Josh Mancuso is a guy that is not shy to social media and I first encountered his technique videos on https://www.reddit.com/r/bjj/. He was posting videos weekly for quite some time and was very open about sharing some of his favorite techniques. He was gracious enough to make some time to share with me a little about himself earlier this year.
When did you start training?
When did you receive your Black Belt and from whom?
-I was promoted to Black Belt by Tim Credeur and Rodrigo Medeiros in July of 2013. I was 32 years old.
Name some competitors you either trained with or against coming up in the ranks.
-I have had the opportunity to train with many of the world's top practitioners such as Marcelo Garcia, Ricco Rodriguez, Caio Terra, Dean Lister, Davi Ramos, Andrew Galvao, Samuel Braga, Eddie Bravo, the Mendes Bros, Joel Tudor, Jean Jacques Machado, Leandro Vieira, Felipe Costa, Ricardo De La Riva, I could go on for days. There are so many high level practitioners from so many different teams that I've had the pleasure of training with that I honestly could be here all day naming them off. I would like to say that I am lucky to have been in the situations to train with these guys but that's just not true. I made those situations happened and sacrificed a lot to get those experiences.
Where do you currently teach?
-BJJ Revolution Team BR/UFC Gym Baton Rouge
What should a new student of BJJ focus on?
-A new student should focus on whatever they enjoy. I feel that people will be more consistent and train harder if they are encouraged to work on the things they find pleasure in. Some will choose take downs and closed guard; others will only want to do foot lock or berimbolo. All are fine and encouraged by me. I feel like if a student has holes in their game, eventually those short comings will be exposed and they will need to close those gaps. The mats will show them where they are lacking. And I believe in never telling a student to stop working on a skill they enjoy building.
What would you change about how you approached training Jiu-Jitsu if you had to go back and start all over again?
-Not much, when I started I was very lucky to be influenced by a guy (who sadly has since quit training) who was much smaller than me, but dominated me with clean technique. He always pushed the importance of technique and drilling over everything. I was very fortunate to have this person show me that technique is the key to everything and that drilling is the way to get there.
How important is competition to development?
-I think it is very important. It is not just a coincidence that the people who compete regularly get better, faster. Even if you only compete once or twice, it is important to feel what performing under that type of pressure is like. It is much different from training at the academy and I think that competing is a great way to face your fears and deal with overcoming self-doubt. Personally,I feel like I always compete, not because I have any goals of being a world champion, but because I feel like it keeps me honest, driven, and most importantly I like to lead my team from the front and not the rear.
(Link for mobile users: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX5czrzKDLo)How do you feel about supplementing training with other forms of physical activity such as lifting weights, crossfit, running, swimming, etc?
-I never touched a weight until about halfway through my brown belt. I felt that if I was focused on getting stronger then that's what my Jiu-Jitsu would be focused around. I do not regret this decision at all. My goal in Jiu-Jitsu is to play the same game now at 34 years old as I will when I'm 65. If my Jiu-Jitsu revolves around physical attributes then this would not be possible.
What are your thoughts on rolling versus drilling?
-Drilling is the key to getting better but rolling is just simply fun! Both are essential to being your best. The key is learning how to drill and having the self-control to set aside a certain time a day for it. I personally can feel my technique slipping if I go too long without drilling.
Do you use supplements?
-How do you stay healthy? Before Jiu-Jitsu I never ever though about staying healthy. I don't take any supplements except for BCAA's after training session. I do however consume a large amount of fruits and veggies. I make huge fruit/veggie smoothies twice a day i my Vitamix and I honestly wake up every day feeling like a million dollars. I feel better at 34 than I did at 18.
What do you recommend for training preparation?
-Lots of water in your system and a good attitude.
As an instructor, what does your training consist of trying to balance teaching vs training?
-It changes pretty drastically for me, luckily I have assistant instructors to help me carry the load. I enjoy training so much, that I can't teach all the time. I try to train twice a day, twice a week, and then once a day for the remainder of the week. Although I am trying to reduce my training time to gain a little more balance in my life.
Do you continue to study new (modern) Jiu-Jitsu and how do you go about that? Do you train with other black belts at other gyms, affiliations, etc?
-I love the berimbolo, I also love the scissor sweep, and cross choke. I just love Jiu-Jitsu! I also love Sambo and Judo. I love all grappling martial arts. As far as cross training goes, yes. I cross train with other gyms and highly encourage everyone to do it. You gotta get new looks from other training partners and it is also a great way to network and forge new friendships. Although at the same time, I am extremely loyal and feel strongly about my instructor and my team. If my instructor had an issue or beef with another instructor from a different academy, I would not train with that person, even though he wouldn't ask me to do that. It wouldn't be because I personally have anything against that person, but because that's just how I am. If you are in my circle, I will have your back no matter what the circumstances. I've been like that long before Jiu-Jitsu, I am just a loyal friend.
(Link for mobile users: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-EfFEfpRfQ)
What is the worst injury you have experienced while training?
-Luckily in my time training I have only had a few rib separations, a meniscus surgery, but my absolute worst injury are my fingers. They hurt all the time. My wife likes to tell me that I need to invest in Velcro shoes because at this rate I won't be able to tie normal ones. Other than that, I feel like a million bucks.
Any big goals for 2015, plans for your gym, competitions?
Mostly I am just looking to keep competing and building my team. I like stepping out of my comfort zone.
Do you think the current state of competitions are headed in the right direction to benefit the athletes?
- I feel like Jiu-Jitsu will never be a spectator sport unless you train, bu hopefully we can build Jiu-Jitsu so that we have so many people training, we can support our own. I do think events like EBI are doing some great things for our sport. And could possibly get us on ESPN 8 "The Ocho" one day.
What is your favorite match you have had in competition and why?
-They are all so special, but probably my first match as a black belt, because when I won I felt like I deserved to wear the belt I had worked so hard to earn.
Name the accomplishment you are most proud of be it BJJ or personal.
-Just the huge transformation my life has undergone since starting in BJJ. It has completely changed me physically and mentally into a much stronger and happier person. Also the growth of my team, and successes of my students. To see my students do well and to have our mats packed is really a strong source of happiness for me. Considering where we were just 5 or 6 years ago.
Is there anything interesting you would like to say about yourself or any opinions you have on the current state of BJJ?
-I think BJJ is doing great and is destined for big things. The only issue I see isthat we are coming to a point in competitions where we are over regulating and I fear we will take the path of Judo. II would like to see deregulation of the sport.
Anything else you would like to add people might find interesting about yourself?
-I have a pretty decent comic book collection, I'm a hobby junkie before I started BJJ I was into DJ'ing (with actual 12" vinyl records). I also participate in the occasional redneck pastime of camping and mud riding my Polaris RZR to spend some time with my family and do a little something besides just BJJ all the time.
Any sponsors you would like to thank or products, services you would like to promote?
-I would like to thank Bear Quitugua for giving me the opportunity to represent Shoyoroll, it really feels good to have what I consider a blue chip company in the BJJ world willing to put their name on me. I also gotta thank Roach Rodriguez for taking care of me at Shoyoroll and always hooking my gear up in the most awesome ways possible. Shoyoroll is a truly special company.
I'd like to personally thank Josh for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute some info about himself. He consistently puts a lot of free content on various social media sites. You can visit his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/joshv50. If you're ever in his neck of the wood, Baton Rouge, Louisiana drop in his gym.
Josh Mancuso Facebook Page:
Josh Mancuso YouTube Channel
BJJ Revolution Facebook Page: