BJJ Seminar & Summer Grading: New School BJJ with Helio "Soneca" Moreira

The day started with 7 black belts
I recently had the pleasure & honour to attend Professor Helio Soneca's Summer Grading and seminar at Ernest Bevin College in Tooting, South London. The seminar was open to all and was immediately followed by New School BJJ's Summer Grading.

The Instructor

Helio Pires Moreira, aka Soneca, is a big deal. The man is a bit of a legend to be fair. He's one of the first black belt produced by the powerhouse Gracie Barra back in the old days. The NAGA, Brazilian Nationals- & Mundial champion has a lot to teach so when I heard he was coming over to London for the third time to teach and grade at his affiliate New School BJJ, I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, how many black belt do you know who started jiujitsu at the age of 8? Exactly!


BJJ Gi Review: Globetrotters Competition Gi - New Release!

Short BJJ Gi Review

BJJ Globetrotters is a world spanning, yet accidental, Brazilian jiujitsu team. I say accidental because the founder Christian Graugart describes it like that and while indeed you can register for IBJJF and UAEJJF competitions through the BJJ Globetrotters, they represent far more than just another BJJ team. They’re a movement:

I reviewed the BJJ Globetrotter’s travel gi not too long ago and it’s still one of my favourite gis to train in. Understandably, the super light, ripstop gi is not competition legal so when I heard that they’d released a competition legal one, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. 

They real seem to have done their homework as the gi is both beautiful, aesthetically designed and tailored to the tooth. It's light enough to train in regularly and do local, national and international comps in.

Simple and aesthetically pleasing reminders of the general ethos of the BJJ Globetrotters are strewn throughout this project.

Disclosure and cost:

Christian sent me this gi to review. BJJ Globetrotters normally sell the BJJ Globetrotters Competition gi for $199 which works out to around £150 (€180) but they're currently offering it for $175 (£132 / €158). Did I mention free shipping worldwide?!


BJJ School visit: Gracie Barra Fulham in London, UK

Gracie Barra as a jiujitsu team have worked hard at spreading their brand of the art to all corners of the world. One such corner is Fulham, a South-London neighbourhood just a short cycle away from the school I work at as a maths teacher.

Stripe Promotions at Gracie Barra - Fulham

Stripe Promotions at Gracie Barra - Fulham

Stripe Promotions at Gracie Barra - Fulham
I had heard about Gracie Barra Fulham from two separate sources. One is from one of their instructors: Professor Paul Hartley who has worked tirelessly to promote Jiujitsu an Gracie Barra in the north of England, where I used to live. I had found out that Paul had recently started teaching down in London at his instructor's academy. The instructor being none less than the amazing Lucio "Lagarto" Rodrigues and the academy being the old Gracie Barra Knightsbridge.


Kron Rickson Gracie MMA FIGHT Hideo Tokoro

Rizin FF have started booking matches for their next event (late September 2016)- Rizin Fighting World Grand-Prix 2016. The first advertised (and largest draw) fight is one involving Kron Gracie (2-0) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28)


BJJ / Grappling tips: impassable guard? Start from the bottom of the side control

Master Rickson Gracie demonstrating 
his open guard on me

The open guard is a core position in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Competitors and fighters within and outside the Gracie family have used it for generations to stay safe on the bottom, escape back to their feet or even reverse or submit their opponent but what good is a guard as a defensive / offensive tool if it's constantly getting passed?

Do you want to make your open guard impassable? Start every sparring round from the bottom of the side control. Don't even worry about escaping to begin with. Just focus on preventing the mount / knee on belly / North / South and defending their submission attacks. 

Why will this improve your guard retention?


Master Rickson Gracie discusses the future of jiu-jitsu with master Pedro Sauer and the head instructors at the Gracie Academy HQ: Ryron and Rener Gracie.

In a new video shot at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, California, Master Rickson Gracie discusses the future of jiu-jitsu with master Pedro Sauer and the head instructors at the Gracie Academy HQ: Ryron and Rener Gracie. Here's the video and the subtext to the video as published on YouTube:

Published on 7 Jun 2016
Jiu-Jitsu has reached a critical point in it's evolution. On one hand, it is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet, on the other hand, it is at risk of losing its identity and suffering the same fate that has negatively affected nearly all other martial arts. What made made jiu-jitsu famous in the 80s and 90s was its unprecedented effectiveness in real fights, yet today, most jiu-jitsu academies do not teach the elements that make the art applicable in a real fight.


BJJ / Grappling Tips: How to take the back from closed guard

Taking the back from the closed guard is a basic transition that no one in jiujitsu should get to blue belt without learning properly. It features in sports jiujitsu (gi and no gi), MMA and of course when defending yourself against a bigger, stronger aggressor who managed to take you down in an altercation.

Below are three version of how to take the back from the closed guard that I really like:

Getting their arm across your belt line, as demonstrated by Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida:


BJJ / Grappling tips: How to improve your guard, half guard and every other jiujitsu position by focusing on pit stops

Something I've always enjoyed exploring in grappling / jiujitsu is the use of pit stops. In this context, pit stops to me are points along the path of a roll / grapple / match where you can stop, secure & re-evaluate before you close the deal (submission, new position or even escape).

Over the past few years I have come to really appreciate the value of pit stops. In my opinion they are even more important than submissions. Not only do they slow the game down and allow you to be more cerebral, but the very nature of a BJJ / Grappling pit stop means that they often present you with a few directional choices (e.g. the chance to change submission or switch to a sweep / positional transition)

A few of my favourite ones are:

Penelope, aptly named, after Penelope Pitstop, during a no-gi session on tightening triangles

Spider-web a la Eddie Bravo


BJJ Interview: Valor Kimono Founder Kevin Adshead

I recently ordered a beautiful gi-material brown belt from Valor Fightwear after a very positive review from my friend Seymour at Meerkatsu. I was so impressed with the quality and aesthetics of the belt I contacted the company for an interview and got through to Mr Kevin Adshead, the founder. He was very generous with his time. I hope you enjoy it.

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself?

My name is Kevin, I am 34 years old and I am originally from London and now live in Essex. I am the owner of Valor Fightwear and I also own/run a couple of gi stores as well.


BJJ / Grappling interview: Grapple Nation Promoter Jake Cross

As some may know, I recently did a 20-min submission only jiujitsu super fight at Grapple Nation 7, a well run grappling promotion up in Manchester, in the North West of England (more on my match in a future post). I thought it'd be a good opportunity to interview the event promoter, my friend Jake Cross.

Hello. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself? 
Hi Liam, my name is Jake Cross and I am 25 years old from Manchester, England. I am an events promoter that has brought such event as Sub-North, Grapple Nation and now Empire Grappling Events Ltd.


BJJ / Grappling tips: Yoga & Jiujitsu

Adding yoga to jiujitsu is a great idea. The functional understanding of your body that the poses and flows of yoga give you, not to mention the breath control and mental focus, will go a long way to help both prevent injury by strengthening your joints and muscles and raise your competitive performance. Just look at the examples of Eddie Bravo, Sebastian Brosche and any Gracie. 

The thing is, we already know this. 

So why aren't yoga studios full of aspiring jiujitsu practitioners? The reasons are many:

1. Lack of additional time
2. Money
3. Not really knowing where to start...etc

All these reasons are perfectly valid and if like to use this post to help you overcome some of them. 


Submission grappling / MMA gear: Joint Guardian

Just a quick post to highlight a NoGi MMA brand that was kind enough to send me a sample of their products. Joint Guardian are a relative newcomer on the MMA Nogi gear scene but are indeed unique in their message:

"We produce innovative, socially responsible fightwear that allows our customers to wear the armor they need, while contributing to making this world a better place"

Making the world a better place how, I hear you ask. 

They strive to use organic and / or fairtrade cotton

They strive to use recycled polyester to reduce their environmental footprint

They are members of the 1% for the planet movement. Read more about it here: http://onepercentfortheplanet.org

But what really makes this Start-Up unique in my eyes from a social-responsibility POV is their take on fighter sponsorship:

"Just like other fightwearcompanies, Joint Guardian also sponsors fighters. What makes our sponsoring deals different from everyone else is that we ask our fighters to choose a good cause and to give something back! Fighters can choose any cause they consider worth supporting! Once Joint Guardian has decided to sponsor a fighter and his/her cause, Joint Guardian will do everything in its power to raise money for your cause and support you on your way to the top."

As for the products, I found them of a very high quality. My only gripe, which is more with me and my appetite for good food than with them, is that they were tight in my body frame. I'm 177cm and 85kg and the size medium spats, shorts and rash guard were..ehm.... Snug! 

Initially I didn't like the (removable) EVA knee protectors during ground grappling but I wasn't too bothered as I soon removed them. I have, however, found them more useful if you incorporate a lot of wrestling shots (or on my case, judo) into your training.  

I'd like to extent my thanks to Dhani and team at Joint Guardian again for the opportunity. Keep up the great work. 



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