Maynard James Keenan BJJ: How Good is the Tool Singer?

Maynard James Keenan BJJ

Maynard James Keenan is currently a Brown Belt in BJJ. He started training Jiu Jitsu in 1996 under Rickson Gracie. Today he is a co-founder and instructor at Verde Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Arizona and BJJ has become a major part of his life.

MJ Keenan is mainly known as the singer and songwriter of the bands Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. Beyond his musical career he is also a successful actor and winemaker.

Check out Part 2 of our YouTube BJJ Celebrities Series which covers Maynard James Keenan’s complete Jiu Jitsu journey:

Maynard James Keenan BJJ FAQ

Everything you need to know about Maynard James Keenan’s Jiu Jitsu Journey:

Maynard not only trains Jiu Jitsu, but he is also an instructor himself. BJJ is a major part of his life.

The singer initially started training BJJ in 1996 under Rickson Gracie.

Since Maynard started training BJJ in 1996 he was about 32 years old when he began his Jiu Jitsu training journey.

2023 is Maynard’s 28th year of training BJJ already and he has spent half of his life training Jiu Jitsu.

The celebrity is not a Black Belt in BJJ for now, but he is only one promotion away from becoming one.

Maynard is currently a Brown Belt in Jiu Jitsu. He was promoted in November 2021 by 6th Degree Black Belt Luis Heredia, who is student of Rickson Gracie.

Maynard’s original Jiu Jitsu coach is Rickson Gracie, who is a decorated BJJ world champion and considered the greatest BJJ competitor of his time.

MJ Keenan trains at Verde Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Arizona. He is an instructor at the school and one of the co-founders.

It is unlikely that the singer has competed in BJJ or will compete in the future. Maynard trains Jiu Jitsu for personal growth and self-defense purposes.

Maynard wrestled in high school and proceeded to pursue Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the 90’s using his wrestling knowledge as a base to build upon.

Maynard James Keenan’s Jiu Jitsu Journey

Maynard started training wrestling in High school. His father was his coach and demanded a lot from him according to Maynard himself. Maynard’s father instilled the following motto in him:

“You win or you learn.”

In 1996 the singer began training Jiu Jitsu under the legendary Rickson Gracie and couldn’t have chosen a better coach.

He describes how he got humbled when he first joined a Jiu Jitsu school while only having wrestling knowledge. However, wrestling was a great foundation to build his Jiu Jitsu skills upon.

MJ Keenan often emphasizes on how difficult but rewarding Brazilian Jiu jitsu is:

“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s a long journey and as soon as you think you have got into a plateau, there’s another plateau above that. It’s very humiliating.”

“It’s a tough road from White Belt to Black Belt. It’s a long road and it requires you, nobody else can do that but you. You have to put the time in, you have to progress, you have to do it. Nobody can do it for you. By the time you get to the Black Belt you have earned it. There are no shortcuts.”

He finishes with the words:

“It’s a wonderful journey and I highly recommend it.”

Check out the full interview including some of the singers BJJ techniques:

Why Maynard James Keenan trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Maynard primarily trains BJJ for the following reasons, as he explains in the interview above:

  • Personal Growth and Reflection
  • Creativity
  • Self-Defense

“The chess part of it on the mat, in the Gi, is very mentally stimulating. It’s step by step.”

“I’m not living any illusion; I will never be in the Octagon. I’m not build for it. What I do martial arts for is multiple things. Just personal growth and personal understanding and reflection but also because it’s a self-defense technique. The idea of any self-defense martial art is that maybe it will never happen, but if you are in a situation that you have some drunken idiot [attacking you]… I do it for that reason.”

At a tool concert Maynard took down a fan that stormed the stage and kept singing while holding him in a rear naked choke:

Maynard told BJJ black Belt Henry Akins:

“What’s the most difficult thing for you to do and seems like an unobtainable thing? Move towards friction because you will only get better if you face the things that are not comfortable. Jiu Jitsu is one of the hardest things I ever started and I’m kind of stubborn [to finish the path].”


Maynard James Keenan has almost 30 years of training Jiu Jitsu under his belt now. He is a great representative for the sport as he understands all facets of Jiu Jitsu including the physical and the mental aspect.

We are fans of Maynard’s musical endeavors like Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer and it is great that we share the passion for BJJ.

Check out our complete list of BJJ celebrities:

BJJ celebrities

Complete List of Celebrities that do BJJ

Which stars do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Which belt ranks are the celebrities?


Tom Hardy | Keanu Reeves | Jason Statham | Ed O’Neill | Demi Lovato | Russell Brand | Maynard James Keenan | Ashton Kutcher | Guy Ritchie | Jonah Hill | Joe Rogan | Chuck Norris | Jason Momoa | Mario Lopez | Joey Diaz | Jim Carrey | Henry Cavill | Charlie Hunnam | Millie Bobby Brown | Shaquille O’Neal | Dave Bautista | Vin Diesel | Robert Pattinson | Kelly Slater

Similar Posts