Interview with Lloyd Irvin

Lloyd Irvin

Inside BJJ
What are your immediate thoughts on the 2011 Worlds?

Lloyd Irvin
Another year in the books, another year of experience, another opportunity taken advantage of (or lost), and a great display of Jiu-itsu.

Inside BJJ
Are you satisfied with your team’s performance?

Lloyd Irvin
No.

Inside BJJ
Was there anything that surprised you or anything you would change regarding your team’s performance?

Lloyd Irvin
I was surprised at how many basic mistakes some of our top guys made.  Although we drill situational transitions and positions all of the time, going into 2012 I’m going to increase the volume of it that we do in the last quarter by three to five times.  That is unacceptable.

 

Inside BJJ
Your team is competitive, cohesive, and successful. To what do you attribute your team’s accomplishments thus far?

Lloyd Irvin
The overall culture that we have on our advanced mats is one of the biggest factors now.  On our floor there are no egos, everyone gets tapped in class, everyone takes beatings, everyone wants to be the best, everyone understands the goals of the team, and everyone is dedicated to the goals of the team.  Instead of having selfish people on the floor just worrying about themselves, they all understand that as the T.E.A.M gets stronger, the TEAM will be able to help them reach their goals faster.  They understand that no one person is bigger than the team, they all understand that without the TEAM they wouldn’t get to the level that they are at, so we avoid getting the cocky blue belt, the cocky purple belt etc.  Every day we have guys on the floor that have won the Worlds at blue, purple, brown, and have placed a black belt.

Everyone on the team believes 100% in my systems, my program and the long term goals of the team. Everything flows smoothly; they all hold each other accountable for each other’s actions and govern themselves accordingly to the rules of the team.  We block outside influences, that aren’t in line with what our goals are, from distracting the team.   We are also 100% clear in the fact that if a person doesn’t fit in this formula then they cannot be a part of it, no matter what, because nothing is more important than the team.  I’m just truly happy with where the team is at right now.

Inside BJJ
What is the toughest challenge you have faced since you started Jiu-Jitsu?

Lloyd Irvin
My toughest challenge since starting Jiu-Jitsu was when I got a severe neck injury in a judo tournament that left me paralyzed for a period of time and the doctors told me that life as I knew it was over.  They also told me that I would never be able to do BJJ again.  I was out for over 13 months and it was depressing.  That was probably my toughest challenge.  Other than that, it was creating this culture that I wanted in my school to be able to create a high level of success.  In the beginning, I used to really try to convince students about my philosophy, my processes , etc., but it was really hard to do as a whole.  That’s when I decided to focus on one person, put them through the process and once they start getting results others will follow, and that model worked for a while. Then once the guys had belief in the system, and the system can really produce results, then I started to have the snow ball effect. Now, I don’t try to convince anyone, either you believe in my system or you don’t.  If you don’t then this isn’t the place for you.  It was tough at first but the plan worked out for the best.

Inside BJJ
What is your advice to competitors who may not have the benefit of being on a team like Lloyd Irvin but desire to compete?

Lloyd Irvin
It depends on what level that they would like to compete at.  If you want to be a World Champion, I highly suggest that you join a team that has already created a World champion or is creating World Champions on a regular basis.  It’s easiest that way.  I’m not saying that a team that hasn’t created any World Champions yet won’t end up doing it.  I was able to do it and there are other teams that have created a winning formula, but being on those teams are like playing craps in Vegas.  You may win or you may lose.  If you’re just starting out, it’s best to go with a proven winner from the beginning.  Most people competing do not really want to be World champions, so they will be fine anywhere.  I’m talking about the guys that know deep down in their heart that they truly want to be the best Jiu-Jitsu player that they can be.

They also need to stay away from marketing tricks, I know that may sound funny coming from me, but it’s true.  Many people join a school where the instructor or owner of the school is a World champion, a KILLER grappler, or a famous person that create grappling DVDs, because they confuse the instructor’s success with being able to create World Champions.  Many of these instructors have never, will never, and can’t produce a student with anywhere close to their own personal success.

The only factor you should consider, if your goal is to become a World Champion, is have they created a World champion before?  You also have to look deep because many of these celebrity instructors also attract students that come from other teams and already have a decent skill set.  This is common and happens at my school also.  All of the time these days!  You have to see what students they have taken from white belt and turned them into World Champions and also look at what they have done for the guys that came in already with skill sets. Did they turn them into World Champions?  I just want to make sure my point is clear that I’m only talking about guys who truly want to give it their best shot at becoming a World Champion.  If they just want to compete for the fun of it, they can join any team that allows their students to compete.

Inside BJJ
If you could only pick one thing that an individual could start today that would improve their Jiu-Jitsu what would it be?

Lloyd Irvin
Drilling of transitions.  I believe that is the most important aspect of making rapid improvements in Jiu-Jitsu.  If you understand what all of the most important transitions are in Jiu-Jitsu and you focus on drilling them you’ll make amazing improvements very fast.

Team Lloyd Irvin 2011 World's

Inside BJJ
What one thing could a school do to improve their students today?

Lloyd Irvin
Make a commitment to increasing the mental game in all of their students.  I see and hear all of these guys making excuses all of the time, complaining about this and that, sitting out rounds during training and all kinds of crazy stuff.  It is the instructor’s job to set the culture in their school.  If the school wants to be a high level competition school, they have to ban excuse making, they have to ban letting their students make excuses, they have to ban sitting out rounds during sparring, they have to ban asking for water when live sparring is happening (you take water breaks when the instructor says so), you have to ban all of the BS happening on the floor in your school. This one thing will help students greatly, it will scare off many students also, but those students don’t need to be on your advanced floor anyway.  They are like a virus to an advanced floor and should be quarantined to the beginner floor.

Inside BJJ
What do you think is the future of Jiu-Jitsu?

Lloyd Irvin
I think the levels of Jiu-Jitsu will keep growing, the art is amazing and people will keep getting exposed to it.

Inside BJJ
How much more can Jiu-Jitsu realistically grow?

Lloyd Irvin
I think the growth potential is unlimited.

Inside BJJ
Is there anything holding back the growth of Jiu-Jitsu?

Lloyd Irvin
If anything is holding back the growth of Jiu-Jitsu, I would probably say we don’t have a major media outlet to help spread it faster.  Like, MMA is a great sport but it wasn’t until the UFC hooked up with Spike TV that you started to see the massive global growth that we are seeing today.

Inside BJJ
Do you think steroids are a problem in Jiu-Jitsu?

Lloyd Irvin
Steroids are a problem in all sports and since there is no drug testing in Jiu-Jitsu steroids will remain a problem.  But until there is real drug testing, there is no reason to complain about it, as I see it.  It’s part of the game these days.

Inside BJJ
If you could change one thing about Jiu-Jitsu, what would it be?

Lloyd Irvin
If this was like a question where I got one magical wish, I would wish for independent referees that have no association with any Jiu-Jitsu team or players and scored the points and advantages only based on the set rules and take away all ability for a ref to put their personal opinion or feelings into a decision or scoring situation.  If a move is in the rule book that scores a point or an advantage then it should be scored as such, across the board.

Inside BJJ
What’s next for you or your team?

Lloyd Irvin
I have a crop of guys that will be turning their focus to MMA soon and should result in our next crop of UFC fighters in the future.  On the Jiu-Jitsu side, we are still laser focused on becoming the first American team to create a Black Belt World Champion.  We’ve had guys win the Worlds at blue, purple, and brown belts.  This year JT took bronze at black belt which is an amazing feat, but we want that black belt World Title.

Inside BJJ
Also, how in the world do your BJJ fighters support themselves while training and competing full time?

Lloyd Irvin
Some of them have jobs working at the school, some of them do work for some of my other companies, and others have sponsors.  We are always looking for sponsorship deals to help the guys, it is very important.

Team Lloyd Irvin 2011 World's

 

Inside BJJ
Why is it that BJJ schools don’t follow similar training approaches as other sports?

Lloyd Irvin
Most instructors have no idea what approaches other sports use.  It’s not easy to get access to any professional sports approaches.  If an instructor played in the pro’s and knew how to convert it over for BJJ but most don’t.  Rolling in the club is often viewed as winning/losing, who tapped who, etc.  In wrestling practice, nobody cares about who “wins”.  In baseball practice, there’s no such thing as beating your own team.  BJJ has an interesting paradox of being team oriented, but also competing against your own team members in training.  How can that be changed for the better?   This has to be changed within the internal culture of the school, it is 100% based on what the instructor allows and doesn’t allow.  I’ve been called a dictator of sorts, but I believe it is 100% my responsibility to dictate what mindset I want my team to have, the attitudes, behaviors etc.  Whatever mindset you allow on your mats will become the culture of your mats.  I have a saying, “if everyone on our team did what you did, what type of team would we have?”  This is a question that I have made a standard at my school. The answer can only be a good team or a bad team.  So if a student gets tapped in practice and throws a fit, it would never be allowed on my mats.  If I was to ask that student my question, “If everyone on our team threw a fit when they got tapped on our floor what type of team would we have?” The answer would be a bad team. Many instructors allow things to happen on their floor that the answer would be ‘a bad team’ and since they allow others do it and it becomes an accepted behavior within that team then it results in a serious problem.

Inside BJJ
You had a well known situation where you had to use your martial arts training to defend against a home attack. Your team is well known for its competitiveness. How important is self defense to BJJ?

Lloyd Irvin
It’s funny that you mentioned that, the guy that did the home invasion at my house is currently in court right now getting tried for all of his crimes.  I don’t really like to look at it as self defense in BJJ.  I believe self defense is very important, period.  There is this big thing about the difference between sport BJJ and BJJ for self defense and most of it is BS, from my point of view.  I believe that all martial arts are good for what they were created for and no one self defense art is superior.

Had I only had the self defense that I had from BJJ, me and my family would’ve been dead that night and I wouldn’t be doing this interview with you today.  The situations that happened in my home invasion were not helped by any of my BJJ self defense, but from my Sombo self defense training.

Now in another situation maybe my BJJ self defense could’ve been used.  But people are brain washed when it comes to the entire self defense thing.  When I talk about self defense I come from real life experience and not theory.

Inside BJJ
Do you think the emphasis on competition distracts from the original intent of BJJ which was self defense?

Lloyd Irvin
It all depends on how you want to look at it. Many of these guys who practice BJJ for self defense, when faced with a real situation they will be so scared that they won’t even be able to attempt to do what they learned, because they don’t do any realistic confrontational training.  They don’t have the experience with going against a fully resistant, non-willing partner that is trying to really hurt you.  Many of these guys just go through the motions and are led into a false sense of security.  It would take an entire book for me to give you my stance and position on the whole self defense aspect.  I love the self defense side of martial arts more than BJJ and MMA.  I’ve been studying it for over 30 years and with my background and experiences I have my own position on it that would make many of the BJJ self defense guys upset.

Inside BJJ
How do you rate the mental aspect of training? At the highest level, would you put it higher or lower than physical skills and why?

Lloyd Irvin
Once you get to the highest level the mental game is far more important.  At the lower levels you can be mentally weak but still increase your technical level to a point that you can still get by being mentally weak.  At the higher levels when technical skills are even, the mental game plays a heavy role.

Inside BJJ
Who is Lloyd Irvin?

Lloyd Irvin
Lloyd Irvin is a guy who saw Royce Gracie in the first UFC and made a commitment that he wanted to dedicate his life to Jiu-Jitsu.  I started BJJ at 26 years old, I got my blue belt in 30 days and then my instructor moved back to Brazil, after I had only been training for 6 months.  I was forced to open my own school, as a blue belt with 6 months experience in 1996, with no instructor teaching me and I’ve been trying to figure this whole Jiu-Jitsu game out ever since.  I wasn’t in an ideal situation to reach all of my goals in BJJ and I have dedicated myself to helping others reach their BJJ goals.

Inside BJJ
What is your personal philosophy on BJJ and life?

Lloyd Irvin
You’re either winning or losing.  And each and every day you’re either moving closer or further away from your goal.  No matter what your goals are.  For BJJ, no matter if you want to compete or not.  In life, deciding on what you would consider success and putting yourself in a position to become successful.  97% of the population is losers and only 3% of the population is winners and you have to decide what percentage group you want to be in.  Then surround yourself, or find a way, to get around the 3% group.  For example, in BJJ, if an instructor makes excuses for their students losses like, “Don’t worry about it, he was stronger than you, he outweighed you, he’s a 3 stripe purple belt and you just got your purple belt” then that instructor is in the 97% group, the 3 % group doesn’t make excuses.  I could go on and on about this but hopefully you get my point.  I believe that in everything that you do you’re either winning or losing, either doing what it takes to win or lose and you just have to be honest with yourself and decide if you want to be a winner or a loser.  If you want to get your masters degree, then winning will be actually getting your masters degree.  So. if in your quest for your degree and you skip a class, then you’re losing that day.  If you fail to complete your homework, you are a loser that day and so one.  You’re either winning or losing.  This applies to everything.

Inside BJJ
You’re a mysterious figure in the BJJ World. Is perception more important than reality?

Lloyd Irvin
The only thing that matters is Reality for me.  When it’s all said and done the only thing that matters is the results.

Inside BJJ
I see people accuse you of recruiting guys from other teams. Can you respond to this?

Lloyd Irvin
Yeah, people seem to always want to find a way to hate on me and what I’m doing.  Here are the facts; I have never recruited a BJJ player in my life, as of this interview.  Every single person that has come from another team and switched to my team has come to us, or came to one of my students, and asked to switch teams.  People act like it’s a bad thing or something; it’s a force of nature.  If you have a team that is totally focused on winning and being the best, they will naturally attract people that want to win and be the best.

I read a story about how the great Terere recruited Cobrinha as a brown belt and brought him over to Alliance.  No one says anything bad about that and as far as I’m concerned there is nothing bad about it.  We may have never come to experience the great Jiu-Jitsu that Cobrinha has graced us with if Terere hadn’t done so.

If you look at the BJJ powerhouse teams, like Alliance, you’ll see lots of guys from other teams that have switched.  Just look at Atos, they are full of people that have switched teams.  But no one says anything, only about me.  LOL The fact of the matter is that winners want to be surrounded by other winners.  Team Lloyd Irvin is like America’s Team and everyone is very clear on our objectives to be the best in BJJ.

For all of the people saying it’s a bad thing, they need to get over it. This is where the sport is heading, whether you like it or not.  Top guys are going to get to a point where they want to train with other top guys.  Just look at great guys like Margarita and Jacare, they both switched teams to get better training/training partners.  If a school can’t elevate their training floor to higher levels they will most likely lose their top guys to stronger teams at some point.  If I did ever decide to recruit everyone in the World would know it.

11 Responses to “Interview with Lloyd Irvin”

  1. Mark says:

    I think Lloyd Irvin’s team is the best American Based BJJ team in the world. The results speak for themselves. And i do believe that in the next few years, they will finally get that black belt mundial gold.

    I think he’s wrong tho by saying that Terere recruited Cobrinha to join Alliance. Terere recruited Cobrinha to join his team back then, TT. Thats where Cobrinha got his black belt. When Terere was to move somewhere else, he then advised Cobrinha to move to Alliance under Fabio Gurgel :)

  2. jay says:

    Very cool article! Love what Master Lloyd has done and continues to do for our beloved sport.

    Please keep up the great interviews guys, always a great time reading on the inside bjj page.

  3. john says:

    Everytime I tapped someone, they would come back twice as hard trying to get me back. Not saying everyone did though. Just some of the guys.

    Also, I seen a guy get his arm broken in class, and they just pushed him off to the side while class continued. I actually offered the guy a ride to the hospital.

    Also my first week there, I almost got one of the instructors in a guillitine choke, and instead of tapping he picked me up and slammed me on my neck and head. Thats sad.

    • Rick says:

      @ John on July15th – If what you are saying about the individual who had his arm broken is true, then it sounds like negligence on the part of the school.

      I have heard that there are some big ego’s at Lloyd’s, but he must be doing something right since he keeps producing winners.

      I know most BJJ schools have no set curriculum, and thus many students have a hard time progressing since they are learning a randomly taught set of moves. I know that I have been shown many moves that I don’t remember due to not having the them drilled repeatedly in class.

      Having a lesson plan and clearly defined curriculum is standard in all academic and most sports training. Most of the BJJ schools are a mess when it comes to planning and organization.

  4. Jim says:

    Master Lloyd is a class act in a world of pretenders and wanna be’s. He honestly wants to better the BJJ world and the instructors in it. This better improves his students. I have great respect for Master Lloyd and hope he does many more articles about his successes. The Bjj World needs his unique approach to a difficult art to master. Rock On! Oh, and John by the way. Please do not confuse confidence with ego problems. The walk the walk at Team Lloyd Irvin.

  5. Jerard says:

    Great article! Trained there at Master Lloyds for about a year and even in Rio and they are serious about BJJ. When I went to Brazil to trained it was hard but seriously it was nothing compared to what we did in Camp Springs. The crazy thing is when I mentioned his name they knew him and his instructor Leo, which meant to me that he was legit and I was at a school that was on the right path. Great Work Master LLoyd.
    AAAAAAayyyyyyyyyeeee!

  6. Brandon Swafford says:

    I totally disagree with John! I have trained at a few other schools around the country and Lloyd Irvin’s had some of the nicest, humble, and most talented students and teachers I have had the honor to train with. Great interview Master Lloyd!

  7. john says:

    I have to dissagree with him saying their team has no egos. I have trained at over 8 different jiujitsu schools and they had the biggest ego problems I have trained with.

    • Chris says:

      John, it sounds like you might be confusing ego with focus. Training at 8 schools seems like you have no home school so you are the new kid on the block so you might have some “nomad” feelings of your own.
      “I almost got one of the instructors in a guillitine choke, and instead of tapping he picked me up and slammed me on my neck and head.” It’s mumbo jumbo like that that gives BJJ a bad name! Come on man!

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