Meet the Machine, Dave Camarillo (#196)


“Rocket science is not rocket science if you’re a rocket scientist.” 

– Dave Camarillo

Dave Camarillo (@DaveCamarillo) was my long-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) coach (see him kicking my ass repeatedly here). Put simply, he is a machine.

On the Mat once said: “It’s funny that everybody in Judo is scared of David’s ne waza and everybody in Jiu-Jitsu is scared of his stand up. (We) guess people, in general, are just scared of him.”

Dave is a very technical coach and an elite-level Jiu-Jitsu competitor. He dominated the lightweight and open weight classes at the 1998 Rickson Gracie American Jiu-Jitsu Association tournament; the legendary Rickson Gracie himself bestowed the honor of Most Technical American Jiu-Jitsu Fighter upon him.

He has worked not only with people on the ground game, but many recognizable MMA (mixed martial arts) figures as a coach and as a corner man.

We’ll delve into:

  • Tactical training
  • Military training
  • Hockey fights
  • Defending yourself armed only with a flashlight
  • How Dave’s mom is the best sniping shot in the entire family
  • And much, much more.


#196: Meet the Machine, Dave Camarillo

Want to hear another episode with an incredible athlete?  — Listen to this interview with Amelia Boone, who has been called the Michael Jordan of obstacle course racing (OCR). In this episode, she explores her training, nutrition, rehab, “pre-hab,” and more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#127: Amelia Boone on Beating 99% of Men and Suffering for a High-Performance Life

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Dave Camarillo:

Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Position Impossible Podcast

Show Notes

  • Dave takes in my house. [05:35]
  • We met at an MMA event punctuated by mass hysteria, a stabbing, and SWAT police. [05:57]
  • Dave was the (usually unnamed) inspiration behind outsourcing my love life. [08:26]
  • Dave on using martial arts as a problem-solving framework and what’s been keeping him busy lately. [10:37]
  • MMA fighters Dave has cornered. [11:50]
  • How should a beginner approach Jiu-Jitsu? [16:32]
  • Three basic guard principles for staying ahead of the curve and controlling an opponent in a fight. [18:21]
  • Key differences between Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. [19:42]
  • Are there elements of Judo that Dave still applies to Jiu-Jitsu lessons? [21:31]
  • The difference between tachi waza and ne waza. [21:58]
  • On the benefits of cross training, how it helped Travis Stevens in the 2016 Olympics, and how it keeps a fighter’s repertoire flexible for when he or she needs it most. [22:39]
  • Dave talks about his first exposure to Jiu-Jitsu at 19 and how it instantly became something he had to do “for the rest of [his] life.” [24:10]
  • What is shocknife training? [25:39]
  • How Dave confidently transfers his martial arts problem solving skills to unfamiliar situations and environments. [29:47]
  • What Dave learned about hockey fights from Steve MacIntyre. [34:07]
  • How do you defend yourself if you’re only armed with a flashlight? [39:53]
  • The importance of situational awareness and knowing how to avoid danger in self-defense. [44:22]
  • Dave’s advice to people who can’t easily avoid danger. [47:06]
  • Learning to get comfortable under stress (in self-defense and stand-up comedy). [48:36]
  • What fighting discipline would Dave recommend for (as an example) a 35-year-old, non-military, semi-athletic woman in a bad San Francisco neighborhood looking to defend herself? [51:11]
  • Dave bounces his own parties — don’t make him go hands on. [53:24]
  • Is Jiu-Jitsu the greatest martial art? [58:10]
  • Unlike many other sparring arts, Jiu-Jitsu isn’t just a young person’s game. [1:00:13]
  • What is Dave’s go-to Judo technique for throws? [1:01:43]
  • The properly executed foot sweep looks like a magic trick. [1:05:01]
  • Dave describes what it’s like to corner a professional fighter in a competition. [1:10:32]
  • Thanks to the way his parents raised him, martial arts became as natural as brushing teeth at an early age. [1:12:40]
  • Dave talks about the time his brother Dan brought a fugitive to justice. [1:13:30]
  • The risks of being a real-life vigilante. [1:14:50]
  • “Simple” help a corner can provide to a fighter during a competition. [1:17:22]
  • How have Dave’s experiences had an impact on his parenting style? [1:23:28]
  • Who has impressed Dave the most as a Jiu-Jitsu sparring partner? [1:27:02]
  • Why does Dave call Marcelo Garcia “The GOAT?” [1:31:45]
  • Books Dave has gifted the most. [1:34:05]
  • When you’re working out, you can always count on Slayer and Tool. [1:36:22]
  • Movies we love. [1:38:05]
  • Sometimes the teacher learns a shocking lesson from the student. [1:41:24]
  • On becoming, as Jim Rohn once said, the average of the five people you associate with most. [1:47:26]
  • What would Dave’s billboard say? [1:49:15]
  • Dave’s three favorite holidays. [1:49:36]
  • Dave tells us about how he elevates his mood. [1:50:10]
  • We talk about happier spending and the pricelessness of family time. [1:51:24]
  • What advice would Dave give his 30-year-old self? [1:54:21]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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26 Replies to “Meet the Machine, Dave Camarillo (#196)”

  1. Now that’s what I’m talkin about Tim! The recent podcasts have all been great as usual but this was the one that felt like you tailored it just for me! Coming from a background in rugby and transitioning to jit jitsu, I loved every second of this episode. Dave sounds like an awesome guy and you both made me laugh out loud several times.

  2. I stopped training Jiu Jitsu a long time ago, as I couldn’t find a school that I felt an affinity with, and instead moved to Amsterdam to study kickboxing in a legendary academy, where they focus (almost) purely on performance and improvement. While reading the 4 Hour Chef, I was pleased to learn about Mr. Camarillos philosophy of ‘Simplify’, and have made a point of seeking his wisdom out from time to time. There are so very few people in the World of Fisticraft who are capable of using the Scientist as their ‘Class’, and what little I know in my life I know that there is one thing I have been either unconsciously or consciously doing since I starting playing this game some years ago and it is trimming the fat, ignoring the glut of useless information and otherwise, otherway cutting through the fucking bullshit that I have been assailed with from day 1.

    And on a lighter note, I do hope that any movie they make about my martial arts journey (if it so happens that a movie is ever made about my martial arts journey!) has a lead who performs somewhere between the lines of Brad Pitts Academy Award nominated role as Billy Beane and the rather more lighthearted approach results as advocated by Dave Camarillo.

    Probably starring the mutli-dimensional Tim Ferris while doing the fieldwork for his magesterial and indespensabile magnum opus: the 4 Hour Performance.

    But I digress!

  3. “Own your walk, the badguys are like predators.”

    I was in Italy during a protest in Venice and there were Polizzi with guns and they were holding back a crowd. I really wanted to see a church behind them so I adopted a very goofy walk that made me look like a dorky American tourist. Put a dumb look on my face and everything. They let me through. The other guy next to me, a tourist too, wasn’t able to get through. He looked suspicious.

    I used this tactic walking through the bad part of town in Boston at two a.m. alone. I just strutted like I was boss of the street. No one hassled me. Did the same on the Subway in New York when I found myself in a scary ghetto, holding 10k of camera equipment!

    In Gdansk, Poland, I was chased into a hotel by a guy (pimp) for taking photos of umbrella girls. I think I only escaped that situation by appearing unafraid when the hotel manager let me in (they keep the hotels locked at night).

    So yeah . . . I agree. Own your walk!! People judge you on your posture all the time. We are animals.

  4. by far one of my favorites next to jocko. Dave is on my bjj bucket list to train with. especially since he is a judo and bjj black belt. Where I am a bjj brown belt and judo black belt. I listened to it earlier today… going to listen to it again later today on my commute.

  5. Tim: I hope I don’t think it’s to late! I’m 62 y.o. and have done the slave and save, but not enough. I’ve worked in the oil fields of TX, sold ladies shoes and now have been in law enforcement for 19 yrs. My whole life I’ve wanted freedom and mobility of which I speak of in your book that I am reading. I’m ready to bail on my job, that has been rough on body and soul. My biggest skill is people. I’ve been doing Intel and gangs. I’m creative and yet not sure where to start but I’m gong to. Out of debt, fix the house..set it and forget it businesses so I can help others. I want to do want I want to do not what I have to do. Eager and ready, just trying to figure out how. I’ll keep reading but won’t W4W.

  6. Just discovered your brilliance! Thank you so much for your willingness to share such personal insight and knowledge.

  7. Love the jiu-jitsu talk, Tim! Dave and Dan Camarillo are basically my all-time top martial arts idols. I’ve often said that I want my jiu-jitsu to look like theirs more than anyone else’s. You should have Dan on at some point.

    Btw Marcelo is the p4p GOAT in my mind, but to be honest, Roger Gracie should be in the mix when you talk about the Jordan, Gretsky, etc. of BJJ. As always, love the podcast. Keep it up! (Yeah I know you don’t need positive reinforcement lol)

    1. Couldn’t agree more regarding Roger. I guess he’s a couple of weight classes up, but still holds the most IBJJF world titles

  8. Loved it! I’m 37 yo, and I’m gathering my courage to leap out of my comfort zone and start training jiu jitsu!

    Loved this whole ep, right up there with the first Jocko ep.


  9. I’m a late convert to the 4HWW and can’t find the tools mentioned in the book eg. dreamlining calculators and forms. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

  10. Tim

    I am no longer able to download your shows. Nothing has changed on my end. Same phone – Samsung S2 – and same laptop.

    Any suggestions?

  11. Great podcast as always, Tim!

    -Have you ever considered interviewing John Williams (one of the most prolific composers of our time, and some would consider of all time)?

    -Think Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T, Schindler’s List, the Olympic theme music, Jaws, the list goes on and on (and would surprise you!). His genius has greatly impacted this century’s iconic movies and how we as audiences perceive great moments in movies and characters and interactions, etc.

    -He is a legend, and if you could get him, I really think there is a lifetime of wisdom to be learned from this man.

    -Thanks again for all you do!

  12. please answer my q on Quora. I (and I’m sure 1,000 others) am stuck and need your sound advice. thanks in advance!

  13. This podcast was a multi-dimensional road trip. My right ear could hear David Camarillo and you having a smart and interesting discussion about martial arts. My left ear could hear you two talking about deep and wise principles so true that they go far beyond Jiu-Jitsu.

    David Camarillo is more than a machine, he is a human that fights without the lead of his ego – easy for machines, not so easy for humans. Pure fighting is a thing of beauty. Thank you.

  14. Really cool post. Unfortunately nowadays we see more and more so called BJJ academies when all they do is to form and train bullies and so called “tough guys”. The true Brazilian Jiu Jitsu warriors, like the like of Master Rickson Gracie, are the ones we as students of the art should follow and respect. At higher belts, if ever teaching, which is common in JJ, specially to children and “future champions”, this aspect is even more important.

    Learning and training BJJ had a massive influence on my personality and human being formation. I’ve seen a few comments of people on here saying that they have been thinking about starting, etc. My advice is: start today! The hard part is to get to the academy. Make no mistake, you get from JJ what you give to the art but it’s so rewarding!

    Thanks again for the post, loved it.



  15. Hi Tim,

    enjoyed your interview with Dan.

    I recommend looking at Rory miller’s books especially “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence” and consider interviewing him. He’s the real deal.

    Also he will be in Oakland teaching this coming weekend:

    Also regarding self defense for a female thirty something living in a problematic neighborhood I would recommend what I had my wife do thirty years ago:attend the BAMM course- a stripped down just the basic essentials that is assimilated through an eight weekend course.

    All the best,

    Mike Clauson

  16. I started with Judo, and frankly still love the athletes explosive power and core strength, the sports dynamic sense of urgency, and of course, the throws. Jiu-Jitsu is certainly a different game, so the Camarillo brothers Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu has been such a valuable integration of Judo into Jiu-Jitsu.

    I wish there was a Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu representative in Wyoming.

    Any thoughts on how to distill this schools training and tactics into a simple, beginner curriculum?

    Thanks again!

  17. Tim! You’ve never seen “The Thing”? Please watch right now. Then watch “The Hateful Eight” to the see the correlation.

  18. I had listened to the interview with DHH a few days before hearing this one. I was intrigued to hear the 2 speak on an issue from entirely different perspectives: child rearing. While DHH prefers the hands-off, let the child find their own way, scandanavian approach, Mr. Camarillo preferred the structured discipline of the far east. It was a useful reminder that there is no wrong way, the right way is whichever way feels appropriate to you. This applies to everything in life (of course). Steve Jobs preferred detail-oriented, aggressive management style and was quite successful with it, others may prefer the method of giving your employees enough freedom to find their own way. No one can show your way, you must find it.

  19. “If things are like, headed in a certain direction, and people are like ‘ This is what’s going to happen…’ you do something totally off the wall… ridiculous… ”

  20. OMG, loved this interview! UFC is HUGE in my house so it was so cool to hear this. And I just ran into Cain Velasquez (on my b-day no less) and was out of my mind excited & gave him a high five. This made my day!

    BTW, your point about nothing good happening after 1am…no lie homie, no lie.