Craig Jones is an incredibly successful grappler who is regularly placed among the best on the planet, popular worldwide for his exciting and attacking submission style, ever progressing wealth of knowledge, and incredibly likeable and humorous persona.
The grappling world has seen him rise to prominence through competing at the highest levels of the sport, collecting highlight reel victories over outstanding opponents and cementing himself as one of the most skilled practitioners on the globe. He is at the very least in the top five best grapplers on the planet, potentially number two (in a very on-brand way of course).
His association with the Danaher Death Squad and rapid progression with the team really opened the worlds eyes to his potential. And after forming B-Team Jiu-Jitsu and continuing to boost his massive following with consistently valuable online content, he truly has transcended the sport and become a household name, even appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience alongside UFC world champion Alexander Volkanovski and famously cornering him in his most high-profile fights.
Another aspect of Jones’ fame is his not-so-overlooked heritage. Being of Australian descent, he stands out on the world scene as part of his overall character comes from that classic Aussie banter developed through years of merciless back and forth exchanges with his closest family and friends.
It’s no secret, he comes from a land down under. More specifically Adelaide, South Australia. I too share this hometown with the elite grappler himself and wanted to share a unique perspective on Craig Jones that maybe, the world hasn’t quite acknowledged just yet.
In a time in this country where grappling was in it’s true infancy, a few clubs and academies started to pop up with some strange yet dedicated practitioners, all striving towards the progression of their own skills and attempting to take in any and all knowledge that was presented to them by their limited sources.
Even though I started slightly before Craig Jones and his brother Adam, and wasn’t from the same club, it was instantly obvious that he had the makings of an elite grappler. It was not long before he started entering every competition he could and dominating the scene, including dominating me personally from time to time, an experience I have yet to shake from my darkest nightmares. Jones, along with close training partners at the time Lachlan Warne and Lachlan Conway were putting it on the line at every turn, breaking the mould and seeking the most relevant and modern knowledge they could get their hands on from Ryan Hall instructionals to underground secret Berimbolo tactics, drilling them tirelessly to perfect a new wave of educated techniques.
Jones was known at the time for a sharp Z-Guard and Triangle Choke attacking strategy that he was able to hit on absolutely everyone whether in gi or no gi. He created a system from the position that he was able to transplant and replicate into many areas of his game, creating a process based approach to technique development long before John Danaher introduced him to systemized approach to grappling.
What I want to state is that this journey, this rise, this overnight success story that the rest of the world was not privy to, in our eyes from the hometown perspective: was not easy at all. For those who were paying attention, we witnessed Jones take one hard step after another other to reach the heights that he has today. He had to make self funded trips to the USA to compete at NAGA events with no dollarydoos to his name, simply to get the competition experience and exposure necessary to actually improve. There was no instructional video sales money coming through, no seminar bookings or merch related passive income, it was all blood sweat and tears… and beers… that got them through (also talent and hard work if you haven’t gathered that).
Craig Jones had to make a tough decision for his career as a grappler to uproot from his hometown and move interstate to Melbourne, becoming a member of the rising elite squad at Absolute MMA Melbourne, coached by Lachlan Giles. With rolling partners such as Kit Dale and Ben Hodgkinson, Jones was initially middle-of-the-pack at the time but he quickly rose through the ranks again. He soaked up every piece of information he could and immediately began applying it to his own game and pre-existing systems. This was the advent of the Down Under Leg Lock Machine that was about to break out on to the world stage in a big way. Jones immersed himself in study, refinement and a search for the perfect techniques. The metamorphosis had begun. Jones often lulls you in to thinking he is just built on talent, but make no mistake, behind the larrakin persona is one of the best analytical minds in the game and it was built through this constant pursuit of truth in technique.
I believe from here; you all know the story. One outstanding performance after the next against practitioners such as Nathan Orchard, Chael Sonnen, Tim Spriggs, Jake Shields, Nicholas Meregali, Roberto Jimenez, Gilbert Burns, Keenan Cornelius and perhaps most famously; Leandro Lo. He has even pushed Gordon Ryan to his absolute limit in a classic EBI match where he reportedly damaged Ryan’s arm after locking on an overtime armbar. (I’m not going to mention the ADCC silver medals… you already know).
Even at this point though, more hard choices, and hard luck, was on the way. Relocating again to New York to train with the Danaher Death Squad was massive feat for a young man following his dreams. A place where he made massive improvements and spent time rising through the ranks of the room, he also suffered harsh staph infections, a horrific eye infection and a famously grotesque complication to the Covid-19 vaccine, before once again packing up and travelling with the team to Puerto Rico to keep the dream alive in a time when the world shut down.
Ultimately, this led to a final relocation and culmination of efforts as Jones settled in Austin, Texas, opened B-Team Jiu-Jitsu, started producing elite level instructional material, amassed a team of grapplers at the forefront of global progression and hasn’t looked back since…. Or has he?
The perspective I want to share with you is this. Even at this stage of his career, the connection with little old Adelaide runs strong.
His brother Adam Jones, along with a network of likeminded and forward thinking local individuals such as Myles Simpson, Lachlan Conway and Lachlan Warne; are working with him to set up a direct line of communication with B-Team Jiu-Jitsu, directly benefitting the grappling community here in South Australia. This helped pave the way for stand outs such as Adelaide breakout stars Declan Moody and Nora Schultz to follow the blueprint of success and gain access to elite training and competitive opportunities on an international stage. An opportunity that they have grabbed by the horns and wrestled to the ground, proving that hard work pays off, with a rapid rise through the elite ranks on the international scene.
Sending down B-Team Members straight to Adelaide such as Jozef Chen and Ethan Crelinsten to run seminars and boost the talent pool, even from across the other side of the world Jones’ influence can still be felt. And when he returns home for a Christmas visit, he always hosts a hometown seminar that the entire state flocks to.
Initiatives such as the M16 Open and invitational events have been run by Adam and Myles to create an opportunity for local talent to compete consistently in an ADCC ruleset and this has been made possible bythe influence that Craig Jones has had worldwide as an elite grappler. We are incredibly thankful, and incredibly proud, that a young man from Woodcroft stepped out and paved the way for the new generation to shine.
We saw the effort, the hardship, the perseverance, and the dedication from day one, and all of us here in humble South Australia, can’t wait to see what’s next. As for the rest of us down here? We will keep working together to support the next Craig Jones, the next Declan Moody, the next Nora Schultz and the next breakout star after that.
The community here is strong, and we plan on making it stronger. The way we do that is to keep collaborating, keep pushing progression of technique and keep putting it on the line just like those who inspire us do. The future is bright thanks to the hard work of those who came before us.
So, after all is said and done, my final thought and the last thing I have to say about the elite grappler that is Craig Jones is simply this:
Thank you. You truly are Australia’s greatest grappler.