Verbal Grappling Episode 2: RECAP

The evening of Sunday October 4th 2015 marked the second installment of a collaborative project between Jiu Jitsu Times and The BJJ Hour Podcast, The Verbal Grappling Podcast.  In keeping with its concept of being a controversial program discussing the controversies and various disagreements throughout the jiu jitsu community, this episode ventured into the conflict surrounding Houston Cottrell, the 17 year old blue belt Gracie Academy Certified Training Center owner/head instructor.

If you’re interested, watch the episode here, trust me it’s really good:

Here’s my recap of the episode:

We had a second guest on the episode, well respected and vocal black belt Josh Mancuso.  Josh made a point of dictating the pace of the discussion, frequently interrupting Houston or not letting Houston illustrate his points.  However, if one breaks the conversation down into its important components, both sides of the debate become clear.

On Josh’s side of the argument.

1. Houston is too young to understand the intricacies required of an academy owner being “Just a blue belt”. Josh’s sentiment is that in spite of his own time teaching as a blue belt, blue belts are not qualified or prepared to run a BJJ academy.

2. Houston should be focusing on his own growth rather than building others up The Gracie Combatives program does not lend sufficient expertise to Houston to allow him the necessary understanding of Jiu Jitsu to effectively teach it.

3. Houston should cross train, and the reality is that even if his program is completely disparate from other available programs it is his responsibility if he is in fact a life long martial artist he shouldn’t be sequestered within a specific program

These points were made and then reiterated frequently throughout the debate.

On Houston’s side of things:

1. Houston’s age is irrelevant.  He has adults present at all times and does not run the show alone.  He has been training for 6 years and has been personally vetted by Rener and Ryron Gracie.  They gave him his blue belt as well as his certification.

2. Speaking of certification: Houston DOES NOT teach sport BJJ. He was certified to teach a specific set of programs, geared entirely towards street self-defense. Houston runs a Level 1 training center which offers specific entry level programs, such as Gracie Combatives and Gracie Bullyproof, to mirror what is taught at the Gracie Academy in Torrance.

3. Houston is not interested in learning the kind of BJJ that is being taught at other schools in his area. Through regular visits to black-belt-operated Gracie Certified Training Centers and study through Gracie University, he is committed to learning and advancing through the Gracie Academy curriculum.

We applaud Houston for coming on Verbal Grappling knowing that he would come up against stiff opposition and will follow-up on many of the points discussed throughout the podcast in future iterations.

For more information about Houston’s academy check out For information about Josh’s check out


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