The Part Time Grappler PODCAST?!

The clue is indeed in the name. After years of resisting, I've finally realised that I have been using the blog as a catch-all for everything I do: Articles, Interviews, Discussions, Product Reviews...etc. In reality, a blog should be mainly that: a daily (or at least regular) log so while I am by no means closing it, I am simply going to transfer all non-day-to-day articles to an audio format in the shape of:

The Part Time Grappler Podcast
This blog will remain my platform to share product reviews, written interviews and a log of fun and interesting jiujitsu (and other martial arts) related things that happen (seminars, camps, competitions, trips and academy visits, graduations and belt promotions...etc.)

As podcasting is a brand new world to me, I'm hoping to receive a bunch of feedback from people on how to improve various aspects of the podcast. It'll be available on iTunes and Stitcher (or simply through the website below) and episodes shouldn't be any longer than 15-20 minutes.

My aims for the podcast? To learn, just like I learnt with the blog, how to best put ideas and concepts across. Not to mention, to have fun and mess about with new (to me) technology.




Check for more resources on Amazon.com:


BJJ / Grappling Interview: Roger Gracie

Interviewing jiujitsu legends is a huge honor and privilege. Interviewing Mr Roger Gracie, is doubly so, simply because he's such a gentleman and a warrior. I cannot think of anyone in the jiujitsu world who can question his class. In this interview below (shot and edited by Mr Sam Wandi and Mr Lee Skillet, at RGA HQ in London months before Roger's victory against Buchecha), Roger talks about the pivotal forces that drive him. I hope you enjoy it.

Many thanks for the team at RGA HQ, Sam, Lee and www.fighermag.se for making this happen.


Check for more resources on Amazon.com:


BJJ / Grappling tips: How to Open the Closed Guard by Standing

From "Becoming the Supple Leopard"

While I've never been a Cross-fitter (besides stealing a couple of Workout-Of-the-Day off their website here and there), this paragraph out of Kelly Starrett's book "Becoming the Supple Leopard" really resonated with the martial artist and teacher in me.

Most judo or Jiujitsu sessions I attend, whether at EKBJJ HQ, New School BJJ, Tokei Martial Arts or the Budokwai (or any other academy I happen to visit) will easily exceed 25 attendees. Most of these academies hold 10-14 such sessions each week and are open an average of 48-50 weeks a year. This alone means that each year, each one of these academies / dojo / gyms will facilitate 12,000-17,500 athlete training sessions. Each year!

So if an academy has been in business for say 10 years, that translates to 120,000-175,000 athlete training sessions.


BJJ / Grappling tips: Foot Sweeps - sasae tsurikomi ashi combinations

Both jiujitsu and judo have an extensive repertoire of standing techniques. Gracie jiujitsu mainly concerns itself with defensive techniques and tactics that allow you to close the distance against an armed or unarmed opponent, sportive jiujitsu focuses on transitioning to the ground (mainly) and while that is also the focus of judo, the international judo federation rules add an element of explosiveness and finality to the standing portion: A good throw that lands the opponent flat on their back will not just score highly in judo, it will end the match!

Studying for me black belt theory in judo, I read that while jiujitsu had always been a fighting and, consequently, battlefield art, it never quite developed the foot sweeps much. Hip- and hand-throws (such as O goshi and Seoi nage, respectively) were king and queen. It was only with the focus of judo on indoor training on tatami (traditional straw-mats) that they flourished. Always training and competing on predictably flat and smooth terrain meant judoka could design competition strategies that centered around the timing-based foot sweeps or ashi barai.*

One such technique is the sasae foot sweep: Sasae Tsuri Komi Ashi. A beautiful technique centering around correct timing and weight distribution disrubtion. Here's a nice demonstration of the throw by none less than BJ Penn:

With that said, foot sweeps, or any other technique, work best in combination and since Sasae is a forward throwing technique, it's best combined with a technique that throws the opponent backwards such as O soto gari:


Is BJJ a martial art?: Expressing the same principles in different ways

I've been listening to a lot of interviews with the two above Chrises: Haueter & Graugart, and thinking a lot about what it is about jiujitsu that we happily dedicate so much of our time and energy to. Why is it so engaging?

In a now famous grading speech by Chris Haueter, he talks about he misses the old days where the applicability of jiujitsu as a fighting art was still paramount and how, nevertheless, he loves the technical advancements of modern competitive jiujitsu. He seals the deal with the quote:

Watch Chris' full speech here: https://youtu.be/y-uF-9-EUho

We all get taught and shown the same fundamental techniques and principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Everybody gets shown the same fundamental guard passes and everyone is made aware that if you leave a hand in and one out you risk getting triangled...etc.. Not because there is some superior authority that runs around and checks that people adhere to abstract rules and regulations, but rather because BJJ and Grappling (and by extension MMA and all true combative sports) have an inbuilt reality-check: Does it work in sparring?

But while we are all taught the same principles for, say, chokes from side control, every athlete is free to interpret and indeed express these principles in her own way. Each athlete becomes, or at least is given the opportunity to become, an artist in their own right, with the jiujitsu mat being the canvas. Why else would we consider techniques, even when they bring us pain and discomfort, beautiful?

Just the other day I visited the Roger Gracie Academy HQ here in London where Mr Charles Negromonte was holding a fantastic class on specific sparring. We would spend round in the following geographies: Side, mount & back. Attacking and defending for full pelt. After the end of each double round (so both partners get a chance) Charles would stop the class and gather us all around to discuss any issues that may have arisen. I asked him about his favourite details regarding transitioning from side to the mount and the things he showed were nothing short of revolutionary to my game. Why? Because he provided me with amazing tools. Using the artist analogy, he upgraded my brushes and provided me with uber-rich palette of colours to paint with.


Learning and training with Roger Gracie at RGA HQ, London.

I recently had the pleasure of training at Roger Gracie Academy HQ here in London. While this isn't the first time I've been there or trained there, it was the first time I'd had the honour and pleasure to receive instruction directly from Professor Roger and the first time I'd had a chance to "roll" with him and I use the term "roll" very loosely!

There ar no easy rounds at RGA HQ


BJJ / NoGi grappling seminarium hos Berserk MMA- Stockholm, Sweden

Jiujitsu / grappling resan fortsätter. Nästa destination: Stockholm, Sverige hos Berserk MMA.

Min resa till Stockholm var mycket lättare och enklare än till Sicilien på många sätt:

  • Jag flög vid 9
  • Jag flög från London Gatwick som är båda enklare och billigare att komma till och ifrån
  • Jag skulle bara stanna i ett dygn
  • Målflygplatsen (i detta fall, Arlanda) är endast 45minuter ifrån Stockholm city med flygbuss
  • Flygbussarna går var tionde minut, har AC och t.o.m. Wifi!
  • Seminariet jag skulle hålla i var nogi, så jag behövde knappt packa med något
  • Ingen vidare språkbarriär som i Italien

Sagt och gjort, dagen efter att jag landade från Sicilien befann jag mig i Stockholm och, tack vare världens snällaste och trevligaste polisgubbe, gick genom passkontroll på mindre än hälften av tiden jag hade avsett till det så jag gick lite runt i Stockholm och fyllde mina lungor med den friska nordiska luften. 


BJJ Globetrotting - Sicily

BJJ Globetrotting - Sicily 

A few years back, Danish jiujitsu practitioner Christian Graugart took us on a journey around the world through his blog and subsequent book the BJJ Globetrotter (Download here for free). Beyond doing the around-the-world journey himslef, Christian set about creating something much greater than himself when he came back: a community of jiujitsu enthusiasts who just want to meet, train and be groovy. Membership is easy and always free. These are the BJJ Globetrotters.

The BJJ Globetrotters evolved, and continues to evolve, into many things over the years. One such facet that has really picked up speed is an alternative to couch-surfing, with a BJJ twist: Matsurfing. Knowing I had the Easter Break coming up soon, I contacted a few Globetrotters who, on Matsuring, had said they'd be prepared to have someone crash their couch (or mat, I wasn't fussy) and I was lucky to hear back from a couple. Even luckier, that I ended up picking up the contact and flying to see Mr Ruben Stabile (From Matside BJJ - Palermo) in Palermo, Sicily. To fit other commitments, I needed to fly on Friday the 7th of April and, unfortunately, there were no flights to Palermo from London that day, but I could fly to Catania, also on Sicily, and take a connecting bus. I thought to myself, "It's a Mediterranean island. How big could it possibly be?! It'll be fine".

Hmmm. The only reasonably priced flight is from Luton. But, it's at a reasonable hour. "How hard could it be?! It'll be fine"


BJJ / Grappling Technique: Knee on Belly

Knee on belly / stomach (KOB) is one of the most painful and frustrating positions to achieve in grappling / jiujitsu / MMA. On the top you can control your opponents hips and shoulders, or at least stay on them as they move about. If your opponent tries to escape you can pull up with your hands and force your knee ibnto them, hence increasing the pressure, or transition back down to side control or even flick your leg across to the mount or back mount.

A variety of strikes, chokes, arm- or even leg-locks can be started from this position and your relative disengagement from the opponent, compared to say a deep low mounted position, means you can be more aware of your surrounding and can react faster in a multi-attacker situation.

You can enter the KOB position from a variety of scenarios. You opt to go there instead of mount after a hip throw or a guard pass. You could pop there from side control or even retreat from mount when you want to maintain a high level of mobility while still affecting tremendous pressure on the opponent.

There are no right or wrong ways of going into or out of the KOB. Only ways that afford you control (tight) vs ones that afford you mobility (loose). Here's a concise treaty on the topic of Knee on Belly:


BJJ DVD Review: Rafael Lovato JR Guard Mastery

Rafael Lovato JR Guard Mastery DVDs Review:

Short Review: This is a sport gi jiujitsu set. This is not universal for no gi, self defence or MMA. Having said that, it is an excellent one at that. If you are brand new beginner, this set will be overwhelming. I personally think this is a great set for the competition oriented purple or brown belt or even higher but not necessarily the first set to buy as a white / blue belt grappler.

Disc 1: 1hour, 25 minutes

The DVD starts with Rafael explaining how he morphed from a strong guard player to the pressure guard passer, raised under the prodigees Saulo and Xande Ribiero, that we now know him to be. This is a much appreciated segment as viewers get to see a different side of the black belt and not just technique after technique. We get a sneak peak into the mind and the evolutionary journey of this jiujitsuka.

1. Xande Sweep: Xande used this flower sweep to defeat Marcelo Garcia at the 2004 worlds. Rafael does a good job of sharing all the grip-hip-move-timing details that are so vital to jiujitsu.

2. Follow-up: Rafael acknowledges that posting isn't always enough to stop the sweep, but nonetheless shows how to take advantage of the post and shows a very smooth back take and a bonus mount technique. The grip he uses is not NoGi friendly, but adjusting it shouldn't be too difficult. The instruction is, ala Saulo, very detail rich.

3. Arm bar: Building off the opponent's natural reactions to the danger of the back take, Rafael shows how to isolate and lock the opponent's nearside arm. Again, I'm very impressed with Rafael's ability to articulate everything he's doing. Jiujitsu instruction extraordinaire.

4. Pendulum Sweep: 2008 Pan Ams. Rafael Lovato Jr v Roberto Tussa Alencar. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it:


Surviving Bad Positions in grappling / jiujitsu - Seminar at Union BJJ, Manchester

Jiujitsu hands
Having lived in Manchester for over 12 years, I've formed many friendships, a huge majority of which are in the Jiujitsu community. I recently travelled back to Manchester to teach my second seminar at my friend John Dang's gym UNION BJJ near the city centre.

This was a special visit. Not only had this seminar attracted attention from students of the art from multiple local Jiujitsu gyms and academies, it was also the first time I'd visit UNION BJJ's new location. Previously, Union used to be at another, very iconic, city centre location in Manchester: the Van Dang Building. That building had been an unquestionable part of North England martial arts heritage. Not to mention, I trained and taught privates in their for the last 6-7 months before moving from Manchester and got to know the team at UNION BJJ quite well.

Speaking to John before the seminar about its contents, he expressed a strong wish for the focus to be on the topic of Survival. As an avid traveler and visitor of Jiujitsu gyms and academies everywhere I go, this topic is very close to my heart. I cannot guarantee that you will win every match or sparring round, but I can show you mechanical principles that will make you feel far more comfortable than usual while surviving bad positions. Heck, I'd even venture to say, if you drilled this principles properly and enough, positions will cease to be "bad" or "good" they will just be "grappling positions".


Karate? Jiujitsu? It's all sleight-of-hand

My first true love in the martial arts was Karate and while I do dedicate the absolute majority of my training time to jiujitsu, judo and yoga, I will always consider myself a budo-ka: a martial artist first and foremost. Karate will always be a major component of that and my black belt is one of my proudest moments.

All that seriousness apart, I recently found myself sketching traditional Karate hand formations and thinking, in a very un-serious way, about what they could mean in a jiujitsu context. The result was nine nice sketches and a humourous take on an otherwise (too) serious subject.

Nukite: "Stop!"

Nukite is as mysterious as a karate technique as they get. Traditionally, this was meant to be aimed at the oppornent's soft tissue such as the throat or solar plexus. More recent interpretations call for protecting the fragile fingers and shooting us as a sideways palm heel to the jaw instead. 

In modern jiujitsu, however, the most often I've seen this gesture is by a referee stopping the two competitors and then calling them onto the tatame.