Erik Owings on Training Under John Danaher, Functional Fitness, and Efficiency in Training

Erik Owings is a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie and Carlos Gracie Jr.. Erik trained predominantly under John Danaher at the Renzo Gracie academy in NYC and now owns his own academy called Mushin Mixed Martial Arts, also in NYC. In addition to being an accomplished BJJ black belt, Erik is an expert in strength and conditioning, "functional fitness", postural exercises, proper breathing, nutrition, and all facets related to health and performance. Erik worked with Georges St-Pierre to develop the Rushfit series of workout DVDs to help make excellent workouts easier for the average person to access at home. 

This episode is a bit different than our usual format. Erik was kind enough to do a Q&A session using questions that were generated here at Mat-Tricks by talking among our team and with a few of our listeners. This is a format we've become interested in using. Let us know if you like it!

Here were the questions that we asked Erik: 

1. I’m fascinated by your posts on Facebook. In many, you write about the importance of efficiency. In one of your recent posts about developing a luxury BJJ gym, you wrote that your students are training a max of 4-5 hours a week. How do you structure each training session to provide your students with maximum learning benefit? I would imagine each session must have ample thought and planning in order to maximize results.

2. Similar to the last question, you’ve said before that you could take someone all the way to black belt in 2-3 years. When you expanded on that post, you explained it would involve many private lessons, tough physical training, and incredible focus involved in each session (forgive me if I’m missing any points). Can you provide insight into what these private lessons would entail? Would the physical conditioning aspect be a part of the private lessons or would that be done separately?  

3. Many of your posts are about physical training, body flexibility, mobility, and other aspects of overall health. How much should a competitive BJJ athlete focus on strength training outside of the academy? How many sessions a week would you encourage?  

4. What is your opinion on athletes who ONLY train Jiu-Jitsu and do little to no outside strength specific training. Are they setting themselves up for injury or do you think it could be sustainable?

5. You recently asked people on your page how they would define “functional fitness”. The responses were great from a wide variety of people. What were your thoughts about this thread and how would you yourself define functional fitness?

6. For an athlete who wants to start getting involved in “functional fitness”, what would you recommend? Where should they start? Yoga? Gymnastics? Etc. What are some good sources on the internet for programming?

7. You’re currently working on a book and your excerpts so far have been extremely informative. What types of information are you trying to include and what information are you most excited to share?

8. You write often about posture, the dangers of sitting too long, and how a bad posture can reverse time spent in the gym. Can you explain more in depth?

9. Building off the last question, for someone who works an 8-hr per day desk job, does not have the option to quit at the moment (or maybe they love their job), and also trains BJJ and wants to be in excellent shape… what is their best course of action for staying healthy and improving their posture?

10. What are three (or less/more) of the biggest takeaways you had from training with John Danaher? Both of you post often about efficiency in training. Is this something you learned from him or do you think that you both learned from another source (Renzo Gracie perhaps?)?

Show Notes: 

Erik Owings on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Mushin Academy in NYC

John Danaher, Renzo Gracie, and Carlos Gracie Jr.

Rushfit DVD series developed by Erik and Georges St-Pierre.

A breakdown of Crossfit and how it defines "functional fitness" 

Renzo Gracie HQ in NYC