MMA / Grappling Interview - Nathan Leverton - Leicester Shootfighters Team Part 2

I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Mr Nathan Leverton of the Leicester Shootfighters fame. Nathan is a warrior and a gentleman and in this multipart interview you will gain some insight into his philosophy, training ethos and tips for part time grapplers. For Part I of this interview please go here.

- Give us your top 5 tips for time-management (to fit exercise around life)

I'm one of the least time efficient people you'll ever meet, my wife calls me "Last Minute Leverton" lol. I have learnt a few things over the years that have helped me and those close to me though...

1. Have a short to do list, only the one to three most important things, don't list everything you can think of as you'll get overwhelmed or do the unimportant stuff first.

2. Deciding what you'll not do is as important as what you will do. Identify the one or two non-essential things you'll lose the most time doing and pick that as a thing not to do that day.

3. Good is good enough. Been the hardest one to learn for me. Tinkering away with something forever has you going around in circles and losing perspective, it will never be exactly the way you want it so let it go. Keeping things to yourself is not being a perfectionist, feedback is part of the process of growth, get it as good as you can by a deadline and put it out there. You'll learn more and quicker from feedback than keeping it to yourself anyway.

4. The opposite of a lot of self-help books, say "No" more. But do it for the right reasons. Don't say it because you find something scary or challenging, but do if saying yes will get you stuck in a role or position or give you responsibilities that aren't yours and is simply someone else using you to save them time or effort (no matter how they try to disguise it).

5. Get things done earlier in the day. The later in day you schedule to do something the more time there is for problems to stack up and get in the way of it.

- Now let’s balance that with what you consider the top 5 time-thieves.

Can I please have "The Internet" as numbers one to five?!

Social media in particular is a huge time thief so I recently got rid of my personal facebook and just use business profiles now.

Also started using the Freedom application which is great, switches off your internet for a preset amount of time. Simple but brilliant.

- Do you feel that there is a difference in style of jiu jitsu / grappling from academy to academy? What do you think is the reason behind that?

For sure there are with some, especially when the instruction at an academy mostly comes from one coach. Although the proliferation of instructional material and the internet is perhaps lessening the effect now.

If you think of all the technical elements, physical attributes, training methods, mindset considerations etc that come in to play expressing grappling then the combinations are endless and an instructor is likely to favour only a certain blend which will filter down to the students no matter how flexible his approach.

Also, the cross section of clientele may be a factor on how an academies style; something which can change from academy to academy depending on location, price, marketing, affiliations, personality of the instructor etc.

- Similarly, do you feel that there is a difference in style of instruction from academy to academy?

I can't say I've experienced a wide range of grappling instruction as I have only ever attended one or two classes. My main exposure to other coaches has been through videos and seminars which often take a similar format. I've been told by visitors to the academy that I have quite an academic approach and although I teach fundamentals most of the time I tend to cover more moves in one session than other instructors. 

- Tell us how you started in MA?

Movies. Karate Kid to be precise. Simple as that really; I saw Karate Kid, loved it and wanted to start straight away. 

I also saw Breakdance and Footloose so wanted to be a dancer but my cousin did Karate and I didn't know anyone who was dancer so went along to the same club he trained at.

- Why do you train?

I train because I enjoy it. Why else would I?

I'm a martial artist and always have been so it doesn't occur to me not to do it.

- Why do you teach?

Because I get to share the benefits of martial arts with others.

And it means I don't have to have a "proper job".

- When did you put together your current syllabus?

To me, the Leverage Submission Grappling Fundamentals Syllabus is something I've been working on since I first got in to grappling. I'm a compulsive lister and notetaker so have always been trying to organise what I know.

Obviously I've taught much of the material on classes for years but I officially launched the Fundamentals Syllabus in 2012 as a set of 6 seminars.

- What are these seminars about?

The Fundamentals Seminar Series is a set of 6 sessions, totaling around 30 hours, that details the primary techniques of the Leverage Submission Grappling system in a step-by-step and detailed style.

It is a hybrid style drawing from multiple grappling arts and my experiences in the martial arts.

The breakdown for the modules looks like this:

Seminar 01: Basic Skills, Mount.
Seminar 02: Basic Skills, Side Control.
Seminar 03: Turtle, Back Mount.
Seminar 04: Closed Guard.
Seminar 05: Open Guard, Guard Passing.
Seminar 06: Half Guard, Headlocks and Bodylocks.

- Why did you create them and for whom?

I was told by many people learning and teaching grappling that they were doing so in a haphazard fashion in their academies. There would be some who put the pieces together but many would be lost in the wilderness along the way and I believed there was room for a more systematic approach. 

In addition, I've always stressed an importance on fundamentals so wanted to get those techniques down on paper in a structured fashion and share them in a format where I'd have more time to cover it in depth. 

Also, I also wanted to start putting together a syllabus focused on high percentage fundamentals that could be the basis for a grading structure. Most other arts have reaped the benefits of awarding students for their increasing levels of technical knowledge and practical skill and I felt submission grappling had missed the boat. Giving students goals and motivation other than open competition seems like a no brainer if we wish to increase participation in grappling arts.

The seminar series seemed the quickest way to get the system out there so I simply announced the first dates online and waited to see what the response would be. The first session sold out well in advance and every one since has been well attended. 

The seminars are very information heavy but suitable for all levels. The mix so far has been about 1/2 students from my academy, 1/4 students from other gyms and 1/4 coaches from other academies.

- How can we find out more?

The most up to date place to keep track of what's happening is the facebook page at or contact me at

- Do you have any regrets?

No. The past is just that, past.

I thank my good man Mr Nathan Leverton for taking the time to conduct this interview with me.



Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters

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