16 Sept 2010

Fighter Profile: Part Two - Daniel Strauss, the interview

Daniel Strauss is purple belt under Roger Gracie and Nick Brooks. He is a super talented young grappler who is greatly admired throughout the UK scene for his immense skill and big personality. Read his testimonials from other respected members of the UK BJJ scene in Part One.

Fresh from a string of very impressive victories this year, people of the world watch out, for I bring you the very excellent, Daniel Strauss:

Serious, for a second

Meerkatsu: Hey Daniel, let's kick off with your stats, how old are you and what is your rank?

Daniel Strauss: I am 19 years old, a purple belt under Roger Gracie and Nick Brooks and I fight at light weight (74 kilos).


Meerkatsu: Can you tell us your fight stats?

Daniel Strauss: 65-24 (W-L) in all tournaments (I think!). In total I've had roughly 87 BJJ matches, x2 Amateur MMA fights and my medal count stands at: x9 golds, x7 silvers and x5 bronze.

Meerkatsu: What is your biggest competitive achievement?

Daniel Strauss: I believe my biggest achievements are winning the nogi World Championships at blue belt juvenile and winning the Rio State Open at blue belt adult.

Meerkatsu: Whilst you dominate the UK scene at your weight and belt level, do you think you have not reached your full potential on the European and World scene?

Daniel Strauss: No I don't think i’ve achieved anything close to what I should have internationally. It was a single mistake that lost me the gold medal at the 2009 Europeans, a mistake I should never of made. I went to the 2009 Mundials with the complete intention to win gold and due to a very poor performance in a massive division I came up short. I will be competing international more over the next year and hope to be able to show the world what I can do.


Meerkatsu: Who would you most like to fight in the world (at your weight and belt)?

Daniel Strauss: I only want to fight the best. So who ever is the current world champion in my division is who I want to fight.

Meerkatsu: How come you don't post your fight vids on Youtube?

Daniel Strauss: I personally don't have a problem with posting them but after I competed at the World nogis, the guy I fought came up to me and said he knew everything that I was going to do because he had done his homework and watched all my Youtube videos. After that, Nick decided it was safer to withdraw the videos, but it's not a big deal to me whether my opponent knows my game or not.

Meerkatsu: You have a couple of similar age/similar weight/similar rank peers in the UK, let’s talk about them:
Daniel Agard - you two used to train in the same academy, you two seem to get on well off the mat but how do you feel whenever you fight him now?

Dan v Dan

Daniel Strauss: I get on very well with Dan, I like him a lot and I want to see him become very successful in the sport. However, he is a person standing in front of me and my goals and on the mat he is simply another opponent. My philosophy on fighting friends has changed greatly over the last few years; a few years ago I would refuse to fight a friend or team mate or at least not fight as hard as I could. Now its different, if someone steps on the other side of the mat from me then he is a obstacle that needs to be removed. If my mom entered the purple belt adult male division then I would try and tear her arm off hahaha.

Meerkatsu: Stephen Martin also 19 and a purple belt (under Braulio Estima) at the same weight - you guys were for a long time touted as big young hopefuls (both winning World junior titles) yet you only met for the first time at the Essex Open in 2009 - how did winning that feel for you?

Daniel Strauss: Winning that fight was a fantastic feeling. I was able to show the people who rated him higher than me that they were mistaken.

Meerkatsu: ...and describe to me what you felt happened when you met Stephen again at the BJJ British Open this year?

Daniel Strauss: Hahahaha. Well firstly I have to say that it was my fault that I was unable to submit him, if I had done that then the scoring wouldn't have been an issue. Unfortunately the fight went the distance and it came down to the scoreboard [Ed: and the intervention of a judges decision via video replay]. Personally I believe that the scoring was..... less than correct...? I was very upset at the time, but these things happen. Those who have seen the fight can judge for themselves. I will meet Stephen again and it will be settled.

Dan and Stephen - awaiting judges verdict at BJJ Brits 2010

Meerkatsu: What's next on the grappling agenda for you tournament-wise?

Daniel Strauss: At the moment I’ve been training a lot of nogi, as well as the national tournaments I hope to go to the IBJJF Pan nogi Championships in October and if I win that I hope to then go to the World nogi Championships. Regarding the gi, internationally I hope to go to the IBJJF European Championships in January next year and the Mundials in June 2011.

Meerkatsu: You’ve been competing in some amateur MMA - how has that been going?

Daniel Strauss: Yes, I've had two amateur MMA fights in the UK MMA league, I won both fights with quick submissions and hope to continue to compete in the sport.

MMA training

Meerkatsu: Are you aiming to do pro MMA at some point?

Daniel Strauss: Recently I’ve been training more stand up and MMA training. I hope to eventually go into pro MMA, but this will only be when my coaches feel that I'm ready.

Teaching and training:

Meerkatsu: I see you are teaching at Force MMA in Herts, how’s that going, what are you teaching there?

Daniel Strauss: Yes I’ve recently started teaching at Force MMA. Its a great club with a load of very enthusiastic, eager to learn guys. The club has only been running for a short amount of time and has grown rapidly. They have brought me in to help take their grappling to the next level. I am their grappling coach and I teach regular seminars on various aspects of nogi ground work. Darren Jones (Force MMA’s head coach) is a very enthusiastic guy who will do anything to help him students and I hope to be able to help Darren create a top MMA club.

Meerkatsu: Going back to when you first started, how did you know Mill Hill BJJ and Nick Brooks specifically was the right place for you?

Daniel Strauss: I've always been very interested in martial arts. Between the ages of 10 and 14 I went to a number of different clubs in different styles of martial arts; Karate, JKD, Wing Chun, Fwaf Kun Do, Judo. Some I only did one class, some for a few months, but I never found one that I really loved. When i was 14 I went to a traditional Ju jitsu club called Mill Hill Ju jitsu. I stayed for a few months doing Japanese ju jitsu. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. One day the main instructor left and Nick took over. He started teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I was hooked. Obviously I’ve been with Nick ever since.

Meerkatsu: Who else would you say has been an influence in your BJJ growth over the years?

Daniel Strauss: Apart from Nick, who has always been my main coach and who I thank for making me the fighter I am today, Jude Samuels has helped me a lot. When he was teaching in Kilburn I trained with him quite a bit, he also whipped me into shape for the 2009 Mundials with brutal conditioning sessions twice a week, Jude is a fantastic coach. Another person who has helped me massively, especially over the last 6 months is David Onuma. As well as being my main MMA coach I train BJJ with Dave often. He has helped me a lot with strategy for competitions as well as showing and helping me perfect some great techniques. David is also a fantastic coach.

Meerkatsu: What percentage of your mat time do you spend: teaching v training v s&c work?

Daniel Strauss: I would say I spend around 40% teaching, 35% training and 25% S&C.

Crazy rope climbing grip training antics

Meerkatsu: You have crazy grip strength - what exercises do you do to get crazy grip strength?

Daniel Strauss: I think it's SO vital to have good grip strength. BJJ is a sport where strength is useless unless you can apply it to your opponent. Whats the point of having the back and arm strength to pull 200 kilos but your grip gives out at 100kilos, that's 100 kilos of pulling strength that you're not every going to be able to use in BJJ. Your grip needs to be as strong as your pulling strength so I prioritise it in my strength work.

I do a whole load of different exercises for grip strength. One of the mistakes people make is that they only work one aspect of their grip. Grip strength is not a body part, like the legs, you can't just work your forearm and expect to have good grip. You need to work your fingers, thumb, wrist, forearm, muscles and ligaments to have good overall grip strength. Some of the main exercises I do are: Farmers walk, thick handled barbell and dumbbell work, thick rope climbing, gi pull ups and leverage bar work. This has all helped me build a reasonably good grip, hell, just last week I grabbed some Tatami Fightwear gi trousers and tore a hole straight through them!! On a passing note, over many years, I’ve never been able to tear any Faixa Rua trousers..... ;D

Meerkatsu: You’ve often said you prefer no gi to gi, why?

Daniel Strauss: It just suits my style better; its fast, fluid and dynamic. I like the gi but I LOVE nogi training. I find its a lot more fun, and where a big guy could normally grab my gi or use the friction created from the gi to hold me down, in nogi I can out move them and escape. I do however believe that its vital to train both gi and nogi if you want to be good at either.

Misc stuff:

Meerkatsu: You are a pretty confident extroverted type of person but do you think you might come across as a bit cocky or arrogant? Some of your showboating and ‘goofing around’ antics in the ring or on the mat at tournaments are funny to those that know you but it might look at bit, well a bit disrespectful to others? What do you think?

Goofing around

Daniel Strauss: Hahahaha. I do all of that stuff for one reason; its fun. I love competing, but I love it even more when I can go out there and mess around and have a bit of fun. I don't mean ANY disrespect when I goof around on the mat. A lot of the time it's because I tell people long before a comp I'm gonna do something, and unlike most people who just talk the talk, I will actually back it up.

For example, about a week before the Grapplers Showdown I was practising going into the crane stance from Karate Kid and when the guy grabs the leg I go for a guillotine. I told a load of people that that is what I was gonna go for. And in my first fight I did it and it worked perfectly!! Of course I did it in my second fight and lost the fight off the takedown hahahahaha. If people misunderstand my actions as arrogant or cocky and it annoys them, then to be honest, I dont really care.

Daniel picks up Leoni for comedy SLAM!

Meerkatsu: Go on, tell us about your mentallist Gorilla logo idea?

Daniel Strauss: Hahahahaha, that's meant to be a secret!!! I want [as my personal logo] a gorilla triangling a lion, bulldog choking a bulldog, and rape choking a shark, all at the same time. And not a logo, a PHOTO!! Hahaha.

Meerkatsu: Video evidence suggests you can’t handle your alcohol? Is this true?

Daniel Strauss: Some may say this. But I deny such claims. However, I will warn you not to have an all you can eat brazilian meat buffet followed by the mass overconsumption of alcoholic beverages.

Meerkatsu: If you are not training, you are always in Nandos. How many chicken pieces do you reckon you stuff down each month?

Daniel Strauss: Roughly 130 wings a month.

Meerkatsu: What are your plans for the next few years?

Daniel Strauss: I'm off to university next month but I hope to continue to train hard and compete regularly, especially internationally. My main goals are to win the gi and nogi World Championships.

Apart from that, I want to medal at the Finnish air guitaring champions and defeat a small bear in a hand-to-paw confrontation.

Meerkatsu: I think you might lose the air guitar comp, moving on, who would you like to give a shout out to and say thanks?

Daniel Strauss: I would like to thank Nick Brooks for everything over the last 5 years. Roger Gracie, Jude Samuals for their continued help. David Onuma for all his time and effort to help me. Andrew Marshall for making me physically, what I am today, even if i refuse to the do the warm up. Faixa Rua and Scramble for believing in me. And finally my parents for all their support and my girlfriend for being patient and very supportive.

Meerkatsu: Finally, who is Brad Mcwilliams and what was all that Fwaff Kun Do stuff about at SENI this year?

Daniel Strauss: A lot of people ask me this question and I really don't know anymore about him that anyone else. I have however herd that it is he who lives inside Chuck Norris's beard and that he taught Fabricio Werdum the triangle arm bar. As for the SENI appearance I hear that as part of his training, he will take the form of a number of different people and fight a tournament at many different belt and weight divisions.

Meerkatsu: But in the video, which has had a remarkable 15,200 views, Brad looks like you. It's you isn't it?

Daniel Strauss: No, it's Brad.

Meerkatsu: No, it's you, come on admit it.

Daniel Strauss: Might be.

Meerkatsu: Okay, see you at training.

Daniel: Yep, see ya.

Who took the suitcases?

Recent video of Daniel at the Go To The Ground nogi tournament:

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Georgette said...

Great interview, his personality just shines through.

And I admit, the crane stance bait sounds wunnerful.. I might be tempted to try it :)

Aaron said...

excellent interview, seem's like a very nice fella

his performance in the video at the end of the interview is beyond awesome!! The crane stance has me well intruiged ;)

Meerkatsu said...

Stay tuned people: the Karate Kid crane stance into guillotine instructional video is COMING!!!!!!!!


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