The Killer Bee Kimono custom gi offer is the rare chance for fussy gi addicts like me to customise their own gi with near-perfect jacket and trouser dimensions. It is a fantastic idea that is backed up by superb quality of construction and ace customer service. A few minor quibble aside, this is a gi that I will cherish and enjoy wearing for a long time to come.
I work with many different fightwear companies as a freelance designer. I have no business or personal connections with Killer Bee Kimonos. I bought this gi as a gift to myself with no expectation from the brand owner of a review. All views expressed are my own.
A superbly constructed genuine hemp product, the Battlepack Mini hides a veritable Tardis-like amount of storage. This bag was not only able to store a mutlitude of everyday training items, it was also very comfortable and portable enough to wear on long journeys thanks to its convenient overall size and padded zones. The only drawback is the non-waterproof material and lack of included raincover (it has to be bought as an extra).
I made ten art prints of my Heavenly Wristlock artwork and posted them up on Ebay. Within two minutes all ten had sold out. Here is a breakdown of the costs, revenue and amount raised:-
I offered the prints for £75 plus shipping (£6 for UK buyers, £15 for International buyers).
TOTAL raised including shipping amounted to: £873
Cost of printing: £179.64
Cost of parcel tubes: £10.98
Paypal fees: £34.82
Ebay fees: £87.70
Cost of postage: £ 89.70
TOTAL COSTS: £402.84
So as you can see, the pure total raised from the sale minus costs (£470.16) was less than the £500 I wanted. So I made up the shortfall from my own money and donated it to Can Sonmez's Grapplethon account (see photo at top).
The Bristol Grapplethon in aid of Kinergy is held on 12th-13th April at 8 Aldermoor Way, Longwell Green, Bristol and rolling begins at 2pm. If you want to take part, there is still time to organise yourself. Visit the event Facebook page for further details.
Limited edition art print of only 10
Size A2 (420mmx594mm)
Features Meerkatsu’s Heavenly Wristlock artwork.
Printed on 255gsm Somerset fine art paper using archival inks.
Each print signed and numbered by the artist.
Buy it now fee of £75 plus shipping - available via Ebay
All profits donated to Grapplethon 2014 in aid of Kinergy
Today I attended the High Wycombe BJJ Open, the debut offering from Kleos Grappling - a tournament series founded by some of my academy team mates. The High Wycombe event was staged at the Wycombe Judo Centre, a full time matter judo academy.
There were some amazing matches and the winners of the blue and advanced (purple, brown and black belt) absolutes were able to take home a gigantic hammer as their prize.
A week ago my instructor mentioned that Dustin 'Clean' Denes would be visiting the academy and he enthused that I should go. I hadn’t heard about Dustin before (to my eternal shame) so I did a little prior research. The story of Dustin can be read here on BJJ Heroes. Briefly, he is an American who, as a young man about to enter college, dropped everything to live and train in Brazil. Not remarkable in itself until you begin to listen to the stories. How he submitted Marcelo Garciaand Jeff Monson among many high profile scalps, how he carries a fearsome reputation as a warrior on the mat. I simply had to find out for myself...
A reasonably plain gi made by the company behind Tatami Fightwear, the Fudoshin offers judo level uniform strength within a BJJ cut uniform. The thick and heavy materials along with formidable reinforcements make this a tough BJJ kimono for those who prefer a heavier set of features.
Full Disclosure: I was hired by Tatami Fightwear to design the logos and branding for Fudoshin. I was paid a fixed fee so I receive no royalties based on sales of this gi. The views expressed in this report are my own and those of my guest contributor - Mark O Brien.
It's here! Finally, my very own BJJ uniform under my own brand. I call it the Heavenly Kimono.
You can buy it on my website www.meerkatsu.com price £100 plus shipping from Friday 21st March 2014. It goes live from 8am UK time.
The first x100 orders from my meerkatsu store will receive a signed art card (see below)
Here is everything you need to know about this gi...
Loose fit jogging pants with Scramble branding - these joggers are stylish and uber comfortable. A few minor tweaks would make them perfect, but for what they are, they make a fine pre-training outfit for hanging around the gym or slopping around at home.
Patches O'Toole is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu themed merchandising company started by Australian based BJJer Aengus Ryan. Primarily stocking tattoo-themed patches for adornment on jiu jitsu uniforms, there is also a few t-shirt designs. I chatted to Aengus about the brand and what he hopes to achieve with the company.
This year, my friend Can Sonmez, owner of the Slideyfoot blog and of Artemis BJJ,is hosting another 24-hour Grapplethon in Bristol on the 12th April 2014. See the poster for the address.
This year's event will benefit the charity Kinergy which offer professional counselling for survivors of sexual abuse and rape. The charity was chosen because of the important work they do and because fellow Artemis BJJ instructor Donal Carmody is himself a Kinergy counsellor.
If you fancy taking part, have a look at the Facebook Page and you may also wish to donate, or set up a fundraising page at Just Giving.
People raising funds will also qualify for a t-shirt version of the poster I made - see here:
Grapplethons are really great fun and if you plan on lasting the full 24 hours, or if you fancy setting one up yourself, then have a read of Can's handy Grapplethon guide.
Finally, art nerds may want to read my work-flow in creating the design for this event here on my art blog.
I love drawing primates. They are very popular animals within jiu jitsu and MMA circles - and for good reason; monkeys, chimps, gorillas and all manner of primate animals are the animals that are closest to humans in evolutionary and genetic terms. They are also highly intelligent, social and dexterous - aspects that work highly in your favour if you grapple.
So as you can see, I've depicted many of them in the past few years. All of the primates in the box above have been printed into either a rashguard or a t-shirt. Some of them have been printed as Meerkatsu (ie my own brand) items, some of them have been works for other companies.
UK based Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi making is ten years old! I say this because as far as I am aware, the very first British company to make a BJJ gi was Evolution Fightwear - who released their eponymous debut gi way back in late 2003 and beginning of 2004. The photo above shows Dave 'Speedy' Elliot wearing that very first gi!
Andy Smith, owner of Evolution, tells me:
"Evolution began in 2001 and the first BJJ gi I believe was not until the end 2003 beginning 2004 I only made 12 or something like that as a test run and they went well ,they were made in Brazil, I can only find one picture of Dave Speedy in it which is dated Oct 2004 (Im sure this was the first design )
I don’t recall any other UK brands at the time."
While Evolution were most probably the first, they were soon followed by a number of brands - all of whom have been pivotal in shaping the fightwear and jiu jitsu clothing scene we have today. Here is a brief timeline and rundown of the major players in the past ten years:-
Improved version of the popular Zero-G range by Tatami Fightwear sees a gi that rivals their own Estilo model. The design elements are much improved and the cut is a little bit slimmer than previous versions. I still prefer my Estilo over the Zero G, but, apart from price, there's little to really set these two apart.
I have worked for Tatami Fightwear on a freelance basis over numerous projects. I have had no input into this product.
Zero G V3 gi is available at www.tatamifightwear.com and various other vendors.
Price: £81 (black model), £77 (white model).
Super colourful fight shorts designed by comic artist Bong Abad and featuring the creative characters of Art Junkie. The shorts are sturdy, well reinforced and provide ample room for movement. Very wide velcro waistband did feel a bit uncomfortable.
I have worked with Bong Abad before on several art collaborations.
I was chatting one day on Facebook to someone about coats of arms and we all agreed that a coat of arms dedicated to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be a great idea for me to try. So here it is, the Ministry of Jiu Jitsu t-shirt - available from 13th February from my store www.meerkatsu.com
We printed it onto our very popular soft style, ringspun, high quality cotton t-shirt and we used a lightly metallic water-based soft ink. The printing company did an outstanding job! See the photos here:
US based 93 Brand with two of their latest gi releases. The Charlie is an ultra lightweight black dyed pearlweave gi while the Tau is a super soft white goldweave gi. Both gis offer differing levels of fit, comfort and aesthetics with the Charlie gi being fairly stable after several washes and the Tau shrinking in some regions by a large margin.
Jonathan 'JT' Torres is one of the rising stars of the BJJ tournament scene. Although still young (25) he has actually been a black belt for over five years. JT has often reached the upper levels of the majors but last year he switched teams (currently at Atos) and took gold at the World NoGi Championships and Bronze at ADCC . Last weekend he reached the finals of the IBJJF Europeans where he met his team mate Claudio Calasans in the final. It was a close match that went to a referee's decision where JT was awarded silver. I was so super keen to meet and learn from him at today's seminar.
Taking the Back
JT is probably mostly known for his impressive guard work and in particular his use of the De la Riva guard. He admitted himself in the Q&A at the end of the seminar that he mostly pulls guard in a lot of his matches over his career. But it would be wrong to assume that's all he does. JT passes guard very well - observe this video about 1min in and again at 4:20 as a random Youtube video I picked.
Tonight, JT was keen to teach us several of his favourite guard passing techniques that resulted in taking the opponent's back. JT began the session by showing how he attacks a turtled opponent. The incorrect or rather, hasty, method would be to attempt to secure both hooks in while the opponent is still on all fours and in turtle. JT showed that it was better to secure the seatbelt grip first, then use your knee inserted under his body and roll him over. JT explained numerous small details that made this technique work far more efficiently than it would first appear.
With the fundamental back take position covered, JT next moved onto the main portion of the seminar - the X-Pass.
I must admit I'm not a huge technique nerd so I had never heard of the X-pass before. Once JT demonstrated of course, it seemed like something I had been taught in the past called the bullfighter pass, though I believe the two are actually different.
Here is a video showing the X-pass as taught by Saulo Ribeiro:
JT showed us three variations on the above pass. I really liked all three but actually what intrigued me the most was the set-up to secure and defuse the opponent's open guard. I could see very much how it could be used against a De la Riva happy guard player!
Version 1 of the X-pass is the classic variation where you kick your leg backwards and then forwards to bypass the opponent's leg. Prior to that however was a method to really secure the opponent's other leg.
JT's second X-pass version gave us an option to move our passing leg the other direction. I liked this one as it involved hugging the opponent's legs very tightly which was infuriating for the guard player. The third X-pass variation was a combination of versions 1 and 2 which was particularly sweet against a less static opponent.
After drilling the X-pass techniques, JT ran through the body triangle lock and then the bow and arrow choke. Unlike the more commonly attempted bow and arrow chokes, JT demonstrated how he prefered to hook underneath the opponent's nearside leg instead of the more common grabbing of the trousers around the knee area. He also showed the use of your feet to control the opponent's hips to prevent him escaping. The end result was a bow and arrow choke of immense tightness, with your outer leg lying over the top of the opponent's far shoulder and arm...rendering any defence of his useless. Even from this position, a transition to armbar is more than possible.
One of JT's nicknames is the Spiderman. Not,as you might imagine, because he plays spider guard, but because that was his favourite comic book character. JT explained each of the techniques with clarity and patience and observed each pair to correct them as they drilled. He was happy to answer any questions and probems we encountered. At the q&A session afterwards, he answered technique specific questions as well as his thoughts on the way Atos has helped him propel his career to new heights.
Overall, a terrific session where I learned details of a high percentage open guard pass plus lots of excellent little tips on other fundamental positions. My big thanks go to JT for his excellent teaching, to Kevin at Basingstoke School of Martial Arts for hosting the event and a big shout out to everyone who was there. I look forward to when JT swings by the UK again!
Jiu Jitsu Journal is a logbook/planner to help busy peeps organise their lives so they can plan their time more effectively in reaching for jiu jitsu goals. I was hired by the founders Erin Herle and Gianni Grippo to produce the front cover illustration.
Regular followers will already know that I design a range of honey badger themed items for Tatami Fightwear. To celebrate the forthcoming honey badger rashguard version 2014, I have a great little prize package to give away...
Last year I was commissioned by new fightwear brand Combat Skin to design a series of Chinese style unicorn animals - known as the Qilin (also kirin in Japanese mythology).
I drew three different qilin postures and a huge variety of colourways for each. The designs were combined in various ways to produce a rashguard (see photo above), a t-shirt, tights, shorts, patch and a BJJ gi. Pretty much an entire grappler's wardrobe!
Here are photos of the t-shirt and patch: -
Note the gold ink used on the qilin - shimmery!
The gi patch is really vibrant, kudos to the patch maker for selecting such zingy thread colours.
Here are press shots of the tights and the gi design:
All of the above items are available via the COMBAT SKIN STORE.
When my sample of the gi arrives, I'll write a full photographic showcase of the details on this blog.
My thanks to Combat Skin for trusting me with such a very large assignment, I look forward to seeing grapplers rock the qilin range around the world!
18 year old UK based tattoo apprentice Jodie wanted to turn her sedentary life around. In February 2013 she walked in to Warrior Martial Arts in Congleton and began her BJJ journey, instantly falling in love with it.
A sensible diet along with a tough training regime ensured that she lost an incredible 52 kilos (115lbs) in just 11 months!
Jodie told me one of her aims was to slim down enough so she could fit into the Heavenly Wristlock rashguard and she finally hit that goal in December (see photo). In the process she has won gold at British NoGi Open, raised a ton of money at charity running events (having never run before) and forged new friendships along the way.