Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza is a lifesaver. This book explains how to: a) avoid injuries through correct body mechanics, and b) restore mobility to injured areas. After my experience I consider it essential reading for anyone, especially those involved in body-brutalizing sports like Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo.
[This is an expanded version of the review I wrote for BJJ Legends]
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BJJ music, brazilian metal

An unscientific analysis of listening patterns of my Music for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu article. In April I posted a mishmash of songs from my collection that could be considered to be related to our favourite martial art. Four months later, I did some stats hunting to gauge the response. And since I managed to omit Brazilian music of any kind, I’ve also tracked down four classic Brazilian metal albums that sound great on the mats.
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Jiu-Jitsu Strategy: Frustrate and Annoy

The Brendan Schaub vs Ricardo “Cyborg” Abreu debacle at Metamoris 2 on June 9, 2013 was an embarrassment to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After Ryron Gracie vs Andre Galvao at Metamoris Pro I wrote about my personal default Brazilian jiu-jitsu strategy – “Frustrate and Annoy” – likening it to Ryron’s KeepItPlayful.com. However, I have to clarify that while Schaub’s performance was indeed frustrating and very annoying, it wasn’t the Frustrate & Annoy strategy endorsed by The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex.

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Henry Akins. Rickson Gracie's third American black belt

Henry Akins. Rickson Gracie’s third American black belt

A collection of Brazilian jiu-jitsu technique videos by Henry Akins, the third American to receive a BJJ black belt from Rickson Gracie. Jiu-jitsu has a wide appeal because it’s adaptable to different aptitudes and body types. Early on I was enamoured by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza because of his ADCC 2005 performance, but quickly realized that my physical attributes (ie. slowness) weren’t in line. Ditto for Royler Gracie, Genki Sudo, Carlos Newton, Dave Camarillo, Buchecha, Ryan Hall, the Mendes brothers, etc. I’ve ended up with a slower, methodical BJJ game. It’s built around judo ashi-waza and top control, or closed and half guard from the bottom, and influenced by watching jiu-jitsu in MMA more often than sport BJJ. Henry Akins is right up my alley.

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, physics, biology, and astronomy

Science and BJJ collide on the bookshelf at Jiu-Jitsu Vortex HQ

Dan Faggella is a little guy from Rhode Island who likes winning Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission grappling competitions with leglocks. He also has an analytical approach and shares his knowledge by teaching at his academy – Black Diamond MMA – and through his blogs, magazine and online articles, and prolific email campaigns. A while back Dan contacted me to talk about his three favourite Jiu-Jitsu Vortex articles and what draws scientists to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

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BJJ music

A slice of the vinyl collection at Jiu-Jitsu Vortex HQ

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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Jacare, the alligator of Brazilian jiu-jitsu

An alligator, the namesake of Jacare Souza, on the prowl. Photo courtesy of Steven Beger Photography (Beger.com)

An overview of the MMA career of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza dos Santos, one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters in mixed martial arts. Hailing from the jungles of Manaus, Brazil (also the home of BJJ legend Wallid Ismael), Jacare is a jiu-jitsu black belt, judo black belt, and multiple-time World BJJ and ADCC champion. He’s also one of the few to defeat Roger Gracie in Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition (Jacare vs. Roger Gracie match from the 2004 Mundial). At the time of writing (March 10, 2013), Jacare’s MMA record is 17 wins (13 submissions, one KO), three losses (two by KO), and one no-contest.

I’m a big fan of picking an MMA fighter and watching their evolution by tracking down all of their fights and watching them in sequence. A few months back The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex published an overview of Demian Maia’s MMA career up to his brutal “twin blood jets” neck crank victory over Rick Story on October 13, 2012. This time Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza gets the treatment.

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Problems with tribalism in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and society

Tribalism = the behaviour influenced by strong loyalty to a tribe.

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.

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BJJ strategy frustrate and annoy

Frustrate and Annoy – The official BJJ strategy of The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex. With an obvious nod to Craig Stecyk and Thrasher skateboard magazine.

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.
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Phoenix, Fred Ettish, UFC 2

Like Fred Ettish, the Phoenix rises from the ashes. Image from Aberdeen Bestiary is in the public domain.

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.
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Brazilian jiu-jitsu notebooks

Jeff gets arty: Brazilian jiu-jitsu still life with gym bag, notebooks, and gi.

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.

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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.

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UFC 131 weigh ins

Demian Maia weighs in for UFC 131 in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of MartialArtsNomad.com

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.

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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.

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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…

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