Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MRSA Report

MRSA is in the news. What is it? MRSA is a type of infectious skin disease spreading into BJJ, Judo, MMA and grappling schools as well as infiltrating it's way into wrestling programs and other contact sports programs. It is contagious, it is ferocious, and yes, it can kill you if left untreated.

MRSA is an acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is also known as oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ORSA) and multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) (shown above) is a bacterium that is the leading cause of staph infections. The types of infections this bacterium can cause range from pimples, boils and abscesses to more serious and life threatening infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome and septicemia. The S. aureus bacteria can live harmlessly on the human body on the scalp, groin and armpits, and can also colonize in the nostrils, throat, urinary tract and open wounds. Penicillin was originally used to treat S. aureus infections, however, today, approximately 80% of all S. aureus bacterium are penicillin resistant. In 1959, Methicillin was employed as an antibiotic to treat infections caused by penicillin resistant S. aureus. However, in 1961 the first case of Methicillin-resistant S. aureus was reported in a hospital in England. Yet, MRSA was a relatively uncommon finding in hospitals until the 1990's when it exploded in prevalence and is now considered endemic (endemic: meaning that in order for the infection to sustain itself, one infected person must pass the infection on to one other person). MRSA infections were typically confined to hospital settings (HA-MRSA, hospital associated-MRSA), however it has since broken free from the post-surgical wards and become prevalent in the community (CA-MRSA, community associated-MRSA). S. aureus strains that can still be treated with methicillin have since been termed as Methicillin Sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, or MSSA. It is evident, that the over use of antibiotics for less than severe infections has lead to the evolution of resistant strains of bacterium such as MRSA. MRSA (shown in photo below) can cause skin infections as mild as skin boils to as severe as necrotizing faciitis (flesh eating disease). If left untreated, the infections can lead to septicemia, pneumonia, meningitis, endocarditis, and toxic shock syndrome - all of which can be lethal to humans.

Aside from the wrestling and grappling mats, MRSA transmission has been reported to occur in the palors of UNLICENSED tattoo artists (no cases have been reported from reputable parlors and artists) (reference: Centers for Disease Control, MMWR 55: pg. 677-679, June 22, 2006.), as well as through HETEROSEXUAL sexual intercourse (Cook H et al., 2007. Clin Infect Dis 44: pg 410-413.)

Typically, vancomycin and teicoplanin have been the most commonly employed antibiotics used to combat MRSA infections, and are often administered intravenously. However, the S. aureus bacterium are a rapidly evolving microorganism and in 1996 in Japan it was found that some strains of MRSA have developed resistance to these countermeasures as well. These new MRSA strains were called Vancomycin Intermediate-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VISA). By 2002, the strains with with intermediate resistance to vancomycin became more robust and developed into bonafide VRSA strains (Vancomycin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus). As of 2005, 3 cases of VRSA have been reported in the United States.

Preventative Measures: anti-Microbial Agents

The use of anti-microbial agents can be employed as a preventative measure to stave off infection from bacteria and fungi. Their use is wide spread in a variety of household products such as dish soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, disinfectant wipes, skin care products, children's toys, clothes and textiles and plasticware. One of the most common anti-microbial agents (also called biocides) in use is Triclosan (also known as Irgasan).

Why Triclosan? In 1995 there was a MRSA endemic in a neo-natal intensive care unit and the staff at the hospital began washing their hands with soap containing Triclosan. This preventative measure as well as treating the infected infants with anitbiotics stemmed the spread of the infection. Since then Triclosan has been considered the #1 antimicrobial agent to prevent the infection of MRSA. Adult patients with dermal MRSA infections are often given baths containing 2% Triclosan to help kill the bacteria. The Triclosan molecules bind to and inhibit proteins that are critical for fatty acid synthesis within the bacteria cell, and hence are important for not only cellular metabolism, but also the construction and maintenance of the cellular membrane.

Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)-phenol) is a powerful chemical antibaterial and antifungal agent. Triclosan has been used more frequently in recent years for the anti-microbial treatment of fabrics (both natural and synthetic) that make up both everyday clothes as well as sport specific and activity wear. The Ciba Specialty Chemical Corporation sells it's Ciba Tinosan AM 100 (TM), which contains Triclosan, to textile companies for impregnation into fabrics.

Grappling specific products have been made that contain Ciba Tinosan (TM). There are rash guards, grappling shorts and skin care products that are sold by, and Kennedy Industries is a leader in skin and mat care/cleansing regarding antimicrobial agents (primarily "KenShield (TM) Skin Creme"). While these are great preventative measures against acquiring MRSA bacterium and becoming infected, proper personal hygiene following training sessions is always a must. Using an antibacterial soap that contains Triclosan (if a product contains Triclosan it must state so on the label as mandated by the FDA and EPA) is a measure that one can employ. However, in those individuals with healthy immune systems, regular soap or shower gel should suffice. Unfortunately, a popular soap/shower gel touted amongst the wrestling and grappling communities, Defense Soap (TM) has yet to show effectiveness against S. aureus (MSSA) or the more dangerous MRSA upon review of their clinical report.

The Downside to Triclosan?

It is hypothesized, and even highly likely, that both MRSA, MSSA could develop resistance to Triclosan. Reports have shown that strains of E. coli and Salmonella enterica have possibly developed Triclosan resistance, and some other bacterium have a natural resistance to the biocide. Resistance to Triclosan has been developed in the laboratory when MRSA bacterium have been subjected to less than lethal doses of the agent. When used at "full dose", Triclosan (and it's treated products) is lethal to many microorganisms (MRSA, MSSA, certain fungi, etc.). However, at lesser doses it has been shown that MRSA strains can acquire resistance in a laboratory setting. It is therefore possible that Triclosan treated products could lose adequate concentrations of the biocide (from wearing and washing) over time, and contain less than adequate doses of the Triclosan protectant, thereby allowing for an environment where these microorganisms can develop resistance. However, several major scientific studies have shown that MRSA strains in the wild (outside the lab) can not, or have not (yet), developed resistance to Triclosan.

Tree Huggers Don't Like Triclosan

In one scientific report it was suggested that Triclosan can bind to chlorine compounds in tap water to form chloroform, which is classified as a possible carcinogen by the EPA. Upon interaction with chlorine and other compounds in water, Triclosan can produce intermediate compounds that, when exposed to ultra violet radiation (sun light), convert to dioxins that can contaminate the water and soil. It is uncertain at this time how readily Triclosan converts to dioxins in the wild or how dangerous the dioxins might be, but studies are still on-going in this area.

To Wear, or not to Wear?

In my opinion, I would only wear Triclosan (Ciba Tinosan (TM)) clothing and use Triclosan skin products if I were a person with a compromised immune system, in a gym with a high class attendance, in a gym with previous outbreaks of Staph infection, or I regularly attended large scale tournaments. But this is only my personal opinion. I would, regardless of healthiness, take care of every cut, scrape or laceration with antibacterial agents (Neosporin, etc.) and always take my full course of perscribed antibiotics when fighting a serious bacterial infection. All too often we hear or read of otherwise healthy individuals contracting a MRSA infection and winding up in the hospital. It could happen to you. Proper personal hygiene such as showering within an hour of training sessions, using adequately hot water, lathering up and allowing the soap to sit on the skin for 30 seconds or more before rinsing, washing gis and other training apparel after every use (not every other use or longer!) and regularly washing bedding and clothes is critical to preventing infection from MRSA and other microorganisms including ringworm. Also, pay attention to your body and monitor odd looking red spots, pimple like bumps and bumps that look like spider bites on your skin. If the "pimple" begins to develop red streaks or rings emanating from it, you might have a staph infection - go see a doctor.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Michigan Fighter, James Lee, Wins Big at Pride 33

James Lee, founder of the MASH Fight Team in Detroit, and current King of the Cage Light Heavyweight Champion, made his Pride debut Saturday night in Las Vegas with Pride 33. The southpaw Lee (9-3-0) was up against a formidable Travis Wiuff (42-10-0) from Elite Performance on the Pay per view event.

The ever calm and collected Lee came out and caught Wiuff early with a stiff short right that sent Wiuff to the canvas scrambling for a single leg. Lee was unable to keep Wiuff on the canvas and the fighters scrambled to their feet in the corner, where Lee laid a big jumping right knee to Wiuff's head. Wiuff was able to get Lee down on the canvas briefly, but the Detroit native quickly switched to a Kimura on Wiuff's right arm that brought the fighters back up to their feet. Wiuff lazily reached down for a single on Lee and found himself quickly wrapped up in an arm-in guillotine. Lee was able to close up his full guard and apply pressure to the choke in order to force Wiuff to submit at 0:39 in the first round.

Good job, James and congrats to you and all the guys over at MASH. Keep up the good work and representing Michigan in the big shows.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gracie Music Video

This is an old video from Sepultura featuring their song "Attitude" and the Gracie Family back in the day when Royce was making a name for himself in the Octagon. If you watch closely, you'll also see Relson and Royler in the video showing off their skills. I figured I'd post this because not too many people are aware that it even exists. I saw this years ago on a VHS tape that some guy brought in to the gym.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gi Review - Atama Mundial Kimono #5

Atama Mundial Kimono #5, White, Size A3
Retail: $130.00 @ Atama

Bottom line - the Atama Mundial Kimono #5 is phenomenal. Out of the box/bag it is the softest gi you will ever buy. The gi is light and strong and brilliantly white.

The upside:

I sliced open the plastic bag containing the gi with a pocket knife, reached into the bag with my hand to remove the gi, and grabbed of one of the softest gis I've ever laid hands on. My first thought was, "This is awesome." My second thought was, because softness often equates to weakness, is, "This isn't going to last long." But upon closer inspection I could see that the superior Atama construction and material were going to make this gi last a long time. I've owned this gi for about 6 months now, wearing it and washing it 2 - 3 times per week, and it is not showing one sign of wear.

The gi top, from collar to tail is 100% Atama Gold Weave which is this gi's biggest attribute. It makes the gi both light and strong. The normal Atama Gold Weave gi has a skirt to it that is of a thinner material and makes for an unbalanced feel, which this gi does not. This gi is all Gold Weave, and lacks a skirt providing both balance and comfort. This gi also lacks a back seam typical to other Atamas, and is therefore more comfortable when moving off of your back. There is only one seam on the gi top which is in the lower chest area and connects with the sleeve seam under the armpit. The collar is typical of other Atama Gold Weaves - firm but comfortable.

When I open up the gi top and check out what's going on under the hood, I can see armor-like reinforcement material in the key areas. The upper collar area is reinforced in one continuous seam that wraps around the back of the neck and continues on to the other side of the lapel. The armpit crease is reinforced as is the hip-split area at the bottom of the gi top. A lot of time and planning went into making this gi top and it shows. It is soft and light, and is very durable with reinforcements in all the critical areas. Atama has always made high quality gis, but this one is at the top of the list.

The gi top is comfortable fitting and isn't too tight, nor too loose. It fits like a tailored suit. I am 5' 9" and weigh in between 186 and 191. I am big through my chest, shoulders and arms. By ordering the size A3, I am comfortable in this gi no matter what weight I am at - even if I go a little overboard. However, this gi required a minor degree of shrinkage in the wash when I first got it (see wash and care). Still, this is by far the best gi I have ever worn.

The gi pants are identical to the standard pants that Atama makes. They have a strong drawstring with two belt loops in the front and the Atama label on the upper right thigh. They are soft, yet strong and are reinforced from the lower thigh all the way down to the ankle seam. They are very durable and are perhaps the best all around pair of pants out there.

Wash and Care:

Atama always recommends washing their gis in cold and hang drying (click here to read instructions). I, on the other hand needed to wash it in hot water and dry it at a hot temperature in order to tweek the fit and shrink it down just a tad. Out of the package it wasn't far off, but it needed to be done. After I washed it on hot, I put it on (still wet) and checked the fit. This gave me a chance to stretch it if it was too small. It was still a touch loose for my taste so I dried it for 30 minutes on hot and checked again. This still gave me another chance to stretch it out if it was too tight. But, it didn't need to be stretched at either check point and fit perfectly after it was completely dried on hot. Once you wash it in hot and dry it on hot you can either keep following this regimine or revert back to the Atama recommendations. I now wash mine on warm and dry it on warm most of the time. But, even if I hang dry it, it's still soft. If any gi gets too small for you, get it wet and stretch it out. Then, wash it in cold and hang dry it from then on out.

The down side:

The only down side I have to this gi are the patches and the trim - which are mere aesthetics. The gi top has a small band of black trim that reads, "ATAMA" on it all the way around the bottom skirt seam. The gi pants have the same trim that follows the bottom seam of the ankle cuffs. The gi top also has a rectangular Atama patch on the left lapel. Personally I am not fond of the black trim on the gi top and bottoms. Some people I know like it and others are indifferent to it. However, it's too "flashy" for my taste. In my opinion, the gi would be perfect if it didn't have this trim.


Because I care more about construction, feel and performance in my gi tops, and inspite of the flashy accouterments of the black trim and patches, this gi is still my favorite out of all the gis in my training rotation. As Atama sells gi pants separately, I still wear the plain Atama pants when I wear this gi top and forgo the Mundial pants with the black trim - but this is just my preference. Remember, the two pants are identical aside from the trim. This is also my favorite gi for competitions and I highly recommend it to everybody that is looking for a new training and/or competition gi. You will not be disappointed in the feel, fit, construction, performance or color of this gi.


Blogging in my Atama Mundial.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Night Open Mat at The Bat Cave

A few pics from inside a secret training facility somewhere in the state of Michigan. Maybe one day I can divulge more, but for now this is all I can write. If you were invited to this event and didn't show... your loss.

This place is huge with over 2000 sq.ft. of brand new Zebra mats.
The mats are nicely framed in with no toe-torquing gaps. The
non-traditional colors are a cool change of pace from the norm.
There is music playing in the background.

Matt & Seth:

Only a few people have shown up. It's early yet.

Open guard passing. If you've seen Saulo Ribeiro's
Jiu-Jitsu Revolution 2, you might recognize the gi that
Seth is wearing.

Butterfly guard w/underhook & belt grip.

Tom & Dorian:

Tom really needs to work on his guard game.

Dorian with an ankle lock.

Update: Arnold's Start Times & Ring Assignments

For those that don't visit the Atama BJJ Forums on (and you really should), Kipp Collar (NAGA President) posted a BUNCH of info regarding this year's Arnold's - too much for me to post here.

To read his post on the forums click here.

He states that events on Saturday will be done by 8:00 P.M. SHARP due to UFC 68 being shown later that night, which will also be in Columbus, OH. With this kind of motivation I am sure that things will run in a timely manner on Saturday. If you're planning on doing the No-gi events on Sunday, he plans to wrap things up in the early afternoon.

This was a well thought out move on his part to post this information for the competitors, and I wish other organizers would do the same thing. So, "Thanks, Kipp!"


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tattered Memories

Oh, yes. There is a story about this old blue belt of mine. It's a long, convoluted tale that is sometimes funny - sometimes sad. It was wrapped around my waste for about 4 years before it was replaced by one of a darker color. As this old friend of mine is officially retired, it seems only fitting to honor it somehow. So, for now I will just post this pic while I work on writing the story in my spare time.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday Night at SRJJA (Melvindale, MI)

A few pics from training at the SRJJA Melvindale Academy on Monday night. It was a big turnout (16 people) with class taught by Chris Blanke.

My lens was fogging up due to the humidity in the
room. Training in the winter time in Michigan you can
see the steam coming off of people's bodies. To toughen up
for the big tournaments, we go roll outside in the snow. Just
kidding, but it DID work for Rocky.

This is a bit better pic. The upper belt rotation is taking a break and
watching the white belts get their Jits on.

(L to R) John, Brent and Tom talking about the benefits of
wearing a blue gi while waiting for their turns to roll. Tom
is still a bit Old School, so he hedges his bets and sticks with
the white pants. Somewhere in his closet is a REALLY white gi
top that has never seen the mat.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What's My Throw?

What's your favorite throw or takedown and why?

Judokas and BJJ players will have two different answers. A BJJ player will probably say either a double leg or a single leg and their reason will be either because that's all they know or that they come from a wreslting back ground. These two takedowns also allow for a nice safe transition from the feet to the ground with little danger to the BJJ player. Or, the BJJ player will not answer the question and instead jump and pull guard on you. Yet, at some point the BJJ player will need to take their stand up game to the next level to gain an edge. Ask a good Judoka this same question and they will rattle off a list of throws that are all chained together and stem from a gripping game that compliments their style. For every situation on the feet, they will have a throw as an answer. Let's focus not on the high level Judoka who has their whole stand up game figured out and is in the process of merely tweeking their game. Instead let's focus on the BJJ player who needs to get to the next level (stand up wise) in their game and the new Judoka that has no idea where to start.

To begin finding your throws you will need to answer some questions. What's you're physique? Are you tall, short, stocky, thin? Are you long legged or short legged? Are you strong for your size? Your build will determine which throws you will have the most success with, but ultimately, it comes down to which ones you like. The only way to do this is to experiment under the guidance of some one with some Judo experience. This may take a few sessions with them, and you won't really learn any one throw perfectly, but then again, you're not trying to at this point. You're basically taking each throw for a test drive.

Eventually in your time spent test driving throws, or when you begin to take Judo more seriously, you will realize exactly how important the battles for grip control are. Just try hitting some of your newly learned throws on your Judo throw salesman and watch how quickly they go to hell when he fully resists. You will then ask, "Do I fight for grips that lead into the takedowns I like? Or, do I do takedowns based on what grips I like?" Choose the former. Your takedowns are the meat and potatoes, your grips are the condiments. The gripping game in Judo has so many variations that it is best to just begin with the basics. Depending on your dojo and your influences you may find yourself with either a traditional Japanese grip game (sleeve and collar control) or a Russian grip game (arm across with high back or belt grip)... the list goes on and on and on. The higher the level, the more intricate and the more important the grip game becomes. But, to start things off just pick a gripping game, learn it and stick with it. I chose the traditional Japanese grips, and have since added modifications that make it a bit more unorthodox. Unorthodox grips, if they are technically sound, are very good for your Judo game as long as you can make throws happen from them. I also have the benefit of being in a club with players that have all sorts of different gripping games. So, I can experiment with each grip and I can either adopt it or at the very least make myself familiar with it.

But let's back up... What's your favorite throw? At first the myriad of throws in Judo blew my mind. There's 67 throws in the Kodokan Judo System. Some of these are considered counter throws and not primary throws, and even within the primary throws some are better than others depending on your build and the build of your opponent. After taking some throws for a test drive I found that the drop Ippon Seoi Nage is my favorite throw (executed with both knees on the mat instead of standing). Why? Because, it's easy and I can hit it on a wide range of opponents regardless of their body type. Because, it suits my body type. Because, it feels good when I throw it. So the Ippon Seoi Nage is my goal throw, my primary throw. It is the throw that I want and hunt for when I am on the mat. Everything I do on my feet is either an attempt to get it or a follow up if I miss it. From this starting point I asked a lot of questions to those who were better than me for advice on hitting the throw: what grips should I take, what set ups work best, how do people defend it, what are some follow ups to their counters, etc? I picked the throw apart and still am exploring it. From this exploration I found my gripping game and foot work game as well as many other throws other than the Ippon Seoi Nage. My set ups required me to learn several foot sweep variations and inside reaps, my counters and follow ups forced me to learn throws like Tomoe Nage, Tai Otoshi and Osoto Gari. After every class spent working on developing this game I would go home and write down my notes on the session. I take even the set ups and fakes leading into the throw seriously, and if I happen to nail my set up throw instead of my primary throw - so be it. It's all good. So it pays to train everything with total commitment.

So, I took some throws for a test drive, found that I liked the drop Ippon Seoi Nage, tried out some gripping styles that allowed for hitting the Ippon Seoi Nage and thought that the Japanese style slightly modified is best for me. Then, I worked with the upper belts in the club to flesh out the set ups and follow ups to the throw. From here on out, it becomes a matter of timing and seamless transitions. It helped that I also have a back up throw that can be used as either a stand alone primary throw or as a part of my Ippon Seoi Nage game: the Kata Guruma.

The Kata Guruma is a fireman's carry in wrestling and was one of my favorite takedowns when I wrestled. It fits perfectly into the Ippon Seoi Nage game or can be used as a secondary primary throw. So when I am in a match the whole time I am calculating whether or not my opponent is in position for either the Ippon Seoi Nage or the Kata Guruma.

I recommend following the above test drive experiment and to not over commit yourself to any one throw until you find one that you like. I also recommend that you don't jump head first into some of the most complicated throws as this will delay your ability to bring your game to the competition mat. If you are in a Judo dojo ask a black belt to help you find some takedowns and throws that work with your body type. Tall guys or guys with long legs will find that outside reaps like Osoto Gari or Kosoto Gari will benefit them as well leg blocking type throws like the Sasae and Tai Otoshi. Shorter guys will want to stay away from using outside reaps on a taller opponent and focus on the inside reaps like Kouchi Gari and Ouchi Gari as well throws like Uchi Mata and Ippon Seoi Nage. Of course, each person will probably fight people of all shapes and sizes sooner or later. But, if you are often either the taller guy in your weight class or the shorter one, you should focus on developing a game based on the type of opponent you most often fight. I am 5' 9" and 186 to 191 lbs. I am often of quite average height for my weight class in BJJ, but a little bit shorter than most of my opponents in my Judo competitions. Therefore, while I may not use Osoto Gari often in a Judo competition, it helps me to know it well for the times that I need to pull it off in BJJ. If my Uchi Mata were better, I would say that I would use it on all but those guys that are shorter than me unless he hung his leg out and begged for it. But, I have not yet implemented my Uchi Mata into competition game and am not in a position to critique the throw with any expertise. When I do begin to use it, I will let you know how it goes for me.

It's never too soon or too late to begin finding your throw. Once you have a stand up game that suits you, you will be able to explore the other throws while having a primary game to fall back on. For the BJJ player, having a good stand up game can mean the difference between victory and defeat against an opponent with equal ground skills. If you look at some of the best BJJ players in the World (Xande Ribeiro, Jacare, Roger Gracie, Braulio Estima, etc.) they all have stand up game and have found their throws. Get out there and find your throw.


DVD Review - Jiu-Jitsu Revolution 2, Saulo Ribeiro

Jiu-Jitsu Revolution 2, Saulo Ribeiro
Distibuted by World Martial Arts
Produced by Paul F. Viele
6 DVD set, currently $150.00 @ WMA

Anyone that knows me or has taken the time to look at my little profile on the right, knows that I am a student of Saulo's. So, how can I be expected to write a non-biased and objectionable review about my instructor's DVD set? Because I paid full price for the damn videos! If I drop a 150 bones on anything, it better live up to my expectations. Thankfully, it does. But in all honesty, and as a person that does science for a living and publishes my results in scientific journals, I know that my review will probably be tainted with modest degrees of favoritism no matter how hard I try not to.

Obviously, this is the second installment in the Jiu-Jitsu Revolution gi series. Revolution 1 was the series that lays down the foundation of Saulo's game. And, while you don't need to own Revolution 1 to appreciate this new series, it certainly would be helpful for some of the techniques. On a few occassions, Saulo makes reference to techniques in Revolution 1 with the assumption that the viewer is familiar the content of his previous series. On other occassions he adds variations to Revolution 1 techniques without going into too much detail about the basic move that he is expanding on. Again, under the assumption that the viewer is familiar with Revolution 1. Do you need Revolution 1 to learn from Revolution 2? No. But I would say that it would be in your best interest to own it as well. And why not? Revolution 1 was groundbreaking and packed full of solid techniques that are all tournament tested. And, Revolution 2 picks up where Revolution 1 leaves off and expands upon an already spectacularly laid foundation.

If Revolution 1 was the ground floor of Saulo's game, Revolution 2 is the stairway that shows us what the second and third floors look like. One of the aspects that I really liked was Disc 1, "Modified Takedowns for Jiu-Jitsu." Saulo is known for being a superior stand up technician, primarily for his Kouchi Gari - Ippon Seoi Nage combination that has netted him countless points in the highest level tournaments. In this disc he shows us how he does it. I know him to be a lover and student of Judo and in this disc he attempts to fill the gaps in the BJJ players game by addressing a stand up game plan. But, most of us that do both sports know that alot of Judo takedowns and throws are not suited for BJJ. Saulo addresses these issues and modifies them accordingly. He also focuses on the gripping game and proper footwork while standing. All of which will lead to superior positioning once things hit the mat.

Also in Revolution 2, Saulo shows us two never before seen positions: The X-pass and The Running Escape. The X-pass is a new open guard pass much like the Bull Fighter pass, but far more versatile. It can be hit from many types of open guard. The Running Escape is not exactly what it sounds like, but it is a new way of defending from the bottom cross position. I have personally been working this position in class and it seems to frustrate and confuse my opponents. This is a far more dynamic position than the bottom cross while it allows for more opportunities to escape than just the traditional bump to guard. I think it's biggest plus is that it alleviates the problem of having the guy on top of you in side mount smash you and tire you out.

The other DVDs in the set round out the series nicely and really focus on the key positions. As always, Saulo is great at conveying his lessons and teaches his techniques in a logical progression. I highly recommend this set to anybody that wants to go to the next level.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Book Review - Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu

Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu, by Dave Camarillo with Erich Krauss, published June 2006. Currently $20.67 @

Dave Camarillo is a black belt in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His years of experience in both styles has led to a new hybrid game that has evolved from his personal combination of the superior stand up and takedown techniques of Judo along with the unequaled ground techniques of BJJ. This combination has allowed both himself and his students to dominate both sports at the highest level. He calls this game Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu and attempts to fill a major gap in the BJJ players' game - the stand up. Not to be unbalanced, this book is chocked full of submission combinations and follow-ups for the judoka that stem from superior grips while on the feet. However, while it is my impression that this book is an attempt to bring the attributes of Judo to the BJJ player, there is much to be learned from Camarillo by any judoka or sensei seeking to expand their game. Camarillo breaks down the walls that separate the styles and embraces them both for their attributes. In his prologue he adresses the differences between the two styles and the reader, regardless of their style of choice, is left with an appreciation for the "other" grappling art.
I am primarily a BJJ player at heart. However, within my BJJ game I hit a point where I needed to expand and evolve my game and gain an edge on my competition. So, I turned to Judo to fill in the gaps in my stand-up game. Despite my wrestling experience I found that at the level I was competing at, wrestling and BJJ weren't enough for me. I have been training at a Judo dojo and competing in Judo tournaments (shiais) for about 5 months now. I bought Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu about 1 month after I started training Judo and it has helped me understand how to take what I learn in the Judo dojo and apply to BJJ competitions. There are many throwing techniques in Judo that do not translate to the BJJ game. But Camarillo shows both judokas and BJJ players how to translate many throws into a game that is not over once your opponents back hits the mat.
Camarillo's book is broken up in to 3 sections folowing the prologue:
1. Incorporating Judo and Jiu-Jitsu
2. From Throws to Submissions
3. Flying Attacks
And it is in the last section, Flying Attacks, that some of the "Fundamentalists" may feel is a waste of paper. At first when I read this section I was miffed. I am well aware that both BJJ and Judo have flying attacks incorporated into their respective competitive styles. But, as a person who's style is more based in accordance with the laws of gravity I found this section to be too flashy and Hollywood based for my taste. Not that I am opposed to flying attacks in my competitions should they present themselves. But, as a fundamentalist - in order to "believe" in a flashy move (which flying attacks are) you have to hit me with them to make me see the light. Why am I not a believer? Even though I've seen them on many a highlight reel, they have never happened to me - even in practice. These techniques are so uncommon that most people will disregard them as Bruce Lee type, $100 moves (moves you pay $100 for in a seminar or private lesson - like a secret recipe) or dream moves (moves that you can only hit in your dreams). But then, I looked at it again. Camarillo is KNOWN for his flying attacks. This guy practically brought flying attacks into the Judo game. Of course, he wasn't the first guy to do it, but his relentless pursuit of the flying attack forced it into the mainstream like a commercial for McDonald's. Even if you don't do flying attacks yourself - this chapter from Dave heeds you to pay attention, because now you better be able to defend them. In my retrospective review of the Flying Attack chapter, I gained great insight into Camarillo's game. He was showing me an aspect of his game that made him famous, and which he has proven time and time again is effective in competition regardless of what the fundamentalists may think.
This is a must read book for both BJJ and Judo players. For BJJ players at Blue Belt and above, you will need this someday, if not now. So get a leg up on your competition and start implementing Camarillo's teachings as soon as you can. Also, enroll at a Judo dojo or club (P.S. most local Judo tournies only cost $25 or so.) For the judokas, regardless of belt, Camarillo's book will take your standup game into a seamless transition to the mat. It will show you ways to find the sub instead of the pin and it will prepare you for the wave of BJJ guys that will be coming to your tournaments in the near future. Which will make both of the styles better in the long run.
Check out some video clips of Dave and his brother Dan Camarillo (also a double black belt, BJJ & Judo) at On The Mat ( here. Also, check out Dave's academy website here. and his MySpace page here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

U of M BJJ Friday Night Open Mat

A few pics from the Friday Night Open Mat that takes place at the U of M Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Club. Recently the turn out has picked up with some upper belts from the Saulo Ribeiro Melvindale Academy dropping by to find some mat space to get some extra training in before the Arnold's. The quality of the Friday open mat sessions is looking to get a lot better. Open mat is at 8pm at the IMSB. You need to either be a U of M BJJ member or Rec Sports member or a guest of either to drop in. Otherwise, I think it costs $10 to get into the IMSB. As of yet, the club doesn't charge a drop in fee.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Judo Training

Here's a couple of pics from training up at the EMU judo club on Thursday night. The club trains on a spring loaded gymnastic floor which allows for tons of full throttle throws. The down side of the flooring system is that it's carpeted and if you're doing ground work it's hard to move around if you're the one with your back on the mat. But I don't go to the Judo club to work on my ground work, so no worries there. Of course, with my back still being a bit sore and stiff I didn't train too hard and worked mainly on my foot work, combos and set ups for my two favorite (and highest percentage) throws (Ippon seoi nage & Kata guruma). I've also been working on my Uchi mata with Clint (shodan) the last 4 or 5 sessions and I finally had a break through tonight. I hope to really work it this Saturday and Sunday and find the right flow for the throw. If possible, I'd like to feel confident enough with it to try it out at the Arnold's. That's a lot to ask for on such short notice, but the throw feels quite natural for me to do even though I've only worked on it for about 5 or 6 hours. Clint was also working with me on a new twist to the Osoto gari. One with a lot of hip action and quite different from the one I've been drilling for the last 5 months. Tells me that it's a bit safer to do in competition and it sure does feel more powerful. I think I like his version better.

End of class challenge: jump up and balance on some cushion thing. There must be a deeper meaning to all of this, but I just arrived to start training with the club guys and it's beyond me what the point of this is. Funny, though - these kids are getting college credit for this.

Clint in the blue gi with his back to me working on his Tomoe nage. His brother, Luke, watching on from the side.

Upcoming Local Tournaments

Feb. 24th: Champions Challenge (Submission grappling, No-gi only), Auburn Hills, MI

Feb. 24th:
Ameri-Kan Challenge Open (Judo, USJA sanction), Bluffton, OH

March 2nd-3rd:
Midwestern Judo Championships, (Judo, USA Judo sanction), Waukegan, IL

March 3rd-4th:
Arnold Grappling Challenge (BJJ, Gi & No-gi), Columbus, OH (Weigh-ins March 2nd)

March 3rd-4th:
Arnold Martial Arts Festival Judo Competition (Judo, unknown sanction), Columbus, OH (Weigh-ins March 2nd)

March 18th:
Michigan State Judo Championships (Judo, USJF sanction), East Lansing, MI

March 24th:
Great Lakes BJJ Championships (3rd annual), (BJJ, Gi & No-gi), Canton, MI

March 24th: 2nd Annual Gem City Open (Judo), Dayton, OH (link coming soon)

April 7th:
Indiana State Judo Championships (Judo, unknown sanction), Portland, IN

April 29th:
Konan Invitational (Judo, sanction pending), East Lansing, MI

(more to follow)

Saulo Opens The University of Jiu-Jitsu (UNIJJ)

On Feb. 10th Saulo held the grand Opening of The University of Jiu-Jitsu. The address of the new University is: 3350 Sports Arena Blvd Suite H2 in San Diego, Ca. 92110. Contact info should be directed to the SRJJA main site here.

According to Andreh Anderson on the Atama BJJ Forums, the black belts in attendance included Kid Peligro, Saulo & Xande Ribeiro, Alvaro Romano, Eduardo Rocha, Paulo Guillobel, Cleber Luciano, Steve Maxwell, Royler Gracie & Pezao (a Fabio Santos BB).

Pics from the grand opening can be seen here (courtesy of Aliciaphotos).

Saulo and Xande told me that the new University will be run just like an actual university. That is, there will be a particular cirriculum to include Judo and Portuguese lessons and there will be semesters. The vision of the University is to take a total beginner from the white belt to black belt level in 6 years time. The student will also be proficient in Judo techniques as they apply to BJJ, BJJ and Gracie Family history and will have a working knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese - particularly the terms most relevant to BJJ and competition. There is a Kodokan black belt that teaches the Judo classes and a Portuguese language instructor on site.

Fightworks Podcast did an interview with Saulo regarding the opening of the UNIJJ and what it's all about. Click here to go to the Fightworks site to download the interview (#52). Also, subscribe to their iTunes Podcast to catch these interviews as soon as they're available.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Arnold's are coming

Let's start off with my current status: injured reserve. I injured my lower back training last week at Focus Jiu-Jitsu with Saulo's new black belt Sean "Abdula" Bansfield and have been trying to take it easy. It was my fault, actually. I didn't warm up as much as I need to and jumped into the thick of things cold. So instead of training at Saulo's I've helped out at the U of M BJJ club on two nights. I thought the easy moving around would help out my back by keeping the muscles warm - but it's been slow going. It should be well enough to train again soon, but I'm taking the rest of the week off to let it heal.

The Arnold's are coming up on March 3rd in Columbus, OH and it's shaping up to be a great tourny. Kipp Collar and his Naga organization will be taking over the tournament this year, which is making me consider lifting my boycott on the event. The guy that use to run the Arnold's and the Relson Gracie Nationals (also in Columbus) wasn't the best organizer I've ever given my money to. After taking a swift kick in the teeth from both tournaments I decided that I had better things to do. But, if Kipp is running the show I may just make the drive. He runs a great event. So, if I'm going to do that I need to heal quickly and get on the mat.

Current therapy regimine: rest, heating pad, Aleve

Allow myself to introduce... myself.

I've been wanting to do this for a while and never seem to have the time. I hope to use this as a tool to stay in touch with friends and pass along some info about BJJ, Judo and my experiences to others.