Judo Olympian Travis Stevens: ‘I’m going to Copa Podio to do BJJ, not judo’

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Travis Stevens for the Copa Podio Middleweight GP on September 8. Photo: Copa Podio

The Copa Podio Middleweight GP on Sunday, September 8 is a bit different than the events in the past. This time, there are more brown belts and wild cards than ever. Between Paulo Miyao entering way below the weight limit as a light-featherweight and two brown belts along with many brand new black belts, both yellow and green groups have no sure winner.

Perhaps the biggest wild card is that of Judo Olympian Travis Stevens, a Renzo Gracie brown belt. Although his Jiu-Jitsu resume may be short, especially compared to those on this Copa Podio roster, his Judo accomplishments make him one of the best in the world.

A two-time U.S. Olympian in 2008 and 2012, he recently earned a bronze in the Judo Pan American Championship. Today he trains and teaches in both Judo and Jiu-Jitsu at his school in Boston, MA as well as in NJ/NYC but for the Copa Podio, he’s all Jiu-Jitsu.

Travis spoke with GRACIEMAG about what it will be like to enter a Jiu-Jitsu event such as the Copa Podio:

GRACIEMAG: Coming from a very high level of Judo, how will you adapt those skills to your opponents at Copa Podio?

TRAVIS STEVENS: Unfortunately for me the strategies that are used in Judo are not the same as BJJ so there wont be much cross over. The only thing that I will be able to bring to the table from Judo is how comfortable I feel while competing. I’m used to competing about 15-16 times a year for Judo which keeps me in a competition mind set.

How do you normally balance your Judo training versus Jiu-Jitsu training and have you adapted your routines for the event?

I’m lucky enough that Judo provides me with a living and I’m able to do it full time. So BJJ for me is just a hobby. I normally train Judo full-time, two sessions a day Monday through Thursday and one Judo session on Friday. I do BJJ at least once a day either teaching or if I’m lucky I get a good rolling session in during the week. But I spend my weekends driving down to NYC from Boston to train BJJ full time at Renzo’s school in the city and at Renzo Gracie Fort Lee. Friday and Saturday I do two BJJ sessions and one BJJ session on Sunday. Then I drive back home sunday.

Even though BJJ causes some strain on the body I still consider it down time because I really enjoy working with John [Danaher] and Renzo [Gracie] and all the other guys from Renzo’s. The only thing I’ve really changed in my training for Copa Podio is I did a little bit of situational drills for specific people. Which is something that I’m not accustom to doing in Judo or BJJ.

How does it feel coming into a Jiu-Jitsu tournament and atmosphere? Do you feel like your skills and outstanding Judo accomplishments will be overlooked by your opponents?

I feel like a kid on his first day of school when I go to a BJJ competition looking around feeling out of place watching people warm up and a little lost on what I should be doing. But when I step on the mat and see my opponent I feel at home again and regardless of rules and scoring systems a submission is always a win so I know my goal and how to get there. I don’t think my Judo accomplishments will be overlooked but I think that my Judo accomplishments won’t help me in any BJJ competition. Even if someone tries to stand up and take me down I’m just going to pull guard anyways. I’m going to Copa Podio to do BJJ not Judo.

For more information and to purchase the livestream of the Copa Podio on Sunday, September 8 go to www.copapodio.com

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There are 15 comments for this article
  1. Ken Thomas at 5:49 pm

    I'm so confused, guard pulling is a BJJ strategy, but it isn't BJJ. If a World Class Judoka, BJJ Brown is puling guard against world class Black Belts he must have a world class guard right?

  2. Logan Egbert at 6:28 pm

    Interesting entry for sure, but he's going to have his hands full with Renato Cardoso. That dude collects feet and knees for a living 🙂

  3. Travis Stevens at 11:24 pm

    I just hope that by the end of this that I can get rid of the stereo type of in just a judo guy. I can do BJJ and I'm looking to prove it!

  4. Jeferson Maycá at 8:09 pm

    There was a mistake in the article. Since the second event of the first season, the organization has stipulated a maximum number of brown belts per event. Now in the Middleweight GP, there is the same number of brown belts as in the first season’s Heavyweight GP. And don’t forget: each event has a maximum weight, but there will never be a minimum weight for the competition, after all, we're talking about jiu-jitsu!

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