsu camps are about? You’re just giggling and laughing all the time?”

Over and over again as people responded in that thread, as the responses like that came in, I would be like “I feel bad for you, and for you, and you.” Everyone who said that, I was thinking, what is it like to train in your gym? Is your instructor beating you with a whip saying “No smiling! No fun! Drill!”

CHRISSY LINZY: The whole reason we do jiu jitsu is because it’s fun. You’re paying for this service! [laughs] Are you paying for people to treat you like crap and not have any fun? The little bit of free time you get in your life, you want to dedicate it to something that’s not fun? Something that doesn’t make you think and laugh, getting friends from all walks of life? That’s so strange.

I was at that camp, we were training two or three times a day every day. Emily Kwok and Felicia Oh, they are hard core. They will make you do warm-ups until you die. You’re thinking, “I’m not young, I’m 40 now.” Training twice a day for a person that has a desk job, doing two-a-days with killer warm-ups – fun warm-ups, but oh-my-god-I’m-too-old-for-this warm-ups.

Any guy who thinks that is what women’s grappling camp is about really needs to go to one of the co-ed camps. They will leave tired with better jiu jitsu.

CAN: As you know, I want to start a women’s class, removing as many barriers to entry as possible. Val had the great suggestion of doing a survey, ask them what they’re looking for, why are they training, etc.

CHRISSY LINZY: I would agree with that, ask them why they train and make your women’s class clearly a branch to co-ed classes. They have to get in that environment as quickly as possible for them to progress in jiu jitsu.

CAN: Considering you’ve run a women’s class, do you have any thoughts in terms of what to teach, format, structure, that kind of thing?

CHRISSY LINZY: I have all my notes, I’m happy to share those with you. Basically what I did was an eight week cycle. As people started to progress a little more, I could add various different things. The way I liked to teach things was if you and I are going to drill together, I don’t want you to make a mistake fifty times in a row to enable me to drill the right thing.

My whole point was always to teach techniques where they are doing the right thing and I’m doing the right thing too. People talk about muscle memory, but I just got fifty reps of putting my hands on the mat so you can kimura me. It only works when you do the right thing? I don’t think that’s how muscle memory works! So, those were things I really tried to work on, find things that pair up. Or, I have to force you to make the mistake and put your hands on the mat.

One of my favourites is switching from armbar to triangle. Stack and posture, so the person on top is stacking, you’re switching back and forth between triangle and armbar. I think instead of people drilling “this hand goes here, this hand goes there, put my foot on the mat, shrimp away,” you learn more of the flow of jiu jitsu, you learn the motion and the transition. I think that was really helpful.

I know it is how I like to learn, I think it’s helpful for the women who stick with jiu jitsu and come into the co-ed classes. When I would start bringing them over, shepherding them into the mixed classes, I would be their partner for the first night, or I would make them come as a pair. “It’s going to be just like this class, they’re just going to be boys. It will be fine.”

If I’m there, and the other instructors – the people who actually teach jiu jitsu – they make sure they don’t get paired with the two-stripe white belts who have something to prove, or anything like that.

CAN: Was there anything else you want to say to the readers of this interview that hasn’t been said already?

CHRISSY LINZY: Not that I can think of, other than I always tell people that jiu jitsu will always be there. If you have to take breaks, life gets in the way, you have a kid, crazy job, injured, jiu jitsu will always be there. People won’t be as hard on you when you come back as you think. They’re nice. [laughs] I’ve been out for a while and I’m going back: everybody’s nice, they know that it’s been a while. They move a little slower and give you time to figure things out. Jiu jitsu people are cool.

BRIAN LINZY: I have a lot of the same sentiment. I’ve always felt that because we’re not drawing our livelihood from US Grappling or jiu jitsu in any sense, the minute this isn’t fun to me, you’ll see my gis on CraigsList. But we’re nine years into jiu jitsu and seven into US Grappling, it’s still fun. I’ve taken a long time off, we moved and like everyone my size I’m injury prone. Knees aren’t meant to hold someone as big as me.

So, I end up spending a lot of time away from the gym. I trained twice this week, which brings my total for 2014 to three. If you hadn’t come I wouldn’t have trained this weekend, but now I’m kind of fired up and ready to go back. I’m sore, I hurt and that’s good. I want to get back in the gym and keep doing this until the minute it’s not fun, or the minute I stop learning. I don’t want to spend any time training self-defence, I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in the sport and learning. I’m still doing that.

I feel like if I’m learning an armbar from the guard and you tell me, “put your leg behind his arm so he can’t pull it out,” I get nothing from that. If you ask me six hours later, “why did I tell you to put your leg there?”, I don’t know, that was your instructions. But if you were to say to me, “I can pull my arm back here and you need to figure out a way to stop that,” you can ask me years later, and because I figured it out I’ll still remember it.

That experience right there makes me want to keep going back. I mean, I love reading, I love learning from books about all different subjects, but it’s that old “chess on the mats” thing. People say it too much, but I love it. To actually be able to do something with my body, from that, to be able to expand my mind from figuring out I need to trap your arm with my leg, put the pieces together. That’s why I will keep doing this until…probably until my knees give out.

Photos courtesy of Chrissy Linzy. ‘Like’ the Artemis BJJ Facebook group to be notified about future interviews: for the archive, go here

Interview: Chrissy & Brian Linzy On US Grappling

This week, Chrissy and Brian talk about US Grappling, further fleshing out the interview already posted on the Martial Arts Illustrated website (and indeed the slideyfoot.com article Chrissy wrote a few years ago). Chrissy and Brian talked about their start in BJJ last week, then will be talking about women’s classes and wrapping up next week.

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CAN: So, you both started BJJ around 2005, 2006. When did US Grappling begin?

 CHRISSY LINZY: We started running events – they weren’t called US Grappling yet – in 2006. The first US Grappling events were just local tournaments in Richmond, paired up with MMA shows.

 BRIAN LINZY: At this point, Andrew had competed in hundreds of matches, just name the organisation.

 CHRISSY LINZY: Yeah, in jiu jitsu, wrestling, judo, all over the place. Andrew had tonnes of information about how to not run a good tournament, as well as how to run a good one of course, he’d seen it all over the years. 2007 was the first event that was ever run with the US Grappling name. That was a long time ago: it’s been more than seven years now! It’s so crazy, it doesn’t feel like that at all.

 BRIAN LINZY: In Milwaukee.

 CHRISSY LINZY: Yeah, Milwaukee: we went there in February. Best laid plans! [laughs] It was so cold, so cold.

 CAN: US Grappling is known for submission only. How did that come about?

 BRIAN LINZY: I remember the conversation.

 CHRISSY LINZY: Do you? I don’t remember the first conversation, so maybe you should talk about that.

 BRIAN LINZY: I believe Andrew was the first person to say it. I just remember we were standing in the kitchen, after a tournament. We were talking about planning future events in Virginia and we were discussing the possibility of an event in Roanoke. That’s not a big city: it’s probably five or six hours from Virginia Beach, way out west. I don’t remember what it was that was drawing us out there, but we were talking about an event there.

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 CHRISSY LINZY: There are some colleges out that way, some jiu jitsu schools that find Richmond or Virginia a little too far. So, the thinking was if we did something a bit further west, it would get those people in. The diehard competitors will travel five or six hours, but we thought we could maybe expose grappling tournaments to a broader audience. I remember that part, we were trying to figure out ways to get new pockets into becoming competitors, then they would join the diehards.

So we started talking about ways to protect ourselves, like what if four hundred people show up? We had never run a four hundred person event at that point, around 2008. We capped registration, said it would be pre-reg only, then opened it up at the last minute saying we had space for a few more people. My brain immediately went to thinking that we would need data on everything. [laughs]

We changed our brackets to make sure that there was a space on there for the result of each match and how long it lasted. Then we just went for it. I think we were going to cap it at 150 people, then we got around 120 for the first event.

BRIAN LINZY: Yeah, this was in Winchester, VA.

CHRISSY LINZY: Which is north-western Virginia. We got all the brackets, I went through them one-by-one, calculating how many armbars were there, how long did each match last: I think you guys have seen the statistics, I’ve done that since the first event. It takes a little while, as it’s match by match and bracket by bracket, but you know, we get really good data.

I see trends in submissions, submission popularity trends, probably before most people. For example, blue belts really like bow and arrow chokes now. Two years ago, that was just starting: I’ve watched the bow and arrow statistics climb over the last two years. It’s an interesting thing. Kimuras are much more popular than they were five years ago. So that’s kind of interesting thing, if you’re into the stats side of things. [laughs]

CAN: [laughs] You know that I am! Yeah, you’ve mentioned that before, I think when you wrote that article for me, but that you didn’t want to release that data.

CHRISSY LINZY: Well, we put it all out there, but if I had more time, I would do even more analysis. I have no problem giving the data to whoever wants it, especially if they’re going to do something with it. If you just want to know what submissions Alliance blue belts are working on, we have that. We can certainly gather that. But if you just want it so you can gun for Alliance blue belts – or whoever it is, that’s the first team that popped into my head…

BRIAN LINZY: You can have our data if you’re going to do good with it.

CHRISSY LINZY: Yeah, you can use it for good, not evil. [laughs] There’s a guy in Richmond, mostly a judo guy, a crossfit, strength and conditioning coach. As part of his graduate work, he’s doing stuff with the submission data. I’m really interested to see what’s going to come out of the information he’s been using. But yeah, whatever information people want about the matches, I’m happy to share it. Women’s matches versus men’s, blue belts versus purple belts, whatever. I think it’s all really interesting.

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CAN: Absolutely. I know I would love to have an in-depth breakdown of submissions at the different belt levels, what’s most effective, sweeps, that kind of thing. It is probably financially valuable data, you could release that as a book. There are lots of people who want to know the best submissions at different levels.

CHRISSY LINZY: Yeah, and we’ve certainly had that over the years. Not sweeps, but submissions for sure. Every match isn’t filmed, but absolutely how the matches end. We’ve done it in a few of our points events too, I just have to convince the table workers, “No really, I am going to read all these brackets, please write it all down!” It’s ends up about fifty percent of the matches go the distance, so half end in submission.

Stuff like that is invaluable when you’re trying to make an event that runs on time. Using this information is how we keep our events as close to on-time as we do. I think that’s something we’ve really improved on: we’ve focused on it over the years, so we work hard to make a good schedule and keep divisions going on time. That way you don’t have to sit around a smelly gym all day, it’s not what you want to do with your Saturday.

Almost every event that we do, because we post the events average time up afterwards, it is almost always around eight minutes. 07:49, 08:14. I think one event almost went up to around nine minutes, but we had another where for the whole event, the average match time was under five minutes. It was a smaller event to be fair, so fewer matches for data.

So it’s always really interesting to see that, the big average. I can’t average the five minute tournament with the nine minute tournament and get seven minutes, that’s not how it works. You have to do it by the match counts and get a proper average. But it still comes out at about eight minutes.

CAN: Do you think it could take over from something like the Mundials in terms of prestige?

CHRISSY LINZY: I think for some people it will always mean more to win by submission. I think it would be great if it did that, I would certainly love the opportunity to have four hundred black belts instead of eight or ten at an event. I would love for us to grow to that point, especially if we can do it with submission only and make multi-day submission only events for people. The most important thing is that we can still provide our product, to provide the real US Grappling experience.

One of the biggest things I like is when competitors come to weigh in, we remember them. We know who we’ve seen from place to place. It used to be me, because I weighed in everyone, but it’s no longer just me. The people that are coming now, that we’re training to do this, they remember the men and women from the previous event. “The last time we were in Chicago you were a blue belt, so you must have got promoted: congratulations!”

It’s the little things like that which I think really make a difference, when you can actually connect with the community. That makes you feel they are part of it in the same way you are, not just somebody who got lumped into the role of taking their money and yelling “Next.” We’re all part of the same community.

BRIAN LINZY: And we’re not gunning for any other organisations. I wouldn’t say that we’re trying to ‘replace’ IBJJF or anything like that. I still like to go to the Pan Ams, it’s a whole different kind of thing. In terms of will it or could it replace something like the Worlds, ‘will it’, I don’t know, but ‘could it’, certainly, but I’m not hoping for that. I wouldn’t even want US Grappling to be a monopoly. If we had the opportunity to buy the NAGAs and the Grapplers Quests, I wouldn’t.

CHRISSY LINZY: I agree with that. I think it’s really important for people to try different events to find an event that matches their style of competition, their style of getting ready for a competition. We don’t get a lot of guys shadow boxing in the corner, you know? It’s just a different experience and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for that sort of competition, that sort of mindset for competing.

I’m all for it and think we need that difference, because there are so many types of grappler and styles of grappler out there. Like Brian said, I don’t think we ever want to be a monopoly.

Photos courtesy of US Grappling. ‘Like’ the Artemis BJJ Facebook group to be notified about future interviews: for the archive, go here

Interview: Chrissy & Brian Linzy On Starting BJJ

In 2014, Can travelled to the US for the third time to meet up with some of his American BJJ friends. He started in Virginia, a place that has an incredible BJJ community. At the heart of that are Chrissy and Brian Linzy, who together with Andrew Smith co-founded US Grappling.

In this first section of a five part interview, Chrissy and Brian talk about how they got into Brazilian jiu jitsu. The second part will be up next week, while the third and fourth parts can be found on the Martial Arts Illustrated website, here.

CAN: How did you get into jiu jitsu?

CHRISSY LINZY: I guess Brian got into it first, so you should start, then I’ll say what I did.

BRIAN LINZY: We lived in Colorado, then I took a job in Richmond, Virginia. I moved here to Virginia Beach and lived in a hotel for a few months, ahead of Chrissy while she was closing up our business in Colorado. My new job at AT&T mostly involved the management of AT&T hiding us in a room with no windows and pretending we weren’t there, because they were trying to work out what to do with all the non-union people that they had just hired. They felt that putting us on the floor with the union people would have been like throwing us to the lions, which it actually was. They were right.

So for the first week they couldn’t figure out what to do with us and just hid us in this conference room. One of the other new hires, Klint Radwani, was a purple belt at the time and had opened a gym. I think there were maybe eight of us in this group of new hires at AT&T. We sat in a conference room for eight hours a day, staring at each other. On the first day, after having spent my time sitting across from Klint staring at him, he said “What are you doing tonight?”

I said, “I’m going to sit in my hotel room and watch re-runs of Seinfeld.”

He replied, “No. I have a gym: you’ll come to my gym tonight.”

I really had nothing else to do. I’m alone, Chrissy is in Colorado. So I went to the gym that night. It was weird, it was awkward, it was uncomfortable and a little man nearly choked me unconscious with his legs. By the end, I was looking at the schedule and saying “What’s with Sundays? It looks like you’re closed on Sundays. I can only do this six days a week?”

Klint said, “Yeah, but you’ll probably find that’s enough.” So I went Tuesday and Thursday, then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday…Friday…oh wow. [laughs] I was pretty much instantly hooked.

CAN: It wasn’t a matter of seeing the UFC, those usual reasons for starting at that time?

BRIAN LINZY: This was in 2005. By chance, in 1993 when the first UFC happened, I was living with my parents because I was in high school. My brother did come home that weekend and bought the UFC and I watched it with him, so we saw Royce go through everybody. Then I never thought about jiu jitsu again until 2005.

CAN: So when Klint mentioned it, you were aware of what jiu jitsu was?

BRIAN LINZY: Yeah, I connected it with “the thing that Royce did a long time ago.” I had for years before that had it in my head to do some kind of martial art. From going around to different schools wherever we lived, I had decided that kung fu was probably going to be the thing to do. I just never pulled the trigger on it. Then jiu jitsu just kind of appeared in front of me. That was it, I never looked back.

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interview with Chrissy Linzy and Brian LinzyCHRISSY LINZY: After Brian had been to class, he called me and said “I went to this gym and did this weird thing.” I think his first words were “You will never do this.” I have personal space issues, I have germ issues. He said, “People sweat on you: you are going to hate this.”

 I came to visit Brian maybe six weeks later and I watched a class. I was like, “Yeah, that’s not for me at all.” [laughs] But the muay thai looked interesting, minimal contact with other people. So when I came, I started with muay thai, not jiu jitsu. After about three or four weeks of muay thai, they let the person holding the pads hit you back. That was not pleasant, I did not care for that. [laughs]

 So I waited until it was a Saturday that Brian had to work, then I tried the Saturday jiu jitsu class. I did it intentionally when he wouldn’t be there in case I freaked out, so he wouldn’t have to see that: it could have been really bad. Our muay thai instructor also took jiu jitsu, so I worked with him. That made it a little less terrible, but he just showed me chokes from mount for an hour, so it was still pretty awful. [laughs]

 I still did a little bit of muay thai, but only one day a week for another three or four months. It was pretty much all jiu jitsu after that. Just like Brian, I went every day that there was class for a long time, probably until one of us got injured or I had to travel for work.

 BRIAN LINZY: It was real awkward for a while, when Chrissy first started training. If I was just standing there at the edge of the mats, when some guy would go with Chrissy and shake hands, they’d wait and look past her at me, until they made eye contact. Then I’d have to give them the nod.

 CHRISSY LINZY: Yeah, nobody ever asked me to train. I had to go get my own training partner every day. I was kind of oblivious: I had no idea Brian was basically approving or declining my partners.

 BRIAN LINZY: I didn’t decline anybody. [laughs]

 CHRISSY LINZY: [laughs] It was always fun, but I had no idea that was happening. It was always out of the corner of their eye, “Is it ok if I train with her?”

 CAN: Was that just because you were her husband, or because you’re a big guy?

 BRIAN LINZY: I guess a little bit of both.

CHRISSY LINZY: Probably. By the time I got there, he’d only been training three or four months, so people were still finding out what he’s like. To look at him from across the room he’s scary, but after a conversation with him, not so much. [laughs]

Artemis BJJ Bristol Brazilian Jiu Jitsu interview with Chrissy Linzy and Brian Linzy, early competing

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Cerra, Frederick Hal Duff and Can’s Instagram. ‘Like’ the Artemis BJJ Facebook group to be notified about future interviews: for the archive, go here