If there was a Grappling Mount Rushmore, carved into the mountains of history with the most important American grapplers to have ever stepped on the mats, Dean Lister’s face would be among them. Dean is one of the pioneers of both jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts, having been one of the earliest leg attack experts who could arguably have been responsible for the rise of the current crop of leg attack gunslingers like the team known as the Danaher Death Squad, made up of the likes of Garry Tonon, Eddie Cummings, and Gordon Ryan among others. As an instructor and coach, Dean Lister has been sought all over the world for his combat knowledge.
Dean's story is similar to many martial arts practitioners in that he was drawn to the martial arts after feeling the need to be able to defend himself as he was not the biggest kid in class, but he was often the new kid. Also, by keeping an open mind and absorbing effective techniques from other disciplines, he brought a leg lock foundation that he was able to build on and achieve a high degree of success with throughout his career.
Dean Lister Grappling Achievements
Dean Lister has had and continues to have an illustrious career in a variety of combat genres, from wrestling, to sambo, to jiu jitsu and submission grappling, along with mixed martial arts fighting in some of the most prestigious organizations like Pride and the UFC. As an American submission grappling pioneer his biggest impact has been on the ADCC mats.
- ADCC Champion 2011
- ADCC Superfight Champion 2005
- ADCC Open Weight Champion 2003
Dean Lister Instructional Videos
Dean Lister burst onto the high level grappling scene bringing knowledge of lower body submissions and systems nearly two decades ago and used this knowledge to dominate the ADCC mats.
Legend has it that his discussions with Renzo Gracie black belt John Danaher years ago is what opened the mastermind behind the Danaher Death Squad's eyes regarding lower body submissions. Essentially, the story goes that Dean asked why should we only focus on half of the body when it came to our grappling? Such a simple question, but one that challenged the very metaphysics of BJJ. And from this early conversation, Danaher has gone on to instructor and coach some of the top grapplers in the sport today.
Dean Lister is also a much sought after instructor and one of the first American's to put much of his teaching out there for students to learn from. From his K.A.T.C.H system where he teaches all of his favorite leg attacks, to wreak havoc on opponent's knees, toes, heels and ankles to his Worry Free Escapes and Grappling Hacks, Dean shares all of his highest percentage attacks which will terrorize opponents.
The K.A.T.C.H. System
This is the classic foundation of Dean's lower body attack system.
Worry Free Escapes
Leg Attacks and Grappling Hacks
Dean Lister Biography
Dean Lister grew up in a military family and spent much of his youth abroad in various South American countries. At the end of the 80’s, his family even found themselves in the middle of a military invasion in Panama. Afterwards settling in the San Diego area, Dean developed his desire to defend himself, most likely due to the fact that he was often changing schools and always finding himself as the new kid who was a little smaller than the other kids. He gravitated towards wrestling and excelled at it. It was through his wrestling coaches that he eventually began to learn the lower body attacks of Sambo and would lead to him competing and being successful in that art as well. He would discover Brazilian Jiu Jitsu through Fabio Santos’ academy in San Diego and would eventually spend nearly a decade training there. Having the wandering heart and wanting to ultimately become a mixed martial artist, led him from the academy as a brown belt and he would ultimately earn his black belt from fellow Santos student and black belt Jeffrey Higgs.
Dean would compete in the prestigious ADCC tournament a total of 6 times with victories over some of the greatest competitors to ever step on the mats. His most famous event was most likely the 2003 Absolute run which saw Dean defeat four straight opponents, including Saulo Ribeiro after having been defeated at his weight class by Saulo’s brother Xande.
Dean Lister would go off to have a mixed martial arts career that would span over 20 fights in the most prestigious events of the time, King of the Cage, Pride Fighting Championships and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He would also serve as coach to other MMA fighters like Tito Ortiz.
Today Dean continues to teach and compete around the world with his homebase being Victory Mixed Martial Arts in San Diego, where he teaches amongst friends and fellow instructors like black belts Jeff Glover and Jocko Willink.
In the short documentary film Dean Lister shares some of his background and thoughts on Jiu Jitsu.