Jahred Dell of Articulate BJJ is a grappler, editor, writer, fierce competitor, and content creator. A throwback renaissance man of the original kind. Usually super busy, he was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time and we got the opportunity to sit down and talk jiujitsu with one of the hardest working people on the scene.
1. Tell us a bit about Articulate BJJ and why you started it.
To be honest one day I just set up the blog, minimal forethought, minimal idea about what it was going to be or do… I’ve been writing for so long that I was just getting frustrated following the publishing chase which is near impossible without connections in NZ. I didn’t know what I was going to write about or how I was going to do it, but I needed to write out of habit so I just figured that this might be the best way to do it: I get my ideas down and if anyone read it, it was a bonus.
2. What do you hope to bring to the greater grappling community at large with it?
I’m still not really sure how to answer that. I’ve had a lot of people come to me and say how much something they read resounded. Or how much they related to something I said, and that’s honestly the most rewarding thing I’ve found. Sure I could sit here and talk about how I want people to recognise NZ as a serious powerhouse of grappling, but people are going to find that out with or without me writing about it. I like the process, some people like reading it. I’m stoked on that. From a journalism perspective, I’d love to be able to cover and report on big events like Polaris, ADCC, EBI etc. but obviously the geographic obstacles living in NZ hamper that a bit.
3. How do you deal with mental pressure and fears in big events? What advice would you give to first time competitors. or those who struggle with competition?
To be honest when I started I hated competing. I competed in a couple of tournaments at white belt and always ended up injured or just too fucked up. I started dreading them. There was a good 6 months as a blue belt where I didn’t compete and tried to justify it to myself and others in weird ways.Subconsciously, I knew I was just trying to find a way out of doing something that was challenging to my ego and confronting my ideas about how good or bad I was at jiu jitsu. I jumped back in and just set it in my mind that if I was serious about improving as a person and pursuing BJJ as more than just a hobby I would have to suck it up and just do it, regardless of how I felt. Now, five years later, I love competing, overseas or locally doesn’t even matter. I get to go out there and grapple, submit or get submitted doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy to do anything jiu jitsu related.
4. You’ve done a fair amount of travelling, training and competing abroad. How do you feel NZ jiujitsu stands up overall?
A friend of mine put it best: Grappling is the same everywhere. There are going to be guys anywhere that are exceptional, but personally I don’t believe that the level here is any less than anywhere I’ve been in the world.
There is no substitute for tough training, good training partners and good technique. We just have (less) people on PED’s lol.
5. With that in mind, what improvements do you feel could be made?
I’d just like to see people supporting NZ grapplers. Because if it’s not made of carbon fiber or doesn’t have a ball involved, the sport isn’t well recognized by anyone outside those who do it. Sports New Zealand, High Performance Sports NZ and other major bodies could get behind some seriously hard working and successful athletes and help NZ BJJ make a big impact on the world stage.
I’d also just like to see a bit less BS from within the community. Ninety percent of people in the BJJ community are cool, but there’s ten percent who suffer severely from tall poppy syndrome and hate the idea that someone who works hard deserves some positive support. Cut the tribalism, it doesn’t matter where a person trains when they’re competing internationally and representing NZ.
6. What does your weekly training schedule look like?
I hold down a full time teaching job, so I aim to get on the mats at least 6 times a week when school is in. Monday through Saturday. I’ll put any gym work I need to do (outside of competition prep) before or after a training session, but never at the cost of missing a session. When school is out, I train lunch and evenings, so 11 times a week for each term break? That’s the real killer though, you do nothing else except train and then get ready to train again.
7. How did you develop you leg lock game? Did it come intrinsically or were you specifically inspired by the current direction the meta game is progressing, along with the evolution of professional jiujitsu in nogi?
To be honest, it started at white belt. Because I was un-athletic when I started, I could only really work off my back, I’d lose every scramble or top position. I gravitated towards X guard, then Single Leg X… A Lot of guys don’t accept sweeps cleanly from those positions and will insist on trying to make life for the sweeper miserable. I was sweeping guys and landing in these weird positions where their legs were either in my hands or close to… I just started to wonder what would happen if I actually started pulling on their legs… The shock and horror was real when I realized people were scared of that. To some extent I was inspired as a blue belt by Garry Tonon and Eddie Cummings, despite them being smaller than me. Dean Lister at ADCC was a big one for me, even though I didn’t have a clue what was going on when I watched him dudes were just tapping to these weird as leg grabs?! It’s all been a process of discovery really. I started out with an open mind, so I just thought hey why would I NOT want to explore every possible part of the art?
8. With the constant evolution of jiujitsu, and pretty much everyone competing from regional up to the elite level becoming ever more dynamic and athletic, do you feel strength and conditioning is a prerequisite for anyone hoping to be a successful competitor?
Yes. In saying that there are a lot of misconceptions about what S&C actually is. I came from a clueless weight lifter/ gym rat mentality when I first started, but a good friend of mine who works in Sports Science clued me up really quickly. I think when everyone’s level of technique starts to grow, being able to exploit another facet of physical strength in a fight can make the difference between winning and losing. Never mind the benefits for injury prevention, training longevity, overall health etc.
9. You’ll be teaching a seminar coming at Axis BJJ here in Christchurch. What are you hoping to impart/teach most of all?
I think the key thing I want people to take away is understanding the process you have to go through to implement ANY technique into your game, not just specifically leg locks. The process has taken me 4 years of training, and to be honest I’m still a journeyman. I’m looking forward to working techniques with everyone there that will not just help their game, but conceptually drive them to explore other facets of the way they structure their game.
10. Straight ankle or Estima lock?
Straight Ankle. Every time.
11. If money were no object, how would you proceed?
Train, Write, Travel and Compete. Not necessarily in that order.
12. You can train with anyone in the entire world, for free, for a year. But you can only pick one person. Who, where and why?
Tough one. Probably At Renzo’s, the Blue Basement with John Danaher, I think I need to see for myself the level of Psy-Ops he is running there.
Kurt Osiander at Empire BJJ comes a close second because I know some guys there from travels.