Want to learn how to train jiu-jitsu like Jocko Willink?
Jocko is the one who got me into BJJ.
I remember listening to his first appearance on Joe Rogan‘s podcast. When he said “jiu-jitsu is a superpower,” I knew I had to learn it.
So I signed up for my first class — and the rest is history.
In this article, you’ll learn about how Jocko trains jiu-jitsu: his BJJ background, his mindset, his training schedule, his gear, and more.
Let’s dive in.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu: Quick Links
- Jocko Willink Background & Stats
- Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Mindset
- Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Training Schedule
- Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Gear
Jocko Willink Stats & Background
John “Jocko” Willink is 50 years old, born September 8, 1971 in Torrington, Connecticut.
Jocko is 5’11” (180cm) and weighs 230 lbs (104kg).
Jocko Willink served in the Navy SEALs, and was a member of SEAL Team 3. He served in the Iraq War, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander.
He trains and coaches jiu-jitsu at Victory MMA & Fitness in San Diego.
Jocko started training jiu-jitsu in 1995 (at age 24) under Fabio Santos.
It took Jocko around 10 months to get his blue belt under Fabio Santos.
When was close to getting his purple belt, he left California and went to Virginia Beach with Gustavo Machado. He couldn’t train as much because he was frequently on deployment for tor the SEAL teams. When he was close to getting his purple belt with Gustavo, he moved back to San Diego. Back at Fabio’s, he has to prove himself again. Thus, Jocko was a blue belt for 5 years.
At mid-purple belt, he stopped caring about belts. He just wanted to get better, know more, and most importantly, keep training.
Jocko has competed in BJJ, although footage of him in competition is rare. In 2005, he competed against UFC veteran Jeff Monson:
Jocko received his black belt under Dean Lister in 2005. He’s been a black belt for 17 years now.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Mindset
How does Jocko Willink think about jiu-jitsu?
In order to understand Jocko — and how he approaches BJJ — you must understand his core ethic and principle: “The Way Of Discipline.”
“Discipline: The root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need rest, I will do it tomorrow.”
One of Jocko’s primary motivators for training is the men he lead in combat, but who did not come home. He lives and trains to honor their sacrifice.
Jocko believes that everyone should train in martial arts, because to do so, you’ll embody the virtues that he preaches: self-discipline, consistency, strength, humbleness, and leadership.
Jocko also recommends that everyone should do jiu-jitsu, specifically because it allows you to break free from an attacker and run away. And if it does go to the ground, you’ll know how to escape or submit your attacker.
Another reason he recommends jiu-jitsu is because of how cerebral it is:
“Although there is a finite number of basic moves and positions, there is an infinite number of moves beyond the basics, and more and more are developed every day in this constantly evolving art. Due to this unending depth in jiu-jitsu, it is also the most cerebral of the martial arts. It provides incredible mental stimulus and a never-ending challenge to learn, develop, and improve. Jiu-jitsu never gets old.”
To this day, Jocko is still obsessed with BJJ. When he first started training, he and Dean Lister would train so long that Fabio Santos kicked them off the mats at night.
When it comes to his training philosophy, there are no surprises.
If he doesn’t want to train, he forces himself to train.
If he doesn’t want to roll with someone because it’s a hard roll, he makes sure to roll with them.
Jocko is known for his unrelating, pressure-based top game. He will take you down, get on top, put the pressure on, and submit you with a Kimura.
“I rolled with Jocko a few times, I’m a 200ish lb blue belt, at the time I was actively competing decently successfully and I was pretty comfortable against most purples and some browns. He is still the only time I feared for my life during a roll. There is nothing fancy or unnecessary about his game. It was all just brutal pressure and domination from position and threatening multiple attacks at once.”
-u/GrainOfRice, What It’s Like to Roll With Jocko Willink
When you understand Jocko’s mindset, you get a good sense of how he trains and does jiu-jitsu.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Training Schedule
“Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink
There it is.
Jocko’s watch — every single morning (and his big, hairy wrist).
He wakes up at 4:30 am every day. And he starts his day with exercise.
Jocko says that he is genetically wired with the ability to function well without much sleep. He can survive on 5–6 hours of sleep a night no problem. So he goes to sleep around 10–11 pm.
In this section, we’ll look at Jocko’s weightlifting schedule and his BJJ training schedule.
Jocko Willink Workout Training Schedule
Jocko works out every day.
He’s built his own home gym to train at.
His workouts consist of lifting, calisthenics, and sprints. Sometimes he’ll do just 1 per workout, and some of his workouts consist of all 3.
Jocko works out intuitively — and his workouts are intense.
Here’s an example of one of his “Advanced” workouts (from Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual)
Jocko Willink Workout Routine: Advanced Series One
- Primary Work: 5 sets of weighted pull-ups (20% of your bodyweight)
- Secondary Work: 6 sets of hand cleans at 3-6 reps
- MetCon: 25 pull-ups, then run 400 meters. Repeat 4 times.
- Primary Work: Weighted ring dips, weighted bar dips (20% of your bodyweight)
- Gut: 5 sets of hanging leg raises
- MetCon: Power snatch/clap push-up/burpees 20, 15, 10, 5
- Primary Work: Overhead squat, front squat, back squat
- Gut: Hanging leg raises
- MetCon: 2-mile run
He doesn’t plan any days off. But sometimes they happen if he’s traveling or if his kids have an event he wants to attend.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Schedule
If Jocko is home in San Diego, he’s training BJJ every day at Victory MMA And Fitness.
He’ll start his training by working on some techniques. But his goal is to start rolling and sparring right away. Jocko LOVES to roll.
Typically, he’ll do 1 warm-up roll with fellow navy seal Andy Stumpf (purple belt).
Then, he’ll go on to do 6 six-minute rounds (just like Gordon Ryan), training with the likes of Dean Lister, Jeff Glover, and the other black belts at Victory. Sometimes, he’ll even do 20-minute rounds!
When Jocko’s done lifting and jiu-jitsu — and there are some good waves in the ocean — he also likes to surf.
At 50, Jocko’s training schedule is extremely impressive. It’s all about doing what’s hard, staying consistent, and exercising discipline — an embodiment of his core principles.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu Gear
What does Jocko Willink wear on the mats?
When he’s training in the GI, Jocko sports the 10th Anniversary Axiom Gi in black or white.
“Our 10 year anniversary Gi is a throwback to the original Axiom. Classic cut jacket with Dragon Weave. 10 years of freedom from foreign textiles. 10 years of taking back Machinery and knowledge. 10 years of rebuilding a small community here in Maine.”
It’s one of the highest quality, best-looking gi’s I’ve seen.
When he’s training in no-gi, Jocko often wears a simple Victory MMA t-shirt.
However, Origin also sells some awesome no-gi gear, like the “Jocko Hands” rash guard:
I’d imagine Jocko also wears Origin rash guards, but there aren’t any pictures of him wearing any.
Jocko Willink Jiu-Jitsu: Conclusion
So there you have it: a deep dive into Jocko Willink’s jiu-jitsu philosophy and training schedule.
Jocko takes his intensity onto the mats.
And I feel bad for anyone who gets underneath him in bottom side control.
Is there anything else about Jocko that I missed? What else do you want to learn about his jiu-jitsu game?
Leave a comment in the section below.
“The world is yours when you are up before the enemy.”
Tsavo is the founder of BJJ Equipment and BJJ blue belt who started training in 2019. He’s a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado who wanted to share his favorite pickups with other jiujiteiros. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for jiu-jitsu practitioners to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.