Watch Maynard James Keenan Spar, Talk Love of Martial Arts - Rolling Stone
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Watch Maynard James Keenan Spar, Talk Love of Martial Arts

Musician ties Brazilian jiu-jitsu training to artistic endeavors

Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan discusses the intricacies of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his lifelong attachment to martial arts in the final installment of Revolver‘s four-part video series with the musician, “The Art of Work.”

While Keenan spent previous episodes discussing his vineyard, “The Fight” offers a look at his martial arts training regimen. Keenan credits Primus drummer Tim Alexander with introducing him to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, though he also recalls the lessons he learned from his father, who doubled as his high school wrestling coach. “His take was always, ‘You either win or you learn,'” Keenan said.

For Keenan, martial arts is as much about “personal growth and personal understanding and reflection” as it is about self-defense. “Maybe it’ll never happen, but if you’re in a situation where you have some drunken, blithering idiot, or somebody’s crazy — I do it for that purpose,” he said. Still, Keenan seemed most enamored with the mental and physical intricacies of top-level jiu-jitsu.

“The chess part of it, on the mat, in the gi, is very mentally stimulating,” Keenan said. “If you watch some of the top-level black belt guys competing, it’s half-inches. They’re making adjustments that are half-inches and you’re watching them try to out-chess each other, like six moves ahead to shut off where the guy’s heading for the checkmate.”

Towards the end of the clip, Keenan tied his jiu-jitsu training to the notion of becoming complacent and overly confident as an artist after reaching a certain level of success. He urged anyone pursuing a craft to do so with a combination of intuition, experience and constant hard work, but also cautioned: “Understand that you are on your fucking own.”

Keenan added, “Big fan of Chris Cornell – did you think about Chris Cornell this week? I didn’t. I love the guy. Alan Rickman, David Bowie, there’s a bunch of posts on Facebook and then you go about your way. That’s what’s gonna happen to you. People are gonna be upset that you’re gone, and then they’re gonna move the fuck on with their lives. So be happy with what your decisions are. You are on your own, you don’t owe anybody anything – but if you’re doing your job and you’re doing it accurately enough, and you’re expressing from the heart, from the core, from your experiences and your intuition, other people are going to resonate with that.” 

In This Article: Maynard James Keenan, Tool


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