The three-time Black Belt No-Gi World Champion doesn’t sugarcoat it. In a candid sit-down with Jiu-Jitsu Times after a recent seminar, Atos standout Josh Hinger divulges some of the secrets to having 100 wins at the black belt level, 72 of which have come by way of submission. He also talks about how his favorite moves came to be, his take on the culture of trash-talking, his relationships with teammates, and his immediate future plans.
As a 36-year-old still wreaking havoc in the adult division, he embraces one simple strategy:
“I take those motherf*ckers down. I don’t pull guard on anybody. Ever. Unless I’m training, I try to take everyone down — that’s my A-game. I wrestled for four years in high school; I was top ten in California in my weight class. I won the regional CIF tournament. I was pretty good. It’s actually easier for me to wrestle in the gi. My takedowns in the gi are way better than no-gi, but it’s not judo. I do wrestling… in a gi. I basically just collar drag and single leg. That’s it. I’ve had a lot of success with it. Against faster, younger guys, if they want to outside pass me, I don’t ever let that happen. I gotta be on top always.”
Hinger’s signature moves include a trademarked version of the guillotine and the monoplata. He opens up on how he developed these to be effective at the black belt level.
“I had a buddy I used to train with every day. He was a super heavyweight and a wrestler. He used to shoot this low single on me all the time. He was so big that if he got in on it, he would bulldoze me down every time and just crush me. We trained together every day for like three years. You know when they shoot the low single it makes your knee collapse, right? I would sit down to my butt and I would try to figure out what I could do. I figured I could grab his chin. I grabbed his chin, put my chest on the back of his head, and held the arm. He was like a blue belt, purple belt, MMA fighter, good wrestler. He started flailing around and I would just hold on to his head and go for a ride. I would just hold on to that thing as long as I possibly could until my arm was on fire. I glued my chest to the back of his head, tried to cup my hand on his chin, and just make him choke. Just make his life suck so he would stop shooting that single leg on me. But he never stopped, and I just kept grabbing his chin, and eventually, I would just start choking him over and over. Or if I didn’t choke him, I would end up in a good position. He’d try to roll out and I would land on the mount. That’s kind of how that came up.”
“The monoplata… I saw a Marcelo Garcia video online one time. I was just looking for something different. I saw this move, and it looked different. I didn’t really believe in it, at first I thought it was kind of bullsh*t. I took it to the gym that night and boom — it worked perfectly. And I just did it again and again. It fit right into my game perfectly. That was it. Every day I would just monoplata people. And then what I started doing was using the Hinger-tine and the Monoplata together. When I guillotined people, I would trap the arm behind my back. That’s where I needed the arm for the monoplata. Once those two fit together, that was it. My two different A-games came together in harmony and that was it. I have tunnel vision.”
The culture of trash-talking in jiu-jitsu, while not lost upon Josh, is something he doesn’t exactly agree with.
“I have a very unique perspective on this because I know for a fact that these guys are just trying to play it up and get paid. They’re not really assholes that they come off to be. Everyone knows Gordon [Ryan] is a nice guy. I follow Tom DeBlass a lot and Tom is always defending Gordon as a really nice guy, and I think he’s telling the truth. And Gordon’s said it publicly too — that if we’re going to draw people to the sport, we have to make it entertaining. That’s what he’s trying to do, he’s trying to be entertaining.
I’m not willing to sell my character for a paycheck. I’m not willing to be a dickhead in public to be paid. I can be a nice guy, and I believe that. I teach kids, and I love my kids. I love them like they’re my own kids. I would never want them to see me act like that. Little girls, seven-year-old girls, sweetest girls ever. They look up to me. And the parents tell me that. And I would never ever ever want them to see me acting like that. There’s too many sh*theads in the world — the last thing we need are nice people acting like sh*theads. I get paid just fine. I’ve been making a living off jiu-jitsu for four years. I’ve made more money every consecutive year. I don’t need to be an as*hole to sell matches. My jiu-jitsu is good. I have 100 wins, 70 of them are submissions. I don’t need to be a dickhead. I would rather be a motivational person than be a dickhead just to get paid, to get a $10,000-match. I understand why they do it, I just don’t agree with it. It’s not my style.
What I try to do is be real. If that requires a dickhead response, then I will do that. But I’m not going to be fake. I’m never gonna give someone a fake nice response or a fake dickhead response just to get a reaction. I’m always going to give people the truth. Sometimes the truth can seem kind of dickheadish, but as far as I see it, I’m being your friend by telling you the truth. A lot of people think I’m abrasive — my roommates think I’m abrasive and offensive, my teammates think I’m abrasive and offensive — but if there’s one thing that I know for sure is that I’m telling them how I really feel and I’m not giving them bullsh*t.”
He opens up on his training partner and friend Keenan Cornelius: an individual that is often the subject of good-natured ribbing from Josh.
“A lot of people think that I hate him, but when I first moved to San Diego, it was Keenan who first opened his doors to me. Literally, we trained together for like a week, I twistered him, and then he goes, ‘Who are you? And where did you come from?’ And I’m like, ‘Bro, I’m from here. San Diego is actually my home. I’m not from Indiana, I was just in Indiana for a long time. Southern California is my home, I’m just kind of bouncing around right now.’ And he offered his couch. He said, ‘Hey, if you need a place to crash, I have a couch. It’s cool.’ I was doing my Tinder-surfing. Anytime that didn’t work out, Keenan had a couch for me.
For about six months, that’s what I did for housing until I saved up some money and found an apartment. I’ll love him forever for that. He saved me when I needed someone. We’re very good friends. We talk a lot about non-jiu-jitsu stuff. Finances, retirement, academies, just anything and everything. He’s one of the smartest guys I ever met that didn’t go to college. He’s just self-educated. Everything he knows he’s researched on his own. He’s a very smart, self-educated human from YouTube. He has a lot of interesting perspectives. I have a very traditional education. I went to college and studied political science, I went to grad school and studied finance. It’s interesting to talk with him and get his perspective on things because he has a very non-traditional education. And you know, he’s a jiu-jitsu f*ckin’ genius. That’s always nice to have. I love him to death.
He is a sh*thead. Like I said, I keep it honest with my friends. If he’s being a selfish prick, I tell him he’s being a selfish prick. But at the end of the day, I love him and I want him to succeed. He’s also the only teammate that I fight against at tournaments. We fought four times. Once no-gi (I won) and three times in the gi he’s won. Which is appropriate. I’m known as the no-gi guy and he’s known as the gi guy. That’s how it played out. We never faked a fight ever. Never ever. We always went for it 100%. I’ll always be there for him and I’ll always help him out. I’ll always be forever grateful for the help that he gave me. But I always call out his bullsh*t any chance I get.
He also did a dickhead thing one time when I was having a super fight: he was commentating me on his YouTube channel and told the whole world that my last name is Josh ‘Hinger’ like ‘injure’. And it’s wrong. He did that on purpose. It’s ‘Hinger,’ like ‘finger.’ Or like ‘singer.’ Not ‘Hinger’ like ‘injure.’ So disregard that if you ever heard that.”
He talks more about his future seminar and competition plans.
“Pretty sure I’m going to the ADCC trials on February 9th. Not 100 percent because I still have a few injuries. We’ll see. I’ll definitely do Pans in Irvine in the gi, I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do the adult or masters — again, it kind of depends on how I feel. I will be out of the state for a while. I’m doing a seminar tour on the east coast for three weeks. Super excited about that. I’ve never been over there for more than a day. I’m going to New York to see JT [Torres], I’m going to Philadelphia to see Kristian Woodmansee, I’m going to Connecticut for a few days. Then I’ll come back and do Pans, then I’m doing a seminar trip with Andre to Australia. We’ll be in Australia and New Zealand for about a week. Then we’ll come back and start Worlds camp. That’s my plan up until the end of May. I always like to do American Nationals and Master Worlds, of course, just for fun.“
Whether you’ll be able to attend one of Hinger’s seminars or you simply enjoy watching him tear up the competition scene from afar, make sure you’re keeping an eye out for this accomplished athlete’s next big move.