Everyone has a calling they are destined to pursue in life. Far from an overnight completion, the process carries many lessons that keep us alive, adventurous, and unique in that quest of turning our dreams into a reality. Fabricio Machado is no stranger to this process. Since day one he has always dreamed BIG, always pushing to achieve his goals. These goals have taken him on a uphill journey to where he is today. Fabricio Machado has been an active Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner for over eleven years. Introduced to the grappling arts at the age of sixteen, it would only take one eye-opening introductory class to make BJJ a primary part of Machado's life.
"I knew since the first day that BJJ was making an impact on my life, "he said. "I started training BJJ when I was 16 years old. I used to train Muay Thai and Taekwondo and I had a friend who used to train Jiu-jitsu. At first I didn’t believe in grappling until I finally took a class and got tapped like 50 times. It made me feel uncomfortable and I knew then that I needed to learn more. I got addicted quickly and trained at least twice a day since the beginning."
Training, competing, and teaching living the BJJ Lifestyle was serving this enthusiastic practitioner quite well. However Machado desired more opportunities in evolving his Jiu-jitsu and creating a better life for himself outside of grappling. Following his heart's content Machado moved from his homeland of Pelotas, Brazil to the United States currently residing in Brea, California. Life in Southern California couldn't be more fitting for the Brazilian migrant as some features in this new land are reminiscent of life in Brazil.
[At the moment the economy in] "Brazil is really bad in comparison to the United States. Second, the Brazilian culture in California reminds me of back home and makes me feel comfortable. Economically, there are more opportunities for Jiu-jitsu in the United States so the move is what made the most sense for me since Jiu-jitsu is my life."
Machado’s migration to California also gave the Brazilian a new training home to continue his BJJ development. Now training out of Brea Jiu-jitsu under Dan Lukehart Machado has attained many personal and athletic benefits at his new training home. Fabricio couldn’t have asked for a better place to train.
"I met Dan Lukehart, owner of Brea Jiu-jitsu and quickly studied his analysis videos that are available on the internet. These videos intrigued me and I took an interest in the way he looks at Jiu-jitsu because he is very detailed and unique in the way he can breakdown a technique or sequence. I then visited the academy and asked Dan if I could stay here for a few weeks to which he said yes. I quickly made friends at the gym and fell in love with the environment both in the gym and the surroundingarea."
Growing in a positive training environment, surrounded by beautiful beaches, and meeting new friends it has been an amazing experience for Machado thus far living in the states. Yet the infatuation of his new found home hasn’t halted Machado in chasing his BJJ dreams. Making a strong presence on the competition circuit in the states Fabricio Machado has had great success thus far which accolades include becoming a NABJJF North American champion and IBJJF American National Champion at the brown belt level.
"I'm very happy of my achievements here in the U.S. I'm sure that I will achieve all my goals in America. I have the best support group- coach Dan Lukehart is an amazing mentor and friend, and all the guys at Brea BJJ have become my closest friends. I am fortunate to have made strong connections in the short time that I have lived here."
Dreaming big is all about having a purpose in life and becoming fulfilled in the process. The BJJ journey of Fabricio Machado showcases the possibilities of what happens when one follows their dreams. Far from his ultimate goal expect to see a lot more from this ambitious Brazilian prospect as he looks to continue to build for ultimate success on and off the mat.
“I hope to become one of the best in the world not just as a competitor but as a leader as well. I also wish to help Dan Lukehart and Brea Jiu-jitsu in any way possible. In the future I wish to open my own academy and help build world champions who are not only successful in competition but in life as well.”
Fabricio Machado Accomplishment
Brown Belt- 2016 NABJJ North American Champion
Brown Belt – 2016 NABJJ North American 2nd Place (Absolute)
Brown Belt - 2016 IBJJF 2016 American National Champion
Brown Belt – 2016 IBJJF American National 2nd Place (Absolute)
"Terrinha is one of my most accomplished students in competition. He has won the Pan Ams 15 times and the World's Masters 3 times, besides others gi and no-gi titles. His experience as a competitor has made him a very good teacher and coach. He has a very intelligent way to adapt and modify techniques to be better suited for his students. I'm very lucky to have him as a student and friend."
Carlos Terrinha was born in in 1969 to a low income family, the 10th child with 11 brothers and sisters in the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil.
In 2003 Carlos moved to the USA and became a resident of Hopedale Massachusetts. He teaches BJJ at Gold's Gym in Milford, adults 6 times a week, kids 2 times a week.
Passionate about the Martial Arts, he not only teaches BJJ but also plays a little at Judo, has dabbled in Capoeira and American boxing and has trained 8 years of traditional Jiu Jitsu from professor Juse Adilson Ferreira, his master was Takeyo Yano. For 12 years Carlos worked as a Civil Police Detective for the state of Minas Gerais.
Terrinha worked his whole life to find a way to pay for his classes to learn Jiu Jitsu, travel and compete. This champion began to train Jiu Jitsu 1989 when he was 19 years old with professor Jose Adilso.
He started competing as a white belt and never stopped. He was 3 time State champion in Minas Gerais , 3 time Brazil National champion and 2 time World Champion.
In 1998 Terrinha had a chance to meet Vinicus "Draculino" Magalhaes from Gracie Barra BJJ. Professor Draculino had moved from Rio de Janeiro to Belo Horizonte around 1986, Terrinha started to train with him and his students at Gracie Barra Belo Horizonte. and it changed Terrinha's life.
"Training with Draculino changed my Jiu-jitsu because I had the chance to see a new style of Jiu-jitsu of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and I had the opportunity train with a great competitors from his team, students who want to be a champions. Those guys do not play for fun any time and it changed my way to see Jiu-jitsu."
With so many compitions under his belt Terrinha has his share of bad calls. In 2005 finals the referee simply raised the wrong hand.
"I have won Pan American's 14 times officially and 1 time unofficially. In 2005, the referee made a mistake, I had won the fight and he put up Franginha's hand. Afterwards Franginha told me that I won but the referee give to him. Also the referee told me that he made a mistake, this is why I consider myself a 15 time champion."
Here's the stats: Pan American Gi Med Heavy 2005 Med Heavy 2010 Med Heavy 2012 Med Heavy 2014 Med Heavy 2015 Med Heavy 2016 Open Class 2016
No-Gi Med Heavy 2008 Open Class 2008 Med Heavy 2009 Med Heavy 2010 Med Heavy 2012 Med Heavy 2013 Med Heavy 2014
April 2012 Terrinha was moved up to #1 in the World at IBJJF ranking in Senior 2 division and keeped it until 2015. In January 2016 Terrinha went to Portugal to participate in the European Championship and won his medium heavy division making him a 2 time European Champion. It did not stop there, Terrinha came back home and went to California in March 2016 to participate at the Pan American Championship and he won his medium heavy division and Open class and became the first American to win the Pan American Championship 15 times.
Terrinha says to anybody who wants to do sport, "You do not need to be a champion but you should train with a champion because they test the technique at the competition that they teach their students."
Carlos would like to thank his kids Ana Carolina and Carlos Eduardo, his girlfriend Pollyana Carbone, Professor Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes, the Gracie Barra team and his students for always pushing the level higher. A very special thanks to his boss and sponsor Jose Farah Jr.
Come to be part of this lifestyle and if you have never participated in Jiu Jitsu, come to try a class and get to know it and see for yourself how it will change your life. http://www.carlosterrinha.com
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu's obsessive appeal springs from the lessons and rewards given toward the goal of self-development. Life on and off the mat, work, and family, and BJJ are all a part of the game that life gives to us. It is an on-going challenge of prioritizing all of our duties to create a balance. Luckily some have found a way to handle the weight grappling with so many tasks. Father, husband, and head instructor of Elite Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Andrew Solheim has a creative solution in merging the joys and responsibilities of his multiple roles providing him with a well-balanced life both personally and professionally.
BJJ Legends got the opportunity to speak with Professor Solheim. He touches on his journey and the balance of family and life as a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instructor.
You started BJJ over 15 years ago. What got you into BJJ? Solheim: My interest was at its peak when Royce Gracie fought in and won the very first UFC back in 93'. At the time my whole family was involved in Karate, I of course wanted to learn this new martial art however at the time there wasn't any academies in WA. With nowhere to turn for traditional instruction my father ordered the Gracie VHS tapes and the two of us started supplementing our Karate training with what we could learn from those tapes. We didn't have much to work with but I remember we would push the couch aside and grapple in our living room, we'd also try to find floor space after our karate class and train. As a teenager I took a break from training in the martial arts. Thankfully my father and mother continued to train because in the late 90's a blue belt named Mike Simpson started a BJJ class two nights a week at the dojo they trained at. My father told me about the class and that officially ended my break. In 2001 I started commuting an hour south to train under Gracie Barra Black Belt Marcio "Mamazinho" Laudier Vilamor. The rest as they say in history.
Seeing how the sport evolved, what was it like coming up to where you are now as an instructor? Solhiem: Jiu-Jitsu was in its infancy here in Washington when I started training. At the time Marcelo Alonzo and Mamazinho were the only Black Belts in the state. Tournaments usually took place out of academies and of course the field of competition was small. Today there are so many great academies in WA and the level of competition is higher than ever. A big contributor to this is the Revolution BJJ tournament. I believe they held their first event in 2006 and since then grown to be the biggest tournament in the NW.
You have been building a career in BJJ while also raising a family. How have you been able to stay the course juggling such great responsibilities? Solheim: Balance. My wife Amy and I were high school sweet hearts and we started our family early becoming teen parents to our son Riley at the ages of 16 and 17. My son was born right around the time I started training, I think Jiu-Jitsu provided the outlet and guidance I needed at the time. My wife and I married out of high school and now have three sons Riley (15), Owen (12) and Eli (6). Jiu-Jitsu has been a lifestyle for me ever since I started, it’s not something I do, it’s who I am. I want my children to follow their dreams; I want them to do what makes them happy. Actions speak louder than words so I'll follow my dreams in hopes that they'll learn to follow theirs.
Somewherealong the line your wife got a touch of the BJJ bug, after seeing you do it for so many years, what promote her to want to participate?
Solheim : Amy is a very shy person and was never into sports growing up so she was an unlikely candidate to all the sudden decide to start training, but that's pretty much what happened. One of my female students kept bugging her to try it out and one day she just decided to go for it. She was hooked and she started training regularly. Last May she competed in the world championships and did great winning her first two matches making it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated. I think it’s a testament to Jiu-Jitsu that a mother of three with no athletic experience can get on the mats and make the kind of transformation that she has.
Do any of your children participate in BJJ or other related sports? Solheim: Since I teach it was only natural to have them in my classes from an early age. All three of my boys have or actively train BJJ. Amy and I take a laid back approach to it though, although we require some form of physical activity we don't push real hard. We tell them to do their best and fight with heart because that's all they can control. If they give their heart in everything they do than I will be proud regardless of the outcome. In addition to BJJ, Riley and Owen also wrestle. Riley is just finishing up with his first season of high school wrestling and Owen is just getting started with his first middle school season.
As an instructor how do you separate being their instructor on the mat as you are the husband/father? Solheim: When we're on the mats I am the instructor and they are the students, it’s really not that hard, I treat them the same as any of the other students. The difficulty lies at the tournaments, as a coach you are always nervous for you students to compete; when that student is your child or wife this feeling is multiplied.
How has this pastime helped bring your family together? Solheim: Anytime you enjoy an activity or shared interest it helps build strength within the family unit. Jiu-Jitsu just happens to be one of the things that we enjoy together however we also enjoy other interests as well.
Looking back at your journey how has it overall helped you? Solheim: Jiu-Jitsu has been a passion of mine ever since I stepped foot on the mat. It’s important to have something that you find meaningful in life, something that occupies your mind and that you look forward to. The physical and mental benefits are obviously amazing as well, we are meant to move, to exercise and often times as we grow older we get away from that. I find Jiu-Jitsu to be a therapeutic and fun way to stay in shape both physically and mentally.
Any final thoughts before we wrap up time interview? Solheim: Jiu-Jitsu is different for everybody. Some guys are out to win world titles, some are looking for self-defense and others are just looking to live the lifestyle and gain the benefits that come from that. Whatever your reasons are focus on you and try your best not to measure yourself to others. Jiu-Jitsu can be full of frustration at times, understand that this is normal, part of the process, and required for growth. The hardest part of training is often times coming through the door; once you commit to that the rest is easy.
Andrew Solheim Special Thanks: I want to thank my training partners past and present who have bleed with me. I want to thank my instructors who helped me along the way; I hope I can honor you by passing your knowledge onto my students. Huge thanks to all my students for all their hard work, dedication, and tough rolls. Most importantly I want to thank my family for their love and support.
With the aiming of taking MMA and Jiu-jitsu fashion appeal to a higher standard in comes Veni Vidi Vici (VVV Fight Co). VVV Fight CO was established in 2010.They started six years ago with a vision of creating a brand that represented their passion for the sport. They try to better our fight community and have become a globally-recognized company.
Continuing to push their movement VVV Fight Co brings to you their latest kimono the Black Paladin Gi. The Paladin Gi was inspired by what and who we are as modern day warriors training on the mats.
Our review of the VVV Fight Co. Paladin Kimmo; here are all the details on the evaluation we conducted.
The Paladin GI
The VVV Paladin Kimono Jacket has a simple stunning appearance. Made out of 450 GSM pearl weave material the uniform jacket is light. It is cut slim, has a tough to grip lapel and reinforced seams cover all areas making the jacket capable of withstanding the toughest training and competing conditions.
There is a vintage logo on left side of the lapel jacket and the right side of the sleeve. Flipping over to the back side you will find VVV's inspiring motto "TRUST THE PROCESS EMBRACE THE JOURNEY" located at the bottom of the jacket. Aside from the bottom message imprint and the small Spartan insignia on the top, the back of the gi is left blank for pasting academy and sponsor logos.
The Paladin jacket has a mesh liner back piece. Wearing a gi with a mesh liner it is similar to wearing a rash guard; it provides even more comfort and absorbs sweat during training sessions.
The Paladin GI Pants are made out of a very light weight durable 12oz twill oz. cotton material. The paints are reinforced from the groin to the ankle with a pearl weave gusset. The knees are also reinforced. These reinforced stress zones keeping the gi in perfect working condition for endless mat time.
The Paladin is equipped with four thick belt loops offering extra tightening from the left to the right side of the waistline and decreasing the chance of your pants falling off while training.
Size & Shrinkage
With sizes ranging from A0 to A5 the Paladin size chart accommodates most height and weight measurements. We found the gi sleeves a little long aligning slightly passed the wrist line while the pants will be right at the ankle line.
Washing instructions: when placing it in the washer it is recommended to wash the uniform alone in cold water and hang drying it afterwards. Most kimono purchasers such as myself have had our share of issues washing black gis as the color fades turning a once solid black into a fading grayish black appearance. This is will not be a concern with VVV's Paladin gi as it maintains it same appearance after washing.
After a thorough examination of this uniform, it is safe to say that VVV's Paladin is a good buy most Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner’s collection. It is perfect for training, IBJJF approved, and affordable at the price of $145. The gi is a bargain buy for anyone hoping to save money while enjoying the benefits of owning a top quality gi.
The Paladin is VVV Fight Co.’s second kimono release.
Professor Vitor Oliveira, he is on the cusp of gold. Come read about the thing in adolescence that led this world-class athlete to BJJ, his thoughts on doping in the sport, and the road ahead.
According to Ann Voskamp, “practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”Professor Vitor Olivier started BJJ at the age of 8 and with Worlds right around the corner an 8 year olds diligent determination in pursuit of his dreams are close to fruition.
BJJL:Vitor, you are a well-known GFTEAM black belt but did not start with that team, why the switch after receiving your black belt?
VO: I switched because I was moving to Rio de Janeiro where we didn’t have any [team] affiliation. That was a tough decision.
BJJL: As a competitor, this year you make the transition from adult to masters, will you transition or continue to compete at the adult level and why?
VO: Yeah it’ll be a busy year for me, but I think I’ll stay in the adult division for a while, I may compete at Masters Worlds, but I haven’t decided yet!
BJJL: As a Professor, how do you keep your students motivated?
VO: I like to push them hard and show how hard I compete and train to get the results I want!
BJJL: What philosophy do you promote is your gym?
VO: Our Philosophy is the same as GFTeam HQ in Brazil: Friendship and Respect for each other. That’s what our group promotes.
BJJL: Was your father the primary reason you started BJJ?
VO: Kind of, I started BJJ because I used to get beaten up in school (hahhaahaha). After I started training no one messed with me again lol!
BJJL: What do you think constitutes a well-rounded practitioner and do you exhibit those characteristics?
VO: Patience, discipline. A lot of practitioners only think of how fast they are going to get the next belt, it’s a big issue in Jiu-Jitsu, but it’s easy to manage. I believe I have the characteristics.
BJJL: What rank was the most challenging for you?
VO: Definitely, purple belt, I didn’t have much success, now it is as a black belt!
BJJL: Would you like BJJ to go back to its origins of no time limit, submission only?
VO: Not really, I like the style, but I still prefer the way it is now.
BJJL: How does all the traveling impact you mentally/physically?
VO: It definitely affect me especially when I travel to compete in California, but since I always go earlier I don’t feel it a lot when I compete.
BJJL: Steroids/performance enhancement abuse and the repercussions are discussed more in traditional sports to include wrestling. What are your thoughts on how it is handled in the BJJ realm or the IBJJF’s policies and procedures on the subject matter?
VO: I agree with the policies on doping, I don’t think that someone that use steroids should be in the league at all, I think they should be more rigid, doing more test in more tournaments!
BJJL: Any thoughts on the equal pay issue in BJJ?
VO: I think they could pay more for the female division, but it’s hard because there’s not a lot of girls competing in the pro tournaments, usually they have more men in the divisions.
BJJL: What’s your training regimen like? How does it differ day to day from when you’re getting ready for a tournament?
VO: So, I don’t train that much only for the big tournaments, during camp I train at least 3 times a day, eating clean, doing everything right.
BJJL: Any female practitioners from your gym that you think will be great competitors?
VO: Oh yeah, Laura Hallock (black belt Light weight) Sarah Stump (blue belt light feather) Vanessa Demopoulos (blue belt light feather)
BJJL: Any thoughts on how BJJ has changed for women?
VO: It hasn’t change much, we do have more women training and competing, that’s great for the BJJ community
BJJL: If there is one thing (across the board) that you would like to be standardized when it comes to BJJ rules, what would it be?
VO: Stop the 50/50 guard, I think it makes a match ugly, they don’t move anywhere, and it’s ugly!
BJJL: Any interest in MMA?
VO: I would like to try, but it’s hard to teach BJJ and train MMA, here it’s just me teaching, I don’t think I’ll be able to do MMA.
BJJL: Are you linked to any charities?
VO: I used to teach free BJJ class for kids here in Columbus (Ohio)!
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you started BJJ?
VO: Being able to fight in the final of worlds last year, I’m getting close to the gold medal!
BJJL: Most challenging competitor and why?
VO: There are a lot, but not unstoppable!
BJJL: Any BJJ match you would like that hasn’t happened and why?
VO: No, every match winning or not I take as an experience to learn how to fix my weaknesses.
BJJL: Any rematches you would like and why?
VO: No, I just like to let it happen naturally.
BJJL: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
VO: That I’m not a black belt in Judo!
BJJL: What are your plans/goals for 2016 (camps…super fights…seminars)?
VO: Training in my camp for worlds now and seminars after that!
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank that you have never had the opportunity to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
VO: I would like to thank, Ronin training center, The Spot Athletics, P.J. Nestler, Mike Calimbas, Jiu-Jitsu nerd, Bull Terrier Fight Shop, Lane Ave Chiropractic, Dr. Tyler Chiropractor.
Win or lose, you could say it’s all about the lesson you learn. As Professor Oliviera seeks his ultimate goals, along the way he has honed his skills ensuring when he reaches the pinnacle, there will be little to no margin of error.
There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning.-Pat Riley
Make a difference with Jiu-Jitsu: Getting your BJJ school involved in your local community.
Martial arts schools have a deeper connection to their local community than most local businesses. They represent learning and discipline. People trust their kids there during the day, and spend their time there during the evenings. It’s more than a place where currency and services are traded.
It’s only natural that many schools try to build on this connection and get more involved in their local community, through supporting charity and running events at their location. It’s a win-win scenario - You can attract new members while supporting a good cause or providing entertainment.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways in which BJJ gyms get involved in their local communities.
(Roll4Life is a series of charity events through Jiu-Jitsu)
Charity events and fundraisers
A BJJ gym is a great place for organizing a charity event or a fundraiser. It’s very likely you know someone at your gym that could use a helping hand - Whether it’s financial issues or dealing with a medical situation - And it’s likely many more in the community are in the same boat.
Donations for cancer treatment is a common theme as it affects many around us. The good people at Tap Cancer Out have created a nonprofit dedicated to promoting this cause through BJJ. They organize tournaments and host grapplethons - a grappling marathon - at local gyms, for the purpose of increasing awareness and collecting funds for cancer treatment and research.
Regardless of the cause you want to support, your BJJ school is a great place to do so. If you take the initiative and talk to your school owner - most would be happy to help.
Women self defense classes
Women are, sadly, underrepresented in most BJJ schools. The close contact nature of the sport and sparring with much bigger and muscular people, is understandably a deterrent for many.
One of the best ways to overcome that initial barrier is by creating a more comfortable setting with offering a women-only class. Combine that with a focus on skills that sound useful even to people who never trained Jiu-Jitsu - self defense - and you can make a strong appeal for women in your community to try out your gym.
For schools that don’t have a female instructor, it helps greatly if there’s a higher-belt female member who could participate and help lead the class. At my previous school, one of the blue-belt members was actively involved in organizing a weekly women-only class that became a huge success, and grew the female team from an initial 2 members to over a dozen in a couple of months.
MMA fight promotions and camps
Jiu-Jitsu’s connection to MMA is undeniable. It was those first UFCs, where Royce Gracie convincingly beat multiple bigger opponents that exploded MMA and BJJ in the world outside of Brazil.
Hence, it’s not surprising that many BJJ gyms hold MMA events at their location. Fight organizations often need a place to hold media events, and a gym with large open area can be a great fit.
Organizing MMA events requires more effort and connections than the previous events mentioned, but if you have the right person in your gym or in your contact list on Facebook, it can often materialize easier than you might think.
The nice thing about MMA events that they can easily attract the attention of local media, putting a spotlight on your gym and exposing it to people who might otherwise not know about it.
How to make events a success
Once you decide to organize an event at your gym, there’s plenty of work to be done to make sure it’s a successful one.
1. Plan the event at least a month ahead. You need that much time to get the minimum amount of attention to make the event worthwhile.
2. Promote the event on your and your gym’s social media accounts. Ask people to share it and tell their friends. Your base membership is your best initial source for spreading the word, as they would typically be located in your immediate area.
3. Promote the event offline. Create fliers (hopefully you have a designer in your gym willing to help) and hand them out to gym visitors. Give a pack of those to people who visit other local communities, and ask them to distribute it there as well. Put up a large poster outside the gym, and on the pin-up board of local community centers.
4. If possible, try to get the local media interested. Local publications, including online-only, are always looking to report on interesting activities in the area. Sometimes a cold email or phone call can be enough - but you might have someone in your gym with the relevant connections already.
5. Involve gym members in organizing the event. Many people are quite happy to help if only you take the initiative and ask them to. People with experience organizing events would be especially useful.
If running a charity, make sure to pick a specific organization to donate to ahead of time - don’t leave that decision for later. People want to know where their money is going to, and that it’s actually going to help someone. Once you do, contact that organization and ask them to help promote your event - they would be happy to.
All in all, if you know what you’re doing and are smart about it, organizing an event doesn’t have to take a lot of your time. By delegating tasks to the right people and thinking things ahead of time, you can do much with minimal impact to your normal routine. The first couple of events are usually the busiest, but once you get the hang of it you can run it without much of a fuss.
Getting your gym more involved in the local community is a net profit for both sides. It does require going out of your comfort zone a little - not unlike Jiu-Jitsu training for the new beginner.
Leticia Ribeiro is one of the most revered female BJJ athletes of all time. Come read about this prolific athlete and how she continues to contribute to the art of Jiu-Jitsu.
Tactician (n):someone good at planning tactics: the specific means of accomplishing goals.When it comes to BJJ, Professor Ribeiro is like the keenest tactical general. She leads her garrison into battle with the most efficient and effective strategies in order to dominate their opponents on the mats. Her troops are prepared for what they will be facing and there is not one angle that anyone could approach from for which she is not ready with a counter. Although an adept tactician in her field of BJJ today, once upon a time even Professor Ribeiro was an eager apprentice. It’s time to take a look back and see how this sharp woman has become the heroin we have all come to admire.
BJJL: Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like?
LR: I grew up in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. My childhood was great! I still have a lot of great memories, back then we played a lot in the streets. It was safer more so then than it is today.
BJJL: What did your family think when you decided to start practicing BJJ?
LR: In the beginning it was hard, back then Jiu-Jitsu was a male sport. We had very few women training and competing. Soon as I started to train I fell in love with the sport and I knew that it was what I wanted for my life. After my mom really understood how I serious I was and what this meant to me, she gave me her full support.
BJJL: What was your first competition like?
LR: My first competition was the Copa Gracie. It was in 1995. I was a blue belt. I had three fights and three submissions by arm bar.
BJJL: Who or what motivates you and pushes you to achieve your goals?
LR: In 1996, that was the first time I knew I wanted to be a world Champion. I went to watch the first world championships ever. They didn’t have a women’s division but it was great to watch the black belts competing for the first time, especially Royler Gracie. I dreamed that one day I would be there and I worked for it.
BJJL: What has been your biggest challenge since you began BJJ?
LR: I think my biggest challenge and goal was to help develop women’s BJJ programs all over the world and to make the female divisions stronger. WE DID IT!!!
BJJL: What matchup would you like to have that has never happened?
LR: I have fought ALL tough fighters from my generation and after mine. I can SAY THAT I’m really happy, satisfied with my career. I have achieved a lot as an athlete and a teacher.
BJJL: What is your pet peeve as an instructor?
LR: I don’t have anything bad to say about teaching, my students, I love what I do so that makes my job REALLY easy.
BJJL: How does your tournament prep differ from your normal training?
LR: My routine changes, my day completely changes that’s why I decided not to compete so much lately. I’m focused on my gym and my students. If I decide to compete again, I will dedicate my whole day, my whole life, towards training.
BJJL: Any charities that you support?
LR: Right now, we are trying to support young talents from Brazil. We are helping them to have a better life living with the sport, just like us.
BJJL: What are your thoughts on the Equal Pay issue in BJJ?
LR: I think it is time for that. I talk about myself and many other fighters that I know. We train hard, we changed and dedicated our life for the sport. We do all that we can to see the sport grow and we ALL DESERVE better opportunities. I know how things once were and how they are, they are MUCH BETTER and getting better and better. I’m so happy with all the progress, even if it is slow but continuous.
BJJL: You truly fight for your students. You walked out onto the mat during World’s in 2014 (blue belt match). You wouldn’t let your student leave the mat (time had expired) until you had the ref correct his error. This led to your student winning when originally the ref had sided with her opponent. I’ve NEVER…seen anyone else do that. What prompted you to do it?
LR: Yes, I fight for them now. I know how hard they train and how much they want to be champion. I know being a referee is hard, they have to think fast and mistakes are going to happen. As instructors our jobs are to help referees also. Mistakes at worlds are sad for the sport and for athletes.
BJJL: How has BJJ for women changed in the last 5 years?
LR: I moved to the USA 8 years ago since worlds came back to the US. Things changed a lot for the better, the IBJJF is doing a great job. I can see the progress of the sport at each tournament and seminar that I teach and am so happy to be part of that.
BJJL: Would you like to see BJJ return to submission only?
LR: I would like to see more submission only tournaments, it’s fun.
BJJL: Are there any IBJJF rules you would like to see changed or completely removed?
LR: I think right now, the double pull. If they give two points for whoever gets on top, it will stop that a bit. It’s boring. They should do something to block it.
BJJL: So many are apt to return to the mat even though they are injured and they reinjure themselves (often worse). What advice can you give on injury prevention and proper recovery?
LR: I’ve had some injuries in my career but nothing serious thank God. I think the best way to prevent injuries is to workout in order to make your muscles stronger and keep your joints safe.
BJJL: As one of the female legends and pioneers for up and coming female BJJrs…what advice can you offer up?
LR: Believe in yourself, give 120% when training, keep going, dedicate yourself to what you want, DREAM…ACHIEVE.
BJJL: Proudest Moment?
LR: It was 3 years ago when I opened my first academy here in America and now I am opening my 2nd.
BJJL: Long term goals?
LR: I want to change people’s lives with Jiu-Jitsu and to be happy.
BJJL: Any regrets?
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank, that you have never had the opportunity to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
LR: I’m thankful for many people in my life. First God, my family, my partner Morango, my friends, my students, and everyone that helped me to get to where I am today.
William Ward said, “the mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Professor Ribeiro started out on a journey 2 decades ago. Along with her peers she ushered in a brand new era for BJJ. She is a pioneer in the game, a brilliant professor, and a remarkable inspiration. Her contributions to BJJ will be felt for years to come. She has had a hand (be it directly or indirectly) in developing each generation and helping elevate the game and its competitors to ALL new heights.
Grappler's Heart -- a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament for martial artists with disabilities is coming to California in April. Read more ->
On the last weekend in April 2015 a revolution began.
That's when Grappler's Heart -- North America's first Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament for martial artists with disabilities -- took place at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Brooklyn, New York and confirmed to the world that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was for everyone.
Of course, BJJ was always for everyone. If you go back far enough, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was actually founded as an adapted sport. Legend has it that Hélio Gracie adapted many of the fundamental techniques in the art as a low impact form of traditional Japanese Jiu-jitsu after recovering from a broken leg and not being able to fully-participate in his brother Carlos's classes. One of the central lessons of BJJ is how stronger opponents can be overpowered by seemingly weaker ones, but if you saw anyone fight that weekend, “weaker” was not the operative word. Every single one of them kicked as much ass and showed as much heart and perseverance as you would see at any able-bodied tournament.
In fact, some competitors came to Grappler's Heart having already fought able-bodied opponents at local tournaments in their hometown, but they wanted a chance to test their skills on equal footing and share ways to adapt the game with the only people who truly know what they're talking about.
“I enjoy competing against able-bodies, but we, as adaptive athletes, bring a totally different mindset and a toughness like no other,” says Brian Freeman, a BJJ blue belt, father, veteran and paraplegic.
“It was an honour to share the mat with other adaptive warriors not only to celebrate the challenges we overcome, but also to test myself and my adaptive skills in a way I normally don't get to, against other adaptive skills I had never seen before.”
Other athletes used the special opportunity of Grappler's Heart as the motivation they needed to reignite their passion for combat sports. Gina Hopkins, an mma fighter with dystonia came all the way from Bristol, England just to compete.
“Grapplers Heart was a monumental part of regaining control of my life,” she says.
“After recently acquiring a back injury and surgical injury which had affected both of my feet, on top of my neuromuscular condition, my self-confidence and self-esteem were dwindling.”
Nothing was going right for her at the gym or when she was powerlifting or training mma. Everything seemed out of sorts, but then she found out about Grappler's Heart online. “It gave me direction,” says Hopkins. “The passion and the atmosphere at Grapplers Heart was overwhelming, being with like-minded individuals, individuals who were passionate about inclusion, who didn’t view disability negatively, who wanted to compete, disability or not, and who have a love of Martial Arts.”
Brian and Gina will both be returning to the second annual Grappler's Heart tournament running April 30 to May 1, 2016 at Total MMA Studios in Tustin, California.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu community outreach attempts to bring value and dignity to the children of international refugees.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina Project 658 is an organization that works with the international refugee community. Project 658 mission aims in helping get migrants established into their new home country and provide them with the basic necessities and skills required to thrive. The Holistic Care ministry helps them with proper housing, job training, clothing, and academic/education services. Project 658 continues to expand its programs, adding new classes and giving their refugee recipients more opportunities to learn and grow.
Known for his artwork in the MMA community and other charitable contributions in the Queen City JM Smith (Founder of Disciple Dojo) has joined forces with Project 658 offering a free weekly BJJ/self-defense class for refugee kids in the Charlotte community. It’s only the second month into the program and the enthusiastic participants have already caught the love bug for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
BJJ Legends got the opportunity to talk with JM Smith about this philanthropic program and the building of Refugee-Jitsu.
You are known for your charitable contributions in the MMA community and in your home region of Charlotte. How did the collaboration with Project 658 come about and what got you motivated to do it?
JM: Honestly, man, it came about through frustration. As I watched the international refugee crisis unfold over the past year, I found my heart breaking for the millions of families—many of them children—who were simply trying to get away from hellish war zones over which they had absolutely no control or influence. I was also frustrated by the seeming lack of concern that many of my fellow Christians were showing and the stereotypes they were helping to reinforce about refugees through the comparisons to things like poison or an infestation or any other number of dehumanizing labels I was seeing shared on social media. The more I started to push back against such stereotypes and the more I started encouraging Christians in particular to reach out in love and service to refugees, no matter where they come from, the more I was met with the “What are YOU doing about it then? How are YOU helping?” type responses. I resolved that while I don’t have financial or material resources (being a starving-artist/Bible-teacher!), I should at least do something here in the city in which I live…which just so happens to have a large refugee population.
So I reached out to my friend Rob, who works with various refugee ministries here in Charlotte, and asked him who I could talk with about offering a free weekly Jiu-jitsu class to refugee families. He put me in touch with Project 658 and I sent them an email proposal for such a program. My friend Laura, meanwhile, had also met a member of their staff and shared with her about my desire to offer such a class as well as women’s self-defense seminars for the members of the refugee community. So when I reached out to them, they were very receptive. We met at their facility the following week in early December and they were very enthusiastic about the idea, as they were looking for something to offer the kids in addition to traditional sports like soccer. We decided to offer an initial one-time class and see who showed up in order to gage the level of interest.
So I spent all of December praying about it and trying to raise the needed funds to purchase mats and some basic equipment needed to get the class going. While I received some criticism from a few people who simply—and ignorantly—equate “refugee” with “terrorist”, the overwhelming majority of responses have been very supportive. From fellow church members to local businesses to BJJ friends from all over the country, people donated the needed funds and thanks to their generosity and support, the program is now in its second month!
How was the overall reception of idea bringing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to the Project 658?
JM: They have been totally supportive. Not only does it give the kids a positive place to come and hang out for 2 hours on a Thursday night, it also teaches them skills that could save their lives one day while at the same time instilling the values of the martial arts into them at a very formative stage in their lives. Unlike other sports which require different practice times, expensive equipment, and weekend games, this simply requires the kids to show up once a week with a readiness to learn and have fun! They’ve asked us to do a BJJ Summer camp for a week in July and we will also be offering periodic weekend Women’s Self-Defense seminars to the community.
Talk to us about some of the students and also your experience teaching them thus far?
JM: I’m just getting to know the kids myself, but they are simply awesome! I tell people our class is like the United Nations of BJJ. We have kids from West Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Southeast Asia! Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu… all developing genuine friendships that inevitably result from doing BJJ together! That’s the beauty of the martial arts — it brings people together from the most varied backgrounds and shatters the dividers that the outside world frequently encourages us to maintain.
Many of them are coming from conditions that most of us could hardly imagine growing up in. They are coming from vastly different cultures all over the world… yet they are like any other middle school or high school kids you’d meet in your own community. They laugh, they cut up, they rag on each other, they joke around, they watch TV, they go to school, they have homework, they deal with all the normal experiences kids deal with at that age… but given their unique backgrounds and experiences, they show a level of gratitude and a craving for love and affirmation that is simply unbelievable. They practically fight each week over who gets to mop the mat, who gets to pull up the tape, who gets to roll them up, etc. They know that they have been given this equipment and they are intent on taking care of it! They are so grateful that they have this class and it is absolutely heartwarming to see.
For example, two of our students are a teenage brother and sister from Afghanistan whose father fought alongside the Marines against the Taliban. In addition to translating for U.S. forces, he was also a trained boxer and kickboxer who taught the Afghani police hand-to-hand combat. Now, he works in a factory here in the city and is studying to get his commercial truck license in hopes of building a business here where he can employ others and provide jobs for the community. But with his busy schedule, he is not able to train his son and daughter in self-defense at home like he wants to. So when he found out we were staring this class, he was ecstatic! He and I have become friends and he’s made sure his kids are there every week… and every week they are so eager to show me that they remember what we did the previous week and how excited they are to be there again. It’s every instructor’s dream to have students and parents so dedicated!
So I take it they are enjoying their lessons in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
JM: Man, they are loving it! Every time I show a new technique their eyes get wide and you hear verbal “ooh”s and “ahh”s…it’s great! The only thing they know about martial arts is what they’ve seen in movies. The only thing they know about grappling is what they’ve seen watching WWE. They always ask me if I’ll show them various pro-wrestlers’ signature moves. Haha, I find myself frequently bursting some bubbles about what martial arts and grappling actually consist of in reality, and what is fantasy. But we have a lot of fun, even while maintaining an overall sense of discipline and respect.
Various instructors have different goals for their students what is your goal with the refugee students?
JM: My goals for them are simple: 1) to equip the kids with a basic working knowledge of Jiu-jitsu primarily for self-defense 2) to give them a place each week where they are encouraged, loved, and treated as normal kids rather than “foreigners” 3) to foster genuine deep friendships among them as well as within the larger martial arts community here in Charlotte 4) to help us as a city — and perhaps one day a nation — see those who have come to us from all over the world as fellow human beings, bearers of God’s Image; to break down the walls of suspicion and hostility that many in our society thrive on keeping in place. And lastly, 5) to reflect the love of God that I’ve been shown my whole life into the lives of these kids and their families regardless of their beliefs, background, or ethnicity.
Project 658 is always open to volunteers coming to help with various sectors in their organization. Is the option open for BJJ practitioners coming to assist with the program?
JM: Absolutely! As I post each week on Facebook and Instagram, ANYONE in the area is invited to come help on Thursdays! Any grappler from any academy or gym with a good attitude who wants to meet some amazing kids and help encourage them in their training is invited to come help us whenever they are able, especially female grapplers! We are trying to encourage more women in particular to get involved so that the girls who come to class will have other girls to drill and roll with. There is still a bit of hesitancy, perhaps due to cultural backgrounds, when it comes to the girls and having such close contact with boys who aren’t a family member—contact which is a necessary part of BJJ, obviously. So to help overcome this hesitancy it’s always helpful to have women there who can not only train with them, but also show them that it’s ultimately possible to train with the boys in ways that do not compromise any ethical integrity.
But male or female, grappler or novice, anyone who’d like to help is invited to come see what we do and meet some incredible kids each week. In fact, we’ve had BJJ students from at least four different local academies helping us in classes so far! It’s been great seeing so many different team patches and GIs on the mats with the kids, all under the single banner of “Jiu-jitsu”!
What are some other resources you are using to expand the program?
JM: The goal all along has been to make the class entirely free for any member of the refugee community. These families come here with almost nothing sometimes, and Project 658 is a huge help in getting them basic necessities so that the kids can live normal lives like any other kids in the city. So Disciple Dojo wants to make sure that this class and everything involved remains free to the families. From mats to train on, to striking pads/mitts, to GIs and rashguards, we want to make everything available to the kids. That doesn’t mean they don’t EARN the equipment though! Far from it! From day one we’ve stressed to the kids that while we do not require them to pay financially for the class and equipment, they DO have to pay for it… in dedicated attendance, focused training, and cleaning up and storing it all each week! The only way we can do this is through the support of the wider community, particularly the BJJ community. And the response has been encouraging so far. Deus Fight Co. has stepped up to support us by providing gis for the kids. As an artist, I’ve worked with Deus before on the Fight for the Forgotten gi when they found out about this program the owner, Geoff, sent me a text that simply said “how many gis do you need?”! Deus has a line of gis based on various cities’ NFL teams that they use to help raise funds for different charitable causes , so I said that given the Panthers Superbowl run this year, it was time to have a “Carolina” gi in the lineup! They loved the idea and the gis are in production as we speak! In order to get their gis and white belts, the kids have to have perfect attendance for over a month, show that they are dedicated in class and paying attention, and help with cleanup and teardown of the mats each week. They are so excited, and I’m truly grateful for the awesome work that Deus Fight Co. is doing not just for our program, but for some incredible causes all over the world.
I also use any proceeds from sales of my artwork and the gear I design to help fund Disciple Dojo as much as I can. I’m one of only a handful of artists I know of who focus on MMA/BJJ portraits, so any help in getting word out about my artwork is always appreciated and I love seeing my stuff hanging in various academies all over the world… because I know what it goes to help support!
Eventually, I’m hoping that the program will continue to grow and as the kids move from basic self-defense BJJ into the more competitive aspects of the art, I would love to connect with a tournament that would consider providing sponsorships for some of the kids to compete. But that is still a ways off, I believe. Right now the focus is on building community and laying the foundation for the dozen or so kids we currently have in the class, while continuing to encourage others to join in as well.
Finally 10 years from now what do you see for Disciple Dojo’s Refugee-Jiu-jitsu program?
JM: Honestly, I don’t even know what it will look like 10 MONTHS from now! I’m just along for the ride! But my hope is that in 10 years there will be dozens of young 20- and 30-something adults in this city from all over the world who know that they are valued. Who know that they have come to a city where they are seen not as “foreign” or “different”, but rather as fellow citizens and members of the community. Who know the joys that come from dedicated training in the Gentle Art and who have a sense of self-confidence, humility, kindness, and integrity that come from the crucible of Jiu-jitsu classes. And most of all, who know that they are, loved as young men and women created in God’s Image and possessing intrinsic value and dignity. If even a handful of these kids end up experiencing this over the next 10 years, it will have all been worth it.
Any final thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
JM: I’ve been so encouraged by the response to our program. It shows that despite the geopolitical events surrounding us, there are people who have the courage to reach out with a hand of friendship rather than a fist of anger. I’m grateful for the support we’ve been shown by people from so many different backgrounds — from local academies, to members of the UG, to instructors from across the country, to church members, to companies like Deus Fight. Jiu-jitsu has a way of bringing people together who would otherwise likely not have much in common. This program is a testimony to that fact. I’m especially grateful to my instructor Derek “TC” Richardson for introducing me into the Renzo Gracie Jiu-jitsu family over nine years ago and modeled what it looks like to combine the martial arts with community outreach and self-sacrificial giving to those who may not be able to do anything in return. And I’m grateful for my training partners and friends at Renzo Gracie Charlotte/Leadership Martial Arts who have kicked, punched, twisted, cranked, smothered, smashed, and choked me silly for nearly a decade now. Outside of my biological and church families, they have been the biggest source of support and encouragement in my life.
I’m hoping and praying that what we’re doing here through Disciple Dojo and Project 658 may in some small way inspire the greater BJJ community all over the world to reach out to those on the margins and share with them the art we all love so deeply, so that they may be transformed by it as we have been. I would be absolutely thrilled to find out that other martial artists in other cities were starting similar programs among their own communities—whether refugees, immigrants, or any other subset of society who are often stereotyped and stigmatized. I may not be able to solve the world refugee crisis, but I can at least reach out to those who have been its victims and say “You are valued and you have dignity. Let me help you cultivate both through this thing called Jiu-jitsu.”
Hitting reset and training your training partners, Adam Stacey shares his story coming up outside of SoCal/Brazil Jiu-Jitsu motherland.
Growing through Martial Arts is beneficial to anyone’s journey in building character on and off the mat. A thirteen year practitioner in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Adam Stacey is a BJJ Black Belt under Nic Gregoriades and head instructor of Custom Jiu-Jitsu in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Competitor, truth-seeker, and instructor Stacey has a unique outlook on life through Brazilian Jiu-jitu reflected through his journey in the grappling arts. Conducting this interview with us at BJJ Legends hearing his story many will be intrigued and ponder of the hidden personal benefits Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has to offer its participants.
Everyone has a story as to what got them interested in this great art known as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. What got you involved in BJJ?
Adam Stacey: I’ve always been fascinated by the Martial Arts. I grew up on Ninja Turtles, Surf Ninjas, the Karate Kid, etc. I did a little Danzen Ryu Ju Jitsu, a little Judo, and Folkstyle Wrestling growing up. I was introduced to BJJ around the age of 21. I started when I was in the US Navy onboard the USS Chosin. A friend of mine asked me to roll. Being a wrestler I accepted the invite and after being arm barred 100’s of times I realized this art was for me.
At what point in your journey did you come to the conclusion that BJJ was fully apart of your life thus making you fully committed to it?
AS: From day one I’ve enjoyed the art. Jiu-Jitsu became my priority once I attended my first academy: Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu under Romolo Barros. I was relatively strong in the Navy because until I encountered Jiu-Jitsu my definition of strength was my total bench press max. However, I rolled with my first instructor, Romolo Barros, he was a normal looking guy, and he submitted me quickly… over and over again. My definition of strength was way off. So, shortly after I started I realized I wanted this in my life forever.
Everyone has their own perception based on their journey of highs and lows. What is you philosophy on BJJ?
AS: Jiu-Jitsu is so much more than Jiu-Jitsu. It's hard to encapsulate in words. Jiu-Jitsu is my community. Jiu-Jitsu is my strength. I had a somewhat crappy early childhood so Jiu-Jitsu, has been a mentor and teacher that has helped me in so many ways. I have a shirt from Tatami Fightwear that says: “No matter what life throws at you there is always Jiu-Jitsu.” That’s pretty much how I see it.
Open minded to the art, part of your growth found you cross training with a lot of other grappling practitioners including your opponents. What inspired to do this and most importantly how can one benefit from this approach?
AS: If I want to be a shark on the mats I need to swim out past my fish bowl. If I only swim in my tank I may be the king of that bowl but my growth will be stunted. I’ll have a Jiu-Jitsu game bound to a small container. I feel it is important for Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to swim in other fish bowls, so to speak, so that they can see how other fish bite/swim. Analogy aside, tournaments, other academies, they are all part of the main goal: to grow the BJJ community and be the best ME in Jiu-Jitsu that I can be. I cannot be the best me if I do not train across academy lines. As for training with past opponents… I don’t really look at them as opponents. More as teachers. I am extremely grateful for all those I’ve competed ‘against’. Maybe if I treated them as opponents and not teachers I might have more gold medals. Ha!
Speaking of opponents one of the most challenging parts of someone’s journey is competing which bring out various emotions. What is your overall outlook on competing and through your wins/ losses what motivates you to compete?
AS: My Jiu-Jitsu journey has been different than most. Since I was a high blue belt I have always had a long distance relationship with my instructor due to my location. So it has been difficult for me to refine my game without the constant oversight of an instructor. In place of that oversight I’ve used competitions as my testing ground. I would study techniques, drill, visit other academies, and then take it to the competition. After every competition I would fill my journal with lessons learned (I still do). I’d then fix my errors and apply the lessons learned to my next tournament. If there were errors I couldn’t find the solution to I would seek help via email from my instructor. So, long answer short, GROWTH motivates me to compete. Every competition helps me grow. In turn, I pass my lessons learned on to my students so they avoid the pitfalls that I hit the hard way.
Switching topics becoming a Black belt how does your journey differ as oppose to your previous ranks white through brown?
AS: March 7th will be my one year anniversary as a Black Belt. Man, being a Black Belt is a weird paradox. It has changed everything but then again it feels like my journey has restarted. I like to use the Call of Duty analogy. Once you reach the highest level in the game Call of Duty you have the option to “Prestige”. To prestige basically means you trade in all your accolades and start from scratch. That’s what I feel has happened. I’m starting over but I now have a “Prestige” Belt around my waist. From White Belt to Black belt I pursued the path to the black belt. Now that I am a Black Belt my goal is to be an EFFECTIVE black belt. I still have a lot of work. But I’m growing every day.
Apart of being a black belt you have taken on the role as a leader of your own academy the Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Becoming an instructor what are some of the important things you learned from your journey that you pass on to your students?
AS: That’s just it. I instill the journey mindset into our students. Every class, every tournament, every win, every loss, every person (both good, and bad) are elements of the journey. Take them. Learn from them. Become better. If we only learn from the good times or the things we like that might only be 50% or 60%; even a perfect 50% is an “F”. Enjoy the journey and learn from everything!
Finally looking back what do you feel got you to where you are today after a long extension as a participant in BJJ?
AS: So many people have helped me. My wife’s love. All my Jiu-Jitsu teachers great and small roles alike; Nic Gregoriades, Dave Kama, Nick Laudenglaus, Alex Aftandilians, Heitor Abrahao, Romolo Barros, James Tanaka, David Hattori. My training partners; too many to list but my Brother-in-Law Seth Johnston has played a huge role in my journey. My students… all of them through the years (I've been showing people Jiu-Jitsu since I was a blue belt... not because I am such a good instructor but because I quite literally had to train my training partners. I was unaware of any 'REAL' BJJ community when I came to Klamath so we had to create one). …also, and in all honestly, John B. Will’s books on BJJ have been a great standard for the foundation of my Jiu-Jitsu.
Mackenzie Arrington’s cheeky BJJ Cookbook Eat Well, Train Hard wins by submission early in the match. Read the review.
I train. I love to eat. I enjoying cooking and I collect cookbooks (mostly antique). Reviewing Eat Well, Train Hard by Mackenzie Arrington is a good fit for my skill set.
First, I am impressed. The recipes are legit. These are down to earth, protein rich, big meals. There is a section on prep. Notice the Zebra mat cutting board? Nice little Easter egg.
These are hearty meals. This cookbook is not for dieting. These meals pack lots of sustaining energy. While reading through I thought who could eat this much? A 18-35 year-old male who’s training 4x a week, that’s who. It is perfect for our target demographic. If you are more in the market to lean-out you can still use these recipes and cut down on the portion size.
While we are talking about 18-35 year-olds, maybe you aren’t comfortable around anything larger than a steak knife, maybe you haven’t boiled water, or maybe you are just tired of chicken out of your George Foreman grill, either way the cookbook will help you navigate the kitchen, use a proper knife and inspire you to make tasty meals. Best of all these will be wholesome meals without any preservatives or added sodium.
Mackenzie is a legit chef and he is sharing his passion for cooking. He has an associates in culinary arts and a bachelors in hospitality and restaurant managements. He has worked for Momofuku, Eleven Madison Park, he opened The NoMad, and The Dutch in NYC, and has worked as a consultant and personal chef once out of restaurants there. He is the only two-time Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. He has been on Good Morning New York on FOX cooking, on CBS morning shows and was an on-air guest for QVC. He lives in Buffalo NY and is a purple belt training out of Alliance at WNY Mixed Martial Arts under Matt Godden and Mike "dubs" Dauenhauer. His best ranking was 6th, super heavy blue belt. He is a writer for Jiu-Jitsu Mag.
Where Mackenzie needs to drill more is photos of the dishes. I would love to see a pic of the finished product so I can leaf through and look at all the yummy food. Also, and this is more of a wish list item, I’d like to know nutrition information per dish, just how many calories and how much protein.
Support a fellow BJJer following his passion. Buy Mackenzie’s cookbook pdf. At $12.99 it is a bargain. Here’s the link http://bit.ly/1RTf4wk. Go now buy. Your stomach will thank you.
Mackenzie would like to thank his wife-to-be Moe, because without her constant support this book and grapplergourmet.com would not exist. And to thank his sponsors Q5 sports nutrition, Inverted Gear, and Datsusara for their continual support. (->There are discount codes at the end of the book for each of the sponsors.<-)
Insiders review of fresh grappling gear from the land down under.
Without each other, success is less likely.
Today is a very exciting day for the Australian MMA scene with the launch of it newest apparel line. P4P Apparel, a brand that prides itself on thinking "outside the box" and who are dedicated 100% to its athletes and promoting the sport of MMA and all of the disciplines that create it.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Jamie and get an insight into this exciting new brand and where he hopes to take the P4P team.
Hey Team thank you very much for your time today please introduce yourself to the readers.
Hi, my name is Jamie Cockerell, I'm a business owner, entrepreneur and martial artist, primarily a submission grappler. I currently reside in Lara, Victoria, just outside of Melbourne, Australia.
Tell us about your clothing line, what was your motivation to get this off the ground? How has the line developed since its initial concept to the launch? Do you undertake all of the work yourself or is there a team behind P4P? Please feel free to introduce the team to our readers.
Being a martial artist myself, I was constantly buying apparel, training gear and other accessories, so I know what people want in a high quality, a comfortable fitting item that was suitable for street wear, casual wear and training. The majority of the work I take care of myself, when it comes to the marketing, advertising, growth, social media, quality testing, design work and more. This keeps me extremely busy.
My wife Elisha is the other big contributor to P4P. She handles all my stock, inventory, shipping, postage and little bits and pieces that add the final touches to the P4P brand.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friend and graphic designer Jimmy Vo, my website developer Barry Walker, Natalie Maulucci for the logo design, my screen printer and embroider, my coffee counterpart and last but not least Jasmin Norsworthy for all my apparel design and layouts. They all make this possible.
Tell us about your brand, mission and goals?
Our brand was developed with the goal of changing the way sponsorship, branding and promotion was done within the MMA and martial arts industry. We had a vision that we wanted to immediately sign up approximately 15 Bronze Sponsorship athletes, even prior to our launch date, which we successfully did. The reason behind this was to get a build-up and create some intrigue around the brand before we went live. This was a huge success, and things blew up quick. We want to, and are becoming a company whose success through its sponsored athletes, is returned back to the athletes.
We have created a strong #teamp4p following, and all items sold through any avenue, gets re-invested into the business for more products, services and assistance to our sponsored athletes. It’s not about the dollar for us, it’s about the growth of MMA, and in particular the growth of #teamp4p and our athletes, and everyone part of the team is on board and 100% committed to our vision.
What obstacles did you come across during start up/launch?
I am the owner and manager of 3 businesses currently, 4 now when you include P4P. So starting something new was not confronting or daunting to me; however my other career and business I am involved in building & construction, primarily in architectural design & metalwork fields.
Apparel and our future plans is something I've never even considered, so I went in to this venture blind. Im not the kind of person to ask for help, I've always managed to find my own way. I knew what quality was, I knew what people wanted, I just needed to find a way to put it all together. I found myself at times banging my head up against a wall, but eventually I ended up in contact with the right people and things couldn't be running smoother. A lot of time, effort and investigation went into making this all possible.
Having a look at the team of Athletes you have on sponsorship deals is there anyone in particular that excites you and who deserves some close attention over the next year?
The correct answer is no. Our whole goal when we created P4P was to go after and sponsor the people who need it the most and who we see potential in.
Our athletes are amateurs, newly promoted professionals and not necessarily world renowned people, but people who we feel we can grow with, promote, assist and help eventually become world renowned. We see the future and the talent these sponsored athletes possess and we want to be a part of their journey from day 1, and they want to be a part of ours. With this vision, plan and commitment from all parties, we see a real potential for the P4P brand.
The incorrect answer would be to say yes, and there is 3 people in particular who you should all watch and take note of, and you can find them all on Instagram at @ryanmillsetc @jessearnott @nichola_pitbull_rigoni
Do yourself a favour, and follow the career of these guys.
If you could have anyone rep the P4P brand who would it be and why?
As silly as this answer may sound, it would be myself. My vision and goal is very specific and I know exactly what I want to achieve. Because of my career and work commitments, this is not possible. So each and every single person that is part of #teamp4p has the right attitude, knowledge and understanding of our brand, we have made them all very aware of this. So to answer your questions, if I could choose anyone, it would be each and every sponsored athlete we have as part of #teamp4p
We have already rejected sponsorship inquiries from VERY well-known athletes, so we don’t lose sight of our goal or the P4P vision.
To give you a fun answer, if Garry Tonon or Eddie Cummings contacted us, I'm sure we could work something out, and no doubt they would love a trip to Melbourne, Australia one day. Something I could personally organize for them.
Do you have any exciting plans for new products coming up?
Indeed we do. At the moment, we decided to launch one shirt only which will be our staple shirt that will be available year round for the life of P4P. This symbolizes what our brand is built upon. We deliberately made this the only product available for about the first month, so our brand and name became recognized strongly, and the image and vision of P4P was engraved into people’s mind.
However, we had been planning WAY ahead, and we can tell you that in the very near future, we already have Rashguards (all IBJJF compatible, colour ranked Rashguards) Singlets, Snapbacks, Caps, Hoodies and more.
Another exciting thing which will be available in February 2016 at some stage will be a full range of Coffee. This is worth keeping an eye on; as it will be unique in the way we do this.
Once this has been successfully completed, we will be moving into training equipment such as gloves, Thai shorts, pads, and other sparring equipment.
We have 3 very big things currently in the works, which we are hoping to have up and running sometime during 2016. There is a lot of work to be done still, but if and when this goes ahead, P4P will be taken to a whole new level and people will see that our brand is the real deal. Those with us from the start will be the ones reaping the benefits of the P4P growth. People should follow us on Social Media during 2016 and follow our pursuit towards these goals. There could be potential for a lot of outsiders to become a part of this when it all goes down.
Where do you get inspiration from in designing new products?
To be honest, there is nothing in particular that makes my mind tick one way or another. I have a few things, like shapes, symbols, images, fonts etc that I am planning to stick to for the life of the brand, to help keep it recognisable, consistent and known to the MMA community.
I must acknowledge the #teamp4p and the P4P fans and sponsored athletes, as they constantly contact us with ideas and inspiration for apparel, training gear and more. We take every single point of contact into account, and whether we use them now, or in 12 months’ time, we keep a list of everything, so we are ever evolving.
We aren’t out there to make crazy designs; we want to be clean, modern and recognisable. Our apparel should be able to be worn by males, females, athletes and the general public, and so far, this has been a huge success and a feather in our cap being able to target both the MMA and public market equally.
How do you plan on standing out from the ever growing, ever competitive apparel game?
Our goal isn’t to be the biggest; our goal is to be the best. Pound 4 Pound, the best apparel and promotional company coming through the ranks. We aren’t out there to sell cheap shirts, or large volumes. We even reject sales from time to time, as we want to only be associated with people who we feel have the same vision and goal we do. We are unique, we will stay unique and we will grow and think outside the box as we have from day 1.
This puts us in good stead for now, and the future.
We want the P4P brand to be a brand people want to be a part of. We don’t want to be out there promoting and advertising ourselves to sell bucket loads of apparel. We want our team to do this for us, so they reap the rewards upon their success.
We don’t feel we need to even consider competing in this competitive market, we have a plan and a vision we are sticking to, where competition to P4P is irrelevant.
P4P being a MMA targeted apparel line; one would assume you guys train MMA? If so do you have a specific discipline you prefer or are you evenly spread across the board?
Most definitely. My personal career started off in strictly boxing, where I trained and enjoyed the social side of things for quite a few years.
Realising that being hit in the head repetitively isnt ideal, I decided to move into Submission Grappling.
I've never been a traditional BJJ person, as from day 1, my coach Richard Poole from Elite Training Centre, Geelong, Australia, has been teaching us some of the nastiest and most effective techniques in Submission Grappling, including a big focus on leg locks and cranks.
Of course, the basics are always there, but instead of focusing on Spider Guard or learning to Berimbolo, we are working Heel Hooks and Twisters.
Why should people support P4P?
We only want support from people who want to support our brand, our vision, our goals and the growth of P4P.
We don’t promote the support of our brand, we promote our vision and our goals for the growth of MMA and our athletes, so if you are on board with this, support P4P, if not, that’s fine.
The amount of support, amazing emails and messages we have received from people has been truly overwhelming. We never expected anything like what we have received so far.
It’s been a blessing, and we appreciate every single kind word from everybody.
Our athletes support P4P, and they spread the word for us via their social media and word of mouth, so we have a very loyal and strong support base at the moment.
We want to continue to grow this way.
What social media sites are you on, and what are those addresses?
Facebook: P4P Apparel
We are VERY active on all 3 sites, and respond to messages and enquiries very quickly. I personally respond to everyone myself, so you can assure your answers are legitimate and most honest.
Is there anything you guys would like to add?
I’d like to thank BJJ Legends firstly for giving P4P the opportunity to be involved in this interview. It’s a huge feather in our cap and an honour to be asked.
Also, anyone who is a fan of podcasting should follow the "GMeekerMMAshow" on iTunes, as P4P are the major sponsor of this Podcast, and Gabriel, the host is extremely passionate about MMA and is in the early stages of his career, similar to us, which is why we work together and partner up so well.
Finally, if you are a fan of our vision, goals and our approach to the growth of the sport and athletes, please follow us on our social media profiles, send us an email, visit our website and grab yourself some merchandise, help spread the P4P brand.
Hit us up via email as well for an opportunity to become a sponsored athlete.
We are currently in 5 countries, and expanding into others very quickly.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and we would love to have more of you involved with #teamp4p.
Come, read about Tanner Rice of Rice Brothers BJJ the youngest American to acheive his blackbelt from Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles at 19.
Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next. - Ben Carson
At 15 years old Tanner Rice had a huge responsibility. He was running the kids program at is family’s gym. Shakespeare recaptured the words of Henry the IV with the quote, “Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!/Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Some are born to be great and others have it thrust upon them. At the age of 19 Tanner Rice became the youngest and first American born black belt promoted by Charles “Cobrinha” Maciel (Alliance). At such a young age, when things are thrust upon him, Rice seems to handle them with aplomb. BJJ Legends talks to Professor Tanner Rice about some of his greatest matchups, the effectiveness of performance enhancement testing, and his thoughts on well-rounded practitioners.
BJJL: You are very young, have accomplished a great deal, and have a prestigious lineage. From the day you started training at 6 until now, what led you down this path?
TR: At a younger age my father (Rod Rice) started training me and my brothers, it was hard to begin with because it wasn't like it is now where we had a lot of training partners. All I had was my older brothers and my dad at the time and having older brothers to train with there is never any mercy when it comes to rolling so I got smashed on a lot. Getting smashed also became discouraging and I didn’t believe that Jiu-Jitsu was for me, but my dad kept telling me to proceed and push through the hard times so I owe it to him for who I am today.
BJJL: Tanquinho Mendes and Megaton Dias, two monumental wins for you at 19. Both seasoned, highly regarded, what were your thoughts pre and post match-ups?
TR: I had just got my black belt when I was about to fight Augusto Mendes and I had just watched him fight 2 months prior at the U.S Open and he won his division and open weight and before that I was always fond of his amazing base on top so when I found out I was fighting Tanquinho Mendes I'm not going to lie, I was freaking out! He had just beaten my past professor Cobrinha and at the time Cobrinha was still murdering me in training, so that added to the nerves a little bit but once I got out there and started fighting the nerves went away and I fought pretty well. Afterwards I was in disbelief that I did as well as I did.
BJJL: Because of your father (Rod Rice) is BJJ the family business?
TR: When I turned 15 my father opened a gym and I began teaching kids and he taught the adults.
BJJL: You spent 1yr in Brazil when you were 16, what was that experience like?
TR: I went to Brazil with a friend Carlos Diego Ferreira and stayed at his house and began training at the school he trained at his whole life Club Pina, the experience was amazing. I had to grow up quickly! I had never been away from my dad more then a week so it was hard but I enjoyed the hard training and the culture.
BJJL: What do you think constitutes a well-rounded practitioner to be and do you exhibit those characteristics?
TR: I envy Leandro Lo’s game the most out of everyone, but I think Rodolfo Vieira and Lucas Lepri have the all around best Jiu-Jitsu in the world. I think to be great in Jiu-jitsu you have to be able to understand the game and make your own game whether it be on top or bottom. I think I have a lot to learn and figure out still and always will.
BJJL: What rank was the most challenging for you?
TR: Black Belt will always be the most challenging rank for anyone that has reached the black belt level and competed.
BJJL: Would you like BJJ to go back to it’s origins no time limit, submission only?
TR: I like both styles of competition submission only and points/submission.
BJJL: How does all the traveling impact you mentally/physically? How do you stay focused when you can’t be with your family during those important life events and vice versa? They can’t follow you around the world?
TR: Traveling to compete takes its toll if you aren't used to it but the more you do it the more you create a sleep/eating regimen for yourself that doesn't make it as bad. I actually like competing on my own without my team or family around I feel like I stay more focused and more relaxed. Sometimes having my team/family around gives me anxiety it's gotten better over the years but sometimes I feel like it still alters my performance.
BJJL: Steroids/performance enhancement abuse and the repercussions are discussed more in traditional sports to include wrestling. What are your thoughts on how it is handled in the BJJ realm or the IBJJF’s policies and procedures on the subject matter?
TR: I think IBJJF testing for steroids is great but I think they should test the athletes at more events instead of just worlds. There are too many ways to cycle on and off without getting caught. Year round testing would be great for the athletes and for Jiu-Jitsu itself to grow as more of a known sport around the world.
BJJL: What’s your training regimen like? How does it differ day to day from when you’re getting ready for a tournament?
TR: I train/ workout for 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night. When a competition is coming up I just bring up the intensity of my training and try to push harder then the day before no matter what.
BJJL: Would you and your brothers consider starting a career in MMA fighter?
TR: MMA has never been my thing nor my brothers so you'll see us on the BJJ scene for years to come.
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you started BJJ?
TR: My proudest thing I've taken from Jiu-Jitsu is our kids program. We have a lot of great kids that work their butts off everyday and they win a lot of competitions. You will soon see them start to shake up the juvenile divisions very soon.
BJJL: Any BJJ match you would like that hasn’t happened and why?
TR: I think either Leandro Lo vs Rafael Mendes or Rafael Mendes vs Lucas Lepri would be amazing to watch because of the clash of styles.
BJJL: Any rematches you would like and why?
TR: Anyone I've lost to has been the most challenging fight. I would love a rematch with anyone I've lost to.
BJJL: Kid’s Pans is less than a month away, does your gym have any contenders?
TR: I have 10 kids competing at Pans.
BJJL: What are your plans/goals for 2016 (camps…super fights…seminars)?
TR: My plan for this year is to win as much as I can. I'm really focused on training and competing right now. I'm always down for seminars but I need to focus on my goals mainly.
Professor Tanner Rice made history as an American practitioner at the tender age of 19. A chain of events began many years ago that set him on his current path. Rice still has plenty left to show us but one can’t help but wonder after all that Rice has done (and he hasn’t even reached his prime), who will Rice Brothers BJJ unleash on the scene next?
Your friends will believe in your potential, your enemies will make you live up to it.-Tim Fargo
Read more about the old Gracie Barra term "Faixa Azul-Preta" used to describe blue belts who are invited to train up. Blue belts who are invited to train with the black belts.
Every mid to large size Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym has at least one of these martial art outliers. He or she is typically a young blue belt who has virtually made your academy mats living space. No matter which gray morning or rainy night session takes place, this individual holds ubiquitous presence. Every training session, this young jiu-jitsutero is equally feared by all belt ranks as he dominates the mat with cardiovascular supremacy. As older hobbyists pack their bags and return home to be scolded by wives and girlfriends, the blossoming phenom continues to drill with an unearthly amount of stamina. You have stumbled upon the “blue-black.”
What is a “blue-black” anyway? Isn’t the term just synonymous with ‘mat rat?’ Not exactly. “Blue-black,” or “azul-preta,” is a term that originates from the Gracie Barra competition community. According to Orlando Sanchez black belt Ben Zhuang, the term started getting coined in a Gracie Barra Worlds tournament training camp.
“The term I first heard from Gracie Barra black belts at the Worlds camp. They usually only allow black belts in their comp training afternoon sessions, but they wanted the blue belts at my school to join because of their level. Hence they were called blue-blacks,” claims Ben.
In a nutshell, blue-backs are young grapplers who may lack the technical refinement crafted through many years of mat time but compensate in their immediate mat prowess through a combination of volume training, natural talent, and athletic ability to the extent they can competitively spar with elite BJJ practitioners.
“At my school, they were basically blue belts that trained twice a day as much as 5-6 times a week. They all had natural talent or a special trait that made them untouchable to basically any non-black belts or other non-competitors. It all comes down to mat time and drilling,” Ben tells me.
As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pays little, how can blue-blacks afford such an intensive training schedule?
An answer to the the recent rise in number of dangerous blue belts may lie in the polarization of Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a tournament sport. This allows a great number of young athletes to develop a type of skater and surfer approach to the art, in which they are encouraged to pursue jiu-jitsu holistically at all times of the day on a daily basis. Ben explains that blue blacks at his gym would compete as “much as 2-3 times a month” and because they were all young, did not not have “many responsibilities other than training.”
To offer a more accurate idea of mat ability amongst blue-blacks, Ben estimates a “ blue belt that can get onto the podium at the worlds at the adult level probably rolls evenly with most hobbyist black belts and even taps them. A blue belt world champion certainly can tap casual black belts.”
So if these blue-blacks can spar with and tap black belts, why aren’t they immediately promoted to purple or brown belt level? Unlike upper level belts, these practitioners may not have intricate, strategic jiu jitsu that can be used to contend with great black belts. They often rely on sheer physicality which makes them dangerous offensively to everyone, but this quality also places large holes in their defensive games.
The term “blue-black,” of course applies to exceptional blue belts, but the overall concept extends to all elite intermediate level practitioners. Ben adds, “At purple, people on the podium likely dominate hobbyist black belts.”
Are you a young whippersnapper dominating the sparring as a lower belt at your academy? If so, you may be a blue-black yourself!