The Tim Ferriss Show transcripts: UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten on Fundamentals of Real Self-Defense, Savage Fight Stories, How He’s Handled Bullies, Breathing Techniques for Increasing Stamina and Endurance, The Art of Personal Reinvention, and Cultivating the Practice of Prayer (#621)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Bas Rutten, (@BasRuttenMMA). Bas is a Dutch-American actor, former mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and professional wrestler. He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion and a three-time King of Pancrase world champion, finishing his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak with a strike accuracy of 70.6%, the highest ever recorded by FightMetric. 

Rutten was co-host of Inside MMA on AXS TV from 2007 to 2016, and he has been a color commentator in several MMA organizations, including Pride Fighting Championships. He has appeared in numerous television shows, movies, and video games as an actor and continues to be involved in MMA through his coaching and publishing of instructional materials. Bas became a naturalized American citizen in the late 1990s, and in 2015 he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

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#621: UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten on Fundamentals of Real Self-Defense, Savage Fight Stories, How He’s Handled Bullies, Breathing Techniques for Increasing Stamina and Endurance, The Art of Personal Reinvention, and Cultivating the Practice of Prayer


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Tim Ferriss: All right, here we go. Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. I’m going to skip my usual preamble because I’m fidgeting in my seat. I am extremely excited about this conversation, and I don’t want to hear myself talk. So my guest today, why would I be so excited? This is Sebastiaan Rutten, better known as Bas Rutten. You can find him on Twitter and elsewhere @basruttenmma. He is a Dutch-American actor, a former mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and professional wrestler. He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion and a three-time King of Pancrase World Champion, we’re going to talk quite a bit about that, finishing his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak with a strike accuracy of 70.6 percent, the highest ever recorded by FightMetric.

Rutten was co-host of Inside MMA on AXS TV, that’s A-X-S, from 2007 to 2016, and he has been a color commentator in several MMA organizations, including another thing that we will spend some time on. He has appeared in numerous television shows, movies, and video games as an actor, and continues to be involved in MMA through his coaching and publishing of instructional materials. Bas became a naturalized American citizen in the late 1990s, and in 2015, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. We’ll link to all of the social, as well as the O2 Trainer, which we’re going to get to. You can find that on Instagram, @02lungtrainer, and we’ll link to YouTube, Facebook, and other places. Bas, welcome to the show. It’s nice to see you.

Bas Rutten: Oh, very good to see you, Tim. Thank you so much for having me.

Tim Ferriss: And I’ve got to tell you just a little story before we hop in, and it’s going to tie into a lot of things. So rarely turn into a heavy-breathing fanboy with these types of conversations, but I have to tell you that one of the most transformative experiences of my life was in 1992, my first travel outside of the United States was to Japan, where I became an exchange student. And I wore a school uniform every day of school, and on my way to school, I would always stop at this particular bookstore because they had a magazine called [foreign language], and I started becoming fascinated by something called, well, you know Shooto, of course, which was founded by Sayama Satoru, and then I would also follow UWF and these really bizarre pro wrestling circuits, because I saw video from a friend of mine, this is pre-internet, where there appeared to be real knockouts, occasionally, and there appeared to be real contact.

And then this thing called Pancrase comes out, and I was following this because I knew a few of the people, or knew of a few of the people involved, like Funaki, which I’ll definitely want to ask you about. And I remember the very first fight that I saw you in, which ended in less than a minute, opponent 50 pounds heavier, and I just remember the deafening silence in the arena at one point, because no one really knew what to do.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And that was my introduction to Bas Rutten. So I have followed you for a very, very, very long time, and it’s a real pleasure to connect in person. So I just had to get that off my chest, but it’s been a long time coming. 

And perhaps we could just begin with a question that I’ve always wondered, why is there, or why does there appear to be such a strong martial arts tradition in the Netherlands? Because when I landed in Japan, that was the first thing that I was not expecting. So there’s Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, you had all of these Dutch fighters, people absolutely loved Ramon Dekkers, for instance, and even going further back, I learned, because I did judo as my sport, which was mandatory, that the Dutch had this incredible history of judo wins, going back to the earliest Olympic games. Yeah, where does that come from?

Bas Rutten: I have no clue. I believe because we’re such a small country, and we really like the people in the world to know that we exist, maybe. I mean people just, they have to be the best Dutch. I remember the story from, well, the trainer from Hoost, you already, Ernesto Hoost, you mentioned him, Jan Plas and Johan Vos, they were two guys, and they went with their team like Rob Kaman, all these guys at the time, I was huge fans of those, they went to Thailand and they got their butts kicked really bad. And then they realized, “Wait a minute, predominantly they’re only kicking. So what if we do Western boxing and we combine that with kicks in order to set up the kicks?” And boom, the Dutch kickboxing was born, and suddenly everybody started just demolishing the Thais.

I mean, Ramon Dekkers, you touched on him as well, he was my idol. He was a good friend of mine as well. Unfortunately he passed away a bunch of years ago, but he was pound for pound, I always say, the most powerful guy. He was the first guy who became the Fighter of the Year in Thailand. That always went to a Thai guy, but he was so good that they couldn’t go without it, they have to take him. And for him, when you see him fighting Coban, a guy, over 200 matches, never been knocked out, and he was the first guy to knock him out, and then the whole place, Lumpinee Stadium Champions gets quiet, and you see Rob Kaman jumping in the ring with the Dutch flag, and he’s waving it around, and nobody says a word. Dude, it blew my mind. That was the reason I started training at the same gym, Maeng Ho. That was Ramon Dekkers. So yeah, I truly believe we have natural heavyweights, we have the tallest people in the world, so I think that translates really what to K-1 and glory, because that’s predominantly heavyweight boxing at the time, the kickboxing, and then just a Dutch style that just tied everything together. And nowadays, everybody — It’s like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, right? In the beginning, nobody knew, but now everybody knows. And it’s the same at the Dutch kickboxing. Now pretty much everybody’s doing it.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s flash back to childhood, just to paint a picture for folks, because people who have seen your highlight videos are like, “My God, this guy’s a savage machine,” but let’s go back, and perhaps, if you wouldn’t mind, just describe, a bit, your childhood and what you were like as a child, because I had no knowledge of this until I started doing research for this conversation. But if you could just describe yourself as a kid, I think that would be helpful for setting the stage.

Bas Rutten: When I was born, I came out apparently full with eczema, but that went away. And then, at four years old, I had contracted rheumatic fever, which was the best of the two, because it was either leukemia or that, so thankfully it was that. I took four months in the hospital. And then, when I was six years old, we moved to a village, and that’s when my eczema came back together with severe asthma. Now, my eczema was really bad. I had to wear gloves, long sleeves, turtlenecks, because I had it in my neck. I was a leper in school, that’s what they called me. “Hey, leper, watch out. You don’t scratch.” If I would do this, “Watch out your ears don’t fall off.” Constantly, I was bullied on a daily basis.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Bas Rutten: But when I was 12, we were on a vacation in France, and I saw this movie, Enter the Dragon. It was 17 years and older to get in, but my brother and I, we found a way to sneak in for free, and we were too young for the movie. And that’s where I saw Bruce Lee. And boy, that was it. I realized that, if I would be like that guy, because he was also a skinny guy, I was a skinny guy because of my asthma, I had these horrible asthma attacks, then the bullying would probably stop, because then I could defend myself. So it took me two years to convince my parents to start martial arts. And then, after two years, they just, they gave up because every day, I would ask them. And finally, they broke. They say, “Okay, just go.”

And I was fortunate to live next to two beautiful neighbor girls. And one of the girls was dating the coolest guy in town, Xavier, Sah-fee-ay, that’s how we pronounce it in Holland. And he took me under his wing. He was always helping me a little bit, because I had these things with birds, I was always in the trees, I was swinging trees, but I had these birds that came and picked me up from school. I mean, they were so tame, they would always sit on my shoulder wherever I went, even in the shower. It was amazing. And he brought me to the adult taekwondo classes. And within months, I started beating some of the adults, of course not the black belts, but I started dropping big guys. And I overheard these guys talking about me in the dressing room, “Man, did you see that kid, Bas? He dropped Jack with a figure spinning back kick to the head. Whoa!” Everybody laughing, “Man, that kid has a lot of talent.”

And as a kid, when you only hear bad things about you, but then suddenly people start talking good things about you, you tend to listen to the adults. And that led to the first street fight. The biggest bully in my school, Sjakie was his name. Again, I was riding my bicycle in the street, and there he came with six, seven of his buddies, and, “Hey, leper,” whatever they was screaming. And this time I shouted something back. And I heard him laugh, I looked back, and sure enough, they started to chase me. And I told myself, “This is it. I’m not going to do it anymore.” So I put my bike on the stand, on the sidewalk. They came, surrounded me with the bikes. I always have to laugh about it because, in the movies, this is like in the scene at night, they do it with cars and the headlights are the lighting for the fight, but this was with bicycles, with young kids. And then Sjakie started pushing his chest to me and challenging me, telling me that I had to hit him. So I did.

And then I realized that the bullies weren’t really that strong. It took one punch, which was weird, by the way, because I was doing taekwondo, which is 90 percent kicking. So I knocked him out, one punch, nose was broke. That was a problem, because now the police was called, and they showed up at my mom and dad’s doorstep. And that verified — you see, they always thought that martial arts was violence. Now, I have to, in protection of my parents, I never told them I was bullied. My mom had such an enormous — a lot of trouble with me. Every night, I had to be mummified, is what we call it, creams and cortisones, and put a — wrap me all around. The whole family would send them old bedsheets, which she would rip up to bandages, and then, in the middle of the night, I would scratch it off because it would itch so bad, she had to do it again.

So she had so much work with me, I never wanted to bother with her that I was bullied, because I’m pretty sure that if my dad would’ve known, I don’t think he would’ve said, “Take him off.” I believe he would’ve said, “Keep him on there, because this is good for him.” But that’s where everything came from, because then I realized, “Wait a minute, that was easy.” So now I went after the bullies, all these bullies. I literally made a list. I went to every single one of them, I had a — and other kids in school who got bullied, guess who took care of that problem? Now I was the bully, the bully guy. I took care of all the bullies, so. And that was it. My mom and dad, they took me off, what I said, from taekwondo. But then, when I was 20, I moved out of the house. Immediately, I started doing karate, not realizing it was not full contact. So then I started Thai boxing within six months, and then, within three months, I started competing in Thai boxing. And one thing led to another, and bada bing, bada boom, now I’m here, talking to you.

Tim Ferriss: Now here you are.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: What do you make of the birds? I actually want to hear a little bit more about that. That’s like St. Francis of Assisi. How did that happen, or how do you explain that?

Bas Rutten: I had no friends. Everybody thought I was contagious. So my time was spending in the trees. I was three, four hours a day in the forest. We had a forest at the back — on the front of our home, we had a big forest, and I was always climbing trees. I could literally go throughout the whole forest, maybe I had to go four or five times down, from treetop to treetop, I would swing, which came in handy with bullies. If they started to chase me, I just climbed a tree. And then they climbed the tree, and I started swinging to the other tree, or — Scott, we’re losing light. And then the bullies tried to do it. And then one guy, a big guy, one time he fell down, and his head next to a big rock. And of course that got out, and suddenly nobody wanted to chase me anymore. So yeah, that was it.

And that was my contact also with birds. I always was mesmerized with birds. And I found this nest from a — oh, what do you call them here? A jackdaw, that’s what you call them here. A kauw is in Dutch. And I took one out, I knew you had to do it with gloves, because if you put a human scent on it, then they might push the other ones out. So I had this plastic glove that I went and took one out, and now you become the dad. So you start feeding it. And it’s amazing, man. It’s so cool because they — you are there for the first flight. I mean, every time they go down, they crash, they crash, they’re like Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man on the Moon, right? But now, there was this one day that he goes, and he goes zzzt, and he starts going up, and they’re so excited. They start, “Pa-pa,” they start screaming. And that was the sound I used to make. And wherever I was — he would pick me up from school, this guy. He would know in what room I was, and then just, he was sitting in front of — the teachers got really angry because he was constantly like, “Ah, ah.” He would see me in the class, and then afterwards, he would sit on my steering wheel for my bicycle, or on my shoulder. He was always with me.

Tim Ferriss: Wow. So I must say that doing prep for this conversation has made me laugh so many times. I mean, if you didn’t exist, someone would have to invent you for a novel or a movie. So the couple of things I just want to check on. So the first is that I read, after Enter the Dragon, one of the first things you did was make a set of nunchaku from two pieces of wood and some chain. The line that I wanted to just confirm here, it says, “They became an important accessory for the young Bas, and he carried them around his neck, even to the local grocery store.” Is that accurate?

Bas Rutten: That’s accurate. But they were very dangerous because I didn’t use any screws for these, just like with the — like, you know you have those, how do you say it, nails?

Tim Ferriss: Nails.

Bas Rutten: So if I will go too high, would just let go, that’s super dangerous because I could smash somebody’s face by accident. And kung fu shoes. Everywhere I had these kung fu shoes.

Tim Ferriss: All right, so kung fu shoes and nunchucks with nails doesn’t sound safe.

Bas Rutten: No.

Tim Ferriss: Now, just this, we don’t have to spend a lot of time on the next one, but just so people can appreciate just the full picture. So I ask all guests if they can send any exploratory bullets that might be interesting. And there are a couple of them that we’re going to explore, but one that I just want to mention, and we’re not going to — we don’t have to spend a lot of time on it, but one of the bullets you sent was, “Was drunk. Slipped when I came out of the shower and broke a toilet with my head when falling backwards. This was in Hawaii. My whole floor started flooding. Very funny story. No clue how my skull didn’t break. I guess I hit a weak spot.”

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So you are one of a kind in terms of the bullets that I’ve received here, one of which came out of left field. Well, I mean, a lot of them came out of left field, but one was your original profession as a culinary chef, went to four years of culinary school. So I did not know this.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: How did that happen? And then, when did it end?

Bas Rutten: I always wanted to be a chef. I was mesmerized with them when I was a young kid already, and that went away because then martial arts started coming along, and I really liked that, but I still was working as a chef, as a cook. No, I was not the chef in a restaurant. I was the sous chef. It stopped because I was working for a guy for three years, and I would run the whole kitchen. Only on the weekends, he had to come by. My claim to fame was I did 42 people in one night, all different people with an appetizer, main course, and a dessert. And I did it all by myself. So I was always — I liked those kind of challenges. I never wanted to call him in, because he was living in the house next to it, I always wanted to do it myself. And on Tuesdays, we had maybe — the most people we ever had was eight. Never we had more people. So I would make preparation for 20, just to make sure, double it up and then some.

And then, one day, a cycling group came, and suddenly it was full and there was not enough preparation. I run to the house and say, “You’ve got to come and help me.” And he gets in my face while we need to cook for these people. I say, “Listen, it’s okay. You’re angry. I got it. I understand it. It’s weird, because we never had this amount of people, but why don’t we do this after this is over? Because right now, we have to get out these people.” And he started screaming, and he kept going, and he says, “You do whatever I say you do.” And I said, “Well, no, that’s actually not true. You’re not controlling me.” He said, “Oh, no?” And he grabbed a big bowl of butter, and he says, “If I throw this on the ground and I tell you to clean it up, you’re going to clean it up.” So I walked over to him and I hit the bowl out of his hand, and it got all over the ground. I said, “Ask me.” And he said, “Clean it up.” And I took my apron off, I go, “Good luck with the people. Bye.” And I remember at the time I had a pager, that was at the time, and he kept paging me. I go, “Oh, dude, what I did for you in those three years, and then just to fire at me, that was it.”

And that’s when I stopped working and I started focusing more on martial arts. I was also, believe or not, this is really weird I’m going to say now, a model. I was a model that was controlled by three women who had a model agency, a new model agency. And they loved me. I was working three, four days a week. I was making $1,200, 1,200 guldens at the time, which is a lot of money if you’re 20 years old. But once I started doing martial arts as well, that’s of course when I had hair, I started showing up with a shiner here and there. And they didn’t really like that. And that was the end of that job as well. So that’s how I lost both of these jobs.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Well, I guess you were very proactive in terminating one of them.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Yeah, so let’s talk about, if this makes sense as the next step, Pancrase and Pan kurasu — I’m not even sure how you say it in English, frankly, because I always hear it in Japanese. How did that happen, and what was that experience like for you?

Bas Rutten: Okay, so — 

Tim Ferriss: In the beginning, leading into it, and then first fight, let’s just say.

Bas Rutten: Okay, so I got a little background story, really fast. I was a kickboxer and I knocked everybody out, and then I got bored. I thought it was a great job to become a bouncer. Yeah. Think about that. So I became a bouncer, but it was of course not a really healthy lifestyle, because at five o’clock, we close, and then we go to the after-parties, and everything bad goes after that. So on one of those parties, apparently I talked to a promoter, after two years of not competing and not living a healthy lifestyle, because it was this new guy, Frank Lobman, The Animal was his name, he was a kickboxer who was released from prison, and he was going to resume his fighting career if I wanted to fight him. And I go, with my drunk head, I go, “Sure.” So, but I have no clue of this whole conversation.

And then, in February, they gave me a call and they asked me where to send the posters to. I said, “The posters?” I said, “From what?” And he says, “From the fight.” I said, “Who’s fighting?” They say, “You.” I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, who am I fighting?” He says, “Frank Lobman.” I said, “The Animal?” And he goes, “Yeah.” I go, “When did I say that?” And he goes, “You don’t remember? We…” anyway, I realized, oh, I said yes to the guy. I said, “Okay, when is the fight?” And it was in two and a half weeks. Now, listen, I couldn’t rope-skip for 20 minutes my first class, that’s how bad I was. So, needless to say, I lost that fight. But the Dutch audience forgot all about my other knockouts. They focused only on that fight, and they kind of chewed me out to spit me out. So I said, “Okay, this is it. I don’t want to do it anymore.”

But my martial arts was always there. I wanted to do something with it. Then my teacher, my karate teacher came up with this crazy idea to do choreographed fight scenes. Like we go in spandex, we’re all pumped-up buddies, we go to a nightclub, at midnight, they close the lights, it gets dark, suddenly the high-pitch music starts, stroboscope, and we come up in backflips, and we do all this crazy stuff, we start fighting each other. And high-level stuff, we put cigarettes out in the mouth, cup spinning, back kicks, we were breaking nunchucks. We did everything, right? And that became suddenly a thing. Suddenly we start doing it in more nightclubs, and then suddenly we start doing it at big events, Thai boxing events, at the break. And then it became a European show, and we start traveling through Europe, then it became Dutch TV, European TV. And on one of these shows, I was always going to the ring with backflips. And then, at the end, I’d make a somersault, a backflip, and then I would jump in the ring and we’d do our show.

And Chris Dolman, he was the godfather of mixed martial arts, so to say, in all the free fighting, actually, that’s what they called it at the time. And he stopped me after the show, and he says, “Listen, I know you from Thai boxing. You were an animal. And now I see you doing all these crazy acrobatics. I mean, I think you’re a perfect fit to be a free fighter.” And I go, “What’s free fighting?” And he explained me the rules, that pretty much anything would go. I said, “Okay, sure.” So I went to his gym a few times, but it’s far away, it was in Amsterdam, it was like a two-and-a-half-hour drive, especially when there’s traffic, so it didn’t really work. But one day, the telephone went, and this was really weird. Oh, and by the way, I met my wife in ’92, in February ’92, and she was looking at me weird one day, she had this really weird look. I go, “What’s going on?” She says, “You’re going to be a famous fighter in Japan.” And I go, “No, I told you I’m not going to fight anymore.” She says, “I know, but you said Holland. You’re going to go to Japan.”

So a year and four months later, I get the phone call. And normally, I never picked up the phone, and my answering machine was broke. Somehow, I picked up the phone, and it was Chris Dolman. He says, “You’ve got to jump in the car right now, because there’s this new organization called Pancrase. There’s two guys here, Suzuki Minoru and Funaki Masakatsu, who are scouting, they’re looking for fighters. Maybe this is great for you, Bas, you can make  money.” He says, “Okay.” So I jumped in the car and went over there, and he had an organization, Rings, and one of his guys was the Rings champion. And we just needed to spar, they just wanted to show technique, but that guy just went really hard. So I told him to slow down. I said, “Listen, it’s not necessary to try to knock each other out. Just let’s relax. I show technique.” I think that he believed that I was afraid, so he turned it up. So I stopped him again, and I said, “Listen, I’m okay with this, but it’s not going to be one-way traffic, you have to understand.” So of course, now it was on. It was short, though, because I had kicked him in the face right away. He went down, needed a whole bunch of stitches, and that’s it. I saw Funaki and Suzuki pointing at me, and they said, “We want him.”

And then later, when I found out why they wanted me also, one of the reasons was that I was able to jump. I could stand in front of the rope from the ring, and the rope would be here, and I would stand still, jump over the rope to go in the ring. And they thought it was so impressive. That was also the reason that they wanted me as a fighter. I go, “That’s the weirdest reason I’ve ever heard.” But anyway, the fight was September 21st, 1993. And you have to understand, I was from Holland. So with us, everything is small. We drive everywhere. Like going to Paris, that’s the same drive as for going from California to Vegas, so we drive it by car. I’ve never been on a plane, now I’m on a 13-hour plane, and I’m coming to Japan, [inaudible 00:23:04]. It was weird. There was no weigh-in. And I thought that was so weird, why is there no weigh-in? Well, the guy I’m fighting is Japanese, and apparently, they’re very honest people, so he will be on weight. And then I go, “Did we talk about a weight?” I didn’t know anything, what we were going to do.

And on the day of the fight, I’m walking in there, and this tall guy walks up to me and he shakes my hand, and I say, “Oh, you’re the promoter.” He goes, “No, I’m fighting you.” I go, “You’re fighting me?” I go, “What is your weight?” Yeah, was much heavier than I was. And I go, “Oh, that is so weird.” And then the promoter walked up, and I said, “Excuse me. Oh, you’re the promoter?” “Yeah.” I said, “Is he not too heavy?” He says, “No, Mr. Rutten, everybody fights everybody.” So I tried to force a smile. I go, “Yeah, that’s awesome.” I said, “Oh, by the way, before you leave, how many rounds are we fighting?” And he goes, “One round.” I go, “One round? That’s awesome. How many minutes?” And he goes, “30.” And I go, “Oh.” So no break, fighting a guy who’s much heavier than I am in a 30-minute match.” I was like, “Whoa.”

So I started doing these things, because I was a very aggressive fighter in Holland. I would be very technical until somebody touched me, and then I would just destroy him. And because I was very explosive, I could get away with it. But against the good guy, like a Peter Aerts, who was a very close friend of mine already, who was 40, so thankfully I never had to face him, that would be a problem against the guy like that, because I wasn’t — it didn’t really click yet. You always have these dojo fighters, and you have fighters. In dojo, they’re really good, but they can’t bring that game under pressure to a fight. It’s really hard to separate that, too. It doesn’t matter how good you are in training. The fighting with the pressure, that’s the test. And I didn’t have that yet, but now I’m in Japan, and I’m at 30-minutes fight, and I’m thinking, “If this guy’s going to hit me and I’m going to unload on him, and I can’t put him away because they’re very known to take a lot of damage, these guys have to keep on fighting, I’m going to be in trouble.”

So I put these big Rs on my hands with a marker, R from “relax,” but in Holland, it’s “rustig,” starts also coincidentally with an R, which means the same. And my corner, I never had a coach, so I always had my manager with me. And I said, “The only thing, when he hits me, just shout, “Relax, relax.” That’s the only thing I want you to do, because I’m a hot-head, and I don’t want to take the risk.” Thankfully, it went really well. You talked about it in the opening. I knocked him out, because he was taller than I, I palm-striked him under his head, he went down, and you had eight counts there, and he got up. So now I turned it up. So since his hands were higher, I full kick him to the body, brought the hands down, then I hit him again. And while he went down, I kneed him in the face. And then it became very scary. Yeah, he didn’t wake up for two days. It was a very scary thing. Thankfully, he got out of it. He became actually a good friend of mine.

But that was the deciding factor if I was going to fight or not. I say, “If he…” I told my wife, “If he’s not going to come out, this is it. I don’t want to do this anymore.” And I remember, after the fight, people cheering for me. And I remember a couple had a baby there. Who brings a baby to a fight? But the baby was there, and they put the baby in my hand, making picture. I felt like I was the president there with the baby, pictures with people, flexing. It was the wildest experience. And then, the next day, I’m walking on the street, and every 10, 15 people or so, they start bowing to me. And I’m going, “What is going on here?” And then I passed a newspaper stand, and on the cover was me hanging in the splits, something I didn’t even know I was doing. And I was so euphoric, I guess, I jumped to the splits to all corners, which became my trademark later on, the Rutten Jump. And I was hanging in the splits, in the air, and my guy was knocked out below me on the ground. I go, “Oh, okay. So this is how these people are recognizing me.” From one day to the other day, suddenly I was just a known guy. It was the weirdest experience ever.

Tim Ferriss: I remember that cover. This is what I saw at the newsstand. It’s bringing back all these memories in Kichijoji, a place called Sun Road, I remember the whole thing. It’s so wild that we’re even talking. I’ve got to say, it’s really surreal for me right now.

So let’s go back for a second. Your wife saying you’re going to be famous in Japan.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Did she ever explain or describe what she felt that brought that up or how that came up for her?

Bas Rutten: No, but you know what weird was? Then, in ’94, she had the same look, and I immediately recognized it. And I say, “Now what?” And she said, “We’re going to move to America. You’re going to be in the TV business.” Tim, I had a show for nine years on TV. We did Inside MMA for nine years, 431 live shows. I mean, and that was the same thing. And then, two years later, we’re in America, and now I’m fighting in America. And then I got into a TV show.

Tim Ferriss: What?

Bas Rutten: It just came to her. She just said it. And both — the third time, I said, “We’ve got to see numbers here, honey. Eight numbers, or whatever the lotto is. We need those numbers. So please, the next time, just tell me that.”

Tim Ferriss: Could you describe for folks who haven’t seen this, we’ll put links in the show notes for people who want to see highlights and some full fights from Pancrase, what were the rules in Pancrase? You alluded to the round, and the very, very long round.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: What were some of the other rules?

Bas Rutten: So what they did, these rules were completely tailor-made for the Japanese fighter. The Japanese fighters are really — they’re really good on the ground, right? And not as good strikers. So what they did, they said open-hand strikes, because open-hand strikes make sure they have no gloves on, which makes it much easier to go for chokes or for leglocks and all that stuff. Not only that, they will put you shoes on, and you get shin protection. Shoes, for leglocks, is a nightmare. I mean, you can’t escape leglocks. It’s much harder to escape when you’re wearing shoes. So that was totally tailor-made for them. What they didn’t know is that, as a bouncer, I was fighting with palm-strikes, because I was — I saw my buddies — if you fight multiple guys, it’s not like you start aiming for the jaw. You just hit whatever you can hit. And if you hit a skull, well, you’re going to break your hand. So I started palm-striking everybody, and clotheslining, what I always called it. With my forearm, I would — with this part, would hit them in the neck.

Tim Ferriss: The inside of the forearm.

Bas Rutten: Yeah. And it would — perfect. So then, when I came there, I go, “This is easy. I can already do it.” They also had eight counts, and then they had this really weird thing, which some people, because of that, people thought it was pro wrestling, that had rope escapes. So that means, if I would, for instance, get you in a choke, but if he could touch the rope, I had to let him go. Now people go, “Yeah, that’s not real fighting.” But listen to this, because that’s why I believe, truly believe that small organization, Pancrase, I think we had GFC champions. I mean, all these guys became good, and I believe that is the reason. Because when you look at my record, I have 11 knockouts and 14 submissions. But if you read about my submissions, I actually have 51 submissions, because I would submit a guy, and then he would touch the rope and I had to let him go. Now, for that, for him, it’s the same as getting an eight count. So if the fight goes the distance, and he grabbed the rope on time, he’s going to lose. Or if he went down one time, he’s going to lose as well. So it’s kind of the same as an eight count.

But because of that, now you restart back on your feet, and you have another fight. Like my last fight, the guy that I knocked out, put in a coma, the first guy, I fought him the second time and I broke my punch on the very punch, you see, the very first punch. I submitted him five times. So now I have five submissions, so you have way more ring time in there. So all these guys from Japan who went to the UFC, they all became UFC Champions. It was the wildest thing. I mean, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith, Guy Mezger. I mean, all these guys, myself included, we all became UFC Champs, everyone from that little small organization, Pancrase, so. And I believe that’s because of the rules.

Tim Ferriss: That’s incredible. Can you explain to me, I’ve never had a chance to ask someone this question, do you have any idea why the Japanese referred to him as Wayne Shamrock, and then he’s Ken Shamrock in the US?

Bas Rutten: I believe it was because he did pro wrestling in Japan as well under Ken Shamrock, and they wanted to steer away from that. And it’s his middle name, from what I believe, Ken Wayne Shamrock, and that’s why they went with Wayne Shamrock.

Tim Ferriss: How would you describe Funaki? I’ve always wondered, ever since I was a young kid, because he seemed like he was — he seemed, again, my impression was, comparing him to Suzuki, that he was really thinking deeply about a lot of things, but that was just the impression of a 15-year-old. How would you describe the two of those, maybe starting with Funaki?

Bas Rutten: Funaki has always been a good friend of mine. He helped me a lot. There’s a whole conspiracy thing going on, but also with me, though, because when I fought — I was the first guy to beat Suzuki, right?

Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm.

Bas Rutten: And then, in one month, I was — I had two fights in one month. So I told my wife, “Hey, why don’t you come with me?” I stay in Japan because I finally have some training partners, because I didn’t have any training partners over in Holland. So I trained there, and the only thing I asked for him was to, “How can I stop a kneebar?” Because I know Ken is really good with that. “How do I stop a kneebar?” And he taught me one way. Now, if I tell a person how to stop a kneebar, it’s very simple. I say, “Hold the leg so he can step it over.” That’s it. Whatever happens, he cannot make a kneebar. It’s very simple, I won’t go into the detail because a lot of people don’t understand it, but it’s a very basic thing. But he didn’t say that. So in the fight, when I fight Ken, he sits in the position for a leglock, and I’m already having my defense ready to stop the leg, and now he threw his leg over my head, which was something that Funaki didn’t tell me.

And I thought that was weird, because then I found out that these guys go six years back, and they always pro-wrestled with each other. And that was always in the back of my head. Did he say that to him? Because why wouldn’t he say, “Hey, just hold his leg, because then he can never step over.” Now he would give me one way how to stop it again. Well, he used a different way. But still, that didn’t really matter because he was always a very friendly guy, Suzuki too. He was a very nice guy. Always had a great time with him. And that’s why it was so out of character. Funaki was my first loss. He beat me by way of a toe hold. And now, for the people at home, they go, “A toe hold?” Yeah, this is not that they grab a toe, trust me. I saw somebody break a shinbone with a toe. It’s a very nasty move. And he got me into that. And then, many years later, when I became the champion, I had my rematch against Funaki. And I remember, in the fight, before the fight, he comes up to me and just was so out of character, and I think he did it for the audience, and he would be on this distance, and he does this to me, where he slits his throat. And I’m looking at my manager and go — 

Tim Ferriss: With the thumb across the throat, yeah.

Bas Rutten: — “I’m going to kill him now.” You know what I mean? And he goes, “No, you’ve got to stay calm.” I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll stay calm, but you watch him. I connect, ooh, I’m going to go to town.” And that became my best fight in Pancrase, actually. For Funaki, they say that as well, because he was so tough. I mean, I had black and blue palms. I had bruises on my knees from kneeing him and hitting him in the face. And every time he went down, the public started chanting, he would get up again. He wipes his blood off, “Yeah,” then he starts fighting, and I go, “Shut up.” It’s because every time he got back up. And then the last one was that I had him by his hair. He had long hair. I just grabbed his hair and I drilled a knee in the face as hard as I could. And thankfully, he stayed down that time. That was the end of the fight. But I always wondered, why would he have done that? It had to be for the audience, because he was a very respectful guy.

Tim Ferriss: I remember that fight. And it was like — there were a number of thoughts going through my head as I watched this fight. Number one, I’ve never seen someone take so much brutality and get up that many times. And I remember his face at the end. I mean, it looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid who had Freddy Krueger come after him. I mean, it was just a absolute mess. His eyes were swollen shut. And I remember just being dumbfounded after watching that fight.

Bas Rutten: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: How was their English? Presumably you guys communicated in English? Was their English okay, or how was their communication?

Bas Rutten: Funaki and Suzuki were pretty okay, especially Funaki. He was always a better English speaker. He also did some movies in Hollywood. I actually was in a movie with him, we did, and with, oh, man, Pat Morita from The Karate Kid.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, sure, sure.

Bas Rutten: He was in that as well, the crazy scientist in the movie. Yeah, so yeah, he was already focusing on that. He knew that in order to reach the people outside the country, you’re going to have to learn to speak the language, so he was really good with his English. Suzuki a little less.

Tim Ferriss: In that era, let’s just say ’92 to sort of 2000, in that range, could be a little bit earlier, but let’s just say when you first got to Japan onward, are there any Japanese fighters who impressed you who you think are probably not known or lesser known in the US? Did anybody stand out to you?

Bas Rutten: Yuki Kondo was good. Shibuya, he was a tough fighter. I had a draw against him one time. It was my only draw, and then the second time I told everybody I was going to finish him with the Bas Rutten neck crank. I just came up with a move and that’s how I beat him, so that was kind of cool. He was a tough guy. Funaki was good. Suzuki was a little physically not as super strong, but he made that up with technique. He was really fast on the ground. I mean, he would jump all over the place. Those were, I think, yeah, the toughest guys. Takahashi. Takahashi was one. I would call him. He was a party guy like me. After the fights, we became good friends.

Yeah, that was so bad. What happened was, I fought him, and the day before I fought him, we saw this giant screen on the building. We saw a preview from the fight the next day. So imagine this. We’re walking on the street and it goes, “Hybrid wresting. Pancrase,” and we were looking and they go, boom, and the first thing we see is me knocking somebody out my first fight, and we go, “Oh, my God, there’s the preview for tomorrow, for the show we have,” and I see somebody sitting in half guard and he goes for an inverted heel hook, which at that time, I didn’t know.

This is actually how I get my fifth degree Kyokushin, because Jon Bluming is standing behind me, and he’s the highest gaijin, the foreigner for Mas Oyama. Mas Oyama had Kyokushin karate. He’s like 12th degree, and Jon Bluming is 11th degree, so he’s really up the ladder, and I look at Jon and I go, “Whoa, that’s a cool move. I should remember that,” and the next day I’m fighting him in that position, and I go give it a shot, so because I never did it before, I had no clue the amount of pressure I put on, and I broke his foot in half. So yeah, that was bad because he went to the hospital, he got an infection in it.

I mean, I think he was five months in the hospital, and that was a tough day when I went to visit him. That was really not fun. The poor guy. And after that, yeah, unfortunately he never came back as he was before, because he was a wild man. He was also taking risks, taking shots. He was an exciting fighter, always going for the knockout. But yeah, unfortunately I think that kind of stopped it for him.

Tim Ferriss: What was it like being involved with Pride? Because I’ve heard so many rumors about Pride. Even the Japanese had lots of rumors too, and I’ll just leave it at that. I mean, what was it like being involved with Pride?

Bas Rutten: Everybody might be walking around with like this. You got half the fingers.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah, missing fingers. Yeah, missing fingers. Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah. Yeah, please tell just any stories about Pride because I’ve always wanted to ask somebody.

Bas Rutten: Pride was just an organization that was way ahead of the USC. They were the biggest martial arts, mixed martial arts organization on the planet. We’re talking about a small show of 45,000 people. That’s considered a small show, and it was the Saitama Super Arena, and the Saitama Super Arena was an arena that you could also expand, which would hold 49,000 people. I mean, we did one time in an open space, 91-and-a-half-thousand people we had.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, wow.

Bas Rutten: It was the most bizarre thing. You know, you see a guy like Bob Sapp coming up, who’s 350 pounds, 10 percent body fat, giant guy, fighting a 180-pound guy. They made these crazy match-ups, but the people loved it. They ate it up, and it was always back then, and Mirko Cro Cop, Fedor Emelianenko, the Nogueira brothers. I mean, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Rampage Jackson, all these guys.

I remember when Dana White challenged the best fighters from Pride to a fight against Chuck Liddell, who was the champion at the time, and I remember Chuck came over with Dana, and that was at the Saitama Super Arena, and when the opening started, I’m sitting in my commentating table, I’m looking back and I see Dana is literally with mouth open, and he sees that I’m looking at him and I go, “Huh?” And he goes — he’s never seen the thing like that before. He thought it was crazy.

And then with Chuck, he fought with Quinton Rampage Jackson, and Quinton won that fight, so now suddenly that was a big gamble they took, the UFC. Now they put Pride even more on the map. But in the meanwhile I always told Pride Fighting Championship, “You’ve got to go to America. We’ve got to go to America.” “No, no. We’re doing good here.” I said, “No, no, no. It’s nothing compared once you go to America. America is where the big money is. That’s where you want to be,” and they always declined and declined and declined it. Then suddenly The Ultimate Fighter came out and that bumped the UFC up to the number one spot, and now suddenly they realized they wanted to go to America, and they couldn’t get through the Athletic Commission. It didn’t work. And every time I say, “Let me talk to the Athletic Commission. I have a good way to talking to people. They know me anyway. Just let me talk,” but they, “No, no, no,” and then at the end they go, “Okay, can you talk to them?”

Then I walked in, I did my whole talk, and they said, “Oh, we’re splitting hairs here. Okay, yeah. It’s legal. You can come to America.” And I looked at them. I said, “You could have done this two years ago, and then you had the chance at least to catch up to the UFC,” but by now the UFC was this juggernaut that nobody could touch anymore, so people started slowing but surely for Pride. Yeah. The Pride got involved.

They found out that it was maybe kind of a laundering thing for the Yakuza, which is the mafia. That’s why we were talking about the half a pinkies, and then of course Tokyo TV pulled out because you can’t have that. That’s bad public image. And now suddenly they’re just getting the gates, the money, it’s a whole different animal. And now they were too late with America. Yeah, they could never pick it up, so they sold the company. Actually, the UFC bought Pride Fighting Championships, and now they had all these great fighters, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, coming to the UFC, and it made the UFC even bigger, so yeah, they did a really good job.

Tim Ferriss: I was surprised, maybe I shouldn’t be, that when I went on YouTube to look at some of the full length Pancrase fights that they were on the UFC official channel, so they must have bought the catalog or the brand. I was surprised, but then again, not surprised.

Pride, just for people who had ever saw Pride, like you said, it was almost a video game with these match-ups, right? You’d have Quinton Rampage Jackson howling with the chains around the neck. He could slam anybody imaginable. Didn’t matter. And then you would have, as you mentioned, Bob Sapp, who became gaijin tarento, this huge TV hit. He’d do like commercials for hot dogs or whatever. He became this huge celebrity in Japan, against some guy half a size, and on top of that, you had rules that were just savage. I mean, you had Wanderlei Silva soccer-kicking somebody in the head who was on his hands and knees. Just absolutely terrifying. And some of my favorite fighters of all time, like Kazushi Sakuraba. You mentioned a bunch of other names. I mean, just some incredible talents, and it just goes to show, there is planning and timing involved, and he who hesitates is loss when it comes to expanding to the US.

Do you have any other fights or stories, any encounters, interactions that really stand out for you from your involvement with Pride?

Bas Rutten: One of the things that I really always enjoy is Mauro Ranallo, my commentating partner — first it was Stephen Quadros, the Fight Professor, and then it became Mauro Ranallo — he was very afraid of Mirko Cro Cop. Everybody was afraid of Mirko Cro Cop, and Mirko said he would only want to be interviewed by me, and Mirko was facing — 

Tim Ferriss: Sorry to interrupt, Bas. Could you just paint a picture of Mirko Cro Cop for people who didn’t see him at that time? Because it’s something to behold.

Bas Rutten: Yeah. He’s from Croatia. He’s a special forces. Do you see him, guy rappelling down from choppers and shooting people? I mean, this guy is as legit as they come. He came from K-1, which is the biggest kickboxing organization on the planet, knocking people out with head kicks. They would say his left high kick — if he knocked 25 people out like that, I’m not even exaggerating. Oh, a side left kick to the body, they would say, “left kick body, hospital. Left kick head, morgue.” That’s what they would say. I mean, and it would always land. They knew it would come, but somehow this guy was just a freaking machine. And because of his special forces, he was very stoic. His answers, if you interview him, was “Yes, no, boom, boom.” He didn’t want to be there. But with me he opened up, so he was always sitting with me.

And then he was facing Ron Waterman. Ron Waterman is a pastor, so he’s the fighting pastor, and he’s a giant guy. So what I did, I went to Mirko Cro Cop before and I said, “Mirko, I want pull the trick on Mauro Ranallo, because he’s really afraid of you. I’m going to interview Ron Waterman and I’m going to ask…” — oh, no, because we always — I would interview one fighter, and then the opponent will be interviewed by my commentating partner, so Ron Waterman walks in and I immediately start interviewing him, and Mauro didn’t see it yet, and as soon as Ron Waterman leaves, I say, “Okay, man. Great.” And I go — and he goes, “What?” I go, “Oh, dude. I’m sorry.” He goes, “What do you mean?” I go, “I interviewed Ron.” And he goes, “What do you mean?” I go, “You’re going to have to do Mirko.” He said, “No, no. I don’t want Mirko. I don’t want to interview Mirko,” and “I’m afraid of him.” I go, “You have to. I can’t do both fighters. It’s going to look weird for the people at home.”

So was the perfect setup. So then Mirko comes to the show, and because he didn’t want to do interviews before everything was on his time, and he was so powerful, whatever he said they had to do because otherwise he was not going to do it. And he goes in there, and I’m with Mauro, and Mirko start talking about, “Yeah,” he says, “You were there for the last fight?” And Mauro says, “No, no, that wasn’t me.” He said, “No, that was you.” He says, “I didn’t like the way you were talking about me,” and he goes, “No, that wasn’t me.” “No, no, no. It was you.” And he looked at his friends, and everybody goes, “No, it’s you,” and Mauro was looking at me like, “Bas, help me out here,” and I’m just standing still not saying anything, right?

So he starts getting — and he gets more and more nervous, and Mirko really pushes it on. He’s super serious. Suddenly Mauro, he gets up and he walks out, and everybody’s talking to him, said, “No, you’ve got to go back, man.” He says, “I don’t want to do it. He doesn’t want to be here. He hates me. I don’t want to do this anymore.” So he goes back again, and he walks toward Mauro, and Mauro runs away, right? And so this is over. Everybody’s freaking out, and then suddenly I say, “Mauro, it’s okay.” And he stands there and he’s waiting as Mirko comes walking in. He has this stern look in his face and he walks straight up to Mauro, and Mauro’s like — and then at the very end he started laughing, Mirko, and he high-fives Mauro. He says, “We’re just messing with you a bit.” (Laughs) And they actually became really good friends. And it’s online. We posted this. It’s hilarious. Mirko Cro Cop punks Mauro Ranallo. It’s hilarious once you watch that video.

And then I have another fun story, which I thought was hilarious, because I wanted to bring the people at home on the Bas Tour, the B-A-S instead of bus tour. The Bas Tour. And it was going throughout all the back stages at the fights. We’d go to the fighters. There’s the dressing room. Oh, here are the doctors. Let’s see what they test on. All that kind of stuff, right? So I’m walking, and when I walk into the doctor’s office and I’m opening the door, and the first thing I see is all the pee tests from the fighters in little paper cups with a little wooden thing on it, with the name on it, and I’m right away — I have a great idea, of course.

So I close the door. I go, “Okay, let’s just wait outside, you guys. Let me ask them first if it’s okay we come in. I mean, it’s a little intrusive if we just walk in right now. Let me talk to the doctors to see if everything is okay.” So I close the door, I get one of these cups, I put green tea in it, I put a little lid on it, and I put it in between all these other pee tests from the fighters. So now I’m walking in with the cameras, and we’re walking around and we’re looking, “Oh, there’s the doctor. Okay. That’s where they test it. Boom, boom, boom, and everything. “Oh, hey look here. Here’s the pee tests from the fighters. Man, that’s great, right? Wouldn’t it be weird if you imagine by tasting, you could know which fighter it is?” And they look at me like am I crazy?

I said, “No, I’m serious. I’m serious. Can you imagine you taste the pee and you could say, ‘That’s that certain guy?'” And he goes, “You’re crazy.” I say, “Oh, I’m going to try it.” So I grab mine, of course, the pee, and everybody’s freaking out. I go, “I think this is Mark Coleman.” (Laughs) These people were freaking out. They thought I was drinking the pee from Mark Coleman. It was hilarious until of course they found out I was messing with them. Those kind of things, that’s right up my alley, man. Messing with people. (Laughs)

Tim Ferriss: So I want to paint a picture for folks who may not recognize these names. So Mark Coleman certainly sort of pre- and Smashing Machine documentary era, along with Mark Kerr, just monsters. Absolute monsters, right? I mean, I remember his solution for someone pulling guard was just neck cranking them so hard that their head might pop off, and that was the end of the match.

And for people who don’t know Mirko Cro Cop, they should look him up and watch some video. The guy’s thighs were as big around as my dinner table, and not only could he kick, I remember he fought — just to tie two names together that have come up. He fought Bob Sapp and he was so disdainful. I remember watching the translation, because of course I don’t speak Croatian, but translated into Japanese, he’s like, “I hate people who win just because they’re big,” and he was so just scornful of Sapp and he threw a body kick, planted the foot, and then hit him with a straight, and I think he crushed his eye orbit — 

Bas Rutten: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: — with gloves on, and I think from that point forward, Bob Sapp’s eyes were pointing in different directions. I mean, it seemed like that was a real turning point. I mean, just absolute animal, so worth checking out if people haven’t seen him.

Bas Rutten: Yeah, Bob Sapp, he asked me one time if I would fight him, what I would use? And I said, “I would kick your knees. I’m not going to kick your thigh because they’re carrying weight the whole day long. And I go for the body,” I said, “because your stamina is not that good, and I think with the body shot, that will work with you.” And then he fought Ernesto Hoost, who dropped him twice with a body shot, but then he got lucky. He swang so hard at Ernesto Hoost on his defense, and the scraping of the own glove gave a cut to Ernesto Hoost and he lost the fight, but then after the fight he had to face Mirko Cro Cop, and he came to me if I wanted to train him.

So I went — 11 days or 12 days before the fight, because I was the commentator, I went to Japan to train with him. I trained him one-and-a-half day, one-and-a-half times, and the rest he was doing interviews, and I go, “Bob, you understand that Mirko Cro Cop has a picture of you on a bag, and you are the biggest guy right now. He’s going to annihilate you.” “Yeah, but people want to see me on TV.” “They don’t care about you. You’re going to lose this fight. And you’re not going to beat me on TV. You need to focus on the fight. Wait with all this stuff.” But apparently he thought that was important and he kept doing it, and then yeah, this happened against Mirko Cro Cop. He wasn’t just prepared. He was a gifted athlete, Bob Sapp. It’s just that he didn’t take the time anymore to prepare. That was his problem.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Got his skull crushed. Oh, my God. I remember that wince, that look. Because it wasn’t a knockout. It was a different facial expression, and you just saw him kind of crumple, and I was like, “Oh, God. Horrible.”

So for people who may — I also just want to — this is such a trip down memory lane for me. I’m going to put some links to Ramon Dekkers [and] Coban [Lookchaomaesaitong], who I actually met and trained with a bit in New York City, because at least at the time, that’s where he lived. I mean, their fights, repeated fights, were just absolute brutality.

Bas Rutten: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: And then Rob Kaman, who wore, if I remember correctly, the shorts with a rainbow on the front. He was like a Care Bear. (Laughs) Different times. The murderous Care Bear. Let me ask, since we’ve covered a lot of fight game, for people who were wondering how professional fighting differs from, say, street defense. I know you’ve certainly spent a lot of time bouncing. You’ve had your fair share of street fights outside of bouncing, and you’ve thought a lot about this, and you’re a very highly qualified former professional fighter, right? Because there are a lot of kind of YouTube black belts who teach all sorts of nonsense. So how do you teach a self-defense course to people who are, let’s just say, moderately athletic, so they’re not total couch potatoes but they’re not athletes. They’re not fighters. How do you teach self-defense?

Bas Rutten: You have to really break it down. You don’t want to — you still want to start with the basics. It’s footwork, it’s planting your feet, explaining where the power comes from, all that kind of stuff. That’s why you really want to break it down, because I cannot teach you to throw combinations in one or two classes. I can teach you to throw a really hard freaking cross, because I will tell you where the power comes from pushing off on the back foot, rotating your upper body, all that. So little steps take here and there, but the problem with self-defense is what I said in the beginning. In Muay boxing, I was more the dojo fighter. I was not developed yet into a professional fighter, so I didn’t have that control in the dojo. I didn’t have that in my fights.

Now, luckily for me, I was just very powerful and I just slaughtered people and I won everything by first round knockout, one in the second round, the rest eight in the first round, so I was just strong. But again, like I said, if I would face a good guy, that would be a problem for me. So for people, if you want to do — you take a good self-defense course — by the way, we just shot — shot, just? We shot it in the beginning of COVID when everything went down the drain, Seven Skills to Save Your Life with a friend of mine, Amir Perets. Google his name on YouTube, Amir Perets. He will take a gun away from somebody in two hundredths of a second, faster than the brain can react. You’ll see things that you simply — it’s not possible and he’s doing it.

So what you need is to make sure that you can do it under pressure as well. Now, there’s a lot of things that you can try to mimic it with, a lot of stress and screaming like they do in the military, but still for a military guy as well, if you never shot at a live person and the people are shooting back at you with real bullets, it’s a whole different animal. You don’t know what you’re going to do. But as long as you did it a lot and put you in worse situations, get you really tired and screaming and punching, slapping you in the face, and then suddenly you still have to get your bearings together to fight, that will be really good. Doing a self-defense class twice a week and thinking you’re going to win on a fight?

Well, first of all, it’s always better to know a little bit than nothing. If both of you don’t know anything but you had like five classes, you have more chance. It’s simply that’s how it is because you did it still five times, you have more chance. Is it still enough? Of course it’s not enough, but you have a better chance. Plus, if you do self-defense, if you’re in a situation, in a really bad situation, we will always tell you to avoid the situation, of course. They want money, give them money. Comply. That’s what you want to do. But if this guy’s not wearing a mask and you just shot somebody and you see him, well, now you’re going to be a witness in court, so the chances you’re going to die are really astronomically high. They don’t want you to show. For him to kill one or two people, it’s almost the same sentence, so he’s not going to let you go.

So at that moment, you’re going to be forced to do something because if you don’t, you’re going to die. Now, if you have a little bit of skill, then you increase your chances right away with defending yourself. But sure, if you did it three times or two months, even that, it’s not going to be enough, but still we were teaching law enforcement and Amir Perets, he was teaching a law enforcement officer defending a knife to counter attack and how to do that, and that guy called him back six weeks later, sent him an email and he said, “You saved my life. I mean, I knew instantly what I was doing,” and that was just seeing it one time, but this guy was trained already and he just came back with that situation, like kind of with me with the heel hook that I did that I saw that day on TV, he had it as well and it actually worked for him and he overcame the guy and it saved his life.

So you see, so people who say, “Yeah, but it will never work,” it’s always good to know. I always say it’s better to have a skill and don’t need it than to need a skill and don’t have it, so it’s important that you do it, and if you do mixed — if you do mixed martial arts. If you do street fight, self-defense, see if you can fight. Amateur, doesn’t matter, but do something under pressure because I’m telling you, it’s a whole different animal.

Like my Thai boxing fight. I always tell this story. I knocked him out with the back kick to the body. If at that moment, when I dropped him, they would’ve blindfolded me, they would’ve called in four other guys, all with Thai boxing, shorts, not even the same Thai boxing shorts, and they put them next to each other, they take the blindfold off, they say, “Who were you fighting?” I don’t think I could point him out, because you’re not fighting a person. You’re fighting a silhouette. It’s really weird. You don’t hit the — you don’t hit the jaw. You don’t hit the nose. You hit the head. Whatever you see, you hit. It’s uncontrolled. You don’t have it down yet. It’s like, well, like anything in life. The more you do it, the better get you get at it.

So for a person, if you really want to be good at self-defense, schedule a kickboxing match, even if it’s amateur, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. People are so focused on the winning. Of course it’s fun to win, but just for you to feel that pressure, to go there, and you don’t want to do it. There are going to be moments in the dressing room that you’re going to go, “I’m not doing it. I want to go. I want to go,” and then still do it. You’re overcoming your fears. That is something I think is very important, so that’s with the course that we have the seven skills to save your life.

The first is situational awareness. We have 45 minutes only on that. Now, why don’t you walk out of the house in the morning and you just stand there instead of walking to your car, on your phone. Why don’t you look around? Just make it a habit. Look around. Oh, so you see anything out of the ordinary? Is somebody in the car? Little things. And we give them all the hints what you have to focus on. You go into a bar. You go into a restaurant. Know where the fire escapes are, right away. We make it the game with the kids. Where’s the fire escape? “Oh, at the…” what is it? “The toilets, Daddy. Oh, there’s also one in the kitchen I saw. You see? You start doing that and the kids start picking it up and it’s for fun, but it is the most important thing because they say all this — when you hear about terrorists, all that stuff, 85 percent is preventative measures. 85 percent of all the attacks, they’re already stopped them before it happened. That’s how important is to have situational awareness.

And then we go over into the stance, and then slowly but surely, once the stance is there, we start building on that stance, and then we give you a few weapons. We’re not going to give you spinning back kicks. You’re never going to pull off it. I never pull off a spinning back in a fight. It’s the dumbest thing to do because if you miss it, you’re in a bad position. Just stuff that really works. Focus on a few things. Knife attacks. Well, there’s this knife attack. There’s the under — this is 80 percent, that stab. That is —

Tim Ferriss: It’s coming up like a volleyball serve.

Bas Rutten: That’s it.

Tim Ferriss: I’m just — for people who are only hearing the audio. Yeah.

Bas Rutten: Yeah, and focus on those. Those are the highest percent as possible they’re going to bring. Chances they’re going to use that. It’s the same on the street. If he’s right-handed, he’s going to throw straight punch. Know the defense for that. And we break everything down, and if you do it very slowly and methodical and grind it in over and over again, and then we have tricks to get you off balance, to get you very dizzy, and then still you have to act, slowly but surely you learn a fighting skills.

And once you have that fighting skill, then it’s the best to go to a gym and to simply keep doing it. You can’t learn something once or twice a week and then believe that you can do it. Really, don’t think that. It’s not the movies. I’m always afraid. That’s why I stopped actually teaching self-defense in classes, because people come in and they get a false sense of security. Like for instance, if I just teach a knife defense and they’re walking on the street and suddenly his friend gets into trouble with somebody and somebody pulls a knife and he’s going to go, “Hey, stand back. I got it. I just had this in class.” You see? And then he might die, and it’s kind of my fault then, and especially if you taught it the wrong way, so make sure that you do your homework.

Krav Maga Worldwide, that’s an organization. They’re very methodical. They’re constantly updating the curriculum and making it better with things that happened in the field. For instance, there was a gun defense and there’s a certain way to rap it out of the hand. Well, one day it happened in such a way that the finger broke and it wrapped around the trigger guard, and they couldn’t disarm him. Boom. Immediately when that story comes in, then they adjust it and they make sure that can never happen again. It was one time in maybe 100,000 times, but, hey, still, you see? But they’re constantly adapting, and that’s what they do. So, and if you do /bas it will send you to a link, and then you can watch it. We have some videos there and you can see how we present it to the people, because it’s important to give you little bits, and a little bit more every time. You need to be 100 percent sure that you can actually do that certain technique.

Tim Ferriss: So a few things I’d like to say, and then a question. So the first is, one of my favorite quotes that I think applies to just about anything is from a very old poet, a writer, Archilochus, which, and his quote is, “We do not rise to the level of our hopes. We fall to the level of our training.” And what you were describing, just in terms of psychological preparedness and translating from training to live, say competition or self-defense, makes me think of this example, which always stuck with me, which was in college.

I was competing in judo after being in Japan, and I remember at one point wandering by this self-defense class for women which was being taught. It was being taught maybe once or twice a week, and I went in to offer to help. I wanted to see if I could just volunteer time to help, and the woman who was running that class said, “No, this is women only,” and it was women practicing with women, and I thought to myself, “My God. If you’re women practicing with women, and you think that men are just a slightly larger version of women,” it’s like, look at the strength. You have to feel the strength differential and the aggression differential. Take a 130-pound woman and a 130-pound man, there not the same, and if you have any hope of acting under duress when it matters, you have to experience that or you’re going to be one in 100 that you’re going to possibly do anything correctly, and it really stuck with me, that need to practice.

So let’s talk about high percentage techniques. You’ve spent a lot of time bouncing, so you get a good amount of practice dealing with different types of aggression, different types of situations, and I’d like to ask you as a bouncer, two things. So number one, if you defused situations successfully or were able to deescalate them, were there any particular approaches or things you would say that seem to work for that? So if you were training — if you were training, a week long course for bouncers, right? The deescalation moves or expressions or questions or whatever you might use, and then when it really just escalates and you need to take care of somebody, but you don’t want to break your hand or maybe get sued or whatever it might be, what do you do? So if you could just answer those two, that’d be great.

Bas Rutten: Okay, so first of all, it’s taking the two people who it starts with, take them to the side. Don’t put it in a gym. Walk outside with them, do something that they feel more comfortable and not with everybody there. Like for instance, when I would be — they really wanted me as a bouncer. Why? Because I could fight? No, no. That was not the real reason. The reason was, that came in handy, I’m really good with people. From the 10 situations, nine times we don’t we don’t fight because I talk them of it. It’s always. And the only thing that I would always use, break down the situation why they got into a fight, and you’re going to find out it’s always stupid.

Like, “Oh, my God. Yeah, he was looking at my wife.” I go, “He was looking at your wife? “Yeah.” “Did he talk to her?” “No.” “Did he touch her?” “No. “Did he say derogatory things at her? Did he make face to her?” “No, no, no, no, no.” “Did he do something against you to make you mad?” “No, he didn’t do that.” I go, “That’s a compliment, dude. I mean, that means your wife is a good-looking wife. He didn’t overstep. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t touch her,” and he starts looking at the guy. “Yeah, yeah.” I go, “Come. You come here,” and then I would call the other guy. I said, “Did you say something back?” He says, “No, no, no. I was just looking at his wife and he got really angry,” and then they start seeing, yeah, this is stupid, because it’s alcohol. Alcohol, once that’s involved, you make stupid mistakes.

And once they say, “Okay, shake hands. You guys want a drink?” And I will give him a beer, and the fight was solved. So simply breaking it down, but in a nice and calm way, this is very important because the screamers, it will never work. You get them on their toes. No fighting stance, no nothing, hands down. And once you talk to a person, always makes sure you look at their hands. This is the first thing I always tell people. If they put their hands in the pocket or whatever, always expect something. It’s better to be a little bit on your toes there. Maybe get and handkerchief out. It doesn’t matter But always look what they have in their hands, and as soon as they don’t have anything in their hands, just take them outside, break the situation down, and they’re going to find out it’s stupidity what they’re doing, and then the fight, it’s going to be off, and there’s not going to be a fight.

Now, if there is a fight — and it depends where it is. If it’s in a bar, I put my back against the wall. If there’s a corner, I’m with my back in the corner, because nobody can attack me from the sides now. I got my perfect view. It’s going to be very hard to sneak up behind me, you see? So if you have a wall, great. If you don’t have a wall but a corner, corner even better. Go into the corner. But it depends, again, on the situation. Once knives get present and you need to get out, maybe you don’t want to be in a corner. You want to go to the exit and you want to get the heck out of there. Don’t fight if they have a knife. Don’t let your ego control yourself. You might die.

I mean, people do things for no freaking reason, simply watch out. But that would be the greatest thing. If somebody pulls a knife, that’s the street fighting DVD that I made a long time ago, the crazy one, grab bar stool. Get something that you can separate him from. He needs something in between. It’s very hard if I just hold the bar stool in between for him to come closer. It’s also very important.

Then you know that if the fight goes outside, yeah, now it’s my domain because now I’ve got space, and once there’s space, if you start hitting me, I won’t even let you hit me, and most of the time that is enough. People are going to go, “Shit, if I cannot even hit him…” because then I’ll talk to them. I say, “Dude, I could have hit you already. I could’ve hit you. I could have hit you again.” Or I hit one time in front of his face. “You want me to really do this now? Let’s stop, dude. I don’t want to fight.”

If you say it, “I don’t want to fight,” act like you’re a little bit afraid. No, you’re not. But you’re — to the audience, because most of the time it’s egos as well, right? If I say, “Oh, I’m going to kick your ass,” now it’s an ego thing. He wants to prove himself in front of everybody who’s watching. No. Just deescalate by saying, “Dude, I don’t want to fight. It’s so stupid to fight. I could’ve hit you here already,” and nine out of 10 times again, they realize that you’re the guy with the skill and they’re the guys with no skill.

Now, sometimes when it’s absolutely not avoidable anymore, yeah, well then you’re going to have to go fast, and especially if there’s a weapon involved. Thankfully I didn’t have those situations many times because that’s a very bad situation. A knife, for instance, is a really bad, almost worse than a gun. A gun in front of me, I’d rather have that. When you’re stand in my arm’s reach, I’d rather have that than when you have a knife. A knife is much more dangerous, can cut from every side, especially if it’s double-bladed. Very dangerous. Gun, once you control the gun and the barrel and you just go with it and you make sure that you don’t put yourself in the line of fire, then everything’s okay. Oh, and by the way, gun defense is also make sure that a loved one doesn’t stand on the side, because if he pulls a trigger, that person is going to go.

So you have to have situational awareness. That’s all stuff that you need to know. And then it’s basic stuff, like I said. If it’s without a weapon, if they’re standing with the left leg front, they’re orthodox. That means the right hand is going to come. Nobody’s going to throw a hook on the street. Everybody’s angry. Everybody loads up their punch because they’re angry, you see? So all these things are easy.

People have no clue how easy it is for a professional fighter. It’s like me challenging a professional basketball player to shoot some hoops. Who you think is going to win, right? I mean, come on. We do this every single day, two, three times a day. You’re not going to win. It’s not going to happen. Yeah, if you maybe from the back hit us, but otherwise it’s simply not going to work, and if you can bring that over to them and they realize that, with on top saying, “I don’t want to fight.” Always say you don’t want to fight ,because that makes them feel good, that it’s not a threat. Most of the times they stop.

And otherwise it’s the cross counter. A cross comes, they always hit in an angle, so that means they always come from the side, so the only thing you have to do is literally move backwards because then the punch already is going to miss you, and there’s your counter. It’s a very simple counter. Either a cross, or if it’s an elbow, it depends how close he is, but if you learn distance, and that’s the first thing we focus on, on your stance and on distance, because distance is everything, because if a person stands here, this point is not very powerful. It’s better to go on uppercut, a hook, or an elbow on this distance. If the — 

Tim Ferriss: Right. Just for people who are listening, right, if somebody is a few inches from your chest or within a foot of your chest.

Bas Rutten: Yes. What I say in seminars, the longer a strike travels, the more power it has. The more time it has to pick up speed and power. And I always use an example with a bow and arrow. And I grab a person in the room. And I grab a bow and arrow. I act like I have a bow aned arrow. And I put my hand against his chest. If I let this arrow go, it’s going to go in this deep. But if I step back three steps, it’s going to go straight through him. Now I gave it space. And now it had time to develop speed. If people hit me on close distance, I bring my head closer to their punches.

Here it hurts, but if I bring my head to the hand, he cannot load up anymore. You see, I’m cutting off the distance. These little things, they’re not going to do anything. But if I move away, then he’s got the reach in order to hit me hard.

So distance is everything. And especially when you’re backing up, as somebody comes at you, if he comes with aggressive power and you make the defense but his face is here. You see? Now a punch is not good. You have to change it to an elbow. So that’s why it’s always good to have some classes with people who break it down like this, just a few techniques. It’s not that difficult to knock somebody out. But make sure that you don’t have too many techniques, just a few techniques and know them very well. And you’re going to be okay.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. And I’ll just say for folks listening or watching, and this’ll sound obvious. Don’t start fights. You just do not know who you’re fucking dealing with. I remember when I first moved to San Francisco, I was training at a Muay Thai gym called Fairtex at the time, I don’t even know if it’s there anymore. And one of the fighters, terrible temper. He was pretty good. He wasn’t great. He wasn’t professional. But he went out to a bar, started a fight, didn’t mind his back, he wasn’t in a corner, got stabbed right through the lung by someone who was behind him.

And then, one of the instructors also, Alex Gong, a guy ran into his car, and then kept going. And Alex’s car was parked. And the gym had this garage door. And he chased the guy, and the car stopped at a red light, and he punched the guy’s window in, and the guy had stolen the car, pulled out a gun, just shot him in the chest. And that was the end of Alex. You just do not know who you’re dealing with, so don’t — 

I also have funnier stories, like when the guy I was training with at the time, En, who was a world champion in Thai Kickboxing, but he was tiny. Tiny little guy. He wore really loose clothing. And he went out to a bar, and some guy started a fight with him, and kicked him once, and broke every rib on one side, and that was the end of that. So moral the story: if you can avoid it, don’t pick fights. Don’t pick fights!

Bas Rutten: And emotions, check them. You need to control the anger, like Bruce Lee said. Because anger, like I said, makes you load up the punch. That’s why you want to get your opponent angry in a professional fight, because if they’re really angry, they start loading up. They start telegraphing. It’s very hard to control your emotions, but if you control your emotions, you’re going to win the fight.

Tim Ferriss: So I want to ask you, we’re going to get to O2 Trainer in a second, because I have one on my table at home and I want to ask a number of questions about it. Before we get there, Grand Theft Auto IV. All right. So how did you get involved with Grand Theft Auto? And what the hell happened there?

Bas Rutten: Oh, they called me, and they said, if I wanted to do the motion cap. Actually, every fight you see — and we made history in that game. So for let you know that, because all the video games are doing it right now, and I came up with that. Because we were doing the motion cap with all these little balls on you, you know, and then, you have to hit it and they check the balls. But I said, “Liisten, if you punch somebody and if I hit the air, you see me hitting the air. We need to hit something solid.”

He goes, “Why?”

I said, “It’s going to look much better.” I said, “I’ll show you.”

So I gave him a cross-hook-cross, I showed a few techniques. I go, “Watch this.” I called my buddy Amir, he was holding the focus mitts for me, the Thai pads. And I hit that. And I remember they were up there looking at the footage and everybody went, “Yeah!” They started screaming because now you see literally connecting and you see the power coming back. It made it much more realistic.

So all the car jacking, the fighting on the street that you see, we did that as well. But then the best thing came. They wanted me to have my own TV show in the game. So there’s two 10-minute episodes of “In the Man’s Room with Bas and Jeremy,” is a very funny show. Dude. I had to send people out in the room because they start messing it up every time because they started laughing so hard. I got a script and I start breaking up the script. I would omit sentences. I would act like that was a period. And then I restart it.

So it sounds complete psychotic, what I’m saying. It’s like, what is this guy — it’s completely crazy. You know, once you start shouting at the audience, the fake audience is there, “Who wants to knife fight with me in the audience?” you know, as a commentator, as the host of the show, you see, oh, I love that stuff. That was the best work. That’s one of the best works I ever did, I think. For the people, GTA IV, Bas Rutten, go on YouTube. They have both the episodes. I think it’s hilarious. That’s kind of humor that I really like.

Tim Ferriss: So, all right. So we’ll link to those, we’ll link to those in the show notes. Question, this is going to be — well, I don’t think this is going to be difficult to cover at all, but I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about the role of prayer in your life.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: And I read about this, and I don’t know if you still pray the rosary every day. But I’ll read something that I found in the research, this was on I’ll give them credit here, but here’s the line. And you can correct me if any of this is changed or is wrong.

“It just let me focus; it’s meditating to me, as it is to many others. Take your time to do it. Go to a quiet spot and start. When you really go over the ‘mysteries…'” And those are in quotation marks, “…and visualize them and repeat the prayers, it will calm you down.”

So could you speak to — I’m not affiliated with any religion. Could you please just describe the role of prayer for you? And then also just elaborate on what the mysteries are. Cause I don’t know what that refers to.

Bas Rutten: So the rosary, they say — I’m a very devout Catholic. The first hour of the day, it’s all prayers. That’s what I start with. It’s also a rosary. I do a lot of reading about it. It really got me back into the person I really want to be. Not that I was ever a bad person. I went through some stuff. When you say the word “religion,” nowadays, people can freak out and — but see it like this, I got in this confrontation with this 23-year-old in the dog park. And he knew that I was a Christian, that I loved Jesus.

Tim Ferriss: Wait, when did this happen?

Bas Rutten: This happened maybe four months ago. Okay. And he wanted to push my buttons because there was something going on in the fight where I gave my thoughts and he gave his thoughts and he thought he was right. I said, “Well, I’ve been only doing it for 30 years. And I’ve seen this many times. So I think I’m right, but hey, whatever.”

And I think he couldn’t get that. So he needed to get back at me for something. And then suddenly he said to me, they were talking about the fact that nowadays you have some states where people park the car outside the supermarket, they load it up for under a thousand dollars, and then they take off. And then by law, you can’t do anything because it’s not above a thousand dollars. And I said, “those people are bad people. They shouldn’t be doing that.” He said the wrong example.

And he said, “Oh, we used to do that in California. But here is $500, we would steal till $500.” And his father stands right there. Father of the year award, right? I mean, he’s telling you that he just would steal under $500. I go, this is crazy.

And then he says, “Oh, and by the way, my Christian friends, they were the worst. They stole the most.” So that was an attack at me, right? So I go, “Yeah, there were Christians, but they were not practicing Christians then.”

And he goes, “No, no! They go to church every week.”

I go, “Oh, okay. Let’s use that analogy then. So what you’re saying is that if you walk around in my gym once a week, you’re a professional fighter. Is that what you’re saying?”

And he looks at me. I go, “Or do you think maybe you’re going to have to take some classes and learn about that? And then maybe live like a fighter, no drinking, no this, no that, no that, no chasing women? No? You know, you have to be a fighter. Maybe you think that.”

You see, and that is how I apply the fighting. I just want to be a good guy. That’s what I want to do. Clean up my life. And I never did bad things, like really bad things. I did — people got it, they deserved it at the moment. But still now it’s much easier for me to just walk away and I don’t need to test my skills anymore. And it completely changed my life. It made me a much better person. And once I did that, I saw my whole family started changing. I didn’t even ask them.

Now they started coming around because they saw the husband, my wife and the father changed. You know, I started just becoming a much better person. Think about what you say, you know, look about truth, look all these kind of things. So then somebody told me that once you do a rosary, a rosary, every beat that you have at the rosary is kind of a shotgun blast to The Devil. And especially if you do it in Latin.

Oh, wait a minute, Latin? Latin, yeah. Okay. Let’s learn everything in Latin then. You know, if The Devil really hates that. And if you really start thinking, because people, when you say “Devil” and you say — they say a lot of things. You should do really some home homework and search for people who had the near death experience, who actually went to Hell or Purgatory for that matter.

You know, there’s some really crazy stories that you hear and it’s like, whoa. It’s right in your face. And it’s all the same. They all say exactly the same story. Thousands and thousands of people around the world.

So I just started, wanted to become that person. And now it’s got me in such a thing. Listen, I wake up people like, “Oh, my God, you look great.” They’re all, “Oh, he’s probably using steroids,” always have these people talking like. You can test me every day. I’ll take any bet. You can literally test me for six months straight, if you want the blood test, also a pee test, the blood test every single day you come and test me. And if I look the same after sixth month, let’s put some money down. Because I’m going to make a good amount of money because I don’t. But if you live like I do, then you might look like me as well.

I wake up at 5:30. I do a prayer here and there, I’m in the gym at six o’clock. First thing I do, go to the trainer, 30 repetition. Post it every single day for the last four and a half years, I post every single day. Once I have a habit, I might have missed 60 times over four and a half years. You know, because I just, once I create a habit, that always helped me also with fighting, I just stay with the habit.

And it became more and more and more relaxed. And it was so weird because the more I learned about it, the more time I took to learn a certain prayer, to do so things, the more calm it got me. And I just feel really great right now. I mean, I’m enjoying life. I’m doing everything. It’s like, I’m feeling really good.

And to go back to the rosary, if the rosary, you have five decades. And there every time they’re different on every day of the week. So Mondays and Saturdays are the same. The mysteries of Mondays and Saturdays is the enunciation. That’s the first 10 parts. You meditate about enunciation. When Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Hey, you’re going to be pregnant. This is going to happen, blah, blah, blah.”

Then the number two, the number two is that you go visit Elizabeth and Zachariah. You know, because John the Baptist came from there. And that’s number two. Then number three is when Jesus gets born. Number four is when you present him at the temple. And all these little things. If you read about it, you can visualize those situations while you go over the beads. So you’re turning off the world and you focus on this mystery, this pure meditation, you know? You’re completely cut off and you focus.

Sometimes, well, sometimes, many times, you know, your mind starts shooting all over the place. Again, you’ve just got to reform again because it’s a 15-minute thing. Or if you do the Latin, it’s like 90 minutes, it’s a little longer.

But those are the mysteries, the very boom, boom, boom, and the very end it’s when they lose Jesus for three days and they find him in the temple. That is Monday and Saturday.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, the sorrowful mysteries. This is where, with the crucifixion, with the crowning of thorns, the scorching at the pillar, all that stuff. All the bad things that happen on Tuesday.

And then you have Wednesday and Sunday, that’s when he comes back. This is when he resurrected. And, and then when he goes up to Heaven and he’s talking to them for 40 days and 40 nights and talking about everything, and that is on Wednesday and Friday.

And on Thursday you have the luminous mysteries. That’s what I do. Some people don’t. And that’s, you start with the baptism in the Jordan, then the wedding at Cana, you know, it’s all these things from the Bible that you focus on. And once you start on every beat, you have a situation in your mind, how the story goes for you. It’s really easy to just focus on that, to cut off all the noise in the outside world.

Like for instance, we did twice the Exodus 90, that’s like Lent on steroids, right? So it’s for 90 days, you are not allowed to drink sweets. No sodas, can’t eat sweets. You can eat only three times a day. Nothing in between, nothing. You can’t watch TV. You can’t watch on your phone. You can’t be on your computer. Only for your work you can. You can’t listen to crazy music, only music that lifts the soul. You can only do cold showers. You have to work out every single day.

And then once you start doing that, I realized my social media cut with 80 percent because I realized I’m wasting so much time on a stupid phone the whole time and trying to get likes of posting videos. Now I’m reading a book and now I learned something about life. You see? So it completely changed me. I did that twice now. And it really, yeah. It puts life in perspective. What is necessary, what’s not necessary. And if you keep it very simple, trust me, that’s the way to go. All the stuff that. Like, I had a portion, I had this had, and I had that. It’s all gone. It’s all material stuff. Nothing’s going to help us to get up there with that.

What’s going to help us to get up? There is to be a good person, help other people. And that’s what I want to be. So I don’t go crazy with people are screaming and I won’t be the guy who’s quoting verses. Well, if you want, I can. But I won’t. You know, because that scares people off. They think this guy’s freaking crazy, you know.

But if you really take it to the heart and you really try to just be a good person, like for instance, Jesus says the two greatest commandments — let’s say you’re an atheist. Forget about — commandment number one, which is love God with all your mind, all your heart, all your soul. Forget about that one. Number two, treat people like you want to be treated. Those are the two most important commandments in the world. You think if everybody, everywhere in the world would treat everybody like they wanted to be treated themselves, we will be in this mess right now? We wouldn’t. That’s it. And that’s the only thing I’m going after. I want to just be that guy. I want to help you. I want to help you. And hopefully you help me. And that makes me feel good. I’ll be that guy.

So that’s my take on being a Catholic and I’m enjoying it every day. Like, again, with how many times I started in May 2015 with my rosary. And they go, “How many times have you missed?” “Never.” “How do you do all your readings?” “Never missed a day. You know, I just built a habit and I did it.” But that’s what I had in praying and in meditation, I used to do that also in fighting. Once I tell myself “Today, I’m going to do 10 miles on the bag after a workout,” I’d better do it because if I do nine rounds, oh, I can’t look at myself in the mirror. I see a failure. I program my mind to such a way that I’m a complete loser.

So I never want to experience that feeling again. So I always do the 10 miles, whatever it takes. I wake up in the morning now, like I said, at six o’clock I’m in the gym. Do I want it? No. But I have a really bad arm, which you will, well, I can’t pull it up. I have four neck surgeries. So I atrophied my whole arm. And you see a whole dent in here, I see that the whole muscle is gone.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I can see that.

Bas Rutten: My whole arm was like this. So slowly over 11 years, it came back. I did with two pound curls. I couldn’t pull the trigger from a gun, you know? And now I do 15 pound curls. They go, “Oh, that’s not a lot.” I go, “Dude, that’s over 11 years!” You know, it’s not a lot. I do 45 with the left arm. And I do only 15 pounds with this arm. But I do it. You don’t have to do every time, everything you like.

That’s the problem in this whole society right now. We think that pleasure is the same as being happy. It’s not. You’re just feeding your pleasures, your vices. Give more, more, and more and it becomes more and it controls you. And once it controls you, now it’s a vice. The powerful man — this is what I always say. Well, I have a line. I do these talks, public speaking talks. What kind of man you want to be? I want to be a man who can overcome his weaknesses, vices, and imperfections. A man who’s not a slave to his passions and desires, but a real man who’s in control of himself.

So I say, oh, I take a drink. Oh, I be — another drink. Now you have a little bit of buzz. You really want the third one. No, because that’s going to set me over the edge. I’m not going to do it. That’s a powerful guy to say no to a vice. All these guys who, who have sex all day long and drinking and drugs, just profanity, are screaming all the time. Those are the most insecure, weak people of the planet. We think, we believe they are the strong people, but they’re the opposite because they can’t control the vices. They’re a slave to their vices. They can’t say no to alcohol.

Once I read, because I was an alcoholic, well, you’ve got to say I am right, because apparently it’s never going away. But once I read that I was a slave, that alcohol was telling me what to control my life, that was it. I didn’t drink anymore. When did it happen? I take my whole life. And once I read it in the Bible, somehow, boom, it clicked. And I stopped doing it. So if all these great things are coming to me and it’s really helping me, I see it as a very positive thing. And I truly believe that if everybody would live like I live, we would’ve been in a very happy world. I truly believe that. Do I have my vice? Listen, we all make mistakes. I make mistakes.

But all the mistakes I make now I do to myself are little tiny things. It will never be a judging thing. Like a complete douche walking around screaming at people, you know that you almost want to say — in the past I would say something, now I just shut up. Now, if he does something bad, like hits a woman or whatever, oh, trust me. That’s the thing. Right? You can jump in right away. They don’t say turn the other cheek. That’s Jesus, we don’t do that. We help the people. I like to see myself as a sheepdog. You’ve got wolves, you’ve got sheep, and you’ve got the sheepdogs to protect the sheep from the wolves. And I like to be that guy. I like to be a powerful guy who can control his emotions and his vices. And once I can do that, I just feel really good about myself.

Tim Ferriss: So there are a bunch of questions that come to mind. I want to go to the workout and the O2 Trainer and also what you do after that. But looking at you now for those people who aren’t watching video and are just listening to audio, I mean, you seem like, despite the surgeries and the atrophy of the right arm, I mean, you seem like a very fit guy still to this day. And so what I was thinking, as you were talking about the dog park is, who on Earth thinks it is a good idea to get into some type of altercation with Bas Rutten? How did that start?

Bas Rutten: Him and his father also. And his father told me the next day, he says, “Bas, he’s doing that all day long to me.” I have students. And when you see them, they look like this. Don’t piss them off. You’re going to lose this. You know?

And with me, he did that. If he would’ve done that 10 years ago, I might have grabbed him by the throat because I wasn’t that fair. I would’ve said, “Now you’re going to stop.” Would’ve hit him. No, probably not. If he takes a swing at me, sure. But otherwise, but at least I would’ve grabbed by the throat, said “You’re going to stop that right now.” But I didn’t do that. You see?

So it’s just a guy who knows that probably that if I would hit him, hey, that’s a lawsuit. Right. And they just don’t care. But guys like that I told him that I said, you have to watch out because you are going to say this. If you say this to one of my 17-year-old students, he’ll mess you up. You’re not going to win this. And he’s five years younger than you, or six years younger than you. You see.

So I don’t know what’s wrong with some people. That’s the same one of alcohol. Well, the alcohol challenges, all that stopped after my whole crazy Sweden bar fight story with the five bouncers. And there was the whole nightmare. And after people read that story, nobody ever challenged me again on the street. And that was 2001, I think in 2000. So that thankfully helped because before that people were drunk, they would come up to me and I would just go to the bouncers. I said, “Can you come here? Okay, take him out.” And they will get so angry. And then I would write my name and the phone number on the business card. I say, “Here. Tomorrow morning, call me. And then we’ll fight. Any rules you want. We’re going to fight. But I guarantee you’re not going to call.”

“Oh, I’m going to call you tomorrow!” You’re not going to call. You’ll be the first one. And then of course they never call because they wake up, but they’re sober. And they go like, “Yeah, that was really stupid.” But you see? So just. [inaudible 01:35:44]

Tim Ferriss: So, we can’t tease the Sweden story without — Okay. Okay. So Sweden. What happened in Sweden?

Bas Rutten: Oh, okay. So understand this, when I’m drunk, I’m a happy drunk. I’m always drawn to partying and you know, but still, it’s stupid, because I don’t have alcohol under control. But still I was always a happy guy.

When I walked into the bar, it’s called The Spy Bar. Very notorious for their bouncers being really bad bouncers. I mean, whole Sweden, they love me after this happened. So when I walked in, they recognized me and they said, “Are you going to keep it quiet today, Bas?” And I thought, that’s a weird thing to say, why wouldn’t I? I never get in trouble. I’d get friends with everybody. So I’m walking around, dancing around. And then this one guy wants to give me a drink. And suddenly a bouncer comes to me and he says, “You have to go.”

He says, “What do you mean?”

He says, “You’re bothering the customers.”

I say, “Who, him?” I say, “He’s buying a drink for me right now. So I don’t think I’m bothering. Can you ask him?”

“No, you have to come with us.”

I said, “Do it. I’m not bothering anybody.”

So they grabbed me. I don’t want to fight because I know if I push somebody, it’s already going to fight, but I don’t want to fight. So I walk with him and now with the two bouncers, we’re at the fire escapes and there’s this big marble stairs going down. And this guy’s a little guy and a big guy behind him. And the little guy’s wearing a leather jacket, I remember that. And there’s this big guy standing — Croatian guy, Croatian mob, they said. And I’m talking to the guy and he’s pointing on my chest the whole time.

And I say, “Guys, I’m going. Don’t worry about it. I don’t want any trouble. Can you tell my buddy, he’s also bald, he’s from Holland, that I’m outside? Because otherwise he has no clue where I am.”

And he says, “You don’t understand,” he’s pushing on my chest again. There’s no reason to touch me. “Let’s not do that.” So then he touched me again. I pushed him away. I said, “Don’t touch me. Stop touching me.”

And right away, the guy behind him, the tall guy, stabs a finger in my eye. So I’m going like, “Guys, I don’t want any trouble.” And he stakes my other eye. And as soon as that happens, I knock him out because what’s next, he’s going to kick the ball. He’s going, he’s going to escalate. I mean, once you take two eyes? So I knocked him out. The problem was they had these little microphones, so now’s three other bouncers come in.

And that guy, of course he’s out. But while I’m fighting the other bouncers, he starts waking up. So I’m dropping left and right. I put three in the hospital and then finally I had to go — I realized, eventually I’m going to run out of gas. This is going to go wrong. I’ve got to go down. And this is a fire escape. So I need to go down. So I’m running down, I’m going down while I’m fighting. And I’m hitting, hitting, hitting, and I’m going down. And I remember — I still, to this day, I remember exactly how it looked. It was one of those copper things that you push in to open the door and it was locked.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Bas Rutten: And yeah, I couldn’t get out. But till that time, I was still fighting by the rules. I wasn’t stabbing eyes. I didn’t kick the balls. I didn’t all, I was still kind of just fighting, you know? Not to destruct.

So now I made up my mind and I turn around and I told myself, I’m going to do anything, I’m going to stab eyes, I’m going to go all the way. And as soon as I looked at them, they all stepped back. And I felt really powerful for about five seconds because I thought they saw in my face that I meant business, but it wasn’t. Behind me, there was the whole police force was standing behind me because they had a call. And that’s why they stopped fighting.

But they threw me in jail. From jail I went to a jail in a freaking mountain. You could Google this. I mean, I thought, am I — did I make this up? No. In the mountain. We drive in the tunnel. The tunnel stops in the middle of a mountain. I have to go to an elevator, two floors up, go out three floors up, go out four, go down, go. I go like this, like a movie. I come out of a — 

Tim Ferriss: It’s like you’re like a bad wizard in Harry Potter. Yeah.

Bas Rutten: It was insane! And then they put me in prison. I still couldn’t call my wife. Oh, this is always say — my wife hates this story. But yeah, she kind of thinks it’s funny on one side or so, but it wasn’t funny at the time. When I talked to her, before I went into the bar, she says, “Why are you so happy?”

I say, “Honey, I’m just drunk. And I’m just having a good time.”

She says, “No, no, no. You’re there with two Swedish blonde girls, aren’t you?”

I go, “You know me, honey, for me right now, alcohol counts. That’s my only focus. Okay. I’ve got to go.” So then two days she didn’t hear anything from me. And now I call her.

By the way, they wouldn’t give me my first phone call. It was the guards who knew me, who gave me their cell phone. And I wasn’t allowed to call. Dude. They gave me TV. I had a VCR. They gave me cookies, tea. I was playing cards with the guard. It was hilarious. But still, it was not fun because I was in jail and they told me I was going to be six to nine months in jail because apparently one of the cops — one of the bouncers was the cop. But he didn’t say he was the cops. So well, if you attack me, well, yeah, I’d knock you out as well.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, you’re saying like — you said “The cop of one of the bouncers.” Like, the father of one of the bouncers or the brother of one of the bouncers?

Bas Rutten: No, no, no. One of the bouncers was a cop. Off-duty cop.

Tim Ferriss: Oh!

Bas Rutten: Apparently, Sweden, they need one law enforcement person to be there as well. But he got the same treatment — 

Tim Ferriss: Ah, got it.

Bas Rutten: Because he attacks me, I got him. So I call my wife and she’s freaking out now. And I go, “Honey, calm. I don’t have a lot of time. I have some good and bad news. And what do you want to hear first?”

And she says, the good news. I say, “I didn’t have sex with two Swedish girls.”

And she goes, “What’s the bad news?”

I said, “I’m in jail.”

She goes, “You think that’s funny?” I go, “Yeah. Yeah.”

Thankfully I had some good guys there who were pretty powerful guys who convinced the bad people to take the charges back. But otherwise I would’ve been there six to nine months. That’s what they wanted to give me for no reason. Then we find out, you can Google this, they put people in jail for four years for nothing. There was a guy who went on — one of those guys for the bouncers, he went on a big show, like an Oprah kind of show in Sweden. And he was crying on the show. They said it to me. And he said that they put an actress in jail for four years and she didn’t do what they said. Their boss told them to do these things. He felt so bad because they were the mafia bouncers. That’s what they called them.

Dude, in The Swedish Post, they put a picture of my street, a self-defense DVD, and then below it said that one of the bouncers said, “We were so happy. The police came because we couldn’t handle him.” My sales went through the roof over in Sweden and I became their hero because everybody had trouble in that bar. And now they finally had somebody who give it back, you know?

But still, it was a very, now I’m here and I can talk about it with a smile, with a laugh. But at that time, you know, if you think you’re going to be there for six or nine months for something you didn’t do — try to convince, it’s five against one, you know, nobody’s going to believe me. So yeah, that was the Swedish story.

Tim Ferriss: So, prior lifetime for Bas Rutten.

Bas Rutten: Now I take the rosary.

Tim Ferriss: Now, it’s rosary.

So the O2 Trainer, this caught my attention. I know this is something that you’re deeply involved with. And I grew up with all sorts of respiratory issues. And I’m about to spend time at high altitude in a few months. So I was very intrigued and went on Amazon and was quite blown away by some of the testimonials in the reviews. And I always, as you might imagine, had hundreds and hundreds of guests, and there’s always part of me that’s worried that their book is going to be terrible or their movie’s going to be terrible or if the product’s going to be terrible. But the reviews are really outstanding. And a bunch of my team looked at it as well.

What is the O2 Trainer? Who uses it? What do they use it for? How do you use it?

Bas Rutten: Okay, it’s an inspiratory muscle trainer. This is the best way to get in people’s heads. Because you know as well as I do, once you start talking about breathing, people are going, “Ah, I’ve been doing that my whole life.” But people don’t realize is that they breathe wrong. I’ll go into that.

They’ve given a few facts. These facts that I’m going to give you are scientifically proven, clinically proven in published medical journals. You can look this all up 100 percent truth. First of all, there’s nothing more important in your body that you can control than breathing. It’s the number one priority. The survival rule of three states that the average human being can go three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without oxygen. So if you don’t have oxygen for three minutes, you might die. So that’s the number one priority in the world.

Your lungs — fact number two, 100 percent, your lungs don’t do anything by themselves. Your lungs are just two bags. There’s not a muscle in your lung. The only way for your lungs to open up is by chest expansion. And when you expand your chest, you create a vacuum between the body and the lungs that will rip open those lungs. So if you really think about it, your chest doesn’t expand because you put air in them, your chest expands, and that’s how you pull the air in them.

Now the biggest mover for expanding your chest is the diaphragm and that together with the external intercostal muscles, which are the muscles in between your ribs, open up your chest. Exhaling is done by your obliques, your abs and your internal intercostal muscles. And by the way, just that you know, the average human being has about 11 pounds of breathing muscles.

 Fact number three. Metaboreflex. Do you know what it is, metaboreflex?

Tim Ferriss: I don’t.

Bas Rutten: Okay, we know it as gassing. You know what gassing, what happens when you’re gassing? Let’s say you’re cycling and you’re going up a hill and suddenly you start gassing. That is your body regulating the air flow.

Tim Ferriss: Getting really tired. Huffing and puffing.

Bas Rutten: Getting really tired, because it’s going to pull the air of your oxygenated blood. It pulls it away from your legs and it sends it to your number one priority in the body, which are your breathing muscles. That’s why you’re gassing, because your breathing muscles are not updated.

Now, let’s attach another thing to it. Stamina. How is it? Why is it that when you train really hard, your stamina increases? There’s got to be a real reason for that. Well, the reason is that if you train a muscle over and over again, it becomes more efficient. Once, the word already says it, efficient, it uses less oxygen so, boop, your stamina increases.

Now you’re going to go, “Wait a minute. If I train my LFM parts of breathing muscles, they don’t have to steal blood anymore.” By the way, stealing blood, blood stealing, is a medical tern in gassing in the metaboreflex. That’s number five, the fact.

This is the biggest one and it’s going to get everybody. I’m going to get you with it as well, Tim. 95 percent of us breathe wrong. Tim, take a deep breath. Deep, deep breath.

No. He’s raising his shoulders. That’s a complete incorrect breath. The densest, most rich part of your lungs is at the bottom of your lungs. I will go in a little bit over why we are breathing wrong.

Chest breathing. Four to six of these breaths is the same as one diaphragmatic breath or horizontal breath. Think about that. If you are a fighter and you come back out of a hard round, you go back to your corner, instead of raising your shoulders 40 times, I take the lowest number now because it could be four to six, you can do the same amount of air can pull in by doing it 10 times correctly.

Also think about this, you doing this, your traps, your shoulders, your neck muscles, all have to work. They all cost oxygen. Why not updating your 11 pounds of breathing muscles that you have so they don’t have to steal the blood anymore? Bada-bing, bada-boom. You’re going to be good.

Now, tests also show that after the age of 29 — you see what I always dislike? Where the project comes out and they say, “Oh, this project will increase your lung volume.” It’s a lie. You have a set pair of lungs. When you’re an adult, a guy is one and a half gallons, 6.4 liters, I believe. A woman is 4.2 liters, which, give or take, a gallon. Right? That’s it. You have it.

But after the age of 29, your thoracic flexibility, which means your chest flexibility, starts decreasing. I already said it, you need that to open up. Yeah, that means your lung starts shrinking. They’re actually getting smaller after the age of 29. If you are a person who’s 40 years of age and you never did any breath work, your lungs are smaller. Then yes, the O2 Trainer can make your lungs bigger again, but not bigger than they were. They just go back to the original size that they had in the first place. That is everything taught about breathing, the most facts, 100 percent true facts.

I always wrap it up with this. Imagine you have two brothers, right? Two clones, identical in every way. The fingerprints. If one gets caught for murder, they’re going to have to figure out because both they can be it if they’ll have DNA. That’s how close they are. They eat the same, drink the same, sleep the same. They do everything the same. Both guys decided to do a triathlon and then see who’s the strongest from the two of them.

Now, they do the same things. Everything is the same. If a running coach comes in, he sits in front of them, they get the same information at the same time from the running coach, the cycling coach and the swimming coach. Now, the one thing that one does different is that he trains his breathing muscles so his chest get expand maximally and he can squeeze also all the air so he can move more air in and out of his body. Who do you think is going to win when they do the triathlon? Everybody’s going to — you know the answer. It’s the person who did the breathing muscles.

This is how important it is to train your breathing muscles. You are breathing correct until you’re five and a half years of age. You can look this up, Google it and you’ll see the studies that are there. The reason is, at five and a half, hey, that’s the age where you start going to school. That’s the age where you maybe get belts. Now already your belly breath gets away.

If you look at the baby, it breathes the belly, like this. We are all chest breathers. We are actually the only animal on the planet who breathes incorrect. Every animal with a lung breathes diaphragmatic breath. That’s what they do.

It’s important that you make sure that you focus on that technique and the O2 Trainer with hard resistance is like a short resistance cap here. When you breathe in with resistance, you cannot pull the air in, you’re raising your shoulders. You’re going to be forced to use your core. Once just that by itself can give you up to five times more oxygen in your body.

Now, with kids also, they become self-conscious. For instance, they start seeing Superman, superheroes. A girl sees Barbie dolls and, “Oh, everybody needs…” and if you breathe through your belly, oh, other kids might think you’re fat.

Or you go to the doctor and they put a stethoscope and they say, “Take a deep breath.” I go — and then you think, “Oh, so this is where my lungs are.” No, that’s not where your lungs are. Your lungs are here. That’s the most rich, densest oxygen-rich part of your lungs. It’s below.

Once you start breathing the correct way, what it did for me, if I have a fight that I show on my website — I fought Funaki and you see me in the corner like this — I’m chest breathing. That is completely good. I can go as hard as I want on the round, out of the back I come out as this. There’s no movement.

Think about a military guy, snipers and all the special force. You think when they’re with a gun, they stand. Do you think they’re chest breathing? Of course not. Belly breathing because there’s no movement here.

Everything in your life becomes better. It’s good. It’s for asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, anxiety, PTSD. I have a list on my website, Go there, click on “Science.” There’s a list of published medical journals, what it does for you. It will blow you away.

Published medical journals, for the people at home, I just want to touch on that. It means it’s clinically proven to do what it says. I’m saying this because a lot of people sell a product and it says it’s clinically tested. Stay far away from that product. It’s just a way for them to put the word clinically in. And then some people go, “Oh, clinically. It’s got to be good.” No, it’s clinically tested. What is the result from that test? That’s what you should ask, because if it was clinically proven, it would’ve said clinically proven. Don’t buy a product if it says clinically tested, because you want to know what it did, what the results was.

Now, I brought this thing and I want to do this really fast. It’s a vegetable steamer, but guess what? It also looks like a diaphragm, believe it or not. Now your diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle of tendon, tendon muscle, that’s attached to the bottom part of your ribs. If you walk your fingers down here on your sternum, all the way back along the spine.

Now, the bottom of this is connected to the bottom of your ribs. When you breathe in, this happens. Your diaphragm drops down. From that view, not a lot happened, but watch what happens from this view. It expands. Once this expansion happens at the side, expands your chest and, again, there’s the vacuum between the body and the lungs that’ll open up your lungs and that’s how you breathe. The more chest expansion you have, the easier it will be for you to fill up your lungs right there.

To me, this is the gift that keeps on giving. I started training with the prototype. Three weeks later, and I told you before I had severe asthma. Every single fight everywhere I went to the world, I was always carrying an inhaler with me because if I sneeze violently, my lungs close. I have to open them up. Many asthma patients right now who are watching have exactly the same that I had.

After three weeks I never even had an inhaler anymore. I don’t have it. I send it to my buddy in Holland. He has asthma. Eight days later, he calls me. He said, “Dude, my asthma is gone.” So he sells him in Europe right now.

This is my thing for the people at home. If you buy an O2 Trainer for your asthma or for your COPD, and it’s not 70 percent or more gone in one month, and you only have to do this for four minutes a day, think about that, four minutes a day, then I give you your money back. The only thing that I want to see is I want to see you doing the 30 repetition because everybody nowadays, they say, “Oh, I did the 30 times.” You didn’t. You didn’t, because it’s a workout. You’re going to feel your core.

I have bodybuilders buying it now for their abs. That’s how much you’re going to strain on your abs and on your back breathing muscles. Back breathing muscles, yeah. You have muscles, 360 degree circumferential around your body. They breathe everywhere. Once you start including your back breathing muscles, and we have great exercises for that on the website — 

And by the way, if you do the back breathing exercise, do 15 repetitions. We tell you to do 30, don’t do 30. You’re going to walk around for three days in enormous pain because it feels like it worked out your back muscles really freaking hard, so just do 15 repetitions. These are muscles you’ve never used before. You watch your stamina go up. It’s just bizarre.

I have Lyoto Machida — you know Lyoto Machida as well of course, the UFC champion — 

Tim Ferriss: I do.

Bas Rutten: Heavyweight champion. He left me a message. I can let you listen to the message even if you want. I gave it to him and he’s a karate guy. That means he’s got to have it. I gave it to him. I said, “This is really good for you, Lyoto.” He starts using it for four or five months. He got COVID. Then he had COVID. Five days after he got COVID, he decided to go start training with his students again, who are fighting and competing in the UFC in Bellator. He says, “Bas, I outworked everybody. I’d never been in control with my breathing like I was there. It’s the most insane thing.” He says, “My muscles got tired, but my breathing was completely controlled.” He was blown away, but he’s a guy who actually did it.

Now, the problem which I found out now two weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and go, “Now I know why people stop using it.” If you buy it for your stamina, what happens is this. You’re working out your breathing muscles so right after you did 30 repetitions, you have to do it a certain way. You can find it on online. You worked out your breathing muscles so they’re tired. So then if you start doing stamina, yes, it looks like it actually works against you because you get more tired because your breathing muscles are tired.

The trick is to simply do it anyway for 30 days straight because once you update these muscles, the sky’s the limit. They found out now in preliminary tests that your second wind is your diaphragm being warmed up. I’ve been doing it four and a half years every day. I just told you that. If I do a conditioning workout, I do 30 repetitions and then I start hitting the back and I have no dip. I fly through the workout. Every single workout that I do stamina, I’m in the break. I’m like, “This is insane.” It blows me away until this day every single time. This.

In the early days I was — I couldn’t catch my breath. It was completely gone. Everything is controlled right now.

Sleep apnea, balance, back problems. I mean, look at the list. You have no clue. You know that your diaphragm is the main muscle for balance? You know the diaphragm also massages your intestines? You know that the diaphragm also aligns your spine? I mean, diaphragmatic breathing does things for you you don’t even know. It’s only four minutes a day. I’m an overachiever. I do it five minutes a day. That’s it. Five minutes and then I start my workouts. Done.

Tim Ferriss: Question for you. I’m going to try it. I’ve had issues with endurance and breathing my entire life so I’m actually going to give it a shot. How do you suggest when someone is just getting started that they incorporate this into their workouts?

For me right now, I’ll give you an example. I’m going on a high altitude trip, I’m going to be carrying a lot of weight, in six to eight weeks. My training right now is, let’s call it, two or three days of weight training, a lot of rucking, carrying weight, and hiking, marching, and then a handful of other things. I’m just curious how — if you or me, just getting started, probably have very weak breathing muscles, how would you incorporate it into your week, let’s just say, for your workouts?

Bas Rutten: In the beginning I started doing my workouts with it, but then I got in contact with the guy who used to train Usain Bolt as well. Usain, he says, “Bas, stop doing the workouts with it.” I said, “What do you mean?” “I have a breathing exercise for you and that’s what you should do.” Usain Bolt sleeps in a high altitude tent. He wakes up. First thing when he goes out, he does 30 repetitions respiratory muscle training. He says, “That will do way more for you.”

Then when I started doing that, because all this knowledge that I have about breathing, people — I had a doctor tell me, a pulmonologist said, “Dude, you know more about breathing than any doctor I know. Not a pulmonologist, but other doctors. It’s insane.” I said, Well, that’s Dr. Belisa Vranich. She’s a world-renowned breathing expert.

I’ll tell you a fun story. Hopefully, we can touch on that right after this. But what you start with is doing breathing exercise. It’s very simple. For the basic thing, normally you have to do with movement. For now, I would simply put in your mouth, exhale, squeeze, guys. You want to squeeze all the air out of your lungs.

I always explain it like this. Imagine you have two buckets. One bucket is filled with bad water and the other one is fresh water. If I throw the buckets with bad water, if I throw 70 percent out, I can only fill it up with 70 percent good water because there’s still 30 percent left bad water in there. Squeezing, exhaling is very important to get all the bad air out, so to say, the carbon dioxide, everything that you breathe out, so you can use your entire respiratory system again to inhale and to work all these muscles.

In the beginning, what you want to do, you want to grab the bottom of your chair so you cannot raise your shoulders. Whatever you do, do not raise your shoulders. In the beginning also, you’re going to get neck pain because if you breathe in with resistance, this is what you’re going to do in the beginning.

Tim Ferriss: You’re going to clench your neck and your face.

Bas Rutten: That’s going to create muscle, but once you get the technique down, you just start breathing. Breathe pushing out your belly. Focus on that. Once you get your belly down and you really want to do this for months, then we are going to start focusing to the bottom part of your ribs, because officially, you want to do it a little higher because that’s what a diaphragm is attached to.

But this what it would look like for the super beginner. You sit.

Just focus on that. Those are your front breathing muscles. T.

He back breathing muscles, like I said, don’t do 30. That will be from the side. That would look like this. Your legs are in a 90 degree angle. I’m just going to lean on my legs. For now, just sit there. Don’t do the exercise I’m showing you. Make it simple. You’re just going to sit, O2 Trainer, breathe out. Then you start breathing in and you focus on the lower part of your ribs on your back to expand.

It’s really clear with how your mind works. You will feel this immediately. Just focus on those muscles. You just relax every muscle in the body and only let your back muscles expand.

You do only 30 repetitions of that and that’s it.

What I personally do, I alternate. Today I do 30 repetition with the front breathing and tomorrow, so my front breathing muscles can rest, I attack the back breathing muscles. Then I flip every time. Every time I give the muscles that I attacked the day before rest and I attack the other side.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Let me hop in for just a quick second. For me then starting off, I would, instead of doing it in my workouts, maybe I do it first thing in the morning. I would alternate since I’m just getting started 30 front and then the next day doing 15 back repetitions, and not 30 because I’ll feel like I got kidney punched by you maybe if I overdo it.

I’ll also say just for people who are listening to just the audio and they’re like, “Okay, I think I hear Darth Vader.”

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: We will post this video of course on YouTube, on my YouTube channel, for people to see. I’m sure there are other videos that people can find on the O2 Trainer YouTube channel and elsewhere. We’ll include all those links in the show notes.

But for me, just to be clear. If I have my normal workouts maybe later in the morning or in the afternoon, sometimes both, I would potentially do this, say, first thing in the morning and do 30 front, then next day, 15 repetitions back and alternate back and forth.

Two questions. Is it seven days a week? Do you recommend that to begin? Then second question is, do you pause at all between the inhales and the exhales?

Bas Rutten: What I do is this. As soon as I inhale, I swallow because if you don’t swallow and later on, you’re going to do the exercise with movement, you might start drooling through the O2 Trainer. Now, I don’t care, but if you’re somewhere public and you want to do it and you start drooling, that doesn’t look that good. You swallow and then you’re doing it.

The 15 repetitions, the first time you did 15, the next day you do the 30 front. Then when you go back to the back, do 20. Then you go back to the front, then do 25. Every time just at five until you also do 30 with the back breathing. That’s the only thing for you I would do.

And by the way, Tim, if you go on the website, you click on science, there is a high altitude link from respiratory muscle training that will show you that you can move more air in and out so it help you tremendously with the high altitude.

Tim Ferriss: I saw that. I actually clicked on it as you were talking.

Bas Rutten: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, there’s a study on PubMed, Inspiratory muscle training, altitude and arterial oxygen desaturation: a preliminary investigation. You do have some great links — 

Bas Rutten: This is it, right?

Tim Ferriss: — on this site that I’m going to go through later.

Bas Rutten: These are these links. I mean, if you go on a published medical journal website and you put inspiratory muscle training in the search bar, click. You’ll have hundreds. Hundreds of published medical journals. You pick them and they will all say the same thing.

The story that I wanted to say with Dr. Belisa Vranich, right? She’s a world-renowned breathing expert. All my knowledge I have from her. She put me to this rigorous course. The first time I met her, Joey Diaz, the comedian, he actually set us up because he said, “She’s breathing, you’re doing the breathing exercises. You’ve got to meet this lady.” I went — 

Tim Ferriss: Wait. Sorry, hold on. How the hell does Joey Diaz know her? How did that come about?

Bas Rutten: He can roll whole classes now in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He calls me every six weeks, “Bas, love you. Got to go.” He loves it because he says, “Bas, since I’ve used the O2 Trainer, I can complete my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes,” which he could never do before.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing.

Bas Rutten: Anyway — 

Tim Ferriss: Good for him. Yeah.

Bas Rutten: — she comes and we’re at the office at Fifth Avenue. She grabs a measurement. She’s going to measure my chest expansion. I knew what she was doing right away. She says, “Exhale, inhale.” She measures.

She says, “Inhale,” and she started laughing. She goes, she says, “No, that’s not possible. Do it again.” I do it again. She looks at me and she says, “Wait.” She walks out and she comes back with another doctor. I go, “Okay, what’s going on?” She says, “Well, if I don’t bring him, he’s not going to believe it.” I said, “What’s going on?” She says, “Well, normally when people break our chest expansion, the difference between inhaling and exhaling, it’s by an eighth of an inch. You almost went two inches more than everybody else.”

I had a breathing IQ. You can go to This will tell you how you have to measure yourself. Number 100 is a great breath. I had 182. It was a whole big difference.

And then she realized it was this thing. Then she put it in her book and that’s when everything started getting better.

For the people who are really interested and want to dive into breathing, we came out this week, Go there. It’s everything you need to do, because what I’m saying now is the tip of the iceberg. But once you watch that and you see what you can do with breathing, she gets you into some breathing exercises that gets you high without drugs. You start tingling like crazy. It’s really crazy what you can do.

And if you even think about it, also if you want to meditate — right? Meditate, you think about it. Why do you think in Aramaic, in Latin and in the Hebrew language, the word breath is the same as spirit? Spirit and breath are the same word, but it’s all because it has a connection. If you want to meditate, get your breathing in perfect form because once that happens, I mean, sky’s the limit.

You can take up to five times more oxygen. People have no clue. We all think, “Oh, I’ve been breathing since I came out the womb.” You’re breathing wrong. If I was breathing wrong fighting professional fights, chances are you are too. Those five percent who are breathing correct probably have breathing classes. That’s the difference.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. This is exciting to me. I’m going to try this out because, as you noted, I mean, there’s a lot of nonsense out there. There’s a lot of hand wavy pseudoscientific bullshit frankly. But, as you noted, I’m just searching on for published research or at least research that’s available on PubMed. I just put in inspiratory or inspiratory, I’m not sure how to pronounce that word honestly, muscle training. There are 2,032 results. The first result is “Inspiratory Muscle Training for Asthma.” It just goes on and on and on. I mean, there’s “To Enhance Recovery from Mechanical Ventilation,” “Functional Capacity in Patients Undergoing Cardiac Surgery.” It goes on and on. There’s a lot of published literature that one can lean on. It makes logical sense when you lay out, as you did, sort the functional anatomy and the process for proper, or any, respiration, really.

It’s always struck me as odd. I’m glad you mentioned it, when somebody’s, “Improve your lung capacity.” I’m like, is that even possible? I mean, it seems like — 

But it does make sense that if at a certain point, past age 29 or whatever it is, when you start to atrophy and lose the ability to muscularly expand the chest to create the vacuum to therefore then lead to filling the lungs, that you would exhibit all the negative effects of that.

I’ll give this a go. I’ll let you know how it goes and — 

Bas Rutten: Beautiful.

Tim Ferriss: Now, what should one expect? Of course your mileage may vary. People are different and I’m sure you have high responders and you have maybe lower responders. But what would you suggest, not so that it’s pie in the sky expectation and people are potentially disappointed, but just maybe a conservative expectation that someone could have, let’s say me, after 30 days of doing this? Because I will have basically 30 days until I need to be at high altitude and kind of performing, because I’ll have a lot of weight on my back and I’ll be moving up steep inclines at altitude at 8,000 to 9,000 feet. Let’s call it 3,000 meters. After 30 days, what would you expect that I might experience or see?

Bas Rutten: Well, the thing is that you automatically start breathing correct. I had a SWAT guy, a SWAT officer, who said he used the O2 Trainer today. The next day he was running and he broke his running time. He says, “That’s impossible.” He says, he said, “But Bas, then I started thinking about it. I was breathing wrong,” and the O2 Trainer forced him to use his core. The next day when he was running, he was using his core, therefore he got more oxygen in it. That’s over one day.

You do this for 30 days, you program your mind, especially if you do it early in the morning. It’s like the book, reading The World’s Greatest Salesman. Right? You have to read that three times a day, takes 10 months to read. I did that, because once you do that in the morning, first thing in the morning, in the middle, and then before you go to sleep, you realize for 30 days, within 12 days, you memorized the whole thing. It’s crazy. You ingrain it in the mind and it’s the same thing here with your muscles.

You do it the first thing when you get up. If you really want to take it to the next level, do it in the evening as well. If you do it twice a day, especially for a big trip like you’re going to do, Tim, you want to do both same exercise on one day, because then the front breathing, if you try to take it twice, they can rest the next day when you attack the back muscles twice. You see what I mean? Because otherwise it’s like — 

Tim Ferriss: I do.

Bas Rutten: — checking your biceps every day. Eventually the better shape is going to stop because they need rest in order to get stronger, right? Rest and protein, that’s what they need. It’s the same with the breathing muscles.

You’re going to feel it immediately. Especially if you do it for 30.

I always want to say, if you’re a professional fighter, every fighter is jealous of Tony Ferguson. Tony Ferguson, why are they jealous of him? Because he’s the guy with the unlimited stamina. Now, watch Tony go back to the corner. Sit there. Watch all the fighters. Watch Tony. There’s no movement. Only his belly moves. All these fighters, they believe they have to do three times a week, four times a week, an hour breathing exercise.

Guys, I’m talking about four minutes a day.If you’re a professional fighter, make it five minutes. Do it before a workout, which you’re going to do anyway. Warm up your diaphragm and you watch. After 30 days watch your muscles get trained. It’s resistance training. It’s weight training for your breathing muscles. See it like that. You won’t have to find a cap that you can do it.

Oh, this is another thing. This is important, Tim. Don’t fall in the trap that you want to do the smallest setting right away in the smallest time, in the shortest time. Don’t do that. I used to do that and I was able to do 30 repetitions in two minutes and 15 seconds. I thought, oh, I was such a stud. And then Dr. Belisa told me I wasn’t completely inhaling. Once I started doing that, it became six-and-a-half minutes. Then I went to decrease the size.

I give you another one. If you go all the way back on my Facebook page, there’s a Facebook page called Bas Rutten’s O2 Bootcamp. It’s for all O2 Trainer users. Bas Rutten’s O2 Bootcamp. You can go all the way back to 2018. May 2018. This is where I started. That setting. I used, it took me — it was setting number four with the new O2 Trainer. Setting number four, it took me three minutes or 45 seconds to complete 30 repetitions. Two years later, just for fun, I said to my wife, “I’m going to use that same setting again,” because now I was much stronger. I did it with the same setting. I did it at 55 seconds. I went from three minutes and 45 seconds to 55 seconds. That’s a 75 percent increase. It’s bizarre. That’s what happens when you train your breathing muscles. Once you train them, they don’t have to steal blood anymore from your other muscles, so you stop gassing. You delay your gassing way further.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, my god. I might finally have endurance better than Homer Simpson for the first time in my life. I’m excited about this.

Well Bas, you’re a lot of fun. You’re a maniac and I love it. People can find you — 

Bas Rutten: Thank you.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a compliment. People can find you of course on Twitter, Instagram @BasRuttenMMA. We’ll link to everything, Facebook pages, the YouTube pages, also as you mentioned.

Bas Rutten: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: Also, all the social handles and YouTube channel, Easy to find.

Is there anything else that you would like to point people to? Any last comments, parting thoughts, complaints that you’d like to air publicly?

Bas Rutten: Yeah. Like I said, that Seven Skills to Save Your Life with Amir Perets, you should really YouTube this guy so you have an idea what he can do. He’s bizarre., B-A-S, then you can go to that site.

Then the Go to that course, check it out. There’s nothing on the market like that.

People, by the way, if you do, Belisa Vranich, Stig Severinsen, Wim Hof, Stanislav Grof, [inaudible 2:10:25] There’s so many different breathing programs. It doesn’t matter. This makes it better. Why? Because you’re working out the muscles responsible for breathing. They will teach you the technique. This will give you the endurance and the power in order to do it.

And then the last thing I have is the Body Action System, B-A-S. Body Action System is the punching and kicking device that I created 11 years ago and that’s going really well. The UFC actually sells it now as well. You can beat the crap out of it and it won’t break. It’s like a real head, not like different targets because you don’t fight multiple people. No. One head, one body with targets on it. You hit that thing, there’s no impact for your joints. You’re going to leave all your joints nice and smooth and you can hit it like a real person. It’s a real fun little thing to watch. Google that as well, please.

Tim Ferriss: We will link to all those things in the show notes at There will not be another person named Bas Rutten on the podcast so you can just search BAS, B-A-S, and I’m sure it’ll pop right up.

Well Bas, I hope someday we have a chance to break some bread or have a coffee or maybe have a green tea instead of a cup of urine and — 

Bas Rutten: Lyoto Machida used to do that. You heard that, right? [inaudible 2:11:40]

Tim Ferriss: Wait, which is this?

Bas Rutten: His family, in the morning, they drink their own pee. That’s — 

Tim Ferriss: I did not know this, no.

Bas Rutten: Yeah. Okay, okay. That’s a whole different level. I wouldn’t do that.

Tim Ferriss: That’s going to be — right. That’ll be round two with Bas.

Yeah. Protocol number one, 30 days of O2 Trainer. For people who are not watching the video, it’s something you can stick in a pocket. It’s not a large device. Just for a visual cue, it looks like a mouth guard with a very small — it’s not a pipe, but it’s a very small sort of appendage on front. Something that you could easily travel with.

Nice to spend time with you, Bas.

Bas Rutten: Yes, same here. It was a lot of fun. I’m so happy, especially all the questions about prizefighting championships and to have a person who actually lived in Japan as well. That’s always refreshing.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s a great time and take care and I really appreciate you and certainly for all of the years of entertainment and excitement, and also for you carving out the time and space to have this conversation today.

Bas Rutten: Thank you very much.

Osu. That’s what we say in karate.

Tim Ferriss: Osu.

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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