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What Separates Gordon Ryan from Everyone Else

What Separates Gordon Ryan from Everyone Else


When you look at the meteoric rise that Gordon Ryan has had in just three short years, it's almost unbelievable.

In 2016 he came into EBI 6 on just a single weeks’ notice, a replacement for his injured teammate Eddie Cummings. Relatively unknown at the time, Gordon tore through the entire tournament. Submitting Jacen Flynn, Marcello Bergo, ADCC 2015 Champion Yuri Simoes, and ADCC placer Rustam Chsiev in the finals.

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Since then Gordon has gone on to win Gold at the 2017 ADCC Championships, Double Gold (Weight and Absolute) at the 2018 IBJJF NoGi Pan American Championships, and Double Gold (Weight and Absolute) at the 2018 IBJJF NoGi World Championships. A feat that only a handful of other grapplers can claim to have accomplished.

Even more impressive is the fact that Gordon has been able to accomplish all of this in a time where the Jiu Jitsu world lives and breathes video. There are hundreds of videos of him grappling available on the internet, full analysis videos breaking down every little detail of his game, and even and the entire submission system that John Danaher teaches to all of the Death Squad members is available for purchase through Yet, despite all of that, the puzzle that is Gordon Ryan has still proven to be one that's extremely difficult to solve.

Even with what would appear to be the recipe to beating him being available to the world, you have to wonder what it is that keeps him at the top. The answer to that question is just a single very simple concept. A concept that almost everyone else in the world fails at.

John Danaher has referred to this concept or notion as Kaizen, the Japanese term for continuous improvement. It's something that's breed into the Japanese culture, and a large reason for their economic success over the years. And at first it would seem like continuous improvement is a very simple mindset that everyone should be able to adopt. But in practice it's definitely not.

There are two main reasons that it's not. First, once you get to the level that Gordon has obtained, it's easy to think that you're already better than everyone else so there's no need to improve. You believe that you're already the best because what you do is already perfect. But without continual improvement it really is only a matter of time until someone finds that little hole in your game and exploits it. Especially at the level that Gordon is at, where he is constantly being put under a microscope every single time he grapples.

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Gordon however, is known to be one of his own harshest critics. Every match is looked back on to see what was done wrong and how it can be improved. Regardless of whether he won or lost. Strictly abiding by this mentality means that even if you found what you thought was a chink in his armor, by the time you faced him at the next event, that chink would no longer be there.

The second reason it's not easy, is the level of motivation that is required to put in the large amount of work that's needed for continuous improvement. It's easy to say that all you have to do is show up, but showing up by itself is not as easy as people think. Then on top of that, when you're chasing continuous improvement, the closer you get to perfection, the more you understand that perfection is not possible. There's always going to be a counter, to a counter, to a counter. No single anything is ever going to be perfect. Understanding that you’re chasing a goal that you're guaranteed to never accomplish can be extremely demoralizing. Yet, the best in the world continue to do so.

It's a path that most people are not capable of following. A path where you know that even though you are the best in the world now, you won't be able to maintain that position if you're not continually improving. A path were you are forever chasing the goal of perfection, knowing that you'll never achieve it. The best in the world will continue to drive down that path despite all of that.

If you like Gordon Ryan, check out his instructional from BJJ Fanatics, "Getting Swole As a Grappler". It gives you his exact program, tips, diet advice and more on how to achieved jackedness and be a complete bad ass on the mats.  


Getting Swole As A Grappler By Gordon Ryan


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