Strongman Martins Licis has trained with rappers and record-breaking powerlifters on his YouTube channel, and in his most recent video he has the “phenomenal opportunity” to train with champion martial artist and grappler Gordon Ryan, who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu 1st-degree black belt and widely regarded by many to be one of the all-time greats of the discipline.
He is joined by fellow former World’s Strongest Man title-holder Hafthor Bjornsson, a.k.a. The Mountain, who recently announced his return to the world of competitive powerlifting after spending a couple of years dedicating his training to boxing. “People this big and strong shouldn’t be allowed to learn jiu-jitsu,” jokes Ryan. “It’s like cheating.”
demonstrates some submission holds, then has the two strongmen practice on each other before they take on the main guy himself—and while their technique may be juvenile, their sheer mass and brute strength do prove to be assets. Specifically, Ryan struggles with Thor’s height: “His torso is so long… my hips weren’t over his hips like they were supposed to be,” he says. “I had my toes in the floor and had to drive forward because he’s so big.”
When asked about how he builds strength, Ryan explains that he trains weights three or four times a week, but that he has learned it’s important to find the right balance. “It all depends on how fast you want to get good at jiu-jitsu,” he says. “The more mat time you have, the more weight you’re going to lose, the less you’re going to lift. It all depends on what you want to do.”
Licis and Bjornsson then face off against each other using what they have learned, with Licis winning the match—but not before he has completely exhausted himself.
“I’m going to take a long nap,” he says. “Thor and I got humbled today… but now I’m inspired to do some more jiu-jitsu.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.