In recent years the sport of jiu-jitsu has exploded in popularity and right at the forefront of the movement is Garry Tonon.
A grappler by trade, Tonon recently dove head first into MMA, going 3-0 under the ONE Championship banner. Having competed in countless grappling and BJJ tournaments “The Lion Killer”, as he is known, believes we are just now starting to see the true essence of jiu-jitsu.
“I’ve always appreciated jiu-jitsu being used in mixed martial arts in any way,” Tonon told BJPENN.com in a recent interview. “That’s my main sport, I’ve done it for over a decade and I still train jiu-jitsu twice a day.”
“People don’t realize how different the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is from how it was 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, or 20 [years ago]. Things have changed so much, so radically. There are things going on in jiu-jitsu nowadays that unless you are really keeping up with it your going to get lost in the old school ways of doing it.”
Both BJJ and MMA have evolved considerably over the last decade or so. Specifically the sport of jiu-jitsu and leg-locks.
“There is a lot of stuff going on with the leg locks,” Tonon explained. “A lot of people just aren’t well versed on it. If you don’t have it in your arsenal, it’s tough. That goes for both offense and defense.”
Mixed martial arts was born out of jiu-jitsu. After all, Royce Gracie is still considered one of the most important figures in the world of MMA. Not to mention the numerous black belts that shed blood in the old no holds barred Vale Tudo matches.
Still, MMA has seen its share of BJJ wizards. Jacare Souza, Demian Maia, and Fabricio Werdum come to mind. But despite their impressive accolades, no fighter has revolutionized the game like Tonon is hoping to do.
“There was a huge revolution when it came to leg locks,” Tonon said. “Due to the work of John Danaher passing on his knowledge to myself, Gordon Ryan, Eddie Cummings, Nicky Ryan, all these guys coming out of our school and really applying it has developed at a high level.”
“Stemming from that a lot of other guys were trying to catch on. Just trying to keep up. This is not to say that John created leg locks. A lot of people have done it before him. But it was just kind of sprinkled throughout jiu-jitsu and MMA. I think the work that we did and the work that John did changed the game and really forced everyone else to work on leg locks or get it broken.”
Garry Tonon last fought at ONE: Heart of the Lion in November, defeating Sung Jong Lee by submission. He’s expected to return to the cage later in the New Year.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/10/19.