Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Updates are coming very soon...

Well, there is a ton going on again and I still haven't forgotten about how much I enjoyed making this blog. I am still in love with jiu-jitsu and this blog is a part of that, so I have to get on the horse once again and share some jiu-jitsu experiences with the best community in martial arts.

In the Blast from the Past section, I'm going to update a couple of old blog posts - one is me training with Johnny Ramirez at New Breed Jiu-Jitsu a few years ago and the other is of some training sessions I had with Rigan Machado while he was still training at the old location off of Artesia in LA. Those are special to me because Johnny is such a selfless instructor and Rigan is no longer in that area.

Other than that, the posts will focus on a couple of things. First, I will be discussing the training sessions I have been having with great black belts at my gym - The Jiu-Jitsu League. In just a couple of months on my own as a BJJ teacher, we have had Andre Galvao, Rodrigo Caporal, Gustavo Campos, Gilbert Burns, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Bruno Frazatto, the Mendes Brothers, Ed Ramos and more training with us. I have learned a lot about training through my sessions with them and I am so grateful that they have come by my academy to share jiu-jitsu with my students. These posts are awesome. If you want to find out more about our daily happenings at J2L (the 2 is a reference to the 2 Ls in The Jiu-Jitsu League) - check out (and like) our facebook.

Secondly, I will be discussing my upcoming books. I am adding the finishing touches to Dave Camarillo's book and it is an incredible look at becoming a submission fighter (instead of points specific). I think people will like our take on it. Also, I am concurrently working on Leo Vieira's book and planning my trips to England to work with Braulio Estima and Brazil to finish Terere's book.

So, if any of you are still looking at this site, keep checking it, because there is a ton of new stuff around the corner.

Happy Training!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Galvao Book is HERE!!!

I am so excited... I just got about 24 books in the mail. Of which, I'll probably sell at least 10-15 of them at Fight Zone USA.

For those that have pre-ordered, you are more than welcome to swing by and check it out. It should be shipping pretty soon (my books came from the distributor, so I'd imagine Amazon and co. should be getting theirs as well).

Happy Training!!!!


Monday, June 7, 2010

Galvao Preview

Andre Galvao's Drill to Win - 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is off to print and this is the final cover.

So, as I wait patiently for the Galvao book to arrive on a slow boat from China (literally), I thought I would provide a couple of sample shots from the book. As I said earlier, the book has been proofed, approved, and sent off to print. That means, the final step is basically printing and shipping. I am euphoric, but I keep myself grounded by working day and night on Leo Vieira's book. No rest for the weary...

On to the book itself. Drill to Win is dedicated toward monumentally improving one's BJJ. Andre shot what felt like 300 techniques and we included every single thing. The book includes diet, strength and balance conditioning, stretching, the basic movements, takedowns, passing, guard attacks and retention, escapes and defense, transitions, and sooooo much more. To efficiently show so much movement, we layered the photos to mimic action, and so far, our peer reviewers have indicated that it works well. We're really happy to do something different with the media (books) and you guys will be twice as shocked when you see Leo's. Anyway, here's a sample of things to come!

A sample of the book's content. Basically, the book follows a one year gameplan to improve your jiu-jitsu using drills. All rep ranges are at a minimum. The more you drill - the better!

Attack from escape!

The previous two page spread is dedicated to removing the hooks to set up your dominant top game transitions.

While this spread focuses on passing off of a realistic passing defense. The drills have to reflect reality! (the two shadowed pics are a problem with how the blog uploaded the pic - the pics are not like that in the book)

Well, I honestly hope that everybody loves the book and that you get a great insight into not only how Andre got so good, but how to hit your own grappling goals as well.

Happy Training,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Andre Galvao's Book is Finished...

I'll be posting plenty of pictures on here over the following few weeks, but for all intents and purposes, the Galvao book is complete. The book has entered the editing phase and so far it is getting really great remarks from early previewers and our publisher told us that this is the best looking book Victory Belt has made as of yet (I can say this without ego because my wife is responsible for design not me!). With that said, I might as well gush about my experiences until now.

I first met Andre quite a few years ago when he was training at Ouano's school in the LA area. I had already been signed to Victory Belt books and I thought that Andre would make a great subject for a BJJ book (luckily enough Ouano proved to be pivotal in bringing us together). Andre was at the top of his game and his star was very much on the rise. Anyways, when I met with him and asked if was interested in a book, he eagerly agreed. That night, he came back with me to Huntington for the first of many impromptu training sessions so that we could feel out an approach to this project.

We trained for about 3 hours that night and Haley taped every second of it (later I collected many more hours of training and private lessons on mini DV footage). What I immediately liked about Andre was his willingness to show every part of his BJJ and he really left no stone unturned. In that first day of training/planning, I saw a totally different side of BJJ and I was interested in seeing how I could help Andre bring that to a book.

What followed was many other trips with Andre sleeping on our couch, eating all of our food, rolling on my 10x10 mats, and challenging my fighting game supremacy. I got to know everything about Andre and it was crazy to see someone moving from being a BJJ hero of mine to an actual friend. I felt honored. He was still someone I looked up to in the sport, but he was also someone who ate all my wheat bread and downed olive oil by the field. By the end of the project, I felt that this experience gave me the insight I needed to tell Andre's BJJ story through instruction.

So, when the time came for us to take the photos, how did it go and what would we shoot? The answer comes from another story... When we started working on the book, my first thought was to make a butterfly guard book, because I had seen him use with such calm and efficiency earlier in 2004 and it only matured to greater levels by the time we were ready to get the photos. I thought that his butterfly game was a mirror of Terere's and I felt that it would tell a great story of his mastery of the art. However, something happened one day when we were training with each other for the 2008 Pans. I asked him to show me exactly what it was that made him great at BJJ and I realized that it was a ton of hard work and even more repetition. At this point, it dawned on both of us that the butterfly guard wasn't nearly as important as his ability to transition into and out of different positions. He saw jiu-jitsu as more free flowing and not so determined. For me this was a revelation. When I watched Andre train, trained with him, and saw how he treated his down time, I knew - Andre was a product of a successful training regimen and it would be this that I would have to provide for his readers.

When we shot the book, Andre once again came through with a champion's work ethic. He shot over 350 techniques in just two extremely long and sleepless days. He never once complained, got moody, or slowed. His partner, Marcel Louzado, was funny and in perfect rhythm with him. When Brian was finished with his last photo, we knew that we were sitting on a gold mine of info and that we would have our work cut out for us in figuring out how to tell this story.

This is how we ended up with Andre Galvao's 12 month plan. It is a book that integrates drilling, diet, and exercise into radically changing your ability to move from position to position without dreading that next movement phase. Basically, it is a roadmap to making your jiu-jitsu look more like Andre Galvao's. It is made up mostly of what Andre uses the most - two person drills and training scenarios. On a visual level, it does something different and it is a departure from other Victory Belt books (which I am a fan of). I feel that my designer (and beautiful wife) did an incredible job of conveying movement and I hope it shows people what they need to loosen up and move! I feel that it is unique and I hope that it does Andre justice. He deserves it.

To finish my gushing, I also need to thank Andre. Without his guidance and help as both a friend and BJJ mentor, I never would have met my instructor, Leo Vieira, or had the opportunity to work on his book as well. I never would have met Leo's talented and kind brother, Leandro, and I would have missed the chance to open our dream academy with him, Fight Zone USA. Thanks Andre! You've made a great splash in my life and I hope the book does the same for yours.

In the coming days I will be posting some picture samples to this site and to my facebook page as well. If you are interested in checking it out in person, you can either come by Fight Zone USA and watch us toil away with some last minute edits or wait and come by for the book release party. Hope to see you all there and I look forward to your feedback.

Happy Training,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just got my Saulo book in the mail...

It exists! The Saulo book finally exists! This is my first jiu-jitsu book and I so happy to finally see it in my hands! Before this, I had only written magazine articles, blog posts, and academic material, and this by far was my most ambitious undertaking in writing.

First of all, let me provide some insight into the creation of this book. I owe a lot to this blog. It has served as a pretty unlikely resume and has given me introduction to a key player (and great friend) in the creation of this book, Eric Goo. After I met Eric Goo through this blog, we became very good friends and training partners (along with everyone at NTT). When I told him that I had talked with Saulo about creating this book with Victory Belt, Eric was the one who drove down to San Diego with me (because he has been friends with the Ribeiro brothers for a very long time), introduced me to Saulo, and pretty much vouched for me as a writer. I really think first impressions are everything, and Eric really helped in the formative part of my relationship with Saulo (which is of incredible importance for a relationship between writers). I am very thankful for this.

Another important player has been John Danaher. When I asked John if he would serve as my editor/technical advisor, he jumped whole-heartedly into the project and proceeded to blow my mind away. Not only did John work on the technical side of the book with me, but he really helped mentor me in my first book. Needless to say, John gave me a lot of confidence when he gave me his final approval. He is a great mind, inside and outside of jiu-jitsu. Again, I am very grateful for this.

Of course so many more that I need to thank and that will come soon.

Enough of my rant, on to the book...

For the past couple/few months I have been staring at and making changes to the monster that is my Saulo Proofs. These are single sided, photo paper quality prints of each page of the book. Along with the publisher and Saulo, we have been checking, checking, and checking that this book is the one that we wanted to send to print. One thing about these prints, this is a very big book, and because these prints are one sided, this pile is HUGE!!! I only hoped that the book would be far less than half in size (I want book stores to carry it after all!). Finally, after many weeks, we came up with our final edition, reviewed it with Saulo one last time, and sent it to the printer. Then, the waiting game.

After a couple of shipping delays, 5 books were sent to Victory Belt offices midway through this week. Some may wonder, why 5? Actually these 5 are airmailed from the printer (in China) as a benefit to the authors, while the other thousands sit in a boat that trudges across the Pacific. All I have to say is that I hope that boat is fast, because people get grumpy just as fast when deadlines are missed. This I can understand, I would get pissed too if I pre-ordered something and the advertised date changed. All that I can say is that I am very thankful for all of the pre-orders (as is Saulo), it makes it a lot easier for us to gauge its possible popularity and negotiate future books. I greatly appreciate it guys!

Regarding the shipping time, here is how the publishing process has worked for me. After submitting the final manuscript (needed approval by Saulo, me, and the publisher), the book was touched up by Haley and VB (photos lightened, etc). Then the book was sent to China for printing. After a few weeks, the printer sent us the above proof and we made our last minute changes and troubleshooting. Then we gave our final final approval. Weeks and weeks later, the finished book shows up on my doorstep. For everyone else, the book still takes this path. It moves from the printer, to customs, to a freight container and ship, takes a massive trans-Pac journey, back through customs, voyages cross country to the distributor, gets sent to the retailer, and then to you. I never knew until now how long this would take. It's crazy.

I received my book this afternoon and I am elated. As I said earlier, this is my first book and it feels very good to see so much time manifested in such a nice product. Saulo really went the extra mile here and I think it shows.

This book break down the belt system by theme. Saulo includes the necessary theme that you must accomplish before moving on to the next belt.

Here are some pics from the book opening ceremony on my shabby apartment carpets!

This book is Victory Belt's biggest book to date, and likely ever (obviously a larger/heavier book is much more expensive to produce and ship). It feels like a brick. However, if this book does well, I can continue making big ones for my next three projects (Leo Vieira, Galvao, and Dave Camarillo).

Brabo time!

At first I thought Saulo was so unorthodox in this technique until he showed me how many applications it has throughout his entire system. The leg lasso pass.


Now that Saulo is finally finished, I can dive headfirst into my other projects. I am finishing three seminar DVDs (Ricardo Vieira, Leo Vieira, and Andre Galvao), while working on my new books and keeping up my teaching and training load. For the books, I am currently writing Galvao's next one. Having trained with him for quite some time now, I really believe that this book will provide the insight into why he is so incredible in competition. Afterwards, I will finish Leo's book and then Dave's. All three are photographed, transcribed, and sitting on my externals.

If any readers have any questions, suggestions, or insights into any of my books or projects - feel free to ask!!!! I will try to respond to everything here.

Happy Training!

Friday, December 7, 2007

TUF training with Andy Wang and Mac Danzig...

A few months back, my good friend and training partner Mike L called and told me that he'd been frequenting some underground training sessions in Santa Monica and that I should go. Well, my first question was how underground and the second question was who were we going to be training with. Both answers would leave me pleasantly surprised. First to the nature of the "underground session": It was only underground because none of us were supposed to be there and it was one of those, "hey my friend opened up the gym to us after hours" kinda things. Training would be Andy Wang who had at this point recently finished his season of The Ultimate Fighter and Mac Danzig who was soon to be blown up by the very same show. With that established, I immediately agreed and before you knew it, Mike and I were off to Santa Monica.

Prior to meeting Andy, I had only known of him through grappling tournaments and videos. I did not really know what to think of him and Im glad I got to know him a little bit before watching the show or his subsequent fights. What I did know was that he was a black belt under the Inoue brothers at Grappling Unlimited, was like myself a former University of Hawai'i student, and that he had a very open training philosophy. Upon arrival to his LA house (to pick him up for the carpool to Santa Monica), I learned that he was a very humble and likable guy as well. Andy talked a lot about winning and losing, establishing a mindset to succeed, and the very real topic of ring jitters and fear. Andy spoke honestly about everything and needless to say he left a very good impression. In addition, he was a UH fan, so he couldn't be all that bad.

When we arrived in Santa Monica, our destination was a very posh gym and we all were ushered quietly in through the backdoor. There was a thai boxing class that was just ending and Andy was going to take over for some of the students that stayed and others that also knew of the training. Before you knew it, Mac Danzig had arrived as well as some other North American and Japanese MMA fighters. I even met a really good wrestler whom I would later find out was Harrison Ford's son, Willard. This training was going to be good.

Now, being a strictly gi guy (I more or less just started gi less training when I started the blog), I was a little intimidated at first. There were a lot of yoked guys walking around lacing up their MMA gloves and shinpads and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. However, once the class was under way I realized how fun the training was going to be and I immediately relaxed.

After self stretching and some very good pummeling/wrestling drills, we got into the technical portion of the class. As an instructor, Andy showed a complete lack of ego and he was always asking students to come up to the front and teach a class a move. He would then sit there and try to perfect the move the way the student had taught it and he was very sincere in this. Our first sets of moves were wrestling takedowns that Andy and Willard taught. I liked both moves, but it was clear to me that the wrestling was going to be very technical and that I would have to work on wrestling comfort. What Indy showed really stuck with me, he did a shuck to leg pick that was so nice. I really appreciate the yin yang of wrestling. Although to some it seems so strength based, but it is really about forced reactions just like jiu-jitsu and judo. It was incredible. Afterwards, some students volunteers taught some brabo chokes and the Rigan Twister (to be seen in my next blog entry with Rigan).

Next up we did some stand up wrestling and I had such a blast with the takedowns. I was paired up with Mike L and he was showing great technique, especially with his use of the wrestler's tie ups. My infant like judo skills did help me acclimate a little bit, but I was glad that Mike was so helpful with my movements. There were some really good wrestlers on the mat and it was just plain fun watching those guys go at each other. Talk about athletes. LESSON LEARNED: Get more comfortable with the wrestling game. Dave Camarillo once told me that to be good at standup with the gi, you have to do judo, not BJJ style judo. Likewise, I feel that to get my no-gi standup to a higher level I should also wrestle to minimize that deficiency. Also, as said earlier, wrestling was just a lot of fun.

Now, I should note that the pacing of the class was pretty high and the workout level was something beyond the average jiu-jitsu class. With that said, no one was getting hurt and everyone was focused without attitude. I did not see anyone talking about who they tapped or didn't, only training. LESSON LEARNED: It isn't the intensity that people should worry about, it is only the atttitude. Personally, I think just as many people get hurt by people with attitude problems at less intense schools than those with good training partners at their more intensive counterparts.

After the stand up training, we immediately went into ground grappling and this was just as fun and intense as every other aspect of the training. First off, I rolled with Mike L. and we both played around without going to nuts. We figured that we've rolled with each other about a million times and there was no point in expending ourselves. My next round was with a really tall former jiu-jitsu guy from Santa Monica that gave me a really hard time. He was tall strong and he gave me all that I could handle with his passing pressure. After our roll, we talked a little bit and shared some feedback with each other that definitely helped me out and hopefully did the same for him.

Mike L. training with Willard Ford

My next match would be with Andy Wang. After our feeling out phase, we dove right into it and it was a great session. Without over discussing the session, I do have to say that Andy Wang is a solid gi-less grappler. We traded a lot of positioning and I got the feeling that Andy actually enjoyed the movement phase of the ground game and he proved to be very good with forward pressure and the scramble as well. In the end, Andy got to either my side control or half guard and locked in a very tight head and arm choke. Afterwards, we got to talking and he told me that his game had been feeling really sloppy and that he liked to wear the gi every now and then to clean things up a little. He could have fooled me, all I felt was forward pressure with good movement. LESSON LEARNED: Andy is not a very big guy and definitely is not the athletic specimen, but when you roll with him you can see that he has the biggest heart in the building. I think these are the guys that have to push the hardest, but also get to go further than most. He has a never quit attitude and I really thought that this was contagious when you are around him. I was impressed.

Andy starting to pressure my 1/2 guard. Note: I am way to flat in this picture, therefore giving Andy even more options with the pass.

Here I am on my side more, but Andy has me over committed and he has good pressure, all he has to do is hop over to the other side to have my back.

Voila! Andy takes my back!

Following my roll with Andy and a second session with Mike L., I had my last match of the night with Mac Danzig. Mac was kind of sitting there after rolling and helping one of his guys, so I rolled the dice and asked if he would be interested in rolling. Mac was more than willing and he put on a very technical display of submission wrestling that is perfect for MMA or Grappler's Quest. While we rolled, Mac had really good attacks and when a position of his was almost passed or it seemed like he may have been in trouble, Mac had the uncanny ability to quickly reverse the situation as well my fortunes. Another great thing with Mac was that he was always willing to share his knowledge. After he caught me with an armbar, he quickly showed me how he likes to avoid it and how he caught me and then we jumped right back into it at full speed (or at least I was and Mac was at 60% speed!). For those that want to know what belt he is, I thought he felt like a black belt. LESSON LEARNED: I think for many jiu-jitsu guys who enter MMA, they should look at guys like Mac and Andy and ask themselves if they think they can win in the scramble. For instance, Mac knows he will and he takes that confidence with him to the ring. In addition to this, he has the technique to submit black belts in BJJ (he already has), so when you add his confidence in transition as well as the scramble, he becomes a real nightmare.

Feeling out Mac's open guard

Mac passing with good technique. Note: I am commiting a huge error here, I am only worrying about Mac's pressure/leg's while Mac is sinking in a great crossface control; I should be blocking the crossface.

Moment of glory, I almost hit one of my favorite sweeps on Mac. Oh yeah, almost isn't good enough, Mac scrambled out and subbed me for the effort!

Mac is just relaxing as I spaz pass. He is waiting for something...

Mac transitions into a beautiful Brabo/D'Arce choke while Andy rolls on in the center of the mat.

My closing thoughts on training with the TUF stars Andy Wang and Mac Danzig is that they were both all class and they put training above all else. These guys live for this stuff and you can see this in how they dedicate all of their time into getting more proficient and technical. Both were great guys and humble to the core. In addition, they are both sponges and that to me is the scary part. These guys are just getting better and better.

Mac teaching me how he defends some of his attacks!

Epilogue- After watching Andy on TUF as well as his other recent match, I am left a little frustrated. First of all, I do not think Andy has yet to live up to his potential and his last fights definitely have not been his best. That being said, I still think that he is all heart and he has the drive and spirit to go much further than he has. It is laughable that some feel they can ridicule a guy like Andy. He is a great guy and a consumate warrior. He'll be back and I think some people will be eating a little crow, perhaps crow burgers.

I'm finally back!!!

Sorry for all of the delays, but I have been up to my neck in busy work. Here's where the delays have been coming from: Been writing the Budo Blog and articles for www.budovideos.com (those guys have been great to me), slowly editing a tournament DVD for OTM (sorry guys - I'm a lagger!), and authoring a few books for Victory Belt Publishing. So far, I've been working on the new Dave Camarillo book and the Saulo Ribeiro book as well. Both books are going to set new standards for BJJ books IMO. So, with that said, I've been traveling and training a lot, but unfortunately I have not been sharing some of these stories. Well, that ends here.

I'm finally back to writing on here too! Once again, sorry to those that have been frustrated by the absence of new material.