Interview | Jonathan Satava

Interview | Jonathan Satava

Interview with accomplished and rising Marcelo Garcia BJJ stand out Jonathan Satava!

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic, can you give us a little about who you are. Accomplishments, background, sponsors, affiliations, blood type, list of fears, etc. Kidding, mainly just the first 4 things there and generally anything you wish to tell about yourself.

Well first, thank you for the interest and opportunity. I was born and raised on Long Island and I’m the middle child with two sisters. I’d say I was an active kid growing up.  I played baseball, skateboarded, snowboarded, ultimate Frisbee, and everyone’s favorite – manhunt.  In middle school, I did some wrestling but broke my collarbone during practice and never got back into it.  When I was younger I trained Karate and some JKD as well but college is where I started immersing myself in BJJ.

Jon with marceloAfter my third year of school, I made a choice to dedicate and devote my time to BJJ – better late than never I suppose. BJJ was my passion and I hoped it could lead to a potential career.  If I was going to fulfill my potential I felt I needed to train with the best.   So I began training with Marcelo Garcia.  My game was already heavily influenced by Marcelo so I fit right in at the academy.

I was promoted to purple belt about a year later.  I felt I really “came into my own” at this belt.  According to the ibjjf rankings, I graduated #1 overall nogi and #3 in my division with the gi.  I received my brown belt from Marcelo Garcia in July 2013.  Since then I’ve won the No Gi Pan Am Championship, Abu Dhabi Pro Cup Trials Division and Absolute, and Gi Pan Am Championship.
I am an assistant instructor at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in NYC and am sponsored by MGinAction and Revolution in Motion.

To be the best you must train with the best, Jon is doing just that.
To be the best you must train with the best, Jon is doing just that.


What is your average everyday diet like? Do you follow a certain guideline?

I’ve read a few books by Dr. John Berardi and try to follow the principles of them:

  • eat every 2-4 hours
  • 1-2 servings of protein with each meal
  • Veggies and/or fruit with each meal
  •  Steady dose of a variety of fats
  •  Save starchy/sugary carbs for post training/workout
  • Stick to water, tea, coffee, and coconut water
  • Cheat 10- 20% of the time

I personally am a breakfast nut. What is your favorite breakfast?

I usually rotate between different types of veggie omelet’s and a side of fruit.  However, my favorite breakfast is French toast.

What are your cheat meals like?

When Jon isnt crushing donuts on his cheat day, hes serving up armbars. His cheat meals are only 10%, scary odds.
When Jon isnt crushing donuts on his cheat day, hes serving up armbars. His cheat meals are only 10%, scary odds.

I’ve been known to crush a half dozen donuts and large milkshake.  Most of my cheat meals are social.  Usually someone is like “let’s go to [insert delicious eatery here]”.

When out to a really nice dinner, what is your drink of choice?

Hah like fancy?  I don’t mind having a beer or glass of wine every now and then but I tend to stick to water.

What are the challenges you find maintaining your diet?

Rest/light days.  On normal days I’m basically either on the mat or eating.  When I’m not training my brain thinks it should be eating.  And cutting for obvious reasons.

A huge topic for me and what I feel people are most interested in is pre and post training. What is your pre-training and post-training intake like?

I like to eat my biggest meals after training.  Before training at night I usually grab a cup of coffee.

I never worked at any coffee shops but let me try my best here…”Cream and sugar sir?”

Usually iced with Half&half and some no calorie sweetener like truvia, splenda, or stevia. If it’s really cold out, I’ll get it hot.

On the other end of training, how soon after and do you have food immediately after class is done, like a chocolate milk or shake?

Sometimes I have a BCAA drink immediately after class is done.  I don’t really know what the driving force is behind me having it or not.  Maybe money or if I remembered to wash my blender cup the night before.Jon featured

Unless I have somewhere to be, I don’t rush off the mat to eat.  I like to think about my rolls and ask/answer questions after class. Between that and showering, it probably ends up being close to an hour before I grab food.

What part of your diet do you feel is the most important and why?

Veggies because I enjoy perpetuating an inside joke at the academy.

I have to ask what is the premise behind the inside joke? Does it have to do with Jaime Kilstein?

Jonathans reaction to his impersonation, not impressed JCash!
Jonathans reaction to his impersonation, not impressed JCash!

Haha It doesn’t have to do with Jamie… although I’m pretty sure Jamie has other inside jokes about me that I’m not privy to >_>.  The “veggie joke” is one of those “you had to be there” ones, but I’ll do my best.

Between people asking me about my diet and going out to eat a lot, my training partner, Umberto Malignaggi, started poking fun at veggies being a staple in my diet.  Whenever we’d go out to eat he’d sarcastically ask me if I got my veggies and regularly embarrass me in front of a pretty waitress or cashier.  JCash caught wind of it, which if you know JCash, was probably the worst thing that could happen. He quickly added the material to his “Jon Satava impersonation” which he does so beautifully and frequently for everyone at the academy.

I know you compete at a very high level regularly so do you change your everyday diet up when building up to a competition?

I usually have to drop a few pounds.  So two to three weeks out I’ll lower my carb intake a bit and gradually reduce my portion sizes until I hit my target weight.  I’ll also cut out my cheat meals.  If needed, I’ll switch to distilled water a few days before.  Brendan Weafer has helped me tweak my pre-competition nutrition.standing

What is your ideal dinner the night before and breakfast the day of competition?

Night before: salmon, hummus, tabbouleh, quinoa, spinach, and beets.

Breakfast:  eggs, cheese, banana, mixed berries, little bit of coffee.

When traveling for competitions, I always find it hard to find the food I like or of the quality in which I eat available, what issues do you find when traveling and how do you overcome them?

Traveling abroad can be tough.  I remember my first time going to Europeans – it was terrible.  Between the unfamiliar brands, lack of variety, and different store/restaurant hours, it was difficult getting what I needed.  Now, I always travel with a bag full of bars and supplements.  Upon arrival I also try to scout out a store that carries at least some of the things I normally eat.

When competing at high levels your diet also has to be this flexible.
When competing at high levels your diet also has to be this flexible.

Overall what do you think is the most common meal you find yourself eating? Supplements aside.

Probably the omelet I make in the morning:  2 eggs, ¾ cup egg whites, ½ tomato, ½ red pepper, 2 slices of turkey, 1 slice of cheese, salsa to top, 1 cup of pineapple on the side

What are your top 5 favorite ingredients/foods?

Donuts, Milkshakes, Peanut butter, Seafood, Dark chocolate  

6th favorite ingredient, whoever is standing across the mat.
6th favorite ingredient, whoever is standing across the mat via one arm choke.

As for seafood in your top 5, I grew up in Maine so I am all about seafood, what are your favorites? Want some lobster? I always have lobster on hand as weird as that is to say.

Haha Yes please! I guess a little weird, but I approve!  I grew up in a house that was a 5 minute walk from the bay and a lake around the corner.  I use to eat clams, crab, and fish a decent amount. Scallops, clams, mussels, salmon, flounder, fluke, striped bass, and calamari are some favorites.

If there was a skill or cooking technique that you would like to learn to improve your arsenal what would it be? Or is there a food you wish you knew how to make?

Fillet/gut a fish.

Last question, what would your last meal be?

This is probably going to sound corny… I have some a lot of good memories associated with food, so a sampling of those meals in hopes to trigger those memories would be nice.

Not corny at all and a very unique answer! I approve and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule getting ready for Abu Dhabi Worlds coming up! Best of luck to you and the MG team! 

Follow Jon on twitter @JonathanSatava and on instagram @jtsatava

Training with this crew really sums up why they made the "coffee and chokes" rashgaurd
Training with this crew really sums up why they made the “coffee and chokes” rashgaurd


Images: Ibjjf
Ro Malabanan

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