Off the Mat with a BJJ Black Belt: Nic Gregoriades

Off the Mat with a BJJ Black Belt on Jiu-jitsu Times is where we feature a short interview with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts from different academies around the planet.

This week we feature Nic Gregoriades of the Jiu-jitsu Brotherhood and author of “Black Belt Blueprint

Nic is one of Roger Gracie’s first black belts and also the producer and host of the Digital Communion Podcast.


“Jiu Jitsu is my church. When I step on the mat, I am walking on sacred ground.”
Nic Gregoriades

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you tell us how and why you got started in bjj?

Nic Gregoriades: I started no-gi submission grappling when I was 19. I was working at an internet company and one of my colleagues was taking a class and he invited me to join. I had always been interested in martial arts, having done judo from the age of 7 and having a father who is a black belt in karate, so it wasn’t a tough sell for me.

What got you addicted?
Nic Gregoriades: I remember at the first class the instructor taught the Rear Naked Choke, and I made my friend tap using it in my first ever sparring session. It was great to see that what I was learning was directly applicable and I could influence and direct my growth so easily.

Who have been the biggest influences on your jiu-jitsu and what did you learn from each of your professors?

Nic Gregoriades: My first coach, Ludwig Strydom, who taught me the principles of movement for fighting.
Roger Gracie, who gave me a very solid technical base for grappling with the gi.
Marcelo Garcia – a lot of my no-gi game is built off his system.
Tim Peterson also changed the way I look at jiu jitsu by opening my eyes to a whole bunch of new principles.

Jiu-jitsu Times: What is the place of jiu-jitsu in your life?

Nic Gregoriades: Jiu Jitsu is my church. When I step on the mat, I am walking on sacred ground.
I use my training to diagnose my physical state and the health of my body, as a way to keep my mind sharp and as a way to refresh my spirit by sharing time with my friends and brothers.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Are you an active competitor? Own an academy, train recreationally?
I don’t really compete much anymore – it’s hard to get into the training rhythm required for competition when you travel as much as I do.
I train about 3 times per week now recreationally and do a lot of yoga too.

Jiu-jitsu Times: You founded and operate The Jiu-jitsu Brotherhood.
What is the purpose and philosophy behind Jiu-jitsu Brotherhood?

Nic Gregoriades: The Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood originally started as a way for me to connect and communicate with the jiu jitsu community on a global scale.
Now it’s become a movement that symbolises the deeper aspects of the art – the self-mastery, the camaraderie and the personal evolution that are all fostered by jiu jitsu training.

Jiu-jitsu Times: We are seeing the evolution of jiu-jitsu (especially in the sport aspect) towards many sports only techniques (ex. berimbolo, lapel guards and emphasis on guard sweeps) and away from the old school Gracie Jiu-jitsu for fighting.
What is your view on this? Is it a positive or a negative thing for the art?

Nic Gregoriades: I don’t label it as positive or negative.
We all know that you need at least a bit of jiu jitsu if you want to be successful in mixed martial arts.
And most of us are starting to realise that being decent at sport jiu jitsu will give you a better chance than most other strategies in a very specific type of self-defence situation (one-on-one encounter with an unarmed attacker).

For almost every other scenario, it’s smarter to try and talk your way out of a situation or sometimes even run away.
For the self-defence zealots who would attack me for saying this: Please go and test your moves against a gang on the streets of South-Central LA – if they work, we can enter into a conversation.

Jiu-jitsu Times: I have heard you say that you are not content with the traditional “run around in circles, a few rolls and then learn a technique” approach to teaching and learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Your approach to teaching jiu-jitsu is more about concepts than learning specific techniques.
What types of innovations do you feel are a better way to teach and learn jiu-jitsu?

Nic Gregoriades: I really do believe that a combination of Attribute development, Conceptual understanding and Technical knowledge lead to the creation of the best possible jiu jitsu fighter.
I call this the A.C.T model and and speak about it in detail in the Black Belt Blueprint.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you give some advice for students of jiu-jitsu that worked for you in your training?
(a principle or training practice, motivational quote, tips on passing the guard etc.)

Nic Gregoriades: It’s vital to find a teacher who really cares about your progress.
You’ll know one when you see one – he will put his heart and soul into his teaching and not be sitting on his phone during the class.

This alone can make the difference between consistent progress and disillusionment.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you talk about your philosophy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu – training and life?
What do you try to teach to your students about the role of jiu-jitsu in their lives?

Nic Gregoriades: I think the most important part of jiu jitsu becomes self-evident to most students relatively quickly – the aspect of community that emerges – the ‘brotherhood’ that is so rare in today’s world – there’s no real reason for me to ‘teach’ that to anyone because they see and appreciate it very quickly themselves.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on?

Nic Gregoriades: Yes there are! My new podcast, Digital Communion, is growing quickly and I’m really enjoying the discussions that are emerging through it.

We also have some fantastic new jiu-jitsu products up at our online store, including our new Spirit of the Storm rashguard and Black Belt Buddha 2.0 T-shirt which I’m very proud of.

Video: Online MasterClass with Nic Gregoriades


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