August 31, 2009

Book Review - "Combat Sports in the Ancient World"

As some of you know I spent a couple of weeks on vacation recently, and one of my favorite pastimes is to read. I do not do enough of it at home (something I need to be more diligent about) so I find vacation time is perfect for catching up on my long reading list. One such title I had been longing to dive into is "Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture" by Michael B. Poliakoff.

At first glance one might brush this off as being some kids college thesis with little relevance nor sustenance in regards to a subject that is all but untouched in academia. I cannot lie, I do believe this book was the result of Mr. Poliakoff's extensive study of Ancient Greece and Egypt. But nothing could be further from the truth in regards to readability and insight into our modern culture and how we view violence and competition in all arenas not just the combat sports.

Broken into eight chapters, and filled with an exhaustive collection of photo's of various vases, paintings, and sculptures "Combat Sports" tackles a subject that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been addressed... the combative sports of Ancient Greece and Egypt. Stick fighting, boxing, Pankration, and wrestling were at one time the staples of Near East society. Though the civilization of the ancient world has gained a little popularity with movies such as "Troy" and "300," the combative arts such as wrestling and Pankration have rarely been discussed in academia nor pop culture, even with the booming success of MMA (keep in mind Pankration is the earliest example of MMA, superseding any other martial art in all other cultures).

It fascinates me that even hundreds of years later our drive to compete and test our mental, emotional, and physical fortitude has not died down one bit. It could be argued that combat sports are at an all time high with grappling, BJJ, wrestling, boxing, MMA all taking off in the last few years in terms of popularity! Even Pankration is making a huge comeback worldwide with rumors of future Olympic dreams.

Interesting chapters such as "The Nature and Purpose of Combat Sport," and "Combat Sport, Funeral Cult, and Human Sacrifice" fill in the remainder of the book. Poliakoff's insight into society in general, especially the effects of combat sports in both modern and ancient society makes for a fascinating and engrossing read. Though by no means a technical manual, Poliakoff is able to piece together (he offers a caveat that the word "probably" will be excessively used throughout) ancient personal journals that gave broke down details of specific wrestling techniques including pins and submissions.

A very easy read (as long as you do not try to keep up with all the Greek names) for both martial artists as well as sports fans throughout the world, as Poliakoff offers fascinating insight into the development of our culture and our evolution (some may argue DEvolution) as a society of rather violent beings. If you are at all interested in the development of ancient martial arts, (and are tired of the questionable fable based Asian "histories") I cannot suggest a better book. Well worth the $20 you will spend, and who knows it may motivate you to compete and push yourself to the next level. Either way it is a win-win situation.

"Society may well have found the hero difficult to accomodate, but he was an embodiment of passions whose existence the Greeks were too honest to deny." - Poliakoff pg.129


*For those interested I found another related article by Poliakoff re: the use of sport for political and social gains can be found here*

August 30, 2009

UFC 102 Quick Results

Main Card:

-Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Heavyweight Bout) - Nogueria unanimous decision rd. 3

-Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva (Light-Heavyweight Bout) - Silva KO 1:35 rd. 1

-Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt (Middleweight Bout) - Rosholt head & arm choke 1:30 rd.3

-Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia (Middleweight Bout) - Marquardt KO :21 rd.1

-Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (Light-Heavyweight Bout) - Vera unanimous decision rd. 3

Preliminary Card:

-Ed Herman vs. Aaron Simpson (Middleweight Bout) - Simpson TKO :17 rd. 2 (knee injury forced Herman out)

-Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Chris Tuchscherer (Heavyweight Bout) - Gonzaga TKO 2:27 rd. 1

-Justin McCully vs. Mike Russow (Heavyweight Bout) - Russow unanimous decision rd. 3

-Tim Hague vs. Todd Duffee (Heavyweight Bout) - Duffee KO :07 rd. 1

-Nick Catone vs. Mark Muñoz (Middleweight Bout) - Munoz split decision

-Marcus Aurelio vs. Evan Dunham (Lightweight Bout) - Dunham split decision

August 27, 2009

BJJ Blue Print

My coach Brian Johnson has always advocated creating our very own BJJ "Blueprint" for growth and development. What a "blueprint" includes is techniques (submissions, transitions, sweeps, counters etc.) for each and every position (offensive as well as defensive) one can find themselves in when grappling (in 1/2 guard / opponent in your 1/2 guard / mount / you are mounted, etc.).

Not only does this give the practitioner a "game plan" but it also allows us to train when not training. In other words you can work on your blueprint while watching TV, or realizing after class, or on the bus into work. It has been proven in sports psychology that visualization, even when not engaging the body physically, has paid dividends for professional and amateur athletes alike. Engaging the mental / emotional factors is key in development and the learning process.

I have written out my game plan on a whiteboard so I can easily erase and move / replace techniques and moves as I develop. But John Will, one of our grand teachers at NWJJA, has made available his version of the BJJ Blueprint which can be found here:

I cannot tell you how much this methodology has improved my overall game, as well as my mental approach to the complex art of BJJ. BJJ can be a daunting venture for beginners as their is SO much information that one can be overloaded quite easily! A BJJ Blueprint (regardless of which ever one you use) in invaluable, and John Will has done the majority of the work for you with this free download. Print off multiple copies, and/or use a pencil so you can adjust your blueprint as you get better and evolve.

Train hard, train smart,

David Meyer Interview

On the eve of Abu Dhabi's NW Regional Tournament here in Seattle, Stephan Kesting of has made available an AMAZINGLY great interview with one of BJJ's most accomplished competitors, and our grand teacher David Meyer!

Click here for the link to the interview!

This interview is over an hour long, but is packed full of information that most take years to attain, not to mention this is a FREE podcast! You don't even have to pay for the info!! If you are thinking of competing, a coach of competitors, or a seasoned competitor yourself, you will take away a plethora of advice and information from this interview.

This is a great supplement, and preview, of what you will find in David's pivotal book "Training for Competition." If you have not picked up this text then you need to drop everything right now and buy it! Regardless of your interest in competing the information in "Training For Competition" will improve your ground game ten fold (which reminds me, I need to review the book for this blog!). No one has written a book that covers this kind of information and David's willingness to share his insight cannot be overstated!

Though he is humble, David is one of the foremost competitors in the grappling arts the world over! One of the "Dirty Dozen" (first 12 non-Brazilians to attain black belt status in BJJ) under the Machado brothers, David Meyer has competed in every major tournament in the western hemisphere and continues to compete to this day! An inspiration to us all!


August 26, 2009

Inside Kung Fu - Martello Tribute

Thanks to Dave Cater at Inside Kung Fu magazine for printing a tribute submitted after the passing of our friend Mike Martello in June. It is the Nov. issue and can be found on page 35.

You should be able to find IKF at most local news stands and bookstores. Locally Top Grocery even started carrying it!

Rest in peace Mike,
Jake and family

NW Abu Dhabi Regionals Now Open!

It has been announced that the NW Abu Dhabi Regional will take place at the Green River Community Center in Auburn, WA. Sept. 19th 2009.
Registration can be found here.
I admit the page is rather difficult to navigate, but all rules, regulations, and pertinent information can be found at:

Tim Cartmell's Latest Book

I am finally back from my "iron liver" training trip (more on that later), and now I play the perpetual game of catch up! I have a lot to share so lets get right into it.

Martial artist, BJJ champion, sought after coach, and my teacher Tim Cartmell of Shen Wu Mixed Martial Arts based out of Orange County, CA. just released the second edition of his excellent BJJ text "Passing the Guard" co-authored with Ed Beneville.

I have yet to get my copy, but you can check out the Amazon page where one customer left a great review. I will due a full review once I have thoroughly read it. I own the first edition of course, and it truly revolutionized grappling based book production. The new edition has well over 100 more pages, chapters on training drills, as well as guard attacks. All the pictures were re-shot (I saw many of them in the final stages of the preparation of this edition, and they are 100% better than the first edition!) as well.

Train hard, train smart,

August 7, 2009

Brian "BJJ" Johnson cleans up Abu Dhabi Regional

In what seems to be becoming a broken record, NW Jiu Jitsu's very own Brian Johnson cleaned house in the expert lightweight, AND absolute divisions last weekend at the Abu Dhabi Regional tourney in Vegas.

Brian had some tough fights, but BJJ was more prepared both mentally and physically, and submitted everyone of his opponents!

Here is a personal message from Brian:
"I just wanted to take a minute and say a heartfelt THANK YOU!!! It is truly a blessing to be able to do what I do and call it a job, call my friends students, and my mentors coaches.
I love to teach jiu-jitsu... I love to to train... I love to learn... I love to compete. None of which would be possible without all of your support.
I do want to say a special thanks to John Will and David Meyer. Without those guys there would be no NW JIU-JITSU ACADEMY. If you are school owner and you don't have their BJJ and MMA curriculum, BUY IT! If you have an interest in competing I strongly suggest you pick up David's book on the subject. These guys are very good... no, GREAT, at what they do and I owe them a lot."

Here are some of Brian's fights from the competition (we did not get all of them because technically videotaping was forbidden!):

August 6, 2009

Lovato Jr. new blog

Grappling great Rafael Lovato Jr. has launched a new blog for those interested in grappling, BJJ, or the martial arts in general. Lovato is considered one of the brightest young stars in the grappling world winning title upon title, as well as earning himself an invite to the Abu Dhabi Finals this year.

The blog will include insight into his personal game, as well as addressing technical issues for all grappling situations. Should be great!


August 5, 2009

"Qi" demo gone awry

This kind of silly bullshit HAS to come to an end! Sure, lots of crazy things cannot be explained by science, but that does not mean we should buy into the whole "Qi" craze and then try to machete our fucking arms! This guy is an idiot that has been living a self perpetuating lie all of his life in regards to his training. Sure, sure he claims he has done this dozens of times, yet we are supposed to believe that the ONE time a camera is rolling, it all the sudden does not work!?!?
Qi kooks!

Eddie Bravo Seminar Review

Once again grappling icon Eddie Bravo visited the Emerald City to share some of his no gi submission wrestling knowledge. Playing to a crowd of under 20 (which was great for us as we got all sorts of personal attention) Eddie went over some more advanced rubber guard strategies, techniques, and troubleshooting. Big Thanks to Ivan Salaverry who hosted Eddie at his place in South Lake Union.

Several of us from the NW Jiu Jitsu Academy (Johnny Fu, me, Eddie, and Jesse "Doc" Chang in the above pic) went to support the seminar and learn from Eddie. It was my fourth or fifth time training with him, but Johnny and Jesse's first time. Everyone took something great away from the seminar.

For those of you who do not know, or perhaps you are one of his critics, Eddie has an amazingly technical mind, keen eye for detail, and in my opinion is a grappling genius. During his instruction Eddie shares comical stories, the evolution of the given technique including how he failed and worked on certain aspects of the movement, as well as finer details of each and every movement. Bravo is very direct and honest, freely sharing the strengths and weaknesses of his personal game and sharing how we can learn from his mistakes. This attitude shows a level of confidence and comfortability that is rare in a testosterone driven art!

He emphasized the importance of the over hook and spoke about the evolution of the technique via his master Jean Jacques Machado who has no fingers on his left hand, so therefore cannot rely on gripping the gi and has to use the over/under hook as his control position. Eddie offered that this is the reason JJ dominated the early Abu Dhabi's as JJ was very accustomed, and comfortable, with the sweat and grease of wrestling opponents with no shirts on getting his grips via the under hook, or over hook and then working the sweep.

Eddie is also a rare gem in that he actually cares if the students are getting what he is teaching. Always open to questions, he also has people come out and demonstrate what they just learned. Not to put pressure, or to humiliate folks, but rather to teach us (observers) how to watch for each step, and to offer his critical eye to each and every aspect of the technique.

We covered a ton of submissions from rubber guard, as well as transitions into spider web, but the best aspects of the seminar to me were the step by step process in which Eddie led us from breaking down our opponents posture and getting them into rubber guard, then onto jiu claw etc. etc. All too often seminar teachers offer great submissions and what not, but if you never get into a position where you can employ that submission then what good is it!?! Eddie took us right from the top step by step.

Overall it was an intense learning experience that leaves me longing for more opportunities to train with one of grappling's greats. The combination of skill, knowledge, teaching ability, sense of humor, levity, and good training partners makes events like these worth every penny and minute!


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