Friday, August 10, 2012

We are Moving!

Over the last couple days I have made plans to move to a domain name. During that transition a name change will occur for the blog, twitter and Facebook page.

Here is a link to the new site;

All your favorite posts are still there!
Please bare with me as I fine tune the site as there are some formatting issues between blogger and Wordpress.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 Interview

I am sure somewhere in your BJJ journey, you have fell in love with a gi, bought it, and you counted the days until it would arrive. You two are going to be inseparable! "No one in class will be able to tap me with my new pearl weave rip stop collar!" Then the day finally comes, package has arrived, and it feels like Santa left you a gift under the tree. You tear into the package to find your brand new gi! You put it on and the sleeves are to long and the pants are to long. You used the sizing chart?What gives? So you shrink it down and now it just does not fit right.... Now that gi hangs in the back of your closet, and is hardly ever put into the rotation. I am speaking from experience in this case. The back of the closet is not a place where gis need to go die.

What if there were a tool or database to allow you to search over all of the gi manufacturers by size, color, or even fit?Well, there is such a tool and I had the chance to snag an email interview with about this extensive database.

1                     JJ360:Let’s begin with a brief introduction? How longhave you  trained, current rank and underwhom do you train?

GiFreak:Let’s just say that GiFreak trainsat one of the best MMA teams in the world under the lineage of Carlson Gracie. 

2.                            JJ360:What was the motivation behind

GiFreak:It came after hearing people at thegym talking about trying to find gis with certain features and not knowingwhere to get them. The products were out there, people just didn’t know wherethey were. Also, we love small businesses and seeing people trying to breakinto new markets. All the 200+ companies out there--we want them all to findtheir niche base of customers in the BJJ world. That can be hard, so we want tohelp them make that connection by becoming the first place anyone goes beforebuying a gi.  

3                  JJ360:What are some of the features of andwhat makes it unique?

             GiFreak:Our flagship tool is the GiSearch feature (’s basically a place where manufacturers list their gis by all the specificfeatures they have and potential buyers search for them. So, if you’re lookingto spend less than $150 on a camo single weave gi that has knee pads, redstitching and is pre-shrunk…if it exists and the manufacturer is signed on withus, just check off a few boxes and you’ll find it. We don’t believe peopleshould have to go posting on 10 different forums to find out what exists outthere.

We also have the GiReview search ( are some awesome bloggers and reviewers out there who do some crazyextensive work when it comes to reviewing gis. We wanted that work to be easyto find, so that if you’re wondering what’s up with Tatami’s newest model andto see what people are saying before you put down the cash for the gi, you justcome to the site and search by the brand or product name. We also allow peopleto search by reviewer if they’re interested in seeing someone’s entire body ofreview work.

The GiBlog is pretty straight forward. Wetry to stay away from posting technique and tournament results…so many peopleout there already do a great job of that. We keep our posts focused on gis andthings other people might not be talking about. Stuff you can take back to yourgym that’s not common knowledge. We also announce product premiers, sales andstuff centered around buying gis.

4             JJ360:How do you hope will be beneficialto the consumers?

        Gifreak::It will save them time and money in findingproducts they like and that work for them. BJJ gis are highly functionaluniforms, but at the same time, people that do this do like to have a specificlook. We want them to get the look and function they like with fewer purchasesof products that might not do what they want.

JJ360:How extensive is the database currently? Howmany suppliers or Gi are contained?

        GiFreak:We’ve got over 200 brands listed, and about20 manufacturers (including names like Atama, MKimonos, and other newbies tothe game) officially listing their full product catalogue. We’ve got a greatrange of prices and features, but there are a lot more. We’re pushing to get asmany as possible on the site to give a great representation of what’s availableout there.
JJ360:How many search fields are on Longlegs, short arms, etc.

            GiFreak:125 total possible selections, but thoseare broken into 16 different categories like     Construction, Appearance, Price,Weave and Fit by body type. We’ll add anything a manufacturer comes out withthough, so if someone invents a gi that smells like acai, we’ll add a smellcategory. utilizes reviews for gis to help apotential buyer come to a decision about the gi they are interested in buying.How do you gather your reviews and can other reviewers submit reviews?

This is the feature we think can really save a user the most money. It’sactually done manually. We got started in the BJJ blog world, so it’s connectedto a lot of the bigger names out there that will let us know when something’sup. Besides that, we keep an ear to the ground for new bloggers and reviewers.If anyone wants to submit a review, just notify us at and we’ll get it up online.

JJ360: What are some features we can look for in thefuture for Gifreak?

         GiFreak:Mostly refinement of the search tool. Wewant to make it as specific as possible, but without becoming overly complex,so look for that, and a mobile site that we’ll likely be premiering soon. We’realso going to be focusing on the blog more, with guest posts, more interviewsand educational materials.
JJ360:  Anything else you would like to add?

GiFreak:Justthat we’d ask people to spread the word. It’s a free service and the morepeople we have on the site, the more we’ll know what the BJJ community needsand the better we can grow to serve them. 

 There it is! A tool that will help with the entire gi selection process that will save you time, money, and frustration. Now you will be able to include all your gis into the rotation and there will be no need to keep them hidden at the back of the closet collecting dust.

I would like to thank GiFreak for allowing me to do this interview.  You can head over to, or like GiFreak on Facebook,, or follow them on Twitter for reviews and new products being added, @GiFreak

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flowing With the Go by Elena Stowell

I first heard of Flowing With the Go: A Jiu-Jitsu Journey of the Soul several months before its July 10, 2012 release. I read a brief article on Google on how Elena Stowell discovered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and how it helped deal with the grief of losing her fifteen year old daughter, Carly.

I picked up the Kindle edition for $3.99 on the day the book was released, and I quickly started to read Mrs. Stowell's journey to overcome Carly's death.

The book explains the the incredible talents and life Carly was living and how Elena was a very supportive and loving mother. She was heavily involved in Carly's life as a coach and was Carly's basketball team "Mom".

So naturally it was hard to deal with her daughters death and she looked to many outlets to help her grieve. She eventually realized that she had spun out of control. She starting drinking more than normal and cut herself off emotionally from her friends and family.

Elena was very active and played collegiate sports. And one night when she was overcome with grief and she could not sleep, she found herself in her garage trying to beat her personal bench press record. She knew that physical activity made her feel better, and after discussion with her therapist she decided to try a weight loss boot camp. While taking this camp she discovered that she really enjoyed the kickboxing and striking aspect of work outs. When she wanted to just focus on striking she branched out and searched for some specific training in boxing.

She found herself at a local Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu and MMA academy, in Kent, Washington where she attended striking classes. After her striking class, she would stay and watch the Jiu-Jitsu classes. Her coach finally talked her into trying a couple classes. She eventually navigated towards Jiu-Jitsu and slowly began the healing process through the physical and mental training she would endure each time she set foot on the mats.

She was amazed how supportive her new found Jiu-Jitsu family became. They helped her stay encouraged, face her grief and depression head on, and helped her focus on her goals. Through Jiu- Jitsu she began to improve her quality of life and began to assemble a team of people and experts in different fields, nutrition, mind, body, and soul. Through the support of family, friends, and her new team she focused on her goal of competing in the biggest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in the world, the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation)Worlds tournament. This was a critical moment in her life, and she knew that by accomplishing this goal she was honoring Carly's memory.

At the beginning of this book, you find Elena in a very weak state in her life after Carly's death. You begin to see the transformation throughout the book to a strong confident woman, Jiu-Jitsu champion, and most importantly a mom who began to heal. It was amazing to see her focus and her determination to claw her self from the depths of despair using Jiu-Jitsu as a tool to do so.

Elena honors Carly's memory by allowing us to take part in this awesome story. I felt as if I were cheering her on during her roller coaster of emotions. She chose this journey to help her cope with the loss and during this she discovered herself. This is a must read for every Jiu-Jitsu practitioner or anyone who is struggling emotionally in their life.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Variety Is The Spice of Jiu Jitsu

I have been getting hung up over past couple of months about how I think I hit a plateau in BJJ.

Well, this past week I have noticed that I can see the other side of the mountain now. I have been trying to work different positions and submissions and it seems to be paying slight dividends this week.

I have been trying things that I would rarely or never really try to attempt. Everything from Darce chokes to guillotines. The reason I have never tried these techniques was mainly, because I never found myself in the right position or I just did not think I could finish the submission.

I have also been able to get some half guard sweeps and better positioning through reclaiming guard. That is one of my weakest areas is bottom half. I have been trying to work on moving and not just laying there when I am in bottom half guard.

I have also noticed I have been running out steam during several matches. I hope I can contribute that to two things:
1) My poor diet
2) Side effect of my new medicine

I am hoping to rule out the diet aspect as I have started to clean my eating habits up. I started to track my daily caloric value and food intake. And the medicine aspect? I am just going to have to keep enduring the shortness of breath from time to time, even if it is even the medicine causing it.

I think mixing things up during training is allowing me to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

How do you mix up your training to dodge those plateaus?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blood Thinner, BJJ and Breakthroughs

I have been off the chemotherapy treatment for a little of 3 weeks and I have noticed some significant changes in the way I feel now. I have gone from just eating my little healthy snacks to craving food. I feel like the cookie monster!

Anything that stands in my way is getting devoured.. I have found out the end result of nearly three weeks of scarfing ( yes scarfing, for all you TMNT fans out there) down food have netted me nearly a 15lb weight gain. Fifteen pounds!!!

Also with me being on chemotherapy my PT/INR has been out of whack. That is what I have to get checked monthly to make sure my blood is thin enough to help reduce a blood clot or pulmonary embolism. The normal range for blood thickness should be 1-2 and someone on blood thinners, like me, should have 2-3 range.

When I went to the doctor on Friday, I overheard an excited,"Wow" the doctor had apparently discovered my blood thickness was 6.7. That is double what it should be, which meant I could have suffered internal bleeding or hemorrhaging in the head.

We scheduled a follow up for Monday and he took me off the blood thinners for a couple days and warned
me not to do any extreme projects or get punched in the head to avoid any type of bleeding.

So after a weekend with taking no blood thinners, I go back to the doctor on my day off, Memorial Day, to be told that my blood level was at 1.0 , which is now to thick and leaves me susceptible to blood clots. Now, I have to resume my medication a originally prescribed and continue to get my blood thickness checked on a weekly basis until it levels out! Yay!!

Well, since I was not at risk of bleeding I decided to hit the mats for a Memorial Day roll, we did a
couple techniques and then we commenced to roll.

I think I identified a couple breakthroughs while rolling.
1)I am allowing my hips to stay flat and I am not moving them as well as I should. I am sure there are a hundred other things I am doing wrong, but I cannot fix everything at once.
2)My posture lacks something to be desired. I need to work on keeping my head up and chest forward.
3) I seem to be allowing my opponent to get dominant grips and I am falling into their game, mostly spider guard. This leads me to be swept and the end result, they end up in dominant position working for the

I am going to work on some different hip escapes and to work on keeping moving during the roll. I think that will give me the biggest benefit of all right now and start to pull me out of this slump.

Then I will try to attack the rest of the items that I have found to give me trouble. I'll see how this work out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Back by Popular Demand!

Well, as you can tell I haven't been very active with my blog. I have kind of been in a funk the past several months, but everyone at the academy has been on me to post some sort of random sentences. I guess it is time to feed the here it is.

I finally finished my six months of chemotherapy and that was draining me of a lot of energy and basically all I wanted to do was to lay on the couch and veg. I am starting to feel somewhat normal again, and by normal I mean not being nauseated and tired. The doctor said it would take 3-6 months for my immune system to return to normal, but instead they are going to start me on a at home injection of a new medicine called Acthar Gel, which will destroy my immune system again. Exciting!!
Also... I still hate needles after all I have been through, so you can't imagine my reaction to an at home injection.

If this medicine doesn't work I am going to either Duke university or MUSC for further tests. Yay more needles!!!

Yep, I have been struggling mentally and physically with this over past several weeks and months. A couple things have helped me cope and not slip into a downward spiral. Those things are coming home and seeing my 7 month old smiling and just starting to crawl towards me, my wife, who came to see me and bring me lunches during my chemo treatments and the the best outlet of all the mats. My BJJ buddies at Swampfox are always encouraging and keep me in good spirits. They are always amazed when I show up to the academy the day after I have had a treatment or that I am even attempting to roll.

I think all the outside influences on my health has impacted me mentally on the mats. I feel I have plateaued and I am not sure why. I have recently ran across several encouraging blogs and forum posts that talk about enjoying the roll and not worrying about the tap.

My teammates have really been encouraging and are constantly reminding me that they struggled as well. It is all part of the development. That eases my mind a little and makes me wonder when will I see the other side of the mountain. I am sure one day it will click, but as of right now in the words of Rickson Gracie, I am just going to " Flow with the go," and enjoy my rolls.

Have you ever plateaued? How did you handle it mentally?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rodrigo Antunes Seminar 3/23/12

This past weekend was one of the biggest days at Swampfox BJJ. We were fortunate enough to have a world renowned Royler Gracie 4th degree black belt, Rodrigo Antunes. Rodrigo helps train some of the best in the world from Anderson Silva to the Nogueira brothers. Rodrigo befriended my friend Mark in Brazil this past January, when he was attending the Royler Gracie Jiu Jitsu Camp. Rodrigo helped organize the camp and be a guide to the campers around the Rio de Janeiro area. The friendship lasted after the camp and resulted in Rodrigo visiting our school to share his knowledge and love for Jiu Jitsu.

This was the very first seminar at our academy and we were all very excited to have Rodrigo visit and teach. He was kind enough to get off the plane from Brazil and come in and teach Thursday night class. His energy and passion about Jiu Jitsu was immediately felt and transferred over to the class.

During his instruction on Thursday night, he went over a series of techniques that linked together. The series he showed began from a grip break, to a takedown, to a side mount variation, and then ended in a submission. It was great series and to see all the techniques come together in the end, reminded me of seeing a completed puzzle after I put all the pieces together.

Friday was a day of private lessons and seminar at night. One of my 2012 Goals was to take some private lessons. Rodrigo was definitely full of energy as I stepped into the academy for my private lesson Friday Afternoon. He had just finished up a lesson and was eating some Acai

I will not discuss in detail the techniques shown in the private lesson, as it will be a lot to cover. Based off of my questions, he showed to side control escapes, knee-on-belly escapes, and some areas to improve gaps in my submission attempts. It was very beneficial to have this one on one time, and break down each technique. The hour lesson flew by rather quickly,and then it was time for the seminar.

During the seminar, he explained that Jiu Jitsu consists of self defense and sport techniques and he wanted to give of small pieces of each world.

We started off with some simple self defense techniques that focused on using the aggressors energy towards you to initiate and finish the technique.
We did some wrist locks, wrist locks to takedown, and a series of different style guillotines. Overall,very interesting techniques and very effective.

The message of using your opponent's energy carried over to the sport techniques. We went over a series of submissions attacking a defending opponent while in turtle, to some very energy efficient guard breaks and passing techniques.

This seminar was interesting because it pointed out the use of energy efficient techniques using your opponent's momentum and movements against them. Rodrigo's experience and energy
allowed him to show us techniques that countered our own classmates
strong submissions. It was a true honor to see the techniques he developed as he was placed in dangerous situations.

This was a big event for our academy and I was honored to be a part of it. Thanks to Mark and Rodrigo for such a great experience.
Rodrigo Antunes and the Swampfox BJJ Crew
Escaping side control and taking back during private lesson
Rodrigo rolling with some classmates
Rolling with the "Beast" Edwards
Never laugh during self defense