Follow a man’s unlikely story of how he came from a small Nebraskan town of 200 people to becoming a cornerman in the most distinguished Mixed Martial Arts promotion in the world.
A Lesser Told Story of Mixed Martial Arts In the Blue Corner: by Jerome Gage
Tucson, AZ-‐2014 – Mixed Martials Arts (MMA) is emerging into a mainstream sport. As it grows more recognizable so do many of the stars. There are copious amounts of television shows, books, magazines, and radio shows highlighting the biggest players in the game. They constantly showcase the lifestyle and training of these fighters, who receive large sponsorships, fight out of renowned gyms, and make the big time money. However, for every one fighter, trainer, or promoter in the limelight there are thousands in the sport who do it solely for the love. Some of these people are promoters, fighters’ wives, gym owners, teammates, and trainers, all of which have their own story of their roles in the sport.
In the Blue Corner is a unique glimpse into one of the lesser told stories behind MMA and the fight lifestyle. It’s a narrative of how a hobbiest in the sport found himself cornering his friend in MMA. This book recounts the story of the cornerman while discussing training camps, scouting opponents, dealing with loss, overcoming injuries, the importance of good teammates, and the attitude behind the winning mindset.
When it comes to an individual's Jiu-Jitsu game, everyone looks to become the best. Mastic Fight Wear does just that in their contribution to the grappling community.
Mastic Fight wear Kimonos are available in Pearl Weave and Crystal Weave.
Both options are made of 100 % cotton. The difference between the fabrics is that the Crystal is much softer than the Pearl. However, don't let that sway your decision because each kimono carries the durability of a double weave with the weight of a single. It a suitable choice for competition and is IBJJF approved. The color choices are White/Grey Stitching, Blue/ Grey Stitching, and Black/ Orange Stitching.
Being an owner of many gi brands I got the opportunity to try out this much talked about gi and after careful analysis this is what I discovered:
Jacket: The jacket portion of the kimono is a classic construction model any grappler would admire. Made out of 100 % cotton the jacket is composed of a thick but light strong weave fabric material, which makes it easy to move around in during class instruction providing absolute comfort while training and competing.
The patchwork designs of the jacket are standard with the Mastic Fight Wear logos located of both sides of the shoulders. This layout gives me plenty space to represent with my academy or sponsor patches.
Pants: The Mastic gi pants are made out of ripstop material. From experience, I know these trousers are capable of withstanding the toughest matches from competitors in your division to challenges of in the absolute division. They also are a great fit and are comfortable.
Shrinkage: Mastic Fight Wear kimonos are labelled as Pre-Shrunk. After testing there is no evidence shown for the customer to be concerned about it shrinking after it comes out of the washer. If this is still a concern, a secondary option would be to wash the kimono in cold water by itself and hang try it.
Conclusion: There nothing quite fitting than having a great product in your hands. Comfortable, Competition Ready, and an everlasting usage the Mastic Fight Wear kimono certainly delivers in all areas. This gi is one of the top kimonos I have purchased in a long time. The price blows all other competition out of the water which means you will save a lot of money. There gis are a hot sellers so don't wait make your purchase before they are all sold out.
In the interest of full disclosure, I really like Flow Kimonos and have since I saw their website for the first time. A year or so ago Jonathan sent me a test sample of an unbleached hemp gi. I beat the heck out of that thing and it’s still holding up great. Six months after that I got my hands on their ultra-light Pro Series (the lightest gi that I own) and finally a few months ago I was sent the Classic. Before getting into the review itself it’s worth noting that I still have and use all 3 of my Flow Kimonos. In the last few years I’ve had a few dozen gis but these three are going to be in closet for a long time to come. This review is going to be a lot different than my normal reviews, it will be very heavy on pictures. I hope you like it.
Notable Stats: The Classic Series gi is a pre-shrunk 550gsm gold weave gi that is available from Flow Kimonos in three colors (white, blue and black) and in traditional, slim & husky cuts. As a lanky guy their slim cut fits me very well and so far all three of their A3Ls have had the same cut. Flow is one of the few companies that I recommend on a regular basis to those looking for non-traditional sizes.
The gi has all of the standard features regarding quality stitching, reinforcements and well sewn embroidery. Two things that do set it apart are that it’s made in China (the gi is priced very well for one made in China) and that is still using a cloth drawstring. I like that it’s made in China and the drawstring not so much (but it does work). All the pictures were taken in the last few weeks. I wash and dry this gi every time that I wear it. For washing I use a gentle cycle and cold water, for drying I use low heat and dry it completely. If I'd wanted to keep it a little longer I would have skipped the dryer to stop shrinkage.
Wrapping It Up: Jonathon & Flow Kimonos make great gis and have great service for their customers. If you’re a Redditor you’ve probably seen more than one thread from a satisfied customer and you've seen Jon on there as well. As I said before I’ve had 3 of his gis, I’ve kept all of them and still wear them all on a regular basis. That may not sound like a big deal but I've had about 2 dozen gis over the last few years and these are 3 that I'll never part with. The Classic Series gi (154.99 for blue) is a very comfortable, durable option and ideal for someone that is looking for that workhorse gi. Check them out at their Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
“At X-Guard Brand Fight Wear, we believe that fashion, quality, and performance go hand-in-hand. Our premium jiu-jitsu kimonos, IBJJF approved rash guards, and fight shorts have been mat tested and are cage approved. We listen to our customers, read reviews, and participate in the sport which helps us continually push our Jiu-Jitsu/MMA fight wear to the next level.”
Design/Features/Construction: Firstly I want to point out that the Recon is a Limited Edition and will not be massed produced. A quick overview of the main design features of the Recon: 425 gsm honeycomb tech jacket (strength of pearl weave with softness of gold weave), 12 oz drill cotton trousers, rope drawstring, contrast stitching, EVA foam lapel and stress point stitching. The jacket and pants are a medium gray in color with mahogany brown contrast stitching; the Recon only comes in gray. The Gi sports high quality stitching with all cuffs and stress points reinforced. With very few patches, and some small embroidered areas the Gi looks clean and fresh, with not a lot of bling to be shown. The few patches/embroidered areas coupled with the great gray color makes this Gi stand out without getting any crazy looks.
The Gi is very light for how durable it feels, and is the softest Gi I own by far. Many of the spider guard players and similar guard players “really appreciate how soft” this Gi is. Which I noticed is great for their grips, not so much for me stripping them. I originally tested the first X-Guard Kimono for BJJ Legends and was impressed (as I am again) on the construction and durability, but the first time round I was not impressed by the cut. At the time I was an A3 and the Gi was long in the skirt and baggy. As X-Guard Brand points out in their company description, they listened and really narrowed down the fit. This Gi fits me great, with a nice slim cut around the shoulders and arms. The skirt stops at an appropriate level and the pants fit very well. Due to its color this Gi is not IBJJF Legal.
Jacket: The Recon jacket has a large inside tag with X-Guard Brand Info and size tagging. The bottom left lapel has a small branding patch along with the bottom left of the front of the Gi. Along the bottom right front a red patch denoted the Series Vi limited Edition. A very small red X-Brand “X” sits right below the nape of the neck. The only embroidery is on each shoulder where the X-Brand “X” sits in the same brown stitching as the rest and is about 3-1/4”x3-1/4”. The sections of embroidery are well done and have no signs of distress; the patch stitching also shows no fraying. The EVA Foam collar is covered in ripstop. The skirt and waist line of the pant cut-outs for mobility are reinforced and have brown material sewn over them for added protection. The Recon looks great, as I stated above it gets attention but nothing like a bright red Gi would. I would say it garners the right type of attention, with compliments ranging from “nice stitching” to “great color”, to “wow that’s soft”.
Pants: The 12 oz drill cotton pants fit great, and feel like I could tow a truck with them. Sporting 8 loops for the drawstring, a very long stretchable drawstring in brown and an inside mouth guard holder the pants tie great and stay tied. The waist is off-set with the back half being slightly higher. Keeping up with the jacket the pants have the same reinforced stitching at all stress points and the contrast stitching at all seams. The pant has a 4-1/2”x3” patch on the front right hip and a very small red patch on the back left right on the waist line. Inside of the back panel below the waist line a 3-1/2”x3-3/4” patch with X-Guard Brand Logos and sizing info. There is additional reinforcement at the knees starting at the thigh and is 16”in length and runs from vertical seam to seam across the front of the leg.
Test Run: Right out of the free Limited Edition Gi Bag (Black with a large X-Guard Brand Logo) this Gi felt light, durable and looked great. I was given this Gi right before class started when I was already changed and stretching. I liked it so much I had to go try it on immediately. After trying it on I was very happy with the cut and fit that I wore it that day (with the Gi being gray I felt comfortable that it wouldn’t bleed like a black or dark blue Gi might). After 10+ washes I have noticed little to no shrinkage in the pants at all. I have noticed though some shrinkage occurring on the jacket. It still fits great and I would consider it still competition legal on my body but I have noticed it getting slimmer as I have trained. Make sure to double check the sizing on their website before purchasing. I only wash in cold and air dry all of my Gi’s. [Editor’s Note: X-Guard has tall, husky and traditional sizing options]
Washed 10+ times. Both Jacket and Pants Hung Dry
Wrap Up: The Recon is a great looking Gi, with a nice fit, great durability and a softness in a Gi that I have never felt before. With the great gray color and mahogany brown contrast stitching couple with few patches this Gi stands out without screaming look at me. Only negative is the shrinkage which may affect anybody that is a little longer limbed than me. X-Guard made a great Gi after listening to their customers; they have great customer service and a wide array of other gear. The Recon comes in at $154 which is a mid-range price for a nice Gi. Make sure to check out their website and Facebook page for any upcoming deals and announcements.
If that sounds like you then Virus has you covered with some of the newest tech you can find in sport clothing. Just a quick look at their Technology Tab on their website or Facebook will show what this cutting edge group can put out. Virus has also shown their love of BJJ and MMA by sponsoring top ranked fighters such as Cub Swanson and Jake Ellenberger. A few months ago I was sent a set of their gear: shorts, compression shirt and compression pants to put thru its paces rolling and after just a few times wearing it I’m now fully converted to the benefits of compression gear.
Intro Digitsu’s latest DVD is devoted to the De La Riva guard and is taught be Gianni Grippo. Gianni is a brown belt, currently under Alliance and Marcelo Garcia, who’s has had a lot of success on the competition scene over the last few years. The DVD is 85 minutes long, covers: DLR, berimbolo and reverse DLR and is available from Digitsu for $39.99 (DVD) or $19.95 (on-demand stream). As an open guard player I was very excited when Digitsu announced this DVD and after spending a few months with it I can say that I very glad that I have a copy. As always the study guide is available for download as a PDF at the link below.
My introduction to Marcos Torregrosa was early this year at the IBJJF Chicago Open. As I was watching random matches one of his matches caught my eye. Thankfully, it was pretty early in the match because for that tournament he absolutely tore thru the other lightweights in route to a gold before collecting a silver in the Absolute. Marcos ended the year as the top-ranked Masters black belt at both lightweight and absolute. This review is going to cover his BJJ Escapes App, available for $9.99 from iTunes. The app consists of 20 chapters covering the following positions: mount, side mount, back control, 50/50 and the following submission defenses: triangle, armbar and ankle lock. Don't forget to download the PDF of the map at the bottom of the article for your reference.
The Battlepack Core is a 32L 100% hemp canvas backpack loaded with practical features and backed by Datsusara’s famous customer service. A spacious main compartment with full-length zipper, large variety of external/internal pockets, front and side PALS webbing, and comfortable straps means that Datsusara’s middle-size backpack satisfies the needs of Brazilian jiu-jitsu / MMA / judo / muay Thai types, as well as hikers, cyclists, and world travelers.
There are many reasons to like Datsusara—clean designs, practical features, environmentally friendly materials, stellar customer service—but their most unique characteristic is in the name, which is derived from the Japanese phrase “to leave the corporate worker’s life.” Owner Christopher Odell’s distaste for frivolous consumerism is clear. Datsusara doesn’t advertise. Their products have a minimum of logos. While our senses are under constant siege by deceitful and obnoxious advertising by companies whose sole aim is to sell future landfill, Datsusara’s only marketing strategy relies on product quality, customer service, and word of mouth. They even shut down online retail sales during the Black Friday consumer orgy.
“This workout DVD incorporates both kettlebell and bodyweight exercises to help you enhance your conditioning levels, improve your mobility and agility, and get you sweating.”
Fitness is Function: 4 Week Kettlebell Workout Plan is a 2 DVD set from My Mad Methods. In this set Mark de Grasse takes you thru 18 workouts intended to done over a 4 week period. While I’ve owned kettlebells for quite a while, I’ll admit I rarely use them. In my case I’ve used them for swings and that’s about it. Up until a few weeks ago I couldn’t even do a clean without banging the crap out of my wrists. So when I saw “Perfect for Novice Kettelbell Users” I decided to give it a shot. The DVD set was delivered promptly to my home and the following day I decided to take it for a spin.
This article provided by our guest writer Tyy Withrow. Tyy runs his own blog called BJJ Paperweight. We look forward to working with Tyy more, be sure to keep your eyes out for some more articles by him! Welcome aboard Tyy!!!
It’s been a couple of crazy weeks for me and I’m finally able to sit down and talk about a seminar I was able to help out with. The “Give the Gift of a Gi – BJJ Seminars for Kids” kick-off seminar was a huge success. It was held on October 26th at Foster Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Kent, Washington. Quite a few Black Belts shared their expertise; Kris Shaw, Cindy Hales, Michelle Wagner, James Foster, and Jean Freitas. There were three different seminars for three different age groups. With this grouping model each seminar ended up being the perfect size. In total there were about 55-60 kids, which is a great turn out. Of those kids, I would guess about 10 had never tried Jiu-Jitsu including my two little nephews. The seminar they attended was their first day of Jiu-Jitsu. I credit the quality of the seminar with the fact that they both enrolled to train the next week. Yes, I’m a proud uncle.
In the last week or so I’ve gotten at least a dozen catalogs in the mail. All of which are doing their best to convince me, my wife and my two girls to spend our money. What I did not get in the mail was a single piece of propaganda telling me what new gis, apps, videos, rashguards, t-shirts, or gear I need. It’s completely unfair. I got 3 American Girl catalogs and not a single flyer from BudoVideos, what the heck?
As a PSA for the grappling community this article will contain links to the retailers that I’ve personally used and/or have seen consistently good feedback on. I’d also highly recommend that you check out the Father’s Day Gift Guide from earlier this year for more gift ideas.
Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence by Dr Eric Goodman and Peter Park
As a teacher of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I'm on the mat at least 3 hours per day. Several years ago, I injured my back training with a college wrestler. For 5 or so years after that, I spent 3 weeks per year unable to walk, and the rest of the year in fear of my back giving out, often in pain.
After doing the basic exercises in the book Foundation, recommended to me by a student, my pain disappeared! That was 2 years ago, and I continue to do the exercises and be pain free.
I have told several students about this book, and one of my students was in the hospital due to his back pain. Soon after practicing the exercises, he went on to win the Pan Ams in one of the senior divisions and said that he had never felt so good!
If you are in pain, this book could change your life.
What do Rodrigo Cavaca,Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, and Roberto Cyborg Abreu have in common? Other than the World titles, ADCC wins and Pan Ams medals? They all trained foot locks with the same person: Roli Delgado. Roli is a 2nd degree BB (Denilson Pimenta), student of Billy Robinson, and level 5 instructor of Hayastan (Max Bishop). Legal Leg Locks for BJJ is about 90 minutes long and focuses primarily on straight ankle locks and toe holds.
Roli’s approach to teaching is very similar to Ryan Hall. The app begins with a focus on applying the submission correctly with sound fundamentals. Roli then delves into the concepts that you’ll need to make the most of these attacks. The final few sections are details on how to adjust when the sub doesn’t work, how to escape when you’re the one in trouble and finally how to counter attack. As always there is a PDF of the study guide available for download at the end of the article. There's also a video at the end of Roli teaching some attacks from the 50/50.
Ronin Brand contacted me in July to do a review of their John Small’s designed 5 Borough Gi (blue A3L). Since then I’ve worn it at least 20 times, washing and drying it each time. In short, I’ve beaten it up as much as possible over the last 90 days. The gi is available in white, blue and black. Ronin also has sizing for long/slim folks. This limited run gi is simply designed with an illustration by John Smalls printed on the inside of the 5 Boroughs of New York, hence the name. [Editor’s Note: All pictures were taken after the gi was used for 90 days].
Johns Smalls, if you’re not familiar with him, is an avid BJJ practitioner and professional artist who lives in NYC. John’s artwork can be found on/in gis, rashguards, shorts, prints, canvas, etc… In our little corner of the world John has worked with Ronin, Shoyoroll, NoGi and Modern Flow to name a few. To Ronin’s credit they recognized the skills and value of bringing a professional artist into the design process (their Samurai gi was in collaboration with Meerkatsu) and continue to offer well designed gis (check out the Legacy gi). Now to the review.
So what is the first thing you think of when you hear Scramble? Rainbow Spats? Or maybe Star Spangled Spats? How about the cool Rashguards? Even better, the newer Athlete Gi? Well if you thought of all that then you are well aware of the great gear line-up offered up by Scramble, and if you haven’t then you may need to re-evaluate your life. or at least visit their site right now. Seriously, I’ll wait.
Well this go round Scramble has put together a hoody for us to ogle, with a nice clean look and feel without being over the top and the fit and comfort you would expect from a company who has been around the block a time or two.
Founded in 2011, Cardiff-based Strike Fightwear are part of the UK wave of Brazilian jiu-jitsu gear companies. Strike’s kimonos, shorts, and rashguards all feature high-quality construction and their designs register around the Emerica mark on the BJJ industry scale of Jigoro Kano to NASCAR. This is a review of their recently released GRPPLR gi, size A2.
In the words of Strike Fightwear: “This gi has been in development for over a year and features a new cut & fit as well as high-quality embroidery and styling.”
“We designed this gi to be perfect for both everyday training and competitions. It seems foolhardy to train in a certain gi leading up to a competition, only to wear a different, lighter gi on the day. The GRPPLR is both lightweight and durable, ensuring you can wear it every day without it hindering your Jiu Jitsu.”
Hemp Ecstasy Gi Review by Jocelyn Chang, Brazilian Jiujitsu Black Belt of Let’s Roll Jiujitsu Academy, Torrance, CA
I find it appropriate to review the Hemp Ecstasy gi by Submission Fight Company during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am not only a Brazilian Jiujitsu Black belt; I am also a cancer survivor. During my bout with cancer, I learned the great benefits of Cannabis as an effective treatment to counter the side effects of chemotherapy. While researching more about Cannabis, I began to learn about Hemp and what a fantastic fiber it is. Hemp is strong, durable, breathable, and, anti-microbial. When you read about Hemp, you learn that not only is it much better than cotton as a fiber, but, it is also much more environmentally friendly too. So naturally, I was very excited to be asked to review the Hemp Ecstasy gi.
Out of the bag I noticed that the build quality is very good. Unlike many gi’s, when you look closely at the stitching, it is nice and even. No loose stitching, or, tag ends anywhere. Also, unlike some other Hemp gi’s I’ve seen, the weave is nice and tight like true gi material. It’s nice to see someone is paying close attention to details that make a truly good gi. After all, it’s equipment, not fashion.
93 Brand has spent the last year making its presence known in the jiu jitsu world. Their initial offering, the Grey Goose, was a very well received grey gi (reviewed here and here). The Gentle Chief rashguard is the love child of their collaboration with BJJ artist Gawakoto. The rashguard features artwork by Gawakoto, is made in the USA and looks pretty spiffy. I want to thank BJJHQ for sending this rashguard to me and letting me beat it up for a few months while working on this review.
"Talking about Lucas is always a pleasure for me. I have never seen an athlete with so many skills like him. He is one of the most complete athletes that I have had the opportunity to train.” Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles
Lucas Lepri has followed up with his guard passing DVD with another 2 volume set. This set is a nogi (but the techniques are easily adapted to gi BJJ) and focused mainly on the reverse De la Riva, De la Riva, Butterfly and Side Control. Lucas also covers some material on the half-guard, back control and turtle. Most of the techniques are sweeps and attacks making it a solid complement to his passing DVD.
Lucas Lepri’s DVD set consists of 2 DVDs and covers ~3 hours of instruction in total. In this article you’ll find mindmaps for both DVDs and some commonalities that I noticed as I broke down the instruction.
Becoming a model of excellence in one’s line of work is an aspiring goal for any evolving Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner. Since its launch in 1998 Paragon Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has exhibited this concept with the production of many grappling talents such as Jeff Glover and Bill Cooper. Expanding its club’s movement to the southern region of the United States, Paragon Austin continues this endless trail in becoming one of the best BJJ schools in the Lone Star State.
Starting in 2011 by Robert Dembeck and Darrin Lillian these two founders quickly organized a plan to mold itself into its own brand of excellence. With its later assemblage of elite black belt instructors to assist with the enchantment of the program top quality training and instruction was not hard to come by for any student training at Paragon Austin.
The dedication each instructor puts into their work is above and beyond the standards of your typical BJJ instructor which creates a unique diversity of knowledge gained from the participant walking out of each class.
Starting his instructor position early this year David Ginsberg black belt Mike Harmon brings over a decade of experience that any students will benefit from. Not only has his assistance proven to be a great aid for the students at Paragon Austin but also for himself which has allowed Harmon to achieve major success as a competitor which includes becoming a brown belt no-gi world champion in late 2012 .
Martial arts apparel and gear company Datsusara was founded in 2007 by Christopher Odell, a man with a clear goal: "Datsusara gear is manufactured to be as strong and versatile as military gear, while incorporating the most functional textiles nature has to offer." His life philosophy is also represented by the company name, which is a translation of the Japanese phrase "to leave the salaried/corporate worker's life." Those are some big green checkmarks, but the ultimate test is how the equipment performs in the world and on the mat.
The Datsusara catalogue features a Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi, fight shorts, and an array of backpacks, bags, and accessories. Everything is made of natural, environmentally friendly fibers like hemp and bamboo. Datsusara gear has been gaining lots of attention recently, as evidenced by many of the items being sold out at the time of publishing. This review covers Datsusara’s hemp fight shorts.
After his new book “BJJ Techniques to Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents” hit #1 under the entire category of “Martial Arts” at Amazon.com, BJJ Legends writer Daniel Faggella sat down with us to talk about the book’s success, and his personal journey of putting the book together. Dan is a No Gi Pan Am Champion, expert division champion many times over, and one of the most prolific writers and interviewers in the BJJ world, having conducted dozens of interviews with world champions, and producing three books on combat sports skill development.
BJJ Legends: Dan, you’ve done a LOT of writing about beating bigger opponents in BJJ over the last number of years, why did you decide this year to finally put together the book?
Dan Faggella: Believe it or not, I like to say that this book has taken me four years to write. It was four years ago that I conducted some of my early interviews with Justin Rader, Ben Askren, Draculino, and many of my heroes in the world of grappling, and I’ve kept up the interview habit ever since. Over the past year, after teaching a ton of seminars and writing a lot of articles on this similar topic, I decided that I finally had a clean way to explain the core message.
BJJL: What was that core message for you, Dan?
DF: The message of this book is pretty simple. Statistically speaking, the game of beating bigger, stronger opponents is different from the “normal” game of winning at your own weight class. The sweeps, submissions, and positioning strategies that the best little-guys use to beat the best bigger grapplers are unique, and it’s a skill and strategy that’s teachable.