This week Off the Mat with a BJJ Black Belt features Shawn Williams – a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie and the owner of 5 Star Martial Arts | Renzo Gracie Los Angeles.
Shawn Williams is perhaps best known for his eponymous (look it up mat rat!) guard game “The Williams Guard”.
This week we discuss training philosophy, the development of his famous guard and the direction of jiu-jitsu competition.
“…in that environment we trained like animals…but technical animals because Renzo was always making sure that the technique was there.”
Shawn shares some great insights into the development of his Williams Guard, the splitting on bjj into different aspects, ideas for rule improvements in sports bjj to make it more exciting and some training advice.
Video: Shawn Williams – Getting To The Williams Guard
Exerpts from the audio:
On the biggest influences on his jiu-jitsu:
“The obvious biggest influence on my whole history of jiu-jitsu is Renzo Gracie.
That guy from day 1 was so welcoming, it was what made me go. The atmosphere that he had created at that time was amazing.
I wanted to be a part of it so I moved from Indiana to New York.”
Can you describe what it was like to learn jiu-jitsu in an environment with so many high level guys?
“Like Matt Serra, John Danaher, Ricardo Almeida, Rodrigo Gracie and Renzo and having visitors like Ralph Gracie and Ryan Gracie and all of these high level guys.
Roleta and Nino Schembri. I don’t think words can describe it…in that environment we trained like animals…but technical animals because Renzo was always making sure that the technique was there.
We battled day in and day out I got my butt handed to me,…but it made us super good!”
On the Williams Guard: “I think John Danaher called it that just to give it a name. The reason why is developed is because it HAD to.
Necessity is the mother of invention. If you’ve got guys training like that and you are not doing new creative stuff or versions of other things to help your ability or help sweep or help finish or help hold someone…to it is going to be a long day…
That position came about because I saw Nino,..Nino came to the academy …”
Jiu-jitsu Times: You came up through jiu-jitsu at one of the crucibles of bjj in the USA, the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York.
A wealth of talent like Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, John Danaher among many others were training on the mat every day.
It was during that training period that you developed “The Williams Guard”.
Can you detail how that originated and how you developed the position? (listen to audio for his story!)
The Williams Guard 3 DVD Set by Shawn Williams
Omoplata From Williams Guard