31 Dec 2014
2014 has turned out to be a fantastic year for all things Meerkatsu. My own brand fightwear and clothing line-up included a number of major releases which were thankfully very successfully received. I still managed to complete several big freelance design assignments and I even found time to review some gear too. BJJ training has been reasonably consistent - with my work and family commitments, I'm never going to be one of those guys who can train every day but after 11 years of training BJJ, I still love every session.
Here's my year round-up in more detail:
In March my first ever own brand gi - the Heavenly Kimono in black - was released. Although I have designed many gis for other brands, releasing something under my own steam was a nervous feeling. I needn't have worried. This gi model sold out quickly, with many of my loyal and dedicated followers purchasing directly from my site within hours of release. The follow-up gi, the Heavenly Kimono in white, was released in October and received a similar positive response from customers.
Rashguards and grappling tights (spats) remain wildly popular items from my store. This year I released two major themes: peacocks and tigers. Both products allowed me to truly expand on my imagination and go a bit crazy with the application of my artwork.
I also released several patch designs, vale tudo shorts, a kids size t-shirt and several adult size t-shirt designs. Each one a labour of love and an expression of the joy of jiu jitsu.
You can see my range here at my Meerkatsu store.
Finally I starred in my own film! It was a short promotional video made by Hannah Jell that explained briefly more about who I was and what things I did under my Meerkatsu banner.
Freelance Design work
This year I was still able to work my freelance designs for other fightwear brands. The Andre Galvao signature rashguard I designed for Kingz definitely tops the list of high profile BJJ celebs I have worked for. Andre wore the rashguard at Metamoris III.
Other major freelance design releases include the Zodiac Gi from 93 Brand, QiLin Warrior range from Combat Skin, Black Tortoise design from Kenka Fightwear, Dragonfly II from Tatami Fightwear, Katanapus gi from Strike Fightwear, plus a fair number of other projects that were all fun and awesome to be involved with.
I still write. Each issue of Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine features my regular humorous take on the BJJ world.
Despite a hectic weekend schedule running my kids around from one place to another, I still managed to get to a few BJJ seminars. In March Dustin Denes visited our academy, in July Roger Gracie hosted Gregor Gracie, Igor Gracie and Andre Monteiro. In January I travelled to Basingstoke to learn from JT Torres.
As with previous years, I am committed to helping out good causes with fund raising and art contributions. The Heavenly Wristlock poster I auctioned off raised over £870. The Bristol Grapplethon, run by Slidey, raised over £4,500 and participants earned themselves a t-shirt designed by me. In September the BETA Academy in DC raised over $10,000 for charity, a good proportion of that through the sale of my t-shirt. A kids charity event over in Florida featured my randori kittens design for their poster. Finally, in November, Gravity BJJ in Canada raised over $5,000 for Movember, this time my t-shirt was available for general sale, raising money for prostate cancer research.
Thank you to all my supporters, customers, clients, friends, training partners and all the good people who share my BJJ experiences. Happy New Year and I wish you all the best for a prosperous, successful and happy 2015.