4 Nov 2007


Here is a picture of the perfect excuse for missing training.
Mini-Meerkat No2 was born 03:50am on Nov2nd a healthy 6lb11oz.
He feeds like his dad, poos like his dad, and has very sparrow-like but deceptively strong legs - erm maybe like his dad, maybe.

So, with Meerkat comfortably asleep whilst Mrs Meerkat gave birth (yes I really did fall asleep in the labour ward, waking up just in time to witness the birth) it was up to my troops from Imperial JJ to kick ass at the Southend Jikishin tournament.
And what a show. Rob Line won silver in brown/black belt random attack category. Nazarella, won silver in groundfighting (I predicted she would win a medal), Holly George won a bronze in groundfighting, and Sensei Grant, not happy with 1, won 2 gold medals. Phew! Everyone else did exceedingly well as the field gets tougher and tougher each year. Well done to you all. Meerkat sincerely hopes to join the crew and compete again next year.

The Perfect Excuse

Here is a picture of the perfect excuse for missing training. Mini-Meerkat No2 was born 03:50am on Nov2nd a healthy 6lb11oz. He feeds like h...

26 Oct 2007

My second visit to Mill Hill JJ club last night and Nick worked on guard passing. Now if there is any technique in the myriad of BJJ techniques that reveals the differences between clubs and styles, guard passing is it. At RGDA, one of the passes we learned was the Gracie trademark one arm under one leg and stacking guard pass. Done correctly, it should work a treat, but many people, like me, don’t do it so well and get easily triangled or it falls apart. At Mill Hill, they follow the Roger Gracie ethic and consider placing one arm under as a definite no-no. Instead, they work on opening the guard and pass by walking or hopping over the legs, or the really cool both arms under the uke’s legs and flipping them to the side or the really flash flipping them upside down. I really liked these guard passes, they worked easily and were hard to counter.
Then came sparring. I must admit, I am finding it hard to adjust to the more full-on sparring style here. Many of these guys are just too good (and big) for me and I got swept and subbed by the blue belts with consummate ease. One guy, 85Kilo blue belt Ollie, just ripped me apart with endless subs. I think the most I lasted was about 20 seconds at one point. He finished me off with the evil knee on belly where you use the knee to force down into the gut and he pulls up with both grips so you get squeezed to hell. Then I sparred with a couple of white belts with four stripes (so blue belts in all but name) and they were very tough to break guard and swept me easily, but I avoided the humiliating tapouts of before. The drive home was a bit sombre for me. The new club is a bit of a step up for me and I struggled to cope. I hope I can improve over the coming weeks and months.

Blue

My second visit to Mill Hill JJ club last night and Nick worked on guard passing. Now if there is any technique in the myriad of BJJ techniq...

19 Oct 2007

Last night, the chance came for me to finally check out the nearest BJJ club in my new location – the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club, a newly anointed representative of the Roger Gracie group run by Nick Brooks. It is only a few minutes drive away from me and I was looking forward to continuing my BJJ training there. I’ve known Nick for several years through ties with my traditional ju-jitsu training, but Nick has converted his club fully into a BJJ and subgrappling club.
So I turned up and the class ran pretty much as I expected – the same as any BJJ class around the world – a short series of simple warm-ups, then drilling of techniques (Nick went through escapes from side control) and then sparring. And it was the sparring that gave people the opportunity to check out the newboy – oh, that’s me. In a slight change to my experience at RGDA, the partners at Mill Hill are chosen by the sensei. At RGDA, we just partnered up with whoever we wanted. So I was partnered up by probably the youngest member there, a slight framed by youthful blue belt called Daniel. Oh my god, within split seconds Daniel had me tied up with omoplatas, rear nakeds and armbars seemingly out of nowhere. All the time, Nick was standing watching over me and I felt a sense that I was being set up with the brightest spark in the pack – kind of a way of sussing me out.
(I’ve since discovered that Daniel is someone with form – he recently won gold at the ADCC UK Nationals to become the youngest ever national champion at….16 years of age.)
The time thankfully ran out and then Nick offered to spar with me. I think I did a little better this time, but was still reeling from the shell shock of being subbed at will by a kid half my age – make that more than half my age. Nick was a little more forgiving, pulling me to guard and trying to sweep or counter which I was more comfortable with and countered myself with almost success. I didn’t get subbed this time, but I’m sure Nick was only playing with me. It was interesting to see the subtle differences between sparring with Eddie and Nick. Both highly accomplished brown belts, but both with quite different games.
Next up was the only female in the club that night, a firey and feisty challenge which had me trying everything I knew just to get out of a rather punishing lapel choke. Finally, I sparred with one of the bigger guys. This time I wasn’t gonna lay around helpless, so I pulled, yes you guessed it, spider guard. He found it infuriatingly tricky to pass but I found it tough to sweep him. We ended stalemate, I was pleased not to get subbed four in a row – that would be humiliating. But I think I mostly held my own.
Overall, it was a good night of training and a good op to blow away some cobwebs. The guys and girl at Mill Hill are a friendly bunch and I don’t think I made too much of a twat of myself. The young prodigious talent of Daniel was jaw dropping, and, since we are roughly similar in weight, I suspect there will be many more opportunities of being – to coin a vulgar term – bitchslapped. Although people were curious about my BJJ background and wanted to check me out, it was also a chance for me to check them out. Nick is a good instructor and explained the techniques very well, so looks like I have found a new BJJ home for the time being.

Oldboy, Newboy

Last night, the chance came for me to finally check out the nearest BJJ club in my new location – the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club , a newly anoi...

18 Oct 2007


The MEERKAT is back.
I’m back! After a brief hiatus spent moving home, I am finally settled into my new den in leafy Borehamwood. But before severing my ties with Hackney altogether, I had one more commitment – to attend a seminar at Eddie’s RGDA-UK gym given by the dashing Rodrigo Gracie.
Rodrigo is what some refer to as one of the ‘new’ generation of Gracies. Actually he is a bit older than the current crop of ‘new’ generation Gracies (Rener, Ralek etc), but he is clearly still a fighter in his prime.
The session didn’t begin until Rodrigo completed a TV interview, so we all sat around listening to him bat away some rather strange and off the cuff questions by the WOMA interviewer.
Rodrigo, like many Brazilian BJJ instructors, cuts an air of laid back calm with perhaps the added twang of having spent many years in the good old US of A. He seemed to come alive only when talking about fighting (both sport and ‘street’ fights) and girls - no difference to the rest of us then ;)
The seminar began with Rodgrigo introducing some simple self defence techniques against a head lock, then almost immediately progressed to sport BJJ where you use your own gi to strangle the uke. This was my favourite technique which, although a bit tricky, is probably one of the flashier moves in groundwork. After a few more gi techniques, Rodrigo moved to subgrappling techniques, and it was here that he clearly relished teaching – and spent most time on. I must admit, that my fading energy levels and concentration on the camera lens meant I did not really take in what Rodgrigo was teaching us so this part of the session flew over my head.
After the taught part of the session, Rodrigo offered to roll with students. Sadly, this Meerkat missed out yet again, as there were simply too many queuing up for their chance to be tapped out by the master…and he did not disappoint as tap after tap, all of our toughest guys got subbed within seconds. It was pretty amazing to watch.
The night ended with photos and smiles all round. Everyone warmed greatly to Rodrigo and he carries the Gracie name with honour and pride.
My night was not quite over as I offered to spar with long time training pal Ozy. Oz has just spent a year in Korea and has been training hard in BJJ over there, and cor blimey it really showed as this poor old Meerkat was rather ripped to shreds with Ozy’s now trademark butterfly and x-guard sweeps. Gulp, back to the drawing board for me! But nice to visibly see a fellow BJJer make such a great improvement and rise to his potential. It makes me wish I could devote more time to training. Still, I’m happy to take whatever I can get and this seminar was a great experience. Thanks once again to Eddie and the RGDA crew.

Gracie time

The MEERKAT is back. I’m back! After a brief hiatus spent moving home, I am finally settled into my new den in leafy Borehamwood. But befor...

30 Sep 2007

It's all over. My final session at RGDA-UK finished without incident (ie I thankfully didn't get injured). And, I must say, with a little tear in my eye, I will really miss the club.

For over the past 6 months my house move has been dragging on and on and now it is finally happening, it has dawned on me that due to the distance, I will no longer be able to attend my beloved Hackney BJJ club.

I started training there about 3 years ago and, although I had done a bit of BJJ at Carlson Gracie’s before, I was pretty much a raw beginner and was classic matt fodder as I got subbed time and time again. But I loved it then and I still do now. I’ve enjoyed my training there so much and really appreciate how Eddie and all the crew made me part of their ‘family’. It’s been a great ride. During my time there, I’d got to train with Royce, Royler and Rolker Gracie and rolled with numerous guys and girls who have become good friends. More importantly, I truly adhere to the club philosophy that BJJ should be more than just winning competitions and subbing everyone in sight. It is much deeper than that, and Eddie teaches it the way that Helio, Royler, Royce etc all teach it - as a martial art and self defence system to be enjoyed by all.
Thanks to everyone there, I consider myself very much still part of the RGDA crew and definitely hope to pop down every now and again.

So, the question is, where to now?

A quick scan on google reveals very few subgrapp or BJJ clubs in the Hertfordshire area. It got so depressing at one point I half considered joining a TKD or karate club (which there are in abundance in Herts), but, shudder the thought, I quickly put that one to rest.
There are however one or two clubs within driving distance that I may try. So, a new journey awaits and Meerkat will of course continue to report all his martial arts endeavours for your reading pleasure.

So long, farewell, alf wiedersehen, goodbye

It's all over. My final session at RGDA-UK finished without incident (ie I thankfully didn't get injured). And, I must say, with a l...

27 Sep 2007


New addition to the syllabus?
Actually, this photo, by Ozzie snapper Brenton Edwards, is the 2007 winner of the Commonwealth Photographic Awards, and shows eleven-year old martial arts expert Giang Trong La balances on a bed of swords and spears. An exponent of Chang-Moo-Kwan Academy in Adelaide, South Australia since he was six, Giang has been learning the technique of being supported two metres in the air by eight razor sharp spears and swords for the past two years. This was one of the first times he had achieved this feat. Edwards had to get the image right pretty quickly as he could only tolerate being up there for ten seconds.
They sure to breed 'em tough down under.

Meerkat is gearing up once again for the annual Jikishin Ju-Jitsu Tournament. I may not be able to compete myself as it coincides with the due date of baby Meerkat#2, but it doesn't stop the rigorous training for the rest of the Imperial Club members. Groundfighting is once again high on the agenda and so far, Wayne 'Rage' is offering to represent Imperial in this category. There's a lot to do between now and the comps, so let's wish all out competitors good luck.

Poked

New addition to the syllabus? Actually, this photo, by Ozzie snapper Brenton Edwards, is the 2007 winner of the Commonwealth Photographic A...

20 Sep 2007



English MMA fighter Rosi Sexton has been getting lots of press recently. It's understandable since she is a very good fighter and, as a female fighter attracts negative and positive publicity alike. She is also a Cambridge-educated maths post grad wh is not short of an opinion or two. Meerkat has followed Rosi's progress since she was a regular poster on Planetjitsu forums. Especially her account of training whilst heavily pregnant and studying for her degree. There is another clip on youtube where she subs a Brazilian fighter using a classic BJJ technique. It's like selling rice to the Chinese.

So it seems a shame but she will probably be reknowned as the girl that caused a horrendous injury to her Japanese opponent in a recent MMA fight. The clip above is not for the squeamish (the cameraman certainly wasn't).
The takedown looks innocuous enough. A rear leg sweep of some type, but the Japanese girl obvious got her foot stuck whilst the upper leg and body rotated. It's a horrible injury and one that reminds me of David Busst, ex-Coventry player who was tackled and suffered probably the worst football injury of all time.

Speaking of injuries, Imperial Club member Daniel popped into the dojo this week to say Hi. He showed off his thick scars and described the permanent metal pins that hold his shattered forearm together. Docs say that if this arm breaks again, he will lose the arm! Daniel is quite wisely staying away from jujitsu until he heals completely.

Girl Fight

English MMA fighter Rosi Sexton has been getting lots of press recently . It's understandable since she is a very good fighter and, as...

11 Sep 2007


What to do during four days of bone aching flu, stuck at home, bored witless...I know, let's conjure a new kata, and with such a willing young protege as Baby Meerkat, a new form is born. It may look easy, but there are secrets hidden in there.

Iron-baby gong fu

What to do during four days of bone aching flu, stuck at home, bored witless...I know, let's conjure a new kata, and with such a willing...

5 Sep 2007







Two honed and highly trained athletes pit their skills in a bid to win the title, but one of them is vastly superior in strength and size. It seems almost unfair and, sadly, it is, the bigger competitor falls on top of the other and crushes his spine, he ends up paralysed. But he is the lucky one, others who have competed, have died. The result is calamitous and the press call for a ban in this barbarous sport. Just another day in the life of a cage fighting contest? Well you would be wrong, the event I am describing here is horse racing. But it could be rugby, motorsport, boxing, hell, even wrestling has its fair share of death and serious injury.

Spoilsports from the British Medical Council today released a press release in an all too predictable knee jerk reaction to a sport that is practised by thousands and enjoyed by millions. For a contact sport, the safety record is incredibly good and the rules ensure that this continues to be the case.

To be fair, shows like the UFC and Cage Rage don’t exactly help by building up the hype to promote their shows with words such as ‘Extreme Fighting’ and ‘No holds barred’ but this is just marketing. The critics say it is human cockfighting. No, it is a sport governed by rules where both competitors choose to enter at their own free will and the loser has the chance to always ‘tap’ out. Roosters that fight – nearly always do so to the death.

I don’t follow MMA as avidly as most of my training buddies, but I have been to many shows and even participated in training. It’s not my first love but I can understand the ‘art’ of the sport and appreciate how much conditioning and skill is required. Of course, there should be people who voice their concerns as this helps make it safer. A call for a complete ban on MMA (the press release also asks to ban boxing) is singling out one sport when there are others that create far worse damage. Personally I can’t stand golf and think it should be banned on the grounds that it eats up precious countryside and is pointless (oh and also includes it’s fair share of eye-watering injuries), but that’s another story.

Ban Everything - especially dull stuff

Two honed and highly trained athletes pit their skills in a bid to win the title, but one of them is vastly superior in strength and s...

28 Aug 2007

An interesting couple of incidents occurred to two of Meerkat’s friends.

First was one by BJJ pal Mark. You can read the full details here:
But in short – he was practising BJJ in the dojo on Sunday when a Pencak Silat class was going on on the other side. The instructor, totally out of the blue, came up to Mark and challenged him to a fight. It was clearly a stunt designed to impress the Pencak instructor’s students, but he was wrong. Within seconds, Mark was able to armbar him to within a millimetre of breaking his elbow, there was no tap so Mark released but immediately manipulated him into a rear naked and sank in for the choke. Class witnesses say the instructor went limp, but when he came to, he carried on fighting, so Mark duly caught his back again and sank in even harder – to which he DID tap out this time. The instructor got up, refused to shake hands and waltzed off back to his students with nary a look back. He was later overheard dissing BJJ - clearly trying to cover up for his foolish inadequacies.

The other incident that happened is the menacing approach by a certain martial arts governing body to stop Meerkat friends Cobra Martial Arts Ltd (makers of the excellent Martial arts multi-weapon) to trade under this name. It seems they have a similar variant to the name and have threatened legal action. Now let me see, if you own the name as a registered company and own the trademark to the name, does this not give you the right to trade under this name too? As far as I see the two organisations do not compete with each other in any way (one is an associating body, the other a seller of equipment), so there is more to this story than meets the eye, and word on the street is, it ain’t pretty. More on this as I hear about it.

Martial arts is a fun and empowering hobby. Sometimes though, bad things happen by people who take things just WAY too seriously. It is up to us as well-rounded MA citizens to do what we think is right at the time.

Power to the people, the real people

An interesting couple of incidents occurred to two of Meerkat’s friends. First was one by BJJ pal Mark. You can read the full details here ...

23 Aug 2007

As a club owner, one of my responsibilities is to ensure I get full coaching qualification renewed every 3 years. In the past, all you did was to attend a one day seminar given by the BJJA-GB (the governing body) and you got a tick in your book to say you are now a coach.
Today, things have changed. In order to keep in line with what the national sporting body (quango or whatever it is), that is Sport UK, instructors must now have the following:

  • Enhanced CRB (criminal records bureau) check
  • Current first aid certificate
  • Personal indemnity insurance
  • Membership to Sport Coach UK
  • Complete a distance learning package
  • Pass a written exam (series of short essays)
  • Attend a one or two day seminar
  • Complete specified number of monitored hours actually coaching

What you end up with is a NVQ or equivalent certificate, endorsed by Sport Coach UK. All in all it costs about £250-£300 every three years.
Apart from the expense, the whole process is pretty complicated and being an admin-phobic something I would rather avoid. But I think these days, there are some bare essentials that every martial arts club must have - mainly; first aid, basic safety of equipment and dojo, and insurance. And you wold be surprised how few clubs actually have even that!
MA is a contact sport that involve a diverse array of people. Things happen occasionally that are bad and unavoidable. The whole coaching certificate and mandatory requirements should go some way to helping manage such situations a bit better. Like it or lump it, coaching qualifications are here to stay.

Sports Coach - UK stylee

A s a club owner, one of my responsibilities is to ensure I get full coaching qualification renewed every 3 years. In the past, all you did...

18 Aug 2007

Meerkat has just spent a day renewing his First Aid certificate. I have to be honest, the thought of a whole day in Canvey Island was not the most attractive concept for me and with the morning beginning with drizzly rain, it didn't bear good omens. But the training session really surprised me, it was a really well taught by a very experienced paramedic who not only ran through the usual slings, wounds, rescue breaths and CPR - he added hundreds of truly interesting personal anecdotes about his life rescuing people. Most surprising, and saddening, were the stories where an accident victim tries suing the first aider for alleged assault/sexual contact/etc when his or her life was being saved. Really sad.
Of course we had fun mucking up our attempts at CPR on the dummy, I truly hope I never have to use these skills, but it is better to know and try, than live life in ignorance.
So my thanks to the modest and out of the way Thames Ambulance training centre, I got a hell of a lot more out of this session than a dozen slick and corporate 'well known' first aid centres.

Dummy Aid

Meerkat has just spent a day renewing his First Aid certificate. I have to be honest, the thought of a whole day in Canvey Island was not th...

15 Aug 2007

I just want to say how much I am enjoying the sci-fi TV series Heroes. Season 1 has just finished on cable in the UK. But the good old Beeb have just begun to show it and word is spreading. I’m risking my neck here, but I have a theory that people, like me, who choose martial arts as a hobby have at one time or another, secretly harboured desires to be superheroes themselves. Maybe not now, but in the beginning, when they were first starting out, they dreamt of gaining amazing new powers to defeat all the bullies and enemies that every slighted them in the past. Yep, silly I know and I suspect I will be getting a kicking from my sparring partners for revealing such limp thoughts. But TV programs like Heroes reminds me of how, a shy, unconfident, awkward, teenage version of Me would begin his martial art journey thinking it would change the world. OK, so 20 years later, I don’t have superpowers, and despite gaining a lot of knowledge, I still get choked and tapped out like everyone else on the mat. And you know what? It’s great not having to dream anymore. I love the humble, normal, everyday things that martial arts (and in particular BJJ) training gives you. It helps keep my superhero wannabe feet on the ground and ego in check. So let the Heroes of TV fiction stay on the screen…for now.

Monday’s BJJ training was pants for me. After the exhilarating high of last week’s show-off spar against Brian, I failed to roll with any conviction this week. I soon found out why as the moment I got home from training, my guts exploded and I came down with a moderate case of food poisoning.

I’ve noticed a number of newbies turn up at BJJ. They stick around for about a couple of months and you see them get better and better, but then, never show up again. These guys are more than the try it a couple of times people. These are ones who are at first really really enthusiastic. But clearly, round after round of ego-sapping, and humbling tapping out to more established members eventually takes their toll and they decide that enough is enough. I know it is hard. We’ve all been there (some would argue I am still there!) But rolling and sparring against better practitioners is the only way to learn. Although it is admittedly the hardest route. But there lies the genius of ground fighting. In the first 6-9 months, I absolutely NEVER EVER thought I could even escape from a position, let alone attempt a submission. I blamed my diminuative size, I blamed my gi, I blamed the mats, it was truly crushing to think I was not making progress. But slowly, very slowly, one or two successes came my way. Now, after almost 3 years, I realise that there is never this massive epiphany where you discover you can sub allcomers. It is more subtle. You spar, you try things out, sometimes you lose, sometimes you force a tap, but most times, you kind of just ‘play’ with techniques. Against a good partner, it ceased a long time ago to be about winning or losing, just learning.

Still, imagine if you really could bend time and space, how awesome if you could spar and use that eh?

...and tonight, on Heroes in the Eyes, I'm gonna be...

I just want to say how much I am enjoying the sci-fi TV series Heroes. Season 1 has just finished on cable in the UK. But the good old Beeb...

8 Aug 2007

Gadzukes, what is happening at my JJ club? First Daniel breaks arm last week and this week, JJ members Holly twists her knee and Anthony lands badly on his shoulder. Both will be out of action for several weeks. Incidents at my club are thankfully rare, but they are a bit like buses, nothing happens for ages then 3-4 come at once. Let's hope that is the end of the hoodoo for now.

At BJJ training, I sparred with a Brazilian purple belt. He looks not too dissimilar to Royce Gracie - tall, thin, constant smile, very good jujitsu. Although he was twice my height and weight, he sparred very fairly with me and I enjoyed our roll very much. I even managed half a cheeky sweep which he acknowledged. Buoyed by this, I next sparred with Eddie, who this time was playing Poker Face Eddie - ie he kept me guessing every twist an turn and frankly, I ain;t much of a poker player! So, finally, after my slightly humbling experience I decided to challenge Big man Brian to a roll. Everyone was sitting down watching and poor Brian did not know how pumped up I was for this roll. I really love it when I get an audience too, so for an exhilarating 60 seconds or so, I was aggressively trying every trick I have learned on Brian and he was clearly taken aback. It's probably the best I have ever done against a much larger uke. I half suspect Brian will not take it so easy next time we roll.

Just got an email circular from JJ headquarters and looks like Head of JJ is penciling in a BJJ seminar very soon. Personally I would prefer an established BJJ instructor to lead the seminar but the boss wants to keep it low key and within the orgsanisation for now, perhaps expanding it if we decide to continue with the concept further on down the line. So I guess I will have to dust down the rule book and actually learn the points system in detail, which to be honest I have never really taken much notice of (and not many others do either). According to the CBJJ you get 2 points for a takedown, 3 points for passing the guard, 4 points taking the mount, various points for an advantage or points deducted for an infringement.
I think practising BJJ just to win points is not really encouraged in most clubs. Usually, students are encouraged to experiment, try new things out, take risks, look for submissions or sweeps etc. If you only play for points then everyone would be looking to mount, and hold the pin and it would all be very boring.

Jinxed

Gadzukes, what is happening at my JJ club? First Daniel breaks arm last week and this week, JJ members Holly twists her knee and Anthony lan...

1 Aug 2007

A nasty injury occurred at my JJ class last night. Daniel and Johan were sparring on the ground together and during the ensuing battle for position, Dan seemed to let go of his arm from Johan’s grip and back elbowed the matted floor. It seemed like such a minor knock, the kind that happens week in week out without any problems, but the look of pain in Dan’s face told everyone it was a lot more serious than it first seemed. The arm lay forlornly and Dan was unable to move his fingers or feel much – my first immediate thought was a broken bone. After waiting an eternity for an ambulance, which never showed, he was eventually persuaded to stand up and, gingerly clutching his arm, taken by car to hospital.
Judging from his comments, it took hours and hours to be seen to, only to be told that he would have to wait until the next morning for surgery. Daniel suffered 3 breaks to his forearm bones just below the elbow. A complicated break requiring metal pins, plates and realigning of nerves. So Dan stayed overnight in hospital only to be told that the surgery was cancelled and he would have to come back in two days. Poor Daniel, as if the pain and trauma of a bone breaking was not enough, he had to endure the farce that is accident and emergency in the UK. Meerkat and everyone at JJ wishes him the best of luck for speedy recovery.

In 20 years of training various martial arts, I have seen a few eye-watering injuries. Daniel is the first to have broken a bone at my JJ class, although it would probably be true to say many have suffered damaged tendons, ligaments and various bits and pieces as part of their training. As a contact sport, sadly, there is the risk of injury. We try our best to minimise this, but accidents do happen.

In my first BJJ club, I sparred with an uke and somehow rendered that person unable to walk with an ill-judged spine lock. It was a bad move from an inexperienced Meerkat and one that still haunts me today (the person was able to walk in the end but it was a sickeningly long wait). I have also witnessed a very senior JJ expert dislocate his uke’s shoulder - his scream of pain brought a packed sports hall to shuddering silence. There was also the infamous episode where a new BJJ student suddenly suffered an epileptic fit. He had unwisely not informed anyone of his condition (for fear of prejudice) and it freaked a lot of people out. I have also seen what happens to a person who does not tap out when choked. The eyes roll back to only reveal the whites and the tongue flops out. It is a horrific sight, but, thankfully, only temporary. Actually now my memory banks are working, here are some more injuries I have seen at first hand in martial arts: an Achilles tendon popping, fingers being dislocated, elbows hyper extended, necks whiplashed, noses bloodied, corneas scratched, ooh and many more nasty things. Nothing of course compares to the sad story of a JJ student who dropped dead during his brown belt grading. I never saw this myself, but many were there and they recall that it was an awful scene. Sorry guys, but martial arts is quite dangerous, stick to knitting – although even here I am sure there are numerous knitting related injuries which don’t bear thinking about.

Injuries

A nasty injury occurred at my JJ class last night. Daniel and Johan were sparring on the ground together and during the ensuing battle for p...

22 Jul 2007


The JJ club went out for the summer picnic and party - but cos of the awful rain, we had to drop the picnic idea and just play pool and drink beer instead - not a bad alternative. Judging from most of our pathetic attempts at potting balls, clearly jujitsu and bar sports do not mix. Afterwards, we were each given a semi-serious task of coming up with an invented Jujitsu technique to act out. This was originally conceived for trying in the park. Well just because a bit of rain dampened our park activities, it didn't stop a group trying out various JJ techniques in the pub! So there's half of us standing and chatting while the other half were engaged in ingeniously constructed wrist locks and pindowns. I can't imagine what the other pub goers thought.
A couple of former JJ members turned up as well and we reminisced about old times, incidents and trying to remember old class mates. A lot of people come and go through my dojo. Most move on cos they have changed jobs or relocated to another area. But some are still in touch.
One former member, Drew Pilgram, halted her training in order to concentrate on her music career. She has recently released her debut album and it's really rather good, so here's a plug to where you can download it. We wish her luck and hope to see Drew down at the dojo soon.

Old Times

The JJ club went out for the summer picnic and party - but cos of the awful rain, we had to drop the picnic idea and just play pool and drin...

7 Jul 2007


Royce Gracie popped down to Eddie's RGDA gym yesterday to conduct a seminar. I entered the gym and there was a film crew interviewng Royce, presumably as a response to the recent doping allegation. So there was a strangely quiet atmosphere in the gym, not too many of the BJJ regulars showed up, mostly newcomers and a dozen or so I never met before. In fact, I was the only blue belt there and I think Royce tailored his seminar to cater for the majority as most of the techniques were basic beginner positions, arm locks and counters. I didn't mind, but his last seminar when we were at Bethnal Green was definitely better, as he was showing more advanced and perhaps unusual techniques. If Royce was shaken or annoyed at the recent furore, he certainly didn;t show it. He was his usual cool, very laid back and jokey self throughout the seminar. One thing I did notice at the end, he posed for pictures happily, but did not sit for a q&a like he normally does. Probably sick of answering too many questions already - not that any one of us would dare mention the 'D' word.
The evening did conclude with a blue belt awarded to Shukie, so well done to him!
Royce Gracie popped down to Eddie's RGDA gym yesterday to conduct a seminar. I entered the gym and there was a film crew interviewng Ro...

2 Jul 2007

Everyone is aware that youtube has a vast archive for martial arts nuts. Every style, every instructional, every pay per view, every classic, indeed, everything that has ever been recorded onto some form of moving footage is on there. So it also helps open my eyes to how jujitsu is practised around the world. And I'm not sure you get much more way out than this demo from Sensei Jeremy Corbell showing off his particular brand of trad JJ known as Quantum Ju-Jitsu.



This vid has already received some unflattering stick on the BJJ and MMA forums. I'm caught in two minds. One - this stuff would never work in the streets, two - this stuff is flipping amazing!
I'll leave you to make up your own minds. But if you are ever caught short for a seminar technique, there's always the flying, jumping, cartwheeling, leaping, double arab shoulder arm lock to consider...yeah right!

Quantum Leap!

Everyone is aware that youtube has a vast archive for martial arts nuts. Every style, every instructional, every pay per view, every classic...

30 Jun 2007

I was at BJJ training Friday night. Hadn't been for a few sessions and I noticed a couple of new faces. In particular, one who seemed to give me a bit of a stare back. No problem I thought, just people checking each other out. Maybe he was marking my card.
So I carry on training and sparring as normal and then one of the club regulars comes up to me and asks if I have sparred with the new guy yet? No, I answered, why?
Turns out the new guy is from a trad JJ background and has been tearing up the dojo the last few sessions with his rather unique brand of JJ. Oh God, I thought, typical, some trad JJ comes in and I get lumped into the 'strange' JJ category, just because I also train in trad JJ. Anyways, I decide to approach our new friend and offer to spar.
The timer begins and I grab the lapel, as one always does, and he instantly pulls for a rather forceful wrist lock. Wow! I think, he really is old skool, does he not know anything yet? Of course the wrist lock attempt is just giving me what I want (momentum and position) but I decide to play for a while. Every damn time I go to grab the lapel, he grabs and turns for a wrist lock old skool stylee. So I decide to get a little more pro-active and roll properly. By properly I mean looking for submissions, which I got with ease, 3 tapouts in one sparring round (4-5 mins) is a record for me. Actually maybe one didn't count cos he tapped as I went for his injured ankle. Far be it from me to rest on my laurels, but I enjoyed the roll as it was a good demonstrator that on the ground and in a sport setting, pure technique conducted in a relaxed state does beat brute strength and nervous force. Plus, the fact that without atemi strikes, trad JJ is fares poorly on the ground compared to BJJ. Come to think of it, I reckon even with atemi strikes, BJJ would have the upper hand. But then we delve into the realm of who is better and I don't want to end up in that hornets nest of an argument.

Sensei Wristen locken

I was at BJJ training Friday night. Hadn't been for a few sessions and I noticed a couple of new faces. In particular, one who seemed to...

20 Jun 2007

This blog would be remiss if it were not to mention the positive drugs test of Royce Gracie. Royce fought and won his fight against Kazushi Sakuraba on 2nd June. It was his routine drugs test for this fight where he tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. Royce denies the accusation that he took banned substances.
It is always sad to hear about drugs in sport. I think the whole MMA world would agree that Royce is a nice guy and quite possibly the last person you would expect to abuse drugs. Meerkat believes in the sincerity that Royce did not take drugs. If you know Royce, you know he is not a cheat. There is the argument that the sample was either tampered with, improperly handled, or the nandrolone derivatives that they test for, were a product of his natural metobolism. The BBC site has a good simple explanation of how nandrolone by-products could enter the human body without the person knowing. Unfortunately in this crazy finger pointing world, mud can stick and smoke can billow with accompanying fire.
Meerkat wishes Royce the best of luck in his fight to clear his name.

Royce fights drugs allegation

This blog would be remiss if it were not to mention the positive drugs test of Royce Gracie . Royce fought and won his fight against Kazushi...

14 Jun 2007




Meerkat is shocked. An anonymous student, who apparently just did their kyu gradings, sent me this mocked up photo. Well I assume it is mocked up, you never know, comedian Al Murray may indeed have a disposition for ju-jitsu. He certainly ticks all the right boxes in terms of the required shaven head appearance.
May the JJ Gods above strike the prankster down with thunder for being so disrepectful.

The Ju-Jitsu Landlord

Meerkat is shocked. An anonymous student, who apparently just did their kyu gradings, sent me this mocked up photo. Well I assume it is...

13 Jun 2007



Ahhh, if only they gave out dan grades for web design. Just spent close to 5 months designing a new look for my club website. I'm pretty pleased with the result as it involved learning a couple of new skills. www.imperialjujitsu.co.uk
Sunday was spent invigilating over the kyu gradings. I was worried cos it was the first time that gradings were being done at the East Tilbury Village Hall, which is miles away from anywhere. But everyone showed up and passed without incident.
Haven't trainined BJJ for a couple of sessions due to man flu. But coach Eddie is in the States on tour with Royler Gracie and looks like he will be coming back with some well deserved stripes added to his brown belt. Well done to Ed.

A design for life

Ahhh, if only they gave out dan grades for web design. Just spent close to 5 months designing a new look for my club website. I'm pretty...

2 Jun 2007

Just done 5 hours kobudo (traditional weapons) training up in Brentwood. Got my hands on the new multi martial atrs weapon made by Grant and Eddie's Cobra MA company (as seen here modelled by my daughter). Man! This thing is damn good...no shortcuts here, only top quality. From all the various bits and pieces, it was actually a doddle to put together the various weapons in quick succession. I didn;t even need the enclosed instruction sheet. And, from a brief nosey glance around the dojo, it seems I was not the only one to sport the new weapon set. Let's hope the product continues to be a success for Eddie and Grant as they have put so much care and work into the project.

Well, I managed to get through a good kobudo today. Last time I moaned about the lack of progess and too much time spent on old katas and no time to learn new stuff. Word obviously got around (I still don;t believe anyone actually reads this blog). This time, Sensei promised to change things and there was a noticeable snappiness to the instruction with an urgency to get all the weapons covered as much as possible. This time, I finally got to learning, or attempting to learn, the Naginata kata, I also covered the fab Sai3 kata and most of the various bo staff katas. So I am very happy and I think so were my colleagues.

Kobudo was a chance for Head sensei to gather us club owners together and talk about new things coming up. The biggest and perhaps most shocking news of all is the fact that Head sensei wants to introduce Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu rules ground-fighting into our style. And he asked me and a couple of other senseis who do BJJ to help get involved! When he first mentioned it in private to me, I honestly thought my ears needed de-waxing. I mean, just how many traditionalist ju-jitsu clubs would even contemplate the very idea? Actually, quite a few. Certainly I know of Nick Brookes' Mill Hll Club who practice both styles - quite successfully I might add. Then, there is the Belgium Jikishin group who seemlessly do both styles - and I think it was the recent trip to Aalst by some Jikishin members where BJJ was demonstrated that most impressed Head sensei. Oh, and let us not forget the Irish Jikishin contingent, Josie Murray, and their love of BJJ.
My personal view is that an open mind to new movements and trends martial arts is a very good thing. Taking a serious look at the phenomenal success of BJJ right now says a lot about the effectiveness of the style. It is also no surprise that a good number of Jikishin students, like myself, also train serioiusly in BJJ. I find the two styles sit comfortably. And I am very excited by the prospect.
But I worry about three things: First, that adding BJJ rules to our already very full syllabus will deter some students and even some instructors - it just simply is not everyone's cup of tea. Secondly, I think that if we are going to do this properly, then I feel the need for an expert of the style to oversee the evolution to BJJ rules, to give things more credibility I guess. In the UK right now, we have perhaps half a dozen world class BJJ black belts. Could it be feasible that one of these might help? (Or I could suggest we invite the fragrant Kyra Gracie to provide a seminar...just a thought).
My third concern is that BJJ is whole myriad of complex techniques, concepts, mindsets, all sorts of things. A couple of short seminars would not do the style any justice. One needs to train in BJJ a heck of a lot in order to improve by even an iota. I'm still searching for that iota myself.

It's very early days in the project. At first, Head sensei is going to organise a non-competitive event to introduce the rules and some simple techniques to everyone in Jikishin. then, if the take-up is good, add a BJJ style category to one of the upcoming comps. Then...who knows. Maybe the Mundials!!! Adapt or die trying, as they say.
We'll see I suppose. In the meantime, the new mantra in class is...PASS GUARD, PASS GUARD!

Adapt, or die trying

Just done 5 hours kobudo (traditional weapons) training up in Brentwood. Got my hands on the new multi martial atrs weapon made by Grant an...

1 Jun 2007

Another reason to regret missing SENI – my kickboxing instructors: John and Stuart Lawson were fighting at SENI. For John Lawson, it was his ‘comeback’ fight, his first since winning the WKA World title in 2001. Oh well, here’s a picture taken by Mrs Meerkat of John in action to make up for my missing the event.
As if the world needs another excuse to dabble needlessly online – in addition to blogging, web updates, myspaceing and instant messaging – Meerkat has just signed up to Facebook. What a fun way to be in contact with hundreds of virtual friends all at the click of a button and linked by the slimmest of shared interests, such as Living in London, or quite liking Kyra Gracie.

Actually, what red blooded BJJ male doesn’t like Kyra Gracie.
Of course in real life, I actually only have about two real friends, neither of whom would waste their time with something as trivial as Facebook, nor would ever have heard of the radiant Kyra.
Oh well, at least I have 5 hours of kobudo weapons training to look forward to tomorrow.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

A nother reason to regret missing SENI – my kickboxing instructors: John and Stuart Lawson were fighting at SENI. For John Lawson, it was hi...

22 May 2007

Gudzukes I just knew it. I opt to not attend this year’s SENI and judging by all reports, the BJJ tourney was a massive success and a must see event.
But it’s not all about me. In a blatant example of reflected glory transference, here are the results of the competitors that DID show and have been a part of Meerkat world in some way:
1. Marie Paule Ahanda, fellow Jikishin instructor at Imperial Ju-Jitsu Club, won silver and bronze in the women’s blue belt division.
2. Remus, the Romanian big guy at Eddie’s RGDA club wins gold in the white belt super heavies.
3. Oliver Geddes, regular email buddy and one time guest at Imperial – joint gold (awarded silver) in the blue belt 76Kg category.
Meerkat extends his paw of congratulations to all those who competed and the continuing success of SENI and BJJ.

SENI 07

Gudzukes I just knew it. I opt to not attend this year’s SENI and judging by all reports, the BJJ tourney was a massive success and a must ...

14 May 2007

The Gracie BJJ Invitational tournament at SENI is almost upon me. At first there was a definite resolve to compete, then the resolve turned to some umming and arrring, now it seems, fate has dictated the fact that Meerkat will sadly no longer compete at SENI this year. Shame, as it would have been an excellent opportunity to pit ones skills and learn from the experience. Maybe next year.

Not a lotta bottle

The Gracie BJJ Invitational tournament at SENI is almost upon me. At first there was a definite resolve to compete, then the resolve turned ...

28 Apr 2007

Some war wounds from Friday's sparring class. This is what happens if you refuse to tap out to a collar choke - the thin edge of the gi collar grinding into my neck. Well, what can I say, the choke was not on and I felt I could escape (I did), but perhaps received a good deal of unnecessary tissue trauma in the process.
Some of the tips from David Adiv's seminar were beginning to filter through, including improved tips on how to hold posture whilst in the guard (floating hips and stomach down), and how to make it really hard for uke who is in your guard (non-stop attempts at unbalancing using your legs). Simple stuff really, but easy to overlook.

Rubber neckin'

Some war wounds from Friday's sparring class. This is what happens if you refuse to tap out to a collar choke - the thin edge of the gi...

23 Apr 2007

Just finished a two-day weekend seminar with 2nd Dan BJJ expert David Adiv.
What an amazing teacher David is. I mean, the sheer quality and attention to minute detail is amazing and just blew my mind away. The emphasis this weekend was on balance and base- the root foundation of Gracie and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
David started off the seminar by showing us a few simple throws. Even here, the insights into where to place your foot or the grip or the turn of your hips of shoulders - you could train this for years and still not get right, but one session with David and he shows you instantly.
Then a long section on passing the guard. Something all us novice-intermediate students frankly are poor on and try our best to avoid if at all possible. David showed us the fundamentals, but taught in a straight forward- this is nothing to be afriad of once you know the basics - sort of way. Here, David's catch-phrases came to the fore, such as: I don;t want to see his knees! Or, if you don't understand this, then you just chewing water!

The final section focused on submissions from the guard, including one amazing trick that I shall not divulge but suffice to say, it is the most outrageously simple choke. Just goes to show, it;s not what you know, its the way that you do it.

I wish I could remember even a tenth of what David taught us these two days. I look forward to his next visit to the UK.

Chewing water

Just finished a two-day weekend seminar with 2nd Dan BJJ expert David Adiv. What an amazing teacher David is. I mean, the sheer quality and...

14 Apr 2007


Hoorah! It's back. After a lengthy absence, the 24fighting chickens website is back. I thought Rob Redmond had gone into hiding due to the very strong opinions he voiced on his website about his views on karate, Shotokan and the organisation. But obviously, all has become clear. He was busy being a daddy and finding time to do a complete website makeover.
There are some publishings in the martial arts world that every student NO MATTER WHAT THEIR STYLE, simply must read. One is Angry White Pyjamas and the other is this website. Read every article, absorb in the wisdom and common sense, laugh at the humour. Honestly, if any of my online offerings can reach a mere fraction of the depth and wit of this guy, then I can rest in peace. Truly the work of a legend.
Speaking of books and writings. I see the Gracies have put out a couple of new titles. Oh dear, looks like my groaning bookshelf will have to accept a new intake of tomes as these look especially good. I prefer instructional books to videos. I fall asleep to vids, but books you can pick and choose when and where to read them. Mind you, I never actually remember or learn anything from them. I just like buying jujitsu books.

Week 2 of my road to SENI. So far I have managed one run around the park and two sessions of BJJ. Very poor. In fact, I doubt I can really make a good stab at proper training due to family commitments. But I will still compete. Tonight's BJJ class was the best so far. Eddie taught some truly awesome techniques and my sparring was on top form, even managing a baseball bat choke from knee on belly against a bigger guy. But then I had to show off and got caught out in a rear naked. Pah!

It's back - 24 fighting chickens, the world's greatest martial arts website

Hoorah! It's back. After a lengthy absence, the 24fighting chickens website is back. I thought Rob Redmond had gone into hiding due to ...

11 Apr 2007

Let me state first and foremost, the Meerkat abhors violence and will always seek peace above all else. But there has been some bad mouthing on the MMA forums and the Meerkat felt obliged to step in and take sides. http://cagewarriors.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32183
When someone slags off your sensei, in the old days, you would be fighting to line up and defend the reputation and honour of your instructor. These days, all the fighting is done online, on internet forums and chatrooms. Today's flaming post is tomorrow's digital fishnchip wrapper - but withe the difference that messages on forum posts tend to remain permanent unless the mod removes them, so it is important to right wrongs and say what must be said to clear the air.

Whilst on the subject of confrontation. A regular at Meerkat's Imperial club reported that he had got into a fight. It was totally unprovoked and, despite several attempts to disengage from the row, it led sadly to him having to 'clock' two of the three antagonists. One of whom was knocked out cold. Rather than feel victorious, our man felt nothing but regret, that he had to use physical aggression to hurt someone, when the entire incident was totally unnecessary on their behalf. A sad world, but I'm afraid young lads high on testosterone and alcohol will always do stupid things - like pick fights with the wrong people.

Fightin' Talk

Let me state first and foremost, the Meerkat abhors violence and will always seek peace above all else. But there has been some bad mouthing...

3 Apr 2007

Had the 'Man' flu all week. Pah, still didn't stop me training, although hacking up
greenies every five seconds kinda puts people off wanting to spar with you.
Anyway, today marks the day when Meerkat ups the ante. In 6 weeks time, the Gracie Invitationals beckon and it may offer me one last hoorah before I retire from competitions. The training towards the contest will incorporate 2-3 BJJ sessions a week, 3 runs a week and once a week JJ teaching at Imperial where I will roll with 'volunteers' to help me get more mat time. With my weight teetering on the borderline of the lowest weight category (aptly named rooster weight of under 57.5Kg) I may be in the unenviable position of having to shed a few kilos before the big day.

Leo Negao's Fight First website made use of my Porchester centre pictures. They don;t look too bad I suppose, but I am determined to get a better hit rate in future and I know where I went wrong.http://www.fightfirst.co.uk/portal.htm

Man Flu

Had the 'Man' flu all week. Pah, still didn't stop me training, although hacking up greenies every five seconds kinda puts peop...

28 Mar 2007

Image courtesy:Karolinska Institutet


A new scientific study has shown that kickboxing damages the brain. The researchers have found that repeated head trauma by competitive amateur kickboxers affects a specific part of the brain known as the pituitary. This part of the brain is tiny and sits at the base of the brain. But it has a range of very important functions, mostly to do with hormone control. The scientists found that a lot of kickboxers suffered from hypopituitarism – meaning they were deficient in one or more bodily hormones. A BBC report includes a statement from the WKA (World Kickboxing Association): I have never heard of any such damage.

The Meerkat view: Getting hit in the head or face lots, week in week out, hurts (and I definitely know from painful memories of my kickboxing days) and I’m not surprised that it causes brain damage (although the paper did not look into permanency of the damage). Medical and scientific study of getting hit in the head obviously increases the public knowledge about such activities, but I have a slightly sneaking suspicion that the scientists chose a particularly easy target guaranteed to make headlines and coincidentally boost their careers and peer esteem. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-science and public understanding. But it’s kind of like studying the effects of cars on roads and saying: yep, cars kill in very messy ways, just thought you should know, I’ll go and collect my Nobel now.

Kickboxing Damages the Brain

Image courtesy:Karolinska Institutet A new scientific study has shown that kickboxing damages the brain . The researchers have found that...

24 Mar 2007



Just got back from the MMA event at the Porchester Center in Bayswater. This is the first event hosted by the Fight First Team and it was not without its hitches. The omens were not good when, two days before, I heard that all the RGDA-UK fighters, including Sami 'The Hun' Berik had pulled out due to injury and an objection from the organisers of Cage Rage Contenders. The argument being that the Fight First Promotion was 'No rules' and Cage Rage do not want their fighters being associated with events that could lead to adverse publicity.


On the actual night, half the remaining fighters either did not show up or pulled out at the last minute, leaving a frantic search for replacement fighters. One poor chap had about five minutes notice before he volunteered to take someone's place. Unfortunately for him, it was against a much bigger guy.
The whole event was therefore a bit of a downer. The interminable wait between each fight was only marginally made more bearable by the capoiera and samba dancing entertainment. But the final showpiece fight of the night ended up being a lightweight boxing match which was more of a scrap than anything you see on TV.
To cap off my night, my photos of the event turned out really crap. My lens was simply not fast enough and I couldn't get a set-up to work well in the poor light and fast action. If you really want to see my crap efforts, click here.
Let's hope the next Fight First promotion is more successful.

Fight First - Porchester Centre, 23rd March 2007

Just got back from the MMA event at the Porchester Center in Bayswater. This is the first event hosted by the Fight First Team and it was ...

19 Mar 2007

The Meerkat finally got away from the house on Friday to attend BJJ at the new location of the Clapton KO Muay Thai gym. This place is great. Huge floorspace. Wall to wall (soft!) matting, proper changing rooms and showers that don’t block up and decent lighting. It reminds me of Paragon kickboxing gym, but probably better cos Paragon have those annoying pillars in the middle of the room. And with it being only a few minutes drive away from the Meerkat den, I’ll be sure to enjoy training – at least until new baby Meerkat is born.

Sunday’s JJ kyu grading were the busiest I have ever seen. 105 students were present, including a massive 40 going for orange belt. Clearly these were the product of a drive to up the membership and some New Year resolutions taking effect.

Been reading snatches of the book ‘Waking Dragons’
By Goran Powell. It’s a sort of autobiography of this chap who follows different karate styles, leading up to his peak achievement – the 30 man kumite. I haven’t read the final bit yet but his stories about his time with the kyokushinkai mob brought back some harrowing memories of my own time training under this style. The endless knuckle pushups, the squats (oh God the squats), the situps – all done with metronome counting in bad Japanese. The repetition of drills. The unapproachable senseis. I had cold sweats reading about it again.
One thing the author describes that hit home, was his meeting with a Gojo Ryu intructor who would always explain the applications to techniques hidden in the kata – in all the many years of karate training – nothing before had ever been explained in depth. It was a revelation. The same thing happened to me. Four years of hard karate training and all those endless kata. Not one single damned movement was ever explained to me. Once I took up JJ (and I include BJJ too), where the culture is to explain everything in detail (sometimes too much for the brain to handle in one go!), it all made sense. The myth was shattered. As far as I was concerned, if an instructor could not or would not explain why something was being done, either he did not know, or he did not want you to know. In either case, my time should not be wasted on said person/style. I mean you wouldn’t learn to drive a car or fly a plane with the complete lack of explanation that some instructors offer.
I also experienced this with equally non-communicative instructors when I tried tai chi and aikido, but since my time there was short, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

reawakening Dragons

The Meerkat finally got away from the house on Friday to attend BJJ at the new location of the Clapton KO Muay Thai gym. This place is great...

12 Mar 2007

A very contrasting martial arts weekend for Meerkat as I attended a Pressure and Nerve points seminar on the Sunday afternoon, then whizzed over to the Hackney Empire afterwards to watch the 10K submission grappling tournament.

The P&N points seminar was ok. I am not a 100percent believer of this kind of stuff. If you hit a bony part of your body real hard, of course it hurts. Plus all the talk of meridian lines and energy flow is against my scientific education. I think the sensei in charge was also aware of not going too OTT with the talk of energy flows and was keen to emphasise more on the applications and context. For example, a strike to a nerve point on the top of the forearm elicits a buckling of the knees. If you try this in isolation, it may work, it more than probably doesn’t. But add it to a syllabus technique such as defence to a strangle, and suddenly, it makes better sense. There were more syllabus examples with added emphasis on N&P points, which I quite liked. Rapping the top of your uke’s hands with your knuckles, a wince-inducing favourite. Overall, an interesting diversion from syllabus ju-jitsu and worth knowing about, but it didn’t convert me into a full believer of energy flows and meridian lines.



On the other side of the MA planet, the Hackney Empire was an inspired choice of venue for the big 10K Grappling Challenge. 32 elite fighters pitted against each other, only one winner. From where I sat, I had a great view of the event and the big screen showed close-ups and repeats in case you missed something. To my left sat a vocal Mike Bispring (UFC), to my right, sat World BJJ Champion Roger Gracie, yes, the audience was certainly a who’s who of the MMA and BJJ fight world.
The competitors came from all over the world – a sprinkling of UK competitors, the USA had a few, South Africa showed up in good numbers as of course, did the Brazilians. Interestingly, most of the Brazilian v Brazilian contests were kinda chess-like stalemates. They obviously knew all the tricks and were both waiting for mistakes that never happened. But there was quite a few great technical fights, one amazingly flash bout and some, not so good draws. The best two fighters IMHO were 6 times Pan American BJJ legend Braulio Estima and No1 ranked American, Rafael Lovato Jnr. They wowed the audience with their superb display of grappling skills. And then there was Jeff Monson. A leviathon of a man who ploughed his way through each contestant like a bulldozer on high octane fuel. The size of his huge arms are an enduring image that stay burned on my retinas. Of course it was fated that Braulio and Monson should meet in the final. Monson executed a single, superbly timed takedown. Braulio, the magician that he is, could not do anything once the 'Snowman' got his claws in. Time up and Braulio was visibly upset at the defeat. Monson huffed and puffed, arm raised, but was humble in victory.
The first 10K Grappling tournament was a great night and an inspiration to all us students and fans of the fight game.

No Pressure

A very contrasting martial arts weekend for Meerkat as I attended a Pressure and Nerve points seminar on the Sunday afternoon, then whizzed ...

8 Mar 2007

Meerkat World is more like a waiting-world at the moment. I’m waiting for the Cobrama website to be finished. I’m waiting for news of where exactly my BJJ club will be relocated to. I’m waiting for my press pass to arrive for the UK versus France MMA fight. I’m waiting for October, when crossed fingers, our second baby-Meerkat will be born.

At last Monday’s BJJ class, I managed to work my first ever ‘clock choke’ during sparring. My uke, having turtled up, neglected to defend his collars, so in I went for this most awesome of gi submissions. It is basically a classical samurai collar choke. In trad JJ, we learn this by sitting behing uke and reaching over his shoulders to grab the collar wings. One hand pulls across the carotid, the other hand pulls the lapel downwards. Imagine this but on an uke who is curled into a ball on the floor. The submission works properly by keeping the pressure on his shoulder with your hips. The ‘clock’ part of it is the scissor-like movement of tori’s legs in the final part of this move.

A Clockwork Blue Belt

Meerkat World is more like a waiting-world at the moment. I’m waiting for the Cobrama website to be finished. I’m waiting for news of where ...

1 Mar 2007


Guys and girls, hope you’ve had your Hep B jabs cos a recent scientific study reports that it is possible to catch the very nasty Hep B virus from the sweat off your training partners. A Turkish study investigated the viral transmission via sweat in Olympic wrestling practitioners and found that several had high levels of the virus in their sweat. It was possible to catch the disease through this method – although the authors agree that you are more likely to catch it from contaminated blood.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6404329.stm
A single drop of blood can contain millions of Hep B viruses. It causes severe liver problems and even death. A vaccine protects against this. This is not to be confused with the Hep C virus, which made the news recently due to the admission of Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick. Hep C is incurable and there is no vaccine.

Hepatitis B warning for contact sports

Guys and girls, hope you’ve had your Hep B jabs cos a recent scientific study reports that it is possible to catch the very nasty Hep B vir...

26 Feb 2007

Meerkat has been busy working away on the website for the great new martial arts weapon as announce earlier. Here are some pictures of the system:



Most traditional JJ styles incorporate some weapons into their syllabus. When you reach senior dan grade levels, it's not unheard of for some jitsuka to carry their huge arsenal of kobudo gear in a mini-trailer or van. So why not invent a modular system that can create a dozen different weapons - from a short 6 inch kubotan stick to a massive 7 foot naginata pole? Well, the wait is over, the Martial Arts Multi-Weapon (MAMW), as developed by my buddies Grant and Eddie from Cobra Martial Arts.
It's a veritable Genie in a soft casing bottle. Inside one medium sized, flat packed hold-all lies the components that can make the following weapons:

2 x Kubotan – Senior & Junior
2 x Yubi-Bo – Senior & Junior
1 x Short Stick – Junior
2 x Short Stick – Senior
2 x Kali Sticks – Senior
1 x Jo - Junior
1 x Jo - Senior
1 x Bo - Junior
1 x Bo - Senior
1 x Naginata - Junior
1 x Naginata - Senior
1 x Nunchuka - Junior
1 x Nunchuka - Senior
2 x Kama - Junior
2 x Kama - Senior
2 x Tonfa - Senior

I've been lucky to try out several of the weapons from ths MAMW and it is really impressive. All the bits fit really well and the carbon fibre weapons are light but strong enough to withstand impact.
The CobraMA guys are rushing to unveil the MAMW for SENI'07, we wish 'em luck. In the meantime, Meerkat will continue to burn the midnight oil finishing off the website. Phew!

Genie in a bottle

Meerkat has been busy working away on the website for the great new martial arts weapon as announce earlier. Here are some pictures of the s...

20 Feb 2007


Just came back from BJJ training and I am still a little gobsmacked by my experience just now. World Champion BJJ Black Belt Leo Negao came to visit and he offered to spar with us blue belts. OHMIGOD, this guy made mince meat of us, no he made mince meat of the mince meat - and he wasn't even trying. One by one we lined up and became mere putty in his hands, er feet, elbows, head. But of course, the best was saved till last - this old Meerkat had to spar with Leo who decided to tie his hands behind his back. Jesus! Nothing I could do could topple or trip or throw him. He just kinda stood there, absorbing or reacting to my every attempt to shift him. Even a cheeky flying armbar attempt was rebutted with a shrug of his shoulder. When it did go to ground, he continued to hold his hands behind his back and I just kinda bounced off him like rain drops against the surface of a highly waxed motor. IT was totally humbling and humiliating - all of it was captured on video too.
Leo Negao is a terrifically nice guy and he wasn;t of course trying to humiliate me, as he explained afterwards about the fact that he wanted me to understand about simple balance - action and reaction. For example, a double leg take down only needed to rotate a little to make work - not my heave-ho version.
Gulp. A big lesson in humble pie and a very definite I am not worthy head bowing ensued as I left the dojo clinging the small iota of dignity that remained.
Ooos!


Meerkat is the one on the bottom!

Lion Tamer

Just came back from BJJ training and I am still a little gobsmacked by my experience just now. World Champion BJJ Black Belt Leo Negao came...

19 Feb 2007

John Williams sensei, 5th Dan Jikishin Ju-Jitsu and 4th Dan Judo passed away over the weekend. Our deepest condolances to his family. Jikishin has lost a great instructor.

John Williams sensei

John Williams sensei, 5th Dan Jikishin Ju-Jitsu and 4th Dan Judo passed away over the weekend. Our deepest condolances to his family. Jikish...

11 Feb 2007

It's been a fairly hectic MA time this past week.
At the weekend I attended kobudo and was pretty pleased to really nail the new nunchaku kata that seems to fox me everytime. Also managed to get the hang of the katana 8 cuts kata, although am far from making this look polished. The frustrating thiing with kobudo for me is that we spend nearly all session going over all the old katas, leaving very little time for the new stuff. That means you walk home having never learnt anything for the next exam level. I still have not seen naginata kata, hardly touched the Sai #3 and barely scratched the surface of the bo pairs stuff. I might raise this with head sensei.

The head of our JJ style did introduce to us a new addition to the white belt kata. Now, at each belt level, there is a further 3-4 technques tacked on. By the time the students reaches brown, the original white belt kata will have mutated into a really nice looking sparring kata. It's pretty impressive and should achieve the aim of equipping students with suitable kata skills by the time they tackle shodan.

I've always been very cynical about Dim Mak - or Death touch as it is sometimes referred to. DON'T CONFUSE THIS WITH JUJITSU PRESSURE POINTS (atemi waza) - in jujitsu, although many of the pressure and nerve points used in our trad JJ style coincide. Dim Mak practitioners belive they can seriously maim or even kill with their techniques (whereas we teach that they are sometimes useful to distract). So I laughed my flipping Meerkat head off when I saw this video - a snatch from a US news segment exposing how ineffective dim mak was against a bunch of BJJ students. The instructor looked, frankly, foolish. You've been found out mate. Yet, there will always be those who believe anything, because they want to believe.

Lots of events are happening - the 10K challenge in Hackney looks to be the most exciting. Just seen the competitor list and BJJ coach Eddie Kone is on the reserve list of fighters. If someone pulls out, Eddie may get his moment on stage.

The human Stun gun

It's been a fairly hectic MA time this past week. At the weekend I attended kobudo and was pretty pleased to really nail the new nunchak...

9 Feb 2007


(c) Copyright The Guardian Newspapers

According to the Guardian today, some rugby league clubs are enlisting the help of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coaches to help them gain extra advantage. By adapting a few simple pin-downs and joint locks, they are able to pin a tackled opponent more effectively and win the ball back.
Hmmm. I have a thing against odd-shaped balls. Still, it's nice to see wider recognition of BJJ in the sporting world. Whatever next? Tiger Woods learns new 'neck crank' manoeuvre when going for the 18th hole? Tiger explains: "my new lockdown was inspired by watching Jeff Monson in UFC last year."
"It certainly frightens the opposition, and gets rid of a few of the pesky fans that bug my view!" Woods joked.

Ruggerjitsu

(c) Copyright The Guardian Newspapers According to the Guardian today, some rugby league clubs are enlisting the help of Brazilian Jiu-Ji...

31 Jan 2007


Meerkat recently bumped into 4th dan ju-jitsu instructor Nick Brooks, who runs the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club. Both of our clubs have had affiliations going back many years but it came as incredible news to me that Nick is actually one of the rising stars of the BJJ scene having recently won gold at the European Championships in Lisbon last week.
I spoke to Nick about his success and how he reconciles his interests in both traditional ju-jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

MEERKAT: You are having great success at BJJ comps at the moment, what is your current tally of medals won?

NICK BROOKS: Londinium grappling cup gold –73, London Open
gold featherweight, Emirates cup 2nd in pool a –66, Europeans 2005
gold featherweight, Gracie Invitational gold featherweight, Europeans 2006
gold featherweight, Urban Gorrilaz SENI gold – 66, masters & seniors gold featherweight, Europeans 2007 gold featherweight.

MRKT: You still teach and train traditional JJ (www.millhillju-jitsuclub.com), how different and/or similar do you find BJJ and Trad JJ?

NB: The main difference is in how ju-jitsu is trained, not so much what is trained. In my view, trad JJ is more about demonstration of a technique where as BJJ focuses more on application. The time spent drilling and sparring the techniques learnt in BJJ enforces this unlike in trad JJ where your training partner is standing still and letting you do the technique with very little resistance.

MRKT: How do you prepare for competitions?

NB: Preparation is the key. I start training 5 weeks out from a competition,
running 5 km 6 days a week & rowing 5 km 6 days a week. I train BJJ for 2
hours, 4 days a week with my own students & at the Roger Gracie academy. I also travel to Milton Keynes every Friday to train with Braulio Estima, When I compete, I try to be at my physical best. That way if I lose, it’s to somebody better, not fitter or stronger.

MRKT: Do you think Trad JJ students could learn something from training
sport JJ (ie BJJ or related) and visa versa?

NB: Definitely - we all have a lot to learn, the key is to have an open mind.

MRKT: What are your plans for the future?

NB: My goals are to win the world masters at every belt, and just keep
training and improving.

My thanks to Nick for taking the time to chat and I very much suspect he will go on to achieve more golds in the future (and please God let me never draw him in a competition ever!).

Nick Brooks interview

M eerkat recently bumped into 4th dan ju-jitsu instructor Nick Brooks, who runs the Mill Hill Ju-Jitsu Club . Both of our clubs have had af...

So I get this email from Endomol, the makers of Big Brother...

We are currently in the middle of filming our 16th series of BBC2's Ready Steady Cook and we are looking for new and interesting contestants to come on the show and do some cooking with our celebrity chefs! We would love to get 2 self defence experts onto the programme to tell us all about how important self defence is and to offer our viewers some tips and advice!

Our contestants don't need to be great cooks, they just need to be lively, chatty and willing to join in and have a bit of fun in the kitchen. Would this be something you might be interested in taking part?

I'll look forward to hearing from you.
Regards
Amy Tapper


Just mix one Oxo Cube, one slightly undercooked chicken and three racists for a wonderful melting pot.
Sadly, Meerkat declined this wonderful invitation.

Ready, Steady, Cook!

So I get this email from Endomol, the makers of Big Brother... We are currently in the middle of filming our 16th series of BBC2's Rea...

26 Jan 2007



I seem to take a perverse delight in showing everyone unflattering images of myself in action. Well, here's another one. Meerkat is bottom, Eddie Kone on top demonstrating a lapel collar choke.
You can see the full set of photos here and here

Two new forums have materialised that may be of interest to readers. The first is the Jikishin Ju-Jitsu Association forum and the second is the RGDA-UK forum.
You know me, I hate to chat. IF you find me clogging up those forunms with my inane banter, it's not me honest.

More news on the secret new martial arts product that Senseis Grant and Eddie have invented. It will hopefully be officially unveiled to Jikishin in February at the next Kobudo. I'm dying to show photos, but I guess I'll wait until Feb to unveil onthis blog.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

I seem to take a perverse delight in showing everyone unflattering images of myself in action. Well, here's another one. Meerkat is bo...

17 Jan 2007


Hoorah, my new blog skin finally works! Hope you like it. The new year is obviously the time for make-overs as the RGDA-UK website got redesigned and Meerkat is on the front page! (The grainy b/w guy being choked from behind in the pic above)

New Year Make-over

Hoorah, my new blog skin finally works! Hope you like it. The new year is obviously the time for make-overs as the RGDA-UK website got redes...
Meerkat’s JJ dojo hit a record number of jitsuka last night – 30 bodies on the mat in all, the previous highest was 29 but that was two and a half years ago. At one point last month I was wondering if my club had hit the buffers as numbers dwindled to about 5-6. Mind you, that was in mid December when everyone was out partying (except me). My new advertising campaign is clearly working brilliantly – I hope the latest bunch of newbies fall in love with jujitsu as much as we have.

Last night was interesting for another reason. A black belt from Hungary visited us and asked if he could provide a demonstration of ‘his’ techniques. I’ve spoken to this chap via email for several months as he has been planning to come to London. His aim is to start a school of Nihon Tai Jitsu in the UK but wanted to hook up with senseis from the current scene. I wasn’t sure at first what to make of him. After all, one doesn’t just walk into someone else’s dojo and ask to teach their students. To some people, it may be seen as a sign of disrespect. But we’ve always pretty open to new ideas and I let him have half an hour to showcase his stuff.

What we saw was a very rock solid display of fairly standard classic ju-jitsu techniques. Mostly culled from very similar stuff we do on the second dan syllabus.
He did them very well and was clearly very proficient but I began to get nervous as some of the techniques were too advanced for the new guys and with so many people on the mat, I was paranoid there would be an injury. But to the newbies – it looked awesome. For the poor ukes he picked on, I could sense a little reservation and nervousness. A couple of techniques misfired since he was not aware that his uke was particularly flexible (Sam W), I mean really flexible.
His English was good although some aspects needed to be explained better and the techniques demonstrated a little slower. But as he stays longer in London, this will improve. For me, I was happy to give him a stage to demonstrate and introduce himself. It was also invigorating to watch traditional jujitsu especially when you see someone perform it so well. It is interesting to see that although from a very different country studying under and different style – the jujitsu is actually very similar.

Packed out

Meerkat’s JJ dojo hit a record number of jitsuka last night – 30 bodies on the mat in all, the previous highest was 29 but that was two and...

8 Jan 2007

I have finally got round to viewing the TV documentary: Fight Science, made by National Geographic. Here is my review:
Quick synopsis: dozens of MA ‘masters’ demonstrate their superhuman techniques by bashing car crash dummies under the close observation of scientists.
Highlights – Rickson Gracie making a rare appearance, shows off a couple of takedowns and chooses to have the geeks measure the power of his crucifix lock – the ‘science’ result: yes it is a very bad ass lock that could kill. As can the Muay Thai knee strike – ouch! Other highlights include two brothers who enjoy ‘karate’ chopping endless stacks of concrete slabs - those guys are truly nuts, but very entertaining. A Ninjitsu expert shows cat-like balancing skills as he prances on top of very wobbly poles. Iai masters slicing and dicing with their katanas – correctly identified as the ultimate MA weapon for balance, effectiveness and distance.
Lowlights – too much boring padding from the narrator and repeated clips. It’s supposed to increase the drama and tension but it just makes me hit the forward wind button. Also, very little real science involved. No controls, no taking into account the different weights of the guys punching/kicking the test dummy. Just lots of beardy chin stroking white suited types who look on and raise one eyebrow when their ‘tests’ show that the dummy got a right bashing. A little too much bare chested macho posing by sweaty men with big boobs – well actually just one guy.
Conclusion: This program is an excellent piece of eye-candy if you enjoy the thrill of seeing double spinning back kicks and samurai swords in one program. But the science was junk and there was a tendency to fuel MA myths. However, very nice to see the mighty Rickson in action – who is dsescribed by the narrator as probably the greatest fighter of all.

As for Meerkat training. My own super-human powers were conspicuously absent when, after a richly fuelled Xmas and New Year, I went back to BJJ training and somehow huffed and puffed my way through sparring. Time to get back into shape.

Fighting junk science

I have finally got round to viewing the TV documentary: Fight Science, made by National Geographic. Here is my review: Quick synopsis : do...

3 Jan 2007


Happy New Year – let’s hope 2007 will be another action packed year.

Meerkat entered the murky world of website analytics as the first set of stats for the Imperial website came up on the google analytics site. The adverts are clearly working as we are averaging about 50 clicks per day, and I had my first intake of newbies last night. The web stats are amazing. Did you know, for instance, that although the club website is really only aimed at Londoners, that I get people reading it from places such as Caracas, Bratislava and Melbourne! Truly a world wide web.

Meerkat is also helping out with the promotion for a newly invented martial arts weapon. It is top secret at this stage, until the patent number is released, but having played with the product, I can honestly say, it is very, very impressive. More details about this at a later date.

Happy 2007

Happy New Year – let’s hope 2007 will be another action packed year. Meerkat entered the murky world of website analytics as the first set o...

 

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