26 Mar 2020

I was hired by Scramble to produce a set of six artworks to be used as a set of gi patches. These patches can be bought as a set here, or chosen as a free addition when purchasing the 2020 model of their semi-custom kimono here (note there are two other colour gi models as well).

Each of these animal drawings relates to a theme common in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Here are some more photos...


Scramble Semi-Custom Gi 2020 model - Meerkatsu patch set

I was hired by Scramble to produce a set of six artworks to be used as a set of gi patches. These patches can be bought as a set here , o...

19 Mar 2020

Protective eyewear with stylish looks and malleable frames reasonably functional for use drilling BJJ techniques but not for sparring.

If like me you are short-sighted and train in a grappling or combat sport then options to see clearly while working out are in short supply. Contact lenses would be an obvious choice but not everyone can wear them (I've tried but my dry eyes won't take to them) and even contacts fall out if the eye socket receives an impact. Sports protective spectacles offer an alternative to contacts and whilst not the perfect solution there are at least a number of models one can choose from.

I previously wore Progear spectacles - read about my write-up here. Over the past 8 years I've worn those glasses to every BJJ class. It's important to state, I do not spar with these glasses on and I won't spar with the new Morpheus 2 glasses. I use these spectacles to see my coach when he teaches, I use them when drilling techniques and I use them when I myself am teaching class. These protective glasses are designed to withstand impact so I can just take them off, throw them to the side, embark on some rolling, then put them on again without fear someone will step on them and break them.

My old ProGear specs broke!

Time has not been kind to my eight year old Progear specs. The rubber guards that line the earpieces have fallen off and the rubber corner pieces that are found on the outer edges of the frame are coming away. Much of the paintwork has rubbed off and most worryingly, the corner of the frame that encases the lens has broken. You can see the crack in the photo above. Finally, the prescription is 8 years out of date so I figure it was a good time to replace these with a newer model.

Rec Specs Morpheus 2
I chose this brand and this model of spectacles mainly because I was impressed with how bendable there are. In the video below the person demonstrates by warping and bending the frames with quite a lot of force.

I also liked that it was reasonably free from rubber impact strips which look tatty on my old pair.

I bought my pair from www.sportsprescriptionglasses.co.uk for £168 which includes prescription lenses and shipping. That's much cheaper than what I paid for my old Progear glasses (which were ordered through a high street optometrist). The website is easy to use and gave me options to input my prescription details, choose frame size and frame colour as well as add any other notes about my needs.

Prescription lens orders normally take up to two weeks warn the website but I was immensely impressed that my order was dealt with immediately and completed within two days!

Morpheus 2 in action:
The main things I wanted to test on these glasses were:
1. Comfort and fit
2. Fogging
3. Ability to withstand accidental impact

As stated above, I don't roll wearing goggles. The reason is that for me, wearing goggles just gets in the way during the close contact nature of grappling and they get fogged up quickly. That being said, I notice there are models of spectacles offered by the website above that is designed for judo players. If you do want spectacles for rolling in, then you'll need the models which do not have rigid arms but have an elastic strap instead. Such close fitting models tend to also have more rubber on the inside of the frame which can absorb impact better then just a rubber nose bridge which is what I have on my model. Me personally I think you'll always find these to be awkward to wear during grappling. If you can find a pair to try on before buying then that would be ideal.

The Morpheus 2 needs to be worn with the elastic strap, which attaches to the ends of the earpieces. Without the strap, the glasses are just too loose to fit on my securely. It's not a major hassle though, the strap is adjustable and once I put them on my head, they feel no different to wearing my regular pair of glasses.

But there is one annoying flaw with the strap...

Can you see how the strap touches the back of my gi collar? I only have to hunch my shoulders a little bit and the strap catches onto the collar and tugs the frame on my face, moving it off the bridge of my nose. It's really annoying and I find I have to consciously not hunch my shoulders - hard to do.

Apart from the strap problem, the spectacles overall do the job of helping me see things clearly while drilling and teaching techniques. Unfortunately they're just too annoying to use while sparring so I simply take them off and throw them to the side. Being made of very robust material I don't mind if someone accidentally steps on them (see the bending video above).

Contact lenses aren't for everyone, nor is laser surgery and the risk of damaging everyday glasses is too high in a busy BJJ gym so a pair of sports goggles is a good choice. From my experience wearing the ProGear for 8 years and the Rec Specs for about two months, I'd say they're both decent goggles. I would conclude however that the ProGear is more comfortable to wear although it is noticeably heavier than the Rec Specs.

Eyewear: Rec Specs Morpheus 2 by Liberty Sport

Summary Protective eyewear with stylish looks and malleable frames reasonably functional for use drilling BJJ techniques but not for spa...

16 Mar 2020

In 2017 I released a colouring-in book illustrated with my drawings of animals doing BJJ. You can still buy the book here.

If your or your kids are bored at home then try these ten pages from the book which you can print out and use as colouring in pages (click on the photo to access the full size drawing).

Feel free to share, print, publish in social media or use these images however you want as long as it's for personal use only.

Have fun!


Animal BJJ Alphabet - images to print at home and colour

In 2017 I released a colouring-in book illustrated with my drawings of animals doing BJJ. You can still buy the book here . If your or ...

15 Mar 2020

I've just released two new T-shirt designs at my Meerkatsu store. you can buy them here.

Here are some more photos:

Meerkatsu Brand: De la Riva Demons T-shirt and Let's Play Jiu Jitsu T-shirt

I've just released two new T-shirt designs at my Meerkatsu store. you can buy them here . Here are some more photos: ...

4 Mar 2020

The Reverse Kimura is an instructional created by black belt Drew Weatherhead, owner of the very popular BJJ humor Instagram site Because_Jitsu. I personally use the reverse kimura quite a lot whenever I am playing half guard or closed guard but Drew’s tips have helped me convert what was once a bit of a stalling grip into something far more attack oriented.

Available at: www.reversekimura.com
Free trial: Yes sign up to receive 3 free lessons from the set
Price: $79USD
Number of techniques: 36 chapters
Jump to chapter? Yes
Downloadable? No

Drew Weatherhead is an interesting chap. He’s the creative genius behind Because_Jitsu the hilarious BJJ meme channel on social media. But he’s also a BJJ black belt and owner of his own academy in Alberta Canada. Judging from this instructional and his many free to view videos on Youtube, he’s a very good instructor too. So it was no surprise to see how much I enjoyed viewing and learning from this, his first instructional to buy, The Reverse Kimura From Closed Guard.

For me, the reverse kimura is a grip hold that I play with a lot, especially from half guard but also closed guard. I like it because it really messes with your opponent’s centre line, their posture and their ability to open up your guard. But what I haven’t really been doing is progressing from this grip towards hitting sweeps, back takes or submissions…until now that is.

In the opening fundamentals chapter, Drew explains how to hold the reverse kimura, surprisingly it's not exactly like the regular kimura.

Chapter listing and production notes
Fundamentals - Setting up the grip
Fundamentals - the one arm or cheater grip
Fundamentals - Trouble shooting the entry
Ranges of use - Middle range use
Ranges of use - Close range use
Ranges of use - Long range use
Common reactions - Stripping the cross wrist grip
Common reactions - Straightening the arm
Common reactions - Combat base
Common reactions - Pull back to the side
Common reactions - Try to stack you
Common reactions - Pull straight back
Common reactions - Force themselves to square up
Close range - Peel over to back take
Close range - Pull over back take
Close range - Hip bump
Close range - Flower roll
Close range - Scissor sweep
Close range - One arm kimura
Close range - Twister Wrister
Close range - Side arm triangle
Close range - loop choke
Close range - rolling bow and arrow choke
Middle range - box lock
Middle range - slicer
Middle range - omoplata
Mixed range - sumi gaeshi sweep
Mixed range - Mir lock
Long range - Roll over armbar
Long range - Triangle
Long range - Far side armbar
Long range - Baratoplata
Long range - Meat hook arm stretch
Long range - Carnie
Long range - Darc-o-tine
Final thoughts.

Audio quality is excellent. Drew uses a lavalier mic so his vocal instruction is caught very clearly while performing moves on camera. You do hear the odd muffle noise as the gi material rubs against the mic but it’s a minor observation. The visual is excellent too and I especially love the picture-in-picture box. Whenever Drew needs to show an aspect of the technique which falls out of view, the camera angle switches so the main picture shows what he is doing while the PIP part shows the other side. It’s all edited seamlessly and without interruption. Drew himself keeps the verbal delivery short and succinct – no lengthy monologues and over-explanations – just the right amount of delivery. I also really like how each chapter begins by showing the whole technique before he begins to break it down and explain things. This is the same format as David Avellan in his excellent Kimura Trap series. It means when you need to go back to stuff you’ve watched already, you don’t have to fast forward through 10 minutes of stuff just to get to the technique recap.

The 'Twister wrister' is a neat little surprise submission. Notice also the cool picture-in-picture inset.

Technique highlights
If you’re fairly new to BJJ then I think this instructional is perfect for you. It is just a way to grab and hold onto your opponent’s arm from the closed guard. There’s no big trick or hard to learn part to it. But the key tip that Drew showed in NOT connecting your hands together (ie as you would for a true kimura grip) was a very big help to me when I was testing out his techniques in sparring. Using the grip patterns he suggested helped me keep hold of the reverse kimura for longer and I was able to transition to subsequent positions with greater success.

This set is roughly divided into three phases of the reverse kimura – short range grip, middle range and long distance variants. Each ‘version’ of the reverse kimura offers its own advantages and disadvantages and to be fair, which variant you get to use will often be dictated by how your opponent reacts. For me, the middle range and longer range were more common in sparring that the tighter close range version.

I used the reverse kimura exclusively in every sparring round for a whole week (4 sessions). The initial grip was very easy to get – often my opponent wasn’t aware I was setting it up and when they did realise they found it hard to extract their arm (again, thanks to the tip in the opening chapter of this set). I observed that for most of my training partners, the grip led to a lot of activity where they were trying to extract their arm or find a way to prevent my subsequent technique. All this effort meant they were defending and not trying to escape.

The specific techniques I found that worked best for me during my week’s experiment were the basic back takes and the rolling armbar. The latter was a surprise to me because I don’t normally get this to work normally but I was able to hit it again and again, all thanks to the way Drew explained the grip and arm switch patterns involved.

The rolling armbar from the reverse kimura was a fun move that I used quite a lot.

Final thoughts
Sometimes simpler techniques (and the reverse kimura is very simple) might get overlooked by more advanced and trendy ones. But the reverse kimura is so solid and easy to use that’s it is well worth everyone adding to their arsenal. At the very least, it offers the user another grip to use when playing closed guard as opposed to the rather predictable collar and sleeve grip.

In this instructional Drew pretty much covers all the cool things you can do with it and all the likely reactions you’ll get from your opponent. I’m keen to see if he will add more to the website – perhaps reverse kimura from half guard and also similar related techniques such as the Great White Grip (from Kit Dale) or the two-on-one grip from butterfly guard (ala Marcelo Garcia) or even the wrestler’s Russian Tie. For now, at the very modest cost of $79USD, you’ll get an excellently taught instructional that is loaded with techniques you can use with success the very moment you try them next class.


Review: Reverse Kimura System (closed guard series) by Drew Weatherhead

Summary The Reverse Kimura is an instructional created by black belt Drew Weatherhead, owner of the very popular BJJ humor Instagram si...

15 Feb 2020

I was given access to view BJJ instructional content on a newly launched website called Techniqly.
So far there are four choices:
Death by Arm Triangle by Tom Barlow,
Master of Leglocks by Masakazu Imanari,
Spaghetti DelaRiva by Tommi Pulkkanen,
X-Guard and Leglocks by Tom Halpin.
Each of the titles is offered for video on demand viewing only and priced at £29.99 - although the Imanari one is FREE to those who sign on to the Techniqly newsletter.

Use Tech15 at checkout for a 15% discount.

I pick out highlights from each of the above videos and compare Techniqly to other popular on demand BJJ instructional websites such as BJJ Fanatics, Digitsu and BudoVideos.

Techniqly Website
Overall the website is very clean and easy to navigate. Signing up was straightforward and so far, my inbox isn't cluttered with dozens of spam messages. Currently, there is a choice of just four instructionals but the Imanari one is free and is definitely worth viewing.

All the videos are available to view on demand, but you can't download them. This contrasts with BJJ Fanatics and Digitsu which does allow low-resolution copy for you to download yourself. Budovideos also annoyingly doesn't allow downloads. To be honest, it doesn't take much Google searching to discover easy ways to download VOD content to your computer or phone - a very useful feature because when watching while I am out and about I'm not always in places with decent reception. Having videos downloaded to my phone is, dare I say - a vital feature.

One final word on the navigation, the chapter breakdowns are very useful, I can click and skip straight to the part I want to view without needing to use the forward or rewind button. This facility is also shared with BJJ Fanatics and Digitsu but not Budovideos nor on Tom Barlow's original content from his website...more on that below:

Tom Barlow - Death by Arm Triangle
I've got a few of Tom's instructionals from his own website - TomBarlowOnline - and they've all been excellently taught and very useful for my own game. I've also attended some of his seminars and he's an excellent instructor. One annoying aspect to Tom's downloadable content is that he sends you a whole video and it's a pain to have to skip forward or back as there are no chapter markers. Death by Triangle, however, benefits from chapter markers so I hope he continues to produce new content using the Techniqly platform rather than his own.

Not surprisingly, with Death by Arm Triangle, Tom puts out another stellar instructional. He's such a good communicator and explains things really well without going overboard. Tom covers all the basic set-ups and entries plus a couple of common reactions one can expect from the opponent. For me, I don't use the arm triangle very much so it was refreshing for me to watch and be inspired by Tom's video to add it more into my game - especially now that I've watched Tom's helpful tips on how to sink in a truly effective arm triangle as opposed to just cranking the neck harder.

As an hour-long introduction to the arm triangle, there's more than enough content here to satisfy beginner and intermediate players and even more experienced folk can pick up tips thanks to Tom's extensive experience in competition. If this subject really fascinates you then I can also recommend Ryan Hall's Arm Triangles DVD which takes this topic and adds further layers of detail.

Master of Leglocks by Masakazu Imanari
Imanari is a legend on the combat fighting world and is particularly famed for his devastating leg attacks. In this video, Imanari runs through at rapid pace his favourite heel hook, toe hold and straight ankle techniques. Although he speaks in Japanese, the subtitles are ample enough information to understand what he is saying, mind you, he is not a man of many words, so you could even just skip reading the subtitles and learn by observing. The highlight for me is his eponymous 'Imanari Roll' which he demonstrates from the ground against a standing opponent.
Overall, it's very brief (running time just 15 minutes long) but since it's free (if you sign up) then you can't really complain.

Spaghetti DelaRiva by Tommi Pulkkanen
Since I am predominantly a gi person, I was looking forward to learning from Tommi's video the most and he doesn't disappoint! His instructional's central theme involves using the DLR to take the back. Thre are just 8 different techniques but spread out over 45 minutes, Tommi adds in a lot of detail and explanation so you really get a good sense of how to make them work successfully. The highlight for me is one of my favourite 'surprise' submissions - the Caio Terra footlock. I thought I knew how to do this technique but Tommi adds a few more snippets of information that was new to me and hopefully will help me get an even better success rate with it.

At this stage, it's worth giving a mention to the production quality. I really like how Techniqly uses a handheld camera operator. He gets to walk around, zoom in or out and pan around as and when needed. There are no fancy gimmicks or video effects, it all just works nicely. There isn't much to say in the way of lighting, it looks like it was all filmed in someone's BJJ club so the lighting is just whatever is there - unlike say Caio Terra's Modern Jiu Jitsu videos, which have crazy high-end lighting and production quality...Techniqly's basic lighting doesn't bother me, I can see what is needed to be seen. One huge positive that I like is the audio which is really well captured. I hadn't really thought audio quality was much of a big deal, as long as I could hear the instruction, but the Techniqly videos seem to capture it really well, it feels like you are having a private tutorial and the instructor isn't having to shout to get his voice across.

X-Guard and Leglocks by Tom Halpin.
Ireland's Tom Halpin serves up a very tight tutorial focusing on a single themed set-up: x-guard to saddle to leg attack. It's a popular and high percentage 'modern game' combo.
Tom begins the first portion of the set outlining the kneebar and heel-hook finishes that he favours. The main portion then looks at setting up these attacks by getting to the saddle position using x-guard as the entry point. The final portion of the set shows Tom's x-guard set-ups. In some ways the sequence Tom chooses is backwards to how most people teach - he shows the end finish first then works backwards. I've heard some instructors mention that they favour this method rather than a sequence in chronological order. The reason is that students like to know what their objective is first of all and then learn how to achieve that objective. It's an interesting take on teaching methodology that I might try myself (I'm usually the chronological sequence kinda guy).
Overall a great set taught really well by Tom, this would serve as a very good beginner's guide to the submission grappling non-IBJJF style of jiujitsu ruleset.

Final thoughts
Techniqly have made a great start with the launch of four very good instructionals - one of which is free. I'd personally like to have the option of downloadable content, ideally by downloadable by chapter like I can on the Digitsu platform. This might seem trivial to some, but to a London underground traveller like me, there are vast moments during the day where I have zero reception. And I only have time to watch content when I'm travelling, not when I'm home on my desktop. I'd also like some sort of app for my phone - like how Digitsu have an app, Grapplearts (although that's very clunky) or the very excellent Lapel Encyclopedia app, although I guess accessing the website on the mobile is acceptable at this stage.
Other than that, the platform shows great promise for the future as its inventory expands.


Review: Techniqly (Tom Barlow, Masakazu Imanari, Tommi Pulkkanen, Tom Halpin)

I was given access to view BJJ instructional content on a newly launched website called Techniqly . So far there are four choices: Dea...

5 Feb 2020

*** UPDATE 15th March 2020 ***
The Phone case sale was a great success.
During the whole of February 2020 I offered to the public phone cases featuring Meerkatsu artworks. Each phone case sale yielded a profit margin of $13.50.
Total phone case sales = 48
Total funds raised from sales = $648 USD
Estimated payment in GBP (4th March rate = 0.78 pounds to one dollar) £505.74
Payment date will be 15th April. I will pay an advance of £350 from my own money and then pay the remainder on the 15th April.

Other stats:
Most sales by country: USA (22), UK (11), Germany (5), other countries all had one sale per territory including Brunei of all places, yay go team small nations.
Best selling design: shark surfing turtle (14),  Kimura (6), toehold (5), Unicorns (5), Wristlock (4), all other designs 3 or less.

As of 15th March, the total funds raised by all the fundraisers of Artemis Grapplethon 2020 is £2,886.93
(See the JustGiving account page)


Original post...

Once a year I raise funds towards the Artemis BJJ Bristol Grapplethon fundraising event. This year the Grapplethon will be raising funds for the Refugee Women of Bristol. You can read more information about the event here.

Just like last year, I will be offering strictly limited edition artwork as phone case designs.
BUY THESE DESIGNS HERE. The campaign will end 7th March, which coincides with the beginning of the Grapplethon event.

Who are Fine Art America? Fine Art America (FAA) are US based but operate world wide (actually printing is outsourced to a company in your territory). They are probably the biggest print-on-demand company in the world.

What phone models? iPhones: 5c, 5, 5s, 6, 6Plus, 6s, 6sPlus, 7, 7Plus, 8, 8Plus, X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11Pro, 11ProMax, Samsung: Galaxy S4, S5, S6, S7, S8 Sorry other brand phones are not supported by FAA.

What’s the difference between slim and tough? Slim is a nice tight fit but I don't think it'll protect your phone as much as the toughened model when dropped on the floor. The tough model is thicker and bit more chunky. The printing quality appears the same on either version.

Why are they limited? These designs are among my artistic pride and joy. In the past these designs have appeared on rashguards, many of which have long sold out, so they’re rare. Some have also been available as limited edition prints for previous fundraisers. To ensure the exclusive appeal I’m limiting the sale to just one month (ends 7th March).

Why are they so expensive? I have put a £10GBP (approx $13USD) mark up on each phone case. Every penny of this will go towards charity. This does not include the shipping costs.

When will I get mine? Depends on your local set-up but I got mine in about 4 working days.

Can I get last year's designs? Yes, I've included last year's designs too.

Since you don't offer cases for my (Huawei, Pixel, Nokia, One2One, Sony, Motorola etc etc...) can you do stickers instead?
I won't offer stickers unfortunately. I can't justify asking for £25ish ($35ish) for a cheap sticker. This campaign is intended to raise funds for charity but also offer to you a mobile phone case that is a sturdy and robust limited edition product worth paying for.

Buy my limited edition phone case designs here!
The campaign closes 7th March so don't delay and help a good cause out at the same time!

Thank you everyone!



Artemis BJJ Grapplethon 2020

*** UPDATE 15th March 2020 *** The Phone case sale was a great success. During the whole of February 2020 I offered to the public phone ...


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