Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Soul Kimonos Paradiso

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Soul Kimonos Paridiso Review


A very well crafted Gi that met all of my expectations. I had no quality issues whatsoever with the Gi. I made some slight modifications by removing  the shoulder tapes as I felt the white tape was too harsh of a contrast with the black and made the Gi looked cluttered, but overall I think the Gi looks very well done. (Note: The seam taping along the outside of the Gi is grey, but may show up white due to the brightness of the pictures)


A: 6.25

B: 28.75

C: 18.5

D: 23.5

E: 20.5

F: 13

G: 9.5

H: 37.5

About the Paradiso:

The Paradiso is very nicely priced at $120 with free shipping from Soul Kimonos. Every purchase of a Paradiso also includes the “Rolling with my homies” T-shirt, a great looking T, making the $120 Paradiso a great great deal.

-550gsm Pearl Weave Top w/Eva Foam Collar

-10 oz Cotton Drill Pants

-Stretchy Rope Drawstring w/unique belt loop system

-Very Long reinforced knees

-Tailored fit


The Gi is a pearl weave of medium weight and thickness. I felt like the jacket felt for snug to my body (an A2 on a 5’10″ 195lb frame) just how I like it. The embroidery was very well done and I have zero complaints about in, either on the front, arms or on the back.

The sleeves leave very little excess for grabbing, a delightful attribute indeed. The inner sleeve tape felt a tad bit scratchy but after a few washes it seemed to go away after breaking it in. All the sewing on the inner sleeve taping stayed true and did not run off.

I’m not the biggest fan out of outside seam tape on the bottom of the skirt, but I felt like Soul Kimonos really did a good job of not making it look tacky.

The Gi is reinforced at all of the normal locations, the inner armpit and the skirt slits.


One of my favorite attributes is the width of the pant legs itself as well as the length. The pants fit me great and aren’t baggy like a lot of the MC Hammer pants that make it to the market today. They are also very soft and comfortable to wear.

The knee reinforcements are double stitched and have great coverage all of the length of the pant leg. Inside the left leg reinforcement is a nicely embroidered palm logo.

The belt looping system is of an excellent design minus one small flaw. It should be lowered around 1/2 an inch to a full inch below the waistline to stop the drawstring from coming up at the tie location. It causes the pants to cinch oddly in front, but doesn’t cause any discomfort or cause a drop in performance, but worth mentioning.

As I previously stated, I modified the Gi to suit my personal tastes a bit, removing the shoulder tapes is an extremely easy process. You simply start by cutting the black threads on the INSIDE of the jacket that are holding down the shoulder tape. Once enough of the thread has been removed you can literally pull the whole patch off.

Belt Prototype:

We also received a Prototype belt from Soul Kimonos that is made out of Pearl Weave. It’s now my primary belt and I abuse the crap out of it. I wash it after every session (AND YOU SHOULD TOO) and it’s holding up very well. I like the vibrant blue color that the belt came in as well. It’s been a couple months now and all is well. People will probably find these similar to the War belts if you are familiar with those.

Gi Soap

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Gi Soap is coming out into a market that is saturated with aggressive marketing.

Some soap companies throw tits in your face as an appeal to sell their soap. You won’t get women with their jugs hanging out on Gi Soaps Facebook page or on their products, but you just might see some results.

The image is a customer of Gi Soap who submitted this image to them showing how he rid himself of ringworm using Gi Soap. (although I’m concerned this guy has a Gi on while having ringworm, which concerns me that he was training with people…)

There doesn’t seem to be a gimmick to Gi Soap. It’s a bar of soap shaped like a cuboid (like a cube, but rectangular on some sides *FACTOID OF THE DAY*), it smells good, it lathers well enough, it’s all natural and the best part is that it kills bacteria and fungus. They definitely promote the all natural aspect of their soap and with all the horrible news coming out about dyes lately I think that’s all for the better.

I had to do a little digging (cough *google* cough) to find out what made Gi Soap Anti-Microbial, Anti-Fungal, Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral, but indeed, all of the claims stack up under scrutiny and it makes sense that the above BJJ players ringworm situation was rectified. I’ve put together a list of the ingredients and what they do at the bottom of the review

Ok Rambler, so how’s the soap?

So the soap comes in unreusable packaging so you won’t be able to take this along with you anywhere unless you already have a soap container. For those of us who just plan on using it at home, no big deal. The packaging and name let’s everyone know who this is marketed to, BJJ players. However, this soap would greatly benefit any wrestlers or other submission artists out there. Hell, if you’ve fallen into sketchy lake water you might want to use this too, I’ve swam in some lakes in Texas that could be classified as nuclear dump sites and I’m pretty sure I should have got a penicillin shot afterward.

The soap smells very subtle, it has a nice mild scent to it and when I smell it nothing screams out at me as being prominent.

(Notice how the cuboid shape allows easy placement in the shower? Intentional design, obviously)

It feels like any other soap except I don’t get that residue you would get from something like Irish Spring. I also like the fact that huge chunks of it don’t fall off during use, it’s maintaining it’s shape well which makes me feel like it will last longer. I’ll update the review as time goes by to reflect how long it lasts training 3 times a week. I do recommend following up your wash with some moisturizer. I don’t think it made my hands dry per se, but I could tell my hands felt extremely devoid of oil/whatever else is on my hands normally, that I felt that I needed a little moisturizer. Kind of how your hands feel after peeling elmers glue from your fingers. (man I love doing that!)

It’s easy to work up a lather but it’s not very bubbly. That’s fine though as I could tell i was still able to spread it all over quite nicely without using much. It left my skin feeling very smooth after the shower and I even noticed it this morning when I woke up.

Overall I’d say Gi Soap is a great choice for anyone looking to take care of their bodies health after grappling. I’ve used Dial Anti-bacterial body wash prior to getting this soap but the extra Anti-Fungal, Anti-Microbial and Anti-Viral aspects of the soap are quite appealing. My only personal recommendation, based off a lot of scientific literature I’ve read, is to ONLY use this after grappling and not after every shower. Your bodies own good bacteria can be killed off leaving you more susceptible to bacterial infections from the harmful type. Your bodies immune system can also get weaker by never having to resist any bacteria, fungus, viruses, etc on it’s own.  The phrase “too much of a good thing” comes to mind. After grappling you have an excess of these harmful things on your body and that’s why it’s necessary to take care of it properly.

As promised small breakdown of the ingredients, which are listed on the back of their Gi Soap packaging:

-Soybean and Hemp Oil: Amino & Fatty Acids as well as vitamins to promote good skin condition and health.

-Coconut Oil: Anti-Viral, Anti-Microbial and Anti-Fungal. Also, it acts as a moisturizer.

-Shea Butter: Acts as a moisturizer as well as an Anti-Inflammatory.

-Mint: Also acts as an Anti-Inflammatory and keeps skin hydrated. (And to think i always thought it was just good with chocolate. Andes Mints anyone?) O yea, it smells delicious too.

-Tea Tree Oil: The spoils of Tea Tree oil have been reaching all new heights in recent years. It’s Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Microbial and Anti-Fungal properties have been getting more and more hype as years go by. Unlike a lot of “all natural” remedies, Tea Tree Oil has been proven to be effective, even more so then many Antibiotics in regards to resisting MSRA or antibiotic resistant infections. Due note though that I’m referring to topical treatment only, don’t go swallowing tea tree oil thinking it will cure that hole in your leg. Now would be a good time to also point out that adding unnatural chemicals to tea tree oil will greatly diminish it’s effectiveness. Or at least that’s what some doctor on some natural oil reference website said. Take that for what you will.

-Manuka oil: The holy grail of essential oils and the bigger and stronger brother of Tea Tree Oil. Gi Soap uses this guy for the same reason people use Tea Tree Oil, except Manuka Oil packs around a 20% bigger punch than Tea Tree oil in regards to bacteria. Only specific varieties are truly that strong and Gi Soap doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It seems that Manuka Oil suppliers and the region where they obtain it from are a well guarded secret as no one wants other companies edging in on their gold.

At $5, I think everyone should have a bar.


A message from the CEO of Gi Soap, which can be found in their About section of their site

“We know we don’t last as long as the other products in the market, it’s because we don’t drench our products with harsh chemicals or fake preservatives that weaken and deteriate your skin.
We also know that we don’t have the best packing, most creative names for our products or cool colors for each item.

That are things we do not offer and will not offer.

What we do offer are quality hand made products. We never use cheap ingredients or drown our products with synthetics. We stick by what we make and by what we will always be: All natural!
Oss.  -Marcel Oliveira”

Update 12/23/2012:

After 4 months of 2-3 days a week of use the soap has seen the end of its life. That’s some decent shelf life folks.

Ezekiel Kimonos

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


Ezekiel Kimono

A Fair Showing for a First Release

by Dan Halpin

The Ezekiel is well constructed Gi that is durable and light weight, although it does have some minor issues. I think most people would be quite pleased with the purchase of this Gi, but do note, the slits on the sides of the skirt are cut a bit long. On the flip side, there is some new innovations as well.

At $129 the Gi is not as well refined as it’s more mainstream competition in regards to those “finishing touches”. For example, the strings of the pants aren’t knotted when you receive the Gi. Also lacking is the standard Gi bag that every company I have received a Gi from to date has provided, and although I don’t buy a Gi for a bag, I also don’t buy a car for cup holders, but who doesn’t want more of those? Am-I-rite?

It does however, come sealed nicely in a ziplock bag to protect it from the elements during shipping. So if you’re a meat and potatoes kind of guy and not really interested in any extra jazz or fluff, you won’t be bothered.

(Side note: I’m an avid Gi bag collector and the Tatami Estilo 3.0 bag is my favorite and despite what Brendan thinks, my addiction is NOTHING similar to a woman who collects purses.) [Dan has requested that his gi bag collection hence be known as his “murses” ~ Brendan]

From their site:

“We make our gis with competitors in mind. Lighter weaves are good for weigh-in purposes, but can cause difficulties when trying to break an opponent’s grip during a match. After many discussions with competitors, we used 550 GSM (fabric weight) pearl weave for the jacket, which is made from one piece of material with no back seam for comfort. The Lapel has EVA foam inserts to prevent gi chokes.

ezekiel-kimonos-Loop System

Pants are made from strong 12 oz drilled cotton with triple stitching all around for maximum durability. We’ve added a rope drawstring and four belt loops for comfort. The gi cut allows for maximum mobility for guard players.


The Chinese characters on the pant and the chest mean “Jiu Jitsu”. On the back of the skirt, we added a long patch with our logo and “Sode Guruma Jime” which means “sleeve wheel choke” in Japanese. If you have any questions concerning sizing, please check our size/dimension chart or e-mail us at”

The Good:

This Gi is light, generally comfortable and made well. I have been very fortunate that I have never worn a Gi that I felt had subpar craftsmanship and I am pleased to say that Ezekiel Kimono’s initial offering of a pearl weave does not set a new trend in this regard. I couldn’t find a single loose thread on the entire Gi. Another aspect of the Gi I really enjoyed were the shoulder tapes and rear-skirt tape. The tapes were thinner and less explosive than many other companies shoulder tapes. This provides the Gi with a really clean look overall.


Probably my favorite feature of the Gi was its introduction of, soon to be revolutionary, felt seam tapes around the wrist. It’s really an ingenius idea that was definitely well received by me in its execution. It’s quite soft and in turn makes the sleeves that much more comfortable.

ezekiel-kimonos-Felt Sleeve

Although I was taken-a-back by the strings not being knotted with the delivered product, it was a simple enough fix and overall the belt system gets the job done nicely. I had no issues with a saggy waist or the rope riding over the waistline. The pants also have a very sturdy 4 stitch seam around the bottom of the legs adding strength and also making it quite difficult for your opponents to grab. The knee reinforcements are also double-stitched where as I typically see them being only single stitched. Another plus.


The 12oz cotton pants were very comfortable. Due to a shortage of sweat pants in my house I tend to wear my more comfortable gi pants around the house when I’m being lazy (which is 99% of the time) and I’ve lounged around in these pants a few times now. Wearing Gi pants at home is also just a nifty way in giving me more time to scrutinize pants. [Sounds like me ~ Brendan]

The embroidery on the chest was of good quality and the collar was standard fare.


My Ezekiel Kimono customer service experience was amazing. They have a very professional site and great people working behind the scenes at the company.

The Bad:

Man, the slits in the side of the Gi are HUGE. They actually come up above my belt line. This causes the skirt to ride up out of my belt quite a bit. However, it doesn’t prohibit my mobilty and I attribute it more to a nuisance than a true functional problem as all of my Gi tops do the same thing at some point during rolling, just not nearly as often.


As previously mentioned, no Gi bag comes with the purchase of the “Jiu Jitsu” gi and the belt rope comes untied. Two items I view as hindering it’s potential price range.

The knee reinforcements are double-stitched, which is nice, but I would have liked to have seen them extend further up the leg.

Wife Approval:

On a scale of 1 to “Sex and the City” my wife gives the Gi a solid “The Notebook” (probably around a 9) in the looks department. She digs oriental styling so the embroidery made her all giggly.

Some thoughts:

Being the wild and dangerous adventurer I am I was curious as to why Ezekiel Kimonos chose Chinese lettering for “Jiu Jitsu” as jiu jitsu is traditionally a Japanese art. I never really got an answer but I’d definitely like to find out why in the future.

With all of this said, I see a lot of potential in Ezekiel Kimonos. In their initial offering they have already offered up some innovative creations for the masses. I can only imagine how well off they will be with a little time under their belt.

BJJ is about the Community

Posted: December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


#BJJ IS ABOUT THE COMMUNITY | What are you doing to make BJJ better? What are you doing to bring more people into our sport (women and children especially) too help them learn how to protect themselves, to protect each other, and to help each other grow? BJJ is anti-selfish by design. We need each other. By making each other stronger, we make ourselves stronger. We weed out what doesn’t work amazingly quickly, because we apply it every day.

If you go to the mats only thinking about how to make yourself better, you’ll never understand what BJJ is truly about. You also probably won’t be that good. BJJ is about sharing. It’s about teamwork, support and efficiency. It’s about not alienating those who need BJJ the most.

It’s a horrible thing when disasters strike our community, but a silver lining always sticks out to me when something does happen. It allows us to see how good of humans we are in this community. Maybe it’s just 97% of us, but that’s a whole lot of people. Artists, teams/gyms, bloggers and athletes all step up to help those in need. This disaster in the Philippines is a perfect example of what we’ll do to help others. The Meerkatsu,Gawakoto and Scramble collaboration T-shirt sold out in what felt like 30 seconds on BJJhq. 100% of proceeds are going to support charities in the Philippines. Those men are true ambassadors of BJJ.

Pay attention to who is doing what for our community, and how we as individuals and companies represent ourselves inside and outside our community. The words “martial arts” have lost a lot of their meaning over the years, but I think if any community is to be prime example of who still holds onto their integrity and community driven message, it’s us. I, for one, want to keep it that way. And when I say “Ask what you can do for BJJ”, it means, ask what we can do for each other” because we ARE BJJ.

The Greatest Adventure

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s been awhile.

I haven’t made a blog post since I lived in Virginia over a month ago. I’ve been quite the busy bee. Before I go into what I’ve been up to lately since I’ve arrived in Wisconsin, I’d like to talk about my move and why I moved.

You only have one life to live.

That’s it. Just one. I served 8 years in the military, met my wife, started a family and decided that the military route wasn’t kosher with raising our daughter. My wife and I got out of the military (she was in the service as well) and became government contractors. Making six figures a year is nice, but we lived in DC and had no family near by. Although the money was good, the job was brutal. I hated every last second of it. I loathed getting up to go to work everyday. My boss was in fact Bill Lumbergh from Office Space reborn. As a contractor I got treated like shit and talked to like shit. EVERY. DAY. I went to work everyday, so I could make money, just so I could keep going to work everyday. It was a STUPID cycle. So one day in June I raised two fingers up (you know which ones) to the world society told me I should be in and took my life back.

Life is not dealing with bullshit so you can fill up your 401k. There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future but not at the expense of the present. We are raised from birth to conform to societies notion of how to live life. This is one of the biggest travesties of our generation. We put more value in things than we do experiences. You’re not going to think about what car you drove on your death bed, you’re going to thing of the times you spent with the ones you loved.

My wife (the traditionalist) was scared to death with all of this irrational (rational) thinking I was doing. I was so far gone no one would stop me from doing what I thought needed to be done. So what did I do?

I grabbed life by the balls and took it to where I wanted it to be.

Wisconsin to be exact. My wife, my daughter and I live in my mother-in-laws basement (dropped that bomb eh). It’s around 1800sqft, so it’s got plenty of space and it’s virtually a separate apartment. I have space to do my photography, designing and other projects I do. I absolutely love my mother-in-law, we understand each other quite a bit. Danielle (my wife) lost her dad not too long ago and we had planned to have her mom come move in with us, as it would really be good for her well-being and ours. We were ready to pull the trigger on a big ole house in Washington D.C. (Northern VA) with a basement outfitted much like this one just for her.  I hate Northern VA (except the ethnic food!) and hated my job, so when I realized I didn’t want to be there anymore I had to ask myself where I wanted to live, and despite the odds, just move there. Cedarburg, Wisconsin is the GREATEST CITY IN MODERN DAY AMERICA, I can’t believe how lucky we are that my wife grew up here. But I digress, me explaining the awesomeness of Cedarburg, WI is for another day.

By moving in with her mom it helped our lives in a number of ways. We still pay bills around the house, but now everything is split, so it’s massively cheaper, meaning we don’t have to have such grandiose jobs. Life isn’t about money, like I said, it’s about the things you do with the people you love. My mother-in-law has always treated me like a son, and since I didn’t have a mother growing up, it’s a pretty cool feeling. She really does need us here to help around the house, she’s tiring out a bit. She rarely got to see my daughter (once or twice a year) and now she can see her everyday, and pass on her life lessons. The love in this house is just amazing. The best part is that we live around 100ft from Danica’s (my daughter) school which is also where my wife got a job doing something she really enjoys. The extended family living situation really needs to come back. It can make life a lot easier by working together. If you hate your mother-in-law though, this probably isn’t the solution for you. We could go get our own place, but why? We have privacy. We also have comfort in each other. We have more reasons to go do things together, more adventures to experience.

So here I am.

So what exactly do I do now? I do photography of course! And designing! I help run as well as consult for BJJ brands. I will also be a US distributor for a UK based Gi brand very soon. I also take care of our little one during the day. Working from home and being self-employed is the greatest thing ever. I also work odd jobs if they come up just because I can. I love trying new things and meeting new people, so why limit myself to some conformist 9-5 job that sucks the soul out of me? I’ve been in Wisconsin for just over a month now and have already shot two major events. A charity event for the March of Dimes called Volley Brawl For Babies (the highest grossing charity in Wisconsin for the March of Dimes) and the US BJJ Grappling Tournament in Milwaukee (some of the photos from these events are in my Photography portfolio). I’ve met a ton of great people and am always networking. Not with the intention of networking, but it’s something that just happens. I’m quite the chatty fellow.

It would have been the most hypocritical thing I could have done in my life by continuing to go through life doing what I hated. What kind of lesson does that teach my daughter?

I’m going to leave you with some Alan Watts goodness. May it change your life.

If you say that money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time: You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is, in order to go on doing things you don’t like doing — which is stupid!


If you love it enough, you’ll likely be good at it, so just do it. Don’t worry about what society thinks you should do or what the norm is. This is your one shot to make yourself happy on this earth, don’t waste it.

Another awesome comic:



Pictures are Cool

Posted: June 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

I really love photography. I love taking pictures of people mostly.


Two things I generally avoid when taking pictures:

1. Flash

Call me a purist, hater, loser, etc, etc, so on and so forth, but I don’t like it. You can get some really awesome pictures using flash, but I just really enjoying working manual mode to get the lighting I need. I’d probably like it a lot more if I was doing a photoshoot that was pre-planned and I had an off camera flash, but for now, I like keeping it simple. *flame suit on*

2. Posing

To me, a picture is supposed to capture a real moment in someone’s life. Whether it be mine or the person whose picture I’m taking. There is so much raw emotion in natural settings and expressions. Telling someone to stand a certain way makes pictures look cheesy and lame.

Here’s a few pictures I’ve taken recently, I’m still an amateur, but I could do it for the rest of my life and be happy.

My beautiful wife.


My Dad (left) and Uncle Don (Middle) and Uncle Dan (right). They wanted to get photos together, and despite the posing I think it came out well.


Some Kois in my dads bird bath.


My badass daughter getting a medal for completing Little Gym. She was sooo happy. She loves medals lol


My daughter again, I was going for a vintage look:


Some BJJ photos I took at my gym, Fairfax Jiu Jitsu:

8873945788_d77aced5a0_h 8873442205_96a317a8fa_h 8873444865_5c3e47f0f8_h 8873938204_e90a89f83f_h



Feel free to follow me on my Flickr as well!


BJJ Scout

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

If you haven’t heard of BJJ Scout, you’re missing out on something amazing. BJJ Scout does a breakdown of top competitors games in an extremely scientific manner. Complete with accompanying text and video. It really is the wave of the future in regards to BJJ competition analysis. They have done all of their work so far on Leandro Lo, in particular his guard passing.

If their breakdowns don’t help your game, nothing will.




I volunteered to help clean up BJJ Scouts logo for them, and they liked what I had come up with with their input. 1 part blue, 1 part circle, 1 part ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, plus one part BJJ = BJJ Scout:


First Competition of 2013

Posted: April 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

So yesterday I competed in the Copa Nova Grappling Championship, spring 2013 edition. It was a great day and many revelations came to me.

A little background:

-I am 205lbs right now with an awesome teddy bear stomach. With proper dieting I could easily get into the 175 range for my height and build.

-I have a very relaxed, “possum” like game. I enjoy letting my opponents wear themselves down dealing with my defense and then waiting for an opening and reversing the roles. I never try and brute force or burst out of anything. I’m like the anti-wrestler.

-I was around 243lbs at one point before BJJ, and despite losing a fair bit of weight, I can’t push the pace non-stop like a lot of other guys, my cardio is pitiful, so that’s why I implement my before-mentioned possum game.

-When it comes to competing, I’m very relaxed. I don’t really care if I lose or not. This both helps me if I do lose, but also probably contributes to me losing in the first place.

With that said, none of these things contribute to a successful competitor. I am not Caio Terra and I can’t usurp 230 pound guys who have cut weight to the 220 pound bracket I competed in at 205.

I could diet for sure, but BJJ is a part of my life, not my whole life, and I love going out and eating delicious meals with my family and friends. Like this:

photo (9) koreanbbq photo (8)

I’m a glutton, I know this.

Ok Dan, so you’re fat and have shit cardio, then why did you compete?

Why I Competed (and why you should too)

The first reason, was because my instructors said they wanted as many people to come out there to compete as possible, regardless if it’s your first day training, or if you’re a seasoned vet. When they talk, I listen.

Secondly, it’s a very important step in BJJ to compete mentally  There’s not a single person who leaves those mats without a million thoughts running through their head. Those thoughts are pieces to a valuable lesson. It’s simply important to know how to interpret those thoughts. Competing more often will help you overcome the less valuable thoughts like “I lost because I’m not as good as that guy” and replace them with “I need to figure out a way to stop him from passing my spider guard”, they are both relative to you losing, but one of those thoughts is the beginning of you solving a problem. The greatest BJJ practitioners are the best problem solvers in the game. They confront challenges with a hypothesis and solve the challenge in a scientific manner. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and as someone who helps Kids classes at my gym I can tell you, most kids are excellent at  doing this. They are curious, inquisitive and excellent at figuring out ways to solve a problem. A lot of adults get frustrated and never come around to realizing the way they are handling their losses is what is damning them.

A third reason was that I did want to challenge myself by going against bigger guys and see if I could beat them with my game plan. A game plan is a necessity in competing and only through competing will you be able find out if yours works and if you can even implement it all. The best BJJ practitioners in the world force you to play their game. The more you compete, the more comfortable you will be. You’ll have less anxiety and will be able to implement your game much better.

A fourth reason was that I wanted to support my team. Just going and cheering on the sidelines is great stuff, but by competing you increase your academies chances of placing in the Team category. It’s great to show everyone that your team brings it when we go to tournaments. (We bring it btw).

A final fifth reason (less of a “why I competed” and more of a “glad I did”) was something I didn’t think of until I was actually there at the tournament and had already lost in my NOGI division. A lot of the kids from our academy were there and a lot of them dominated, but a couple were just short of getting a medal. At a young age it can be difficult to take a loss, and I remember when I was younger always being inspired by role models. I got to talk to a few of the younger competitors and tell them how awesome they did anyway and say “Hey bud, I didn’t win my matches, but I tried just like you, and you did way better against your opponent than I did mine, you’re still a beast”. It’s small but I think it helps them seeing the big ole’ adults that they look up to being calm and it helps them learn to take a lose a little easier. When adults throw tantrums after losing their matches it sets a poor example for the people below them. The laid back attitude I have towards competing helps me not get emotional about losses, despite it also making me more inclined to lose. A catch 22 if there ever was one.

How the Tournament itself was run:

A brief background: The Copa Nova Grappling Championships is the biggest grappling tournament numbers wise in the immediate DC area (it usually takes place at Briarwood Highschool in Ashford), Virginia. It doesn’t have a strong brown or black belt showing, likely because they don’t have them compete first before they get all stressed out from coaching, but in regards to kids, teens, white and blue belts they usually have a fair showing. I compared my bracket last year to the Tampa IBJJF International Open and the white belt and blue belt brackets were similarly sized. A lot of lower level local competitors who don’t travel for tournaments compete here and here alone.

The tournament was actually pretty timely since the last time I competed at the same organization  in late 2012. Although I did work a scoring table then and it probably contributed to me feeling as if the event was in slight disarray, I still think there’s some truth to it. Last time I was there individual weight classes were still going on when they called for the Absolute competitors to start and it was pretty hectic.

I was running all over the place to film and take pictures for my academy but still was able to notice that people weren’t running around like crazy and that time wise everything seemed to go smoothly. So good on them for seemingly getting it together and improving so much. Some of the referring was inconsistent; some people were allowed to wear rashguards under the gi, while others weren’t, some were allowed to wear spats while others weren’t. Despite not being allowed to wear my Scramble spats, I saw other people wearing them and one guy was even allowed to wear Gi pants. I was witness to some bad points calls as well, but it all happens every where of course. There was some, what seemed to be, 12 year olds running some of the scoring tables, which seemed a bit odd to me. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised with how this tournament has improved in its organization.

They open up a snack stand where they sell drinks and Dominos Pizza that they order in (unfortunately no gluten free options for myself  *shakes fist*).

How my Matches went:

I weighed in at 205lbs at home and weighed in with all my cloths, hoody and gear bag full of camera equipment, food, gis and change of cloths at 214lbs at the tournament lol I knew I had some room to spare so wasn’t worried about making weight obviously.

Nogi 195-220lb Intermediate:

Match 1: I went in for a seemingly nice double leg but lost my focus and wasn’t able keep my head up. The gentleman sprawled and I went into half guard. From there I worked a couple different sweeps and eventually came out to full guard. I almost got him with the scissor/simple sweep but he was able to get back up and put me back into half-guard, so I only scored an advantage. From here he tried to Kimura me where he received an advantage. I never felt threatened by the Kimura, but it did take some time working my way out of it. I tried getting to deep half, but he had good heavy hips and wasn’t able to get anything going. He won 2 advantages to 1 and I’m not sure when he got the other advantage. Result: Loss

Gi 195-220lb Blue Belt:

I got a bye my first round which allowed me to make it to the Semi-Finals. My coach David “Rock” Jacobs told me before my Gi matches he wanted to see me just keep pushing and not give up.

Match 1: I faced a guy I dubbed “blue belt Buchecha” while I was there because he was huge and explosive heh. I was able to watch his prior matches so I decided that I would go for the takedown again. For the life of me I could not break his grip on my collar, he seemed pretty content with just pulling me around the mat so I eventually pulled closed guard. He popped out of my guard like it was butter and went right into my half guard where we stayed for a 90% of the match. I tried listening to my coach Sam Kim and was able to almost pull off the basic half guard sweep where you grab the far knee and drive, but got flattened back out. He was much better than the first guy I faced in NOGI and definitely had better pressure. Most of the match was me looking to make space. He pulled out of halfguard directly to mount and earned mount points. He tried to put me in a sloppy armbar that I easily escaped from and managed to get back to full guard (I was actually hoping he would try a submission sooner as I like waiting for the openings people make with them to escape). He kept his head very close to my chest and his hands low on my waist and despite trying a loop choke from guard (not sure if I got advantage points for it) I wasn’t able to get my hands in the proper spot to secure it. I was able to push straight back out of his control and had an opportunity to sweep but wasn’t able to get it off in the finals seconds. I think the score was 7-0 by the time it was over. Not sure on advantages.  Sometime during the middle of the match my nose and lip got busted open and I was bleeding pretty bad out my nose. Sam kept shouting “You gotta move Dan! You gotta move!” I tried but I was to tired and too pinned down to create space. I felt like I put up a decent effort though considering. Result: Loss

Match 2: The guy was about the same size as my other opponents, he was taller, but looked older and not as gladiator like as the first two gents. He looked just as tired as me and had just as much blood on him as me. This opponent also received a bye and only had one match prior. When we first locked up I could feel that he was very tired so was going to stick with my takedown gameplan after breaking a grip first. Fortunately, he pulled guard on me and I didn’t have to waste energy standing up. The second he pulled guard on me the first thought that ran through my mind was “I have a chance, I can do this”. I really love guard passing and I was able to pass his guard no problem using a basic x pass. I’m a huge fan of leg drags but the x offered itself to me and I took it. I was able to secure north south and despite feeling like I was being an asshole put my belly on his face to help wear him out. Rock was on the sideline helping me out. I have no idea what he was saying most of the match, but just listening for his voice helped slow me down and it also reminded me that I didn’t want to lose the match, at the beginning of the match I felt like I had zero strength or energy left, but near the end felt like I was able to power through. I went for a bread cutter choke (it’s one of my favorites) but I couldn’t get his chin angled the other way. Interestingly, my opponent tried doing an americana on me while I was in top side control which I’ve never had someone do to me.  It left him wide open for me to take mount so I did. From there I tried stabilizing and making sure I got my points. In the past I’ve been to anxious and forget about doing that. I have no idea what I ended up trying on him but somehow I ended up in closed guard. I think I may have looked to take the back from mount at one point and that’s how I slid off to closed guard. Regardless, I swept him from here and got back into side control. He tried the americana again from bottom side control and I went to take mount but got caught in his half guard, although just my foot was stuck. I broke out of the half guard and back into mount and the match ended with me in mount. I think I won 14-4 points, no clue on advantages. No clue on what his points were from or if I missed something I did either. It felt amaze-a-balls not letting my coach down. Result: Win

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Take aways:

I mentioned earlier that I felt like I put up a decent effort in one of my matches all things being considered. Realistically though I did not put up a good effort prior to coming to the tournament and that’s where 95% of the competition is won at. I definitely get to the mat as often as I can for being a guy with a full time job, second job, wife and child (not in order of importance). I refuse to sacrifice more time with my family than I already do for BJJ. It’s a huge part of my life no doubt, but my wife and kids come first. With that being said, I could easily have dieted. No one puts a fork in my mouth but me. I’ve been lean before and know how to diet and exercise. I train 3-4 days a week consistently. I wanted to compete nonchalantly and I did, the above matches were my result. I definitely need to work on forcing the match into where I want it to be, I was never able to get where I wanted to be when I was in guard.

Do I think my BJJ was worse than my opponents? I honestly don’t. The problem was that size DOES matter. Size and skill can make up for each other, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel like I was going up against some Spartans. That is why it’s completely unrealistic to think  you will do good in a competition if you are a chubby slob like me. If you don’t work hard, you will never achieve anything regardless of how talented you may or not be. That’s why I didn’t deserve to win and didn’t win. If you want to be successful at competing, you have to train to compete, at the gym and at the dinner table. I see more of these in my future:

I don’t plan on competing until I can get to a leaner weight where I can truly feel it’s a skill vs skill matchup. I went there to discover some holes, and the biggest gaping hole of them all is my unhealthy size. I’m not the biggest whale out there at 205lbs, but I could definitely get under 185lbs maybe even 175lbs. That extra fat really doesn’t help.

I had an absolute BLAST running around filming and taking pictures of everyone as well as hanging out with my friends from the academy. The next local tournament I plan on just filming and taking pictures so I miss less people.

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I Fucking Love Science

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

I really really do.

I highly recommend checking out their facebook page for constant enlightenment. Today they posted this link which allows you to scroll in and out of the universe just to see how tiny we truly are. It’s amazing.