On my second run through Metamoris Pro I thought it’d be funny to take a mezcal shot every time Rener said “interesting”. I woke up at the hospital. Next try, I hit the mute button and played Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew album. This is a brilliant piece of music. Proto-fusion jazz isn’t what most would associate with BJJ, but the way the layers of sound overlap and interact is a perfect complement to the improvisational ebb and flow of an exciting Brazilian jiu-jitsu match.
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Early on New Years Day 2013, two high-profile competitors from the Lloyd Irvin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team – Matthew Maldonado and Nicholas Shultz – raped a drunk teammate in a Washington D.C. parking lot. The assault was captured on video and hit the BJJ world like a firestorm. About a week later, another story resurfaced: a gang rape case from 1989 involving a Lloyd E. Irvin Jr. Things got ugly. A debate sprung up about whether a “rape culture” exists in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Tribalism reared its (sometimes) nasty head in a localized exhibition of a species-wide phenomenon.
What did Helio Gracie and Vince Lombardi have in common? Brazilian jiu-jitsu strategy is a hot topic and recent events like the Gracie Worlds and the Metamoris Pro have added fire to the debate by pitting the traditional “submission is the only victory” BJJ against more competition-friendly strategies. All of the talk got me thinking about my own approach to rolling and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
If you’ve been an MMA fan for any length of time there’s about a 97% chance that you’ve made fun of Fred Ettish. I did. His fight against Johnny Rhodes is the stuff of legends, and not for the right reasons. But there’s way more to Fred Ettish than what happened at UFC 2 in 1994. He’s tougher than you are.
A technique notebook is one of the most powerful Brazilian jiu-jitsu training aids. I’ve been keeping one on and off since my first judo class and have found that my rate of progression is directly proportional to my diligence with updating my BJJ notebook. Jiu-jitsu isn’t something that’s easy to describe using words alone and a couple of people at my gym have asked to see my notes, so I figured I’d put together an article explaining why and how I do it.
On November 4, 2012, my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, Adam Ryan, took gold in the senior 2 black belt category of the IBJJF 2012 World No-Gi Championships, submitting his opponent with a pretty brutal ankle lock. The Dynamic MMA team were all pretty excited to watch this, and in honour of Adam’s leglock finish, I figured I’d put together a quick compilation of leglock-related articles that I’ve written over the years. These articles were published in different places under different sets of publication guidelines, so there’s some repetition, but they give a good overview. The flow is: introduction, examples of leglocks in action, learning resources, and dealing with knee or ankle injuries.
Demian Maia might be the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu technician in mixed martial arts. Of his 17 professional MMA wins, nine have come by submission and three by TKO. Maia’s MMA career has been interesting – from highlight-reel submissions to boring decision losses and back. Watching his recent quick victories over Dong Hyun Kim “The Korean Stun Gun” and Rick Story in UFC 148 and 153, respectively, inspired me to track down some videos and put together a brief Demian Maia MMA retrospective.
Holy crap! A two-hour video breakdown of every judo nage-waza (throwing technique) in the gokyo no waza and shimmeisho no waza. 68 judo takedowns in all! And it was put together by the Kodokan Judo Institute, the International Judo Federation (IJF), and the All Japan Judo Federation so it’s the real thing. It was passed on to me by one of my longtime Dynamic MMA training partners, who Twitter types may know as JiuJitsuDude.
The Internet is full of crap, but manure piles are great places to grow flowers. Case in point, London Real, an interesting podcast by Brian Rose and Nic Gabriel. The London Real team recently emailed The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex to ask if I’d help spread the word about their recent one-hour interview with the (almost) unstoppable Brazilian jiu-jitsu juggernaut, Roger Gracie. I like their show, and Roger’s the man, so I hereby wield my very limited influence over the BJJ community…
Much to the chagrin of the “stand them up, ref!” sector of the MMA fanbase, the grappling arts like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, catch wrestling, and sambo are as inseparable from mixed martial arts as ugly t-shirts, ring girls, and fights in the stands over spilled beer. Some of the most spectacular wins in MMA history have been by submission and this article looks at a few of my personal favourites.
Breathing in BJJ is often overlooked. There’s no shortage of information about the visually exciting side of Brazilian jiu-jitsu technique… escapes, submissions, sweeps, counters… the magazines and websites are overflowing with that stuff. But breathing? Boring. Right? Not exactly. When I’m rolling with someone, one of the main things I pay attention to is their breathing pattern.
Knee injuries are very common in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, especially since it seems like heel hooks, toeholds, and other leglocks are getting more popular. Is it the Toquinho effect? The rise of the 50-50 guard? Rubber guard disasters? Maybe leglock master “Judo” Gene LeBell is to blame. At any rate, the list of high-level BJJ (and MMA) fighters who have been slowed down by knee injuries goes on and on: Kron Gracie, Xande Ribeiro, David Avellan, Dustin Hazelett, Bas Rutten, Roger Gracie, Tito Ortiz, Romulo Barral, Marco Ruas, Georges Ste-Pierre, to name a few. How to these injuries happen? And how do you treat them?
It’s been exactly one year since I started up The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex as a place for martial arts-related writing. Since then I’ve covered things like jiu-jitsu history, philosophy, techniques, local MMA events, etc. There were some surprises, developments, and funny bits. Here’s a snapshot of what went down.
I tend to communicate best when empowered with the ability to backspace and retype when (not if) I say something foolish. But on Sunday I ventured out onto the trapeze without a net by joining Bin and Indy at the Rain City Podcast. We talked about a bunch of things including – but not limited to – Andre Galvao, MMA, the combined importance of the dartos reflex and cremaster muscles, life in smalltown Canada, the skateboarding / Brazilian jiu-jitsu connection, why Bin is a jerk, the hits and misses of multiculturalism, and what constitutes “East Van cool”.
There’s no shortage of interesting characters in the martial arts. It’s one of the reasons that it’s such a fun world to be a part of. A quick Youtube search for Frank Dux, Renato Laranja, Relson Gracie, Mike Tyson, Chael Sonnen, or Roger Mayweather is guaranteed to yield some gold. But there are also tons of cool and inspiring stories. Take for example the Afghani girls’ boxing team, the redemption saga of Canadian freestyle wrestling champion Khetag Pliev, and boxer Sergio Martinez’s fight against bullying and domestic violence.