David Jacobs' BJJGround Very Interesting Q&A with Travis Stevens

Edited: 1/10/19 6:56 AM
Posts: 1846

Very interesting Q&A with 3x Olympian (judo)  and 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist Travis Stevens. Travis also received his BJJ black belt from Renzo and/or Danaher. He answers a lot of questions, including his opinions on BJJ, integrating the two arts, his training regimen, and his alleged beef with Ronda Rousey (Spoiler Alert: He says there's no beef).  


1/10/19 5:40 PM
Posts: 1847

If the link is not working for you try opening it in a new window. 

Here are some interesting snipets from it. 

Question: Which throws and takedowns do you feel work best against the greatest number of BJJ guys?

I guess what I'm interested in is whether there are habits ingrained in BJJ training that someone with a good understanding of judo can exploit.
Answer: The short answer is foot sweeps and the list is so long its hard to find a foot sweep that doesn't work. The Complicated move that works best is a drop sode double sleeve grip because when they try and take the back they dont realize until its to late that they have no grips and cant secure it LOL
Question: Can you talk a little about that ridiculous training schedule of yours that got shared around. how long do you maintain that kind of training, whats your diet like during it?
Answer: I have been told by a lawyer I'm not aloud to talk about my diet since I'm not a nutritionist someone tried to sue me over cutting weight once.
I train 5 times a day monday through thursday and 3 times on friday and twice on saturday and sundays. The biggest thing people need to realize is I'm a professional there is no reason you should ever have a schedule like that if your just a hobbiest. The other thing you need to realize is this only came up when I had started BJJ because I loved it so much I wanted the extra training. I'm also the biggest strongest guy in the room so after sessions i wouldnt be that tired because my training partners couldnt push me as hard as I liked so I would take 30 min breaks then jump right into hour and a half long sessions just to push myself that extra little bit.
Question: I've always wondered about this, it's been one of my main reasons why I've been hesitant to train Judo. How well does fundamental Judo throws move over to no-gi/wrestling/MMA?
Answer: At the end of the day being on the mats will help you be a better grappler but your better off finding a great wrestler to teach up upper body locks if your looking for just help with nogi.
Question: You have been doing judo for a very long time. I'm guessing since you were young. Then you started bjj. So my question is, how the heck did you make it in judo? I mean financially, did you work a bunch of crap jobs and train when you could? Did you have the support of your family, not just financially but were they understanding of your dreams? I'm trying to make it in Jiu Jitsu, so i just want to know what you had to do and what you had to overcome. Also, how much training did you/still do? Thank you for your time Travis.
Answer: I live a very focused life and people tend to think of me as being an ass most of the time because of it. I dont do things that dont help me accomplish my current goal. That doesn't mean I dont hangout for fun you do need to relax. But everyone in my life helps me accomplish my goal if they dont then they just are not in my life. I did work a lot of jobs from roofing to landscaping to mowing lawns. I also did a lot of labor ready through my years at san jose state. You would be surprised how far your money will go when you only spend it on what you need. I see people all the time holding a starbucks coffee talking about how they cant afford something. Most things in life are luxury things that you dont need strip it down to only the essentials and stretching your funds is how you make it. I worked a job at a restaurant once just to steal the food to eat for the week. I also use a full to to accomplish as much as I can I work like 18hr days and accomplish as much as I can toward my goal split between training an work.
Question: Judo obviously boosts your takedown game, but how about your ground? Is there any particular execution method or judo trick from ne waza you feel really improves your jiu jitsu? I mean the way they perform certain submissions, or transitions, for example.
Answer: Yeah the aggression at which I have from judo Breaks most half ass black belts and under they just cant handle the pressure or speed. But that doesnt fly with qualified training partners.
Question: With the exception of Ronda Rousy, there are very few accomplished Judo competitors in MMA: What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of Judo in a no-gi MMA landscape? Also, how would you compare a new student with a wrestling background vs a new student with a Judo background? do you think one has a leg up or is it apples to oranges?
Answer: No sport is effective in a cross over unless you have an qualified athlete who can relate everything they know. Most athletes are only great in their own sport and cant cross it over so it doesn't really matter. Wrestling is better for nogi and judo is better for gi.
Question: How often do you train bjj?
Do you go to Renzo's often?

Are you good with Leg locks?

If you had to win a bjj match, would you pull guard?

Congrats on all your success! It's incredible that you're able to compete at the very top level of judo and compete with the best in the World in bjj.

Answer: I train 8 times a week I go to renzo's when i can on weekends which since the olympic run has only been 1 every 3 months where as before it was every weekend Good is a relative term, I'm better than most but not as good as the Garry Gordon Eddie Depends on the rules rules dictate strategy but in an IBJJF match I would pull/Jump Guard
Question: Who is an upcoming American Judoka we should keep a look out for?
Answer: I have no idea
Question: Which "Jiu jitsu guy" that you have trained with has impressed you the most with his stand up skills?
Answer: None.
I'll admit, those last two answers surprised me. Anyway, a lot of other good information here. Travis is definitely not shy about sharing his opinion. 
1/10/19 7:41 PM
Posts: 3116

Travis is a beast.  I have no idea how his body has survived his training!

1/10/19 10:32 PM
Posts: 3981

His training, injuries and competition having fought in Olympic years 2008, 2012 and 2016.  Plus all the IJF events in between  those years.  That is alot of wear and tear on this body.  He fought all the top guys and 81k is the toughest brkt. pound for pound in judo.  

1/10/19 10:55 PM
Posts: 1147
Q: Is competing at the IBJJF worlds something that you consider? If you want to fight the best of all time for a 40k $ prize you might check if they want to invite you for the IBJJF heavy weight GP.

A: I'll compete if I'm paid to. The problem is no one has offered and it's a poor business decision It cost a lot to train and compete but if they messaged and asked I would consider it everything is worth having a conversation about
1/10/19 10:57 PM
Posts: 1148
Q: When you are fighting in a judo tournament and you try to do ground work, how do you "convince" the referee to let you continue doing what you're doing while you are not trying to rush it? In other words, how do you present yourself to the referee as a newaza player?

A: That comes from years of doing newaza in competition and actually winning with it.

But the real trick that I have is I never try to win on the ground. I try and break my opponents will. I know the ground game so well I can do everything forward and backward. Half the time I'm on the ground I'm just moving my partner around trying to kill the clock. Waiting for an opening to attack and if it never comes thats okay he will be tired from panic of me rolling him around.

The other trick is always being able to transition from one attack to another I know when I can break an arm or when someone will pass out so If I think I cant break it or they are going to pass out I just move on and attack with something else this allows me to kill 30+ seconds on the clock every time
1/10/19 11:02 PM
Posts: 1149
Q: In a parallel universe, would you have preferred it if Kosen judo rules were the Olympic standard rather than IJF?

Also, which dead judoka/jujitsuka would you randori with if you could resurrect them for a hour?

A: I dont fully understand what Kosen Judo is And I dont know what Kodokan Rules means either

I dont know I dont think about training with dead people
1/10/19 11:04 PM
Posts: 1150
Q: Which super power would you prefer... to be able to snap your fingers and teleport instantaneously to anywhere on the planet, or to be able to pause time and travel/rest/recover while everyone was frozen? Why?

A: I am a super power
1/11/19 1:12 AM
Posts: 659

His matter-of-fact style in response to the millenial reddit snowflakes is great.

1/11/19 2:06 AM
Posts: 1151
Q: What do you think about the leg grab ban in judo?

A: I like the rule I think it forces athletes who live in less developed countries like the united states to not take the easy road an actually learn judo and not focus so much on the move that they can score easily with when they are a teenager
1/11/19 2:07 AM
Posts: 1152
Q: What take downs and drills do you teach to beginners? Do you teach different take downs for Jiu Jitsu beginners opposed to Judo beginners?

A: All of my white bell BJJ players learn a head inside single and blast double to start and how to go from single to double

Judo I dont teach white belts but If I did it would most likely be koshi garuma
Edited: 1/11/19 2:12 AM
Posts: 1153
Q: What is the most common mistake people make in judo/BJJ?

A: buying a shoyoroll gi, not tying their belt right, wearing a gi to small, Calling themselves a world champion when they are not a black belt, learning from youtube, thats just to name the common ones
1/11/19 2:14 AM
Posts: 1154
Q: What is the most important pice of technical advice you have received

A: Foot flat on floor (foot lock prevention 101)
1/11/19 2:16 AM
Posts: 1155
Q: ...i remember meeting you at the airport after you lost in Dusseldorf in 2016 and i went to say hi but you didn't even bother to stop .

A: I think people like you should respect my personal space and not bother me when I'm on my personal time
1/11/19 2:17 AM
Posts: 1156
Q: what's your favorite song?

A: Don't have one.
1/11/19 2:21 AM
Posts: 1157
Q: You mentioned that you catch a lot of BJJ guys in wrist locks. When do you find that they are the most open to be caught in a wrist lock? How can I implement this into my game?

A: side control mount omapalata closed guard

thats were I get most of my wrist lock from
1/11/19 7:58 AM
Posts: 3910
Very interesting read.

Thanks a lot, Red Stuff and Aaron!
1/11/19 8:01 AM
Posts: 2560
Red Stuff - Q: What is the most common mistake people make in judo/BJJ?

A: buying a shoyoroll gi, not tying their belt right, wearing a gi to small, Calling themselves a world champion when they are not a black belt, learning from youtube, thats just to name the common ones

Lol this is an amazing response

1/11/19 5:25 PM
Posts: 1158
No problem.

Q: Do you study film/books? Do you have certain habits/rituals that have helped you?

A: Whats helped me over the years is being an adult and telling myself that I'm going to do something and I just do it like wake up and go to work on time or to class on time
1/11/19 5:27 PM
Posts: 1159
Q: When you step on the mat to compete, what are the first three things you think about/want to do? Do they/how do they differ between bjj and judo competitions?

A: Judo - First thought Fuck this is going to Second thought embrace the pain third My name is Travis Stevens I'm Olympic Champion

BJJ - 1 - WTF am I doing here 2 - who the fuck is this guy 3 - just dont get subbed on the pull and it will all be okay
1/11/19 5:36 PM
Posts: 1160
Q: Do you ever use your ears as weapons?

A: YESSSS, i put them in peoples eye socket when passing

1/11/19 5:58 PM
Posts: 1848
judoblackbelt - 

His training, injuries and competition having fought in Olympic years 2008, 2012 and 2016.  Plus all the IJF events in between  those years.  That is alot of wear and tear on this body.  He fought all the top guys and 81k is the toughest brkt. pound for pound in judo.  

Interestingly, the Japanese haven't fared too well in the 81kg, at least recently. I wonder if that's because other countries toughest athletes tend to fall into this category? 

Edited: 1/11/19 8:59 PM
Posts: 3982

I think it has more to do with genetics from a particular country.  If you look at the Georgian fighters for example, they appear much stonger, taller and more physical than than their opponents.  Examples -  

Varlam Liparteliani 90K

Beka Gviniashvili 100k

Avtandil Tchrikishvili 81k

Ilias Iliadis 90k fought for Greece.

All of these judokas manhandled many of there opponets.  I have never seen a Japanese fighter manhandle an opponent.  They will come at you with all their skills and never back down though.  They lack the size/height for upper body development that many of thsese other fighters have.  But they make up for it in ternacity, skill, heart.

Currently they have #3 in 81k Sasaki and #5 in 81k Fujiwara.  Watch this match in the 2018 World judo Gold MEdal championships and you will see what I mean. Mollaei vs. Fujiwara


MOLLAEI is a physical beast from Iran, world #1 at 81k.  His upper body strength is apparent over the Japanese fighter.  But what a match.

I have wondered how some of the non  Japanese judokas make weight at times.





1/11/19 10:55 PM
Posts: 3148

Super entertaining. Love how he so clearly doesn't give a fuck lol.

Edited: 1/12/19 2:50 AM
Posts: 54265

Lol, interesting answers. He is known for being surly but I appreciate his straightforward responses.