“Q & A with Robert Follis”

Team Quest Head Coach Robert Follis took some time out of his busy schedule to do a quick interview for the blog. I hope you enjoy it and learn as much as I have from his vast experience and knowledge. It is my great pleasure to share the following interview with you.

JJK: What advice would you offer to a Jiu jitsu student who was interested in fighting mma?

ROBERT: The main thing is that you need to be well-rounded. No one art is enough although it is nice to have a specialty in your game.

JJK: What are some of the common mistakes that Jiu jitsu fighters make in mma and how can they correct them?

ROBERT: You have to understand how important it is to be on top in a fight. If you are on the bottom most judges will have you losing even if you are attacking. Being on top is king!

JJK: With regards to your own Jiu jitsu training, do you train with the gi, no gi or both and why?

ROBERT: I think no gi is the most important aspect of fighting because there is no gis in fighting to speak of anymore. I have recently started adding more gi work and I think it adds to your game but it is not a necessity like no gi is for fighting mma.

JJK: If someone walked into your gym wanting to learn self-defense what would you recommend and how would you train them? Is there much difference between this self-defense and mma fight training?

ROBERT: Self defense is totally different to me. When you can bite, eye gouge, head butt the game completely changes. Not to mention weapons and multiple people. That being said it’s pretty hard to practise biting, eye gouging and groin shots live. Training in mma disciplines like BJJ, kickboxing and wrestling are things you can do against live opponents and in addition to getting you in shape will give you a huge advantage in a self-defense situation.

JJK: When training in Jiu jitsu, do you feel it is important to train with certain principles/concepts in mind and if so what are some of these principles/concepts?

ROBERT: You have to spar. Without resistance you never really know if you know something. You also need drilling and ive and take sparring where the goal is not to win but to work lots of different skills in, especially ones you are working on into the go.

JJK: Can you explain the concept of building your energy and building an “Aggressive Defense”?

ROBERT: Great question! Assuming you are doing your physical conditioning and diet are right the key is to learning to control your emotional state. Fighters and competitors who go far are good at controlling their emotional state and also know how to get into their peak emotional state to compete. I call it attacking defense. It is a mindset more than anything. It is the idea that even while I am defending I am looking to break you mentally and always looking for a way to attack you.

Myself with Robert Follis after a great seminar!


JJK: What advice would you offer someone new to coaching mma?

ROBERT: During fights less talking is more. Really study your craft. Get to know your athletes and what their needs are. They are probably different than you.

JJK: What do you feel are the absolute basic,  most essential tools/skills necessary to compete in mma?

ROBERT: Good basics in striking, wrestling and grappling. Getting in great shape, and learning about diet, and cutting weight. Working on controlling your emotional state.

JJK: How important is the mental aspect of fighting and how can an athlete develop their mental skills and fighting spirit?

ROBERT: Wow! Thats a long one. If you aren’t on mentally the physical wont matter. Controlling your focus and emotions are more important than the physical things because if you can’t control them the physical might never get to go. So much to go into on that. Maybe we could do a follow-up just on that later?

JJK: In your own personal training, what are you spending most of your time working on these days?

ROBERT: Judo, clinch fighting, knee riding the head, and reverse triangle and guard stuff.

JJK: Finally where do you see the future of mma heading? And what do you feel will be the next evolution in the sport?

ROBERT: I think the level of athletes is going to keep getting better and better. There will be trends here and there but really it will always be about the big three: wrestling, striking and submissions.

JJK: Thanks for your time and sharing your knowledge with our readers. Any parting words? 

ROBERT: Find a way to have fun and you will train more. This sport like many other things is really a game of attrition. Staying healthy and staying motivated to keep training are essential. If you give up you lose. Hope to see you guys soon.

Thanks again to Robert for a very insightful Q & A. If you ever get a chance to do a seminar with him or are anywhere near his gym in Portland, Oregon(USA), you really should take the time to train with Robert. I am sure it will be a big eye opener and huge learning experience for you!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom

P.S. I’ll leave you with a quote that Robert sent me, I hope you like it!

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot”. – Eleanor Roosevelt


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5 Responses to ““Q & A with Robert Follis””

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  3. Alexander Berger Says:

    Good Interview. I just got done training with him at a seminar in redding, ca. It was really great. The best part was what he said about the mental game:

    (loosely paraphrased/summarized in my words)

    At the end he talked about framing and state setting. He said there are 3 components to your state: Physiology (Body Language), Words (Framing words to create a positive experience for yourself), and Focusing on Positives rather than Negatives.

    He also mentioned that successful people create their state rather than deriving it from others.


    Good stuff. It bears a striking resemblance to this:


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