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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Combat Club Classic Road Trip and Results

This past weekend 5 of us piled into my Honda Pilot and headed up to Jacksonville,NC for the first Combat Club Classic submission only tournament. After a 3 1/2 hour ride we arrived at the middle school.

We all made weight classes we were shooting for. Even Zach, the ambitious 15 yr old, managed to be in the < 225 class by ditching his phone and wallet.

We arrived way to early, in hopes of letting Zach compete in the teens. The combined weight of both teens competing in the division did not even equal Zach's weight. So no teen competition for us, and the waiting continued until one o'clock.

Blake, Russell, and Zach got called to the mats at the same time since they were in separate weight classes and white belts. Mike B and I frantically set up cameras and divided up coaching responsibilities.

Russell's match was first out of the three. This being his first tournament, I was pretty sure his nerves would play into the match. He did unexpectedly well for his time. He controlled his opponent, ended up in mount, but got caught with a triangle after a grueling eight minutes.

Blake's match in his first tournament experience did not fair so well. His opponent an apparent Judo practitioner kept trying to set up a Uchi mata. After screaming for Blake to jump guard to avoid the throw, he ended up in kesa-gatame and he put his arm in the wrong location and his opponent caught him in an arm bar. It was still an awesome experience for Blake competing for the first time.

Zach is the only one out of the five of us that placed third. He won his first match rather quickly, he had a perfectly executed scissor sweep, which led to him catching his opponent with an Ezekial choke. He ended up losing his next match to a Kimura after a hard fought battle of back and forth. To be 15 years old and compete at the level he did against older opponents he
is going to be a beast in the next couple of years.

The only downside of the tournament proceedings was the long wait in between the white and blue belt matches. It was almost three o'clock before the first blue belt match started.

Mike B. drew a white belt fighting up in divisions with six years MMA/ no gi training. It was an epic battle and Mike threw his entire arsenal at him. There were countless triangles and arm bars
attempted and defended. It was a back and forth battle, finally there was a scramble resulting in Mike being caught in an arm bar. It was a good match to watch and made me realize how important having a good strong base and defenses could prolong the length of the match.

Now moving on to your's truly. I drew a white belt that was fighting up in the blue belt as well. When I stepped on the mats, I was not nervous at all. It was the most calm I had ever been during a tournament. The match started and I immediately grabbed a deep cross collar grip and gripped his sleeve, I was looking to try and setup a take down. He did nothing to defend or try and break my grips, so I decided to try to set up a cross collar choke, I let go of his gi sleeve and planted my hand deep in the opposite collar. I had the cross collar choke set up, all I had to do was pull him into my guard and finish the choke. When I went to pull guard, I failed miserably and he stepped around and caught me in an armbar. I think my match almost lasted thirty seconds.

I was disappointed in my performance. I was the only one to blame. I trained as hard as I could, and I ended up beating myself.

All around it was a super fun time with the guys from the academy, the tournament officials were great, and the atmosphere was awesome. The only area that needed improvement was the down time between divisions.

I am hoping for a better showing during the next tournament on April 14th. Keep training and thanks to the Combat Club in Jacksonville,NC for tournament.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are you Teaching or Training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

I have trained a countless number of people in my job over the years in many different areas, but I have never taught anyone. I never knew there was a difference between the two until last Saturday when I taught the kids BJJ class.

So what are the fundamental differences between training and teaching?

Definitions of Teaching:
• To impart skill or knowledge
• To Instruct
• To Guide the Studies of ……

Definitions of Training:
• To make proficient by instruction and practice
• To give the discipline and instruction, drill, practice, etc., designed to impart proficiency or efficiency.
• To get oneself into condition for an athletic performance through exercise, diet, practice, etc.

During class on Saturday, I demonstrated a technique and explained the theory behind the technique and then the class will drill the move to commit it to muscle memory. I gave instruction to each of the students if they were not doing the movement correctly. Sounds like a normal class?

In my mind, the wheels were turning, and I was able to see the technique differently. By teaching it, I was able to slow the technique down and see the errors I was making when I was drilling it. I was not putting my foot in the right location to trap my opponent’s foot tighter. And I had my grip wrong when breaking down his elbow for the trap and roll. I probably drilled the trap and roll mount escape well over two hundred, who knows the actual repetitions, but it has been a lot.

This is when I realized there is a difference between teaching and training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I was able to drill and break the technique down at the same time; it was the best of both worlds to me.

I started thinking about the drilling of moves, instead of seeing how fast I can get a repetition to finish. I need to start invoking the “Quality over Quantity” rule. I need to teach myself the move first and then drill it. Before I would just go into drilling the move and rarely would I slow down to think of the steps. It is amazing to me that I have been able to retain as much as I have. There should be an equal balance between the two in the end.

I know there are several instructors, students and even actual teachers that read my ramblings. What is everyone’s thought on developing an instructional mindset while drilling or training?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How to Bake a Really Tasty BJJ Cake

I was reading a Royce Gracie Interview done by Sport360. One point of the interview stuck with me. Here, is a snippet of the interview:
When asked about the teaching methods and the talent he has seen in UAE as a regular visitor to the MMA Contender Gym in Dubai, Gracie said: “There is no such thing as good students and bad students but there are good teachers and bad teachers. My instructors are good teachers and if you have discipline you will learn martial arts. Talent is everywhere, but discipline is what will get you to a high level”
What is the discipline necessary to achieve the higher level? What makes up that discipline?
I am reminded of one my Japanese co-workers analogies about attacking a big project. He compared a big project to baking a cake, all the smaller tasks that make up the project are considered the ingredients, the specifications, drawings, or the plans are the directions to baking the cake. I began to think of discipline as the cake, but I just needed to figure out the ingredients that made up the result, the cake.

Here, is a shopping list of ingredients:
Motivation- what motivates you to train? What keeps you going to class? To be able to protect yourself, losing weight, competing, or the experience of doing something you love. This is one area that makes up discipline.
Routine- Developing a routine will help you stay on track. If you develop a routine of going to class and training, you will find yourself more apt to go. Once you get into a solid routine, you can deviate from time to time.
Inspiration-Find someone who inspires you to keep training. It could be your instructor, a training partner, or a famous practitioner, Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, etc. It is the person you would look to for advice or someone you model your training after.
Goals-Discipline is nothing without goals. They are one of the main ingredients. Sit down with some paper and write them out. In the book I am currently reading The 10X Rule, author Grant Cadone states, that writing your goals down once a year is not worth doing one time a year. He recommends writing them daily and set the goals high. “People’s failure to think big enough usually means they will never act big enough, often enough, or persistently enough.”
Visualization-You have to figure out what you want in the end and see it. In the latest issue of Jiu-Jitsu Magazine, there is an article that discusses how 2011 ADCC Champion, Andre Galvoa, visualizes his matches and his hand being raised in victory at the end of a match. I have to say it must work, he typically dominates his division and is considered one of the top competitors in the world.

Once you combine all these ingredients you still will have mess that you need to some sense of. This is where the recipe, directions or your plan comes into action. This is no miracle formula for instant success; you have to follow your plan, you have to preheat and bake the ingredients. It is going to take time to develop your plan of action and it will take some time before you see the results. You can typically taste the results of the cake in about forty-five minutes, but for your discipline to taste great it will probably take you several months before you start to see results. I knew I had to have the discipline to train or to excel, but I never thought about what discipline was made up of. After analyzing the ingredients, I think I have a better understanding of the hard work necessary to be disciplined.
Now you can have your Discipline and eat it too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Vacation Plan

I don't know why, but I am super pumped about my vacation this July 4th.

Typically the wife and I will disappear for the week on a camping trip or visit somewhere out of state. This year I have managed to negotiate with her, for me and Mike B. to go train in Florida for two days!

Two days you say?Where am I training? I am still working out the details and arrangements, but looks like we are going to train at Robson Moura's academy in Tampa,FL.

Are you planning any BJJ training vacations? If so what are your plans?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Master Relson Gracie Seminar 1/25/12

I had only briefly read different articles and watched some youtube videos of Master Relson since starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a year ago. Never did I think I would get the chance to train with such a legend. So when Ben Rhodes, Owner/Instructor, CrossRhodes BJJ invited me to the event, I knew this maybe my only chance to learn from such a legend and innovator. My friend Mark and I took the two-hour trek to Bluffton, SC to attend this seminar.

The seminar started at 6:00pm, and I believe all thirty attendees were eager to begin at 5:30. We were waiting for Relson to arrive at the academy, and suddenly he arrived in the parking lot. My heart was pounding; I have never met anyone of his caliper, much less trained with them. It would only get better….

Master Relson began his seminar by choosing me to be his training partner. I was nervous and immediately broke out in a sweat. He took us through his philosophies on Street Jiu-Jitsu versus Competition Jiu Jitsu. Since his Jiu-Jitsu is deeply rooted in self-defense, he began the seminar with the basics of defending from attacking opponent and then moved into some counters. The instructions of the techniques were so simple, that the moves were easily repeatable during drilling. We covered sweeps and throws, because like Relson said, “When someone gets thrown to the ground it can break bones and end the fight earlier.” All the standing techniques were done individually with one motion, but when strung together it could end badly for an attacker.

Moving to attacks and defense for a grounded opponent was rather interesting; I had trouble with one technique he was showing so he grabbed another partner. He showed us how to block and attack, with head butts and strikes, while in the guard. This was a little more technical to me than the standup. Wrapping up the self-defense portion of the seminar, Relson stated, “That if we apply those techniques, effectively and efficiently, that no one could beat us on the street.”

The competition based techniques revolved around knee-on-belly defense; this was interesting to see how he defended knee on belly attacks and his counter moves.He showed some technical errors on why you should not use the collar has a grip for knee on belly. He also demonstrated a series of chokes to use on an opponent that is defending against the knee on belly mount.

A Total Summary:

This was a two-hour seminar, on a Wednesday night, two hours from my house. I debated for a month on whether not I should go, I decided to attend, and I am glad I did. This seminar opened up my mind to the difference and effectiveness of Street Jiu jitsu and Competition Jiu jits. Master Relson’s instruction of techniques is amazing he breaks down the moves and explains it with such detail it becomes easy. Once you realize the simplicity of the technique, you then realize how effective it can be when used. Also, if Master Relson uses you as a training partner, do not be as nervous as I was. I was so nervous I could not even hardly perform the instruction he was given.

Relson stated that he had 23 seminars in 22 days. If you can make it to any of these seminars to learn from a master instructor and practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I would advise you do so. You will never forget the experience!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bluebeltitis and Three Home Remedies

Note: I am using blogger Iphone app, Just to see how it works.

I recently received my blue belt less than a month ago, and my technique has suddenly gotten horrible. I had envisioned by being promoted, I would become this BJJ monster and just be consumed with Jiu Jitsu and finishing fights by submissions. I had visions of BJJ grandeur and now I find myself missing opportunities for submissions, matching strength with the newer people, and not moving the way I drilled the techniques. It is as if I am having a allergic reaction to getting my blue belt, Bluebeltitis.

The most two recent reaction of my Bluebeltitis, happened this past week while training. Monday, I rolled with a newer white belt; maybe 2 months training, he was using all strength in his movements. He would muscle my arm down, try to push me off him, so I found myself beginning to suffer technique and replacing with strength. In addition, an observer told me, there were several submissions I could have got, but my timing was off and I allowed my opponent to control how I reacted to him. I walked away that night frustrated with myself and just did not feel like I deserved the rank of blue belt.

Then later in the week, I rolled with Zach, who is a very aggressive 16-year-old white belt. By aggressive, I mean he moves as if he is 175 lbs, and is starting to become dangerous with submissions. He and I rolled several times and this young white belt submitted me numerous times. It actually became so frustrating, I had abandoned technique and was just trying to survive and hope for a submission. Do not get me wrong, I am glad to see him progress, but I am not happy with my performance in the situation. I jokingly told him, I was going to go put my white belt back on, because that is exactly how I felt. I have actually kept my white belt in my gym bag ever since I got promoted, just in case there has been some mistake for my promotion and I will still need a belt to wear.

Here are some home remedies I am going to try:
1) Stop Matching strength with strength- Work the technique and escape if I end up in a bad position. Bruce Lee was quoted, “The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

2) Do not force the submission- A lot of times I end up trying to force the submission, instead of waiting on the position to get the submission

3) Capitalize on my opponents mistakes- I have trouble seeing the errors in time enough to react.

In summary, people are advancing faster and getting better, and I feel as if I am standing still. I need to break through the funk I have been in the past month or so. The only remedy is hard work and mat time to get through this wall.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pride Cometh Before Tap

The plan this past Saturday was to drill some collar chokes and some escapes with Mike B., since he was resting an aggravated injury. We were busting out reps on the collar choke when a group of guys walked in the academy with gis in hand and looking to roll.

They started rolling with the others, while I was still drilling technique. I kept watching them out the corner of my eye. I had the itch to roll and was looking forward to it. I stopped drilling and made my way over to a white belt,Reggie.

We started the match and I ended up in half guard and when he went to cross face he left his arm exposed and I was able to get the Kimura. I got him again in the next match with an arm bar, and then once again with the Kimura. Needless to say I was feeling pretty confident.

After rolling with another visitor, Reggie came up to me and wanted to roll once again. I was up for it, and looking forward to it. We started the round and we changed positions several times and he ended up going for an arm bar. I defended, and as I lay there I was thinking, "I am going to let him work this and see where it goes, because my arm bar defense is good." Well he tugged, pulled, and pushed with his feet. The next thing I know, He figure four locks his own wrist, moves his foot out the way and begins a bicep slicer. If you could have seen the look on my face, SHOCKED!!

I was totally not expecting that! I tapped and then I asked him to show me the technique. Needless to say I was impressed with that technique.

I was still stunned by that move when we started rolling again, and that was all I could think about. While being distracted he was able to transition rather quickly from Side Control to North-south and tapping me with a very quick north-south choke.

I asked him how long he had trained, and he told me, " One year No-gi and six months gi." I walked away Saturday learning the lesson, no matter how confident you are in your technique, there is someone more confident in their's. 

Enjoyed training with the guys from Fort Bragg North Carolina. I hope to see you next Saturday!

78 Year Old Black Belt..

I posted this on Jiu_Jitsu_360 twitter page.  I felt the need to Share this article and recognize Mr. Gene Pace for achieving such an honor at the age of 78. He started training 15 years ago to amuse his grandchildren, and he knew the thought of quitting would embarrass his grandchildren. He stuck with it and trained two times a week. This is definitely a  motivational story and it shows that even at the young age of 78, you can still do anything you put your mind to.

Mr. Pace receiving his black belt

COSTA MESA — It's pretty impressive whenever a student of the Gracie Barra school of Brazilian jiu-jitsu gets a black belt.
Even more impressive is when one of those students is 78.
Gene Pace was awarded his black belt Thursday night during a ceremony after his regular twice-weekly class and sparring session at the Costa Mesa studio.
More than 100 of Pace's friends and supporters showed up to see his milestone.
"It was overwhelming. And last night..." Pace started with a pause, then laughed. "Well, it was a little emotional."
The Whittier resident has been training under the Costa Mesa school's founder and instructor, Mike Buckels, for more than 15 years.
"He's Mr. Consistency. He never misses a class, not ever," said Buckels, who holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu, as well as kru in Muay Thai kickboxing.
In those 15 years, before Pace, Buckels had only awarded one other jiu-jitsu black belt, and it was to another instructor.
"The best way to describe Gene is that he just executes what you teach him to do," Buckels said. "If you show him a move, he will go after that move."
Although Buckels admits that he is careful whom he pairs with Pace, as an older student Pace is not one to underestimate.
"Gene can still pick me up — and I'm a 180-pound man — and toss me to the ground," Buckels said. "He practices with people as much as 55 years younger than him."
Pace fell into the Brazilian practice after signing up for a martial arts course for fitness — and to humor his grandchildren.
"I thought to myself, 'Well, OK, they can't kill me, and besides, maybe I'll learn something,'" Pace said, laughing.
"Once I got started, I had to think, 'Do you just walk away [and] embarrass your grandkids?'" Pace continued. "Nah, you can't be disrespectful like that. And everyone just stuck with it."
Pace's interest in martial arts transferred to jiu-jitsu after meeting Buckles and liking his style of teaching.
A lot of that style resonated with Pace's finish-what-you-start attitude.
"The things learn you here are discipline and techniques, which you apply to situations, but you never walk around like a peacock," Pace said. "But, as Mike says, if someone won't back down, you finish it."

Once again, congratulations to Mr. Gene Pace for receiving his black belt!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Looks Kind of Blue!

Tonight was one of the best nights of my life. I feel like I have accomplished something. All the blood, sweat, frustration, obstacles and health issues I have over come this year have driven me to this point to get my Blue Belt.

Billy, who competed with me in our first tournament, got his Blue belt tonight as well.
After Tim, did the belt ceremony we ran the guantlet of our training partners. One minute with each and just enough time to smile in between before we got attacked by another eager opponent.

A special congratualtions is in order for all who got stripes as well, Mark, who got his 4th stripe, before going to Royler Gracie's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu camp in Brazil. Charlie and Zach also got stripes tonight. Well deserved!

This was definately not one of my 2012 goals, but it is once again a good indicator for 2012! I couldn't have done this without the support of my wife, who talked me out of quitting several times in the beginning,Tim for his instruction and knowledge, and the friends I train with at Swamp Fox BJJ, who keep me training and leaving it all on the mats.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Off to a Good Start!

Last night was the first class of 2012 and it fell in line with number five on 2012 BJJ goals. With the school closed for 10 days due to remodeling, no one able to train, and a majority of us went on an eating binges, this class was an excellent wake up call. I know I tried to remove as many of the coconut cupcakes; my wife made to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

We started class with some shrimp drills and then some arm bar drills from guard, but the class got even better after the drilling. We welcomed 4 visitors from Jiu Jitsu Nation,a Relson Gracie school, in Myrtle Beach, which is an hour or so away from Florence. These are some top-notch guys.
I missed the picture opportunity :(
The introductions allowed everyone to be able to catch their breath from the drills. Then we moved into the gauntlet of pass and defend, the next 30 minutes would be rough. The instruction given for the session was not submit or sweep the person in the guard, but to let them work technique to pass into side control. One thing I discovered doing this, that I need to work on my guard passing a lot this year. I might need to reassess this in the oncoming weeks; it could be the extra cupcakes making my techniques sloppy.

After pass and defend, it was open mat, and I wanted to roll with the visitors. I started my first roll with Josh, who is a seasoned blue belt and we went for two rounds at least. In those two rounds, I found myself on the receiving end of three collar chokes, but as I learned what not to do, I did manage to get him in side control for all of thirty seconds.

I shook his hand and thanked him for showing some errors I was making. The next training partner, Phil, was pretty intimidating to me as he sat there is brown A5 gi and his purple belt. I found out, that there was no need to be intimidated. Phil was an awesome training partner. We started rolling and I started getting submitted, once he would submit me, he would show me what happened and the submission technique. I certainly need to incorporate the two techniques he showed me. One was a submission called the “Stick Shift” and the other was arm pin called, “Hog Tie”. Both techniques were highly effective in leading me to tap.

A couple of rounds went by, and Phil ended the small submission clinic he had happening. I then went to Jeremiah, who is a veteran blue belt, and once again, the workshop was open. This was a spider guard and open guard sweep seminar. We only had the chance to roll one round, but it was a great experience to see how effective spider guard can be.

At the beginning of class, I did not want to train with these guys. Why did I not want to spar with them? I saw their belts with their years of experience and was gun shy on how I would have faired training with them. I knew if I rolled I would tap and I knew these guys were more skilled than myself, but I wanted to see what would happen or what the outcome would be. I wanted to see if I could pick up a few tricks or may be even survive a couple of minutes. I am glad these guys stopped by, training with them has set the tone for 2012. 

The training showed me something about Jiu Jitsu community and myself at the end of the day. We are all training partners and should learn from each other. I had an awesome time training with Jeremiah, Josh, Phil and JR(Who I did not get to roll with), thanks for the training and you guys are a class act.