Canadian Jake MacKenzie has raised the eyes and awareness of the BJJ world these last years competing in almost every single BJJ competition on the planet. From Pan Ams to Abu Dhabi Pro and Mundials, Jake has been there done that and doing it in style. It should also be noted he’s Canadian! Isn’t that crazy?!?!?

Recently I was able to pick Jake’s brains a little to find out some of his secrets to success. Take a look at the videos below as well to see why people are talking so highly of this Canuck!


Semi final (second match)

Final (third match)

10 questions with Jake.

1- How and when did you start training BJJ?

– I started training BJJ in Truro, Nova Scotia, at the age of 14. My Dad wanted me to learn Jiu-Jitsu, so i would have an idea how to defend myself. Chuck Sproule, had just opened a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym at around the same time, so my dad enrolled me there at the gym. I was very lucky, Chuck had brought in Marcio Feitosa for 5 months to teach, and then after that Marcio Canario, who trained me for the next 2 years.

2-Who has been the biggest help with your BJJ training from start until now?

– Roberto Abreu, i have been with him since purple belt. He has been by far the biggest influence in my Jiu-Jitsu. He is an amazing competitor and an even better coach. I couldn’t ask for a better teacher and mentor.

3-What advice would you give up and coming Grapplers whom are intimidated to compete?

– Compete as much as possible. Experience is the most valuable thing in Jiu-Jitsu. Win or lose, you learn something new every time you step on the mat to compete.

4-We know you have an awesome half guard, can you explain how the heck that happened?

– I used to play a lot of closed guard and open guard. A good friend of mine told me that i really need to work on my half guard, because it felt that it was a weak area in my game. So, i went to back to Brazil, and focused on learning the half guard game, over a 4 month period of time. The exchange rate at the time was still really good, so i was taking private lessons with my friend Bruno almost everyday, for about 15 dollars a day. We worked on half guard and half guard passing for four months. The last 3-4 years, Roberto has really refined my half guard game, and added a lot details and new positions, he deserves a lot of credit, for helping me develop my game.

5-Your thoughts on the 50/50 and do you use it in training or competition?

– I think the 50 50 is an awesome position, especially if you understand how to use it. I really had no idea how to use the position offensively, until i went to Virginia to train with a good friend of mine, Ryan Hall. He showed me the basic principles of the position, and now i use the 50 50 guard on daily basis, i am a big fan of the position now.

6-Who has been your toughest match to date?

– There has been so many tough matches the past couple years. Both my matches with JT Torres were really tough, he is an amazing competitor, i won the first match we had 0x0, and he beat me the 2nd time we competed, 0x0 on advantages. My final with Zak Maxwell, at the American nationals, was another one of my toughest matches. The match ended 0x0 and tied on advantages, i ended up getting the refs decision. I have had the opportunity to compete against so many great competitors, these are just 2 guys that stuck out in my head at the moment.

7-How has traveling abroad, in the US and Brazil helped make you who you are today?

– Traveling abroad has helped me so much. I have had the opportunity to train and learn with so many amazing instructors and athletes. Also, because i travel so much, i get to compete 15-20 tournaments a year. The experience i get from competing has helped me a lot also.

8-What is a typical day of training like for you?

– It really depends where i am training at, at the time. Right now, i am in Rio for four months. So, i usually wake up around 9 o clock, run 30 minutes on the beach and lift weights in the morning. Then, i usually get a bus to GF Team to train from 2-4, and then try to eat something quick and head to Zona Sul to meet up with some friends to train at night, or i head to Nova Geracao in Leblon to train at 7 30. I have been learning so much this trip getting to train with so many great people.

9-People seem pretty impressed that you can speak Brazil-Portuguese fluently, has that helped you in learning jiu-jitsu or is it just something extra you know?

– Being able to speak Portuguese has helped me a lot. I have been able to learn from so many different people, i really believe that you can learn something valuable with anyone you train with. So i have been very fortunate, that i can learn from someone who speaks English or Portuguese.

10-Where will Jake MacKenzie be 5 years from now?

– I plan on traveling and competing full time, for as long as i can. I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.