Keith Owen – The Applications of Jiu Jitsu

February 3, 2013
5 minutes read

I first saw Keith in his old Youtube video back before I had my own academy, and more recently in his self-defense and survival videos. Until I interviewed Ari Bolden with Submissions 101, I never realized that Keith was Ari’s BJJ instructor – having reached out to him years ago at this height of his “web hater popularity” and telling him not to let the mean ones get him down. I decided to reach out to Keith myself to interview him with regards to what he’s doing now on and off the mat.

Early Beginnings with Pedro Sauer

Keith was into martial arts well before his formal BJJ training, but after learning of this new-fangled “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” in Black Belt Magazine, Keith knew that he had to get into this stuff. After watching the first UFC, Keith found out that other than California, there was actually a relatively local spot for him to train with the legendary BJJ instructor Pedro Sauer.

He was hooked, and in 13 years of hard training he attained the rank of Black Belt. He’s certainly one of the few Americans who even knew what BJJ was in the year 1993 – never mind being fortunate enough to have an authentic teacher locally.

Project Survival on the Mat and Beyond

Keith Owen shares his thoughts on Science of Skill

 Keith’s newest project is his video channel Survival Skills 101. In addition to covering everything from how to store gasoline to how to hold and shoot a semi-auto handgun, his applies BJJ skills to real self-defense – addition to experimenting with weapons in the ground (a vastly under-explored domain of ground skills).

He believes that knowing how to grappling with street clothes and shoes is a relatively essential step to getting a “feel” for what an actual self defense situation might be like (yes, when you’re not wearing a gi!) – in addition to knowing what it’s like when you’re not on a nice soft mat. These are the areas of BJJ application that Keith is delving into at present with some of the students at his academy.

Trends and Directions of the Sport and Art

I caught up with Keith before the end of our interview about the trends and directions of the sport.

One trend, oddly enough, that Keith sees as potentially dangerous to the potential self-defense purpose of BJJ is it’s “Sportive” element eclipsing all other applications. He views BJJ as making a transition to a young man’s game like college football, a spectator sport that might draw more “viewers” than truly engaged, martial arts students. Of course competition serves to further the sport, but Keith believes in keeping the self-defense applications alive for those who train BJJ for purposes outside the competition mat.

Another trend Keith sees as potentially dangerous is the easy attainments of belts. He believes that it’s nearly impossible to grasp the necessary “Black Belt” knowledge in such a short span of time – and though some of these grapplers might be competitors, it’s harder for them to be as much of a Master as someone who’s been in the art for a decade. I tend to argue on the side of proper training  leading to faster results, but I know what Keith is referring to – and I think that there is a danger of the sport going in a totally sportive direction.

A Big Thanks

Keith’s only “shout out” was to his instructor Pedro Sauer – whom he referred to fondly as “the greatest BJJ instructor walking this earth!” I wanted to give an extra thank you to Keith himself for taking an interview with Science of Skill, and also for expanding and sharing BJJ in the self defense domain. You can watch more of Keith on his Survival channel, or see his content featured on Submissions 101.

Keep rolling, and tall the best,

-Daniel Faggella

Science of Skill
Science of Skill

A post from the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.

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