You have a very unique approach to learning jiu-jitsu. Can you tell us about it?

My approach is rooted in understanding the art form from a general movement perspective. We must first learn how to move with our partner collaboratively before we can reach a point of deep understanding to overcome our partner’s resistance. I deconstruct the art into a framework that identifies that we have certain movement objectives and finishing objectives. It makes learning more task orientated and it gives a lot more clarity especially to those who are more novice in the practice.

Where do you pull inspiration from for your jiu-jitsu and learning methods?

A big inspiration came from the dance world. I was fortunate to spend some time in Berlin, amongst other places, the last few years with my good friend Tom Weksler. He really shares a similar lens with me in the way that we think, but mainly from the world of performance and dance. Dance also has a lot more history with teaching methods and pedagogy, which is largely lacking in the jiu-jitsu world.

How can someone get better at jiu-jitsu faster?

Train with intention. Think and evaluate more. Create a framework for understanding yourself and your game better. You want to assess the things that you are generally good at but also it’s important to practice moves that you are genuinely attracted to, simply because you will practice it more!

You believe firmly in cross-training, or training with people outside of your own school? Why?

As with many things in life, the more exposure you get, the more you can see and experience. Every school, every person, every gym has a different set of problems to solve. The ultimate task in Jiu jitsu is to problem solve in a live environment. I love testing myself and seeing what other people’s jiu-jitsu is like. I’m a curious person, what can I say!

You’re a self proclaimed nomad, but where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A bit more stable I think, I’ve joked with my partner that I would change my Instagram handle to @thegroundedmars when it happens. 😂 There’s so many versions of reality, but I do think New York is still strongly a big part of where I’ll be.

Whats your best piece of advice for someone starting their martial arts journey?

Stay curious. Prioritize enjoyment and learning. Be open minded and don’t always prioritize winning. Be good to your training partners. The gym is a reflection of society’s interactions, if we are nice to one another, it will thrive as a whole ecosystem. It’s not just about you.

Follow Margot here on IG and check out her online coaching here.

Will Safford