30 Nov 2009



My interview and article with Penny Thomas is finally out in Fighters Magazine - December issue which is in shops now. Photos by James Olouch-Olunya of Combat BJJ Photography.



More of my martial art media output to come in the next few weeks so watch this space!!

My Penny Thomas Interview is finally published!!

My interview and article with Penny Thomas is finally out in  Fighters Magazine - December issue which is in shops now. Photos by James O...

22 Nov 2009




Braulio is the hottest name in town right now. The current European openweight, ADCC openweight and World heavyweight champion is not only an awesome competitor, he's a darn good instructor too. Just ask his very loyal and adoring students at the Birmingham Gracie Barra Academy. So I was very keen to have a butchers at his latest set of BJJ instructional videos courtesy of the CageFilm website...

Braulio Estima: Invisible Jiu-Jitsu Instructional Review

Braulio is the hottest name in town right now. The current European openweight, ADCC openweight and World heavyweight champion is not onl...

20 Nov 2009

Photo: Simon armbars Seymour, the ninjutsu way..ouch!

Last night I attended a ninjutsu seminar given by 12th dan Simon Yeo. Readers may recall that I interviewed Simon about his views on traditional martial arts and BJJ. You can read the interview at On The Mat here. So when the offer of training with Simon cropped up, I felt it was the honourable thing to at least see and learn a few tricks from the ninjutsu master.

Simon Yeo seminar

Photo: Simon armbars Seymour, the ninjutsu way..ouch! Last night I attended a ninjutsu seminar given by 12th dan Simon Yeo. Readers may re...

17 Nov 2009

The Fightworks Podcast - published my official review of the Kent BJJ Open Tournament, Enjoy!
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Kent Open: Fightworks Podcast Review

The Fightworks Podcast - published my official review of the Kent BJJ Open Tournament, Enjoy! .

16 Nov 2009



So here's the thing: I know in advance at the Kent BJJ Open, that I have only one opponent in my bracket (seniors under 76kg blue), and so for the past week or so I've planned my strategy and how I'm going to fight my one fight. And, remarkably for me, cometh the day, I actually win the match. Woohoo! But the organisers offer us a 'best of three' scenario. And now suddenly, my hard fought win looks tentative. Will I man-up and fight my best of three, or will I chicken out, take the medal and run?

Kent BJJ Open 2009

So here's the thing: I know in advance at the Kent BJJ Open, that I have only one opponent in my bracket (seniors under 76kg blue), an...

13 Nov 2009

Thanks to the splendiferous Urban Dictionary, I now know the meaning of the phrase, to 'man up'.

This weekend I will 'man up' by competing at the Kent BJJ Open in the Under 70kg Senior Blue Belt category, a weight division that is two above what my natural one is. But I'm not at all worried or nervous, in fact I'm really looking forward to it. The Kent Open is one of the 'biggies' of the events calendar in the UK, so there will be lots of great action to see and people to meet.

As per usual, your budding jiu-jitsu reporter will be there to record the event and write up my experiences.

Oooooosssssssu!

Man up!

Thanks to the splendiferous Urban Dictionary , I now know the meaning of the phrase, to 'man up' . This weekend I will 'man up...

10 Nov 2009

Some gis are born great, others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them...here are five awesome pimped up blingin' gis that I DARE you to wear!



Five Blingin' BJJ gis

Some gis are born great, others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them...here are five awesome pimped up blingin' gi...

7 Nov 2009

East London's Brick Lane: ahhhh! the piquant aroma of curry restaurants, the hustle and bustle of shoppers at Spitalfields market, the slamming of bodies on the mats...eh?

Oh yes people, Brick Lane has a new landmark, a factory for fighters - London Fight Factory in fact. And this Meerkat sampled a couple of hours of hard training at the LFF this Saturday, and just about lived to tell the tale...

LFF is actually located on Hanbury Street, a side road off Brick Lane. The entrance is up a flight of metal stairs that lead up to a roof terrace and door. The main training room greets you immediately as you open the door. Walk through the graffiti decorated dojo and down the stairs and you get a second training room, toilets, showers and changing rooms. Then, almost hidden behind the glass screen and coat hangers, lies a third training room with weights and muay thai equipment. This place is huge!


LFF owner, and brown belt, Luiz Ribeiro was taking the mat today. As the Kent Open was only a week away, today's session was all about set position sparring and free sparring. We began with a series of invigorating and l must admit lung-busting warm-up drills, interspersed with lots of press-ups. One chap told me that today was an easy warm-up session. Really? Could have fooled me, but then I was too busy catching my breath to respond properly.

Set position sparring consisted of 6 guys in the middle and the rest of us queuing up to attack or escape the guard, half-guard and turtle positions. And there was a lot of queuing since I counted at least 27-29 bodies on the mat. That's a pretty good class size by anyone's standards!

I tried taking some photos in between training, but the fog of evaporated sweat clouded the room, so much so, that my camera failed to take any decent non-misted up photos. But the lads rolled hard and were very technical. I was pleased to be able to spar with some light feathers too - one chap I remember from years back when I attended my very first BJJ lesson at Carlson Gracie. On that occasion he was kind enough to school me in the ways of the mat and face-barred me into submission many times. Today, he was kinder (or rather, I did not fall into the same beginner traps as I did 6 years ago) and he only foot locked me into submission.

Throughout, Luiz would shout and yell at the combatants like a drill Sergeant, egging them on the do better, improve position or just generally work harder. One drill I liked was the two minute last gasp must submit drill. Just as it says on the tin, you spar with your opponent and you MUST attempt a submission within two minutes because you are several points behind. Failure to do so results in 40, yes 40 press ups for the loser.

Luiz is a very funny guy. He has a nick-name for practically everyone and really injects huge amounts of passion and enthusiasm into the session. The spirit and atmosphere of the team was very strong.


After class, I chatted to Luiz about how LFF came about and what he plans for the future. It's a neat little interview and I hope to post or publish it somewhere soon.

And, as seems to be the custom at LFF, I happily joined the lads for a post-session Nandos and chatted some more about BJJ. I had a great time there and I would like to wish them every success with the academy. Next week, star black belt 'FinFou' will be visiting, then next year, the head man himself, Ricardo Vieira will take the mat. With so much going on in their seminar calendar, I think I'll definitely be popping down again to LFF.


London Fight Factory, 82 Hanbury Street, London, E1 5JL
Website: http://www.londonfightfactory.com
Contact: Luiz Ribeiro - 07944 574046

Academy Tour: London Fight Factory

East London's Brick Lane: ahhhh! the piquant aroma of curry restaurants, the hustle and bustle of shoppers at Spitalfields market, the ...

6 Nov 2009

Photo: Nothing 'basic' about Royce armbarring your limb off!!!
I’ve been having some interesting conversations recently on the subject of the basics in BJJ. First of all, instructors these days tend not to talk about ‘basics’ per se, but ‘fundamentals’. The theory being that basics implies that you do them, then forget them as you move on to more advanced stuff. But the perceived wisdom in the BJJ world is that those ‘beginner’ techniques form the building blocks that stay with you for the entire duration of your BJJ development, thus a black belt will refer to his ‘fundamentals’ just as much as a white belt would.

I was talking in depth to one of my training partners who has been training for a few months now. She’s frustrated that whilst she is learning a whole ton of cool new techniques, she feels her knowledge of basics are letting her down and she still gets caught a lot as a result.

Oh boy, what to say? Well, here’s my tuppence on the subject of basics/fundamentals:


First off, anyone who has trained in a traditional martial art will know the routine – you learn your techniques, you drill them, you get graded and you move on to the next belt. This is a tried and tested way to learn, no problem with that. But for some reason, it doesn’t work with BJJ.

In BJJ, yes, you learn your core basic positions and drill the common escapes, positions, submissions, counters etc. But you don’t move on as you progress up the ranks in the same way as traditional system. You still drill those core fundamentals like there was no tomorrow. The difference between an experienced player and a newbie is that they’ve been doing the fundamentals for longer and thus are able to use them more effectively, and also to use them as a platform upon which to play with more advanced variations. In fact, you could argue, that a very good player will understand the fundamentals to such a deep level that they could use them to win World Championships, someone like, ooh Roger Gracie.

As a fairly mediocre hobbyist blue belt, I’m hardly the best person to be dishing out technical BJJ advice. There are lots of blogs who do that much better, see: Conceptual BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood and Aesopian to name but a few.
But I’ve rolled for enough years to see the common mistakes that newbies and white belts get themselves in to, and I try to offer my thoughts at the time as to how they can improve. I keep it short and succinct in class, I’m not the instructor after all, but I believe we’re part of a team so if I can help, I will.

So when I roll, the fundamentals that I personally try to always remember can be summarised very roughly as these:
  • Is my opponent unbalanced in any way? If he isn’t then I try my damnest to make him or her unbalanced. Sounds simple, but of course, a huge proportion of my rolling time is spent making this happen. Good grips and effective hip movement are key, something I can often forget. Controlling the opponent's head is vital.
  • Am I moving around enough or am I being lazy and just waiting for things to happen? My common thing is I am lazy and I just lie there in guard (or just sit there in the rare mounts I obtain) and wait. But one look at, say purple belt Daniel, and I can see he does not stop moving. He does not let anyone get grips on him and by moving all the time, he opens up new options.
  • How many ponts of contact does my opponent have on me, and visa versa? My coach Nick often says that in order to make a good sweep happen, you need at least three points of contact on your opponent. At least three. So if I can involve both my hands in gripping and plant at least one foot in a good position to lever my opponent, then I know I am doing ok. If he is doing that to me, and I am just flapping around, then that is bad for me.
  • Am I making it easy for my opponent to open me up? I defend a lot. I have no choice as I am small and, yes lazy. But it helps if I can keep my elbows tucked in tight and stop him getting any space or leverage. But I must not stay still, as it just delays the inevitable. So I have to keep moving and looking to escape. Again, sounds easy, but practically all my BJJ development so far has been about me trying to escape. you just kind of get use to it and it becomes part of your game.

...and so on I guess. Blimey one could write a book on this...oh, they have, dozens of them.

Anyway, those be just a few thoughts off the top of my head. Not exactly comprehensive but they mean a lot to me - they are the absolutely boiled down to the bone constantly nagging thoughts that go through my head, every time I roll.

Thanks to David Onuma, who has begun an ace new blog, for giving me this article idea.

Anyway, just a week to go until I compete at the Kent Open, you can laugh at my 'fundamentals' then. Ah well, in for a penny in for a pound as they say...

What are the basics of BJJ?

Photo: Nothing 'basic' about Royce armbarring your limb off!!! I’ve been having some interesting conversations recently on the ...

4 Nov 2009



I came across this photo for the forthcoming edition of Ultimate MMA magazine and I thought it was really cool.

So I posted it on the forums and was unpleasantly surprised by some of the responses – some of which have since been removed. So this blog entry is about the BJJ and MMA fighter Cristiane Santos, more popularly known as (Mrs) Cyborg.


According to her website, she earned the nick-name ‘Cyborg’ when she started dating Evangelista Santos, himself a well-known MMA fighter with the nick-name Cyborg (the two are now married).

Her Wikipedia entry states she has an MMA record of 8 wins and 1 loss.
Her most high profile fight was against Gina Carano in August [click here for fight report]. The fight was the first time that a major MMA promotion (Strikeforce) has featured a women’s fight as their main event.
She is also a BJJ purple belt and recently fought Penny Thomas in the semi-final of the ADCC in Barcelona. In my interview with Penny (out in shops soon folks!), she talks of her in glowing terms. Mrs Cyborg is clearly a very competent and highly regarded competitor and fighter.

So why the controversy?
One quick google search of her name brings up a large amount of commentary from various people – stuff about her looks, her sexuality, her personality – basically lots of vile and misogynistic comment. Quite awful really.

Now this type of banter is common to sports in general. Look at the kind of remarks that athletes such as Fatima Whitbred and Martina Navratilova have had to endure over the years, and more recently, Caster Semenya.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the negative, let’s look at the positives to this amazing character, woman and person:

Here’s a funny video where she puts to sleep a reporter:



Here is a highlight reel.

Her MySpace page:


Mrs Cyborg

I came across this photo for the forthcoming edition of Ultimate MMA magazine and I thought it was really cool. So I posted it on the fo...

 

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