Monday, March 31, 2014

5 Things I Learned From the 2014 IBJJF Pan-Ams

5. Michael Liera Jr. has a dangerous, traditional, fundamental, basic, solid closed guard
  b. he will submit you once he gets to your back

4. Victor Estima put Leandro Lo in more danger than virtually anyone I've seen (Rodolfo at the Copa Podio doesn't count, he's a heavyweight) since Kron Gracie


3. Handshakes in the finals, 5 out of 10 to be exact are *&^^&^$%.
Don't expect to be paid as professionals if you handshake it out.
Guys who don't even directly train together were handshaking it up.
This HAS to be addressed. No one wants to tune in Sunday to see HALF of the finals decided with two dudes grinning ear to ear both acting like they're the champion.
No, are not. Neither of you are actually.

2. Keenan at Black Belt lost to Alexander Trans in an exceedingly close match. He is one to watch at black belt and had looked very good at the Pro Trials and NoGi against Jackson Sousa in the UFC style NoGi Grappling submission stuff.

1. Lapel-o-plata for 5 plus minutes is slightly more exciting than Braulio's "Galaxy guard" he used to stall the living death out of Rodolfo for nearly 20 minutes at the Metamoris
Honorable Mention: Lovato vs Yuri Simoes


My Metamoris Apologies

I have not hesitated in the past to lambast the Metamoris when I felt it fell short of expectations. That being said, I feel I owe it credit where credit is due when it put on a streamlined, enjoyable, and legitimate attempt at a professional level grappling event for PPV. Jokes aside from the guy they chose to announce, Raka Mat something or other, the fights started right after 7, went quickly, there was a strange vignette piece with Ken-Flo talking about why Jiu-Jitsu is awesome, but overall I truly enjoyed the event.

Zak Maxwell vs Sean Roberts
I thought Zak would take it with a tighter game and overall control as he surpassed Roberts' flexibility. That was pretty much how it went with Zak achieving mount and looking for some good submissions along the way including what looked like a tight armbar.

Gui Mendes vs Samir Chantre
Winner by baseball/brabo variation. Myself and a good friend and training partner were betting which baseball choke/brabo choke variation would be Samir's undoing and Gui made relatively short work of Samir despite some cuff/inside the pant leg grabbing and the like. Gui passed the guard pretty damn quickly and from there the end was nigh.

Dean Lister vs Babalu
Babalu went for it and wasn't overly cautious in his engaging of the leg lock master with Dean looking more listless as the match waned. Having seen

Keenan Cornelius vs Kevin Casey
Made the best of what they could with a last minute replacement. Got to see Keenan grapple, not against Magalhaes, but not Metamoris' fault.

Rafa Mendes vs Clark Gracie was very....."modern". It's disheartening to see two competitors unwilling to try and stand up or kneel and actually pass the guard. I get the strategy at least in part, I get that passing to the back is easier and more direct perhaps than a traditional guard pass, but in a submission only match with no points lost for potentially getting swept, it would have been nice to see someone attack the other's guard. Good perhaps in that it wasn't the Miyao/Keenan level of refusal to really attack and engage with the ankle grab battle...but still, hard to stomach for someone who wants to still believe even sport jiu-jitsu can be rooted in a martial art.

Royler vs Eddie Bravo
I knew based on seeing Eddie roll with Marcelo that he has legit grappling chops. He looked the worse for wear early on hanging onto that bottom half-guard like his young child's life depended on it and Royler sticking to that head/arm/gable grip to pass knee through. Interesting to see Royler forgo attacking/underhooking the inside/inversion arm. The underhook was lost, Eddie went for it like his or his kid's life depended on it, and inverted which eventually led to the sweep.
Something I'll be rewatching with interest in the future. Eventually, Eddie got where he wanted underneath and things began to crumble but Royler was never so much dominated as online pundits might claim or purport. As much as Bravo swept, Royler would get back to top position and ultimately it was an interesting battle of old school jiu-jitsu versus a more modern style. For a guy that purports to teach NoGi/UFC/MMA style submission grappling, Eddie's pants, ankle wraps, and leggings I would assume kinda make that claim a bit disingenuous. I give him all the credit he deserves for showing he has legit grappling skills, but don't call it NoGi if you're pretty layered up from the waist down.

That Other Promotion: WSOF Multimedia Mailbag Edition: Palhares Heel Hook edition

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hendo was on TRT for Shogun Rematch - where is all the comparable hate? the interest of keeping it egalitarian, Vitor was the poster boy for TRT exemption. He was by no means the only guy on it, but just the most devastating on it based on his highlight reel KO's of late.
He was the Lance Armstrong of TRT.
That being said...why does Hendo get a pass for being on TRT? He's had some violent KO's while on the TRT sauce.....

The Other Side of the Story: Gracie Barra Irvine Talks Otavio Sousa

READ it in full HERE.
IN the interest of full disclosure, here is the response to Otavio's claims regarding his firing from GB Irvine.

There is actually much less drama involved than everyone thinks.

Unfortunately emotions have taken over, his ‘supporters' and ‘friends' rushing to unfounded and unconfirmed conclusions, and the entire situation has (as is par-for-the-course in BJJ) been blown out of proportion.

Here's the truth no one wants to hear...

Last fall, Otavio demanded an exorbitant and inappropriate salary to stay on as head instructor.

The management team and I conceded to his demands dependent upon his ability to follow a strict schedule that was of his own creation.

In less than a month Otavio began to break his own contractual obligations by traveling to Brazil for an entire month, continued multiple unscheduled out of state seminars, and continued to shirk academy responsibilities for his own training schedule.

His frequent and often spur-of-the-moment absences had a trackable and direct effect on the retention rate of new students.

Secondly, Otavio adamantly refused to teach to the established (or any) curriculum.
Using classes as his own personal practice sessions, the jiu-jitsu of Gracie Barra headquarter's students and instructors began to degrade to the point of frequent injury simply because they were only learning a handful of movements as opposed to an entire method.

This was brought to Otavio's attention multiple times internally and by GB executive director Marcio Feitosa.

Finally, the ‘disrespectful' dismissal email.

English is not Otavio's first language. He has a phenomenal command of it, but important issues like this have always needed to written so he has a clear understanding.

While yes, he was sent a termination of employment letter, options and a plan of action were proposed to discuss further upon his return in person.

He was given an almost embarrassingly generous severance package which will allow him to focus on his training all the way up to the World Championships without any working responsibilities or financial hardships.

And it was also made clear that myself and Professor Marcio would be working with him directly to find an alternate position within the extensive Gracie Barra network that would better fit his hectic schedule.

Our lack of explanation or commentary up until this point was simply an attempt to protect Otavio's career and future employment opportunities.

World Champion or not, what responsible business owner can have a head instructor who demands 4x as much salary as everyone else but is only there 40% of the workweek?

Otavio is a great guy, he will be missed, and I wish only the best for him in the future. However, life goes on.

Instructors need to start managing their careers (and their emotions) more responsibly if they want to enjoy the lifestyle they expect to have. It's as simple as that.

Classes are still in session, we have the full support of the Gracie Barra organization, and we are actively in talks with some exciting alternatives to fill the head-instructor position."

Gracie Barra Fires Otavio Sousa

2x world champion along with a hooooost of other accolades (incidentally, I visited/trained at GB Pernambuco where he began)

Full Article HERE

"Hi Guys, Last night I just received an email from professor Chris saying that I was fired from Gracie Barra Headquarters, without any warning from before. When I was in Irvine teaching, the responsible guys from GB Headquarters Chris and Derek didn't say anything that they were planing to do that. No communication at all. I got really shocked when I got to know about that, it wasn't even from them that I get to know, I was the last to know about it. I was even telling the students here in Costa Rica to Come visit Gracie Barra Irvine in CA to train with, without knowing what was going on. like I always did, representing the Flag and doing the marketing of our academy (GB IRVINE). They are saying that I am never there in Irvine which is not true because I am always traveling to teach seminars and they complaint that my reluctance to adhere to GB curriculum and standards have no choice for them to make that decision. But nobody came to me and said nothing before. I just want to let everyone know because they didn't even leave me the chance for me to say good buy to you guys. I am sure everyone understands about the times the I have to leave to make seminars, thats my way of making money and be able to live out of my country and make a living of jiu jitsu because what they promises me they never did it, always passing the responsibility to the other one because they never took responsibility with what they promise, or say. I didn't liked at all they way things happened, this is not a very good atitude. It was going to be more nice if they have come to me, to my face and say: we don't want you here because of this or that, instead of letting everyone know and let me know while I am traveling and by email.
But thats fine, everything happens for a reason in life. I will keep fighting and overcome like I am used to do. I just want to say that I love you all (students) and its a chame to leave like that. I will stop by to say hi to you guys when I get back from Costa Rica.
Regarding the training competition, that we were doing in the mornings, the 9 am class, since I don't have a place to train anymore and they cancelled those classes that was my only time to prepare my self for tournaments I will talk to you guys when I get there. hope everyone have a great weekend and I will see you all soon. I didn't want to say all that over the internet but the way I got this news wasn't good at all. But that's what my heart is making me do it, even thought I am exposing my self that way but I couldn't even sleep last night. See you all soon."

Royce Talks Online Belt-ing/Testing

Click HERE for the full Article

This comes as no surprise to me as I'm actually under 2 Royce Gracie black belts.
Our gym in general is not quick to promote and everyone who is promoted has a lot of mat time to their belt. Period. There's just no other way around it.

"“I wonder if Gracie Academy Students paying $200 know that all they need to get good at jiu-jitsu is to join online Gracie University. I find it ironic that worlds like Gracie and Online learning are somehow tied into worlds like Helio Gracie. It’s a shame when your own family changes the concepts of everything you stood for then uses your name and then is actually tying to convince the world that it’s better to learn from a screen then a person specially the art as complex and technical as jiujitsu. And on keepingitplayful. Helio Gracie has a saying “two men playing I smell blood” #ikeepithonest. @realroyce”"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Michael Liera Jr. - Pan Ams 2014 - Brown Belt - Resurrgence of the Closed Guard?

Early on, he's where he wants to be first with a guard pull to 2 on 1 grip on the his opponents right arm and a DLR hook. Eventually after some threatening from the bottom, he gets to closed guard, nearly hit a waiter sweep/underhook counter to the standing pass threat, then eventually bump/drags the arm across to spin lightning fast to the back when the opponent tries to extricate his arm. What follows is brief back control then a double lapel choke finish that comes on quick.


The next match is more traditional, closed guard action. Liera rather that insist on open guard sweeps reverts to closed guard, again threatens some 2 on 1 grips, and a waiter/underhook sweep counter to the standing pass, and ultimately gets to the back with a flower sweep.
Impressive, again.


The Final of the Pan Ams:
Begins with Liera already on the back and the lapel fed. He hunts for the Ezekiel continually and/or the bow n' arrow choke. He eventually transitions that to a triangle, passes the defense and comes up to mount, then attacks the arm for a vicious series of attacks and flawless looking Jiu-Jitsu.

Matches Not Handshakes > Submissions Not Advantages

Lovato's movement to go for submissions not advantages should prompt another more IMHO damning trend from the Pan Ams: handshakes to medals.

Metamoris 3 Preview: Dean Lister vs Renato "Babalu" Sobral

Like that girl that comes around just often enough to bait you into caring and thinking it will go somewhere, Metamoris is back with it's 3rd installment.
As much as the negative Nancy in me knows I will be disappointed, I look at this card and I have a roaring hope that it will be awesome and be the type of event I will love and be like the UFC of sport grappling.

The first event was mired by logistical shortcomings like starting obscenely late, dragging out, and being essentially a soft ball marketing pitch for various Torrance Academy side business angles.

The second event was marred by commentary that told me Brendan Schaub non-grappling was actually the highest form of Jiu-Jitsu which turned my stomach to no end.

Despite these shortcomings, matches like Kron vs Otavio, Kayron vs Lovato, Kron vs Shinya, were thrilling to watch and well, this it the big show and essentially only show of it's kind in town.
So, I must take the good with the bad.

Can't wait.

God, I know parts of it will infuriate me....and yet.....still I come back for another beating.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oh, You Fancy, Huh? My Pan Am Champion Friends, Congratulations!

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to work/intern referee with the always great and professional folks at US Grappling. They consistently put on a well-run, timely, clean, and enjoyable tournament experience.

On the opposite coast of the USA, 3 friends of mine and training partners from various gyms became Pan Am Champions. Awesome and great to see their hard work manifest itself in one of the premier tournaments in the world.

Brittany Senter, of Yamasaki Academy:

Thorin Oakenshield of Kurt Osiander/Ralph Gracie:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fashionably Late: Galvao vs DJ Jackson & Galvao vs Leandro Lo - Pan Ams 2014 - Minutes of Your Life You Won't Get Back

Galvao stymied the tree trunk built like Jackson with solid Jiu-Jitsu and guard retention. If you want to see the match, go watch it elsewhere. In my mind, he'll never get any actual press or visibility here unless he returns to the state where his outstanding warrant is and goes through the criminal justice process. On to a video I will like but with the warning that it is relatively boring in the way black belt sport jiu-jitsu matches in the finals can very often be.

Leandro looked...I won't say lost...but stymied or perhaps frustrated at times. Galvao, for his part, much like in the DJ Jackson match mentioned above, was exceedingly patient. You kind of had a feeling by about the 5 minute mark (if not before) this would come down to some advantages.
Visually pleasing? No.
Better than the 5 handshake/coin flip/toss/whatever that decided 5 of the finals of the Pan Ams, one of the most prestigious events of the IBJJF and thus Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sport calendar?
Kinda, sorta, barely, relatively, something like a "yes".

My reality did not meet expectations once I heard Galvao would face Lo in the finals. It was also interesting to see Lo at Middleweight having faced Otavio Sousa in another clearly close match early in the tournament. They had previously faced one another in a very close match at the Copa Podio. Lo seems to have put the weight on well and filled out his frame. Interesting to see him at the Worlds at Middleweight and see how that shakes up the reigning two-time back to back world champion Otavio who looked a bit flat both here at the Pans and at the earlier Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in Montreal.  

Leandro keeps a consistent pace in his matches with pressure whether it be to sweep or pass and Galvao never really entered that zone with Leandro and this seemed to stymie Leandro at points. It was frustrating to see Galvao pull a Bernardo Faria and chill in the over/under position- double under position not really trying to pass and not really overtly stalling....and thus the referees patiently allowing both participants to play the waiting game of attrition.

The Check's in the Mail: Tuesday's Multimedia Mailbag: UFC 171 - Lombard vs Shields/Sanchez vs Jury

I really thought Lawler had this one in the bag.
Watching it sober, I definitely thought he would get the nod out of the 5 rounds. I'd go back and rewatch it to re-evaluate my decision but as is the case sometimes, it was close, and rounds could have been subjectively scored either way and I'll leave it at that and go on with my life.

Hendricks looked flat across the later rounds in both this fight and GSP's fight. I don't think he has the same aura of danger he did on his run to the title. He did enough to win the fight but honestly, it was not an overly impressive win nor was it some classic snatching of the title despite perhaps being wobbled at one point earlier in the fight.
Hendricks' fabled bomb punch never really seemed overly dangerous of explosive as it has in the past early in the going and Lawler had Hendricks on the back pedal first.

At any rate, enjoy.

Lombard vs Shields: Sanchez vs Jury

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gianni Grippo NY Open 2013

I've said it before, but I'm a big fan of watching a march to the final in a bracket rather than just random matches from a division.

On that tip, here's Gianni Grippo at brown belt at last year's NY Open 2013

Sunday, March 16, 2014

US Grappling Virginia Beach Jiu-Jitsu Tournament/Judo Hiatus

I went up to Virginia Beach to intern/referee and work the US Grappling points tournament. I worked with a bunch of great people, got to train my refereeing skills (made some questionable and bad calls) and also competed in the purple belt featherweight division in my second outing as a purple belt.
A year ago, I made my return to competition after ACL reconstruction at this venue. A year fast forward and I'm in my second tournament as a purple belt. Wild.

I lost my first match to the eventual division winner then won my match for 3rd place via points. The 3rd place match is below. I could wax about taking time off due to being sick the week before and time spent on Judo before that but I decided to compete and it was a good experience. I see the purple belt jump from blue belt is considerable. You may or may not get that one mistake back. In my first match I didn't get the mistake back and lost by cross collar choke from the mount. Live by the face crush and die by the face crush and it came back to me this time.

I had really been in a lull in my training the past few weeks with little motivation to train, hampered by the North Carolina weather breaking up the weeks and then I got sick.

Looking back over my return to Judo competition, the sport feels radically different than it did when I left due to ACL injury. The automatic DQ for a slight leg touch feels punitive in the most understated of ways and I simply refuse to train and set aside time in my life to get on a plane and spend money to fly across the country to compete at the national level in Judo if something as errant as referee discretion that my elbow/hand grazed someone's leg can end my day.

Furthermore, the style of throwing and overall style of play while more upright is so fundamentally different from what I grew up in Judo playing that I doubt I will return to competition soon, if at all. It just doesn't feel like the same sport to me.
I've been fighting the cognitive dissonance since I returned, and pressed through training, and though I've done well fighting myself back into shape for the black belt division, I don't derive the same pleasure from winning in Judo that I once did.
Beginning there and continuing...Judo practice is much akin to wrestling practice. It is not fun in the way that I enjoy Jiu-Jitsu class. Judo is work. Without the payoff of enjoying winning and competing and with more things illegal than legal now in Judo along with a number of very counter-intuitive rules which are part of a very punitive/aggressive punishment policy of the rules to produce a hyper athletic/aggressive attacking sport with a very narrow window of throwing stylistically....I am stepping away from Judo competition for the time being.

I'm not going to say I am done, but it honestly feels that way. I don't blame anyone nor even really the organizations that be.
Coaches and clubs as part of the Judo mindset just accept the changes wholesale and that gets passed down: this expectation to quietly grin and bear it and bow politely.
I'm done. It's not fun anymore.
It doesn't have to be nor should it just be fun all the time.
But it's rarely fun for me with the restrictions upon restrictions upon illegalities.

I don't have to live with the results of other people's thinking nor decisions.
I don't have to invest my time in the sport if I don't want to.
I can deal with almost everything that bothers me about Judo....but not the austere expectation that I blindly and slavishly continue to invest my time, energy, money, and effort into a sport so radically different than when I started.

Some will just say I'm lazy or don't care or was never dedicated but that of course is to ignore the countless injuries, my knee surgery, and thousands upon thousands of repetitions on the mat.
They just need to distance and isolate me in their mind to rationalize their decision to stay despite the near deafening cognitive dissonance required to dismiss or ignore what has happened to the sport in a relatively short amount of time under their lackadaisically respectful and politely politically correct watch.

You can make it easier and more welcoming for people to continue to invest in your sport or you can choose to make it more difficult and blindly expect them to just suck it up and deal with it.
Judo has made its choice and so have I.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Otavio Sousa vs Lucas Lepri - Abu Dhabi Pro Trials 2014

Two guys I haven't seen face one another before:
Otavio's game is one I've studied a bit in the past.
He goes for his DLR hook to omoplata which he normally uses to sweep if not finish with  an armlock but Lepri spins quickly and recomposes to pass. Otavio looks for his sit-up guard sweep with the DLR hook but Lepri wisely does not retreat giving Otavio the direction he needs to impose the sweep as he would normally.

Otavio is a bit lackadaisical with his guard retention and Lepri's pressure is spot on, and he gets the x-pass/torreando/tornado/whatever it's called these days pass to the back.

Cinderella Man Walking: UFC 171 Lawler vs Hendricks Countdown Full Video

If you'd told me 2 years ago, Robbie Lawler would not only make his way back to the UFC (believable with the folding of Strikeforce/Elite XC/Whatever), but that he would fight for the belt, I would have told you to put down the TRT and get a CAT scan for your brain. You've been choked unconscious too many times.
At any rate, MMA's own Cinderella Man, Robbie Lawler looks to win the belt against Hendricks who himself had his dance with the belt recently but chose to let it slip by attempting like 4 takedowns in 25 min's of fighting despite having a stellar wrestling pedigree.

In other awesome co-main event news, Tyron Woodley fresh off a devastatingly impressive KO of Koscheck, now faces Condit (who as dangerous as he is has...*ahem* shall we say struggled at times against wrestlers).

I'm very, very excited for this card with two incredibly solid match-ups for the co-main event.

At any rate, enjoy:


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Gustaffson Finishes Manuwa/Calls Out Jon Jones - Full Video Highlights

In case you don't have Fight Pass (I'm not hardcore enough of a fan to care), Gustaffson punches his ticket to a rematch with Jon Jones by defeating that guy that had the atrocious fight with Ryan Jimmo back in England I think it was awhile ago.
I had the night off and would have gladly watch the fights out somewhere but alas, Fight Pass is not streamed at venues which show sports/serve food on pleasant NC spring afternoons.

Gustaffson had every right to a rematch after taking Jon Jones to the wire and why he needed a rematch after a win when guys like Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn got them in spades is beyond me, but the rematch with Jon Jones will be gangbusters.