Photo courtesy Lloyd Irvin.
Let’s start this week’s show with a couple of questions. Have you trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu for very long? Have you been on the internet while you’ve trained jiu-jitsu? If you can say yes to both of those questions, I am guessing you are familiar with Lloyd Irvin, the Maryland-based black belt who bears legitimate claim to being the founder of the highest performing group of American BJJ competitors that is also lead by an American. Consider the team results from the 2010 BJJ World Championship: of the five teams listed, Team Lloyd Irvin is the only team present of 100% American origin, capturing 1rst place in the juvenile divisions and third place in the womens divisions.
While Team Lloyd Irvin’s results in jiu-jitsu competition make them a hot topic, Lloyd Irvin has been working hard over the years to spread the word about his efforts on the internet, making him well known off the mats as well. Our show this week features a long conversation about who Lloyd Irvin is. We’ll learn how he got started in BJJ, how Team Lloyd Irvin rose to its high position in the world of competitive Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and of course, we’ll hear his thoughts on how others may perceive his marketing.
We will also hear from Brasa Jiu-Jitsu’s Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros, courtesy of FightWorks Podcast contributor and Next Edge Academy owner Bruce Hoyer. Comprido’s a former BJJ world champion and a returning guest here on our humble BJJ radio show. We thought we’d bring him back to discuss his recent work, including coaching UFC champion Brock Lesnar to a submission victory recently. (Thank you Bruce!)
Team Lloyd Irvin purple belt Tracey Goodell on her way to becoming the women’s purple absolute division gold medalist at the 2010 BJJ World Championship.
TRANSCRIPTION OF LLOYD IRVIN CONVERSATION
FightWorks Podcast: Ok family, we are on the line this week with a name who has been around for quite some time, and if you’ve touched the internet in the past eight or ten years, you’ve seen the name Lloyd Irvin when looking for jiu jitsu online. So I’m very pleased after all this time to welcome Lloyd Irvin to the FightWorks Podcast. Lloyd, how are you?
Lloyd Irvin: I’m doing great, how are you doing today?
FightWorks Podcast: I’m doing great too. Lloyd, I was thinking about this conversation together the other day, and it kinda reminded me of when, on those internet forums for jiu jitsu, somebody says “oh, so-and-so just got promoted to a new belt.” The first thing everybody says is “long overdue,” right? [laughs] That’s kinda how I feel about this interview. But, we’ve got you now, so the first thing we always have to do is to allow folks to introduce themselves, in their own words. So, who is Lloyd Irvin?
Lloyd Irvin:Lloyd Irvin is just this guy who saw Royce Gracie fight in the UFC, UFC 1, and fell in the love with the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu, then went on a mission to learn the art. My journey steered me to my instructor Leo Dalla, but unfortunately after six months of training, Leo Dalla had to move back to Brazil, and I was left alone. So basically I went on a journey by myself, trying to figure this whole Brazilian jiu jitsu thing out.
Deep down, when all is said and done, I’m just a guy who loves the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu, both on the MMA side and the Brazilian jiu jitsu side.
FightWorks Podcast: So, talk about those early days: how did you find Leo Dalla? Give us a time frame, because back in the time you’re talking about, there was not a lot of action back in the Northern Virgina, DC, Maryland area, right?
Lloyd Irvin: No, not at all. I actually moved out to California to try and learn jiu jitsu, and when I got out there, it was super expensive. I had to come back for some personal reasons, and when I got back to Maryland, I met this guy named Brian Welch at a karate tournament. He had a Gracie Jiu Jitsu shirt on, and I went up to him, I talked to him, and he was telling me how they travelled out to place called Maxercise in Philadelphia, where they have a group that meet two times a week.
So I was like, cool. They gave me a number for Maxercise and I called up there. I’ll never forget, the first day I was so excited, but the person that answered me, they were so rude, it was ridiculous. So I was like “eh, I’m not training there.” So I went to train with this guy named Brian Welch, and everything I had learned from watching the UFC videos and mimicking the UFC videos, I was tapping them and submitting them.
But that was my first time really rolling with somebody that had been doing jiu jitsu. After that, the next Sunday Brian Welch called me and said “man, I found this school, this real Brazilian teaching jiu jitsu, it’s called Yamasaki-Dalla Academy, in Rockville, Maryland.” He gave me the number, and I’ll never forget: I called the number probably fifteen or twenty times, hoping somebody would answer, on Sunday. I woke up at eight o’clock in the morning that Monday, calling and calling.
I finally got in touch with the owner of the school at 3PM, and he told me that they come out to teach class about six o’clock. I borrowed my girlfriend’s car and I drove out to Rockville, then I sat there for like two hours waiting. I’ll never forget, Mario Yamasaki walked in, he had his Bad Boy gear on. I had seen the Bad Boy logo from Renzo Gracie fighting in the MARS event, so I’d locked into it. It was like Mario walked in slow motion.
I said “how are you doing sir, my name is,” introducing myself, and he was like “oh, we have class at six o’clock, just come train.” So my first day, I trained there and met Dalla, paid my hundred dollars for unlimited training, and the rest was history.
FightWorks Podcast: I wonder, because at the moment it doesn’t seem like anything significant, to the Yamasaki guys, it’s just another student coming in the door, another phone call. But this one phone call, this one student, has now turned into a major player in jiu jitsu on the East Coast and probably the global scene too: you guys have been doing great at the big tournaments.
Lloyd Irvin: Yeah, most definitely: the guys in the team have been doing really well.
FightWorks Podcast: Did you study anything else before jiu jitsu? I know you kinda alluded to a karate tournament.
Lloyd Irvin: At the time, I went to the karate tournament because I was studying silat, I had done silat for a while. I started taekwondo and basic karate when I was three years old, I boxed when I was eight years old. So, I’d been involved in karate and combat sports my entire life.
When I went to late high school, going into college, I got away from martial arts entirely, I was playing sports. I got back into martial arts after seeing the UFC. My frat brother, Dwayne Johnson, called me late at night, he had a video I had to see, and it ended up being the UFC.
From that point on, I had a mission. I started jiu jitsu a little late, conceptually, I was twenty six when I started. So I tried to make the best out of it.
FightWorks Podcast: So you started under Leo Dalla, and then, a lot like some of the students you’ve produced at least my memory is, that you went through the belts pretty quickly yourself, right?
Lloyd Irvin: Yeah, I went through the belts pretty quickly, but like I say, I think I could have done it even quicker had I had an instructor over the top of me correcting my mistakes, because like I said, after six months of training, I never had an instructor over the top of me, with me every day. I basically went through this path by myself.
I’ve never had a student, throughout my journey, who could beat me, so I’m always like the hammer. These guys now, they have the ability when they’re in the room, everyone is tough, everyone is getting tapped, no matter who. JT is getting tapped, Fowler is getting tapped, everyone in the room. These guys have it so good, I’m kinda jealous, because they have an environment I wish I could have been in.
FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, let’s talk about that: this wasn’t on my list of questions, but some people say there is an amount of time that is the “right” time to go through the belts. There are examples of people who do it faster, but is there such thing as too fast?
Lloyd Irvin: Too fast depends on the person that is in the situations, scenarios. It all depends on the coach too. There’s a “too fast” where there are some people who are promoting people where they haven’t proved anything in competition results, they haven’t proved anything in skill level results. Some people are promoting their friends when they perhaps shouldn’t be promoted, that starts putting a bad light on certain promotions.
Me, I’m hard on promotions, super hard, but if a person deserves it, I believe that they shouldn’t be held back, and I don’t hold them back. It is a real grey area there.
FightWorks Podcast: It’s a grey area, which always means that it is always good for conversation, right? [laughs]
Lloyd Irvin: Definitely [laughs]
FightWorks Podcast: Recently you’ve had some folks, like Tracey Goodell, just recently: tell people a little bit about her promotion.
Lloyd Irvin: Tracey, she went from blue belt to brown belt in a thirty day period. She had been injured for a while, she hadn’t trained that much and wasn’t able to compete, but I think it was towards the end of 2008 or early 2009, she just started competing, she had some success, she had some losses, but like I said, she had been focusing. We had been working specific systems. She moved from Hawaii to train with me, she worked at the school, and she was on a mission. She’s dead serious, dead focused.
A lot of people come and say they are, but very few people are. She’s one of the people that is. I have this thing called the Grappler Phenomenon, that when – let me use Atos for an example – a lot of people, I just had the Mendes brothers at my school, and a lot of people say, “Atos, Atos, Atos.”
But a lot of people don’t understand that the Mendes brothers are in their ninth year of training, they’ve been training nine years non-stop, consistently in their system, in their process. For those that have read Outliers and Blink and all these books, they’ll understand that process. Now, they’re seeing the fruits of their labour.
So with Tracey being in the system, it is not anything miraculous, really, it’s just all the stars and moons are aligning for her right now. We’ve been working on her overall game, her ‘A’ game, her competition game, her practice, and probably in the last six months, she’s been on an explosion, meteoric rise right now.
It all lined up. It just so happened she was injury free, she was going through tournaments, and it all worked out. She got to play her ‘A’ game, and she was beyond tough in these positions.
FightWorks Podcast: One of the things that some folks would say is a workable solution to early competition for the lower belts, white, blue, maybe even purple, they would say you can get by with just a few really good tricks in your bag. If you’re really good at a few things, you’re probably going to do great at white, blue, maybe purple, for a bit.
At that point of course, it then starts getting more complicated. [laughs] You need to have a more well-developed game. Some people would say when Ryan Hall was with you, he had his trademark sort of thing. JT – at least from the outside, superficially – has a few different patented realms he is known for as well.
Is that on purpose, or is that just kind of coincidence? Talk about that for us.
Lloyd Irvin: It is all on purpose, for sure, but at the same time, it is nothing special. For example, I do crazy studies with Rhadi Ferguson, like at the Olympic level for judo, the world class people have a maximum of two to four different throws that they do. Then there is another percentage that have only two to three throws, and then there are some who only have two throws.
Within that, you have different grips, different transitions, different gripping sequences to add them up. Just because they have those one or two throws that you see in a tournament, does that mean that when you’re playing with them, they can’t throw you with every single judo throw in the book, or if someone came out to film them, they could show you a hundred different throws, and look fantastic at them, but that has nothing to do with their competition throws.
If you look at Brazilian jiu jitsu – and we can do this right here, right now – if I say Pe de Pano, what is his move?
FightWorks Podcast:Back in the day, I guess it would be the triangle.
Lloyd Irvin: Period. Omoplata to triangle. If we say Margarida, what is his move?
FightWorks Podcast: I would say the takedowns.
Lloyd Irvin: Takedowns, knee cut across, knee on belly, baseball choke, cross choke from the knee on belly. We could name each and every name, every single high-level jiu jitsu guy, and it is going to come down to two to four move max that they do in the majority, but that has absolutely nothing to do with what they know overall.
But what you see in the game is their game. When I study these high level people in jiu jitsu, high level people in judo, and you look back, Pe de Pano was doing omoplata triangle as a blue, purple, brown, black. Fabricio Werdum, blue, purple, brown, black. Everyone does the same thing: you have to get good at some thing.
So, you can get good at something later, or you can get good at something now. For example, all my students, I have a chart, that has a list of the highest percentage submissions, transitions, set-ups in Brazilian jiu jitsu history, looking at all the world championships, looking at all the Pan Ams, looking at all the high level black belt tournaments. What transitions, submissions and sequences work the majority of the time.
We work only those things. So if you look at our guys, yeah, look at Tracey, she does triangle, look at Ryan Hall, he does triangle, look at some of my new guys, they do kimura. Yeah! We do kimura, we do Brabo, we do triangle, these are what we do, we take backs, but these are high percentage things, whether it is white belt, blue belt or black belt.
Now my guys that you see in the tournaments that are being successful with them right now, they’re successful with them because that’s their ‘A’ game. When they go to tournaments like the Worlds, the Brazilian Nationals, win, lose or draw, as long as they go there and do their best, I’m happy with them. But they’re not going out there to play their ‘B’ game.
When we go to Grapplers Quest or to NAGA – not saying that Grapplers quest or NAGA is like downgraded or anything – but these are tournaments that we have to go out and try stuff that is in our practice game plan, we go out and try stuff. For example, I have a guy named DJ Jackson, he just got silver in the Worlds, he lost to his team mate Frank Camacho. Well, his game is to take people down, pass guard, kimura them, but the last four or five tournaments – like we went to Ohio, we did a couple of Grappler Quests and NAGAs, went to the New York Open, and he pulled guard.
You would never see DJ on his back, pulling guard willingly at a major tournament, but at these other what we consider minor tournaments, work-through tournaments, yeah you pull guard. Could he have pulled guard and lost because his guard is not that good yet? Yes, but that is part of experience, we’re not worried about that because we have a bigger goal, the end goal is the major tournaments. At some point, you have to go out and test your weaker areas.
In the majors, people are saying that my guys are just doing this, just doing that: yeah, that’s their ‘A’ game. If people stop it, then people will see their second, third or fourth move, but until that happens, you’re not going to see it. You know, it is a lack of knowledge.
FightWorks Podcast: At the beginning of this part of the conversation, I think you said you guys had reverse engineered and done studies on the most high percentage moves in high end competitions throughout history. Is that safe to say?
Lloyd Irvin: Most definitely. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to model success.
FightWorks Podcast: Can I get a copy of that? [laughs] Because that’s a lot of work and that’s interesting information.
Lloyd Irvin: Oh most definitely. This is probably the first time I ever put that out publically, but a lot of people are talking about stuff they have absolutely no idea about. The people I surround myself with, the stuff that we’re doing on the coaching level, the education level, the studying level, the research level, very few people even understand that, that this stuff is around and people are doing this.
FightWorks Podcast: We’ve talked about a name or two from your guys already, so while I’ve got you, one of the things we said, and it is clear, you’re known for developing high end talent quickly. Is there a secret?
Lloyd Irvin: I believe there is a secret. I always say this: when we were kids, and someone came to you, and said, “hey, can you keep a secret?” You’d say, “oh, yeah!” What were they going to tell you? What they are going to tell you is something that you don’t know, so if I know something that you don’t know, conceptually, to you, it’s a secret.
I’m not saying that there is no-one in the world that knows it, but it is a secret. So, we have secrets: we’re not saying we have a ‘secret technique’ that no-one else is doing, but there is a secret to our process. I had a sit-down talk with Rafael Mendes about this, and he said, “yeah, I don’t think there is a secret.”
I said, “man, how many people do you think there are who are doing your process,” because we went through his process, everything that he was doing. I asked “Do you think that is a major factor Atos’ success,” and he said “yeah.”
So I said, “then if no-one else is doing it, then it’s a secret. No one else is doing it.” So, I believe we have a secret, we have a secret process, we have secret things that we do and people put into this process. It doesn’t even have anything to do with jiu jitsu. It has something to do with learning at a rapid pace, it has something to do with learning at a higher education, it has to do with much greater things that don’t have anything to do with jiu jitsu.
If you look at sports science and the development, you know, different countries have government funding for research and development and trying to create the ultimate athlete. These are different things, so I’m just taking these things that are outside of my industry that I work in, the highest level in athletics and sports, and bring them back to the small jiu jitsu industry.
Jiu jitsu really is like a baby. You have people, instructors, that have no education in sports, physics, physiology, or anything like that. They’re still running the warm-ups, like, for example, the jiu jitsu warm up, you run around, run around, start doing flips, doing all these different things. Well that is fine if you’re twenty three years old, but if a physical therapist came in and saw that warm-up, they would think “what on earth is this?”
That’s because you have to warm the body up, stretch the body first, before you do the flips and so forth. You won’t know if you’re twenty five, thirty years old, but when you have a thirty eight year old student – I can’t do that stuff anymore. Granted, I used to do the same thing, because I followed what I was taught. Later on, as I got more education, I made changes.
FightWorks Podcast: I’m glad you brought that up, because that is another great segue into something I had written down here. The state of jiu jitsu as it is today, the experience of jiu jitsu, the industry of jiu jitsu, as we’ve discussed in this call, you’re kind of a dreamer. You have ideas about where you want you and your guys to be, so way back when, I’m guessing there were some assumptions you made about where jiu jitsu would be down the line. What is your opinion on the state of jiu jitsu right now?
Lloyd Irvin: As far as would it be an Olympic sport, or what specifically?
FightWorks Podcast: Let’s say development, and reaching a bigger audience, making jiu jitsu bigger and more accessible to everybody.
Lloyd Irvin: I think as far as making it bigger to everybody it’s going to be hard, because conceptually to a general user, viewer, jiu jitsu is considered boring. Even like judo, when they tried to make sport judo and they tried to make the ground not as long, so you’re standing up quicker, because viewers like knock outs. In MMA, they want to see knock outs, because people want to see people getting punished, they want to see, for judo, people getting thrown.
But in jiu jitsu, it’s a ground art, so unless you’re going to start standing people up, the general viewer is not going to be interested in people just rolling on the ground. If you look at the UFC, which has a major, major industry, people are getting on board – if they’re on the ground for thirty seconds, one minute, not doing anything, not punching each other, they’re booing.
So as far jiu jitsu being able to go past that and becoming mainstream, I don’t see that ever happening.
FightWorks Podcast: That’s a pretty bold statement. Some people out there would say they hope it is just a matter of time and education, you have to be exposed to something a little bit longer to be able to appreciate its nuances. Do you think that’s impossible?
Lloyd Irvin: Well, think about this. Everything is about stats, so what is the closest art we have to us: it’s judo. Judo has been in the Olympics for how long, it has ‘x’ exposure, they have the barrier of entry into the sport of judo, financially, you can go to clubs for free, you can go to clubs for thirty dollars, fifty dollars a month. It is on TV, you have high level people, world championships, it’s in almost every country, and they can’t do it.
One of the biggest things they always talk about in judo is trying to decrease the amount of ground time so they can get the fight back up to their feet so viewers want them to do throws. When Mike Swain tried to do sport judo and put it on TV, it was all about the throws. I just don’t believe it is going to hit mainstream, wide viewership.
But the people who love it, love it, they’re obsessed with it.
FightWorks Podcast: Well yeah, I think all of our listening audience would agree with that, I mean we’re examples of it, right?
Lloyd Irvin: Most definitely.
FightWorks Podcast: Speaking about the future, how much time do you spend on your kid’s program?
Lloyd Irvin: Lots, lots. More time, energy, effort and resources than any other program we have in our school, especially the jiu jitsu, because if you read the book Outliers and understand what that book is about, and at the same time you look over the history of Brazil and some of the top Brazilian jiu jitsu players, the majority of them came from a kid’s program.
You can see back when Leo Viera was a yellow belt, orange belt. Team Lloyd Irvin, I feel like we’re in the beginning phase. Once my junior kids start turning sixteen and seventeen, I believe we’ll have a whole new army of competitors. Some you’ll lose, going to college, some you’ll lose to different things, but like I said, focusing on them, if you have forty that start out and ten that come through high level, you may keep six.
So imagine having six more JTs and Fowlers, DJs, all these guys that we have, Traceys, on the floor. We have a girl right now, thirteen years old, that is winning blue belt female divisions. One time, we had a guy tell us that we need to move her to purple belt, because she’s sandbagging. How can a thirteen year old be sandbagging? She is not even allowed to have a blue belt for three years.
FightWorks Podcast: [laughs] Right. So the kids sound pretty important. What are your thoughts, because here is something that I think, again, most people listening would agree with: when we hear the name Lloyd Irvin, one of the first things we hear is jiu jitsu, but one of the other things that always comes to mind quickly is marketing.
You are, hands down I think most people would say, one of jiu jitsu’s most successful marketers. Can you talk about your style of marketing?
Lloyd Irvin: What aspect would you like to talk about?
FightWorks Podcast: Well, I know there are people listening right now, some people are big fans, and there is always a vocal minority of anything who jump up and down and say they’re not happy about something. There are people who say, “I don’t like the way Lloyd markets.” So maybe that is a jumping off point, that some of the listeners right now would like me to ask you [laughs].
Lloyd Irvin: Yeah. This is a fact: my style of marketing is the most effective marketing on Earth. The problem is, there have been criminals in past history that have used this style of marketing. So we have a thing that we always say, that good marketing can sell a non-existent product, whereas bad marketing can’t sell free gold.
Now if you think about this, let’s use the Grappling Blueprint. There are people all throughout the entire world that have heard about the Grappling Blueprint, ok? Talking about it on forums and so forth. At the same time, not one single person on Earth has seen the Grappling Blueprint, outside of people close to me.
So conceptually, the Grappling Blueprint could not exist – it does – but it could not exist, at the same time, this type of marketing has the entire world talking about it, knowing about it. Now, that’s when you come to a term, ‘snake oil salesman’. See, there were people that were using this highly effective style of marketing to sell what they call snake oil.
It was oil, or liniments, or stuff that was supposed to cure different diseases and problems that it did not. It was completely fake, it was water mixed with oil, or whatever it was, and they were selling it using this type of marketing. That where the term ‘snake oil salesman’ came from: they were circus people, going from town to town, selling this stuff as cure-alls, shingles, all this different type of stuff.
So, now you also have people who are spending a hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars, to market products online or on television. If you are going to spend a hundred million dollars on marketing a product, would you want to use the most effective style of marketing, or the least effective? I’m sure I know what you answer would be, if your hundred million dollars was in jeopardy.
At the same time, these people that use this style of marketing are putting this style of marketing behind their marketing dollars, so on infomercials, selling stuff that doesn’t really work, going after people because they want to lose weight, these pills, potions, lotions that won’t work. It gets a bad connotation with that. Other people have sold things with this style of marketing that were looked at as fakes and frauds and so forth.
But, this is my point here, my position is this. If you are using this style of marketing to sell something that does not work, that’s fake, then you are a criminal. But, if you are using this style of marketing to sell something that does work, that if people use it as you prescribe then they will get the results that you state, then you’re not.
So people say “oh, he’s making claims,” but if you look at what I’ve claimed per se, like “black belt in three and a half years,” it says “discover how to get your black belt in three and a half years just like Lloyd did.” What that whole thing was about, the Grappling Blueprint and the whole thing I’m showing you is what I did. All my products, all my drilling tapes, everything that I put out, is stuff that we do. It is not fake.
If you were to come in my school and drill with us, you would see the drilling that is on my DVDs. If you came to my school and looked at our kimura set-up, it is the way we do it on our DVDs. I believe in what I’m doing, and I believe in the products, I believe in the system we’re doing, I believe at the same time that there are people throughout the world that don’t have access to instructor.
People who have access to instructors, their instructors will believe whatever they believe, brainwash their students to believe whatever they believe, I couldn’t care less about them. What I do care about is people like me who are somewhere, love jiu jitsu, want to learn jiu jitsu, and at the same time don’t have an instructor, don’t have pure guidance.
I have people on my list that have instructors and aren’t getting good guidance. What happens with Lloyd Irvin, understand this: there were no DVDs, there were no tapes out like there is now when I came up. If I had access to this stuff, the YouTube and the DVDs and the products, when I was coming up, I could have done it light years faster.
I’m out here figuring stuff on my own, piecing it from videos and stuff. So yeah, I am a shameless promoted. My job is to promote what I do, and whatever I do, I’m trying to be the best. It’s like what P Diddy talks about, everyday you go to sleep you’re in the game, and you’re either winning or you’re losing. I don’t like to lose, so if I’m going to market my products and services, I’m going to find out what is the most effective marketing techniques in the world.
The way I first learned about this was my martial arts school. I had a good martial arts school, I had a good martial arts team, I was a good martial artist, I was passionate, I believed I could help anyone that came to train with me, but I couldn’t keep my doors open. I was failing.
So I decided to go out and learn how to market my business. I had already mastered the martial arts, I was good at that, but I didn’t know how to market. I went to college, at Bowie State University, I have a marketing degree, business administration with a concentration in marketing, and what I learned in college was going to make me have to close my doors.
It wasn’t until I went out and did more research, learned other skill sets, that allowed me to do that. I was like, “wow, this is great.” Even in my martial arts school – if you think I promote hard in the grappling world, I do that everywhere, but in my martial arts school, it is even worse, because I believe that people who come to my school, that want to learn jiu jitsu, can learn good jiu jitsu, and will become good if they put in the time and dedication. If they come to MMA, they have those abilities too.
There are lots of other schools out here right now, like karate schools, paying $3,000 to join somebody’s MMA association and now they’re saying they’re MMA schools, and they have a thousand students in taekwondo, so they have money to market. It’s the same thing: great marketing can sell a non-existent product whereas bad marketing can’t sell free gold.
But if you have the gold, you need to do everything in your power to market. I market hard, I’m shameless, I couldn’t care less, and I’m reaching 200,000 plus people on our email list. The people that have problems with it, they’re such a minority it doesn’t even matter.
FightWorks Podcast: Lloyd, you just predicted another question that I had on the list, sitting in front of me right now. I spend a lot of time online, for the show and otherwise, and one of my questions was, I can’t help but ask, how big is that email list? I didn’t even know if you’d answer [laughs].
Lloyd Irvin: It’s over 200,000, active. Of course, the open is not that 200,000. I’ve had a lot of subscribers, there’s different types, but I’m always testing different things. So if for example on my fourth or fifth email sequence – the emails go out in a sequence – I see the opt out rate go up a little bit, I’ll go back into that sequence and see what that email was talking about, and then changed it up a little bit.
I had one, probably about four months ago, after email number seven, the opt out rate spiked. So I went back in to see what it was talking about, and the only thing I changed was that I gave away a free video. I opened up the email with the free video, “here’s a video for you, please check this out, blah blah blah.” After that, it dropped like 40%, it was incredible. I’m always tweaking different things.
I have different ways that people come to me. Some people come to me, they want to learn back takes, so they come through my email list just wanting to learn about back attacks, so they only hear about back attacks. People who came to me through the Grappling Blueprint is like a catch-all, so I don’t know what they’re really interested in: I don’t know if they’re judo, I don’t know if they’re taekwondo, I don’t know what they’re interested in, so I’m talking about lots of different things.
When you’re talking and communicating with people online, if you’re not talking about what they want to hear, then they’re going to tune out. So that email list is a little bit different than the specialised lists I have. If you’re a beginner, we have people coming into the BJJ Made Easy portal, and they are beginners. Everything pushing you there is like “are you a beginner, if you’re not a beginner, leave this page.” The opt-out rate there is almost non-existent, because everyone is a beginner and the information I’m giving them is greatly beneficial. It’s a work in process.
FightWorks Podcast: Well Lloyd, I know you’ve got a huge day ahead of you, and I told you I’d jump on the phone with you for a half hour, so I don’t want to abuse your time.
Lloyd Irvin: Nah, you can keep going, I’m hyped. Let’s go and hear whatever they want to hear.
FightWorks Podcast: [laughs] Right. Ok, then let me ask you a couple more questions and we’ll let you go. You’ve got a set of names that you’ve developed that are real successful, real popular, and I know there are more on the way. Real quick, can you refresh our listening audience’s memory about that set and what they’re known for, then maybe we can jump into other stuff?
Lloyd Irvin: You name the set, because I have a crop of killers right now that are in the making and already out there. We have guys, like one guy, he won the Worlds this year, he finished everybody, purple belt, he has six or seven fights, tapped everyone with a triangle, but no-one knows about him yet.
I have other guys, I have lots of guys, like another guy who just won his weight division at purple belt, heavyweight, he submitted all of his opponents except one: no-one knows about him yet. One thing I’ve found through a learning process, when I send out videos and press that send button, people immediately become world-known. Depending on where you’re at mentally, depending on where you’re at, there are pros and cons.
Tracey, she gets so many Facebook requests, so many emails, it’s ridiculous: it’s kinda overwhelming for her. Before I started letting the world know about her, we sat down and had our talk, the same way I had a talk with JT before, because sometimes, when you make somebody famous, people start getting in their ear, saying things and it can be bad.
When reality is they are only a blue belt or purple belt, they need to focus and stay in the process, reach the goals of the team. For different reasons, there are a lot of guys I have decided not to promote and let the world know: let them just stay in Camp Springs in Maryland, on the floor, just training, training, training and just work.
So that’s one thing I’ve gotten away from, over the last probably eighteen months or so. Tracey is the last person I’ve done recently. Her story is amazing, I’m telling you, her story is absolutely amazing, the sprout that she’s on right now. A lot of people are on it, like JT Torres is on it right now, but Tracey, to do what she’s done – she won eight matches in her division, all submissions, she won all her matches in the open, all submissions, except one. The one she didn’t finish, the time ended in a full-blown triangle.
You have to hear her story, because she’s passionate about jiu jitsu, she wants to be the best, she’s had lots of trials and tribulations, so I’m super duper happy for her. I want the world to know about her.
FightWorks Podcast: I guess historically we would probably put on that list, start with Mike Fowler, then maybe Ryan Hall, then JT and now her, right?
Lloyd Irvin: Yeah, most definitely. We have a whole new young crop coming up, all of them are good. Just to touch on one other thing, say like Ryan, and JT with the back take, and Fowler. Ryan, he was known for the triangle, but he was still developing his other side. Ryan wasn’t bad from on top, he was developing his on top game. JT pulls guard, he’s on top, he has a well rounded game. Same thing with Fowler.
Tracey right now, she pulls guard, goes for submissions. Her top game is not as good as her guard game, but if she gets a cross side, left cross side, right, it’s a tremendous amount of pressure. If she’s open guard, reverse De la Riva, on left side she has a little problem right now, on the right side she is pretty good. Regular De la Riva she does really well, closed guard she doesn’t do that well.
I got an email, “why do you tell your students game, show this video, are you scared about people scouting you?” No, we’re not. Some people believe that, but I don’t believe that. The thing is, the number one people that are scouting you are people in your own class, your team mats. If they know what you’re doing, and they’re working to shut down your techniques in class, our job is to constantly work and improve and grind it out.
Some of the students may feel this way, but it doesn’t matter, because you can watch us all you want. I put this stuff out there, here, look at it. We’re watching you, you’re watching us, but one thing it does is make us hungrier and more determined to continue to make set-ups. You watch us, you watch JT in the 2010 Worlds, the next time, whoever fights him next, it’s not going to be the same JT. The set-ups are going to be different, the variations are going to be different, the transitions are going to be different.
The ones that won’t be different, they’re going to be faster and have different combinations, you know? There is a lot to this, and that’s why you can see people making different rapid improvement, because of the work that they’re putting in.
FightWorks Podcast: Well Lloyd, let’s go ahead and wrap it up. I still think we have some things to talk about, but maybe that’s good for another time. Let me give you a chance: is there anything you want to say to our audience out there, the proverbial Mighty 600,000?
Lloyd Irvin: I’d like to thank everyone who supports us, the emails that I get, it’s amazing. I love jiu jitsu. Deep down, all this Master Lloyd Irvin and all this Grappling Renegade, deep down I’m just a guy who saw Royce Gracie in the UFC, fighting, and I wanted to learn the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu. I was forced into opening my own school because my instructor left me alone, and he basically told me I could start my own school and do the best I can, and it ended up all working out.
I just love the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu. The stuff that we’re doing, the stuff that I’m putting out from my emails, is real stuff. I’m not sitting here hiding stuff, I want to help people that want extra help, I want to show people what we’re doing.
So people that tune in, even people who hate the marketing: please man, look past the marketing, because if there’s a guy who has a million dollars to give you, and he comes to your house and he’s wearing an ugly green suit with ketchup all over it, and you don’t like the way he’s dressed, are you not going to take the million dollars from him because you don’t like him or he’s a black guy or an Asian guy and you’re a racist, you’re not going to take the money?
Of course you are. So for those that have the ability, look past the marketing. If you hate the marketing, look past the marketing, because what is after the marketing and behind the marketing is real stuff, and the results don’t lie.
FightWorks Podcast: Well said [laughs]
Lloyd Irvin: One other thing: if they’re not on my email list, go to www.thegrapplingblueprint.com
FightWorks Podcast: And that’s how they would get on the list?
Lloyd Irvin: That’s how they can get on my mass list. I have so many other lists that it’s crazy.
FightWorks Podcast: Alright Lloyd, well we really appreciate you coming on the show, here on the FightWorks Podcast. Like I said, it was overdue, and I expect – in fact, I know – it won’t be the last time I talk to you. We look forward to the next time.
Lloyd Irvin: Alright – thank you.