Jiujitsu seminar for charity

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Sunday the 8th of March 2015 marked a fantastic first for me. This was the first time I got to do something though jiujitsu. I have always loved and enjoyed jiujitsu and being around those who share the same passion but today, I taught a small seminar at a friend's academy and all the seminar proceeds went to charity. Two charities, to be specific.

For quite sometime I have wanted to do something that involved jiujitsu, my friends and good will but not really known how to or even where to start. I kept hearing about seminars in the US being held for charity but they were always by big names. Famous black belts with accolades and such.

One day I expressed my desire to a few friends who own academies and they immediately showed their support to the idea. Rob Dixon, a man with great vision, who is the instructor at the Gracie Academy affiliate in Stockport, UK was the keenest on the idea. We talked about this towards the end of last year but life got in the way so we agreed a March date, which at the time seemed so far away but as I got in the car this morning I was full with excitement and joy: I was doing something fun, enjoyable and completely selfless.


Rickson & Royler Gracie showcase what jiujitsu is

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Royler is coming to London next weekend (Sunday 15th March for a seminar at his black belt Eddie Kone's academy, 1-4 pm) email  info@ekbjj.com  For details.
"What do you do at the gym?" 
"Gracie jiujitsu"
"What's that? Is that like karate?"

As jiujitsu practitioners, we have this conversation countless times. My friend Don and I have discussed the best strategy to answer this question, several times. The best we've come up with is to show them this particular video of masters Rickson and Royler Gracie demonstrating the full repertoire of Gracie jiujitsu in Japan. 

I believe the main strength of this video is that, as the presenters say, Rickson and Royler are so incredibly smooth in their performance and that the techniques can indeed be mastered by any one. 

A video on berimbolos or the rubber guard, impressive as these are, wouldn't have the same visceral effect on the average Joe. 

What's your go to video to showcase jiujitsu?



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BJJ / Grappling Tips: How to open / pass the closed guard

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Guard-top work is a major topic within jiujitsu (Base and posture, Guard Opening…etc.). One of my favourite closed guard opening techniques is a standing one, where you use inwards knee pressure on the hips to lock them in position and, if you need it, reach the opposite arm back to open the much-weakened guard.

If you're not sure what I mean, here's an excellent instructional clip by Dean Lister:


BJJ / Grappling Soap review: The Athlete Bar

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Disclosure: I know the people behind The Athlete Bar. I have no business connections with the brand.

I have used this soap on and off for several weeks. The Athlete Bar is a SLS free soap bar whose benefits are primarily derived from all natural ingredients, all of which are detailed on the practical, see-though packaging. Being a SLS free product, it won't quite lather up as much as most commercial soap, nor should it. In commercial soap the lather is added and doesn't enhance skin cleaning. In fact, it will dry your skin so if possible, do avoid. The Athlete Bar, on the other hand, carries a range of essential oils that cleanse and moisturise naturally and you will feel that post shower.


BJJ / Grappling Academy Visit: Lucio Sergio Lifestyle BJJ in Manchester City Centre


As a high-school teacher, half term is a great opportunity to go around to new BJJ academies and sampling the fantastic instruction on offer. One such local school is the brand new Manchester City Centre branch of Lucio Sergio Dos Santos BJJ Lifestyle.

Lucio is a well established and decorated Gracie Barra professor and, aside from heading the Manchester branch of Gracie Barra, he spreads the art through his own brand Lucio Sergio BJJ Lifestyle.


BJJ gi review: Globetrotters Travel Gi

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BJJ Globetrotters Travel Gi gets reviewed. Wow!

So exactly how thin is a completely ripstop travel gi from the BJJ Globetrotters, spearheaded by captain Blond-fro Christian Graugart, well thin enough to comfortably wear under my work suit.  


BJJ in Rochdale: Open house at Rocha BJJ

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With my man Kamil
My friend and BJJ purple belt (not to mention 2nd degree judo black belt) Kamil Tomaszewski who runs a very welcoming judo and jiujitsu academy up in Rochdale, north of Manchester, asked me to come help him a week or so ago at his open house. I met Kamil when he came down to an interclub a while back and we started chatting. I found out he too is from a Royler Gracie lineage (through Eduardo Rocha, 4th degree black belt). We also co-refereed at other events so it was really nice to be able to go up and offer any help I could.


BJJ / Grappling Tips: Everybody Makes Mistakes in Jiu-jitsu

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It's just that mistakes made from mechanically advantageous positions tend to be more forgiving.

A recent BJJ discussion centred around countering someone whose tripoding to Ezekiel choke you from inside your own closed guard. It's not the best or smartest move but it can still work. It can at least make you open your guard for them. But It's still a mistake, at least for beginners, for many reasons:
  • Committing the weight forward,
  • Making the legs light,
  • Committing the arms to their upper body,
  • Leaving their hips free...etc.

The counters we discussed involved:
  • Sweeping,
  • Armbarring,
  • Taking the back.
  • Attacking the legs (oh yes!)
All well and good. The thing is, I often catch myself make stupid mistakes like these (committing too much weight forward...etc.) but usually from mount or side-control. I lean too much in this or that direction or commit my arms too early to a technique and I often get away with it. There are just simply wider margins when you have the positional advantage. They can still throw you, joint-lock you or take your back. It's just so much harder, more obvious and hence easier for you to stop or even counter.

It becomes my responsibility to keep my ego in check and realise that I simply got lucky. When I'm in mount and I almost get thrown off or even worse, it really is my responsibility to go back and check why that even came close to happening, rather than pat myself on the back, content that I got away with a quick last-second recovery. "All's well that ends well", but why did it even get to start, never mind come close to ending?

While this might be the kind of thing that corrects itself with lots of mat time, I think it's a perfect opportunity to put the Part Time Grappling mentality to test. Why not learn 3-4 things at once if you can?

Here's a great example of attacking from a mechanically advantageous position: Ezekiel choke from half guard top by Roger Gracie:



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BJJ competition: 2015 IBJJF European Open - Lisbon, Portugal.

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How did I do at the IBJJF Euros?

Spoiler alert: I didn't get the gold, silver or bronze medals. But I did make it to the quarter finals!

The 2015 IBJJF European open championships took place late January in Lisbon, Portugal and I was lucky enough to go there with a large group of friends from Fighting Fit Manchester. I personally competed in the brown belt, medium heavy, masters II category which, the IBJJF announced the week of the event, ran on the Saturday. Not knowing when I'd be on, I booked three days off work (Thursday, Friday and Monday) and got to Lisbon on the Thursday already with a return ticket booked for the following Monday. This meant I could check out Lisbon as I'd never been and had heard many good things about it but also watch some of my friends put it on the line. I know a lot of people get excited about watching the big names compete, but for some reason that doesn't really excite me too much. Maybe because I know these big names are all full time athletes. Maybe because I have no major emotional investment in them, as opposed to when my friends compete. Either way, I used my free time to investigate the city, as you can see from my pictures.


BJJ academy visit: Elements martial arts - Brighton & Hove

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BJJ back belts Yousuf Nabi and Miad Najafi (CFS BJJ / De La Riva International) run a very smooth operation down in Brighton and Hove. The academy offers a range of martial arts that reflects the two competent black belts' own rich background and breadth and depth of knowledge:


I was recently in Brighton, a seaside city in the very south end of England, to celebrate a friend's birthday but I couldn't face coming all the way down here and not hook up with these guys for a session, so I packed the uber light "Globetrotters Travel Gi" that Christian Graugart sent me along with my Sunday best.