Hey Lloyd, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! Could you just give us a brief bio about yourself, who you are, where you're from, where you train?
I am Lloyd Cooper sometimes known as the Yorkshire Gripper an important distinction between me and the Ripper, is that I prefer breaking feet as opposed to being a serial killer.... I'm a second degree black belt and I run my own team Gripper Jiu Jitsu in East Yorkshire. I have been known over the years to leg lock a few people and be a bit shouty
You have been involved with Jiu Jitsu now for a long time, when you got started BJJ was nowhere near as popular as it is today. How did you hear about Jiu Jitsu and what made you decide to get started?
I was around 21 & just lifting weights to try and look massive and shredded ( the goal remains today 😊 ) - for going to the pub at the weekend when a buddy suggested I tried this MMA/BJJ stuff with him – I got the living shit kicked out of my thighs in the MMA class for the first hour – then in the second hour a 14 year old repeatedly triangled me to the point my ego caused me to get choked unconscious at the end of the round.
It shocked me and killed all of my understanding of what it takes to fight – coincidentally thick pythons in your t shirt look good but aren’t up to much in a scrap – so I was hooked from day 1
Speaking of getting started in Jiu Jitsu, what piece of advice would you wish you had listened to in terms of training/improving in BJJ? What advice would you give to people getting started in BJJ today or who have just got started.
There is no expectation to be unbeatable or the best in the room – Learn to love failure and push yourself to fail often, And compete more and more especially recently with IG Youtube – nobody wants to compete and lose potentially – when in reality nobody gives a shit about anyone else so get out there
You have competed all over the world and on some of the biggest stages around, what has been your most memorable moment in competition?
Oddly it isn't moments like winning the Europeans that was relatively a underwhelming feeling. It is hard to pick one but there have been plenty of times over the years of turning up to a competition with the team and all of us doing damage in our own divisions is always a brilliant feeling. but if I had to pick one it would have to be submission victory at Polaris in Manchester. that was probably the pinnacle of feelings jujitsu can give you. if you think drugs are bad try a submission victory on a big show 😊
As someone who has had major success in Gi and No Gi, what are thoughts on that debate? Do you think that it is better to train both or focus just on one style for up and coming competitors? Has your background in gi helped your no gi game vice versa?
They are completely different things in my opinion now so very different paces and strategic approaches, I think if you are full time you can be great at both but you have to have a very considered approach to your strategy. if you want to be good but do not have the option of full time training I think you have to do something similar to what I have chosen in doubling down completely on nogi. personally my game was not much different in the Gi - if you watch my matches back from winning the euros in 2017 it was all X card and early K guard stuff to enter the legs.
You have an innovative approach to leglocks and have become one of Europe’s best leg-lockers. Who/what inspired you to develop this part of your game? Do see leg locks falling out of “style” or are now a feature of BJJ for the long term?
The one thing I love about leg locks is that they carry a certain amount of woo - people have a very weird approach where they would probably prefer to get arm locked than you mess around with their legs, so that decreases their commitment to attack you if they know you are pursuing their legs, very interesting but my only two submission foot lock losses have been my biggest inspiration to develop my own game, once at purple belt and once on Polaris. And yes everybody just wants to do wrestling now so I'm waiting 5 plus years until the next leg lock wave is back and I'll be cool again
What are you focusing on this year in terms of BJJ, any competitions coming up or seminar, etc…
My focus at the moment is on really building the gym and the gym's brand as I have spent too many years just focusing on being a competitor, but being a good coach also means leading from the front so I will do a small amount of submission only competitions this year to keep sharp and for enjoyment. of course, on the seminar front I'm always busy there spreading the gospel of ACL destruction…
Anything you would like to add?
it's great to be part of team Progress after being friends with the squad since the very beginning, and thanks to agent Kam for tapping me up to come across. I am looking forward to me and him taking the piss out of everything on social media
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for our Progress Jiu Jitsu community. We are super happy to have you back with the team!