Marc Laimon and Tony Reid

Marc Laimon Talks Gracie Family, Early Career Changes and ‘Leather Helmet Era’ of MMA

Marc Laimon is a well known grappling coach, holding the rank of black belt in Brazillian jiu jitsu, founder of the Cobra Kai BJJ academy and has worked with some of the top athletes in the sport of mixed martial arts.  Laimon speaks with Tony Reed of MyMMANews (pictured above) in the interview below.

Tony Reid – You gave up a promising future as a Chiropractor and moved from Wisconsin to Torrance, CA to pursue BJJ at the Gracie Academy. Can you talk about how that decision came to be?

Marc Laimon – “I didn’t know what it would be like being a chiropractor. There was no Jiu Jitsu in Wisconsin at the time. So I asked myself if I want to be unhappy doing a job I don’t like but making alot of money or do I want to do something I love and try to make a living at that. A wise man once told me the secret to life is to find something you love to do and have someone pay you to do it. That’s what I chose to do.”

Tony Reid – In less than a year you left The Gracie Academy due to the fact that you found BJJ techniques and styles that weren’t being taught at the academy or that might not have even been known to the Gracies. Why are so many people in the BJJ community so hesitant to share styles and techniques? Why is there a sense of certain things being sacred?

Marc Laimon
Marc Laimon

Marc Laimon – “I think it’s just a cultural difference. Brazil is different than America which is different from Russia. It started in Japan which had a futile system. Just different lineages and different way things are done. The Gracies had the right idea of trying to find out what really works and get rid of stuff that doesn’t work and keep the stuff that does. It’s similar to what Bruce Lee said. It’s not like it’s a new concept but it seems like they shut themselves off. The thing with sports and life in general is that it is constantly evolving. If you are not on the bleeding edge of technology you are going to get left behind. When I started the first World Championship was 1996.The first National Tournament was 1993. The sport is not that old, it’s not that long ago. It’s still really new and to say you know it all and this is the way it is and there are no other way of doing things is kind of closed minded and not the way I like to do things. I always think there are guys out there doing bigger and better things. There are bigger and better athletes coming and better coaches coming. We are in the leather helmet era of MMA right now. There is so much more to grow. We haven’t even touched the west coast offense yet. I can’t wait till we get there!”

Tony Reid – You have been very outspoken when you see poor officiating in BJJ Tournaments. What are your thoughts on the state of officiating in the sport of mixed martial arts?

Marc Laimon – “Are we allowed to swear here? I think you are fucking with people’s lives. I don’t want any favoritism; I just want a fair, level playing field. I don’t care what your last name is or what country you are from or who you are. I just want it to be fair and objective. I don’t feel we are getting that today. I think it’s with the way commissions are in general today, its alot of politics to get into it. You have to know certain people; I don’t think they have the right people in place. Some of these fights, I don’t know what these people are watching. I think you need to get fighters, trainers, passionate fans, guys that love the sport and want to do it instead of these old boxing guys that think boxing is so much better. It’s not a boxing match it’s a mixed martial arts fight. That stuff has to evolve. Hopefully it gets changed sooner than later. Its one thing to lose to a guy that’s better than you, you can deal with that, that’s one thing but when you have the fight taken from you due to poor judging and officiating it’s a hard pill to swallow. They say don’t leave it in the hands of the judges but when you have two skilled athletes you don’t always get finishes. When you have guys seeing fights 30-27 is the wrong direction, the brass tacks is that these judges need to go. They need to cull the herd and change that gene pool.”

Tony Reid – What are the assets and liabilities that an elite wrestler brings when coming to the BJJ game with little or no experience there?

Marc Laimon – “It was like 2000. I went to a wrestling camp in Iowa. I remember seeing these guys in July out running miles and miles. I was sitting in a McDonald’s eating a double quarter pounder with cheese. It was over 100 degrees. These guys were running for pride, not money, nothing but pride. That says a lot about a person’s work ethic and what they are willing to do to be the best. Take that type of attitude and put it into MMA, that is a formula for success. I think when you have a proper coach wrestling can blend very well with Jiu Jitsu. I think there are a lot of moves that integrate well. I’m not like “you have to do it this way” I look at my fighter and see what attributes they bring to the table and see how we can maximize what they do well already and fill in the gaps afterward. You can buy a suit anywhere but to get the absolute perfect fit, to have the small tweaks to get the perfect fit you need to go to a tailor.”

Tony Reid – We are alive an active in this sport in a very special time of growth and evolution. What are the biggest changes you have seen in the sport during your time?

Marc Laimon – “I remember UFC 6 had one of the best opening rounds ever and I recently went back and watched it a couple months ago. I looked at the cage and everything and just thought “Wow, look how much the sport has grown.” Look at the athletes coming in now, you have more and more money, bigger and better athletes, that means bigger and better fights, which means more exposure and more fans. It’s only going to get bigger and better. It’s a great time to be a fan. Rarely do you ever get to see evolution happen right in front of your eyes. It’s a great time in the sport.”

Tony Reid – You are known for being brutally honest, almost to a fault. Lets’ play word association for a minute:

Tony Reid – Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Marc Laimon – “It’s what started the sport and helped get where it is but I don’t feel they evolved with the times and their records speak to that point. There are some younger Gracies that look really good. Roger Gracie looks very impressive; he’s unbelievable, there are a lot of things he has done that I really like and look forward to seeing him more.”

Tony Reid – Royce Gracie

Marc Laimon – “What about him? Where do you want to go? Pioneer. Steroid abuser. Delusional. To ask for a million dollars to fight when you aren’t even in the same class the other guy…Fuck. What can you say? He got trounced by Matt Hughes. Royce never got his guard established. Matt Hughes hit the takedown, pass, mount, back and that’s it. You don’t see Jim McMahon asking for $60 million to get back in the NFL. He had his time and his place. Most guys when they get busted for steroids tend to appeal. Royce took a vacation to Europe. I think that answers your question.”

Tony Reid – BJ Penn

Marc Laimon – “He’s the sickest American doing Jiu Jitsu. His passing is unreal. He’s just an awesome Jiu Jitsu game and an awesome fighter. His boxing and the way he has been able to maximize what he can do with his body is amazing. I really, really enjoyed watching him fight and his early Jiu Jitsu matches are on another level. I try to pattern a lot of the stuff I do after stuff I see him do.”

Tony Reid – Dana White

Marc Laimon – “He’s the man. If it wasn’t for him no one would have a job right now. You wouldn’t be sitting here talking to me. I wouldn’t be here. I don’t know where I would be. I might still be in Wisconsin. It’s really awesome to get paid to be involved in this sport. You needed a guy like Dana to make this work. He’s not a corporate guy. He did things his way. I like his approach. We are all reaping the benefits of his work. There are so many more jobs due to the success of the UFC. The UFC is basically recession proof. While every other business in the country was going downhill the UFC was continuing to grow. It’s amazing.”