The Ground Never Misses

imageVice Magazines ‘Fightland’ hosted a great article by Dan Shapiro on the struggles of MMA fighter Irshaad Sayed as he enters into the month long fast know as Ramadan in the Islamic religion.  A thirty day spiritual cleanse requires participants to only consume water until sundown in which then one can enjoy food.  The goal being to remind oneself of what we have and to be grateful, for things could be far worse.

Regardless of whether you participate in such an event we should tip our hat and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Muslims within our sport!

  In addition to his five daily prayers and month-long fast (which he is allowed to break daily at sundown), he devotes large stretches of Ramadan to attending Mosque and reading from the Quran. He also partakes in an i’tikaf for the final ten nights of the holy month, sleeping at the Mosque for Laylat al Qadr, or night of destiny, a remembrance of when of the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad.
    For Muslims to participate in i’tikaf, the religion requires adherence to four basic tenants, namely that they must have true faith, they must seek closeness to Allah, they must remain inside their Mosque for the duration of the ritual, and they must posses mental stability, fortitude, and intelligence. And it is in this final attribute that Sayed has found a divine connection between the temple and the ring.
    “The life of a professional athlete fits pretty well with the life of a practicing Muslim. Islam… promotes a healthy lifestyle,” states Sayed. “A huge part of fighting is mental, and my religion gives me the mental and spiritual strength I need when I enter the cage.”

To read the entire article click here.

imageAsashoryu was and will always be the best sumo wrestler ever to step into the dohyo.  Here are a couple of random videos I found online.  Enjoy

imageI caught some flack online for my Metamoris IV post on Friday where I criticized the Gracie family for turning their premier submission grappling venue into a WWE debacle including the drug frenzied Chael Sonnen.  News dropped that Chael failed yet ANOTHER drug test!  Some folks stated that Chael needs these drugs for medical reasons hence his “retirement” from MMA, and that he should not be criticized nor punished for such acts.

But our friend and BJJ black belt Henry Akin brought a solid point to the table, which I would personally extend beyond MMA to grappling only events as well:

“I dont mind people taking these substances to help them feel better, stay “younger” that’s a personal choice. But when you are competing in a sport where it allows you to punch someone in the head much harder then “normal” its like putting someone in the cage with a weapon. It basically gives you the ability to do far more damage to an opponent. People caught using performance enhancing drugs in combat sports should be criminally charged.” 

I am appalled at the apathy towards PED’s being blatantly used and abused in our sport.  One gentlemen on FB told me to get over being a “purist,” which I am not sure how to even respond to!?  I post Akin’s words here because he is much more articulate then I am and he brings a point that few (if any) have addressed.  All too often we speak of the recovery benefits roids and PED’s offer athletes, but the simple fact of the matter is they all make you bigger, stronger, faster, etc. not to mention causing mental and emotional swings that are uncontrollable.  Hmmmm, sounds like so many other things we deem socially unacceptable, and in many cases illegal.  Yet it seems like society could care less as long as it entertains them.

I refuse to believe that those of us in the BJJ/grappling community will be so accepting of this machismo attitude that seems to becoming more and more pervasive in our culture.

imageMetamoris broke the news this week that their next event will be Saturday August 9th 2014 in Los Angeles California, and Ralek Gracie (spokesperson for Rorion Gracie, owner of Metamoris and father of Ralek) also announced some of the fight card which has some folks scratching their heads.

Along with a last minute “secret match” (supposedly neither the fighters nor the public will know until last minute) the following match ups were presented:

  • Andre Galvao vs. Chael Sonnen
  • Josh Barnett vs. Dean Lister
  • Saulo Ribiero vs. Rodrigo “Compridos” Medeiros
  • Vinny Magahales vs. Keenan Cornelius
  • Gary Tonon vs. Kit Dale

Keeping true to the original declaration of presenting exciting matches showcasing the true talent of grapplers in a venue encouraging submissions the match ups of Ribiero and Medeiros, Magahales vs. Cornelius, and Tonon – Dale promise to bring some amazing grappling to the stage in fights we all would love to see.  But I must admit the main event and co-main event have left a bad taste in my mouth.

Both Chael Sonnen and Josh Barnett are MMA fighters with extensive backgrounds in wrestling and Catch As Catch Can respectively, and both have been popped repeatedly for using steroids and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to the extent that Barnett was stripped of his UFC title over a decade ago. Though Galvao has passed one drug screen (IBJJF just started random tests last year) anyone who has watched his rise in BJJ has to wonder about the sudden muscle gain coupled with extreme acne often witnessed on him.

Seemingly Metamoris is looking to cash in on the WWE type of hype that trashy shit talkers such as Sonnen and Barnett bring to anything they are involved in.  It also seems to be sending a very mixed message to both the general public and impressionable participants in the grappling arts.  As I understood it Metamoris had the objective of getting grappling (BJJ / Judo / Sambo etc.) into the mainstream all the while showcasing matches we normally would not see.  Apparently the Gracie family will do this at all costs without thinking about the quality of men they are promoting.

When asked about Chael Sonnen’s “medical condition” (for those unaware… Chael, a professional level MMA fighter, claims to have a problem with low testosterone.  Hence his need for TRT (testosterone replacement therapy.  My eyes could not roll further back into my ginormous skull!!) Ralek Gracie responded with:

image“I don’t really know what his situation is with the commission. In my school of thought it doesn’t matter who takes what PED in grappling. It won’t change the game for him anyway. He can roll with half of the black belts I know and he’ll be in serious trouble.”

These comments are common with the Gracie family as they typically beat their collective chests making obnoxious, ego-saturated claims.  The amusing irony in Ralek making these statements is that apparently he did not have that much confidence in his family’s grappling back just four years ago in Dream 14 and a unanimous decision over Kazushi Sakuraba where Ralek tested positive for steroids after the win!   Keep in mind this was at a “catch” weight of 194 where Sakuraba normally fights as a middleweight and Ralek typically fights at light heavy.

All this coupled with the 50% increase in price (now $30 for the stream) has really left me shaking my head.  I can think of a dozen stand up classy men, and women that are far better role models and representatives of the art I love and cherish that would be better fits.  I had high hopes for this event and organization when they were trying to arrange a Jean Jacques Machado vs. Nelson Monteiro fight, but the fact that UFC president Dana White has been discussing scooping up Metamoris for his “Fight Pass” online money pit should be a huge red flag for those of us with some dignity.

I have grown tired of the hypocrisy and lack of class in an art that was supposedly created to deter such elements of our society.  Yet we turn around and applaud it every chance we get.  I am just as guilty in that I will most likely give them my hard earned greenbacks as I enjoy combat sports entertainment more so then most things available.  This has me pausing and thinking twice about it this time though.  Time for us to raise the standards in our martial community folks.

imageUFC champ Chris Weidman offers some pointers for his overhead belly to belly suplex on Throwback Thursday at The Ground Never Misses.  Enjoy!

imageKnown as the wristlock master, Fredson Paixao was recently interviewed by the cats at BJJ Hacks on his small joint manipulation skills.  This is a great video showcasing a rarely respected submission which is essential in self defense!  Think about it… you ain’t grabbing a weapon, my arm, my clothing, or anything for that matter,
with a broken wrist.

imageIt is rare that I say I wish I lived closer to Texas, but after Carlos Machado announced his curriculum for the 2014 RCJ Machado Summer Camp I wish I was within driving distance.  This camp will be an information intensive submersion into attacks, sweeps, and escapes over the period of two four day camps.
Week 1:  (JUL 7 to JUL 10) – 6:30-8:30AM
* Never miss another chance to finish!
Students will learn:
Day 1- Triangle Arm Bar Set Ups
Day 2- Shoulder lock and Choke Combos
Day 3- Cutter Choke/Arm Bar/Guillotine Combos
Day 4- Back Finish/Arm Triangle Combos

Week 2:  (JUL 14 TO JUL 17) –

* Make your guard impossible to pass, make yourself impossible to control!
Day 1- Butterfly Guard 101 – The Pro Game – Set up and Elevation Strategy
Day 2- De La Riva Torment- Make the guard a misery to others!
Day 3- Turtle Escape Wizard – How to turtle and overcome anyone who holds you down!
Day 4- Shrimp Kill Drill – Swim your way out of any side control!

That is over 16 hours of training with renowned red and black belt Carlos Machado, all this before you get to work in the AM (provided you live in the DFW area that is) and for under $600!!!  Not to be missed!!

For registration or more info please click here.   Or visit RCJ Machado Pro!

imageHere is a great short interview with Red black belt Carlos Machado of RCJ Machado fame, where he discusses the role of women in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Tracey Vandry.  In a time of misogynistic attitudes and approaches even in our martial arts, it is nice to see an advocate for equality on the mats especially from a Brazilian leader such as Carlos.

Here is a snippet, to read the entire article click here. 

“Since BJJ has become more popular, and its’ benefits are apparent to the female public, it started a great demand. I know in the past in Brazil women were not encouraged to practice BJJ because of the exclusive point of view that BJJ was predominantly a male sport. Once people realized that this was not necessarily the case, and for self-defense reasons, women could benefit tremendously from BJJ, the barriers were gradually broken. Today, more and more women join BJJ schools. It is a healthy, safe, exciting and effective self-defense method for men and women alike.”

imageThough it was a few years ago, my sole meeting with Roy Dean has always left a positive impression on me.  Apparently film maker Stuart Cooper saw much of the same potential and greatness in Roy Dean as well which prompted a film on the Bend Oregon Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach.

A great representation of Roy Dean’s positive message and approach to the arts we love, from one of the treasures of the Pacific NW.  Enjoy!

I find these clips of traditional African wrestling absolutely fascinating.  David Adams Films offers documentaries from all ends of the earth and in this short snippet he previews a traditional wrestling tournament in Sudan.  A rich clash of culture, tradition, rebellion, and community these clips remind me why I got involved in martial arts to begin with.

Stay tuned to The Ground Never Misses as we will be bringing some Yoruba African wrestling to Seattle by years end!

imageEveryone is on this “Throwback Thursday” rant, so I figured I would feature some grapplers throwing each other over their backs!!

imageOnce again Kru Doug Marcaida of Rochester Kali offers some solid advice in a nicely edited video for our viewing pleasure.  True training in self defense is becoming rare and hard to find.  Many martial arts academies gravitate towards the sportive aspects of their given style, often ignoring certain key aspects such as “dirty” fighting (whatever that means) and weapon engagement.  Some great food for thought in these short 6 minutes:

imageJohn Will, one of BJJ’s Dirty Dozen, will be making his sole visit to the PAC NW this coming Sunday when he visits NW Jiu Jitsu Academy (942 N. 95th St) to offer gi and no gi seminars.  Rumor has it he is is going to cover some Spider Guard essentials in the gi portion, and “no gi game changers” for the no gi session.

All are welcome regardless of rank and experience.

Also for all mi amigo’s in So Cal, John will be visiting Huntington Beach on the 19th as well spreading the grappling good word.  So if you are in the LA area make sure to stop in an check out one of the best kept secrets in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

imageimageRemember to thank your pops for being 50% responsible for creating your little ass, today on Fathers Day!  Also keep in mind that today is HIS day, so let him do what he wants with whom he wants.  All too often I see wives and kids deciding dad’s schedule for the day and then throwing a fit if he has other ideas.  Remember it is a day celebrating him, not you.  So let him celebrate! Check out Revgear’s World Open Grappling Tournament in Denver, Colorado June 28th.  Revgear is starting a series of tournaments that will cover all regions of the US.  Register tonight and get a free mouthguard, or get a free division:image
imageThanks to our friends DSTRYRsg for sharing this great clip of Sambo expert Igor Yakimov teaching a clinic at Sambo Canada recently.  Some really nice takedowns and transitions into leg attacks (in typical Sambo fashion;).

Train Hard.  Train Smart.

imageAborigines of Mornington Island, Australia are trying to raise interest in their young kids via traditional wrestling called Coreeda.  Arguably the oldest grappling system in existence, the legend tells the tale of a serpent sending off a young man to study the kangaroo in an effort to learn how to fight without weapons.  What came from that young mans observations is Coreeda, a beautiful indigenous combat art.

Here is the link to Coreeda Assoc. of Australia:

You can break our bones and kill us
Bring us to our knees
Take away our children
Against a mother’s pleas
But you stop the Dreaming never
The Dreamtime is eternal, forever

Thanks to Wrestling Roots for the link!

imageOur friends over at BJJ Heroes have shared a great article on the history of the closed guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  The closed guard is, in my humble opinion (echoed by some of the greats BTW) that without a solid closed guard you are lacking as a grappler.  Period.  Essential to maintaining range and controlling your opponents hip movement, the closed guard also serves as a solid attacking position with a plethora of sweeps, chokes, arm bars, shoulder locks, leg attacks… I mean really there is no limit to the attacks one can do from closed guard, unlike the mount for example.

An excerpt from BJJ Heroes:

Peixotinho vs. Rickson (1984)

“The history of the closed guard ‘boom’ in Jiu Jitsu starts at Osvaldo Alves‘ class inside the Clube Olímpico (a clandestine casino, masked as a recreation centre in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana). Master Osvaldo taught a class there using the term Jiu Jitsu, though in reality his Jiu Jitsu experience was limited. He was a Judo man, but as he needed to pay a license fee to teach it, he decided to call it a Jiu Jitsu class instead. Alves was known in the Brazilian grappling community, he had lived in Japan and had a close relationship with the Gracies, for those reasons many students from different teams regularly visited his academy, among the regulars were Otavio ‘Peixotinho’ and Márcio dos Santos (students of Carlson Gracie) who started the exchange of basic Judo and Gracie Jiu Jitsu closed guard techniques.

Quickly this tight-knit association started making a dent in the Jiu Jitsu competitive scene. Peixotinho submitted the technical Sylvio Behring with an armbar from the guard (see video below), a technique developed by the group. Pascoal Duarte did the same with Royce Gracie and Sergio Penha became one of the toughest competitors the sport had seen in just 3 years of training, a record breaking time in the sport.”

To read the entire article click here… 

I have made the closed guard one of the strongest aspects of my game.  I’ll be damned if I am THAT guy who is 6’4″ 215 pounds and cannot play off his back.  I cannot tell you the great influences I have had… Brian J. Johnson / Tim Cartmell / Rigan – Carlos – Roger – Jean Jacques Machado (ALL of the Machado’s place a heavy emphasis on closed guard) / Damian Maia / David Meyer etc.

So check out this early video of Sylvio Behring being submitted by Peixotinho (peep the ref… some famous cat I can’t remember the name of;), read about the history of the closed guard, and then hit the mat do brush up on that lazy guard game!

My vote for logo of the year!!

Man o’ man the Pacific NW is THE place to be for a grappler as we have John Will’s seminar coming up at NWJJA in Seattle June 22nd, Henry Akins will visit the area in August, and I just got word of the NW No-Gi Training Camp in Portland, OR. July 25-27th 2014 which will feature at least one seminar with Jean Jacques Machado black belt, and 10th Planet founder Eddie Bravo! imageIt has been a minute since Eddie last visited the Pac NW and this is a wonderful opportunity to train with one of the 21st century’s most revered grapplers and teachers.  Regardless of what you think of his personal views on marijuana, chem trails, or government conspiracies… Eddie is honestly one of the top instructors I have ever had the honor of sharing the mats with!  A man whose grasp of fundamental grappling is really second to none, as he is truly his masters protege in that Eddie is an innovator whose foundation is rooted in the fundamental laws of grappling.

Johnny Fu / Your’s Truly / Bravo / Doc in 2009

Do not miss this opportunity to train with Eddie Bravo!  Visit 10th Planet Portland to pre-register for this event that will surely sell out! 

And just in case you have no clue whom this Eddie Bravo cat is…

Leo Giron (1911-2002)

Understanding of range and how to keep it / when to close it, is pivotal to any combatant but especially more so when weapons are involved (weapon vs weapon, or weapon vs empty hands).  Fencers certainly know this as do solid Escrimadors!  My training with Guro Jeff last time I visited Detroit was centered around range (more accurately my lack of understanding of it!!) and I have learned I need to better understand how and when to engage in lieu of blindly entering into medio or corto.

Not at all related to the following clip is this excellent article on Largo Mano (long range) and how it relates to western fencing.  An excerpt:
“The influence of western swordsmanship was evident in the names of some systems of FMA. One good example is “estocada,” which was derived from the word “estoc,” a French sword designed for piercing chain mail.
   The influences of western fencing most probably made its way to the native FMA during the rise of the Ilustrado class during the Spanish colonial period. Ilustrado, which is a Spanish word for “erudite” pertains to the middle class or educated Filipinos during that period. A good case in point is the Philippines’ national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who was both an adept in western fencing and arnis. Rizal taught arnis to young boys during his exile in Dapitan.”

Click here to read the entire article. 

Here is a quick clip of Doug Marcaida and Jeff Davidson teaching in Ireland and offering some sound pointers on range maintenance and timing.

Copyright: Gracie Mag

A HUGE congrats to multi-time champion black belt, instructor at Ace Jiu Jitsu, and overall nice guy Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida on his third STRAIGHT Black Belt Absolute Title!  Pretty much hands down leaves him standing on a level all his own… I can honestly say he is without a doubt the best BJJ practitioner in the world.  If you are in the Fountain Valley California area make sure to check out the champ teaching at Ace JJ!

Cheers bro!

imageRickson Gracie’s protege Henry Akins will visit the Seattle area for the first time offering a seminar open to all on Saturday August 9th at Foster BJJ.  I have heard nothing but positive things about Henry and his teaching style.

imageThere will be no classes from June 3rd – 10th.  Class will resume on the 12th.
JakeimageMy friend Georgette recently posted a great piece on her blog that was shared from AnnMaria De Mars blog The Business/Judo of Life.  Not only is AnnMaria a PHD in educational psychology, but is also the mother of UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, as well as being the first American Judoka to win the World Championships (1984) and is currently a 6th dan black belt.  She had some very interesting advice to offer a mother whose child had suffered at the hand of a sexual predator:

“Recently, I was having a conversation with someone whose stepchild had been a victim of abuse. I was going to suggest martial arts as a means of building self-esteem and learning self-defense … and then I stopped myself and did not.

Here is why — because in my 43 years of experience in judo, I have seen a higher proportion of sexual abusers than I have in the general population. I suspect this is also true of other martial arts. Now, it’s true that this is only limited to my experience, but in 43 years, traveling around the world, as well as monitoring the news on judo fairly closely, that experience includes a lot of people.

There are a few reasons I think this is true:

  1. image
  2. In general, people who are seeking to abuse children have to get access to them in some way. Thus, you find more child abuse among people who come into contact with children regularly in settings unsupervised by other adults. To become a teacher at the K-12 level you need to get at least five years of education plus pass a background check, including getting finger printed. To teach martial arts you need to be in a club for a year or two and convince someone to give you a rank. Yes, in some clubs it can take five years or more to get a black belt, but that’s not true everywhere. Often, if you show up to class and pay your dues on time you will get promoted. The background check is pretty minimal. The same is also true of many other extracurricular activities like youth sports or dance.
  3.  In AYSO soccer, my daughter has competed for five years in two different cities and nowhere could you have practice unless there is a female chaperon there.  In contrast, supervision in martial arts programs by other adults tends to be pretty minimal. At our judo program at Gompers Middle School, we cannot have practice without a certified staff member from LAUSD on the mat, but that is an anomaly. I know of dozens of judo programs that have practice with just one adult instructor. Growing up, that was the norm for me.
  4. Situations where a person is in authority – coach, teacher, priest/ minister or parent – not only do they provide an opportunity for abuse but children are often trying to please those people and are often afraid of their authority. Besides, these are the people who children are supposed to be listening to their directions.

To sum it up, you have a setting where physical contact between an adult and a child is allowed, where people with minimal to moderate screening  are in positions where they have unsupervised access to children and are put in a position of authority over them.On top of all of that, there are certain characteristics that make abuse more likely to occur.  The vast majority of judo instructors are male and over 90% of sexual abuse of females  and depending on the study you read, 63-86% of sexual abuse of males occurs with a male perpetrator. imageWhile being a victim once is awful enough, repeat victims of abuse suffer even greater trauma, and people who have been a victim once are at greater risk of subsequent abuse. That is not to say that victims of abuse should not do martial arts, ever. There are people I would trust completely.  Jim Pedro, Sr. , Tony Mojica, Steve & Becky Scott, Karen Mackey – I could give you a list. The point is, all of these are people I have known for years.  I would feel comfortable recommending any one of them INDIVIDUALLY. However, I would not feel comfortable recommending judo, or martial arts in general, and since I did not know anyone who lived near this particular family, I caught myself and just expressed sympathy and recommended family therapy.The reason I wrote this post is that I think people who love martial arts often DO recommend judo, jiujitsu or whatever it is they do as sort of a knee-jerk response, because, after all, it may be great for them. For some children, though, it may be the worst possible thing to do.”
Some serious food for thought in this post.  All too often I see parents treating a martial arts class like a baby sitter, barely involved in what is going on both on the mat and off.   All of her points are valid especially the background checking, but in all reality predators still exist and place themselves in areas of accessibility coupled with limited supervision and an ingrained desire to appease the authority figure.  We must once again remind ourselves these instances have very little to do with sex and everything with control and manipulation.It is often a knee jerk reaction by those of us whom have not suffered an assault to suggest martial arts as a passageway to self perseverance and preservation, but the counter points Dr. De Mars raises has caused some seriously deep thinking on my part and I hope it causes you to re-evaluate (or perhaps investigate for the first time) your thoughts and feelings on self defense for victims of sexual, emotional, mental, and/or physical abuse.   As martial artists we all must work our situational awareness and quickly weed out inappropriate relationships and predatory individuals.