A Lachlan Giles Interview where we discuss how his persistence over years of competition culminated in things coming together for him on the day to take out Bronze in the ADCC 2019 Absolute division. We also examine how he optimally narrowed his focus and training for that specific competition, the importance of self-directed learning and the value obtained from breaking down competition footage.
Also, how some scientific principles might apply to Jiu-Jitsu teaching methodology and lesson structure with details of one attempted study he undertook. Finally, he considers a possible direction of where he sees the no-gi grappling game evolving.
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Lachlan Giles Interview Transcript
Sonny Brown: Lachlan, thanks so much for being here today mate, how are you?
Lachlan Giles: Good. How are you? Thanks for having me on.
Sonny: My pleasure, mate. The honor is all mine, trust me. Obviously, everyone I think would be familiar with your recent success, bronze medal ADCC, going from strength to strength, really putting Australia on the map in terms of grappling. Obviously, we’ve had standouts before but it seems like a more cohesive unit coming out from Melbourne down there. My first question would be is, coming up in Australia around your time, the idea of getting to those levels that ADCC and competing on such international stage, would have seemed out of reach or at least, I would have thought that would have been the common perception that you got to go to Brazil or you got to go to America and that’s where you’re going to get your training. It couldn’t be done by local guys in Australia. When did you feel that it might actually be possible or that you could overcome that or was that the perception that you had at one point?
Lachlan: Yes, certainly. You have that dream of getting on the podium at a world level but to be honest, I didn’t– if you had ever asked me at any point, I probably would have said it’s probably unlikely. I’m doing my best to improve but the chance of that happening is pretty slim. I had been on overseas training trips before and I’d seen the level. As always, in some ways, it could be a positive experience but also a negative. Sometimes you’d roll with one of the best guys in the world, you could roll with a world champion when you go on one of those trips. Sometimes, you’d be like, I could get a little bit of my game going for a moment, it was never pretty. I’m trying to think on my head. I don’t think there was ever a time I rolled with a current top world champion and walked away like, “Yes, I beat them.” I’ve never walked away with that feeling but you might. You get to your position you’ve been working and maybe off-balance them or something, you could come away with some little glimpses that part of what you’re doing is heading in the right direction, but at the same time, usually, it’s quite disheartening because at those training camps as well, everyone takes it very seriously. They’ll be people, you could be a black belt. I’ve had times where I’m a black belt, I’m trying to prepare to compete at a world’s, which is in two weeks time and I’ll roll with a brown belt. I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know if I would win in that match.” We’d have a roll and I come away for that kind of “Jeez, that was really tough.” In some ways, it’s quite disheartening to just see the amount of people with the same goal as you who are putting in, what I’d say is a similar amount of effort. When you think of it like that, it is actually quite difficult. I feel like I’m part of it. I’d say actually, a good part of my success in ADCC was just on the day, I had my day and that’s what everyone hopes that– You want to be the best in the division where even on your worst day, you still win, but failing that, then you just want to have your day. [laughs] If you’re not at that level, then you want to just have your day. I think at ADCC, I definitely, probably exceeded even my dreams of how well I could perform in a particular tournament. Yes, it’s a mix. I do think along the way seeing people do well internationally, I think Keith was probably the first. I was a brown belt, he was a purple belt and he won the world purple belt. I was like, “Jeez, that’s–” Because I would train with Keith. I just started training with him around that time and I was like, “Jeez, that’s a pretty–” I knew he was tough from the training with him and I was brown and he was purple and he was beating me, but I felt like I was nipping at his heels a little bit, but he would stay. But I was like, Okay he’s doing well and that’s not too big of an ask for me to do well at the brown belt level and then that, obviously, his success continued. Anyway, we had other people like my wife, Liv, she won blue belt worlds so that gave me, “Okay, it’s doable if we stick to the right strategy.” Then, obviously, Craig in 2017, having his result. I think though I wasn’t always looking at world championship level competition. At first, it was like, “Can I do well in Australia?” Or even can I do well in a smaller– the Victorian championships or something? Once you achieve your goal, you tend to look a bit further, [laughs] you set some new goal– you realign the goalposts and try to make a new goal. I never really with confidence said like, “Yes, I’m now at a level where I’m going to be a world champion”, which I’ve seen all but yes.
Sonny: You say, you had a good day at ADCC, obviously, that’s correct, it would have been a good day. You have had a few good days in recent memory as well, that’s probably not the only one. You’ve had a couple of good days, right?
Lachlan: Over the last five years, I’d had some wins over some people who had done– My first probably big win was against, I bet, Rani Yahya. No, I’m sure it was Edwin Najmi, Edwin Najmi was probably my first big win. That was in Australia, at BOA Super-8. Then that same year, he came second at worlds, that next worlds,that came around, I was like “Okay.” That’s the thing, it can be a one-off thing compared to a– to win the worlds, you got to be consistently winning those matches, which I felt like I fumbled my way through that match and it just got through. There’s a few of them along the way. Then in 2019, I felt like I had a very, very– in the lead up to ADCC, I think I hadn’t lost yet that year. I hadn’t been competing every weekend or anything, I’d pick and choose my tournament that I was going in but I was feeling very confident in my style and what I wanted to do. There’s definitely been a momentum and I was probably the most confident I’d felt about a tournament at an international stage before.
Sonny: Yes, that’s a good one to be feeling confident about. That’s for sure.
Lachlan: Yes, I certainly. As I said, confident but not to a silly degree. I think I tried to be realistic. I didn’t think, yes, I’m going to win ADCC, but I thought I had a chance, give everything– [crosstalk]
Sonny: Best effort.
Sonny: That makes sense. As you’re building on those victories as you said, from Victorian, just growing and growing setting the incremental goals, what did you think was the change that you needed to make or that you did make that enabled you to go to those next levels that other people weren’t at that stage, really, really seeing through with that much consistency?
Lachlan: You mean for 2019 compared to before that or–
Lachlan: Probably my biggest strength is my consistency. I’ve been training for 17 years now, maybe even longer. I probably don’t care that correctly. In the last 10 years, you could probably count on your hand the amount of times I’ve had more than a week off. It’s usually like every day of the week, showing up training. I probably don’t train more than a lot of the top athletes you hear of training like four or five hours a day. I definitely don’t even do half of that usually but I am there every day and I’m thinking and trying to work through that. I think that was a big thing. At some point, I made the decision to focus on ADCC, that was probably even before the 2017 ADCC. I said, this is what I want to try to do well at, it’s pretty hard to try to go well at ADCC and IBJJF No-Gi. They’re almost separate the way you got to train for them and the skill sets you got to develop, I said, I’m going to focus on the ADCC thing. I put all my effort into that. Then there was probably two years of continual growth and that 2019 was probably where it really started to show. I’ve narrowed my focus. I think narrowing my focus helped a lot.
Sonny: I like the sound of that, especially I remember you saying for your ADCC prep, you really just focused on leg locks and wrestling and I made sure to send that quote to all the guys I coach wrestling to be like, see guys. Take downs matter.
Lachlan: To be honest, I do love training for ADCC because you have to be good everywhere. I do feel like in my division and IBJJF, you can almost forget about the stand-up thing. Like you can just pull guard and you just imagine that wrestling doesn’t exist. Whereas in ADCC you can’t ignore it. You have to develop that skill-set. Because if it goes to overtime, you don’t know what you’re going to lose. It forces you to do that and I enjoy the training. You feel like you’re a bit more of a complete athlete, you have to know how to pass, how to play guard, how to wrestle, you have to know leg locks, back takes, finishes, you include everything. That’s one of the reasons I like it.
Sonny: That’s nice, beautiful. Nothing wrong with being a complete- have a complete game in jiu-jitsu. There’s nothing wrong with that. When you’re building up and focusing, you’re narrowing your focus from there. I think before you mentioned that you saw the value in type study and that doing type analysis was a key moment for you when you started to do that. I’m a big fan of that myself obviously. Just wanted to get inside your thought process of what role that played and how you went about it.
Lachlan: It’s been huge. I think I made a few posts on Instagram or Facebook recently about things that have influenced my development along the time. I remember seeing Dan Lucot posted, he had this Roger Gracie breakdown that he had online on YouTube, where he talked through the techniques and then he’d show a clip of Roger using it, it showed that he got the inspiration for teaching that technique by watching Roger and breaking down what he was doing. He went through most of the Roger’s game plan. He called himself Trump Dan, Dan Lucot. Actually another guy I was working with at the time of training with Dan Shaw, he was someone who was watching international competition. At the time I was just maybe watch the occasional MMA fight, but most of my jiu-jitsu, it was just based off whatever I’d see in the gym or what I’d seen on UFC or something. I’d try to just do that move. I think I spent a long time after watching Kazushi Sakuraba giving my back to try to get more people because it was my favorite MMA fighter. Once I caught onto the fact that you could watch international tape and see all these moves that I wasn’t being exposed to at all at home, that was huge for me because then I was like, I could go look at what they’re doing and then I’d try it in the gym and obviously first you suck at it, but also when you suck at it, but no one knows what you were even doing, then it can still work and that can build confidence really well. I was finding a lot of things that wouldn’t take much practice before I could start hitting it a lot and against my training partners. Then you’re kind of ahead of– there’s an arms race where they start trying to develop counters, but you’re ahead of the arms race because you were watching the tape and seeing how the top guys are countering it. I followed that a lot and that’s when I started playing, what I’d say is a more international style, like the Marcella Garcia style and the Mendez brothers and countless other influences depending what technique I was working. That was a huge factor in my development. Even now, I’m trying to work my wrestling. I’m studying a lot of tape of elite wrestling at the moment in my free time
Sonny: Plenty of free time at the moment. I’m a big fan of breakdowns, obviously myself and for me, it was like all the other sports like NFL, you know that they go through tape after a game, just break it down, basketball, soccer, they all do it, but I have had some people suggest to me that jiu-jitsu, you got to feel it. You can’t see what they’re doing. You have to actually learn from, go to someone and feel what they’re doing and that’s the only way to actually learn a type value, studying types of limited use. What would you say to something like that?
Lachlan: It’s funny because if you look at any of those sports, soccer, football, rugby, all that, I feel like the technical portion is far less relevant than it is in as– I feel like athleticism is a much bigger factor in those sports than it is in jiu-jitsu or in grappling. You’re actually going to get more out of type analysis in a grappling sense than you would in a- like I can’t even pick– I used to play Australian rules football and I’m trying to picture how someone showing me a video of watching Australian rules football would really help me that much, that you can get an idea of like, Oh, they turn left or right but it’s like, they shrug a tackle like this, but compared to the technical nuance you can pick up from studying a Jujitsu type, it’s just like nothing. If they’re finding it’s working, if they’re finding it valuable enough for those sports then surely it should be valuable for jiu-jitsu. I agree that sometimes you don’t need to feel it, but sometimes you won’t see what’s going– you won’t be able to visualize or get a true sense of what that move feels like unless you have that person do it to you but that’s not to say you can’t. Sometimes if you’ve got a very keen eye for detail, you can still pick up those things. Maybe you won’t maybe you get the general idea of the movement and then that helps you pick up when you- let’s say I’m studying Leandra Lo and I’m trying to copy every move he does. I just like, I can’t get his- I can’t do his kneecap and then you get a chance to roll with him and he does it to you and you’re like, Oh. You go like, “I could really feel this.” You try to do the things that people did to you when you tried his game, you try to do them on him just to frustrate him and you’re like, “It didn’t work.” Because you can actually have enough of a reference point to make the adaptation to learn his game better. Whereas if you never played his game and then he did it, you’d just be like, “He just beat me. I don’t know why.” I think it’s really important in grappling, to really pay attention to why things are or are not working. What’s the key detail that you are missing or that happens so that you go for your sweep and it doesn’t work, what grip are they doing that annoys you that no one else is doing that when you do sweep them. Because once you recognize that, you can start to strategize around it.
Sonny: That makes sense. It’s like, obviously it would be better if you could feel the moves that all the top guys are doing and that you want to study, but realistically, you’re going to be able to get value from that type study no matter what, right?
Lachlan: Yes. For sure. I think it’s not just- when we say types there, you’re not just watching people roll and trying to see who wins. It’s not an entertainment thing. You’re trying to put yourself in their shoes and go, what would I do here. If I was in that position, how would I be reacting? Why are they taking that grip because I would do something different then you can start? Once you realize what’s different to what you would normally do, that’s something you can then start trying to implement.
Sonny: You mentioned then that the important of troubleshooting, and I would imagine that when you’re coaching and trying to put that mindset onto the people you’re coaching, the importance of being able to individually troubleshoot whatever they’re having problems with. Is that something that you think you can teach people to be able to do?
Lachlan: I’m trying– to be honest, I’m trying to get better at making people self-directed learners which is not an easy– teaching people how to learn as opposed to teaching them the moves is something I’ve more recently started trying to put a bit more focus on. I think you can do that. It’s always hard with class times, but I have occasionally not recently because of corona, but pre corona, we’d sometimes finish a round or specific training round and then we’ll be, “Okay, now you explain to your partner something they were doing that was frustrating to you and then they do the same for you.” Just to get them to have a little discussion about what was frustrating and potentially how they could solve that problem as well. Which I think that’s a contrived way to get people to do it but I think some people naturally do it and they’re usually the ones that improve pretty quick. You see people, they go to open mat and they roll and then you see them sitting there workshopping things and they’re usually the people that you know are going to improve quite fast.
Sonny: That makes sense, people taking on their own responsibility for their learning, being able to self direct it. I think I’ve heard you mention that you’ll even have classes where people will just be given the freedom to work on whatever it is they want to work on. Not so much in an open mat fashion but you’ll help them out just whatever they want to work on. Is that correct?
Lachlan: Yes, that’s true. Self-directed learning is something that’s come up in the research on how fast people learn quite a bit. If you let people self direct it, they’re going to pick up things quicker as long as they’re following the right path, I guess. With our prior sessions and with our advanced sessions. Our prior sessions are all, you work on whatever you want. I barely give any set thing like, okay, we’re working from a double leg or single leg or whatever or from knee through pass. I’d almost always be– whatever you want to start from, it’s your five minutes, you go from there, that’s what you’re working on and then your partner gets five minutes starting from their position. That does force people to go home and come into the class with a plan or at least if they want to get more out of the class, they’re going to come in like, okay, I’m working on this, this and this. They get a lot of reps in on that area. That’s one thing we do. In our advanced classes, I will teach a technique in the advanced class but when it’s time to drill, if you’ve got something that you want to work on, then feel free to do that. I don’t really make them do the technique that I’m teaching.
Sonny: Okay, that’s interesting. You show a technique if people maybe want inspiration or an idea but if they want to do their own drilling, they’re free– you’re not going to over there and whack them over the head with a kendo stick and tell them to get back on track. [chuckles] With your drilling, is there anything that you do different or that makes what you’re doing unique? Obviously your friend Kit Dale was probably at least vocally saying that he wasn’t drilling or something along those lines but what is it that you can do to improve on people’s drilling that you think?
Lachlan: Yes. It depends on the level the person has. It’s very dependent on how confident you are and the technique you’re doing. If it’s a new movement– if you don’t feel confident with your movement, then I think you just want to get some reps in the movement. I think, at a certain point, the timing and the context for when to use the move become more of a factor and your success than the actual ability to execute the move when you need to more than the actual technical steps. That’s where I feel like it has to shift from drills to specific training. Let’s say you want to drill finishing your arm bar like , okay, you got a static opponent and you’re just extending their arm 50 times. At a certain point, okay, you know how to extend their arm and finish an arm but that’s going to have diminishing returns quite quickly but then having someone trying to fight out of the armbar at various stages will give you a much better feel for the context of as to when you should push the arm which way and so on. I feel like there’s some in-between level of that, which is, I like the way wrestlers drill and I found I can do it well in wrestling but I can’t do it well in jiu-jitsu. I don’t know why. I just haven’t found a way to be able to do this. You need a good drilling partner, I think, but in wrestling, you shoot and they’ll defend and you transition and you keep– your opponent will make you go through three or four transitions. They’re going to let you take them down. They’re not trying to completely stop you but they’ll stop some of your attacks so that you have to work the timing and the context of when you would change between your moves and I found that really useful for wrestling. I find people are less good on the ground at giving correct feedback for that but I think you could do the same thing.
Sonny: Yes, definitely. That was actually something I was talking to Brian Ebersole about. He was saying he would do for his, his making sure that defending a drill is making sure that it’s five, six different ways to defend and then the person’s gets all those different looks. I think that’s definitely a big portion.
Lachlan: I think an issue on the ground might be that there’s a lot of static positions which you don’t really have in wrestling or at least not as much. In wrestling, it’s usually all dynamic. You come in and you try to finish. There’s very little pause in between whereas if you were to say like, “I’m going to drill like that, you’re on top and I’m on bottom and I’m going to try and sweep you.” If you block one sweep, my answer might be to come back to a static position and just settle back to a position that I can just hold for a bit and reset my attacks but that doesn’t make for very good flow drill. You’ve blocked my attack and I come back whereas, in wrestling, it would be like, you just keep driving until eventually you find something. I’m still playing around with ways to use that best in grappling jiu-jitsu format.
Sonny: Yes. I understand. I know you are aware of Preet Mickelson and his work. I actually checked him out on some recommendation, I think [crosstalk] . The conversation I had with him was a lot about switching how we try and present in jiu-jitsuto a sport rather than an art as how it’s been taught previously and that wrestling has had that benefit of just being around for a lot longer. I wonder if that’s the thing that you’re discussing now about just trying to figure out the way to make that transition and what are some of those things then from sports science that you are looking to bring in?
Lachlan: Yes. That’s a good question. [laughs] I think a lot of it has to do with taking a step back and defining your goals and what you’re wanting to achieve. That’s what I did with ADCC. I felt that made a huge difference. Just stepping back and going like, what do I want to do? I want to win ADCC. What does it take? What does someone who wins ADCC do? What’s their skill set? Work on that. Okay, like wrestling, leg locks. At least for me. You can make it very specific to yourself. For me, what would it take to take the 2017 Lachlan Giles and then get into 2019 and try to win ADCC? What changes are required? Let’s just put all our effort on that. Don’t waste your time doing other things. That’s how I approached it and that made a big difference. I think there’s that. I think from my own training, I feel like I apply a lot of things pretty well. What I find is hard as a coach to teach to a group a sport that is often best practice on an individual level. As in I feel self-directed learning and what techniques you should be working on and whether you need to be doing more rolling or drilling and so on is very dependent on the person and then everyone comes together in one class. How do you make each individual person get the most out of the class when they’re all requiring different things at that time? That’s actually probably my biggest question at the moment, is how to maximize the use of class time for students. I think it’s easier that one of the best things you could do is divide it by experience because then that takes care of the how much time should you spend drilling, specific training enrollment because I think that the more experience you get, the more time doing those less things and the earlier on the more time spent drilling. It’s easier for the early on, you can do a fundamentals class and teach the foundation or positions. Everyone’s going to get something out of that by going to these classes. Whereas, for the advanced people, they need probably their specific game. Separating classes based on experience is, I think, is a big thing. I’m trying to implement some of the learning principles like space repetition. I wrote out a syllabus and whatever we cover, we’ll teach it and teach it in detail and then we just refresh it again just for a week. We might spend a week on it and then we’ll do a revision week eight weeks later which covers everything we did in the last eight weeks just in one week just to bring that back in the brain. It’s things like that I’m trying to implement. I wouldn’t say I got it perfect yet but it’s something I’m working on. I don’t know what else to do.
Sonny: That’s all right. Yes, space repetition, that was a big thing in sports. It’s good that you’re trying to implement that into jiu-jitsu. I like the way you’ve just said then of condensing the eight weeks and put it down into the week as a refresher. That’s a good, rough way for people to go in. As for what else you can do, I remember you doing a Brazilian Jujitsu learning study in your own gym based on, I think, it was rites of completion or successful trials of techniques. Are you able to talk about that? How that went?
Lachlan: Yes, I’ll get into that. I didn’t get enough useful data out of that. I think I’ve got a better way to measure it now which I’ll try to look at next time. I wanted to make a study to see whether working one thing, focusing on one topic for a few lessons in a row and then changing to another topic for a few lessons in a row and then changing to another topic, whether that would be a better way to learn than a more random– I do one one day, another one the next day. Within the session. Within the one session, you’re working the three different techniques and all positions. We took data at the start. The group was in the middle and you line up. Whoever you go against, you either win or you lose. You start from your position and you win or you lose. Then you’d come back and you’d write that on a spreadsheet, win or loss.
Sonny: Or learn.
Lachlan: Or learn, yes. We got that data from the start, from the first week to the last week of it. Did people learn better from working everything at once or blocked? It’s somewhat of a blocked versus random training study to a certain degree but we didn’t get enough. One thing I found was tough was with a structure like that, with the random training was you might have three positions you’re working but maybe even in a 15-minute period, you might only get six gos overall. You’re only getting two attempts at the thing that you do. I feel like something full learning is you want to understand what is going wrong and give yourself a chance to try to correct it. I don’t know if this is being shown in sports but I feel like that’s a process you want to go through. If you shoot a basketball, you want to know that it did or didn’t go in the hoop then you make your adjustment based on that and shoot it again. Okay, that was better so now you get some reinforcement for that behavior. Maybe you don’t have to do that a hundred times but you at least want to be able to do that, I think. Getting just two attempts at your technique you’re trying in the whole session of each one might not be enough to actually– At least it’s a strong improvement. I think the research would support a random style of training like mixing things up but I think sometimes when it’s so complex and you’re getting so few things, I just don’t know how well that applies to jiu-jitsu. If you can get someone to shoot a basketball 50 times in a row then mixing it up and making them have to focus on different aspects of it, it probably helps more. I don’t know in jiu-jitsu. That’s what I wanted to find out. One of the issues was the era in the measurements from who you are rolling with had too big of a factor on the outcome. If you come out from the front of the line and then you got a black belt, you could have improved massively at your technique but you’re going to lose. It ends with being a lot of variability and you’d need huge amount of data. I had to meet 50 people that did study but we would have needed, I think, 300, we would have needed to actually get to look for some sort of effect that I was after. What I was thinking instead was to take a more specific thing and such as guard retention or something and measure the time– if you get people to write down the time that they were playing guard or how many times they got– You did a 10-minute period, you have 10 minutes, you’re on your back. If you get passed then it doesn’t matter if the person goes to the end of the line but measure the amount of times you got passed in a 10-minute period or something. That might be a little bit better but I’ll look into that again further. I want to get into some more research side of things but, obviously, after ADCC, I’ve been travelling and doing a lot of seminars and so on.
Sonny: Living the life.
Lachlan: Yes. Not anymore.
Sonny: Yes, no one is but it’s been good. I think there are all those, I guess, unique challenges in Brazilian jiu-jitsuof grappling that and maybe those other sports don’t have. Spaced repetition, we talked about. Any other elements that you’ve heard about that you might want to look into or give some pointers to people to maybe start their own research on?
Lachlan: In my opinion, one of the biggest things in grappling is that you need to identify what the problem is. I’m going to use a basketball analogy again but this is how I see it. Imagine you shoot a basketball. Maybe you’re blindfolded or you can see the ring, you shoot but then as you shoot, they cover your eyes and you don’t even know– Someone might tell you, they say it missed. That you missed the basketball shot but they don’t tell you whether it was too shallow, too deep, too much to the left or to the right. It would be so hard to improve your basketball shot without knowing what you needed. Essentially, knowing what you need to do to get better. Like, I need to shoot it with a bit more force or less force or a little to the left, to the right. Once you know that, you can be more accurate with your shots but I think in something as complex as grappling, most of the time, you go for a move, it doesn’t work and you don’t know what you could have done to actually fix it. I think that’s an essential part of grappling that is different to a lot of the sports that get researched. In just where in the other sport I can think of, it would be pretty easy to tell them in a case of an error, what they needed to do to fix it. In jiu-jitsu, it’s actually really difficult.
Sonny: Right. I hear you. Just being able to increase that level of feedbacking between rolling partners. Let’s say, if someone tells you it was a crank not a choke, then stop them and find out why. Is that about right?
Lachlan: It’s may be not based on sports science but it’s just my feelings towards what I think is a huge factor in improving.
Sonny: That makes sense. I think a lot of the stuff that we’ve talked about, maybe it’s geared towards maximizing the time spent training for a competition and effectiveness. How do you then balance that out for just the hobbyist people coming into your gym, keeping it fun. Would they have been keen to fill out surveys on how their success rates and whatnot? How do you work that divide between the competition team and just your people wanting to get fit and have a bit of fun?
Lachlan: That’s a tough one. People were quite interested in the study so they actually– A good amount of people joined up for that study. I heard that something else which failed was, I tried to get everyone to fill out a spreadsheet just with their goals and like, okay what are you aiming for? This was actually for our pro team. but like, what are your goals and what do you need to improve to get there? That wasn’t followed and people tended to be less active in that which is fine. Some people are doing that themselves at least in their own head but a lot of people aren’t and just going through the process is a very beneficial thing to do. Even just to write it down and go, okay, this is where I want to go, this is what I got to do. That means that on your day when you come into the gym tired, you’ve committed to working on the skill set you need because for example, wrestling’s the perfect example for this because we’ve got so many people that say they want to do ADCC and then they come in and they’re tired and sore. What’s the one thing they won’t work? Wrestling because it’s hard. I’ll be the same unless I– When I’ve got ADCC coming up, I can be like, okay, it’s coming up, I need to do this. I’ll force myself to do it but I definitely rather just pull guard and do the more lazy approach, but that’s not what you need. That’s not what I need to achieve my goal. Having it written down and going, okay, well, today, I’m doing my single-leg take-down defense, then that’s what I’m going to do. It makes a big difference.
Sonny: That’s just definitely the power of writing down your goals for sure. I wonder did you write down your ADCC goal? Was that written down in a notebook somewhere that you’d go back and look at?
Lachlan: I probably wouldn’t have a physical– It was– Yes. [crosstalk] Did I write– Maybe. I’m trying to think. It would have been– We were writing down a weekly plan and trying to focus that. It can be hard to say, for the next eight weeks, I’m going to work this position or whatever or next four weeks because sometimes you feel like you didn’t get enough of it. Like you need to do more of it by the end of that time or you might feel like after two weeks of doing it, that you’re actually feeling quite comfortable and there’s something else that’s got more importance, but at least– It’s better to write it down and then change it if need be, than not do anything at all.
Sonny: Then for your competition side, you had that consistency and that ability to stay in that competitive space for a long time until you got success. What would your advice be for the novice who just wants to just pick up a sport and stay in the sport for a long time? Let’s say they get their blue belt and maybe they’re thinking about, “I’ve done enough,” for some reason, and they don’t want to come back. What would your advice be to someone like that to help keep them actually in the sport?
Lachlan: They have to work out what they’re doing it for. If their goal was to get a blue belt and quit, then I don’t know if there’s anything I could say that would change that.
Sonny: Goal achieved. Done.
Lachlan: Yes. If your goal is to have something to keep you fit and keep your mind engaged and something you– The main thing should be you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, if you’re going there, you don’t enjoy it, but you want to get your blue belt then don’t even bother getting your– I suppose it’s probably still good. It’s still probably good to get your– If you don’t enjoy it, I still think it’s a useful thing to practice for the self-defense point of view, I suppose for a certain point in time maybe to a blue belt then quit but if you enjoy– Find a way to enjoy it, find good training partners that you enjoy rolling with or maybe who make you think and do that. Roll at a pace where you’re not going to get injured.
Sonny: In terms of different training partners who will make you think and probably change your game, going back to the competition when you’re competing in Open Weight and you’re going against all these different competitive styles, especially from people in your own weight division to the giants in Open Weight, how are your setups changing and your attacks changing? Did you just have the same game or did you say, okay, once I get past x kilograms, then I’m switching things up.
Lachlan: Yes, I had two main areas I was trying to set my leg-locks up from and one was that De La Riva and K-Guard and the other was from reverse De La Riva, which has a bit of a closer range. In my weight division, for whatever reason, just stylistically I thought it would be better against my opponent, which was Lucas Lepri. I thought, the reverse De La Riva thing might catch him off guard. I just had a different entry that I thought he might not have seen, but that was my undoing. But in the Open Weight, I feel I want to keep a bit more distance so De la Riva– Something that just keeps both feet in front of my opponent and most of the time is what I wanted to work with. Just a slight more distance-based guard and that seemed to work well. I was already practicing that style the whole training camp, anyway. I wasn’t particularly trying to get ready for big people. That just happened, but it was probably good that my style was strongly influenced by the Miyao brothers who were quite small. I figured whatever they’re doing probably works. Most of the people they roll are probably bigger than them. Whatever they’re doing works, scales up.
Sonny: That’s fair enough. You want to get that skill set that will go across weights. With the big guys, probably the biggest in one way or another would be Gordon Ryan. What’s happening with him at the moment? At the moment, obviously, nothing but there was that talk of the match and he was putting that stuff out there. What’s happening with that? Do you think that’ll ever come to fruition?
Lachlan: I don’t think he ever really wanted to do that match. At least not for that price. He put an offer of 500,000 dollars on a legal battle compared to my 5,000 which of course I was happy to do, but then I said yes and then he started putting all these stipulations in about I have to fight x and y with three other people within a year or something which wouldn’t have happened with corona probably anyway so there you go. I wouldn’t have got my 500,000. You know Gordon, he’ll say anything.
Sonny: Just a bitter blaster.
Lachlan: Since everyone’s been locked inside, he certainly unleashed– He’s furious [crosstalk]
Sonny: A bit of cabin fever fear.
Sonny: When things finally, we get back out on the mats, we get going what do you think will be the next evolution in No-Gi grappling that people should be maybe looking forward to and thinking ahead? Where do you think the game is going to go?
Lachlan: I think that very much depends on the rule set. In ADCC, the wrestling is going to be a huge determining factor in a lot of matches. If you’re preparing for ADCC and you’re not wrestling then I don’t know what you’re doing. That’s going to be a huge factor. Everything else will be there. The sport’s evolving, so we’ll get sharper with our leg-locks, sharper with our passing guard, front headlock. It’s hard to say what– If I knew where the evolution was going to occur, what’s a new tactic or something, then I would be doing that already. I see some patterns. I see certain people favoring some positions now. We’re talking about Gordon. I know Gordon’s playing a very seated guard, almost trying to wrestle up from a seated guard, which works for him. I can see that being valuable. That used to be more my style. I used to play a lot more forward pressure. It’s a much more risky style. Your chance of being front headlocked Kamurad or under-hooked, it’s higher risk, higher reward. I personally see what the Miayos are doing and the K-Guard has been the other reaction which is to play more off your back and try to get into leg entanglements. That’s the avenue that my direction is going and I see more and more of that in No-Gi because it’s hard to play standard De La Riva and those Gi-based guards but the K-guard still lets you work in on those positions. That’s my guard evolution, is working to there for passing, I don’t know, body lock, but that’s not exactly new. Body lock is certainly common No-Gi. Everyone’s is getting better at back takes, I think they’re realizing that to score points if you’ve got wrestling, you also need to be able to take the back because your opponent’s probably going to turtle and try to escape. You talked to Preet, I do think a better defensive back game will surface to a degree. It’s a hard one for me because I have success but sometimes you go against someone like a Craig or something and I really don’t feel like turning my back at all is a good idea. Some of those people who are very good at taking the back, I just feel like turning your back and trying to fight off the back can be a landmine.
Sonny: You’re giving them what they want.
Sonny: They want you to stay pinned.
Lachlan: At the moment, my thoughts are only when it’s a choice between me losing points and turning my back and risking, I’ll turn my back but otherwise, I’m not going to try to fight a defensive back battle proactively. In terms of what the next evolution is wrestling and–
Lachlan: Yes, potentially some better ways of setting up submissions from standing. That’s not something I’m particularly looking into, but that could be someone who’s–
Sonny: Just chaining that wrestling into submissions?
Lachlan: Yes. I think now that you’ve a rule set like ADCC where people are going to be willing to engage the stand-up battle, you then might see some opportunities to set up submissions from the standing position, which you wouldn’t have seen in IBJJF because people just pull guard so now there’s more opportunity for something like that.
Sonny: I like it. That’s going to give me something to go think about and work on more standing submissions. That’s going to be a good little way to end that, I think, just a little of advice for people to go off and research themselves. I really appreciate the time you’ve given me today.
Lachlan: No, I think you had some really good questions.
Sonny: Oh, thanks. I appreciate that feedback. We’re talking about important feedback.
Lachlan: Yes, that’s right.
Sonny: [chuckles] Thank you very much. Of course, you also did mention that the body lock could be a big thing and you’ve got the body lock instruction if you want to get it.
Lachlan: Just a [crosstalk]
Sonny: That’s it. What are the other ones that people can get and how should they get in contact with you if they want to?
Lachlan: Through BJJ Fanatics, I have instructionals on half guard, front headlock series, about one and a half guard passing. I’ve got the body lock pass and I’ve got the leg lock anthology as well. There’s those five and then on grapplers guide, I’ve got something on butterfly guard and on the equivalent to guard retention but on top, which is sweetp prevention. When you get stuck in all different types of guards, how do you actually maintain your base and get back to neutral position without getting swept or submitted. It’s a topic I thought hadn’t really been covered. If you go on the BJJ Fanatics, you could use my code, lachlan10 that says 10% and if you go to grapplers guide that’s got a whole bunch of, not just me, there’s a whole bunch of other experts that have on different topics and I want you to use a Lachlan, that say a 30%.
Sonny: Nice, beautiful. I’ll put that in the links and show notes and people can follow through there and I think that’ll be offered. For now, you’ve got to go to class. You got a zoom class so–
Lachlan: Yes, a zoom class coming up.
Sonny: I’ll let you go get prepped up and everything for that. Thanks so much for the time again, and have a great evening.
Lachlan: You too, cheers.
Sonny: Thanks, Lachlan.
Lachlan Giles interview Resources
Lachlan Giles Links
- Lachlan Giles Instagram
- Lachlan Giles BJJ Heroes
- Lachlan Giles BJJ Fanatics
- Lachlan Giles On The Reverse Classroom & Jiu-Jitsu Skill Acquisition
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