One of the most exciting grapplers of the modern generation is Canadian, GF Team Toledo wizard, Dante Leon, an athlete whose value sometimes seems to be underappreciated given his list accomplishments and the range of his experience in the jiu-jitsu world.
Dante’s experience in rulesets over the last couple of years ranges from IBJJF (gi and nogi) to submission-only (gi and nogi), from KASAI to EBI rules, Fight 2 Win and more. We got in touch with the eclectic grappler and Toledo resident to ask him Leon about his busy competition and training schedule:
WHY COMPETE IN POINTS and SUB-ONLY?
“I like to have a varied schedule so I can keep everything fresh and fun,” Leon said, “I like to keep mixing things throughout the year, that way nothing in training ever gets boring. I never get burned out with what I am doing.” Much of this perspective, according to the black belt, also comes down to the intensity of his calendar as he likes “to train all year round, I don’t take breaks or vacations, I train pretty much the same way throughout the year. So when I do gi and nogi it gives me something to work towards.”
WHICH SYSTEM DO YOU PREFER?
When faced with the dreaded “which do you prefer?” question, Leon is quick to give a straight answer: “I like competing in everything and I think all rules have their own unique challenges, their unique obstacles to overcome. But I do believe that a point system that favors submissions, something similar to Kasai or ADCC. I think those rules fit me best because my BJJ is very complete across the board. I can take down my opponents, guard pass and play guard. I combine the sound jiu-jitsu that you see in the IBJJF but can also mix it up with anybody in the submission-only game and hit submissions from everywhere.”
DOES THE GI HELP OR HINDER NOGI TRAINING?
Another tricky subject often debated between gi and nogi players is how much training with the gi for the majority of the year may hinder (or benefit) someone’s nogi aspirations. Both camps have, for the most part, opposing views. Dante has his own.
Leon references that what matters is the big picture: “My gi training helps me prepare for nogi. There are a lot of concepts and movements that are the same gi and nogi. There are a lot of aspects that are shared, and a few that are not, but if you get better at jiu-jitsu, be that working on your leglocks or on your passing, wrestling, judo, etc. All this will make you a better athlete, a better martial artist. They all help each other.”
2019 ADCC HOPES
Another unfortunate event we covered in this interview is Dante’s absence from the 2019 ADCC World Championship, taking place in California this year. As we referenced, Dante is one of the most well-rounded grapplers out there and competes across the board in every rule-set, as such, it was unfortunate not to have seen him at the trials. Dante explains: “There were two trials this year and I couldn’t make it to either. The first time I had already a commitment with another promotion, and the second time I was injured and couldn’t partake in it. No excuses. It is unfortunate that I could not compete in the trials, but I am available and I will stay ready in case I get the call“. Regardless of the invite, Dante finished the interview by saying “I will keep training to be there one day. I know I deserve to be there.“