Weekend Warrior: Geordie Rose is hooked on grappling

Sanctuary AI's Geordie Rose used to win championships. Now he fights for fun

Credit: Tanya Goehring

Rose  in what’s called a “gi.” He won two world championships in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2010

Sanctuary AI co-founder Geordie Rose is a decorated wrestler. He still hits the mat, but in a less competitive setting

I started [wrestling] when I was 13, my first year in high school, and I was terrible, lost every single match, about 30 of them. I was going to quit and not show up for the next year, but a couple of friends were in the program and said, “Why don’t you come out for the first few weeks and see how it goes?” So I did, and that next year I didn’t lose any. I won every single match and won the Montreal city championships, and went on to come second at the age group national championships, so I really turned it around.

I did it for about 20 years; it was the most important thing in my life for most of high school and university.

I think there’s a shared feeling for a lot of us—people who are into boxing and different martial arts—that it can look a little glamorous from the outside, especially with the rise of things like MMA, but the reality is that you’re getting punched in the face every day. I would not trade the experience for anything, but I don’t think I ever really enjoyed it.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a lot more fun. You can tailor it to the pace and the age that you are, whereas in wrestling that’s not true. Wrestling is a little bit like F1 driving, there’s only one speed. But in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there’s everything from people who have never done it before to those who are competing professionally, so you can scale your commitment.

Competing is a binary thing. You’re either doing it or you’re not, and the competition training is very different than just having fun training. So I’m at the stage in my life where I’m just trying to have fun. I don’t have it in me anymore to compete at a high level. At some point it’s just “Who am I kidding?” I do think about it from time to time, but it’s one of those more wistful things, like, “Oh, if I was only 20 years younger.”


Geordie Rose co-founded D-Wave Systems Inc., a quantum computing company, and robot maker Kindred Systems Inc. Recently, Rose left Kindred with long-time colleague Suzanne Gildert to help found Sanctuary AI. The Vancouver company aims to create synthetic individuals indistinguishable from humans.