Joe Rogan & Jiu-Jitsu. The two phrases go together like açaí and ADCC.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Joe from his comedy, podcast, or UFC commentating. But Joe is a legitimate BJJ black belt and pioneer of the sport.
It was Rogan who first introduced me to Brazilian jiu-jitsu on the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast. Podcast #729 with Jocko Willink inspired me to take my first jiu-jitsu class (although it took me 4 years to muster up the courage — please, don’t wait to start).
In this article, I’ve curated everything you want to know about Joe Rogan’s BJJ:
- why he loves it;
- his BJJ story;
- what his game is like;
- his BJJ gear and equipment;
- and some of the best BJJ-related JRE podcasts.
Let’s dive in.
(NOTE: The source of this information is Joe Rogan himself: his podcasts, interviews, etc)
Why Joe Rogan Loves BJJ
“Jiu-jitsu is the only martial art that works like it does in the movies — where the little guy can beat the big guy.” -Joe Rogan
Joe Rogan highly recommends jiu-jitsu for people who are new to martial arts. It’s fun, good exercise, and an excellent form of self-defense.
He considers Brazilian jiu-jitsu the best martial art for self-defense. Self-defense situations are likely to become grappling situations, so in those situations, you want to be skilled in grappling. It’s an absolute martial art, because it removes luck from the equation.
When you know BJJ, you get to decide who gets hurt or not in an altercation. You don’t want to be the one who doesn’t decide. In that sense, jiu-jitsu has many practical uses.
“If someone is giving me a hard time, I want to be the one who decides if this gets violent or who gets hurt. I don’t want to leave that in someone else’s hand who might be a psychopath. If it’s in my hands, nobody is getting hurt.” -Joe Rogan
Joe also loves the complexity of jiu-jitsu and how it keeps his ego in check. He’s been tapped thousands of times, and that keeps him humbled and grounded.
Ultimately, training in jiu-jitsu made him feel more confident and more able to handle the difficult things life throws at him.
“I think every young man should learn how to fight. And I think there would be way less fights because of it.” -Joe Rogan
In the next section, I’ll break down Joe Rogan’s BJJ story: how he got into the sport, and what he’s achieved over the years.
Joe Rogan’s Jiu-Jitsu History
As a teenager, Joe Rogan describes martial arts as the first thing he ever did where he didn’t feel like a complete loser. People liked him and respected him for his talent in martial arts.
But Joe got into a wrestling altercation in high school where he was put on his back. He had no idea what to do on the ground. Shortly after, he took up wrestling in addition to his taekwondo.
From ages 15-22, all Joe did was train and compete in martial arts: taekwondo, kickboxing, boxing, and wrestling (but no BJJ yet).
During this time, he had 3 kickboxing fights and about 100 taekwondo fights, where he won the vast majority of them.
After watching UFC 2 in 1994, where Royce Gracie dominated the other martial artists, Joe realized that taekwondo was an “incomplete” martial art. He was fascinated by the way Royce could take his opponents down and submit them despite their physical advantages.
And thus, Joe Rogan’s interest in BJJ was born.
In 1996, he took his first jiu-jitsu class under Carlson Gracie in Hollywood, California. He also trained under Rickson Gracie in the late 90s.
In his first class, he was mauled by a purple belt. Before the roll, he remembers thinking that he had a chance. But after the roll, he realized he was delusional about his self-defense abilities. These first few classes inspired him to start taking his jiu-jitsu training seriously.
Joe got his blue belt sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s. Here’s a video of him demonstrating techniques as a blue belt filmed in 2001.
While he was hosting Fear Factor, Jean Jaches Machado gave Joe his purple belt in 2002. Joe describes receiving his purple belt as one of the happiest moments of his life. He says he was happier to get his purple belt than winning the Fear Factor gig!
Joe Rogan spent 2002-2010 as a brown belt. He spent 8 years as a brown belt because he wasn’t training consistently enough at the time. It was during this period he started training no-gi with Eddie Bravo. And it was during this time he was also slated to fight Wesley Snipes. He was confident that he’d be able to strangle Wesley if he could take him to the ground, because Wesley, despite being a competent striker, had never trained BJJ. The fight never came to fruition.
What Is It Like To Roll With Joe Rogan?
“My game is smush. Smush you. Grab a hold of you. Once I have a hold of you, why would I let you go?” – Joe Rogan
Jean Jacques Machado described Joe Rogan as one of his strongest and hardest-working students.
Joe Rogan is known for his smothering top game. He describes it as the best part of his game. He loves the head & arm choke, but his favorite submissions are strangles from back mount.
That being said, if he was in a competition, he claims he would pull closed guard or force bottom half guard. He’s very flexible, and also loves playing rubber guard.
From the bottom, he likes the armbar and triangle choke from closed guard.
If he’s in bottom half-guard, he’ll go for double underhooks and sweep his opponent to get on top.
He thinks the best way to get better is to “strangle blue belt” — to train your offense against an opponent who knows how to resist, but not so much as to where they can easily thwart all of your attacks.
Here is some rolling footage of Joe Rogan:
Joe Rogan’s BJJ Gear
What does Joe Rogan wear when he trains jiu-jitsu?
He’s most famously known for wearing the Fuji Fish Long Sleeve Sakana Rashguard — the rashguard he wore when he received his black belt from Eddie Bravo.
When he’s training in the gi, he likes the Datsusara Hemp Jiu-Jitsu Gi.
Back in the day, he also sported a classic Adidas gi.
To prevent cauliflower ear, Joe wears wrestling headgear.
Best Joe Rogan Jiu-Jitsu Podcast Episodes
Here are some of my favorite BJJ-related episodes on JRE. I’ve learned a lot about jiu-jitsu from listening to these:
- Eddie Bravo (2018): JRE MMA Show ep. 6
- Jean Jacques Machado (2019): JRE MMA Show ep. 73
- John Danaher (2020): JRE MMA Show ep. 111
- Craig Jones & Alex Volkanovski (2021): JRE MMA Show ep. 110
- Gordon Ryan (2021): JRE MMA Show ep. 109
- Rickson Gracie (2021): JRE MMA Show ep. 114
There you have it: an in-depth look at Joe Rogan’s BJJ.
He’s had an undeniable impact on jiu-jitsu, helping it become one of the fastest-growing hobbies worldwide.
What’s your favorite Joe Rogan Jiu-Jitsu moment? Are there any stories he shared that inspired YOU to start training BJJ?
Leave a comment in the section below and let me know your feedback.
Happy rolling. 🤙
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.