How did you become interested in learning the martial arts?
I grew up in a single parent household and my mom couldn’t make ends meet. I had wanted to do martial arts since I was 7 but we just couldn’t afford it. I saw a karate demonstration at my school at that age and knew that I “had” to do martial arts. I didn’t start taking martial arts lessons until I was 16 when I got a job and started paying for them myself. I never looked back. In the early 90’s after I got my black belt in Kung-fu I saw an article on the Gracies and was intrigued. They were beating up everyone. Later I saw Royce Gracie tap out Dan Severn with a triangle choke and thought that’s the martial art I need to train in. I found Professor Pedro Sauer in Salt Lake and I never looked back.
What personally drove you to learning jiujitsu?
A small guy can beat a big guy using technique. Think of what a big guy like me could do using Technique? I thought this was “the way!”
If you had to pick 3 of your favorite techniques, what would they be?
- The Fog Choke-Keith Owen “Lights Out”
- The Triangle Choke and the 10th Planet “Gansta Lean”
- Deep Half Guard
- Hip Compression- Keith Owen Favorite Moves Vol 1
- The Biermbolo -I’m playing with this-I suck at it
- The Twister and the truck-10 Planet
- The Eziquel choke-Keith Owen “Lights out” via James Foster
- Arm in Guillotine
A little more than three..sorry.
Who are a few of your mentors and what impact have they had on you?
I don’t know about many mentors but I have numerous people who have had a profound effect on me so since you asked I’m going to share.
- My Wife Shirlane- 21 years and going strong. She should have divorced me a long time ago.
- Professor Pedro Sauer-The best instructor in the world. He has forgotten more then I know.
- Sifu Joesph Cowles- My Wu Wei Instructor and former student of Bruce Lee
- Tren Long- One of my purple belts who has produced all of my videos and my toughest student.
- Matt Owen (no relation) One of my purple belts. He and his son Dylan are the rock of my school.
- Dean Heileman who got his black belt before he died of Cancer. Got me motivated in Jiu-Jitsu.
- Royce Gracie for showing me “The Way.”
- Allen Hopkins-One of the most technical black belts of the Pedro Sauer Association-He helped me out a lot going up the ladder.
- Professor Sergio Penha in Las Vegas for being a great example and giving me another perspective of Jiu-Jitsu.
- My Mom-The most emotionally tough women I have ever met.
and I’m forgetting my friends, Damon Tong (My business mentor), Rob Smith (one of my instructors) and Rob Namer (my firearms business partner). I would not be where I am without the help of these people.
How do you feel about martial arts for: the dojo, the street, and for competition?
You asked about Martial arts and not specifically BJJ so I’m going to give you my opinion of the Martial arts in general. I think a lot of martial arts are practiced in the dojo and then the instructor brags about how street lethal their martial art is. They never test anything out to verify. I often say that most martial arts instructors have four years of martial arts training repeated three or four times over. Competition is a little closer to the street because you are going up against another human being – but the rules of the contest can make a person lose their edge and fight by the rules. For instance, MMA doesn’t allow groin kicking or eye gouging. Kicking the guy in the groin and eye gouging are great self defense techniques for the street. Just look at the guys who get kicked in the groin or eye gouged in MMA they typically need time to recover. I’m a big fan of martial arts for the street and for competition, you just need to put it in perspective for what you are doing and know that there is a difference. Just because you have one down doesn’t mean you know the other.
Are you a big fan of competition fighting? Why or why not? (and if so, who do you like to follow)
After having said my previous comments- I love competition bjj and I love MMA. My favorite BJJ competitors are Marcello, Saulo, Jeff Glover and Roger Gracie. My favorite MMA fighters are Johny “Bones” Jones, Anderson Silva, Nick and Nate Diaz, Clay Guida and GSP and my son Alex Owen (laughs).
What is your stance and/or concerns about online learning?
Well, since I have a lot of videos and an online download site (www.keithowenonline.com) I think it would be a bit hypocritical to say that it’s a bad thing (laughs). Seriously, I think the internet has made bjj more accessible then ever to the masses. It really helps in getting students everywhere better. I do think that the best way to train for the average person is too have an awesome bjj instructor to show you the technique, then you go to as many seminars as you possibly can and then you top it off with online or video training. I think that would be the perfect regimen. This is a great time to be alive and training in BJJ and Martial arts in general.
How effective (do you believe) jiujitsu is in self-protection?
This comment is going to piss a lot of BJJ guys off but Jiu-Jitsu is not my first martial art for the street. It’s my back-up martial art – done if I’m taken down, slip or take someone down if I get attacked. The pavement, parking lot, side of the road, gravel, snow, ice, wet grass or a field of stickers is no place to ground fight. I want to knock that mutha out or be able to evade and escape if a weapon is presented or their is multiple attackers.I also don’t think in many cases that arm bars are very effective in ending a fight in a life or death ground fighting situation. You could break a dedicated opponents arm and in many cases he could keep on fighting. It’s far more effective to use some kind of choke that would make an opponent pass out. I think on the other hand if you are just a stand up fighter and you get taken down then you are in a world of hurt, so Jiu-Jitsu is important but for me it’s my last resort in a real fight. I’m not going to put up my dukes and then run over and jump into the guard (laughs).I would also like to add that the gi is a very effective tool to practice self defense. Many attackers are wearing coats and pants and the more opportunity you have to choke a dude out, the better.
What elements of jiujitsu would you teach your wife/daughter or loved one for self-protection?
Collar Choke, Arm Bar and Triangle Choke from the Guard because that is where they will likely be in an attack situation. i know I said that the arm bar wasn’t very effective but it’s hard for an attacker in a rape situation to get aroused when they have a freshly dislocated or broken arm and anyway, the police can have a free clue as to who the attacker was.
What is one thing that you’d like to emphasize to the beginning jiujitsu student?
I don’t have just one but the first “things” I would emphasize is to have fun, play around and get better. I want my new students to work on getting rid of their ego so that getting better is the goal and not having to win at any cost. Many guys don’t like to tap out and they take it personal. They will often quit because they think they are lousy at Jiu-jitsu and since they are lousy it’s no fun. We also can’t afford injuries at this level because shoulder and knee surgeries are expensive and people’s spouses aren’t too keen on letting them come back after a sever injury, It would be a shame if a potential world champion quit at the beginning because of ego or injury. I promise that if they get rid of ego, do their best, keep an open mind, come to class, take care of their partners, get addicted to BJJ and stay loyal that I will take them to Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu Mastery, I promise.
You’ve got 6 months to train… the money is on the table, who would you personally like to “have a go at.” (it could be anybody, living…dead. just a fantasy questions)
I would train (friendly) with any bjj black belt for free as long as they have good technique. I would super fight anyone for money though, What the hell (laughs).
Mr. Owen, we thank you greatly for giving us this interview.
– if you’d like to learn more about Mr. Keith Owen, please visit his website by clicking the picture at the top of the page. For his instructional videos, click here