Visions of Tristar: Ryan Hall, the Deadpan Killer

Fightland Blog

By Jesse Bell

I've spent the last year immersing myself in the lifestyle at the world-renowned Tristar Gym in Montreal. When I was asked to move into the Tristar Dorms last summer, I didn't know what to expect. The only way I can describe my new home to everyone is to show them. 

I have gathered a large collection of images taken during my stay here. Each photo tells the story of my journey as a welcome member of Canada's top MMA gym. 

“The Analogous Theoretical Approach” is how I refer to Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and world-renowned grappling champion Ryan Hall’s teaching method. He has a seemingly infinite ability to find parallels between techniques and the surrounding environment. He’s able to think divergently in every situation on the mat. His confidence while fighting is similar to that of a Rubik’s Cube speed solver. The man is abstract. And deadpan. 

When Ryan is at the Tristar Dorms he is always willing to train, when he’s not playing Magic the Gathering or some first-person shooter video game.

Ryan is a man of justice. Off the mats, you may remember him from a viral YouTube video in which he bounces an aggressive drunk from a diner, or more recently from an open letter he wrote to the martial arts community concerning rape allegations at Lloyd irvin's gym.

I sat next to Ryan at UFC 154 in Montreal. To my surprise, he played Angry Birds Star Wars on his phone almost the entire time. It’s obvious he has no interest in the spectacle of the sport. Even though he is training for MMA, he doesn’t seem to be looking for all the attention that comes with it.

Ryan Hall gives a private jiu-jitsu lesson to Fightland writer Ottavia Bourdain.

November 30, 2012: Ryan wins his first MMA fight. I noticed his demeanor was abnormally nonchalant backstage. During the fight, his corner instructed him not to finish with a choke but rather use ground and pound to get more experience under his belt. Afterwards, he looked somewhat disappointed that it was not a more competitive fight.

Warming up backstage with UFC bantamweight Ivan Menjivar.

Hitting pads with boxing coach Sylvain Gagnon.

When Ryan first arrived at Tristar, his teammates often crowded around to study his technique.

When Ryan brings the fight to the ground, his sparring partners are often overwhelmed.

Ryan randomly helps two white belts with technique ... 

and immediately gets scolded by Muay Thai coach Peter Sisomphou.

Arriving at the Tristar Dorms for his third camp on October 18, 2013.

Check out these earlier visions of Tristar:

The Real Deal

The "Rukus"

The Ultimate Fighter