Our guest for the second installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions, is arguably the most outspoken BJJ persona; none other than Kurt Osiander.
“Kurt Osiander is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, a grade he achieved training under Ralph Gracie’s tutelage. Osiander is one of the cult heroes in the BJJ community, having been an active competitor since the mid 1990′s, Kurt Osiander’s straight forward personality and witty comments expressed in his video blog (Kurt Osiander’s Move of the Week) have given us well recognized phrases such as “shut up and train” and “you f****d up a long time ago”, which turned the Ralph Gracie Academy instructor into one of the most beloved personalities in the sport especially within the YouTube generation.” – via BJJ heroes
Below is one of our favorite Kurt Osiander videos that we like to use when describing his prolific character (as we mentioned earlier, Kurt is a tad on the outspoken side, so be aware that you may come across a few expletives in his videos).
WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?
Kurt Osiander: I started about 1993. A friend of mine from high school, Cesar Gracie, came back from Brazil. In LA he showed me stuff on the front porch of my old house and I was like, “What are you doing?” and he said, “It’s my family’s martial art.”
I’m like “Show me something”, and he showed me the Mata Leao (Rear Naked Choke). I said, “I have to learn this s**t.” After that as soon as I could, we started training in a friend of mine’s living room, moved all of his furniture, put down some gymnastics mats and killed each other before the academy opened up. In the early days, the first academy was over here in Pleasant Hills, over here right in the suburbs, out of the city. That was the first academy, and it got so busy so fast, that we had Ralph come out. Back then I got my blue belt through them, and they opened up a second location in 1996 and that’s when I started to train exclusively with Ralph. The rest is history. In 1998, San Francisco opened up and I was posted here.
WBBJJ: What should White Belts do more of? Less of?
Kurt Osiander: Lower belts should be doing a lot of basics. Because if you notice, when guys that are pretty fancy get stuck in a very basic position, they don’t know how to get out. It’s because they never find themselves there. And when they do find someone who can put them there, they’re f****d. As a white belt, blue belt and up until this day, I always do my basics and then I drill. I drill a lot. I drill a lot of moves. Different moves on different days. I do both sides and I drill for about an hour with the class and then we spar. I was talented at other sports, when I started I was really talented at soccer, so I came from an athletic background and my Dad always told me, “you can outwork talent.” So in my experience with Jiu Jitsu, I got good, but you know. I wasn’t one of those natural guys that got really good. I worked really, really, really hard and to this day I work really, really, really hard to be as good as the really talented guys.
WBBJJ: What should lower belts be doing less of?
Kurt Osiander: Juice. They should probably not do steroids. They should probably not be worried about the really fancy stuff that the black belts are pulling and concentrate on what their abilities can do. To this day, my game is not that fancy. If you see Ralph’s game, it’s not that fancy. We are really accurate at what we do. I think they should worry less about being really flashy and be really, really tight and really precise. That’s what I think is better than flashy. Flashy needs a lot of space. Flashy needs a really talented person with extreme flexibility and/or strength.
WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give White Belt Kurt guidance, what advice would you give?
Kurt Osiander: Oh man, I would have started physical preparation sooner. To shave down (some weight) because I was a little chubby when I started, well, I was really chubby actually. I came to that realization the first time I ever lost. I got tapped by one of my good friends in a competition at the U.S. Open. I was just not as strong or as fast as the guys. And as soon as that happened, I’m like “Man, what’s missing from my game, I train all the time, blah blah blah.” Luckily we had a really good friend of the Academy who Ralph knew from Brazil, from the neighborhood and everything, who had moved up to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado; Fabiano Brasil. He started doing the physical preparation for the competition guys, the serious guys and the guys who were going to do MMA, which I went on to do afterwards.
WBBJJ: For you, what’s been the hardest part of the journey?
Kurt Osiander: The hardest thing I encountered was preparing for MMA. The camp was just brutal. Getting ready for a fight is so much worse than the actual fight. That was some of the hardest s**t I ever did. Train everyday, all day long. And get your ass kicked all day long for like six to eight weeks.
WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?
Kurt Osiander: A lot of it has to do with the way Ralph brought me up. We don’t f*****g give up. We don’t surrender. That’s it, so we’re really mentally tough. You’ve seen some of the quotes that Ralph has made like “If I go to Hell, the devil will be afraid of me because I’m a Ralph Gracie black belt.” To kill one of us is going to be pretty f*****g tough. And our physical preparation Coach Fabiano is like “What? Are you going to give up? Is that what you’re going to tell your enemy? Are you going to tell him you give up?” When you say that to us that’s when you reach down really f*****g deep and you go, “f**k that” and you keep going.
WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing this what would you do?
Kurt Osiander: I don’t know. I don’t think it would have been a good direction. I was not heading in a good direction. The thing is I was partying quite heavily and doing Jiu Jitsu. I was going through some bad s**t, a divorce and s**t, and was doing drugs excessively. At one point, it hit the bottom and I was like “F**k, this is bulls**t. If you get me out of this bulls**t, I’ll do Jiu Jitsu everyday!” And so that’s pretty much what I have been doing til this day. I do Jiu Jitsu everyday, and I try to help everyone and make a positive impact on everyone around me, unless they are my enemy and in that case; I try to impact them very badly.
WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ and then gives the standard excuses, time, money, etc?
Kurt Osiander: I get a lot of people that say, “Hey can I come in and clean the Academy?” I tell them, “I already have my sponsored fighters and they’re elite guys that train all day everyday, and that’s why they have a scholarship here. They also help in the academy. Basically they’re my cleaning crew. They’re my f*****g assistants. They do whatever is called upon for them to do. I don’t have enough time.” There are f*****g five to six classes a day here at the Academy which I give, so if you can’t make the early morning, there’s a later morning, there’s a midday, there’s an early evening, and there’s a late evening. So it’s a matter of want there, so if they don’t want to, they’re not going to make the time for themselves.
WBBJJ: Favorite activity besides BJJ?
Kurt Osiander: I like to go shoot guns. I don’t go hunting. I go to shoot guns to get good at shooting things; people, animals. I collect ancient weapons and study ancient civilizations and warfare and tactics and all that crazy s**t.
WBBJJ: What’s on your IPOD? CD Player?
Kurt Osiander: There’s a lot of really heavy music on it. Currently I have been listening to a lot of Lamb of God, because they’re just so f*****g clean and heavy, it’s awesome. I listen to YOB, Necrosis, which is an old-time band but they’re f*****g still heavy. I listen to Sepultura, Pantera, Testament. I listen to a lot of the old metal day bands. And then a lot of the bands have made a comeback, like Death Angel, who have put out a f*****g recent bunch of f*****g awesome albums.
WBBJJ: What was the last movie you watched?
Kurt Osiander: The last movie I watched from start to finish, was “The Unexpected Journey”; the Hobbit Movie.
WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead who would that be?
Kurt Osiander: If I could be taught by them, it would be Carlson Gracie. That’s old school. That guy made some f*****g guys that are still to this f*****g day so f*****g good and making such good product. It’s quite impressive. Carlson or Rolls Gracie, how about that?
WBBJJ: Any final thoughts?
Kurt Osiander: I want to thank all of my sponsors: Shoyoroll Kimonos, Q5, AfterGlow by Biorhythm, Bauerfeind, and On the Mat Fightgear. That’s about it! Man, please try to make it out to the KO Finisher which is coming up on February 16th and it’s down in Anaheim, the mecca of Jiu Jitsu, so we’re looking for a big turnout for people who want a fight to the finish.
Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ