Friday, September 11, 2015

ADCC 2015 "Some" Highlights


Well ADCC 2015 was nothing short of incredibly fun to watch.  Not every match was amazing but there were some excellent match-ups.  I applaud ADCC for setting up the brackets such that a lot of teammates where pitted against each other in the opening rounds.  In case you didn't know the gentleman's handshake "close-out" is not allowed at ADCC.  So maybe we didn't get the ideal #1 vs #2 in the finals but I feel that is really exciting to set it up in that manner.  To me I felt like every match was very competitive and it made the competitors step up their A game early on in the competition.  

I feel like ADCC is really exciting in nogi competition as the competitors are allowed to use heel hooks, "reaps" on the knees, and even slam out of submissions.  It forces grapplers to wrestle and punishes those who choose to pull guard.  
I honestly didn't get to watch every match but I made a few quick HL's of some that stood out to me. 

I selected certain matches where I felt there was an exciting submission or at the very least an excellent opportunity that may have ended up in a crazy transition of sorts.  There are some very high level entries to leg locks in a lot of these videos so pay close attention and see if you can work it into your game.  

Hoping to put something more substantial together in the future. Hopefully they don't get taken down but enjoy while they are up.  In no particular order...

If you are interested in watching the event in its entirety it is still available through Budovideos until September 15th.


Eddie Cummings x Asadulaev Surkhay 

Neiman Gracie x Ezra Lenon 

Michelle Nicolini x McKenzie Dern (Final...and it's a long HL) This was my favorite match of the event.

Rodolfo Vieira x Benson Henderson (failed shot) Open Weight Class 

Ruben Charles "Cobrinha" x Tezekbaev Rasul

Vinny Magalhães x Joao Rocha 

Gary Tonon x Dillon Danis

Links:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Submission FC Mania Gi Review



Submission Fight Company has recently released a new offering to their line-up of grappling gear: The Mania Gi.  This is my first time working with any of their products.  The offer everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi’s, ranked rash guards, gi pants, belts, patches, t-shirts, and replacement drawstrings.  The company was originally based in California (most recently Frisco, TX) and has been in business since 2010. 

Design

The jacket and pants have a very clean and attractive look.  The model I received for this review is the black “Mania” with orange and grey contrast colors.  The Mania gi features embroidery throughout with very few sewn on patches.  The quality of the embroidery seems to be very good with no runners.  The embroidery on the jacket appears on the shoulders and lapel.  There is a small embroidered logo for on the skirt (front).  The back of the jacket only sports “Mania” and the company logo along the bottom of the skirt leaving plenty of room for affiliation patches, sponsors, etc.  The bottom of the jacket has seam taping with the Submission FC/Mania print as does the sleeve cuffs.  The pants also have the same seam taping in the cuffs of the pants.  The pants only have “Mania” embroidered just below the loop enclosures and a small, sewn on patch with accompanied size. 

Construction

The jacket is advertised as a 450GSM pearl weave and it is remarkably lightweight.  In addition to being lightweight both the jacket and pants are incredibly comfortable.  After a few trips through the washing machine I found jacket and pants to have a relaxed feel as opposed to a gi that can stand up on it’s own after air drying.   The jacket offers the typical reinforced armpit, single piece (no seam) back on the jacket.  The collar has a nice, thick feel to it giving some overall sturdiness. 

The pants are constructed from 100% 10 ounce cotton which also have a lightweight feel.  These pants remind me how I prefer the feel of natural cotton over cotton/polyester blends (rip-stop material).  The drawstring is the popular paracord material.  I did find the length to be too long but that is typical for most gi manufacturers.  This is easily fixed with scissors and a lighter to customize the drawstring to your desired length.  The only complaint I have about the pants is the loops provided for the drawstring.  The pants feature double loops near the hips and a single loop in the middle much like the Bull Terrier gi I reviewed some time ago.  It’s not a deal breaker but I feel would be better served with another pair of double loops just off center. The pants have reinforcement in the knees that begins at the middle of the thigh and extends down halfway to the shin. 

There is something worth noting that I found odd with the Mania was found during the vinegar soak process prior to the first wash.  I always pre-soak my gi’s (yes even the white ones) in vinegar for about 30 minutes.  Some ask “why would you pre-soak a white gi?”  Well it’s really simple.  Sometimes the tags and patches will bleed during a wash and a few bucks on vinegar are well worth the prevention of staining a brand new, $150-200 gi.  Therefore, I pre-soaked this gi and when I pulled it out I noticed there was a lot of black coloration left behind in the vinegar bath.  I imagine this gi would have suffered some fading if I had not pre-treated it so I highly recommend using vinegar or a product like Retayne.  All that said the gi didn’t seem to suffer any significant fading after many trips through the washer.  I would definitely plan to wash this gi with no other clothing the first couple of times to prevent any sort of bleeding onto other garments. 

Clean embroidery



Fit

Here’s where things were a bit tricky.  I am 5’7” in height and weigh about 150lbs.  I typically wear an A-1 in most gi’s but have found there are quite a few brands where I fall in low end of an A-2.  In previous experiences when I’ve gone with an A-2 size I end up with a very baggy gi both through the torso, long sleeves, and baggy, long pants.  Because of this I usually won’t even try certain brands when I find myself falling in that range of sizing charts.  I was sent an A-1 which is recommended for 5’2-5’5” & 110-145lbs.  I opened the gi up and knew immediately this one wasn’t going to work.  It was borderline competition legal without a single trip through the washing machine.  I was sent an A-2 replacement and my first impressions were also not optimistic.  I was swimming in the A-2 upon trying it on.  My biggest concern was that the gi is advertised as “pre-shrunk” but I had to try and make this one work. 

After a couple hot washes, low spin, and dried on high heat I was amazed that this gi actually fit me incredibly well.  The jacket has a very tailored/tapered feel and looks like it was custom made for my body type.  The sleeve length is now perfect and the skirt length is a bit long.  Many times A-1 sized gi’s that fit me perfectly still leave me a bit short on the skirt which can be annoying trying to keep it tucked in properly and when utilizing the lapel ends for chokes.  This one almost feels a bit too long but I think it’s really the proper length and I’m just accustomed to short skirts on my jackets.  The length of the pants is also just how I like it.  There is plenty of room in the pants without leaving me with an overly baggy feeling.  My only complaint about the fit/feel of this gi is the seam taping in the cuffs of both the jacket and pants has a bit of a scratchy, unpolished feel to it.  It’s not a deal breaker but worth noting. 
Sturdy lapel


Reinforcement in the knees

Cuff of pant sleeve

Rolling Impressions

My first few rolling impressions were average due to getting the gi dialed in for size.  Initially the sleeves were a bit long which was problematic during rolling sessions but it has dramatically improved since shrinking the gi down in size to where I like it.  The gi would pass even the most, strict IBJJF inspectors with flying colors and I would not hesitate to compete in this gi…and I am very picky about what gi’s I will use for competition.  I own far more gi’s I will only train in than I’m willing to compete in.  The gi feels very durable after many training sessions.  The sleeves have little to no stretch in them.  The lightweight feel of the gi definitely stands out while training.  During the hot Texas summer I tend to shy away from the heavier gi’s in my collection and this one is welcomed during this time of year. 


Measurements

The sizing available for the Mania gi has a very broad range for the smallest to biggest of grapplers.  Based on my experience I would say that the gi’s both A-1 & A-2 are pretty accurate to the sizing chart below.  Of course this also allows for intentional shrinking if needed so keep that in mind when reading the gi is “pre-shrunk.”  Clearly there is some give in this area. 

Size Chart
Height                                   Weight (lbs)                                       Size
4’10”-5’2”                            90-110                                                  A-0
5’2”-5’5”                              110-145                                                A-1
5’5”-5’9”                              145-175                                                A-2
5’9”-6’0”                              175-210                                                A-3
6’0”-6’4”                              210-260                                                A-4
6’3”-6’6”                              260-290                                                A-5

*Note that all measurements were taken after shrinking the gi down for my review.



Closing Thoughts

This was my first time working with a Submission Fight Co. product so I didn’t have a lot of expectations good or bad going in.  The biggest concerns I had going into this review was where I fell on the sizing chart.  Clearly the A-1 was way too small and the A-2 was also too big.  Luckily with some patience and careful trips through the washer and dryer I was able to customize this gi and it turned out to be an excellent fit.  On top of being a great fitting gi, the color contrast, quality construction, overall look and feel of this gi makes this a very excellent choice for $140-150 whether it’s used for everyday training or competition.   If you’re in the market for a new gi I would definitely give Submission FC some consideration.

Link:
http://submissionfc.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Get to Know BJJ Revolution's Josh Mancuso





Josh Mancuso is a guy that is not shy to social media and I first encountered his technique videos on https://www.reddit.com/r/bjj/.  He was posting videos weekly for quite some time and was very open about sharing some of his favorite techniques.  He was gracious enough to make some time to share with me a little about himself earlier this year.

When did you start training?

-October 2006

When did you receive your Black Belt and from whom?

-I was promoted to Black Belt by Tim Credeur and Rodrigo Medeiros in July of 2013.  I was 32 years old.


Name some competitors you either trained with or against coming up in the ranks.

-I have had the opportunity to train with many of the world's top practitioners such as Marcelo Garcia, Ricco Rodriguez, Caio Terra, Dean Lister, Davi Ramos, Andrew Galvao, Samuel Braga, Eddie Bravo, the Mendes Bros, Joel Tudor, Jean Jacques Machado, Leandro Vieira, Felipe Costa, Ricardo De La Riva, I could go on for days.  There are so many high level practitioners from so many different teams that I've had the pleasure of training with that I honestly could be here all day naming them off.  I would like to say that I am lucky to have been in the situations to train with these guys but that's just not true.  I made those situations happened and sacrificed a lot to get those experiences.


Where do you currently teach?

-BJJ Revolution Team BR/UFC Gym Baton Rouge

What should a new student of BJJ focus on?

-A new student should focus on whatever they enjoy.  I feel that people will be more consistent and train harder if they are encouraged to work on the things they find pleasure in.  Some will choose take downs and closed guard; others will only want to do foot lock or berimbolo. All are fine and encouraged by me.  I feel like if a student has holes in their game, eventually those short comings will be exposed and they will need to close those gaps.  The mats will show them where they are lacking.  And I believe in never telling a student to stop working on a skill they enjoy building.

What would you change about how you approached training Jiu-Jitsu if you had to go back and start all over again?

-Not much, when I started I was very lucky to be influenced by a guy (who sadly has since quit training) who was much smaller than me, but dominated me with clean technique.  He always pushed the importance of technique and drilling over everything.  I was very fortunate to have this person show me that technique is the key to everything and that drilling is the way to get there.

How important is competition to development?

-I think it is very important.  It is not just a coincidence that the people who compete regularly get better, faster.  Even if you only compete once or twice, it is important to feel what performing under that type of pressure is like.  It is much different from training at the academy and I think that competing is a great way to face your fears and deal with overcoming self-doubt.  Personally,I feel like I always compete, not because I have any goals of being a world champion, but because I feel like it keeps me honest, driven, and most importantly I like to lead my team from the front and not the rear.

How do you feel about supplementing training with other forms of physical activity such as lifting weights, crossfit, running, swimming, etc?

-I never touched a weight until about halfway through my brown belt.  I felt that if I was focused on getting stronger then that's what my Jiu-Jitsu would be focused around.  I do not regret this decision at all.  My goal in Jiu-Jitsu is to play the same game now at 34 years old as I will when I'm 65.  If my Jiu-Jitsu revolves around physical attributes then this would not be possible.

What are your thoughts on rolling versus drilling?

-Drilling is the key to getting better but rolling is just simply fun!  Both are essential to being your best.  The key is learning how to drill and having the self-control to set aside a certain time a day for it.  I personally can feel my technique slipping if I go too long without drilling.

Do you use supplements?

-How do you stay healthy?  Before Jiu-Jitsu I never ever though about staying healthy.  I don't take any supplements except for BCAA's after training session.  I do however consume a large amount of fruits and veggies.  I make huge fruit/veggie smoothies twice a day i my Vitamix and I honestly wake up every day feeling like a million dollars.  I feel better at 34 than I did at 18.

What do you recommend for training preparation?

-Lots of water in your system and a good attitude.

As an instructor, what does your training consist of trying to balance teaching vs training?

-It changes pretty drastically for me, luckily I have assistant instructors to help me carry the load.  I enjoy training so much, that I can't teach all the time.  I try to train twice a day, twice a week, and then once a day for the remainder of the week.  Although I am trying to reduce my training time to gain a little more balance in my life.

Do you continue to study new (modern) Jiu-Jitsu and how do you go about that?  Do you train with other black belts at other gyms, affiliations, etc?

-I love the berimbolo, I also love the scissor sweep, and cross choke.  I just love Jiu-Jitsu!  I also love Sambo and Judo.  I love all grappling martial arts.  As far as cross training goes, yes.  I cross train with other gyms and highly encourage everyone to do it.  You gotta get new looks from other training partners and it is also a great way to network and forge new friendships.  Although at the same time, I am extremely loyal and feel strongly about my instructor and my team.  If my instructor had an issue or beef with another instructor from a different academy, I would not train with that person, even though he wouldn't ask me to do that.  It wouldn't be because I personally have anything against that person, but because that's just how I am.  If you are in my circle, I will have your back no matter what the circumstances.  I've been like that long before Jiu-Jitsu, I am just a loyal friend.


What is the worst injury you have experienced while training?

-Luckily in my time training I have only had a few rib separations, a meniscus surgery, but my absolute worst injury are my fingers.  They hurt all the time.  My wife likes to tell me that I need to invest in Velcro shoes because at this rate I won't be able to tie normal ones.  Other than that, I feel like a million bucks.

Any big goals for 2015, plans for your gym, competitions?

Mostly I am just looking to keep  competing and building my team.  I like stepping out of my comfort zone.

Do you think the current state of competitions are headed in the right direction to benefit the athletes?

- I feel like Jiu-Jitsu will never be a spectator  sport unless you train, bu hopefully we can build Jiu-Jitsu so that we have so many people training, we can support our own. I do think events like EBI are doing some great things for our sport.  And could possibly get us on ESPN 8 "The Ocho" one day.

What is your favorite match you have had in competition and why?

-They are all so special, but probably my first match as a black belt, because when I won I felt like I deserved to wear the belt I had worked so hard to earn.

Name the accomplishment you are most proud of be it BJJ or personal.

-Just the huge transformation my life has undergone since starting in BJJ.  It has completely changed me physically and mentally into a much stronger and happier person.  Also the growth of my team, and successes of my students. To see my students do well and to have our mats packed is really a strong source of happiness for me.  Considering where we were just 5 or 6 years ago.

Is there anything interesting you would like to say about yourself or any opinions you have on the current state of BJJ?

-I think BJJ is doing great and is destined for big things.  The only issue I see isthat we are coming to a point in competitions where we are over regulating and I fear we will take the path of Judo.  II would like to see deregulation of the sport.

Anything else you would like to add people might find interesting about yourself?

-I have a pretty decent comic book collection, I'm a hobby junkie before I started BJJ I was into DJ'ing (with actual 12" vinyl records).  I also participate in the occasional redneck pastime of camping and mud riding my Polaris RZR to spend some time with my family and do a little something besides just BJJ all the time.


Any sponsors you would like to thank or products, services you would like to promote?

-I would like to thank Bear Quitugua for giving me the opportunity to represent Shoyoroll, it really feels good to have what I consider a blue chip company in the BJJ world willing to put their name on me.  I also gotta thank Roach Rodriguez for taking care of me at Shoyoroll and always hooking my gear up in the most awesome ways possible.  Shoyoroll is a truly special company.


I'd like to personally thank Josh for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute some info about himself.  He consistently puts a lot of free content on various social media sites.  You can visit his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/joshv50.  If you're ever in his neck of the wood, Baton Rouge, Louisiana drop in his gym.




Links:
Josh Mancuso Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Joshmancuso311?fref=ts

Josh Mancuso YouTube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/joshv50

BJJ Revolution Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/BJJRevolutionBR?fref=ts

Shoyoroll
http://shoyoroll.com/

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Reilly Bodycomb Houston Training Camp 2015


If you have followed my blog for a while you have probably seen postings promoting Reilly Bodycomb's digital downloads, DVD's, and seminars that I have impressed me.  When I was a purple belt I started to realize it was high time to start working on leg locks.  In hindsight I was very late to the game and should have been doing them much sooner. Since that time I've been lucky enough to train with Reilly at least once per year since then at each respective belt rank.  Now as a black belt (the paint is still fresh) I am fully aware my knowledge of leg locks is still incredibly poor.  In addition there are other aspects to my game that need a lot of attention and Reilly's approach to submission grappling gives me an opportunity to fill these gaps.

July 3rd our gym www.ndmma.com hosted Reilly for a seminar that was well attended (yes even on a Friday evening one day before a major holiday).  Just like previous seminars when we've had Reilly the general consensus from those that attended was "this is the best bang for the buck seminar ever!"  I know I was not disappointed at all; myself and those there that night seemed to really appreciate his conceptual approach to grappling and instruction.  As an instructor and student of grappling Reilly inspires me to be a better instructor and think critically in a different manner than my mind typically works.  I won't go into all the details of that seminar and the content covered simply because the focus here is about the two day training camp I attended last weekend in Houston.

Pics from the seminar hosted at North Dallas MMA on July 3rd:
 
 
 

Now on to the GOOD STUFF.  Let me preface by I have not attended a training camp like this.  In a nutshell the camp consisted of two days, broken into two training sessions (two hours each with a two hour break in between each day).  I've highlighted some but certainly NOT ALL of the content covered during each session.


Day 1 - Session 1
Leg control from bottom position
Three major points of control
How to off-balance standing opponent from leg control
When to attack & when to go to a reversal
Practice maintaining/re-establishing leg control drills
Recovering position when things go bad (various scenarios)
Sliding heel hooks
Finishing ankle locks/heel hooks when they roll/defend

Day 2 - Session 2
Tripod ankle lock
Outside heel hook escapes (various scenarios)
Ankle lock to heel hook transition
Live grappling

Day 3 - Session 3
Take down defense (doubles & singles)
Wrestling fundamentals
Throws

Day 4 - Session 4
1/4 guard back-step pass (See Top Rock http://rdojo.com/toprock.html)
Various attacks & scenarios from the 1/4 guard back step pass
Knee on belly (Top Rock)
Vegan mount (Top Rock)
Inside heel hook defense


As if this all wasn't good enough, Reilly set up an in-camp tournament for those interested in competing.  It was run on Day 2 after the third session.  The rule set was such that it forces both competitors to push the action at all times. Stalling of any sort from any position would result in a point given to the opponent.  Take downs, legitimate submission attacks, ride time from knee on belly, sweeps all would account for a scored point.  If you pulled guard and did not immediately work a submission or sweep you could potentially have points scored for the opponent.  First person to submit or gain nine points would be declared the winner of the match.  No time limits.  We had a odd number of guys in our 140-170lb weight class so the first competitors to get two wins would qualify for the finals.  The competitor with the longest combined match times would not be qualified to compete in the finals.  Knowing this wasn't a rule set that is favorable to my own game I figured "what the heck, let's do it and have fun."  We had a division of six competitors in the big boy weight class as well so we alternated matches between the two.  

The result?  It forced everyone to attack like crazy and I believe only one match ended by points. The rules allowed for reaping (Oh Heaven!) and all foot locks were good.  I could see this rule set being used in big tournaments because it produced very aggressive matches.  I don't think a single match ever exceeded 7 minutes.  I managed to win both of my matches via Estima Lock but missed the finals as my total match times were a little too long (4:00 min & about 2:30 in the second match). Regardless of missing the final I was super happy to catch those subs as I've never finished with leg locks in organized competition before.

Here is a HL video of that in-camp tournament.

                                 
             (Link for mobile users: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx_d8EFSu0I)
Most of the in-camp competitors (missing a couple)

Estima Locks during in-camp tournament


The value of this camp was ridiculously good.  $200 for over eight hours of training is hard to beat in my book and I've been to my fair share of seminars.  It was a cool chance to meet a lot of different people that traveled from places like Maryland, South Carolina, New Mexico.  I can't stress enough the value that Reilly offers in private lessons, seminars, camps, and especially his DVD/digital downloads.  He doesn't hold back information and gives you his best every time.  We were also lucky to have one of Reilly's top students Denny in the house to help with the seminar because it was packed...about 25 people each day.  

Also a big thank you to Eddie Alevar that owns/runs Ground Dwellers in Spring, TX.  He was an excellent host and invited us all over to watch UFC 189 at his house which was a blast.  

Side note:  Reilly Bodycomb will be competing against Richard Cummings at Polaris 2 in September. This event will be streamed live so check it out.  The card is looking pretty amazing with tons of talent.  http://www.polaris-pro.org/polaris-blog/2015/5/8/polaris-2-fights-announced


Links:



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So...I Got Promoted to Black Belt

Professor JD Shelley & Me
I will apologize in advance that this post will probably sound like I'm rambling.  I will do my best to keep it logical and organized but I can't help the fact that trying to summarize 7.5 years of training while keeping it reasonably concise is a lot to ask.

Last night I reached a big milestone in my life and Jiu-Jitsu career.  I was awarded my black belt by my Professor, Joseph D. Shelley (2nd American black belt under Romero "Jacare" Cavalcanti.  I began training February 2008 as the age of 30.  I played soccer competitively from a young age up until my late 20's.  I began training Muay Thai at NDBJJ in 2006 and thought I would NEVER have anything to do with the "grappling stuff." Looked like too much work to be honest.  The truth was I was going through a difficult time in my life, a recent divorce, financial difficulties, among other things.  I didn't fully commit to Muay Thai because of I was out of shape and the commute was not ideal.

Fast forward to 2008.  I'm driving by the old gym and think to myself..."it's time to make a change for the sake of your own health."  I dropped in to simply observe and see what it was like to go through a routine beginner class.  I sent an email to JD Shelley to introduce myself and that I would be coming in to try a class.  Well I did...and I loved it.  It gave me something to focus on that I was missing in my life, a place to exercise, somewhere I could learn something, and work out the competitive side of my personality.

As a newbie it didn't take long for me to recognize the upper belts were vastly better and more knowledgeable than myself and other fellow white belts.  I found Jiu-Jitsu to be incredibly challenging and frustrating at the same time.  I just kept going back no matter how good or bad my training sessions went.  It didn't take long for me to "buddy up" with a couple other white belts and even a couple upper belts.  I did my best to get to know an upper belt that had been at the gym and with JD since the early 2000's.  I even met him back in 2006 during Muay Thai and he was nice enough not to punch my face off during my first class while he was prepping for an MMA fight.  He fought professional MMA and was an instructor at the gym.  I'm not going to lie the guy was a bit standoff-ish but I persisted to get to know him and ask lots of questions. That guy would go on to get his brown belt in 2008 and his black not too long after.  I was lucky enough to see him receive his 1st & 2nd degree black belt promotion last night.  His name is Shervin Alavi and he has become not only a good training partner but a good friend since then.

Keith Wilks another fellow white belt training partner has been a friend as well since then.  We have both shared promotions ever since the beginning through last night.  There have been countless other people that have come and gone for various reasons and I can't name them all. There is still a small group of us "old guys" now which even to me..."we aren't ALL the old guys" because Lord knows there were many before us.  That being said it has been an absolutely difficult, at times frustrating, and many times fun, exciting "journey" (I hate that word) to get here.

Keith Wilks, Shervin Alavi, & Me
I've endured my fair share of injuries along the way, set backs, personal & professional challenges, you name it.  I'm just a regular guy like most people reading this.  None of this would have been possible without the love and support of my family.  I was lucky enough to meet my wife right after I began training in 2008.  She has been there every step of the way.  She is the person that has had to put up with me when I've had a bad day at the gym, the office, etc.  Lindsey has always known this was important to me; she has been and will always be my #1 fan.  I can't say enough about that really. My parents and daughter without a doubt have also been crucial to support and help me get here even though they don't fully realize their roles.

Lindsey & Me

Lucky Dude!
Timeline
Feb 2008 - White belt
October 2009 - Blue belt
December 2011 - Purple belt
November 2013 - Brown belt
June 1, 2015 - Black belt

I've competed in my fair share of tournaments with successes and some failures.  I'm currently 38 and even when starting this at the age of 30, my ability to participate in tournaments is and has been limited at best.  I have a professional career, a family (3 children), among other obligations so keeping everything balanced has always been a challenge.  I'm very lucky I have had a good support system in my wife and family.  I have sacrificed an unbelievable amount of time with them to get here so soon.  For that I appreciate what they have been willing to sacrifice for me.

Note: I have competed at every level and have been lucky to record most of my matches.  I am missing some from last fall at Five Texas 2 I hope to upload.  If you are willing/interested to see any of my matches over the years you can find them on my YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/Reefernut77/videos

I began teaching as soon as I received my blue belt and have continued on since then teaching kids and adults of all levels including private lessons.  I immediately discovered that teaching was a big passion right away.  It helped me understand things better and gave me a new outlet to communicate with people.  I enjoy seeing people learn and can also share something that I am passionate about.  If you have seen my blog then you have an idea how "into" Jiu-Jitsu that I am.  I study it and my life revolves around it.

Some people along the way have and continue to ask "how did you get promoted so fast?"  The answer is simple.  I kept coming to class and training.  It didn't stop there though.  I focused on improving certain aspects that were problematic for me in the gym while rolling or at competitions. I never took breaks either unless I was injured.  The longest break I took over 7.5 years was three months for a broken foot which I just recently have come back from.

I'm not a super star; I'm an average, athletic guy that simply remained focused and always continued to learn and evolve.  That is what is important to me in Jiu-Jitsu.  That is not the same for everyone as we all have varying levels of interest but that is the most simple way to answer that common question.

I also found along the way that as people would come and go, and some even came back...it was important to me to eventually earn my black belt but it was even more important to get it from MY coach, Joseph D. Shelley.  He has never been known to "hand out belts" and has incredibly high standards especially at the black belt level.  Lineage means a lot to me and he trained with some of the best.  You may not know my coach but if you do, you know that he is one of the toughest guys you will ever encounter on the mats.  He's a 2 tour Gulf War veteran (Marine) and a two-time Nogi Worlds Champion 2008 & 2010.  Even at his age (early 40's) you would never know it by the way he rolls on the mat and his dedication to the sport.  He is and will always be MY coach and he is also my friend.  I am grateful for the time, energy, and opportunities he has given me over the years.

I can't thank every single person that has helped me but I will list the most influential people that come to mind not previously mentioned above.

-All of my training partners
-Every guy that stepped on the mat against me in competition
-Robson Moura
-Reilly Bodycomb
-Sean Roberts
-Michelle Nicolini
-Caio Terra
-Mendes Bros
-Bruno & Rico Bastos
-Gustavo Dantas
-Manny Diaz

My lineage:  Rolls Gracie--->Romero "Jacare" Calvalcanti--->JD Shelley--->Me


Some of the the NDBJJ Black Belts in attendance last night

http://ndbjj.com/index.html

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (Preview)



2015 IBJJF Worlds here we come!  This year features a new method of determining WHO can participate at the black belt level.  Competitors were required to compete throughout the year in IBJJF event in order to accumulate enough points in order to qualify for the Worlds Championship tournament.  This has prevented the typical monster-sized divisions at black belt and should ensure that those competing deserve to be there.  Prior to this pretty much anyone could enter the tournament at black belt so I think it's a good thing for this particular event.

So you want to watch this live?  Well you are in luck because it's being streamed here:
http://www.ibjjftv.com/

I will warn people that I personally have had problems watching some streaming events (2015 Pan & EBI III specifically).  Upon the checkout process I would receive an error stating "invalid country specified."  Unfortunately I could never get an answer from Budovideos or the IBJJF.  I was able to determine that the company that is handling transactions for these events are based in Europe.  My bank was basically kicking back the charges unbeknownst to me.  So that being said if you have any problems ordering the event you may need to contact your bank or credit card company to inform them that it is not a fraudulent charge.

With that out of the way let's get on to the good stuff!

As usual I will list some of the brown belt divisions that I have a vested interest in for the 2015 World Championships preview.  I think it's silly to ignore the non-black belt divisions as were are looking (or should be) at the future crop of talented black belts for years to come.

Brown / Adult Male / Light Feather (34 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Ram Ananda (Alliance) / 2nd place: Windson Ramos Silva (CheckMat)

There are a handful names that stand out for me: Michael Musumeci Jr (ATT), Michael Woolf Barnato (Ralph Gracie), Darson Hemmings (Ribeiro JJ), Jacob Sandoval (Alliance).  Do not sleep on Gustavo Fonseca (Atos) either but the first three are my favorites to make it to the podium.

My pick: Michael Musumeci Jr (ATT)...and I predict a black belt promotion in short order.


Brown / Adult Male / Feather (49 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Marcio Andre (Nova Uniao) / 2nd place: Isaac Doederlein (Alliance)

Cobrinha talent Isaac Doederlein (Alliance) is my immediate favorite in this division.  Rick Slomba of Atos is a personal favorite that I think will do some damage but for me this one is easy. Doederlein is ready for the next level.

My pick: Isaac Doederlein (Alliance)




Brown / Adult Male / Light (60 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Michael Liera Jr. (Atos)

Romulo Barral protege Edwin Najmi (Gracie Barra) will likely be everyone's favorite in this division. Don't sleep on Brandon Russell (Lovato) is a solid competitor to keep an eye on.


Brown / Adult Male / Super Heavy (17 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Erberth Santos (TLI)

My pick: Jared Lynn Dopp (Lovato JJ)


Black / Adult Male / Rooster (9 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Bruno Malfacine (Alliance) / 2nd place: J. Miyao (PSLPB)

This year reigning champ Malfacine return to defend his title but for the second year in a row we won't be treated to Caio Terra in competition.  The usual names are present though: Fabbio Passos (Alliance), Rafael Freitas (Gracie Barra), Joao Miyao (PSLPB Cicero Costha), Koji Shibamoto (Tri-Force).  I would expect to see a rematch of Malfacine x Miyao in the final.  Last year's battle was very close and I'd expect no less.  Miyao has been much more active over the last year so I have to give him the edge.

My pick: Joao Miyao (PSLPB Cicero Costha)


Black / Adult Male / Light Feather (16 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Gui Mendes (Atos) / 2nd place: P. Miyao (PSLPB)

In case you haven't heard in recent news, Gui Mendes has announced that he is retiring from competition so we will not see him in the tournament.  The big names that jump out this year are as follows: Samir Chantre (Brasa CTA), Carlos Vieira Holanda (CheckMat), Paulo Miyao (PSLPB), Daniel Beleza (SAS Team USA), and Vitor Paschoal (Brasa CTA).  Depending on how the brackets are set up I would favor seeing Samir Chantre x P. Miyao (PSLPB) in the final.

My pick: P. Miyao (PSLPB)


Black / Adult Male / Feather (16 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Rafael Medes (Atos) / 2nd place: Cobrinha (Alliance)

Well I will say that Cobrinha was kind of a last minute competitor to show up into the division so I'm really excited to see a very stacked division this year at Feather.  Gianni Grippo (Alliance) has shown that he has the chops to compete at the highest of levels coming off gold at Abu Dhabi among other titles over the last 9 months at black belt.  He has had some wars with P. Miyao and Osvaldo Moizinho aka Queixinho who is also competing at Feather.  Mario Reis (Alliance) will most certainly be a favorite to medal.  The seemingly never againg Megaton Dias (Gracie Humaita) will be present to show these young guys he still has what it takes to compete at 47.  It's very difficult to say who will make it to the final and I'm excited to see how the brackets are set up for this one.

My pick: Rafa Mendes (Atos)


Black / Adult Male / Light (20 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Lucas Lepri (Alliance) / 2nd place: Jonathan Torres (Atos)

I am very interested in the Light division this year.  We are usually treated to a Michael Langhi & Lucas Lepri (Alliance) close out in the finals.  Just a few weeks ago Nova Uniao black belt Luan Carvalho Alves edged out Michael Langhi at the Brasiliero's in the semi-finals and went on to take gold in that tournament.  That said I expect Luan to be a contender at this years Worlds in the Light division.  *EDIT: Apparently Luan will not be competing as it appears he may be having visa issues to travel for the competition.* Enter newer black belts Michael Liera Jr. (Atos) and Andris Brunovskis (Atos); don't sleep on Rodrigo Caporal (Atos) or last year's silver medalist Jonathan Torres (Atos).  Atos has a very strong presence in the division and will make some noise.  I'm excited to see how Liera will do being a newer black belt.

My pick: Lucas Lepri (Alliance)


Black / Adult Male / Middle (22 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Leandro Lo (PSLPB) / 2nd place: Otavio Sousa (Gracie Barra)

I feel very certain the returning middle weights are pleased to see that Lo has moved up to Medium Heavy for this year's tournament.  This is an incredibly stacked division.  2014 silver medalist Otavio Sousa (GB) returns and is likely the immediate favorite.  Sinistro (Alliance), new Marcelo Garcia black belts Jonathan Satava & Marcos Tinoco (Alliance) will have their hands full but should be exciting to watch.  Tanner Rice (Amazonas), Atos standout Claudio Calasans, Murilo Santana (Barbosa JJ), Marcel Mafra (CheckMat), Victor Estima (Gracie Barra), Magid Hage (Gracie Barra), and last but not least Victor Oliveira (GF Team) round out an impressive line-up.

My pick: Victor Estima (Gracie Barra)


Black / Adult Male / Medium Heavy (20 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Braulio Estima (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Romulo Barral (Gracie Barra)

Well neither 2014 finalists will be competing this year.  Braulio is out due to suspension for failing PED testing last year and Barral is focused primarily on ADCC this year.  That's okay though because we will be treated to Leandro Lo (PSLPB) stepping up a weight class which I doubt will be a problem for him.  He is usually in the finals of the Open Weight class every tournament so barring injury he has to be a heavy favorite.  Marcelo Garcia black belt Matheus Diniz is going to be someone to keep a close eye on.  Gustavo Campos and Pedro Mello both of Atos will be likely forces.   Depending on how the brackets are set up I expect to see Lo x Campos in the final.

My pick: Leandro Lo (PSLPB)


Black / Adult Male / Heavy (19 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Felipe Pena (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Andre Galvao (Atos)

Again we won't be treated to defending champ "Preguinca", Galvao, OR Rafael Lovato (2014 bronze medalist).  Don't fret because Keenan Cornelius (Atos) has moved up a weight class!  Additionally we have Jackson Sousa (CheckMat), Lucas Leite (CheckMat), Manny Diaz (Soul Fighters), and Timothy Spriggs (TLI).  Oh...and don't sleep on Xande Ribeiro (Ribeiro JJ).  Keenan had a really disappointing 2014 Worlds when he lost to Diego Gamonal (BTT) over a (in my opinion) controversial knee reap.  Keenan will for sure be looking to redeem himself and collect his first World's title at black belt.

My pick: Keenan Cornelius (Atos)


Black / Adult Male / Super Heavy (9 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Rodolfo Vieira (GF Team) / 2nd place: Bernardo Faria (Alliance)

Rodolfo won't be competing this year as he's been focused on MMA so make way for a new champ this year at Super Heavy.  Bernardo Faria (Alliance) has to be the favorite as he is usually coming up short against the monster Rodolfo.  Yri Simoes (Brasa CTA) will certainly look to improve from last year's bronze, Roberto "Tussa" Alencar (Gracie Barra) will likely find his way onto the podium.  Joao Gabriel Rocha (Soul Fighters), James Puopolo (Ribeiro JJ), and Erberth Santos (Guigo BJJ) will all be factors in a traditionally small division.

My pick: Bernardo Faria (Alliance)


Black / Adult Male / Ultra Heavy (13 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Marcus "Buchecha" Almedia (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Alexander Trans (UAE JJ)

As luck, or bad luck would have it depending on who you are...Buchecha is BACK!  Rodrigo Cavaca (Zenith BJJ), Alexander Trans (UAE), and 2014 bronze medalist Ricardo Evangelista (GF Team) are my favorites to watch in this division.

My pick: Buchecha (CheckMat)


Black / Adult Male / Open Weight Prediction
2014 Champ: Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Rodolfo Vieira (GT Team)

Of course we can only imagine who will be participating in the open.  2014 runners up include Keenan & Faria.  We can obviously eliminate Rodolfo this year.  If Buchecha is able to enter the absolute then without a doubt he will be the favorite to repeat as I don't see many people being able to dethrone him.

My pick: Marcus "Buchecha" Almedia (CheckMat)


Black / Adult Female / Light Feather (4 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Gezary Bandeira (ATT)

In a tiny division we have the 2014 champ returning.  I'm not going to lie...I don't know the other competitors so my choice is easy here.

My pick: Gezary Bandeira (ATT)


Black / Adult Female / Feather (8 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Michelle Nicolini (CheckMat) / 2nd place: Tammi Musumeci (ATT)

Who can forget this match from 2014?  The final saw Nicolini with a come from behind victory and destroying Tammi's arm.  This was easily the most exciting final of last year's tournament.  Both competitors are back for 2015 but so is red-hot Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita) who just seems unbeatable.  Dern is coming off gold at her weight in Abu Dhabi and not only a close win over Gabi Garcia (Alliance) but gold in the open class at Abu Dhabi.  Dern even beat Nicolini on points earlier in the same tournament.

My pick: Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita)


Black / Adult Female / Light (10 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita) / 2nd place: Luiza Monteiro (PSLPB)

All of the medalists from 2014 outside of Luiza (moved up to Middle) are back this year and will be challenged by Angelica Galvao (Atos), and Nyjah Easton (TLI).

My pick: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita)


Black / Adult Female / Middle (8 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Janni Larson (CheckMat)

Reigning champ Janni Larson (CheckMat) isn't returning this year to defend her title but the division gets an instant new challenge in Luiza Monteiro Costa (PSLPB).  Look for Ida Hansson (CheckMat) and Sijara Eubanks (TLI) to be making it to the podium.

My pick: Luiza Monteiro (PSLPB)


Black / Adult Female / Medium Heavy (5 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Ana Cordeiro (Gracie Barra) / 2nd place: Hannette Staack (Soul Fighters)

Hannette Staack (Soul Fighters) won't be competing this year.  Something notable is that 2014 Heavy champ Andresa Correa (Alliance) has dropped down a weight class. Outside of that my knowledge of the competitors is pretty limited.

My pick: Andresa Correa (Alliance)


Black / Adult Female / Heavy (4 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Andresa Correa (Alliance)

2014 Champ Correa has dropped down a weight class which should make way for the Marcelo Garcia talent Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance).  Tammy Greigo (Gracie Barra) is the only big challenge I see for her this year.

My pick: Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance)


Black / Adult Female / Super Heavy (5 Competitors)
2014 Champ: Venla Luukkonen (Hilti BJJ)

With the reigning champ returning to a small division I'm not going to make any bold predictions here.  No Gabi Garcia this year.

My pick: Venla Luukkonen (Hilti BJJ)


Black / Adult Female / Open Weight Prediction
2014 Champ: Beatriz Mesquita (Gracie Humaita) / 2nd place: Michelle Nicolini (CheckMat)

Since Gabi Garcia is not competing this year (again) we are likely to see a more competitive field.  I feel like this will be a great tournament for Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance).

My pick: Dominyka Obelenyte (Alliance)


Links:
IBJJF Site: http://ibjjf.org/championship/world-jiu-jitsu-championship/
Schedule: http://ibjjf.org/championships/world-jiu-jitsu-championship-2015-pre-schedule-update/
Brackets: http://events.ibjjf.com/sportos/application/sheet/index.php?idevent=319&dayofevent=1
Divisions: http://static.ibjjfdb.com/Campeonato/000415/en-US/RegistrationsByCategoryAndAcademy.pdf
How to watch live: http://www.ibjjftv.com/

Gui Mendes retirement announcement:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpQ68uHZK1E&feature=share



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bad Coaching & Parenting...Are you Guilty of This?




I am not a fan of public shaming but I feel like there are examples where this should be done.  The goal isn't necessarily to single any one individual out but to be more aware how we as coaches, instructors, and even parents should treat our children.  This is not limited to sports by any means. There is a fine line between being firm as an instructor but we should focus on building our kids up. They WILL make mistakes both on and off the mat.  I am not a proponent of babying kids and ignoring their mistakes but it should be a focus to help them LEARN from their mistakes.  Tearing kids down as shown in this video is a terrible way of helping kids learn from their losses.  This kind of behavior isn't tolerated in our gym.  If you find yourself doing this as a coach or a parent, I implore you to reconsider about how this may affect them.

1.  Is this sport or activity for them or is it for YOU?
2. Do you know how difficult this is for your child?
3. Have you yourself tried this activity?
4. Is it more important to YOU or your child to succeed?
5. What are they learning from the experience?

Remember a few things that I can assure you that your child will go through.

1. They do not want to disappoint you (Parents & Coaches)
2. They do not want to fail because who likes to lose?
3. They will experience stress from the above two items
4. They WILL lose some but hopefully they will also win some as well

If you are a parent that is incredibly tough on your children like what is seen in this video I ask that you work on making yourself a better parent.

1. Back OFF!  Let the coaches do their job and TALK to them.  Get feedback to determine what they could have done better.  If you have a coach like this...I recommend finding a new gym.

2. If you can't do the above then you should reconsider taking part in activities such as BJJ practice and especially tournaments.  I have seen parents here and there that simply cannot control themselves while watching their kids roll & compete.  This may not be the sport for you or your child.

You kids are already participating in a very tough sport and they need YOUR support.

If you are a coach and are guilty of treating your students like this then YOU should reconsider working with children or coaching entirely.  It's our job to make these kids better on and off the mats. They need to have their self-esteem built up, not destroyed.

I'll finish this up by saying that as a parent, if you find your kids in an atmosphere that is not healthy for the development of your child IMMEDIATELY get in touch with the coach or head instructor. If the issues cannot be resolved then it's time to look for a better environment.  Not everyone can be a world champion in this sport but this should be fun, a learning experience, and an opportunity to grow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Get to Know: Rikki Rockett (Famous Rock Star & BJJ Black Belt)


As a child of the 80's I grew up listening to bands like Poison and am a HUGE fan of that genre of music.   If I had any idea when I was 13 years old that I would have something in common with my rock star idols, or that we would speak to each other on the same level about it, my mind would have been COMPLETELY blown.  I am beyond stoked that Poison drummer Rikki Rockett took the time to contribute some of his life, history and how he became a student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

I believe many people (myself at least) dream about living the life of someone famous. Having opportunities to experience things that the average person may never get to do.  I know that as  kid in my early teens, the idea of being a rock star was incredibly appealing and sounded very exciting.  If you don't know Rikki Rockett because you didn't grow up in the 80's like I did, I think that you can easily imagine this being any other music super star that fits your generation. To date, this has been the most exciting Q&A opportunity I have had. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Q: What are you up to these days?  Are you still playing and involved with music?

A: Very much so. I can’t talk a lot about the changes with Poison right now due some legal stuff, but suffice to say that we are pretty busy right now! We played a show with a different lead singer, Brandon Gibbs, who is in my other band, The Devil City Angels. I started the Devil City Angels with Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns fame (Guns ’N’ Roses), Eric Brittingham from Cinderella and Brandon. I found Brandon in Burlington, Iowa 11 years ago at 17 years old playing with his brother. We have stayed tight ever since and now he is a bona fide rock star in my opinion!

I build custom drums and most important, raise my 5 year old boy Jude and my 2 year old Lucy.



Q: When did you start training?  What drew you to the sport as you got a much earlier start than most people that will be reading this interview?

A: I started over 17 years ago. I was training JKD, Kali and Silat. I was drawn to Silat because of the Sumatran version that was pretty much a ground game. I met John and JJ Machado at a vegetarian rally and told them how I admired Royce Gracie and I wrestled in High School and loved Silat. They invited me to the school. Once I was there I was greated by Renato Magno, (my long time and still my coach) and Eddie Bravo who also trained JKD. I got tapped out 12 times that evening and my life has never been the same! Can I tell you what an experience it is to tapped out by JJ Machado!

Q: When did you receive your Black Belt and from whom?  How old were you?

A: I was 48 years old. Renato Magno (Street Sports BJJ, Santa Monica, CA). Renato moved here with the Machado Bros. from Brazil to help start their school. I got my second degree two years ago. I am eligible for three stripes, but I don’t deserve it! I haven’t been as consistent this year because of all of my musical projects. Four training days a week is great, but this past year has been about two or three. I like to walk around at competition weight and feeling like I could compete at any time, but that’s just a wish most of the time! 

Note: I got my purple belt under Renato and JJ Machado at the Machado Bros. school. I remained a purple belt for 7 years!


Rikki & Renato Magno

Rikki & Jean Jacques Machado
Q: I think most people find it fascinating to learn about famous people that also train Jiu-Jitsu.  Name some of the competitors that you either trained with or against comping up in the ranks.  Any other well-known training partners currently or in the past?  

A: Mac Danzig (UFC), Danny Inosanto, Gabriel Vella de Freitas, All of the Machado Bros., Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Eddie Bravo, Ed O’Niel, Rico “The Baltimore Butcher” Chipparelli & playwright / film director David Mamet come to mind.

Q: Any interesting stories to share about training over the years? 

A: I swear, everyday is an adventure.  And thank God for that!!!

Q: What do you feel a new student should focus on?

A: I can answer both this and the second at the same time. Keep a log of your training. I wish, wish I would have done this! We all tend to remember our rolls more than our drills and so it’s important. When your coach sez, “I wanna see 15 chokes from the mount!” and you are going in your head, “Hmmmmm, I only use 3 most of time, what were they now?” It’s important to review. Even if you prefer certain techniques over others. I am not a gifted grappler. I have had to scrimp and scrape for everything I have acquired. It just doesn’t come naturally most of the time for me. Even for our gifted brothers, keep a log. You are probably going to teach too.

Q: What would you change about how you approached training Jiu-Jitsu if you had to go back and start all over again?

A: See last answer!



Q: In my experience, famous and well known people that train BJJ don't compete very often.  I personally saw you compete at IBJJF Pan 2010 via the Budovideos stream.  That is how I became aware that you were a Black Belt.  How important is it to compete and its usefulness for development?

A: I think competition is a big part of our art. It pushes the envelope. Sure, the system of competing has it’s limits, but it drives a certain aspect of BJJ that is important. Some people never compete. Ceasar Gracie for example, but he is a bad ass and a great coach. So, it’s personal. However, it does build camaraderie and that is essential. BJJ peeps are, for the most part, a big family. We are like the Marine Corps of martial arts and we respect each other because of that. (I mean that with respect to the Marines, BTW. My Dad and cousins were in the corp.)

Q: What are your thoughts on rolling versus drilling?

A: If you don't drill, you will always defend more than you initiate when you roll because you won't have the mobility or the familiarity of the technique.  Both are critical.

Q: Do you use supplements?  How do you stay healthy?

A: I do supplement, but not overly. Multis, Vega powder after training and I toy with a few other things. Juice from time to time. I have been vegetarian for 22 years and I think it’s the best option for me. Mac Danzig, Jake Shields and others are vegetarian or vegan and do well in MMA. It is a viable option. I’d love to go Raw Vegan!

Q: What do you recommend for training preparation?

A: Sleep!!! What you ate the day before matters. I think too many guys try and eat like bodybuilders and that doesn’t seem to be the trick. Carbs are not the enemy in BJJ. That is a myth. If you are trying to rip for a photo session, sure, protein and low carbs. Doesn’t work with BJJ in my experience. To each his own, I guess, though.



Q: How active are you these days in BJJ?  What is a typical week for you training or simply a day in the life of Rikki Rockett?  Who do you currently train under?

A: Very active. However, my perfect week would be: Mon., Wed. & Fri. Jits. Tues. & Thur. TRX and Yoga. Weekends: Chasing my kids!!! I train under Professor Renato Magno, Street Sports BJJ, Santa Monica, CA. Sometimes I train with Dave Dunne (3rd degree B Belt under JJ Machado) at Fight Academy in Santa Clarita, CA. We have been buds for years. I fill in and teach once in a while for Mr. Dunne. He is a great coach and an amazing person.

Professor Magno has been an inspiration to me over the years on many levels. He is a friend, a great family man, great coach and a positive force in BJJ culture.

Q: Do you continue to study new (modern) Jiu-Jitsu and how do you go about that?  Do you train with other Black Belts in other gyms, affiliations, etc?


Rikki & Professor Dave Dunne
A: I do. We have guys in our school who travel all over and come back with some unexpected moves. We have guys train before tournaments from Brazil who are affiliates of Professor Magno who have a whole new twist on things sometimes. I have the pleasure of traveling and interacting with lots of Jits guys. Southern California is such a melting pot and hot bed for BJJ. It’s a blessed thing to be here and soak it up. I still suck, though! LOL!

Q: What is the worst injury you have experienced while training?

A: A meniscus tear from a leg lock and a compound fracture of my left big toe. Big toe breaks are like breaking your whole foot. The balance from your big toe is what separates us from the great apes… oh and Rigan Machado! LOL!!! (He’s gonna kick my ass for that one!)

Q: Any big goals for 2015?  Jiu-Jitsu, music, projects, etc?

A: Well, it’s about keeping up the momentum with my musical projects first and foremost. I have a family, so I gotta stay working for awhile. Maybe semi retire in about 5 years and teach Jiu-Jitsu. “Rockett’s Snakepit BJJ”. I would like to compete again. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t win. But, I didn’t get tapped or owned, so it was a positive experience for me.



Q: Do you keep up with current events in the sport?  i.e. Watching events like IBJJF, Metamoris, Polaris, etc?  Might you peruse BJJ forums online under some secret persona?

A: I do, indeed. I love Metamoris and Rigan’s new endeavor The World Jiu-Jitsu Federation. I love the UFC too. Any forum I have ever gone on I was very transparent. Too many ball busters on some of them. Because I am the drummer for Poison, some haters wanna judge me on what I looked like on the cover of a record in 1986! It becomes a little not worth the hassle. However, I thought about fighting a no-gi tournament and wearing bright colored spats, tease my hair and wear guy liner. But, if I lost I’d look like an ass! It would be funny, though!

Q: Name the accomplishment you are most proud of be it BJJ or something personal.

A: My first gold record. I bought my parents a Cadillac with that money like Elvis did! (Except I’m still in the building)

Q: Is there anything interesting you would like to say about yourself or any opinions you  have about the current state of BJJ?

A: I think it’s a good thing to occasionally roll with the ballistic white belt who will challenge your current knowledge. The young, over the top Blue Belt hell bent on your destruction! yes, it will keep your instincts fresh. Oh, yeah, do it when you are tired. And… the light girl who trains all the time. Make sure you use no muscle-ing at all. These are things many of us avoid when we roll. Try asking your Police training partners what they run into every day and how you might handle it. This is real life and sometimes we can get bogged down of the sports end of BJJ. Like Bruce Lee always warned about never losing your natural instinct from learning too much technique.

Q: Anything else you would  like to add people might find interesting about yourself?

A: I was an EMT back in Harrisburg, PA.  How's that one?  I was a hairdresser, a dishwasher and a lifeguard before seeking fame and fortune out west.

Q: Any sponsors you would like to thank, products, or services you would to promote?  BJJ, music, etc?

BJJ: Shoyoroll http://shoyoroll.com/
Scramble Brand http://store.scramblestuff.us/
Ludwig Clothing http://ludwigvantheman.com/

Music: Devil City Angles http://www.devilcityangels.com/
Poison http://poisonweb.com/

Clothing: Cult of Individuality Denim http://www.cultofindividuality.com/mens/jeans/
New Balance Sneakers: http://www.newbalance.com/

Drums: Sabian Cymbals http://www.sabian.com/en/home
Drum Workshop Hardware & Pedals http://www.dwdrums.com/
Drum Tacs http://www.drumtacs.com/
Aquarian Drum Heads http://www.aquariandrumheads.com/
Los Cabos DrumSticks http://loscabosdrumsticks.com/
Rockett Drum Works Custom Drums http://rockettdrumworks.com/

Additional Links:
http://www.rikkirockett.com/index.html
https://www.facebook.com/TheRealRikkiRockett?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/RikkiRockett?fref=ts
https://instagram.com/rikkirockett/
https://twitter.com/rikkirockett