JT Torres – True BJJ Talent

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Jonathan “JT” Torres is one of the best American BJJ athletes of the last decade. He has won multiple championships and has made quite a name for himself on the pro Jiu Jitsu scene.

Torres has had a unique journey from becoming a 2x ADCC champion to running his own BJJ academy. Here is the complete story on JT Torres and how he became an elite Jiu Jitsu competitor.

We’ll detail everything from how he got started in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, switching academies, becoming a champion, and owning his own academy. 

JT Torres start in Jiu Jitsu

JT Torres is a New York native and grew up practicing Karate from an early age. After he earned his black belt in Karate, JT quit and tried playing in organized team sports.

His attempt at organized team sports would be short-lived after he was cut from his high school basketball team. Torres wanted to stay physically active, but wasn’t sure what to do.

He didn’t want to go back to Karate, but his old martial arts school had started a small Jiu Jitsu program. Jonathan would decide to give Jiu Jitsu a try and immediately grew passionate about the martial art.

Torres’ quick run through the colored belts

From the moment Torres started learning Jiu Jitsu, he immediately showed that he had talent. In only 6 months, he advanced to the blue belt level and would constantly compete on the weekends.

Jonathan would then move to a better gym and began training under Louis Vintaloro at Performance BJJ in New Jersey. He would stay at Performance BJJ for three years.

He would take 3rd place at the IBJJF Pan Championship before being promoted to purple belt. At purple belt, he would have his best year in the lower ranks and would take 2nd place at the Pan Championship.

His impressive performance would lead his instructor Vintaloro to promote Torres to brown belt.

Torres moves to Lloyd Irvin BJJ

JT had a good relationship with Performance BJJ, but wanted to go to a more competitive gym. He would travel to Maryland in 2009 and become part of Team Lloyd Irvin.

Right after Torres moved to the gym, Lloyd Irvin would award him with his BJJ black belt. His first big competition at black belt would be the 2009 No-Gi Worlds.

There he would handedly beat his first two opponents before losing to Lucas Lepri in the finals. Earning a silver medal at the event.

This would be a recurring theme with Torres for the next 3 years training with Irvin. He was competing at the highest level in BJJ, but would come up short winning gold. Having to settle for second and third place finishes at top BJJ competitions.

Torres leaves Team Lloyd Irvin BJJ

In 2013, JT was right in the middle of the controversy surrounding Lloyd Irvin BJJ. A female teammate of Torres was raped by two other competitors on the team.

This horrible act created a lot of toxicity at the gym, which led to an exodus of top students. Including JT Torres and other former Lloyd Irvin standout competitor Keenan Cornelius.

Torres moves to Atos Jiu Jitsu

Both Torres and Cornelius would make the journey to San Diego, California to train with Andre Galvao at Atos Jiu Jitsu. At Atos, both Torres and Cornelius would evolve their games and become elite level grapplers.

In his first year training with Galvao, JT would make his ADCC debut. Placing 2nd in the 77 kg division and defeating rival Lucas Lepri.

He would top his ADCC performance at the 2013 No-Gi Worlds, where he would win his first world title. A prize that was alluding to him for 4 years.

JT wins at ADCC 2017

After winning the No-Gi Championship in 2013, Torres would have moderate success in his next 4 years of competition. He would win his first Pan Championship in 2015 and  various smaller IBJJF tournaments.

In 2016, he earned a spot at the 2017 ADCC Championship. Torres would have a grueling camp preparing for ADCC with his coach Andre and they would constantly drill wrestling.

This would be the deciding factor in the championship as JT was relentless going for takedowns and getting dominant positions. He would once against best rival Lucas Lepri 3-0 to win his first ADCC title.

JT repeats at ADCC 2019

JT would prove that winning the 2017 ADCC Championship was not a fluke. At the 2019 tournament, he would once again put on a brilliant display of wrestling.

Torres was just as relentless with his offense as he was in the 2017 tournament. He would outpoint Garry Tonon, DJ Jackson, and Lucas Lepri once again to repeat at ADCC World Champion.

JT Torres’s style of grappling

From the time Torres earned his black belt in 2009, it was known he had a well rounded Jiu Jitsu game. He has always had solid fundamentals and was well versed in every facet of grappling.

His early teammates would call him Spider-man for his amazing grip strength in the GI. What he is probably most known for now is his abilities in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu.

Torres’ evolution in No-Gi started once he began training with Andre Galvao at Atos. Not only did his wrestling ability improve, but also his physical and mental approach to competition.

You can see a huge difference from his performances in the early 2010s until now. JT went from a high level grappler to an elite world champion grappler.

JT Torres opens his own BJJ academy

Around 4 years ago, when JT was preparing for his 2nd ADCC tournament, he opened his own BJJ academy. He opened his very own Atos Affiliate school, Essential Jiu Jitsu in White Plains, New York.

Torres’s academy is highly reviewed and is the best Atos affiliate school on the east coast.

What’s next for JT Torres?

JT Torres set out with big dreams in Jiu Jitsu and has accomplished them all. He has won several world championships in the sport and now runs his own successful BJJ school.

Torres is doing what he loves and couldn’t be happier with the path that Jiu Jitsu took him on. We can expect Torres to continue teaching at his academy and possibly a return to competing in the future. JT Torres is a true example of how if you focus you can attain the highest pinnacle in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


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