To say Robert Follis is good at what he does is an understatement. Not only is he one of the lead trainers at Xtreme Couture, he’s also one of the best. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Follis heads one of the more intense, yet highly skillful Gi and No-Gi jiu-jitsu classes in all of Mixed Martial Arts. Training the likes of current Ultimate Fighting Championship stars such as Evan Dunham, Martin Kampmann and Chael Sonnen, along with legends like Dan Henderson and Randy Couture, Follis has risen in MMA lure as one of the greatest technique coaches of all-time.
Follis got his start in Martial Arts at 22, when he was a bartender. “I was asked to throw someone out of the bar,” he said. “I didn’t know that was part of the job, so I told myself, ‘I better start training some Martial Arts’. I started working with one of the bouncers at the bar and that’s what got me started.” As his training progressed, he got wind of an up-and-coming fighter that was going to the UFC and needed some training partners. “I was training at a cutting-edge gym when I heard about [Randy] Couture needing someone to spar with,” Follis said. “No one really knew who he was at the time so I thought, ‘yea, I’ll go throw some punches at that guy.”
Those training days turned into training nights, and soon a friendship blossomed between Couture and Follis. Eventually, a career was formed for Follis amidst all the training and sparring sessions, and he’s never looked back.
The son of a preacher, Follis has long taken after his father in order to get the full potential out of his students. Analogies are a big part of how Follis coaches, and says the use of them makes it easier for his students to correlate what he tries to bestow upon them in the MMA world. “At one point, tying our shoes was extremely confusing,” he said. “The more you practiced it though, the easier it became. That’s exactly how jiu-jitsu is.”
His training with adolescents and young adults helps prepare them for where the sport may be heading in the future, no matter how adverse or challenging it may seem.
“You can be in massively good shape,” Follis said. “But if you doubt yourself and don’t believe in what you’re doing, you won’t succeed. Conversely, you can be the most positive thinker in the world but if you don’t ready your body, you will fail.”
His love for the sport intertwines with his affection for changing people’s lives with what he teaches at the gym. The self-promoting change has been personal for Follis as he says it was Martial Arts that led him out of a place in his twenties where he lacked any direction and felt unsure of what he wanted in life.
“Here’s what really makes me love Martial Arts and MMA,” Follis said. “It’s the ability to change your life solely based on the training. To take those lessons and apply them to facets of your life; that’s what it’s all about. That’s huge.”