Those of us who follow competitive jiu-jitsu saw a new, breakout star emerge in 2017: Craig Jones.
Jones, an Australian jiujiteiro, was unknown until March of this year when he made an impressive statement in his limelight debut at EBI 11, submitting Nathan Orchard and Darragh O’Conaill inside regulation. Only Vagner Rocha was able to defeat him, that that was by fastest escape, not submission.
Jones then made a loud and resounding statement at ADCC in Finland, submitting two jiu-jitsu legends: Leandro Lo and Murilo Santana back to back in his division and then submitting MMA star Chael Sonnen in the absolute. Though Jones was unable to secure a spot on the podium, his performance at this tournament cemented him in the elite of the sport.
Shortly after ADCC, Jones went on to make it to the finals at EBI 14, nearly submitting Gordon Ryan in overtime in an electrifying match. Jones had a huge 2017.
@ebiofficial Absolutes went down on Sunday in Austin, Texas at the @onnit academy. First 3 matches were super quick, with the same inside heel hook finish. Came up short against @gordonlovesjiujitsu in the final again. Props to him and the @danaherjohn squad 👏🏼👏🏼 onto @kasaigrappling this weekend in Brooklyn. Looking forward to a rematch everyone keeps telling me was a fluke
I had an opportunity to chat with Craig Jones about his experience growing as a jiujiteiro.
“I’m from Adelaide Australia,” he told the Jiu-Jitsu Times. “26 now, started jiu jitsu about 10 years ago under my cousin Matt Jones. I competed a little bit in the early days but not until 2013 did I start training every day and competing regularly. When I got my purple belt I travelled to the States and competed in the Pans. It was more of a holiday than a training trip. Hunter Ewald tapped me in maybe 20 seconds. So suffering that loss was a turning point for me and drove me to train hard.”
And Jones truly does train hard. I was interested in learning what goes on in a day in the life of an elite competitor like Craig Jones.
I used to work at a liquor store but I gave that up to teach full time. The future will be heavily focused on more instructional footage. I think the demand is huge for me right now because I come from no where and have beaten some legends. A lot of people can relate to my situation and want to learn how I was able to accomplish that. Also very little instruction is out there in regards to the modern leg lock game.
I think the demand is huge for me right now because I come from no where and have beaten some legends. A lot of people can relate to my situation and want to learn how I was able to accomplish that.
So full time competition and teaching, just not teaching every day.
When I’m in Melbourne training with my team, I’ll train one hard session a day. I’m busy teaching the morning class and night classes at another gym.
Since ADCC I’ve really just been on the road teaching and haven’t actually trained all that much but for 2018 I’ll be ready to start training hard twice a day. I think I just train a bit less than most people. I like to feel fresh for every training session and motivated to train. Some guys run their bodies into the ground which leads to injury and illness.
I also think the guys that are training maybe 20 hard rounds a day spend the rounds getting to one good position and then resting, they do this because they need to not burn too much energy because they have to survive the rest of the training session. This translates to the Comp and you see guys fight hard for one position and then rest. I use shorter duration. A lot of big gyms I’ve visited will go hard for 2 hours straight. I’m just hitting short 1 hour sessions. I prefer coming in fresh and trying a bunch of different stuff, which I think leads my game to be very exciting for people to watch and leads to a lot of submission wins.
For someone who doesn’t train with the Danaher Death Squad or at a 10th Planet gym, Craig Jones’ heel hooks are on a much higher level than most mortals in the jiu-jitsu world. I was curious about how precisely he picked up such a formidable arsenal of heel hook entries, and his answer did not disappoint.
YouTube. I mean all the footage you need is out there to understand all the basic positions for leg locks. Then just having a couple like minded people to experiment with.
Once you’ve built that up, then you’re free to experiment with your own entries. Obviously some of the subtleties are going to be harder to pick up, but the information is there. I spent a lot of time not just studying the famous guys like Gordon, Garry, and Cummings, but studying guys like Oliver Taza, Ethan Crelinsten, Jason Rau, and Matthew Tesla. I do this because guys like Cummings will lock a position down and tap a guy very quick, meaning you gather less information.
The up and coming guys have the finishing mechanics and the entries but usually not to the same level, so you see a bit more of an exchange with their opponent and you can glean a bit more information from them.
Some heel hooks only require one hand. Link in my bio for access to my DVD/Digital release #Repost @ebiofficial (@get_repost) ・・・ EBI 14 REPLAY AVAILABLE NOW on UFC Fight Pass and also at InchbyInch.Tv| EBI 14 THE ABSOLUTES | 16 Absolute Division Grapplers clash at the @onnitgymatx for the prestigious title and $20,000 Grand Prize | @texjohnsonbjj vs. @craigjonesbjj | @eddiebravo10 @victordavilaufc @ufcfightpass | photo credit: @blanca_marisa_garcia
Stepping on the mat with the greats of the sport can be intimidating for many. Craig Jones was a purple belt in 2015. In 2017 he positioned himself at the forefront of the sport. I was interested to learn what kind of mindset Jones has going into his matches.
I think just self belief. You gotta trust your training and believe you can beat any of these elite guys. Everyone is human. Just remember guys worse than you have tapped out guys better than your opponent, that’s what I try to remember.
Jones has kept his goals for 2018 simple:
I have a big Polaris match to announce soon. But really, I’ve always been busy working jobs or teaching a lot during my training camps. Luckily with new demand for seminars and DVD sales I’ll be financially in a position to do training camps and only worry about my training. So I really think that is going to make 2018 huge. I’m going to work with a nutritionist and strength coach for this season too
Many meme pages have painted Jones as the Australian Chuck Norris of jiu-jitsu, so I thought it would be fun to collect 3 previously unheard of facts about Mr. Jones from the man himself:
1- When I used to do training camps at Atos, Galvao didn’t know my name so he’d call me Gianni.
2- I used to compete in a pink rash guard.
3- They pick on me a lot for messing up that Kasai match and not knowing the rules.
In closing Craig Jones had the following shout outs
Shout out to my team Absolute MMA. My coach Lachlan Giles and my sponsors MA1 apparel, Fightlife and Saru Tape Company. The DVD and online release of my leg lock stuff is available at www.BJJfanatics.com