Category Archives: Interview

Various interviews, mostly from Can’s work for a number of magazines and websites

Interview with Can, by Colin ‘serpiconinja’ Byrne at Shinobi Academy Lagos

Can recently went to Portugal in order to train with his friend from BJJ Globetrotters, Jeff Knight. While there in beautiful Lagos, he was interviewed by Colin Byrne for the Shinobi Vlog:

The full vlog that interview is taken from can be found on Colin’s YouTube channel. That is well worth watching too, as Colin is a talented filmmaker. If you’re ever in Lagos, be sure to head down to Shinobi Academy to train (and get a gorgeous view of Dona Ana Beach too):

Episode Eight of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Kev Capel & Megan Williams

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In this episode, there are two brief interviews. That begins with Kev Capel, Can’s instructor. This was recorded directly before the first Artemis BJJ grading in May 2017. Kev talks about building his school (RGA Bucks) over the last decade, his thoughts on grading and helping his students who run schools. Click the link for The Raspberry Ape interview that was referenced.

That’s followed by a conversation with Megan Williams, from Can’s visit to Florida back in 2014. An experienced businessperson, she talks about business in BJJ, marketing and social media, as well as the impact of blogging on her development in BJJ. Megan was speaking in her car, in case you’re wondering about the audio.

Artemis BJJ Brazilian jiu jitsu seminar with Kev Capel
Kev teaching at Artemis BJJ in May 2017

The sites you’ll hear her refer to  in the interview are two old projects, Groundwork and Gi Freak, along with her blog, Tangled Triangle. Those old sites live on, through awesome Facebook groups like Megan’s BJJ instructor community.

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Episode Seven of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Carlos, Roger & Jean Machado

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For the first episode of 2017, I’m bringing out the big guns. Back in 2012, my friend Triin from Fenom Kimonos arranged an interview for me with Carlos Machado, the eldest of the legendary Machado Brothers. His younger sibling Roger also joined in, along with a representative of the next generation, Jean Machado (son of Carlos’ brother John). An edited version was later published in Jiu Jitsu Style magazine, along with my history piece.

We talked at length about the history of BJJ, along with the specific history of the Machado Brothers’ journey to the US. There was a discussion of early female black belts in the States, the important role played by Chuck Norris, as well as a long and thought-provoking discussion of teaching pedagogy. Many of the ideas I’ve brought to the class structure at Artemis BJJ resulted from this chat with Carlos Machado.

In five years, naturally some things have changed. The WBJJO had only just been launched in 2012, with a goal similar to Rickson’s later JJGF. There was also a Machado reality show mooted, which would be cool: as far as I’m aware, that hasn’t yet been broadcast, but I’d certainly watch it.

07 Carlos Machado, Roger Machado & Jean Machado on the Artemis BJJ Podcast Brazilian jiu jitsu Bristol
Carlos Machado, Can, Roger Machado and Jean Machado

The Metamoris Pro was also very recent back in 2012. Carlos talks in this interview about his thoughts on the infamous match between Ryron Gracie and Andre Galvao. That led into discussion of its implications, such as the question of time limits.

This episode means I have now just about maxed out my free storage on Spreaker. If you would like to support the podcast so I can upgrade that storage, head over to our Patreon.

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Episode Six of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Chrissy & Brian Linzy

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This interview follows on directly from the chat with Val Worthington, recorded during the same April 2014 trip to Virginia. Chrissy and Brian Linzy are two of the three founders of US Grappling (the third is Andrew Smith), pioneers of true submission only tournaments.

We covered lots of topics, ranging from the Linzys’ start in BJJ, the growth of US Grappling, how submission only is special, the IBJJF, governing bodies and BJJ in the Olympics, through to Chrissy’s thoughts on women’s classes and teaching.

Like my talk with Val, speaking to Chrissy and Brian had a massive impact on not only the women’s class at Artemis BJJ (which I launched not long after getting back to Bristol after this trip), but how I wanted to run my club and approach its growth.

Chrissy and Brian Linzy, Val Worthington, Leslie DoveTo find out more about US Grappling, head to their site here. The cool Groundswell Grappling Camps we talked about can be found here. Finally, the articles Chrissy wrote for me are all here.

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Episode Five of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner & Tom Barlow

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This interview is from last month (10th October 2016), just before Chelsea and Tom taught their third seminar at Artemis BJJ. Chelsea is a top competitor training at Art of Jiu Jitsu under the Mendes Brothers, Tom teaches in Plymouth and has lots of titles to his name as well. He is also a commentator on Polaris, so you would have heard his voice on the recent Polaris 4 stream.

chelsea-bainbridge-donner-seminar-3-chelsea-tom-jpegWe chatted about teaching, women’s classes, the business of running a school and their histories in BJJ. In case you’re wondering about some of the background noise, that was the kids TKD class downstairs at MYGYM in Bristol. Not a flock of birds, like I thought at first when listening back to this. 😉

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Episode Four of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Rener Gracie

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Rener Gracie, son of the pioneering Rorion Gracie, heads up the Gracie Academy in Torrance with his brother Ryron. He is also the face of the Gracie University, an online training program used throughout the world. In this interview from Can’s visit in 2013, Rener talks about the early days of the Gracie Academy, his thoughts on running a school and discusses self defence.

There have been a lot of changes to Gracie University in the ensuing three years, best explained by the video Rener recorded with his uncle Rickson and Pedro Sauer earlier this year (if the embed below isn’t loading, click here):

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Episode Three of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Val Worthington

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Val Worthington Artemis BJJ PodcastIn this interview from 2014, I speak with Dr Valerie Worthington. Among the many strings to her bow, Val helps run Groundswell Grappling Concepts, writes for Breaking Muscle and teaches at Princeton BJJ. She also has a book out, ‘Training Wheels‘, a BJJ travelogue that takes a refreshingly cerebral look at BJJ.

We talk about her background in the sport, her thoughts on women-only classes (Val was a major inspiration while I was setting up the Artemis BJJ women’s class) and chat about the genesis of that book (which she was still writing when we recorded this two years ago).

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Episode Two of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Fabio Santos

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Fabio Santos interview with Artemis BJJ
Fabio Santos, Dagney, Relson Gracie and Can

Legendary instructor Fabio Santos joins the podcast for our second episode, in an interview I recorded back in 2013 on a trip to California. Fabio is a pioneer of BJJ in the United States, having taught jiu jitsu as far back as 1983 in New York.

He later joined the staff at the seminal Gracie Academy in Torrance, where he helped Royce prepare for the UFC. His most momentous move was to San Diego, where he has since become a pillar of the local BJJ community, having been there from the start.

In this interview, we talk about that history, as well as his thoughts on the IBJJF rules and how best to run a class. Thanks again to Dagney and Caleb, who were a big help both in setting up that interview three years ago, as well as awesome rolling partners. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, just let us know on

Subscribe to the Artemis BJJ Podcast here. For an edited transcript of this interview, go here. You can also download this episode here.

Episode One of the Artemis BJJ Podcast: Michel Verhoeven

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For the inaugural episode of the Artemis BJJ podcast, this is an interview Can did with Michel Verhoeven back in 2013, before an excellent seminar (full write-up of that here).

Michel is a Rickson black belt in the Netherlands, who was over in the UK to teach at Paul Finn’s school. We talk about the history of BJJ in the Netherlands, Michel’s background and of course lots of chat about Rickson himself.

Artemis BJJ Podcast can-with-michel-verhoevenAny questions, contact us at There is enough material to do more Artemis BJJ Podcasts, mostly old interviews Can has recorded over the years. Naturally we will also conduct new interviews: if anybody wants to be interviewed, just get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

Interview: Chrissy & Brian Linzy On Women’s Classes

The earliest extended interaction Can ever had with Chrissy was when she wrote some articles for 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 (which is transcribed from this audio”, 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