April 29, 2011

Kids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at NW Jiu Jitsu Academy

Starting May 2nd, 2011 Coach Mike Leary will be launching the new kids class at the NW Jiu Jitsu Academy!    I have known Mike for nearly 5 years now both on and off the mat.  He is an amazing father and Brian could not have found someone more passionate about BJJ then Mike to spearhead this project.  He is going to make the perfect kids coach!

So if you have a rug rat, a mat rat, or just a plain ol' regular shorty bring them on by the academy to get signed up today!

Classes will be held:
Monday & Wednesday 4:15 - 5:00pm (as classes grow I have been told Fridays will be added onto the schedule)

Cost: $100/month (one time $50 registration fee which includes a uniform)

Curriculum: 12 positional class with 5 technical levels per class, forming a total of 60 classes per belt.  Folks, I have been around the martial arts for 20 years, and I have to admit this is fundamentally the most comprehensive kids curriculum I have ever seen!

Click here to view the NWJJK BJJ curriculum!

For more information visit NWJJA, or you can email me at [email protected]

Train Hard.  Train Smart.


"Boxing Their Own Worst Enemy"

Once again Ross has posted an amazing photographic essay he found on Nilson Garrido, a boxing trainer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Nilson had a vision to take the life lessons of boxing to the poorest of the poor in one of the poorest cities in the new world.  He formed boxing gyms under the viaducts of the cities bustling freeway system!

The shots are amazing, but the story is even more so.  Click here to read the whole article!  The lessons Nilson is imparting onto his pupils is invaluable in a place that is so in need of positive life changes.  Remember what these guys are working with the next time you bitch about lack of equipment, gym membership, time, or energy!


April 26, 2011

Pekiti Tirsia Kali Technical Sparring

Pekiti Tirsia Kali So Cal (PTKSC) has been working hard on their sparring and techniques.  Training out of Ace Jiu Jitsu in Fountain Valley, CA. now, Guro Meynard Ancheta has really stepped up training with his So Cal group.

Here are several clips of technical sparring Meynard just put online.  Some things to notice and reflect on while viewing:

  • The weapon is in constant motion so a cut can be made from any angle, at any time
  • Footwork is paramount in Kali
  • Angles, angles, angles.... angle of the weapon, angle of the slash/thrust, angle in conjunction with the footwork, which in turn creates new angles.  I knew I should have paid attention in geometry in high school!
  • Notice the focus on one of the most fundamentally difficult concepts for people to grasp... range 
  • Pekiti Tirsia Kali is a bladed art
   Lets elaborate on that last note a bit.  Pekiti Tirsia Kali (PTK) is a bladed art that relies on technical strategies and a superior understanding of angles and range.  You will notice the absence of brute strength and caveman type behavior in the following clips.  That is because employing such strategies will get you hacked / slashed / thrust into pieces as soon as you step into range!  Here is a pic of a Ginunting, the standard weapon used in PTK:

Some Filipino martial art groups claim to gain a clearer consciousness via harder blows where their focus is on the impact aspect of FMA and use of the stick.  Nothing wrong with this approach but the reader must understand the fundamental difference in what we are bringing to the table!  

If those were bladed weapons how much different would those fights have been?  Nothing wrong with the above training, but my point is the difference between training in an impact art as opposed to a bladed art.  While PTK employs all weapons (and we train with sticks because they are cheap and easy to replace), relying on the results of blows can be quite variable.  

For example take a look at modern day MMA fights.  We have seen everything from nasty KO's by blows that barely hit their opponents chin (Nick Diaz), to literal beat downs where the opponent takes amazing punishment both to the body and brain to no effect (Wanderlei Silva, Pride days).  But much like sinking in a choke, using a blade is technical and precise, and if it lands the damage is guaranteed!  Tendons, ligaments, skin, and flesh all cut and tear the same with all of us regardless of pain tolerance or "toughness."  Just like a choke, when it is sunk in, it does not matter how tough your opponent is.  When the oxygen is cut off to the brain, the body goes to sleep!  

Some food for though while you watch the following clips.  I already have my students working on the basics of technical sparring, and hope to have them up to this level by the end of the year.  

If you are interested in doing some Pekiti Tirsia Kali in the Seattle, WA. area email me at [email protected] 


April 24, 2011

Origin Genesis 550 Gi Coming Soon!

I just got done speaking with Pete Roberts, creator and designer of the brand new limited edition Origin Genesis 550 Gi about to hit the market, and readers of The Ground Never Misses will be one of the first to review this new kimono!  I must admit this is one of the sharpest gi's I have seen hit the market in quite some time and I am very excited about this new upstart company.

An innovative design, coupled with 550 Pearl Weave Top, Rip Stop Pants, and a matching rash guard to boot!?  This looks like a promising competition gi that is built for the rigors of everyday training.  I am stoked to get the chance to review it in the coming month.  Stay tuned for the review, and in the meantime check out Origin BJJ; In Search of the Perfect Roll!

April 23, 2011

Book Review - "Ancient Art of Chinese Long Saber" by Jack Chen

The Chinese long saber, often referred to as the Miao Dao, has long been one of my favorite weapons within the Chinese martial arts (CMA).  Graceful, powerful, just holding it in your hands makes you want to move with it.  For the most part it is extremely rare and relatively unknown here in North America, but its popularity is catching on, and Jack Chen of the Historical Combat Association has translated a classic and made it available to the masses.   "Ancient Art of Chinese Long Saber" is the translation and interpretation of the book of the same name written in the Ming Dynasty by Cheng Zong You. 

I learned the Miao Dao from John Wang years ago while training with him in Denver, CO.  Later when I was training with Mike Martello I discovered his passion for the Miao Dao and we set out to collaborate on a number of projects regarding the weapon, as well as an immersion into the study of the weapon for myself.  Unfortunately Mike passed just prior to us getting together to train the Miao Dao.  I guess it was not meant to be.

I have seen most of what is commercially available on the Miao Dao which is not much, and is not saying much either.  Jack Chen's translation is the first step in many strides towards dissemination and sharing of information on the weapon arts of the CMA, many of which are in danger of becoming extinct in the next generation or so.  Mr. Chen is a self proclaimed novice to the weapon which I think keeps the translation clear to a certain point, but also threatens a lack an understanding of context in some regards.  This is the bane of all historians trying to recreate something that no one is 100% sure of.

Broken into approximately seven parts, Chen has translated the complete manuscript without annotation including:

  • Long Saber Sayings 
  • Details of the Long Saber
  • 22 Stances of the Long Saber
  • Long Saber Addendum
  • Long Saber Form
  • 12 Additional Long Saber Stance
  • Long Saber Stances Summary (say that 10x fast!)
These chapters represent the direct translation of Cheng's Ming (1368-1644) Dynasty work.  Jack Chen was sharp enough to also include a 30 page addendum to the back of the book offering supplemental information on the weapons and combat tactics such as the use of the crossbow and spear!  

Overall Cheng's work is rather superficial as you can tell it was meant as a reference to what a soldier already knew, not a manual to be learned from.  Basic descriptions of stances and positions fail to mention any body mechanics nor strategies, not even gripping!     

I confess no fluency in Chinese so my reading and translating skills are nothing to speak on, but my basic martial Chinese fluency finds no error in Chen's work.  Literal and direct, his translation is consistent throughout the text.  Matching the sayings along with sketch drawings one can get the general idea of the stance / position being explained.  Chen has re-traced many of the images, as the originals were starting to fade.  

The form itself would be very difficult to learn from this book (and you should always seek out an actual instructor anyways) and with no techniques offered one can only speculate on the actual application of many of the movements.  But overall Jack Chen's translation represents the first step in gathering information, sharing ideas, and helping build the weapon based arts of the Chinese culture.  So much has already been lost due to lack of interest, yet the CMA hold so many treasures and links to a fabled history that spans thousands of lifetimes!  In this regard Chen has created a gem for any of us who fancy such topics and interests.  

Coming in a little heavy at $35 (including quick shipping from Singapore) this 152 page book will make a welcomed addition to Chinese martial artists as well as weapon guru's the world over.  Click here to view sample pages or to order your copy today!

As an ending treat, the late Mike Martello teaching the Miao Dao.  Poetry in motion!  RIP mi amigo. 

April 22, 2011

Random Friday

Shaking the hazy hangover from everyones favorite holiday, I am rallying the motivation to hit the weights today and roll tonight.  I have no time for rest as the next 6 weeks are going to be grueling in regards to training.   I am all over the place this morning so I have a hodge-podge of random shit to share this Friday.

Michael Langhi is quickly becoming one of my favorite grapplers to watch, and with this attitude how can you not like the kid.  On his loss at the World Pro Trials (first in 3 years mind you):

 "I hadn’t lost in practically three years and was pretty bummed. But it comes with the sport, it’s something everyone is subject to. Two go in, and one leaves the loser. Unfortunately, I was the loser this time.

The truth is that my opponent (Leandro Lo) was better than me and had an excellent championship. One needs to have the posture of a champion off the mat. There are those who only have it in victory, but in defeat they don’t know how to deal and assume attitudes that aren’t those of a true champion. The lesson I derived from all this is that sooner or later the house comes down, and it comes down for everybody. Like I said, if you are someone who besides being good at Jiu-Jitsu has a good attitude, you receive praise even in defeat. But if you let things go to your head, when the house comes down it’s an even greater shock. I don’t hide, and I compete everywhere I can. I’d rather lose than not fight. The sting of defeat is something I can live with, but the shame of not fighting and being afraid."  

In my humble opinion he is describing the warrior spirit.  Many speak of this in the martial arts, but few embody it!   Rickson is always talking about being a reincarnated samurai.  This is what I strive for as I cannot agree more I would rather lose than not fight!  It is the thrill of the fight that I cannot get enough of.  Putting it all on the line at that very moment!  Reminds me of the quote from Mr. Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

And who better to represent the samurai spirit than one of my favorite fighters of all time Genki Sudo!  You have seen his awesome videos for his band World Order, now check him out at Chris Brennan's Westside Grappling Tournie back ten years ago.

Some random observations:

  • Genki is stupid smooth and flows so eloquently
  • He is humble and respectful throughout (much cannot be aid about his opponents)
  • Genki does not use any strength.  If someone resists, or something is failing he simply moves onto another technique effortlessly 
  • This is a literal buffet of submissions
  • WTF is up with the wimpy trophy Genki wins!?!?!?  Seriously?!?!?  

Duran with Randy Couture
Thanks to Ross Training for the following article on "Stitch" Duran.  Most of us have no clue who Stitch is other than the guy who comes in and closes the cuts of our favorite MMA fighters at the end of each round.  

"The fight is over, but the bleeding hasn't stopped.
The fighter has dropped to his knees with three holes in his head: His hairline hides one of the cuts, smallish but oozing; his right cheek has been split open on the bone, maybe an inch under his eye; and his right ear—his cauliflower ear, red and rubbed raw—has burst like a bubble.
A cut man kneels beside the fighter. "  ........Click here to read the full story!  

Great read and perspective of the fight game few of us think about!  


April 20, 2011

Happy 420, Heads!

Like a lost stoner wandering in a nebulous haze, here are some random clips to celebrate 420 Day!

First is Robert Drysdale breaking down a standard knee bar with his student Forest Griffin.  Nothing revolutionary in this clip, but look at how much detail is in Drysdale's 2:46 minute clip!  I have seen a lot of his videos and clips and Drysdale is constantly impressing me with his breakdown of technique and always progressive thinking.  I need to train with this cat someday!

Again great detail, but really... do I really need to explain the beauty of this next clip!?!?

How could I rightfully thrown down a 420 Day post without including the foremost outspoken advocate for marijuana legalization and decriminalization in the grappling community, Eddie Bravo!?  In case you missed it a couple weeks back Eddie was on "Fighting Words" with Mike Straka, and here is his interesting 25 minute interview.

On a serious note I want to take this opportunity to bring to light a great non-profit organization that is trying hard to change the Draconian drug laws in our "free" country, FAMM or Families Against Madatory Minimums.  No matter where you stand on drugs and their use, be illicit or otherwise, I think we can all agree that filling our prisons with NON-VIOLENT drug "offenders" is becoming way too common.  Without getting on my soapbox... It is time for re-evaluation coupled with restructuring of our prison systems.  The bias of private run prison companies lobbying politicians to push for tougher sentences on possession and distribution cases must be outlawed so that we can stop throwing our youth into prison for minor offenses.  Take a minute and get involved on any level.  Some day it might be very, very important to you!


April 19, 2011

Product Review - "Under Gi"

New to the market, Under-Gi boxer briefs offer a something new and refreshing to the fight wear boom happening right now.  Tired of the tighty whiteys?  Tired of the boys getting bunched up and caught in positions they do not belong in?  Want something comfortable to wear both on and off the mat?  Under-Gi's boxer briefs are the answer.  (Claim: I decided to opt out of modeling these for you.  You all owe me a beer;)

Made in China from 80% Polyamide & 20% Elastane, Under-Gi's are snug and stable without becoming banana hammocks, while comfortable and breathable like boxers.  I have worn my pair both kickboxing along with grappling and  they are pretty damn comfortable.  I must admit that I am very picky about what I wear and how it fits.  Without getting graphic, I want my boys in a certain spot especially when doing combat sports without a cup.  I have a hard time finding solid workout briefs, but Under-Gi fills that niche!

They breathe well and have enough compression to be firm without getting restrictive.  Go big when sizing.  I float right at 36-37" waist and the XL are a tight fit.  The only slightly negative I see with the Under-Gi is the price.  At $20 a pop plus shipping these can get a bit expensive for those of us who workout all week (I easily hit 12-14 pairs a week, and that is just working out and teaching!).  I would also like to see a bulk discount perhaps!?

Though made in China, Under-Gi is an Ohio based company so give some love to the Midwest, they are in desperate need of some!  Click here to order a pair of Under-Gi briefs!

Train Hard.  Train Smart.
Jake B.

April 18, 2011

DVD Review - "Omoplata Game" Joao Crus

Texas Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor Joao Crus has released a new DVD instructional set entitled "Omoplata Game"  which includes four parts, all addressing various aspects of the omoplata including sweeps, submissions, set ups, and escapes.  Personally I was uber excited about doing this review because I have been slowly working omo's into my personal guard game, and though I have met with some decent success I am always looking for pointers to improve upon.

Broken down into four categories, and an equal amount of disks, each disk has easy to navigate menus where you can play all techniques in a row or skip to a certain technique to work on.  Crus makes an effort to try and teach a complete "game" via DVD, and while this is a difficult task I must admit he did a decent job.  I would call this a fundamental course on the omoplata as there is nothing high flying or convoluted taught on this DVD, but rather solid basics on how to enter into position, how to execute the submission or the sweep, and how to escape said position.

Technically this is a no frills DVD set that gets right to the meat and potatoes of the subject.  A single camera angle with Crus turning and moving to accommodate different views, the editing is simple and clean and I found no blips nor errors with any of the clips.  Being involved in DVD production before I realize how much of a headache the music can be in terms of finding non-copy written material, and the music selection is fine for the "Omoplata Game," but the one no-no in instructional DVD production is allowing the music to play over the actual instruction!  This not only drowns out the instructor but is also incredibly distracting, as is kid chatter in the background.    Joao's language and descriptions are very clear and understandable as his English is excellent.  And besides the music the audio is very clear throughout the four disks.  It should also be mentioned that this title is available in Spanish as well!

Laid out in a logical progression the DVDs are super easy to access and learn from in your home or dojo.  The picture is clear and contrast is solid.  Joao and his partner wear two different color gi's the whole time so it is easy to discern whose-what is tied up in the others whose-what.

Disk 1 - Set Ups

Set Ups is the longest DVD (as it should be) at 33 minutes, and covers both open and closed guard entries, with seven techniques showcased in the closed guard section and twelve with the open guard.  For the most part Crus tries to show each technique several times and breaks down each part of the movement explaining what he is doing.  Though the majority of the material on all four disks is BJJ specific, in the open guard section Crus offers an entry from a self defense / MMA perspective of getting hit and ground and pounded.  I mention this because many instructional DVDs today neglect the roots of our beloved art and that is in self defense on the streets!

Crus offers a solid smorgasbord of positions to enter into the omoplata with spider guard, inverted guard, De La Riva, and working the cross grips as well.  Again all entries are nothing that require incredible flexibility or agility.  Joao seems to have a grasp of how to teach the everyday practitioner how to excel at his game.

Disk 2 - Escapes

Showcasing 7 techniques over 12 minutes, disk two covers escapes and counters to the omoplata.  I think placing this second in the progression of teaching is genius of Crus!  Where most would showcase the escapes or counters to a given focus at the end of the instructional DVD, Crus realizes that more so than anything TIMING is a huge component in escaping the omoplata!  When locked in it is very hard to muscle out of, so many of the escapes are predicated upon you being savvy to the lock coming and rolling or standing prior to your opponent getting your shoulder down and controlling your lower body.

Joao also has some nice follow ups after the roll outs, standing escapes, roll over as well as the sit up counter to the roll over!  Smooth transitions abound!

Disk 3 - Sweeps

Focusing primarily on the "Star Sweep" (this is my term, as Mr. Crus has not named any techniques.  So I take liberty and use the most common term I know the sweep by.) for when you have a cross grip and your opponent stands to pass, you under hook the same side leg as your sleeve grip, and essentially rolling over your shoulder you sweep them back.  Joao has five sweep variations on this theme, with one ground sweep which is your standard omoplata sweep.  I really got a lot out of the 5 standing sweeps, but I was left thirsting for more on the ground, and scratching my head as to why we needed a separate disk for a 9 minute tutorial!?

Disk 4 - Submissions

Wrapping up the set with the submissions disk, Joao treats us to over 11 techniques on various submissions we can get to via the threat of omoplata, or if our omoplata fails for some reason.  Crus' leg attacks stick out from the rest of the crop as he enters into a knee bar quite interestingly from a failed omoplata attempt in guard.  His pretzel omoplata and chokes round out the 20 minute DVD.

I must admit I was hoping to see a bit more variety in terms of wrist locks, leg attacks of all kinds, as well as transitions to other flows.  But again for the beginner to omoplata's this is an excellent introduction to a often overlooked, and underused attack.

For those unfamiliar with Joao Crus and his story... Prof. Crus' wife contracted lung cancer at a very young age, and this DVD (along with a handful of others Crus has produced) is an effort for Mr. Crus to raise money for treating his wife.  10% of the sales of the DVDs go to the American Cancer Society.  So when you purchase these DVDs for yourself, or for a gift keep in mind you are helping combat Cancer nationwide!  Look for future reviews of Joao Crus' DVDs here on the Ground Never Misses.

To order "Omoplata Game" or to peruse all of Joao Crus' titles please click here!

Train Hard.   Train Smart.
Jake B.

April 15, 2011

Belt Promotions at NWJJA

Wanted to send a quick note of congrats to a handful of promotions awarded last night at NW Jiu Jitsu Academy.  Brian is old school in his ranking and promoting, so when you are handed a belt at our academy you have already been that rank for quite some time already.

Congrats to John Baayers, and Ivan Moran on their long journey to blue.  John is restricted by schedule to make most evening classes so it has been a bit of a trip, but his game has really come along the past 6 months or so.  Ivan too has become a handful to deal with and pin down.

Brian then handed out three purple belts that are more then well deserved.  "Scrappy" Phil Simpson, Chris McMullin, and Randy "Wrap-it-in" Bacon all were promoted to blue belt after I was (I think), and have attained purple way before I ever will, all due to their diligence and discipline on the mat!  Phil has become a much more well rounded fighter who continues to kick ass at local tournies!  Chris works harder then a pitbull and has a wicked bad deep 1/2!!  And then their is my little veggie friend Randy.

Randy is one of those little shits (22 years old) who apparently just absorbs every damn little detail he comes across!  Though only a buck forty soaking wet, I have not had Randy's number for about a year.  I love Randy though (as a brother) because he fights anyone, anytime.  He does not pick and choose (seems to be an issue) and he rolls appropriately for the person he is with.  He is one of the best training partners at the gym, and a super nice cat on top of it all who has a huge heart for the wild and animals.

In a nutshell congrats brother.  It is an honor to fight next to you.  We really need to get you to some major tournaments!

Congrats all!

April 14, 2011

Steroids in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

I have tried to mull over my thoughts and feelings about the hotly debated topic of steroid use lately, and I have been waiting and waiting to write hoping the right time would show.  But as of late I am not sure if there ever is a right time.  Steroids have crept into pretty much every aspect of athletic life, without regard for age, sport, social status etc.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no exception, and high level competitors are starting to speak out.  Caio Terra's comments at the Pan Am's:

Coupled with Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros letter via ADcombat.com:

"I am proud to say that I conquered the most important title in BJJ, the Absolute in the Mundial twice and to own the record of fastest submission in a Black Belt final. I conquered all those titles without steroids. In the 2000 Mundial , minutes before I was to fight one of the most difficult matches of my life, I had to assist in removing an athlete from the competition area. Unfortunately that athlete died inside the stadium due to an overdose of steroids.
I am reaching out because there seems to be a pact of silence between the Federation, the competitors and especially the press, who ultimately has the obligation to denounce these irregularities. “It is well known the use of steroids by athletes of various teams. And in may cases by Champions of our sport, I am not going to name names because I’ve not personally witnessed anyone taking them, however it is pretty noticeable the extremely rapid gain of muscle mass and abnormal reduction of fat percentage by some athletes.”

An athlete using steroids gains more than just physical benefits, they also have technical gains, because they can train 4 times a day and still feel well, while an athlete that is clean trains twice a day and needs to rest to recover naturally. The majority of athletes also have other duties such as being instructors and as such we have to preserve the values like: “Loyalty, honesty and the spirit of sports fairness”.
We know that is no sport steroids are tolerated and in many Countries it is even a crime to use them except for strict health issues. Of course this is not the first generation to use this type of drug, but it is time we face this issue with seriousness it deserves and we need to set the example for others to come.
Thanks for your time
Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros

Since my first foray into the competitive world of BJJ I too have noticed and commented on what seems (as Rodrigo states above, I have never witnessed anyone take roids) to be an amazing amount of bulk and muscle gain, in a very short amount of time with many of the top competitors.  The argument of whether they are being used is moot now days.  They are here, they will stay, we all need to learn to live with those facts.  The IBJJF will never be in a position to afford to pay for random drug screens at IBJJF events.  This is just not practical on any front.  

So what this all boils down to is personal opinion regarding taking something (a drug in this case) to gain an edge, and whether or not that is "cheating."  Now to "cheat" is really a matter of perspective and justification.  For instance if a polar bear is fucking your shit up one Christmas Eve, I am willing to bet you will not mull over the moral ramifications of whether or not using a rifle to shoot him dead is "cheating," even though the bear does not have access, nor the physical / mental capacity to operate a firearm!  This is not considered "cheating" because we justify using the weapon because a bear is "wild" and the size of a city bus!
Humans are analytical beings that have risen to the top of the food chain over hundreds of thousands of years, and in general we have have clawed our way to the top by any means necessary.  Their is no "rule" book to evolution.  So is it really a bad thing to want to get stronger?  To recover faster?  Again a matter of perspective...
As I creep up to 35 short years on this earth I am starting to realize I am no longer "young" and am starting to feel it.  Though I am in the best shape of my life I have noticed I am taking longer and longer to recover both from dings and dents, as well as in general after a strong workout (of which I have at least 6-7 a week).  Now if you were to tell me that I could take something that would make my recovery time cut in half would I do it?  Number of factors are calculated, but overall... hell's yes I would!  
I am working hard at competing all year in some major events so the faster I can recover the quicker I can get back on the mat and train more.   So is that bad, or wrong, or cheating?  I don't know.  To me no.  But that is a skewed perspective!  

One thing everyone needs to get over is the massive amount of misinformation out there on steroids and health.  Lets get one thing straight; steroids (in general) are safe to use in prescribed quantities from trained professionals (that would be an MD, not a MMA coach!).  Thousands of doctors worldwide are prescribing some sort of steroid as you read this!   If your child has ever had a rash and went to the doctor and got a "booster" shot... they have had steroids injected into them!  

Unfortunately the mass-dis-media clings onto certain ideas and perpetuates opinion not fact.  For a great expose on roids that is produced from a purely objective point of view I highly encourage you to watch "Bigger Stronger Faster."    
I am not sure this was the ideal post, nor am I sure it ever will be.  In the end we all make personal choices as to how important certain goals are.  And in the end the only person we need to answer to is ourselves.  The competitive martial arts are meant to pit two warriors against each other in a battle that as closely replicates war as we can safely do in civilized society, and the most skilled man is supposed to win.  When skill levels are equal the bigger, stronger will almost always win.  This is the rule of nature and whether you think about it or not your DNA knows this and will take any and every opportunity to "cheat" that it can to gain the advantage!  

As much as I would like to think of grappling competitions as being "pure" and "fair" the simple fact of the matter is if it involves humans, those two words are most likely not going to be appropriate in any context.  And who am I to say they should or shouldn't be!?  I know when I won the world No Gi in 09 I did so purely on skill and perhaps a smidgen of luck.  Nothing else.  And that feeling is like no other in the world.  I cannot say for sure but I do not think I would feel the same if I was juicing.  But then again, my crazy frantic mind would find a way to justify it and make my self feel better about my choices, much like killing the bear.

As with all choices we have consequences.  Many focus on the physical ramifications of illicit steroid use (hormone deficiencies, testicular shrinkage, brain damage causing rage issues, moobs etc.), but mentally what are the consequences?  Could you really call yourself a world champion in MMA, BJJ, Sambo, Judo, Karate, hell... anything, when you are juicing?  Did you really pit your TRUE self against the best in the world who brought their pure, true selves to the fight!?  

I know with me there would always be a little bird in the back of my mind reminding me of just how I won, and I would question it for the rest of my life.  

I hope you choose wisely.

April 13, 2011

Lets Go Hawks!

Tonight is the night baby!  I normally do not advocate such things, but I am all about Orca hunting this week as the mighty Blackhawks start their series tonight in Vancouver!

I think they have the Canucks number, but this will be there toughest test!

April 12, 2011

Great Grapplers of MMA

Funny... just last night my coach Brian and I were engaged in a friendly banter about Shinya Aoki (one of my favorites) being (in Brian's opinion) one of the most overrated BJJ black belts in MMA currently.  The fan I am I decided to stick up for him and argue his domination in Japanese promotions, which Brian countered with the level of fighter is totally different stateside (cough-see Melendez fight-cough).  Touche!
We both ended agreeing that we would love to see Aoki, and other MMA fighters, enter into the top gi grappling competitions and give it a go!  It will never happen, but wouldn't it be cool!?

Just this morning I check out Gracie Mag Online and they have posted a short article (with Aoki highlight reel) on the very subject of the most effective use of BJJ in MMA:

"Could Shinya Aoki one day retire as the most effective Jiu-Jitsu black belt in MMA?
When it comes down to numbers, at least, the day is approaching for the Japanese fighter.
A shoo-in for the great finisher’s hall of fame, the USA’s Jeremy Horn, 35, isn’t one to sweat up a gi, but at the end of this month he’ll be gunning for Thales Leites in Sweden, looking for the 50th submission of his career. That’s right, Horn today holds 49 wins by way of locks or chokes – out of 112 fights, at just about every promotion out there."  Read the entire article here!

I surf on over to The Grappling Dummy and find this BJJ fight at a recent Shooto event for charity between Rumina Sato and Shuichio Katsumura!  Great fun and for a good cause.  Again, great to see MMA fighters donning the kimono!


April 10, 2011

Food & Diet Blogs

Stumbled upon some great new blogs and websites regarding Paleo and overall diet and health:

Latest in Paleo has a little bit of everything on it; recipes, talk shows, etc.

Archeovore is Kurt Harris' renamed Paleonu.  Great resource for solid health info from an MD!

Tribe of Five has some good solid info on food quality, selection, and knowing your source.

As with anything take food and diet advice with a grain of salt, and learn to listen to your body.  everyone is different and diets will similarly be slightly different with each individual.

I also wanted to take this moment to ask that any purchases you make with Amazon be made through the link on my blog.  I get "points" for anything purchased via the link on my blog.  It costs you nada a damn thing, and it helps me out.

Cheers, and

LETS GO HAWKS!!!!   They need the win today!!


April 8, 2011

Liu Donghan - Yang Taiji Practitioner

4-28-11 * As my research continues into Liu Dong Han I will update info and share my findings.  Thanks to Jon Nicklin for the following corrections.

(1) Liu's teacher was definitely Yang Zhaolin, not Tian Zhaolin. Yang Zhaolin was the only son of Yang Luchan's eldest son, Yang Fenghou. Yang Fenghou died young, so most of Yang Zhaolin's taiji was learnt from his uncles Yang Banhou and Yang Jianhou. 
(2) The region in Hebei that Liu came from is called Xingtai (邢台) rather than Xiantai.

Many have asked me why I do not post more Chinese related topics on this blog since my background and training is primarily based in the Chinese martial arts.  The overall general answer is simply because there is not much of anything positive going on in the CMA right now!  I do not feel the need to be negative and focus on the negative, so I just don't post anything. But every now and then I come across a nugget of important info in my continued research and training.  

In my lineage of Xing Yi Quan goes as follows:
Dong Xiu Sheng --- Li Gui Chang --- Song Zi Yong / Mao Ming Chun --- Martin LaPlatney / Tim Cartmell --- Jake Burroughs.  What is interesting is that Li Gui Chang  studied Taiji in depth with Liu Dong Han.  Of all the Taiji teachers I have had the hardest time finding information on Liu, and I have been looking for years.  Limited by my complete inability to grasp the Chinese language mostly, but in general there is little information out there on Liu!  

Li's push hands was renowned throughout northern China, and his Xing Yi is seriously influenced by his Taiji.  Li's forms and foundation lie within Hebei Xing Yi Quan, but his body method and approach are unique in the Xing Yi world.  Focusing on being very slow, soft, with a heavy emphasis on feeling and sensitivity, Li's Xing Yi is quite different then what many associate Xing Yi with being.  With both of my teachers Martin and Tim the focus has always been on relaxed force occurring naturally via proper structure and mechanics that are natural to the body.  

Much thanks to my friend Scott Meredith for not only finding this little blurb, but also his translation and notation is much appreciated!  Though this is a general overview, it is a start in regards to finding and disseminating information on Liu Dong Han.  

As always if anyone out there reading this knows more than I have posted, I would welcome a chat to learn more about Liu Donghan: [email protected] 


Liu Donghan (? - 1950)

Personal style name  Jingxi, son of Liu Yingzhou, from the village of Dabeidong in Ren county (Hebei province), born in the early years of Guangxu reign, Qing Dynasty [note: reigned 1874/75–1908].Born into a well-known martial arts family,as a child he learned the Three Stars Pao Chui style from his father. Later he learned Yang style Taiji from Yang Zhaolin [Note: sic. Here the author might actually mean TIAN Zhaolin, who was a great and famous Taiji master and Yang family indoor student around that time] and was also taught Wu style Taiji by famous grandmaster Hao Weizhen, thus receiving the full transmission of these various arts.

He was one of the four famous spear masters of the Xiantai area (south/central Hebei province)  who were: Liu Donghan, Cao Ke, Zhang Bingheng, and Dong Yingjie. With his long spear in hand, he seemed to soar like a dragon and coiled like a snake, opening like a phoenix spreading its tail, and swooping like a golden rooster pecking. 

It is said that whenever the disciples got together for practice, Liu Donghan would rush into the practice room, yelling “Xiangyuan, do you dare come out to spar with me?” [note: The reference here is to Li Baoyu (Li Xiangyuan), another famous student of Hao Weizhen at the time] And at that, Baoyu would insist on sparring with Liu. It’s clear that even while they had both learned from the same teacher, each of these disciples had his own particular strong points and unique skills.

Liu Donghan had worked with his father as a security escort, gaining  a wealth of real-world hand-to-hand combat experience. His fighting skills were absolutely first-rate. In the latter part of his life, he taught for a long time at Daoqi, Jianzhou, Taiyuan and other villages n the mountainous area west of Xiantai, eventually establishing a school in the region. He also fought competitively, prevailing in dozens of competitions. He came to be called the “Warrior of the Western Mountains” and “Warrior of the North” [note: referring to Hebei province] He continued teaching Yang style Taiji and older styles, particularly emphasizing offensive fighting tactics. His most accomplished students included Cao Ke, Zhao Shou and others.

Liu Donghan was a 3rd generation Yang Taiji disciple, and was the first to establish that style in the Xiantai area. Before Liberation [note: 1949], he opened a widely renowned martial arts school on Tieza Street in Taiyuan city where he taught both his original family style of Three Stars Pao Chui as well as Yang style Taiji.

Throughout his teaching career in the regions west of Taiyuan, he created a distinctive synthesis of the various style of martial arts he had mastered. His famous disciples also included Liu Dianku (1912-1985) and others. His name is also sometimes written as 刘东寒 [note: different third character, meaning ‘cold’].

April 6, 2011

Interesting Stick and Blade Videos

An interesting clip from CNN on stickfighting making a comeback in South Africa.  African stickfighting has always held my interest not only for their bravery, but also the timing and understanding of range.  Check out the shorties!  Too cute!

On a more serious tone...

Here is a great clip on five common myths about knife fighting, which I would have to concur with, though I think their ending comment is complete bullocks!

The reality and ferocity of a knife "ambush" (no one draws a blade and squares off like John Wayne!).  If you are not carrying, you may want to reconsider!

Train hard, train smart, train realistically!  Those interested in doing some Pekiti Tirsia Kali email me at [email protected]

Food for thought in our ever changing world.

April 5, 2011

JT Torres vs. Marcelo Garcia

Great clip I have not seen before with a roll between Marcelo Garcia and Lloyd Irvin protege JT Torres.  My memory is perpetually smoky, but I do not recall anyone ever taking MG's back!?


April 4, 2011

20 Years

Thankfully not applicable here!
20 years, two decades... this number can elicit a multitude of feelings depending on the context.  For me it is innocuous.  A marker that will not affect my day one way or another, as I will train and teach today just like most Mondays.  Yet as I reflect on 20 years of training in the martial arts I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Gratitude to the amazing arts that have captivated my spirit since childhood.  Thanks to all those people who have come in and out of my life that have shared their experiences, laughs, blood, sweat, and even a few tears!  Appreciation to all the students who have taught me more than I could ever give them.

I believe it was Isaac Newton who said  "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." It seems silly to speak of accomplishments over the past years as they pale in comparison to the real giants, those whom have inspired me in ways beyond words.

Much love to Sensei Mike Sherman for introducing me to the martial arts.  I trained with Mr. Sherman for 8 years before moving to New Mexico.  He nurtured a love for the martial arts and has remained a staunch supporter of my martial path ever since.  No one better in Toledo, OH.

To be quite frank I am not sure where I would be in the martial realm if I had not met the most influential person in my life, Tim Cartmell.  Tim has been a mentor, friend, coach, and father figure in my life for the past 9 years.  Without a doubt the single most important individual in regards to shaping my martial arts approach both on the learning end, as well as teaching.  The debt I owe Tim can never be repaid in 100 lifetimes.  Thank you my friend.

Moving to Seattle, WA. nearly 5 years ago brought with it a number of unknown variables, one being where I would train grappling at.  Moving to a city that had a number of options, priority one with me was establishing roots at a solid grappling academy.  I had checked a few out on a visit up here and honestly thought I had found my home with a local group.  But about two months after moving here, a friend, Eric, told me I should check out Brian Johnson over at the NW Jiu Jitsu Club (now Academy).  Eric mentioned Brian had much more of a learning atmosphere then where I was at.   

Though I have not spoken to Eric in a few years, again mucho gracias mi amigo as my coach Brian has been the single best thing to happen to me since moving to the Pacific NW!  I have never been pushed as hard, coached as well, nor honestly felt a true love from a coach like I do with Brian.  Not only is his personality a great fit for my learning style, but his methodology and care in teaching mimics Tim's approach and love for teaching!  Why I deserve to be so lucky I do not know, but Brian is one of the best instructors you will ever come across.  And I can honestly say he is my friend too.  That is a rarity now days as I am finding out.  

Thank you to Guro Meynard Ancheta in Long Beach, CA.  Meynard is a brother of mine via Tim, but in the past year he has also been kind enough to submit to my constant nagging to take me on as a student.  He has single handily rekindled my passion for the Filipino arts, and I have become quite enamored with the study of Pekiti Tirsia Kali!

Also I must give a huge debt of gratitude to my teacher Hu Xi Lin, for without him I would not have moved to the Pacific NW at all.  I have been traveling and training with him for the past 9 years as well, and falling in love with Vancouver and being within driving distance was the impetus for us to move to Seattle, WA.  I wish we could get more time together.  "Xie xie ni, laoshi."

Lastly, but certainly not the least I wish to thank my best training partners... my family.  From my mother and father, to my wife, never has their been a weakness in this armor.  Blood is thicker than water, but more importantly love in the form of recognizing, nurturing, and supporting someones passion, has been the single most important attribute my family has given me.  Thank you all.  I love you all more than you know!

So what the hell am I going to accomplish over the next 20 years?  Not sure, but I have a few goals I think I would like to meet:

  • Earn the rank of black belt in BJJ (I am hoping it does not take the full 20 years to attain, but at this rate don't hold your breath!)
  • Positively affect a larger population of people via my teachings of the martial arts
  • Become a world class grappling competitor (okay, maybe world class is shooting for the moon, but as the very least I will become a classy competitor!
  • Continue to learn and progress.
  • Perhaps get to a point where I do not put myself in a triangle.  Perhaps.  If I get around to it.
  • Become proficient in Pekiti Tirsia Kali
  • Help a student full-fill their true, full potential!
  • If my ticket is due to be punched in such a time frame, then all I can ask is that I die living!

I think those are some reasonable goals for two more decades.  I have no clue where I would be without martial arts training.  It has saved my life in more ways then I care to share on a public blog, and those are just the internal struggles I speak of.  

Enjoy your Monday, and be grateful for something today.

Ma halo,