Roy Harris - American Coral Belt in BJJ

Roy Harris - American Coral Belt in BJJ

1. Roy Harris’s Details

Roy Harris’s Details
Name Roy Harris
Nickname N/A
Born June 29, 1933
Date of Birth Cut and Shoot, Texas
Weight Division N/A
Last Weigh-in N/A
Height N/A
Disclosed Career Earnings N/A
College N/A
Rank 7th Degree Coral Belt
Last Fight N/A
Favorite Position Guard Pass
Head Coach Joe Moreira
Lineage Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Francisco Mansur > Joe Moreira > Roy Harris
Fighting out of N/A
Team Association Roy Harris
Instagram Logo

2. Roy Harris’s Biography

Roy Harris is a well-respected coral belt in BJJ and an American martial artist. He is also considered among the first dozen receivers of the jiu-jitsu black belt in America. That's why referred to as part of the “BJJ Dirty Dozen”. Roy Harris was one of the first American Natives who earned the 7th-degree coral belt in BJJ. Harris’s favorite guard position is Butterfly guard. He also had an interest in various swapping techniques. Among all the sweeps, the knee push sweep is Harris’s favorite. Roy Harris was also the first publisher of formal testing criteria for BJJ.

2.1. Roy Harris’s Early Life

In 1981, Harris initiated his BJJ journey in Minnesota. His interest in BJJ arose after reading the book named Bruce Lee’s Fighting Methods: Basic Training. Then in 1986, he moved to California. After moving to California, Harris was initially trained at Dan Inosanto’s Coaching Academy. Dan was the instructor of Jeet Kune Do, Silat, and Eskrima and a student of Bruce Lee, a top American martial artist and the founder of Jeet Kune Do. During the training at Dan’s Academy, Harris started taking more interest in BJJ. Then with the training partner, Harris paved his way towards Brazilain Jiu-jitsu.

2.2. Roy Joined the Gracie Academy

Roy Harris joined the Gracie Institute in Torrance and had his first BJJ class between December 1990 and January 1991. He was trained under the Royce, Rickson, and Royler Gracie. When Harris’s 13th private class ended, Royler Gracie awarded Roy with a blue belt. Roy Harris also took private coaching classes from Rorion Gracie when Royler moved back to Brazil and Rickson left as he opened his new gym.

2.3. Roy’s Sparring with Nikolay Baturin

Roy Harris was also offered a part-time teaching position at the University of California. He taught self-defense and various other BJJ techniques to his all students. During that period, Harris met Nikolay Baturin, a renowned Judo expert, and Russian Sambo. Both performed various drills together and Harris also learned the leg lock techniques from Nikolay who directly learned that technique from a Russian for about a year.

2.4. Roy stopped his Training at Gracie Academy

By using his leg and footlock techniques, Harris was defeating the higher belts during sparring. Once Rorion Gracie also asked him to stop the use of footlocks. According to Rorion, Harris’s techniques were becoming the reason for dense emotions among the training students. Harris was unable to afford the gym charges so he left the Gracie Academy although he had to face the politics.

2.5. Divergence in Roy’s Relationship with Machado

There is a contrast in the relationship stories of Roy Harris and Machado as Harris mentioned his relationship with Nikolay as the reason for his expulsion from the gym. John faced the Baturin, a battle in which Russian was declared as the winner. According to Macahdo, Harris taught the BJJ techniques to his friend to secure victory against Machado’s opponent. So that was the main reason that Roy was asked to leave the gym. Apart from these allegations, Harris denied the coaching of Nikolay Baturin.

2.6. Roy Harris’s Rank Elevation

After getting trained under the supervision of multiple instructors, Harris eventually got a chance to learn under Joe Moreira. Moreira embraced Harris as both student and instructor and remained his companion until he earned the first-degree black belt in BJJ in 1988 under Moreira.

2.7. Roy Harris’s Toughest Opponent

Once Roy Harris was asked about his toughest competitor, he mentioned the name of Vernon ‘Tiger’ White who was trained under the top UFC instructor, Ken Shamrock.

2.8. Roy Harris's Involvement in Dirty Dozen

Being a part of Dirty Dozen, Roy Harris was trained with some of the first-generation US students. Harris experienced intense sparring sessions and the scenario of that period was completely different. Instructors had not exhibited the significant importance of takedowns, throws, and cross-training. Various in-house tournaments were also conducted.

2.9. Roy Harris’s Achievements

Roy Harris was the first instructor of Jeet Kune Do. Harris has also developed a highly organized teaching program for both students and other BJJ instructors. He was one of the first Americans who provided leg lock and wrist lock coaching classes to the students. Harris also strongly emphasized the training advantages of takedowns from the knees. In 2004, Harris was rewarded with the Coaching certificate in Kalis Ilustrisimo.

In 2007, Harris’s name was enlisted into the Masters Hall of Fame due to his infinite contributions to martial arts.

In December 2023, Roy Harris was promoted to 7th degree BJJ coral belt by Master Moera.

2.10. Roy Harris’s Training

Roy Harris is famous as the top BJJ fighter who was trained under the supervision of fifty different instructors. By learning under the supervision of all the top coaches, Harris learned twenty-seven different styles of jiu-jitsu. Roy Harris has also provided the training of his unique Guard Pass technique to various jiu-jitsu blue belts.

Roy Harris always pays attention to developing the basic jiu-jitsu foundation of his students before teaching them advanced skills. He always guides his students to perform the BJJ sparring in a continued manner to gain expertise in BJJ skills. In his sparring sessions, students were always asked to try different types of jiu-jitsu techniques so they could be directed on the pathway that developed them into pro grapplers. Roy Harris had a strong belief that BJJ training is not just about learning the jiu-jitsu techniques, it is linked to the mental development of students. Roy Harris’s contributions to the BJJ are phenomenal and unforgettable.

Once he said:

“It has the community and camaraderie component to it. It has a physical, and mental challenge to it that feels like a chess game. And so when you combine all of these, it’s great for the mind, it’s great for the body, it’s great for your spirit. It’s great for life in general.”

Once Roy Harris was asked about his BJJ teaching methods he said:

“I like to compare learning Jiu Jitsu to learning math. It begins with counting from 1 to 1000 and progresses from this foundation to arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and so on. I believe that learning and teaching Jiu Jitsu follows a similar process to learning and teaching mathematics”

Over his entire grappling career, Harris has provided training on numerous topics which are as follows:

  • Clinches
  • Ground Escape
  • Throws and takedowns
  • Defensive movements
  • Kickboxing
  • Defensive and offensive edged weapon training
  • Complete range of submission techniques
  • Trapping
  • Training related to awareness
  • Development of Round kicks
  • Defensive and offensive blunt Weapon sparring

3. Roy Harris’s Top Historic Fights

3.1. Roy Harris vs Sonny Liston

In 1960, BB Challenge, Roy Harris faced Sonny Liston. Both fighters played well but ultimately Sonny applied the TKO and won the match.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
1960 N/A Sonny Liston L TKO N/A Heavyweight

3.2. Roy Harris vs Floyd Patterson

In a 1958 Championship, Roy Harris competed against Floyd Patterson. Floyd was declared the winner as he applied the RTD to secure victory.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
1958 N/A Floyd Patterson L RTD N/A Heavyweight

3.3. Jean Jacques Machado vs Roy Harris

In the 1998 BB Challenge, Roy Harris faced Jean Jacques Machado. Jean secured the winning title based on the points.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method Stage Weight Class
1998 BB Challenge Jean Jacques Machado L Points N/A Absolute Division

4. Roy Harris’s Fight History

Opponent W/L Method Competition Weight Stage Year
Jean Jacques Machado L Pts: 10x6 BB Challenge Absolute Division N/A 1998
Sonny Liston L TKO N/A Heavyweight N/A 1960
Floyd Patterson L RTD N/A Heavyweight N/A 1958

Photo Credit: @royharris.sandiego

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