Interview with Phil Migliarese, the “Jiu-Jitsu Matrix” by On The Mat.

Who is Phil Migliarese and What is the Jiu-Jitsu Matrix?
Interview by Gumby from

To answer that question you first have to ask who is…Phil Migliarese. I definitely found Phil’s story to be among the most inspiring in all my years of running OntheMat, and now you can find out what the Matrix will do for you.

Q and A with Phil Migliarese:

OTM: Just who is Phil Migliarese?

Phil: Man, what a question, I will try my best.

I am a 15 year East Coast veteran of Jiu-jitsu and a Black belt under Relson Gracie. I am owner of Balance Studios, in Philadelphia and the founder of

I have been around from the beginning of East Coast Jiu-jitsu. I started jiu-jitsu with the Gracies way before The UFC, and way before anyone knew who Royce was. I was introduced to Jiu-jitsu in 1990, when I was 12 years old.

I am also an active Yogi and Yoga teacher. I have been practicing Yoga for about 20 years, since I was 8 years old.

I am the head of Team Balance, a network of 11 schools nation wide. I am very proud of all of my fighters making Team Balance #3 in the world rankings in just over two years.

OTM: What is the Jiu-jitsu Matrix?

Phil: is the entry site to my Monthly Video News letter of more than 50,000 people. The Jiu Jitsu Matrix is the title that I gave to the mountain of training notes that I have meticulously compiled over the last 15 years. I have had lessons with some of the most amazing jiu-jitsu fighters in world and have recorded all of the lessons in my notebooks. Each month I pick a lesson and I send it out to everyone on the list.

The reason why I created the Video Newsletter is because of the overwhelming amount of emails that I was getting from people from all over the world. I have been teaching Jiu-jitsu for about 15 years and have students through out the world. I was getting about a hundred emails a week from curious students. They asked me so many complicated technical questions about jiu-jitsu that I needed to find a logical way to reach people and answer questions. So, I put together the list. This list keeps getting bigger and bigger. It is amazing how many people love this stuff.

OTM: What is Ashtanga Yoga, and how is it different from other forms of yoga?

Phil: Ashtanga Yoga is a very rigorous flow of postures. It will make you strong, flexible, aligned and very attune to your body and mind. The whole practice takes about an hour and a half per day.

This type of yoga is very much like Jiu-jitsu. Ideally, an Ashtangi creates a smooth, uninterrupted flow of breathing and movement.

OTM: What are the benefits of yoga? What can a martial artist specifically get from yoga?

Phil: A. Breathing control
Ashtanga Yoga is a Breathing and moving system. It teaches you how to flow and breathe at the same time. Very often, when I spar with my advanced students, the only reason why I can tap them out is because of my breathing control and my ability to read them when their breathing is out of control. Breathing control reduces the sense of panic in a match. If you are in control on the inside it is much easier to deal with an opponent on the outside.

B. Flexibility
One of my Students, Pan Am Champ, Shaun Smith often talks about and array of my techniques that he calls the yoga foot. He says that just when he thinks that he is out of a move the “Yoga foot” comes. What he means is that my flexibility allows me to put my body in positions of advantage without straining. Yoga produces “functional flexibility”. This is the type of flexibility that has strength and weight behind it.

C. Relaxation
Relaxation is a weapon in jiu-jitsu. Use it! If you are relaxed you will feel at least 100 pounds heavier when you pass the guard.

OTM: What is the most amazing feat of martial arts you have seen?

Phil: It has to be when Rickson Gracie levitated in the air in Pride. I forget who he fought. Rickson was lifted up in a throw; he countered it in the air, and flew over the guy and landed on his feet. That was a product of yoga, not jiu-jitsu. J

OTM: Tell us about the car accident, your recovery, and how it changed your outlook on life.

Phil: I was involved in a bad car wreck when I was 17 years old, 4 years into jiu-jitsu. I was on my back for about 6 months. I broke my knees, hips, ribs and shoulders. The Doctors told me to forget about ever training again. Well, I had to prove them wrong. I watched videos while I was in bed. I practiced Yoga breathing exercise to help with my focus on recovery. When I started walking again, I used yoga postures to help realign my broken spine and strengthen my back.

I got back on the mat within 9 months after the accident. But I was not pain free nor am I now. Yoga helps to minimize the pain in my back.

My back will literally go out if I stop doing yoga. I cannot train jiu-jitsu without yoga. Without it, I can hardy walk or move around in.

OTM: Your brother (Rick Migliarese) recently received his black belt from Relson Gracie as well, making you one of the rare sets of American brothers to achieve that rank. What’s it like having him as a training partner and how do you push each other?

Phil: My brother is my oldest student. He was a natural from his first day of jiu-jitsu class. It is great having him as a training partner because he is big, strong and technical.

What’s cool about our relationship is that we are supportive of each other and are both constantly innovating and exchanging new moves. I take his moves and he takes mine. I am so proud of him, and glad the he is on our side

OTM: How about other up and coming students at Balance Studios (I was particularly impressed by Noah Spear at the Copa Atlantica and he’s featured prominently on the upcoming DVD).

Phil: I am overwhelmed at the amount of talent at Balance Studios today. I am very privileged to be around such a group. I love going to work each day because everyone is constantly training and working on new stuff. Balance is like a “jiu-jitsu laboratory”. If something does not work right, we have someone there that can fix it, and make it smoother.

Here are a few of our World and Pan Am Champs:

Dan (9 lives) Haney, Timmy (the lion) Hart, My brother, Rick (the Psycho) Migliarese, Tim (say nothing)Carpenter, Tee (the split personality) Catalano , Rick (the Vanilla Gorilla) Macaulay, Shaun (Sheraton) Smith, Noah (Snowa) Spear, Guy Winters, Ken Primola, and many more!

OTM: You guys definitely inject a “Philly flavor” into the martial arts scene. Tell us what makes Philadelphia unique.

Phil: Philly is a fighting city. My Brother and I are native Philadelphians and are proud of our city and the level of jiu-jitsu here. We feel that it is important to inject our cities fighting spirit into the culture jiu-jitsu. Go Eagles!

OTM: Man, Rick promised some great highlights on the Real World: Philly, but so far it’s sucked. What gives?

Phil: We are in no way connected nor do we endorse the behaviors on the MTV’s Real world, Philadelphia. I feel as though they have given Philadelphia a real bad name, a real soft name, next question.

OTM: You seem very active in the martial arts right now. What else do you do in your spare time?

Phil: Well, here is how one of my average days goes right now:
I wake up around 7am and do a 2 hour yoga practice, then I sit in a Cafe from 9am until about 11am where I read, write and brain storm.

From 12-2pm I teach yoga, and then back to brain storming for the Jiu-jitsu Matrix. I teach and train Jiu-jitsu from 5pm-9pm, and Then I find time to sleep. I basically live the “dream life”, according to one of my top students, Tee Catalano.

Recently, I have been working on the “Migliarese fighting System” for my NHB Team, an updated Jiu-jitsu curriculum for Balance Studios in Philly and a World champion Competition class for Team Balance Jiu-jitsu Fighters.

OTM: What are your personal goals within the martial arts?

Phil: I would like to take Team Balance to the #1 spot in the world ratings.
I am very fortunate to have a group of talented and dedicated fights on my team and I am going to do what I can to get them to actualize their fullest potential as first class Fighters.

Also, My Brother and I are working on a Video series. I am doing a Yoga video for Grapplers and My Brother is doing a video of his Exercise System Call called A.B.C. (Athletic Body Conditioning TM) for Jiu-jitsu fighters.

OTM: Anyone or any sponsors you want to thank?

Phil: I would like to Thank ON THE MAT, My Family, My students, and finally, my mentors.

Thanks to Phil Migliarese. If you like what you see and want more techniques delivered to your mailbox for free, simply go to and sign up today!

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