Category 1

16 Sep 2018


Today I had the immense honour of competing against the legend Marc Walder at the National Masters Tournament in Hereford. It was my first competition as a black belt and my first for over five years (my last competition was as a purple belt). I had so much fun!

The actual match lasted the full five minutes with no points scored for either person. I pulled guard, tried to sweep and grab things while Marc tried to pass. To the untrained eye it probably didn't appear to look like the most dynamic of matches but I can assure you, there were a hundred and one things going on, much of it unseen - from the grip exchanges to the constant pushing and yielding etc. At one stage I am sure I accidentally punched him in the chin, I apologised, he said it was cool and then we carried on trying to submit each other. It was all very polite and sporting.



Ultimately Marc deservedly was awarded the referees decision as he was the more dominant player. Me? I’m just so happy I got to compete again. It was such a buzz.

Well done also to my student Steve who took silver in the master 4 middle heavy division. Steve and I both drove up together the night before and shared stories and good company together which helped take away a lot of our pre-comp nerves. And there was no doubt I was quite nervous entering this tournament, not only because it was my first at black belt, but I had the task of meeting the highly renowned Marc Walder - who made history as being among the very first UK BJJ people to have earned their black belt.

Photo Credit: ADP - A Different Perspective Photography


The great thing about this tournament, being a Masters only event, is the commitment from the organisers in trying to attract as many of the older competitors as possible. I saw Master 5 and 6 division competitors competing (Masters 1 = 30+, Masters 2 = 35+, so Master 6 would be 55 and over...incredible!) I'm Master 4 (49 years of age) and yet I did not even feel remotely like I was the old guy there haha!



Massive thank you to all my training partners at Mill Hill BJJ, Boxmoor BJJ and St Albans BJJ, to my PT @Trojan_pt  - thanks to his work with me during all those cold winter training sessions, I felt in terrific condition, strong and plenty of gas in the tank. Thanks to me lovely Borehamwood BJJ Club for those who came to support and all the wonderful messages sent to us, it really helped. Huge thank you to my coach Nicholas Brooks for being such an inspiring force. Also to Dave Coles and his team who have done such a superb job building this competition up into such a successful event.




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Tournament: National Masters BJJ Champsionships 2018 - my debut comp as a black belt

Today I had the immense honour of competing against the legend Marc Walder at the National Masters Tournament in Hereford. It was my firs...

30 Aug 2018


Summary
Great value plain white BJJ gi from Scramble which includes 8 artistic patches for users to customise as they wish. This gi was light, comfortable and well constructed with only the issue of the pants shrinking a touch more than I would have wanted.

Where to buy
This gi can be purchased through the Scramble webstore and other Scramble sellers worldwide.
Price: £64.99 plus shipping
In addition to white, they also offer black and blue models. There is also a female cut version but this does not come with patches.

Review: Scramble Standard Issue Semi Custom Kimono

Summary Great value plain white BJJ gi from Scramble which includes 8 artistic patches for users to customise as they wish. This gi was ...

26 Aug 2018


My friend Can Sonmez, who writes the Slideyfoot Blogsite, runs the Bristol Grapplethon and runs Artemis BJJ, invited me down to his first ever Artemis BJJ Training Camp - a weekend long series of seminars with BJJ, judo and yoga instructors. Can's idea was to replicate a smaller version of the very successful BJJ Globetrotter events that he regularly attends. Can wanted his version to run over a shorter time period than the week long Globetrotter events and become a more reachable event for those who are unwilling or unable to travel abroad. I was only there for the Saturday to teach a one hour slot and the rest of the day was taught by Tom Barlow and Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner. On the Sunday session, there were sessions taught by three more BJJ black belt instructors.



Location
The Exercise Club on Whiteladies Road in Clifton is actually some sort of converted Church building. It's wonderful here. Everything inside is wooden and there are multiple stairs and levels. It looks like the kind of place where kids could have hours of fun playing hide and seek. The main training room is upstairs with jigsaw mats covering enough of an area for around 30 students on the mat...which is around the number who turned up today.


Spinal twists, Strong Shape, Weak Shape
The session I taught was built around the concept that Nic Gregoriades teaches which he calls 'strong shape, weak shape'. It's one of the simplest concepts in BJJ. It is so fundamental to so many positions and techniques yet it is not really given much mention by other instructors or students. When Nic first showed this concept in his DVD (read my review) I immediately began examining everything I did when rolling and it completely transformed the way I executed my techniques. I've been applying this concept ever since and I wanted to share my own interpretations and experiences when viewing BJJ through the eyes of spinal alignment.



I began the session by getting everyone to lie on their backs and sitting up trying to simulate a cross collar choke. It's a simple warm up exercise. I then asked everyone to scissor their legs so the top leg was lying over their bottom leg - all while still keeping shoulders flat on the ground. In this twisted position most people found the attempt to sit up and cross collar choke very difficult. The same concept was applied but this time lying on their belly and performing a dorsal raise. Reasonably easy to do when flat on the ground, but if one leg was crossed beneath the other, much much harder to do.

I then took two defensive positions: defending back control and escaping from under mount position - and applied the strong shape weak shape concept. My goal wasn't to teach the actual techniques on how to escape but to ask people to monitor how out of alignment their hips were in comparison to their shoulders.



I then applied the same concept to some guard play: in closed guard your opponent faces very squarely on to you but apply a sleeve drag and you'll notice how it twists up your opponent's shoulders. This makes him vulnerable to subsequent attacks and sweeps (I showed the gift wrap and pendulum sweep). From half guard, I showed why letting your opponent get the underhook and crossface was a bad idea: because it twists your body up with shoulders facing one way and hips another.

I finished off my set using the half guard pass and a smash pass as an illustration of applying the weak shape on your opponent to get to where you want.

An hour flew by and it was perhaps too short a time for me to cover all the areas I wanted. However, it was really fun to be able to reach out to lots of new faces with my own interpretations of familiar themes and concepts.


Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner
Chelsea is a World Champion at brown belt and has placed at multiple major events at black belt. A graduate from Atos gym she was awarded her black belt by Andre Galvao.
Chelsea began her session showing us the kimura finish from seated north south position starting from side control (and uke does not have a frame under your chin). The key take away for me was the detail on how Chelsea placed her knee as a wedge against the back of her uke, but her foot was planted some distance away. It created a powerful and stable base from which to sit on her uke and apply the kimura. Tom Barlow also added a very useful tip where you push your uke's head down just before you step over the head. This push on the head as you isolate the arm being attacked created a lovely strong tension (and a bit of pain!)

Chelsea then moved on to a series of attacks based around the kimura trap - something I've only recently started learning and practising myself. Chelsea began her sequences from the top half guard and showed how to extract her trapped leg using the kimura trap principle. Once freed she showed several scenarios and finishes including: moving to the top seated north south kimura (as per the previous technique), taking the back when uke tries to sit up...and finally the armbar when uke sits up.



Tom Barlow
Tom is a black belt under Braulio Estima and is also a World Champion. He began his session on how he likes to control the back position: seatbelt grip placed very high up on uke's body, elbows wedged in tight, hooks embedded very tightly. He asked us to try this holding position for a minute each while uke tried to move around and escape. We had to feel the burn in our arms such was the tightness Tom implored! This exercise then progressed to holding on to the back with just seatbelt grip. Finally we drilled the chair sit as uke rolled from one side to the other.
Tom then taught two seemingly basic attacks from the back - but loaded with superb high level details that instantly improved my knowledge of them. The first was the lapel choke from the back after falling on to the 'wrong' side in back control. Tom's version had a very interesting and useful tip on that first lapel grip. He likes to avoid placing the choking grip very high up the collar, preferring a lower position and fist placed flat onto uke's chest. Another great tip was squeezing ones own thighs tight when finishing the choke. It made the finish a hundred times more powerful!
Tom also showed the kimura grip from back control, how one could convert that into a wristlock and or an armbar. When gripping like this, Tom prefers to hold the fleshy part of uke's palm rather than the wrist. It gives him more attacking options and denies his opponent the ability to defend. All fantastic details that helped me a ton.
BTW you really ought to catch up on the technique videos Tom posts on his website as they're very good: https://tombarlowonline.com/

Q&A
Tom and Chelsea completed their session by offering to answer any questions. The audience were not shy and they fielded many technique based and preparation based questions. I liked Tom's thoughts on how to attack a flying armbar (he suggests not to go for the armbar at first, but go for a flying triangle and then convert to an armbar - as the flying armbar was more risky - also you need to make sure to break uke's posture and carry your weight). Chelsea answer a question about the over/under pass. Her version she does not lie flat on the bottom leg because it was still too easy for uke to remove it and triangle you back. With Chelsea's version drives she stays active on her feet, drives forward and picks up uke's bottom leg and traps it between her own legs. I've not seen this version before but it made instant sense to me. The two answered further questions, one memory for me was watching Tom demonstrate how Chelsea's kimura trap techniques and his back attack techniques from today could happily all link together as a non stop attacking system which would inevitable catch your opponent. He also showed just s snippet of his reverse triangle from the kimura trap which I really liked the look of. He suggests it's a much higher percentage finish than the head scissors.


Final word
I really enjoyed teaching and learning at the Artemis camp. I think the format worked perfectly and the vibe was fantastic. There was time to roll in between teaching slots or if preferred, time to chat and make new friends. For the cost of just £50, students were able to train over two days with up to six BJJ black belts plus the addition of judo and yoga added into the mix. My only minor criticism is that the room was just a touch too crowded and bodies were clashing on some of the more wide ranging sweeping techniques. But that's a nice issue to have as it shows how popular this event was. I look forward to this becoming a regular fixture in the UK BJJ calendar.



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Seminar: Artemis BJJ Training Camp August 2018

My friend Can Sonmez, who writes the Slideyfoot Blogsite , runs the Bristol Grapplethon and runs Artemis BJJ, invited me down to his firs...

9 Aug 2018



My latest Meerkatsu store product is the Triangle Girl Tshirt. Buy it here.

I wrote a short blog piece on how this design came about over on my art blog.






Meerkatsu brand: Triangle Girl Tshirt

My latest Meerkatsu store product is the Triangle Girl Tshirt. Buy it here . I wrote a short blog piece on how this design came ab...

7 Aug 2018


Summary
Scramble medium sized backpack is large enough to carry all your every day jiu jitsu training uniforms and accessories. With padded back area and decent strapping it is a well made, functional and stylish item for transporting your gear.

Available from: Scramble webstore
Cost: £54.99 GBP


Review: Scramble Kimono Backpack

Summary Scramble medium sized backpack is large enough to carry all your every day jiu jitsu training uniforms and accessories. With pad...

15 Jun 2018


I took a photo of all my BJJ belts and then overlaid a few landmark moments in my life. It's funny but life and BJJ interweave themselves so tightly, I cannot separate the two.
What's your journey?



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Everyone's Journey is Different

I took a photo of all my BJJ belts and then overlaid a few landmark moments in my life. It's funny but life and BJJ interweave themse...

20 May 2018


Bit of a belated post but a few weeks back I visited Wave BJJ in London as they were hosting a 24 Hour Grapplethon. I was keen to attend because I wasn't able to make it to the Artemis BJJ Grapplethon event in February (which btw raised a whopping £5,211 for Tap Cancer Out).


Grapplethon 2018 - Wave BJJ London

Bit of a belated post but a few weeks back I visited Wave BJJ in London as they were hosting a 24 Hour Grapplethon. I was keen to attend ...

19 May 2018



Seph Smith is an American black belt under Ryan Hall. In fact, fans of Ryan Hall's videos will recognise Seph as the guy who Ryan demonstrates his techniques on. Seph runs his own academy - Upstream BJJ - is a regular competitor and is generally recognised as an excellent instructor and exponent of BJJ. More importantly, he is a black belt at forming goofy faces in many of his selfies - an important trait for an elite level black belt.


Seminar notes: Seph Smith at Basingstoke School of Martial Arts

Seph Smith is an American black belt under Ryan Hall. In fact, fans of Ryan Hall's videos will recognise Seph as the guy who Ryan d...

20 Feb 2018


I have placed my Divine Bow & Arrow artwork onto Redbubble for one month only. All profits from the sale of these prints will go towards the Grapplethon Tap Cancer Out fundraising campaign.

You can purchase your print on Redbubble here.

I have restricted the products you can print this design on to just framed or unframed art quality giclee prints. You have a choice of sizes to print. Since this artwork will be raising funds for charity, I have set the asking fees a little higher than with my other Redbubble artwork prints. Remember, this piece of art will only be available for one month. On the 20th March 2018 I will withdraw the item from sale. After this deadline, I will count how much has been raised and donate the revenue to the 2018 Grapplethon Tap Cancer Out campaign. You can read more about this year's fundraising efforts here.








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Fundraising: Divine Bow and Arrow art print by Meerkatsu on Redbubble

I have placed my Divine Bow & Arrow artwork onto Redbubble for one month only. All profits from the sale of these prints will go to...

19 Feb 2018


Summary
Popular Korean gear company releases another artfully decorated BJJ kimono. This gi fitted me very well and the screen printed interior design withstood a half dozen washes.

Details
Available on the Muaewear website here.
Price: WHITE U$169 / BLACK U$179

Disclosures: I have no business or personal connection with Muaewear. I was sent this gi for review and all comments are my own personal opinions.

Review: Muaewear Vital Batch #003 Gunshin (in white)

Summary Popular Korean gear company releases another artfully decorated BJJ kimono. This gi fitted me very well and the screen printed i...

28 Jan 2018


Summary
Small brand based in South Korea offers a range of novel, creatively designed fightwear. This gi model, the Deltawave, features a unique weave design plus some cool graphical elements that make for a rare and unusual gi model.

Details
Deltawave is available from the Strata online store.
Cost: 189,000 (Korean won) roughly $177USD or £125GBP
Also available in Black.
Disclosures: I have no business or personal connections with Strata.

Gi Review - Strata 'Deltawave'

Summary Small brand based in South Korea offers a range of novel, creatively designed fightwear. This gi model, the Deltawave, features ...

13 Jan 2018


Each year, Artemis BJJ hosts an annual fundraiser. The event, known widely as a Grapplethon, brings together members of the BJJ community from far and wide to roll over a 24 hour period.

This year, the event will raise funds for Tap Cancer Out - a registered charity in the USA who donate all funds to cancer research.

More details about the event can be found clicking this link. Hope to see you all there!



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Event: 2018 Bristol Grapplethon Details

Each year, Artemis BJJ hosts an annual fundraiser. The event, known widely as a Grapplethon, brings together members of the BJJ community...

 

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