28 Aug 2009

BJJ tournament poster designs are usually a mixed bag. Typically you'll get a grungy photo or line drawing of some combatants and BIG TYPEFACE of the title of the comp, something like GRAPPLING FESTFIGHT or words to that effect. Oh and really loud colours appear to be the norm. Having said that, most BJJ posters in my opinion are nicer to look at than MMA posters.
Scouring the net I came across these which I reckon are pretty cool poster designs. In no particular order:











OK, the DREAM.10 poster is not BJJ but MMA but it was soooo cool I had to include it. And below, a little effort from me. I decided I quite liked to see if the Blue Note album cover style worked with a BJJ theme. Mmmmm, not sure so far, what do you think?



10 Cool BJJ Posters

BJJ tournament poster designs are usually a mixed bag. Typically you'll get a grungy photo or line drawing of some combatants and BIG TY...

27 Aug 2009


Recently I've been lucky to interview a few people who are experts in both a traditional martial art and also highly ranked in BJJ. Simon Yeo is a 12th dan in Bujinkan ninjutsu and a brown belt under Roger Gracie.

The full interview is here on the ON THE MAT website.

But here are some excerpts:

Q: Ninjutsu and BJJ are so different, what aspects do you see that they both share?

A: On the face of it Ninjutsu and BJJ are very
different. In both you have to start by learning the dos and do nots. Generally in both you start with poor natural instincts, as more often than not the necessary movements are counter intuitive. However once you have learnt these laws, things are pretty similar and by using biomechanics you can see how to manipulate the opponents body into weaker positions and capitalise on it.

I now always try to look for the similarities rather than the differences. For example the need to flow from one technique to the next, or Nagare, to catch the opponent, rather than just insist on one technique.

I also view training in ground fighting as reuniting the complete Ju-Jutsu skill sets, so I will know both ground and stand up ju-jutsu. It is possible people haven’t trained like this for more than 100 years.

Q: What do you say to people who think that the original UFC and Gracie style challenges proved that traditional martial arts are no longer viable.

A: I think what the early UFC’s showed to the traditionalists, is that they needed to adapt what they are doing. Some people have done this, others as I have said have not heeded the message and are deluding themselves. It is kind of like a blind faith. The amount of people I have told to go to a BJJ academy around the world and see what I am talking about, who don’t need to because “they know they will survive” is unbelievable. These people do have to give their heads a shake. It is really naïve.

I have black belts from other schools who come to my class and they get really disturbed about being tapped by my students who have only been training a few months. Often what happens is, that instead of realising there is a massive hole in their game they never come back and pretend it was bad luck and by not putting themselves in that environment again, can validate their delusion.
...full interview here on OTM.


Simon Yeo runs the Yeo Dojo in Fulham, London, and is available for seminars and private lessons in both Bujinkan ninjutsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
His book: Ninjutsu: The Secret Art Of The Ninja, is available from Amazon and most good book stores.

My thanks to Simon and to OTM. More Meerkatsu interviews coming soon!

Meerkatsu Interviews: Simon Yeo, the Ninjutsu Grappler

Recently I've been lucky to interview a few people who are experts in both a traditional martial art and also highly ranked in BJJ. Sim...

19 Aug 2009

An 'incident' occured during training the other night that I did not really want to mention, and, now that I've had a few days to calm down and reflect on matters, it's better not to give the details, but suffice to say it led to me having a major hissy fit in class with one of my training partners.
I want to repair any damage between him and I and move on. I should add that in my many years of doing martial arts, I have very rarely seen flare-ups between two people in a class. It has happened but it's all usually handbags at dawn and after short while, the two usually kiss and make up...and then proceed to the usual routine of legally killing each other during sparring. I don't want to the be the jerk who moans and has a tantrum each time so I'll be on my best behaviour. All's fair in love and war after all.
Mind you, it did remind of one incident about 5 years ago when a fellow white belt found it funny to continually land his knee into my ribs during sparring. I got so mad I went a bit mental and nearly choked him into hell and back. But I didn't because (a) my technique sucked and (b) my technique sucked. Oh well some things don't ever change.

Roy Dean
Other than that, I was going to say my training has been going really well. I'm really trying to engage techniques in combinations of 2's and (admittedly rarely) 3's just like Roy Dean said a purple belt should be doing in his new DVD (Roy Dean, purple belt requirements).

You can read a very thorough review of this video on Slidey's blog here.

Without wishing to make any crass presumptions, but at 4-stripe blue belt, I guess I should be thinking ahead at what it is I should be doing when I am a purple belt. Roy Dean's DVD explains his take on the subject - and very enlightening it is to. I love watching Dean's elegant style. He's very up front and honest. He'll happily talk about his losses as well as his wins - all in the name of helping YOU, ie me the punter learn something valuable. On the disc, he shows lots of examples of him rolling with his students. You can clearly see the difference between how white and blue belts roll and how purple, brown and black belts do it. It's not about how many techniques they know, but in the timing and tactical chess that goes on at the higher level. It's marvellous to watch. If Roy makes it to the UK again, I would really love to attend one of his seminars.

And finally...
I had a little spare time so I redesigned my Meerkatsu banner picture. Bye bye mock-Kill Bill, hello mock-Streetfighter pastiche! Hope Capcom don't sue my ass.

Red mist, purple dawns

An 'incident' occured during training the other night that I did not really want to mention, and, now that I've had a few days t...

15 Aug 2009


A little poster I concocted in honour of our new dojo (click for full size version). Yep, the new place is up and running, just a few bits to finish off but in effect, it is in full operation for BJJ and it's all ours! Permanent matting, more classes, more hours, better facilities, more space...this place rocks!

New Mill Hill BJJ Academy

A little poster I concocted in honour of our new dojo (click for full size version). Yep, the new place is up and running, just a few bits ...

14 Aug 2009

How do you explain your hobby to someone with no knowledge of the sport. Harder still, how do you convince them that what you do is fun, fairly safe and useful too? This was the task set before me as my boss wanted me to write a short article for the staff newsletter explaining what I did out of the office. So here is my piece, apologies for over-simplifying stuff...

MY HOBBY: Once a month, we ask a member of the company to tell us about their interests. This month, Seymour tries to convince us that wearing baggy pyjamas and grappling sweaty men us a pursuit worth doing...

To the outsider, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) looks like nothing more than sweaty grown men wearing pyjamas hugging and rolling around a lot. And I suppose that's precisely what a lot of it is. Obviously there is a lot of skill and technique needed too. I've been doing this martial art for over 6 years now and I train 3 or 4 times a week.

BJJ is a bit of a cross between wrestling and judo. 99 percent of the action happens on the floor, after the contestants have chucked each other around a bit. You are allowed to pin a person down, strangle him, choke him and apply painful force on various joints, but there is no punching or kicking allowed (thankfully!).

It was made famous in the early 1990's when a Brazilian chap called Rorion Gracie thought it would be a good publicity stunt to challenge anyone in any martial art style to a no-rules fight within a cage...winner takes all. He called it the Ultimate Fight Challenge (UFC) and, to the astronishment of everyone except the Brazilians, the BJJ guy (Rorion sent in his younger brother Royce to do the fighting) easily beat up experts from karate, wrestling, judo and many other styles. Fast forward to today and the UFC is a major pay-per-view sport event and BJJ is fast growing around the world.

We're lucky in the UK. Some plucky Brazilians seem to ignore the fact that in Britain, we have rubbish weather compared to Rio de Janiero. In London, we're especially lucky as the 7 times, and still current World BJJ Champion - Roger Gracie - bases his school here. Roger is incredibly famous in the BJJ world. It's the equivalent of taking lessons from Tiger Woods, or Roger Federer, right on your doorstep.

I compete in tournaments roughly once every couple of months, with moderate success. I have won a few and lost many. But the great thing I love about BJJ is the genuine cameraderie between practitioners young or old, big or small - I've even roped the wife into taking part every now and then too. It is an addictive passion that keeps you incredibly fit, could serve as useful self-defence and is very exciting to take part in. Just don't call it hugging in pyjamas!

Roger Gracie Academy: http://www.rogergracie.com/
More about BJJ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjj

Explaining BJJ

How do you explain your hobby to someone with no knowledge of the sport. Harder still, how do you convince them that what you do is fun, fa...

11 Aug 2009

Here's a photo slideshow:



All photos by me, but feel free to copy and paste ones you like. Just credit "Meerkatsu" if you print any.

...and here's my full tournament report on the very excellent Fightworks Podcast website.

Excerpt:
"The very first ‘London Open’ held in 2003 was a landmark event – at the time it was one of the very first major BJJ tournaments to be located in London, England. Fast forward to today and the 2009 ‘London Open’, run by Grapplers Showdown, evoked strong memories of that tournament 6 years ago."

More Grapplers Showdown

Here's a photo slideshow: All photos by me, but feel free to copy and paste ones you like. Just credit "Meerkatsu" if yo...

9 Aug 2009

On Saturday I entered the 2009 London Open run by the Grapplers Showdown crew at the Westway Sports Centre in west London. I wrote a formal report of the tourny for Fightworks Podcast which should publish in the next few days, so I'll save the wider details of the event for you to read there. But here is what happened with my fights...


Super Feather Animals

I turned up at the venue nice and early to find that there were no other rooster (galo - 57.5kg) or super feathers (pluma - 64kg) fighters listed at either adults or masters in my blue belt division. I had no choice but to agree to fight in the featherweight (pena - 70kg) division. I was a bit disappointed as I feared this heavier weight division would be too much for me (I weighed 58.4kg this morning without a gi).

So I just killed time by taking photos and chatting to folk. But after a while I saw one guy in a blue belt who looked my size. His name was Mark Stevenson and I think I've seen him in previous comps, but we've never fought since he is only 21. After a quick chat we both realised we were the same weight so the organisers agreed to let us fight in our own division, thus avoiding the feathers.

video

Well, as you can see from the video, I was outclassed. Genuinely I was out of my depth as I did not have any control (or grips) from the moment we started. It was a stark lesson on why old men like me should not be fighting 21 year olds! And 21 year olds who are both judo black belts and very very good blue belt BJJers on top! He got me with a RNC that didn't quite choke me, but his forearm was pressing so hard into my jaw that I had to tap.

But something very interesting happened after our fight, and medal presentation (a silver for my troubles). For some reason, the ref asked if we wanted another fight in the weight above?
We both said yes and so I waited, for my next fight...

Bish bash, how to squash a meerkat

Heck, this match was awful for me. I'm not really sure I gained anything out of this other than a real crushing. I did not get subbed, at least I can take comfort from my just-about-capable defending, but man my opponent was just too strong and too fast. Notice the easy foot sweep he gets at the beginning, and at one point, late in the fight, when he stands up and comes storming back to engage - I am bludgeoned into a pulp.

video

So what about my other pluma conqueror? Well Mark went on to defeat his first pena opponent by 2 points. Nice job but it was close and he was behind for quite a while. Mark's second fight was against my first round opponent. And remarkably, in this final, Mark won by submission (I think a lapel choke) fairly easily - to the shock of the pena crowd, and the delight to his Nova Forca team mates. So, little super feather animal Mark Stephenson, a humble, quiet and almost shy 21 year old blue belt wins gold in both the super feather division AND the featherweight division. An awesome accomplishment.

Team Mill Hill
Dan Strauss blitzed his way with submissions aplenty to win his lightweight blue division. It's high time he gets promoted to purple now.
Big man Salam won bronze in the super heavy whites and Dean lost on points in his divison.
But RGA scored some big wins; Oli Geddes won purple at his weight and in the absolutes. the top four fighters in the blue absolutes were also from RGA. David Khoza, a sometimes visitor to Mill Hill won his division.
Full results by clicking here.

Conclusions
I was pretty gutted after my first fight, and the second fight crushing just added salt into my wounds. I've had time to reflect and listen to wise words from my friends and peers and I don't feel quite so bad now. But losing really sucks. Especially if you lose really badly. I don't mind that I lose if, say, I am hanging in there pretty close and giving it back some - as per my previous competitions - but on this day, I felt like a little wabbit, lost in a scary hole.
It didn't help that Dan Strauss was fighting his final at the same time as me and so I was without corner support. My opponents in both matches had lots of encouragement and technical support from their coaches. I never realised how much having vocal coaching and support from the sidelines can help boost you in times of need. As discussed before about the mental talking that goes on within ones head during a match, mine was less conversation, more blind panic and helplessness. Quite overwhelming really. But I'm not complaining. It was a fun day out and it all adds to the BJJ 'experience-o-meter.'

It's not put me off competing. But I'll probably take a few months off the comp scene to concentrate on my BJJ without the pressure of an impending tournament, then we'll see. I think the Kent Open in November looks like a really good one to attend. Hopefully I'll get a division that suits me more closely than today.


Grapplers Showdown Gi Challenge London Open 2009

On Saturday I entered the 2009 London Open run by the Grapplers Showdown crew at the Westway Sports Centre in west London. I wrote a formal...

7 Aug 2009


I find sewing a patch onto my gi a nice way to kill time the night before a comp.
As ever, at tomorrow's Grappler's Showdown, not only will I be competing, but also covering the event with a write-up and photos. Let's hope it's a good day ;)

The Meerkatsu gi patch

I find sewing a patch onto my gi a nice way to kill time the night before a comp. As ever, at tomorrow's Grappler's Showdown, not ...

6 Aug 2009

I wonder what comedy Austrian television fashion guru Brüno would make of the BJJ fashion scene? What scene? you might say. But if there are people who have money, there will be sparkly things to buy...

The Obi Michi 'street belt' by Faixa Rua

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu keyring
Grappling shorts by Destroyer Fight Gear, featuring BJJ style belt


Backpacks made from BJJ gi fabric, by Vulkan

Beanie hat, by Bad Boy



Rear view mirror car mini gi, by MKimonos




Jiu-Jitsu sandals with belt fabric strapping, by Cobian


VASSUP! BJJ's must-have fashion accessories

I wonder what comedy Austrian television fashion guru Brüno would make of the BJJ fashion scene? What scene? you might say. But if there are...

2 Aug 2009


Fellow Pluma fighter Vishal and I travelled from London up to Braulio's GB academy today to attend a seminar by GB black belt Otavio Sousa. It was a great day out and some head spinning BJJ to ponder on...

Otavio is a hugely respected fighter, having medalled numerous times at the Worlds and the Pan Ams. Vishal said he would be good to learn from because although Otavio is very muscley, he is also very short and adapts his techniques accordingly, which suits us small guys.

Otavio spent many years teaching in the UK several years back when Gracie Barra network was just beginning to take place here. He's been back in Brazil for a while, so for many, it was a welcome return to our shores.


Braulio Estima, me, Otavio Sousa
The whole seminar centred around passing the De la Riva (DLR) guard. Otavio showed about half a dozen increasingly technical variations on this and my head was spinning after the second one.

The thing that struck me was how incredibly detailed each grip, hip position, posture and movement had to be to make the techniques work. The variations also built on several 'what ifs', ie what if your opponent sat up as you were passing his guard etc. The point I'm getting at is that the seminar seemed to me to be pretty advanced in its level. Not so much the nuts and bolts of the techniques, but the overall concepts and detailing. I wonder what the white belts, for there were many, thought of the seminar. Some of it was a little too much for me to grasp all within the time frame of a five minute drill. So lots of food for thought to be practised next sparring session at class.

After the instructional section of the seminar, we were split up into rough weight groups and sparred from set DLR position. Then after that free sparring. In previous seminars, I've always missed out on rolling with the instructor. But this time, I jumped the queue to sample what Otavio could offer. I needn't had bothered. He literally moved, maybe one millimetre of his body and I was tossed in the air like a Caesar salad. To be fair though, he did that to everyone he sparred with.

GB Brum
The seminar also gave me a chance to check out the GB Brum gym. Located at the back end of a high street, the gym is actually called Stevie B's Gym. The BJJ gym is the ground floor and they advertise Thai Boxing and other classes as well as usual gym equipment.

The training area is a very large 'L' shaped room with wall to wall mats covered in a one-piece tarpaulin. It was very well lit and with adequate changin rooms and toilet facilities. There were also lots of places to sit and watch.

But the thing that makes GB Brum special is Braulio. Throughout the session, he would add his own comments to Otavio's teachings, mainly so that an important point was emphasised, but also to add a lot of humour to the occasion with his comedy grimaces, grunts, quips and general larking around. The end of session photo call was especially hilarious. Braulio is clearly someone who loves a big photocall!

Overall I loved coming up to see this place. Otavio is a cool guy, still very young and a huge talent. I got to savour the Braulio atmopshere and met a lot of great BJJ people. Hopefully somewhere among all this, I have saved a few techniques and pointers to help my game too.

Next week I compete at the Grappler's Showdown London Open Gi Challenge. Quite a mouthful. My match will probably last shorter than the time it took you to read the tournament title. As in, I'm not feeling too confident as this week my sparring has been absolutely diabolical. But hey, I'm doing this for the learning experience, so we'll see.

Tomorrow, the new Mill Hill Academy beckons...
Photo slideshow:





Otavio Sousa Seminar - Gracie Barra Birmingham

Fellow Pluma fighter Vishal and I travelled from London up to Braulio's GB academy today to attend a seminar by GB black belt Otavio So...

 

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