Travis Stevens is a elite level Judoka from United States who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. In Judo he is currently ranked top 5 in the world and he is considered by many the greatest American male Judo athlete. Travis also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie. He will competing in The Copa Podio Middleweight GP on Sunday, September 8 against top competition such as Renato Cardoso, Jaime Canuto, Keena Cornelius, Alexandre Ceconi, Felipe Pena etc..In this exclusive interview with BJJ Eastern Europe, Travis talks about how he started training BJJ, His passion for the sport, the toughness of judo trainings, his fight with Judo legend Flavio Canto and his preparation for Copa Podio:
1. Hi Travis, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe?
Travis Stevens, 27, 4th degree black belt (judo), I currently live an train in Boston Massachusetts USA, I’m a professional judo player, judo titles-two time Olympian, 47 internationals medals in the sport of judo, BJJ-Naga Champion, Grapplers Quest Champion, Super Cup Champion, Renzo Gracie Open Champion
2. Being an elite judoka, how did you first hear and first start training BJJ?
I first started training BJJ in 2005 when I was living in California going to school and training judo at San Jose State university. The judo team was only working out twice a day so I was looking for extra workouts. So I got a hold of Dave Camarillo from Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu. I trained with him everyday for the next year I really enjoyed it but had never competed. I ended up moving from California in 2006 and did do any BJJ until 2012. In 2012 I suffered a really bad foot injury while getting ready for the London Olympic Games and so to stay in shape I sought out the best BJJ school I could find and that was Renzo Gracie’s in Manhattan NY. I basically lived in a hotel for three months in NYC where I trained at Renzo’s three times a day desperately trying to stay in shape for the London Olympics in that three months I fell in love with the sport and started to compete soon after the London Olympics.
3. What is your goal when you train BJJ? Is it to improve your Judo groundwork or do you really want to get better at BJJ?
When I’m training BJJ I’m only doing BJJ. The way I do BJJ is nothing like judo 98% of the thing I do in BJJ I do don’t translate into judo and I keep it that way. The last thing I want in a high level match in either sport is to all the sudden use a technique that can cost me a match because my body forgot what sport it was doing. So when I’m doing BJJ I want my BJJ to get better I want to compete against the best BJJ players in the world and have them walk away with wow he has great bjj, not he has good BJJ for a judo guy.
4. In your opinion how much harder is judo training on the body than BJJ?
There not even close to the same judo completely rips your body apart the intensity is higher due to a shorter round there is no resting in positions because refs will just stand you up. And just the impact from throws hinders your body a lot. BJJ is the more technical and sophisticated of the two sports
5. You have fought and have beaten Brazilian Judo legend Flavio Canto. Many stories have been said of him in Brazil, beating BJJ world champions in training. Did you get to experience his ne waza during your match with him and if so how did you rate it?
You can’t really compare a judo competition round with any BJJ rolling sessions the goals a completely different but I have worked out with Flavio in training and his ground game is at a very high level it would surprise me if the rumors of him beating BJJ World Champs is true.
6. How has BJJ changed the way you use ne waza in Judo competitions?
It’s just made me more aware of where I should go and where I can’t go mad different ways of finishing player but the ground skills and techniques I use in judo would never work in BJJ
7. How are you preparing for Copa Podio? How do you see your chances?
I’m lucky the the rounds at cops podio are 6 mins. So I’m using my judo training during the week for my conditioning and strength work. And I’m spent every weekend in NYC working with John Danaher and Renzo Gracie and the other black belts to bring my BJJ back up to speed we are all very confident that I can walk away on the top of the podium.
8. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free
I would like to thank Fuji Sports, Zebra Mats, Advocare, MBSC, Renzo and John for training me and letting me compete and represent the team as a brown belt on the world stage. I would like to thank USA Judo for giving me the opportunity to compete and all the guys at Teo BJJ in NJ and Renzo Gracie Fort Lee the Gracie Team really came together as a whole to help me get ready thanks!!!!
If anyone would like to follow my training you can find me on twitter and Instagram at @judosilencer
9. Thanks Travis and all the best!
Two Time Judo Olympian
Renzo Gracie/John Danaher Brown Belt