Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ronis Gracie: Lapel grip/Butterfly Sweep & Injuries are the Mother of Invention

Awesome poster, no?

Lately, in Judo, I've been playing a lot of butterfly guard during mat work. I've found that due to the shorter time on the mat, guys who predominantly play Judo are often SUPER enticed by the butterfly guard.
I can almost literally feel how excited they are at the prospect of passing into a pinning/osaekomi position.. Rather than fight the half-guard death grip calf crush squeeze which many Judo players adopt while on bottom as they wait for the referee to start them back up onto their feet, the player on top often sees the butterfly guard as an easier pass. That and a habit of some Judo players is higher hips (in relation to the bottom player) b/c of the faster mobility they think it provides in passing/obtaining the pin.

I've been working a lot of my butterfly sweep and stumbled across this, over at's website:

Despite my knee injury, my Judo has improved quite a bit as I have to rely on timing and proper kuzushi to get the guy moving or I don't even bother entering in.
I read an interview with Xande Ribeiro from Jiu-Jitsu magazine last month. In it he chronicles how injuries have taught him alternative, safer, and often more efficient ways to do things.
This has been my experience as well.
Koga, says very similar things about the manner in which he was forced to adapt techniques due to injury in the course of the Fighting Films DVD of his name.

For nearly 7 years in Judo competition, I was a one dimensional player. I won many matches, but literally, close to 99% were by throw/Ippon.
I have always been a finisher in Judo. In fact, I had to go back and find the last match I won by points to well over two years ago. But, I was one dimensional nonetheless.
That and in 7 years, I had only won by pin/osaekomi a handful of times and managed only 1 submission.
That being said, due to my extensive time put on the mat due to my knee injury and time away from Tachiwaza, I've been willing to take a win whenever and however I can get it. By fighting on the mat rather than waiting for the referee restart.

At any rate, be a multi-dimensional player, whether you're a Judo player or a BJJ player.
Winning is winning, especially in Judo when we have 3 different ways to win and many combinations therein.
In BJJ, follow the lead of guys like Rodolfo, Lovato, Saulo, Xande, Jacare, Roger, and others that diligently work on their takedowns and transitions.
IF it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you.

Happy Trainingz!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Otavio Sousa - Follow-Up

I first mentioned Otavio Sousa on here in this post, HERE.
I had first seen Otavio cutting a swath through the brown belt division at the 2007 Mundials until ultimately losing to Kron (he gave up position by chasing a kneebar....ah, a pain I know too well).

At any rate, he's been doing big things since his showing against Kron nearly 5 years ago.
He's been granted his faixa preta, and recently won both his weight class and the absolute at black belt in the NY Open.

Graciemag has a piece HERE about him.
"The highlight of the event was Gracie Barra’s Ot├ívio Sousa, who won the middleweight and absolute divisions by beating, respectively, Clark Gracie and Rafael Formiga, the absolute champion from the previous year."

Here's his website as well.
Based on the comments on Graciemag and other places, the guy is incredibly well-liked.

Happy Trainingz!

B/c highlight reels are cool, here's the 2009 Pan Am Black Belt Adult Finals :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Competition Plateau & IBJJF TV - Episode 4: Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships

                     Making Adjustments
                Staying the Course

Been rolling hard lately. Minus the days I took off after the Pan Ams, I've been grinding in the gym: 1 day a week of Judo, 3 days a week of BJJ class, and 2 open mat sessions.
Yet........I competed in BJJ recently and placed 3rd.
Not pleased that with all my hard work I didn't do as well at the Pans or at a local tournament as I would have liked.
I've hit a wall of not knowing what to do. My not winning hasn't been due to a lack of time on the mat, drilling positions, or training hard, so I'm left with an enigma.

What I'm doing is not working, so what must be changed to obtain a different result?
You hear that oft repeated statement, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Well, since my trip to Brazil I've been rolling much harder (not spazzing), rolling and keeping track of the points like it's a tournament, et cetera. Rather than waiting to see if the guy makes a mistake, trying to impose my gameplan, trying to force him into making mistakes.

In addition, at my last Judo tournament I won more matches on the ground than by throwing.
In the past, I had managed roughly 1 submission and a handful of wins by pin in 7 years of Judo competition.
So, I know that overall, my grappling is improving. In a single day I managed to win as much with matwork/newaza as I had in 7 years before that. My matwork has certainly improved and for Judo at least, my ability to implement it quickly and before the referee restarts the action on the feet.

But, the elusive first place in a BJJ Gi division still eludes me. I'm advancing my way through all but the maybe some of the largest blue belts in my club to where I can beat them positionally or finish them inside of 5-6 minutes in rolling hard in class.
So, I am seeing incremental improvements, but the fruit of that has yet to show in competition in a discernible outcome/result.


Watch and enjoy.
Recap of the largest IBJJF event in history. 3,000 competitors.
No, that doesn't mean they need to have qualifying events.
It was 7 matches to win the gold in my bracket.
You should have to beat 7 people to call yourself a Pan Jiu-Jitsu Champion.

And for those who doubt where Jiu-Jitsu came from, watch and enjoy:

   - watch my man hit a brabo/Gi - D'Arce choke around the 4 minute something mark.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Keenan Cornelius - Prospect Part Deux

Keenan Cornelius: Lloyd Irvin's newest protege

Awhile back, I posted about Lloyd Irvin's latest protege: Keenan Cornelius.
Click HERE for a piece about him over at Grappling Weekly.

This was before I watched him win all 7 of his purple belt/faixa roxa matches at the Pan by submission.
This included a lightning fast armbar win over one of the Miyao brothers from 50/50...a position that guy with all the berimbolo madness of him and his brother is pretty familiar with.

He spent last weekend in Abu Dhabi tapping out Marcus Tinoco in the purple belt final.
Previously, he rounded out 2011 by winning a Grapplers Quest No Gi Advanced Division.
He then won the Euro 2012 at weight and the absolute, and the Pan Ams at weight and the absolute.

Say what you will, but doing all that in 6 months time is impressive.

Happy Trainingz!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Abu Dhabi World Pro Results/Recap/Analysis & Stop Saying BJJ needs Qualifying Events

It was a busy weekend in professional combat sports.
What with Bellator, UFC, and the World Pro in Abu Dhabi.
I missed the stream b/c I was competing in a Judo Tournament.
I did well, I won more matches than anyone else that day and beat some guys much heavier than myself. 

For some recap/analysis of the World Pro click HERE at
For some recap/analysis of the World Pro click HERE at

As I suspected, Roberto Satoshi pulled it out over JT and others and Claudio Calasans continued his dominance in his division. Satoshi cemented his skills against top fligth competition when he beat Langhi and Torres at the Euro 2012 and followed that up with his World Pro win.
Isaque Paiva showed that his triangle over Bruno Frazatto while not necessarily a fluke, wasn't necessarily his ascension to the pinnacle of the divisions. His loss to Caio at the Pans and his 3rd place showing at the World Pro means the GB black belt has some fine tuning to do against the tougher guys in his weight class.

Something else I'm beginning to see get repeated is that Sport BJJ is "too open" with too many guys in divisions.
There were 100 people in my division at the Pan Ams.
That equals roughly 7 matches to gold.
I think you should have to win 7 matches to call yourself the Pan American Champion.

There were other divisions with 4 competitors. Win 2 matches and call yourself a Pan Am Champion.
*****, please.
I don't think BJJ has reached a tipping point of "too many " competitors and here's why:

Few guys show up for the Pans that are not relatively serious competitors. I have friends who live in Southern California. They live 30 min's from the venue for the Pan Ams. Even they don't "just show up" to do the Pans.

BJJ is not a sport wherein guys award themselves belts then go compete at the highest levels of the sport.
Just like in Judo, due to the nature of competition and likelihood of injury the higher up you go....recreational players don't "just show up" for the Liberty Bell or Senior Nationals.

BJJ players look (from the outside) at Judo's system of qualifying and think it will help.
All the system has done is make it nearly impossible for poor(er) athletes to compete or qualify for international level tournaments. Even if I had airfare for Europe and other big Grand Prix tournaments, I cannot compete b/c I would need to qualify by winning a number of domestic tournaments. Those tournaments are dominated by players from Jimmy Pedro, Burris, and the Olympic Training Center (and San Jose State University).

All that money you see going into USAJudo and their ads saying if you buy XYZ type Gi or register your usajudo membership and you're helping "support Olympic hopefuls", well to hear Ronda Rousey say it, that's a bunch of bull****.

The other notable/famous people who might say something, ala Pedro, Burris, others, they all stay quiet b/c they're entrenched in that whole political/bureaucratic system of USAJudo. They're busy flying first class to coach Team USA and the 1-3 people in a divisions that get some money or hoping to land coaching gigs for Team USA. 
Now the IJF (another governing body of Judo) requires athletes to stay in certain hotels (more expensive than necessary) or athletes must pay a penalty for finding cheaper accommodations.

The less bureaucracy we have in BJJ, the better.
Let the Pans, Mundials, and others continue as they are. The World Pro, already only had basically a handful of guys at the top levels come from an outside/outlying gym.The Pro Trials are a great step in the right direction of making the sport more professional and having an added bonus to spice up the competition, which based on only 3 years of the World Pro's existence, it has definitely been successful in that regard.

Happy Traningz!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Abu Dhabi World Pro Predictions

The World Pro is this weekend in Abu Dhabi. With guys like Isaque, Torres, Souza, Faria, Xande, Calasans, Viera, Bucheca and many others vying for the gold.

Here's a good breakdown of some picks and predictions outlining those to watch in each division and the Open.

I'm interested to see how Calasans does and how the lighter divisions shake out without the Mendes brothers nor Cobrinha in the running. I'd love to The 6 minute matches always lead to some surprises as the pace is quite different from the 10 min matches and advantage game you see more in display.
I think Calasans will play the game better and get the nod.
I'll also take Isaque and Souza pulling it out over guys like Torres and other notables in their respective divisions.
I'm also going to put my bet on Bocheca to win his division as he looked unstoppable at the Pans just awhile back.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Enemies of Jiu-Jitsu Part Trois: Lack of PED/Steroid Testing

Click HERE for Part One of my Enemies of Jiu-Jitsu Series: Sandbagging
Click HERE for Part Two of my Enemies of Jiu-Jitsu Series: The Gentleman's Agreement
And...we are now on Part Three of our Enemies of Jiu-Jitsu Series: Lack of Steroid/PED Testing.

Lack of PED Testing is the pink elephant in the room of the grappling community.

Much like the Mixed Martial Arts of Pride, where drug testing was nonexistent, we find ourselves with a highly competitive sport, yet NO oversight nor testing whatsoever to even dent the use of PEDs in our sport.
This post isn't about the debate over Testosterone Replacement Therapy or anabolic steroids.
It is simply an attempt to address the fact that we have a sport whereby the training, preparation, and competition at the highest levels is a truly elite level sport, yet there is No TESTING whatsoever.

Caio Terra in the controversial interview following the 2011 Pan Championships (below) asserted that many of the competitors in his division and others were juicing.

The General, Fabio Gurgel of Alliance, replied and categorically denied that any Alliance athlete was using PEDs and that Alliance warns its competitors to not use steroids/PEDs. I find such a blanket statement nearly impossible to be statistically true/factual given the size of Alliance's pool of competitors. But then, that's my opinion.

Caio goes on in this interview to discuss what he feels is widespread usage to aid in recovery and to log more training time on the mat.
More shocking (maybe, maybe not if you look at how the IBJJF protects and caters to the high level black belts/coaches) is Caio's claim that the IBJJF is complicit in taking their time moving toward steroid/PED testing to allow the black belts/users to figure out a way around it or to cycle off altogether.

"The IBJFF said they would wait until this year to start testing. Now they say, we’re not going to test this year because we didn’t have enough time to plan. What? They told me something last year and now they’re not doing it, so I brought it up on the microphone."
"Two days before the 2010 Worlds tournament, there was an IBJJF meeting and I said we should start testing for steroids. The black belts laughed. They said, 'We just won’t compete anymore.' After the black belts left, the IBJFF approached me and said they are planning to test for steroids but they need to time to give the competitors a chance to clean up before they start official testing."

You won't see much about statements like this on Graciemag and other grappling websites as they too cater to the IBJJF and follow it's lead.
The article HERE, goes into a lot more of insder/whistleblowing info you won't hear about too many other places. Caio also in direct fashion shoots down many of the commonly touted false arguments as to why testing is difficult/cost-prohibitive and basically shows that the IBJJF is unwilling rather than unable to test due to a cadre of elite athletes that it would effect.

Like him or not, Caio does not mince words.

Happy Trainingz and food for thought.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Enemies of Jiu-Jitsu Part Deux: The Gentleman's Agreement

My previous post HERE, talked about the epic amount of sandbagging in many high level tournaments (to say nothing of the guy who has pro fighting experience and enters the white belt division at some local/regional tournament).

At any rate, in the hopes of discussing another roadblock to wider acceptance, coverage, and thus MONEY, let's talk about the gentleman's agreement and its ramifications.

Graciemag does a good job of covering the drawbacks HERE.
Primarily: for viewers, for promoters of events, and the spread of the sport. And last but not least, the impact on viewers and thus sponsors.

Some of the comments suggested they only let one teammate per division in large(r) tournaments.
This will turn into the quagmire of qualifying (money/racket) that Judo currently has in place.
They determine various levels of Players (from E to A I believe based on a point system) and just qualifying for the largest tournaments in the world requires extensive domestic and international travel as well as usually A LOT of asskissing to the IBJF, USAJudo, etc.

Keep the Pans and the Worlds Open to everyone. Jiu-Jitsu to/for all!
The mentality of fans, coaches, and promoters should also thus change. Reward money for 1st-3rd, and all of a sudden a handshake isn't worth $500 or $1000.

Same with steroid/PED testing: Test the winners 1st-3rd, and knowing that if/when you make it through to the end you'll be tested, and it will cut down on usage. But more to come on that theory.....
  - Happy Trainingz!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lapel /Collar Choke for your Easter Basket

I first saw this choke done by Otavio De Souza, at the time a brown belt, who lost in the 2007 Mundials to Kron if I'm not mistaken.
I liked the lapel feed to break down the posture then finishing the choke.
At any rate, Victor Estima pulled the same rabbit out the hat (get it, another Easter reference?) against someone at the Pans just a few short weeks ago.
Enjoy. The same can be done by feeding the far lapel when in side control/passing the half-guard then coming up on top/mount. 

Happy Trainingz & Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Zak Maxwell: years to becoming an overnight success.

Mais de Zak Maxwell, Mais a vindo...

Zak Maxwell, admittedly first came to my attention when shortly before the Pans, he beat Kron Gracie.

I then watched him at the Pans finish 2 guys in a row with virtually the same omoplata to armlock sequence, and when it didn't work on the 3rd guy he used that same omoplata sequence to sweep then get on top and win.

At any rate, Jits Magazine has a great post here about him and his background.
Turns out (as is the case with many "overnight stars") that he's been at this Jiu-Jitsu things for awhile. The Jits magazine article goes into detail but starting out he had the little man survival mode that turned into making him one hard nut to crack.
For add'l competition and background info, here he is over at BJJ Heroes.

Zak Maxwell Vs Leandro "Lo" Nascimento at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in Las Vegas (not long after Zak was promoted to faixa preta/black belt).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2 year Anniversary: Faixa Azul

I realized, it's been almost 2 years to the day since I got my blue belt.

I've looked back over my training log and the past two years and asked myself what events or people had the biggest impact on my perspective in Jiu-Jitsu?

1) having fought in MMA and understanding in a fight how valuable top position is
2) having done the Pro Trials and now the Pan Ams and seeing how much sport Jiu-Jitsu can change between blue and purple, purple and brown, and brown to black.
3) realizing that Gi BJJ and submission grappling are truly two different sports in many ways.
4) Jiu-Jitsu works. If done right, no can defend! Even when done mostly correct, getting out of bad positions relies on the other guy often making a mistake in order to escape or your fully committing technique and energy/muscle to the escape b/c you must overcome the physics, angles, and leverage of his superior position versus that of your inferior position
5) it takes only one mistake and then the cookie crumbles quickly.
6) an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. avoid the bad positions by attacking his base/position. the key to good escapes is attacking his base before he settles. 
7) training and rolling twice a day is where you truly begin to see advances in your game in short intervals.

I have several more years at blue belt and I'm fine with that. In fact, after my trip to Brazil I'd be fine taking my stripes off my belt.
I've learned more Jiu-Jitsu in the past year as a blue belt than I think I did in the 3 years I was a white belt and the 1 year I was a blue before this past year.
Over time, I suspect, that you tend to take/gleam more from each session.
A white belt has difficulty filtering out the noise, the background, the distractions in class and during instruction. They are focused on a move, on the hands, the grip, the obvious details.
Later you begin to understand how to elicit the response of which you wish to take advantage, how do X in order to make the opponent do Y, knowing that his most likely response will be X, and being in a position to take advantage when it occurs. More skilled players consider how X move will fit into their game, and then make a point to not only drill with intention, but attempt these moves in training to fine tune their application in live rolling.

The journey continues.
    - Happy Trainingz

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Firsthand Observations from the IBJJF Pan Ams 2012

This picture is the one I would use to sum up the entire event.
The crowd, the refs, the other competitors, the coaches, the staff.....everyone was silent in anticipation of this match.

I'm going to put together some observations as a competitor about my match, my division, the event and such once I've had time to sit down and do some reflection. I got back at nearly midnight last night and I'm back at work.
The tournament was great, but as always, I'll try to comment on what was great and what was lacking.

Some thoughts on seeing the event first hand as a spectator:

Quick Rundown as a spectator -
Kron Gracie: black belt for consistently looking to advance and finish
Malfacine: blue belt for stalling to the win over Gui after the takedown
Sambazon and Silvio's Brazilian BBQ: black belt for yummy acai bowls with granola and bananas and yummy BBQ, respectively
IBJJF: black belt for running nearly all the divisions on time throughout 4 days of competition
UC Irvine at California: black belt for being the exactly right size for the event and minimizing confusion that is often expected at grappling tournaments
Juvenile competitors: black belt for promising futures and careers. My only concern is that the points game of 50/50 to winning by advantages or waiting to sweep until 2 min's remain may prove detrimental to their overall Jiu-Jitsu and the spreading of the sport to casual observers.
The long breakdown as a spectator -
Rafael Mendes vs Cobrinha - spellbinding. Much like Graciemag comments here, at the start, everyone began thinking it would be another war of the 50/50 leg scissor, but after Rafael's sweep, the end was quick and decisive. From where I sat, I swear, I could feel the surprise in Cobrinha. 

Kron Gracie in the Absolute - did well, finally succumbing to kneebar, I believe. It visibly wore on him just a bit as he entered his divisions at weight the following day. I must admit, as compared to say Gui or Malfacine, Kron does not jerk around or stall. He paid the price with his gas tank for being a true competitor and looking to advance and sweep and finish throughout his matches.

Bruno and Gui Mendes - Bruno got the takedown and was content to stay (hide?) low in Gui's guard who for his part, also, did not do a whole lot other than feed Bruno's right lapel to the left side around his head. Bruno won after roughly 8 min's of stalling and the same of Gui not opening up to force an opportunity. Lackluster and anti-climactic.

De La Riva is the new Blue Belt - even up to the Heavyweights, the DLR was in constant display. My opponent and numerous others were diligent players of the DLR guard and used it to great effect to sweep and unbalance opponents.

Juvenile Blue Belt - the technical and "get after it" Jiu-Jitsu I saw in the Juvenile blue belt was some of the best of the tournament.

Pulling guard to 50/50 - the leg scissor was in full effect at all of the higher belts. More to come on this topic.

Miyao Brothers - the one I saw compete did what I expected: inverted reverse DLR/spiral to backtake and then hunt for RNC.

Bocheca - tough, tough dude. He ran roughshod over a lot of guys in both weight and the absolute.

It was a surprise seeing Lovato lose the ref's decision and not continue on through his bracket.

It was a surprise seeing how quickly Justin Rader got armbarred to wristlocked by Gui Mendes.

Kayron Gracie - stayed cool, calm, and collected while maintaining control throughout most of his matches start to finish.