Tag Archives: jiu jitsu

Rivalry Report: Keenan Cornelius vs. Jackson Souza

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“Do you stay with the same strategy or do you change your approach?”

It is a common enough question in sports that it has become a tired cliché every time it’s uttered by yet another hapless announcer. But the above question is something that many athletes and coaches find themselves asking this question within a game or match, or as the season progresses and results aren’t up to expectations.

One of the most exciting rivalry currently playing out in Jiu Jitsu is between rookie black belts Keenan Cornelius of Atos and Jackson Souza from team Checkmat. On the surface this rivalry sees the clash of two opposing strategies with which one can play Jiu Jitsu. Keenan is famous for his flexible and virtually-impassable guard, while Souza is feared for his Judo and crushing top game. These archetypes are not uncommon in the sport, where athletes known primarily as highly-technical guard players such as Romulo Barral, Rafael Lovato Jr. and Braulio Estima are often paired against those with reputations as monster passers such as André Galvao, Rodolfo Vieira and Xande Ribeiro. Yet each of these athletes would not be at the highest attainable levels of Jiu Jitsu if their games were not incredibly well-rounded. But do the new generation of black belts also have the ability to play anywhere with expertise, or is the current trend of highly-specialized competition strategies diminishing the versatility of modern Jiu Jitsu athletes?

In early 2014, Tennis’s world number 2-ranked Novak Djokovic had a highly-publicized change of strategy when he brought aboard a new coach to adapt his style of play to the evolving game. While early results were shaky Djokovic was able to beat rivals Roger Federer and world number 1-ranked Rafael Nadal within weeks of each other. What allowed Djokovic to come off the baseline and play a more full-court strategy was his dedication to being among the most versatile players in the game.

Likewise, a change of strategy can pay dividends in Jiu Jitsu. One of the all-time great guard players, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles finally beat rival Rafael Mendes by utilizing his wrestling in the finals of the 2013 ADCC in Beijing, China, and featherweight top-player Augusto “Tanqinho” Mendes was able to beat both Cobrinha and Rafael Mendes in the same day by strategically using the 50/50 guard and superior wrestling, respectively. Finding ways to maximize your scoring opportunities while avoiding your opponent’s strengths requires an athlete to be adept at all aspects of Jiu Jitsu.

The first meeting between Keenan and Souza at the 2013 IBJJF world championships was one of the most highly-anticipated matches of the tournament. Keenan’s former team had been trying to arrange a match between the two, who were seen as the two best brown belts in the world (Paulo Miyao had something to say about that, though). The pair finally met in the semi-finals of the brown belt absolute division, and the match ended up being fairly uneventful, but showed the strategic grooves the two would settle into over the course of their rivalry.

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Keenan Cornelius vs. Jackson Souza – IBJJF World Jiu Jitsu Championships 2013

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Clark Gracie: The Omoplata Game

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In the days after the 2013 Pan Jiu Jitsu Championships, pictures of the winner of the middle-weight division were all over some of the biggest websites and news programs in the United States. Appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Inside Edition soon followed. Rumours of a L’Oreal hair-care sponsorship were bandied about. Okay, that last one isn’t technically true, but it was a bizarre state of affairs that a Jiu Jitsu athlete would reap so much attention.  Was the sport finally breaking through to the mainstream?

It would be nice if this was a result of recognition for his win at the Pans. But Clark Gracie’s flirtation with popular recognition stemmed from an unrelated photograph of Gracie applying an omoplata to Ken Primola during the 2012 New York Open that made the rounds on Reddit and Facebook. The Jiu Jitsu Lab got in contact of Clark to ask him about his new-found fame, the pressure of his family name and his signature omoplata game.

“I first saw it the day after I won Pan Tournament when one of my students showed it to me on Reddit.”  Clark admitted when asked about how he became aware of the photograph that launched hundreds of image macros across the web. “I thought some of the memes were funny. I believe people, especially non-Jiu Jitsu practitioners, think that it is a very interesting position and for me to be looking so calm is unusual, but actually it is one of the positions that I feel the most comfortable and confident in.”

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The Omoplata Game feat. Clark Gracie – Highlight Video

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Drill to Win: the quickest path to success and a new T-shirt

A Jiu Jitsu Lab / DSTYR:SG Joint

A Jiu Jitsu Lab / DSTYR:SG Joint

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Walk into a typical Jiu Jitsu class and tell me what you see. Students warming up with exercises that may or may not be related to the techniques that day, practicing some techniques that may or may not be related to each other. Finally, everyone’s favorite part of class – live sparring or rolling. Often, the higher the belt rank, the more of a class a practitioner feels he or she can skip. The cliché is the purple belts that skip warm-ups. And by the time some students reach brown belt, they’re skipping techniques all together.

Unless an academy has a glut of upper-belts, it’s difficult to reach the threshold where having an advanced class can be sustained, forcing experienced practitioners to get their technical repetitions through sparring alone. If this sounds familiar to you, you probably need to incorporating more drilling in your training. Many schools are moving away from the “move of the day” model described above, and have a more structured curriculum with defined  bench marks to gauge student progress. Additionally, a renewed emphasis on drilling has reached the mainstream of Jiu Jitsu practice.

Drilling is vital for the development of a Jiu Jitsu athlete. Particularly for the advanced belts, where the difference in the success or failure of a technique is often a minute detail or a fraction of a second in timing. Of course, sparring, technical development, strength training and conditioning all play major roles in an athlete’s success, but drilling is one of the often-overlooked elements of training that anyone can do more of to improve.

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Andre Galvao on the importance of drilling

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Metamoris Pro – Review and Recap

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Metamoris is a silly name for a Jiu Jitsu event, but “Gracies in Action” was already taken.

Forget the name, though. Let’s focus on the fact that a fantasy for every Jiu Jitsu fan just took place – 20 minute submission-only superfights between some of the best competitors in the world. For an event where only half of the matches had a deciding result, it was nonstop excitement and still felt very satisfying. I was thoroughly impressed with the performances of all of the athletes involved. And, although some technical issues were apparent in the live-stream, I was equally impressed by the first time promotion. Well worth the $20 for the stream since each fight brought a unique experience and excitement.

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Metamoris Pro trailer

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Caio Terra vs. Jeff Glover

Glover taps. Budovideos photo. 

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The first Jiu Jitsu match of the evening gives us a rematch between two elite grapplers with unfinished business. Their last encounter at the World Jiu Jitsu Expo ended with Glover scoring a win on points in a close match. After the match fans argued that the match would have been decided in a longer, submission-only fight. It was a fantasy at the time, which is the key to the appeal of the Metamoris Pro. It’s essentially a collection of all of the potential matches that are bandied about on the internet message boards by Jiu Jitsu fans.

The match started with Terra sitting to the slowest guard pull ever, before launching into a berimbolo sweep.  Terra tried a few berimbolos in this match, and I love the way he brought his knee in before crossing his ankles in order to sweep to the leg drag while preventing the footlock. At least that was the plan, but Glover kept snagging tight toe-holds that only failed due to Terra’s inhumanly flexible ankles.

The first exchange ended with both men on their feet, after which Glover performed his now-signature move of giving his back. Unlike their last encounter, Caio doesn’t attack but playfully spanks Glover showing that any hard feelings from their last match are no more.

Once on top, Terra’s gameplan was to work the armlock, which he did with determination as Glover defended for several minutes before giving up the tap as Terra used a beautiful grip break and an unorthodox foot position on Glover’s neck to secure the submission.

Both athletes were the models of sportsmanship after the match, which is unusual after a match between these particular athletes. Glover, whose showboating has drawn scorn, hoisted Terra in the air after the match. While Caio Terra is often criticized for his post-fight interviews, he was nothing but class as Rener Gracie stuck the microphone in his face.

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Jeff Glover vs. Caio Terra – Metamoris Pro

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18 Awesome Jiu Jitsu Logos

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Logos in Jiu Jitsu don’t differ that much. An animal in a gi or a variation on a triangle seem to be the most common. Other geometric shapes can also be seen academy logos, particularly if they evoke Japanese mon. For gi companies there’s always the series of Brazilian, U.S., and Japanese flags to fall back on. Another common logo design in Jiu Jitsu is the two poorly drawn men grappling, which inevitably appears to the general public to advertise a club for aficionados of unfortunate subtext. I think my personal favourite bad logos include those that incorporate the head instructor’s tattoos, and anything with a dog in it (I have a soft spot for the original Carlson Gracie bulldogs, though).

This article is not about bad designs in Jiu Jitsu, however; that would be too easy. Our objective is to celebrate good design. A good logo should be simple, distinctive and instantly communicate what your brand is about. The need for simplicity comes from the requirement to be printed or sewn onto a variety of materials at a variety of sizes. Your team crest (incorporating Japanese kanji, the Brazilian flag, a bird in a gi grappling a snake also in a gi, and some random tribal barbed-wire) might look spectacular painted on the academy wall, but when your logo is embroidered onto a 4” patch it may lose some of the splendour.

Thankfully we have several examples of excellent logo design that are cutting through the clutter to remind us that design in combat sports can still be clean and intelligent. A word of warning – I’m not a designer by any stretch of the imagination so my rationale behind most of these choices is nothing more than, “Hey, that looks dope as hell.” But you will see a few themes emerge. One is simplicity; many of the logos below are black and white. Others incorporate a limited and distinct palette to the same effect. Another theme is communication. Many of these designs will give you a very clear understanding of what the team or company they represent is all about. Hopefully this list makes people think about how they portray their team and their sport/martial art of Jiu Jitsu to the public. If there are any excellent designs that I missed please post them in the comments.

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The Pareto principle and progress: playing the percentages in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto identified that 80% of all of the land in Italy was owned by a mere 20% of the people. Pareto’s work may have had little impact outside of the field of economics had it not been for Joseph M. Juran, a prolific management theorist who rediscovered Pareto’s ideas in the 1930’s and applied them to quality management under the memorable phrase, “the vital few and the trivial many.”

Juran’s work, in turn, has been appropriated by a host of self-help gurus seeking to help people better deal with time management in an increasingly complex world. A notable interpretation of Juran’s ideas can be seen in the New York Times best-seller The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (as an aside, here’s Ferriss being thrown on his head by everyone’s favourite Jiu Jitsu and MMA trainer Dave Camirillo).

As a skeptical person, I find myself often chafing against anything marketed as a “principle” or a “rule” that will make our lives easier and better. And this idea seems too simple and intuitive at first glance to warrant deep investigation. But despite its popularity with self-help readers and Oprah viewers (not too much separation on the Venn diagram there), is “the 80/20 rule,” also known as the Pareto principle, something that can help us with our everyday life? More importantly, is it something that can help us get better at Jiu Jitsu faster?

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If Marcelo Garcia does it, it’s high-percentage.

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