Nick Rodriguez – The Next Gen Hybrid Grappler
Nick Rodriguez, aka Nicky Rod is a freestyle wrestler and grappler from New Jersey. Over the past two years, Nick has made big waves in the BJJ world by beating a number of high profile opponents. Even more impressive, Nick managed to do so despite having very limited time spent training in the sport. Nick […]

Nick Rodriguez, aka Nicky Rod is a freestyle wrestler and grappler from New Jersey. Over the past two years, Nick has made big waves in the BJJ world by beating a number of high profile opponents. Even more impressive, Nick managed to do so despite having very limited time spent training in the sport. Nick currently trains at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan and is a member of the infamous Danaher Death Squad.

He is well known for his impressive physique and aggressive wrestling style which he uses to his advantage in competitive BJJ. His looks and wrestling skills are complemented by his online conversations which he successfully uses to promote his fights.

Wrestling Nick Rodriguez

Nick Rodriguez is from the south of Jersey. He attended Clayton School where he tried out a number of different sports before entering wrestling.

Nicky Rod wrestles in high school

Nick was drawn to wrestling because of the physical challenge wrestling presented. He also preferred that wrestling was an individual sport where success depended on hard work and preparation.

He finished his senior year with a 111-17 record in the 170 lbs. standard weights. After graduating he secured a place at Ferrum College in Virginia where he continued to wrestle. He only fought during his freshman year at Ferrum College in Virginia, but he managed to compile a decent 34-4 record, which places him at # 12 in the country. He was also included in the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) All-State First Team Wrestling in the 197-pound weight class.

Nick Rodriguez takes on Jiu Jitsu

During his Sophmore year, Nick decided to try his hand at fitness modeling to earn some extra cash. After some early success, he signed with Wilhelmina Models and decided to pursue a career in the industry. Now that he had stopped wrestling, Nick took on BJJ to stay in shape for his new job. He already knew about BJJ and thought it might be a good choice, so sign up for classes at South Jersey BJJ.

Right away his talent was obvious to everyone, including South Jersey coach BJJ Jay Regalbuto. Apparently Nick was able to use his power and speed to immediately pass guard and subdue even the most seasoned grapplers in the academy. After only a month of training, Regalbuto encourages Nick to enter a contest. Nick signed up for an upcoming Grapple industries event and registered in the Super Heavy and Expert Nogi divisions. The tournament could not have gone better for Nick who won 7 in 7 games. 5 of those wins come by way of submission. He beat guys from the blue belt to the black belt, which convinced Regalbuto that he should compete in the next East Coast trials.

South Jersey BJJ is affiliated with Renzo Gracie, so Regalbuto arranged for Rodriguez to receive sessions at other academies such as Tom Deblass' gym and Renzo Gracie's Manhattan headquarters.

Rodriguez fought in the ADCC East Trials and went 3-1 in the competition, falling just short of a qualifying spot. After his performance, he received his purple belt on the podium. After a few more months of training, Nick entered the West Coast trials. He won all three of his matches and beat experienced contenders such as Jimmy Friederich and Jon Hansen on the way to gold. This victory secured him his place for the next ADCC 2019 championship.

Over the next few months, Rodriguez dedicated himself to learning as much as he could and competing as much as possible in preparation for the ADCC. He began training primarily with John Danaher and his team alongside Gordon Ryan and Craig Jones.

While preparing for the ADCC, he explained to BJJ fanatics how Jiu Jitsu had positively changed his life:

Jiu Jitsu has honestly made me a happier person and has helped me tremendously with my relationship skills. The networking involved in the sport has really helped me grow socially. Meeting different people every week allows me to give everyone a better understanding of who I am.


ADCC breakthrough

Rodriguez qualified for the Super Heavy division which included IBJJF World Champion Kaynan Duarte and former ADCC Champion Cyborg Abreu. Nick faced ADCC veterans Orlando Sanchez and Mahammed Aly in his first 2 matches. He failed to score a single point in either game, but won both by decision.

Nick faced Cyborg in an incredibly tight semi-final match. It was not a particularly pretty game but an exciting one because of the intensity brought by both fighters. The game had some fun scrambles and a catch near Rodriguez, but eventually he went into overtime. Cyborg was close to an armband at one point, but Nick escaped. When it was over, the referee awarded the match to Rodriguez, which infuriated Cyborg who started to protest loudly. Cyborg continued his protest off the mat and refused to participate in the match for 3rd / 4th place.

Nick was eventually beaten in the final by Kaynan Duarte who was too technical for Nick. Kaynan won the game 3-0 by taking the gold medal and leaving Nick with the silver.

After the tournament, Nicks' popularity skyrocketed. Many people were shocked that a Blue Belt with only a year or two of BJJ experience made it to an ADCC final.


After ADCC life

Rodriguez continues to train with the Danaher Death Squad and gets other sessions with Tom DeBlass when he can. He also attends the New Jersey Regional Training Center twice a week to keep up his wrestling skills.

Since his success at the ADCC, Nick Rodriguez has also been involved in a number of super fights. Those fights included matches against current UFC fighter Luke Rockhold at Polaris and a rematch with Kaynan Duarte at Fight to Win.

His increased profile visibility also presented other opportunities for Nick. He made no secret that one of his main goals is to make as much money as possible in a relatively short period of time. He was clearly inspired by the success of Gordon and other Nogi grapplers who are part of a new generation of fighters who make big money from Competition and BJJ instructors.

Rodriguez even considered becoming a WWE Artist. Last year, he attended trials at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. However, he seems to be focusing on Nogi Grappling with his main goal being to win gold at the 2021 ADCC Championships.


For just over 3 years I have been training in Kung Fu and Muay Thai. Learning any martial art is a physically and mentally challenging process that takes years of practice to master. Here are 4 tips I wish I had known that can improve your training and reduce the time it takes between novice and grandmaster.

Flexibility is a fundamental trait of any good martial artist. Having this early on in your training will help boost you ahead for many reasons. Firstly, the more advanced techniques in martial arts require you to be extremely flexible, it’s impossible to begin learning them without the required flexibility to do so, and thus you will be learning advanced moves earlier in your training if you’re already performing a perfect split. Secondly, you need to kick high, sometimes higher than your own head. If you’re training in a martial art that is fight orientated, such as kickboxing, being able to kick your opponent in the head is one of the best moves you have in your arsenal of attacks. If you are studying an art such as Kung Fu, flexibility will dramatically improve your technique in forms, helping you to score those extra points in competitions for your technical ability.

One of the best ways to learn, I have found, is directly from the horse’s mouth, in this case your master. Typically, in your classes, your master will demonstrate a technique that they want you to practice with a partner. If they don’t ask for volunteers before performing each technique, go ahead and tell them before the class starts that you would like to be involved in the demonstrations. This will help you get a real feel for what they’re trying to show you, as you can miss subtle techniques that may be out of your vision. Volunteering to be demonstrated on can seem scary, but remember that they are a master of what they do, and they won’t actually be performing the move with the intent to hurt you.

Hitting pads is good for when you’re learning a new move, but you will find you begin performing the technique in a much different way when faced with something that will hit back. Simple things like remembering to cover your head when throwing a kick or punch will become second nature after being punished for dropping your guard, even for a split second. You may be asked or required to participate in a fighting tournament at some point of your martial arts journey, and the best way you can prepare for this is sparring. Remember that it is for the purpose of learning, not knocking each other out as quick as you can. You will begin to learn how to spot and react to your opponent’s openings, and how to defend against different moves. Forget being stronger or faster than your opponent, being an compréhensif fighter is what will give you the advantage come fight night.

Your training doesn’t begin and end when you enter and leave the doors. My Kung Fu master always told us that “practice is good, but perfect practice makes perfect”. When you train at home make sure you are performing each technique properly, as if you were in class, bad habits form fast and are extremely to be undone. Purchasing a large mirror is a great investment so you can analyse yourself at home. Also watching videos of other people performing techniques will help you to see how different techniques should look when you’re not at class.

Did you set a new year resolution this year ? If so, do they happen to be martial arts related ? Do you think you will actually achieve them ?

Statistics for failed New Year’s resolutions run anywhere between 45-80%. Now that another new year is here, it’s time to focus and set our eyes back on the prize in order to not become part of this rather bleak data. tera help you, on this post, I’ll be highlighting a couple personal tips that may help make both your short-term and long-term goals stick

Focusing on small milestones, following your détermination, challenging yourself, and finding what inspires you can help you make improvements for the rest year and meet or even surpass your martial arts goals and beyond !

You’re much more likely to stay motivated and make improvements if you’re doing something you enjoy. What is your absolute favorite thing to do at your martial arts school ? If you love to spar find ways to push yourself harder. Ask your instructor for pointers. Train with higher-ranking students. Seek out tournaments in your area for a challenge.

What if you’re doing what you love, and you’re already good at it, but you don’t know how to improve ? Avoid stagnation by digging deeper into your favorite activity. Find ways to go out of your comfort zone. Ask for help and feedback even in areas where you feel you are at your best. For example, if you enjoy doing forms, ask your instructor to work with you on finer details.

Play around with timing and emphasis. Enter or at least attend a tournament to see how other martial artists practice forms and see what you can learn from them. Seek out master classes, seminars, and clinics in your area. If you want some fun and relaxation while you practice consider taking a martial arts holiday.

Alternatively, you can also work on your training from the comfort of your own home by joining an online martial arts training. As you won’t even have to step foot outside, there’s simply no excuse not to keep up your practice !

Think about your long-term goals and then break it down into small milestones. Do you want to be able to do fifty push-ups in one set, but right now you can only do ten ? Don’t burn yourself out on day one trying to do all fifty. You may injure yourself or simply become discouraged that you can’t reach your goal immediately.

Slow down. Scale back. Try adding five extra push-ups per week, and over time you’ll build up the strength and stamina you need to meet your goal.

Maybe you have transferred schools and need to relearn the particular forms or self-defense techniques practiced at your new school. I have seen this happen with black belts and higher-ranking color belts who have transferred to my dojang. For example, a fellow black belt practiced Taeguk taekwondo forms at her old dojang, but now she needs to learn the Palgwe forms that we practice.

Rather than trying to learn everything at once, which will likely feel overwhelming, start with one technique or one form. Ask an instructor or another black belt for help. Watch videos online. Move on to the next technique when you are able to perform the first one without any guidance or prompts.

Sometimes you have to do things in martial arts that you don’t enjoy as much but you still have to do due to coutume, chic schedules, and keeping your practice well-rounded. Martial arts may be the hardest thing you do, but it shouldn’t feel like drudgery. Think about what you don’t enjoy as much in class or what you dread doing, and try to figure out why you avoid it. Perhaps you don’t like it because you’re not very skilled ( yet ), you don’t do it very often, you find it stressful, or you simply find it boring.

Challenge yourself. Find the “fun” in something that has simply felt like work. It’s easy to get better at something you enjoy and you’re naturally good at doing. Just think of how it will feel when you make improvements in an area where you have continuously struggled.

Leveraging your strengths can help you develop skills in areas where you struggle. For example, if sparring is particularly challenging, be mindful of other times when you use blocks or strikes such as in forms or self-defense. Make them as sharp and powerful as you would in a faster-paced sparring match. Ask your instructor to incorporate quick reaction drills into classes. Attend extra sparring classes, and if you are a black belt or higher ranking, attend lower ranking sparring classes and offer to coach or referee. Teaching a skill can help you make vast improvements in your own practice.

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