We kicked off our podcast show up on the North Shore of Oahu with Professional Surfer turned Martial Artist – Dustin Barca. Check it out and make sure to share it! Also subscribe and please leave a review on itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ath-podcast/id948427418
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Moving into November, the Jiu Jitsu and grappling world is becoming more focused on to the approaching Metamoris V on the 22nd of this month. Our own JT Torres is set to compete against UFC vet, Rory McDonald in to co-main event. What makes Metamoris so special is the element of the super fight; where unlike a tournament—where there are eight matches on eight mats going on at once—the focus can be on one match. The lights are dimmed, and the one match is everyone’s focus. Metamoris also tries to live up to the hype that the term “super fight” implies by pitting two high-level athletes against each other in a submission only grappling match. That’s where things get interesting.
JT is fighting a Rory McDonald who is renowned for being a ‘pure mixed martial artist’—meaning that Rory is one of the few in the sport who began training strictly MMA from day one; as opposed to transitioning into the sport from another martial arts background like the majority of fighters. Adversely, JT is purely a Jiu Jitsu fighter. While he does hold a black belt in Karate, JT has been completely focused on Jiu Jitsu since he took up the sport in his teens.
JT has since become one of the sport’s most exciting BJJ players to watch. In 2013, JT took home the bronze in the IBJJF Pan-Ams and echoed that with great showing at the highly prestigious ADCC. Also in 2013, JT won gold at the IBJJF No Gi World Championships; something he hoped to replicate recently this year, but was sidelined due to (literally) ripping his toes apart at the webbing. But for someone who trains at ATOS in San Diego alongside the likes of Andre Galvao, Keenan Cornelius, and other high-level black belts, that wouldn’t be too much to keep him sidelined for long. Going into Metamoris, though, it might take a lot more than that sort of toughness to beat Rory McDonald.
Up front, JT is nicknamed “Spiderman” due to his outstanding grips and an incredibly advanced Spider Guard—both factors will be a non-issue because this upcoming match is a no gi match nullifying the Spider Guard, the Bow and Arrow Choke that JT favors, and essentially the grips. However, let’s not lose sight that our black belt did win gold at the No Gi Worlds. In this blog post we’re going to look at some advantages JT has against McDonald, a video with JT in the gi against another UFC vet, and three videos of JT in no gi action. One with JT and Marcelo Garcia where the two are grappling for fun, another with JT and Marcel Mafra in the 2013 No Gi Worlds where JT won, and the last featuring JT against Kron Gracie in the 2013 ADCC semifinal where JT loses.
One of the factors that is going to play to JT’s advantage here is the 20-minute time limit for the Metamoris match. While McDonald does compete at a high level, he’s used to a 5-minute round. Even still, those rounds aren’t always against high-level grappling competition like JT will bring. I suspect that we’re likely to see McDonald coming out not as aggressive as JT, and JT having to chase the submissions. That’s something not too uncommon for JT, but we’ll look more into that later. McDonald does hold some notable wins over high-level grapplers (Nate Diaz, BJ Penn, Demian Maia), but all of those fights were won via decision and not with a submission. I’d look for things to start to get interesting around the 7-minute mark when the MMA fighter’s conditioning might start to fade, but that might not be entirely canon. In 2010, JT faced off in another super fight against another UFC fighter by the name of Dustin Hazlett; and finished the MMA fighter in just over a minute with an arm bar. That match was, however, in the gi.
The no gi aspect of this Metamoris match doesn’t necessarily mean that the favor is falling more into McDonald’s side; if anything it’s leveling the playing field. Aside from that, however, I see everything else playing to JT’s favor.
JT is comfortable off of his back. A large percentage of his game is based off of his ability to sweep and submit his opponents from a bottom position. If McDonald does decide to press, and be aggressive, look for JT to get comfortable in guard; or more likely in De La Riva.
Here, against Marcelo Garcia, you can see Garcia starting in his traditional Open/Butterfly Guard, and JT looking to pass. That may be something we can expect from McDonald—and like this Garcia video, look for JT to pass to his left. After the sweep attempt, there’s a scramble where JT eventually settles into De La Riva and ultimately works to sweep. Now, Marcelo is the best active Jiu Jitsu player in the world (you can argue that, but you’d only sound silly), and Rory McDonald is not. I do anticipate McDonald trying to come out and intimidate JT, but eventually settling into a seated-type guard, and JT passing where he is an absolute destroyer on top in no gi competition.
Looking now at the 2013 World No-Gi finals against Marcelo Mafra, you can see that JT comes out very aggressive and pushes the pace—something he’ll need to do against McDonald—until Mafra sits down into seated guard position. JT will again look to pass left, then begin an absolute domination from the top position. When JT is playing top, he’s a terror; which is also what makes him so fun to watch. Here you can see at around the 0:50 mark where he’s looking for a Head and Arm choke, and specifically how he’s always pushing for a submission and dictating the pace. Even when Mafra creates enough space to hip-escape out, JT remains aggressive and hounds Marfa out of bounds. The restart offers more of the same until you see JT pass left, Mafra scramble, and JT (again) play aggressive and find Mafra’s back where he nearly gets a Rear-Naked Choke before the Brazilian restart. The same aggressive approach eventually leads to JT winning here by setting a pace that Mafra just couldn’t keep up with.
Looking now at the 2013 ADCC Semifinal against eventual winner, Kron Gracie, we see the same game plan and mindset for JT. Jumping ahead to 2:26, Kron looks to sweep, JT sniffs it out, and the two spiral down to Kron playing an open guard and JT looking to pass left. The rest of the match would continue out that way until the 7:30 mark. Here you’ll see Kron playing open and JT looking to pass left. At 7:40 you’ll see Kron get to a Closed Guard position and trap JT’s right arm with an over-hook. When JT stands to pass, Kron springs the trap by opening his hips, throwing his leg over JT’s head, then elevating his hips to hyperextend JT’s trapped arm for an arm bar at 7:45. In those 15-seconds, fate shifted. JT played aggressive the entire match, forcing Kron to play defense where he eventually won off of his back with an arm bar—something his grandfather, Helio Gracie, designed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to do. It also doesn’t hurt that Kron is the son of the best Jiu Jitsu player ever in Rickson Gracie. But in all honestly, that arm bar was super-slick.
If McDonald wants to win on November 22nd against JT, he’ll need to disrupt JT’s aggressive pace and put JT on his back, forcing him to secure a win from the bottom. JT needs to (obviously) avoid that; if not stop it from happening all together. We’re going to be sure to keep JT’s energy level at a high with our Help Gold Protein Bars, but JT will really need to focus on keeping his larger opponent’s back on the mat so that he can demonstrate how big of a terror he is with that vicious top game we’ve looked at today. We’ll be able to tell what kind of match it will be from very early on. We know that JT is going to come out aggressive and look to impose his game on McDonald. But depending on how McDonald reacts to that will tell us volumes as to how the match will go. Personally I see it playing out a lot like the Mafra match we looked at with McDonald looking to get to work and initiate a ‘grappling scenario’ by taking a seat, or pulling guard; but if he looks to secure the take down and establish himself in the top position, we may be in for a battle. JT is certainly a highly-skilled Jiu Jitsu player, and I think if he can avoid a take down from Kron Gracie, I feel comfortable in saying that he’ll avoid whatever McDonald offers as well. Let’s just hope that if that happens, JT adheres to the odd BJJ adage of “There is no losing in Jiu Jitsu, win or learn,” and doesn’t fall victim to an arm bar from the guard.
What do YOU think JT’s Keys to Victory are?
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There’s an interesting juxtaposition when it comes to people of Hawaiian descent. The two things Hawaiians are often well-known for are their friendly, laid-back personalities and their pride.
The UFC’s Yancy Medeiros embodies both of these personality traits. In interviews he comes off as a chilled, calm, well-mannered young man with a good head on his shoulders. Then again, he’s chosen combat sports as a profession. He’s relaxed, but with a defined fighting spirit.
A lanky striker with ever-improving ground skills, Makaha’s Medeiros is one of the rising young talents in the Octagon. His skills have advanced with every performance, culminating in a dominant submission victory over Damon Jackson at UFC 177 in August.
On December 12, he’ll return to the cage against highly-touted Joe Proctor, who has won three of his first four bouts inside the Octagon.
It’s been a long-time coming for Medeiros, who has always had an interest in combat sports.
He did karate from the age of five until 20, and began wrestling in high school.
“I was always competitive and I’ve always had friends that fought,” said Medeiros. “From karate, wrestling competitions, sparring, and point-sparring fights, I always wanted to test myself.”
After high-school, Medeiros bulked up to 245lbs. With no karate or wrestling in his life, the physical activity he had always been a part of was missing. That’s where mixed martial arts came in.
“I actually started MMA to lose weight and get in shape,” said Medeiros.
Mixed martial arts is in Medeiros’ blood, as his uncle, David “Kawika” Pa’aluhi, was a pioneer of the sport in Hawaii. During three tournaments in 1996, Pa’aluhi went 8-0, and in his retirement bout in 2002 against Bobby Southworth, he finished the future Ultimate Fighter contestant in just 16 seconds. In many ways, Pa’aluhi was the Rickson Gracie of Hawaii.
After beginning to train under his uncle, it took Medeiros little time to realize that MMA was the career for him.
“(I knew) Pretty much after my first MMA fight, because I knew that I was passionate about what I was doing,” said Medeiros. “I wanted to be more than just an average competitor, you know what I mean? I just wanted to be a martial artist. I felt like I could really utilize my skills to create a career.”
A proud Hawaiian, Medeiros looks to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, B.J. Penn and all of the other mixed martial artists who have emerged from the proud islands of Hawaii.
“We have a lot of pride, especially because we’re such a small island chain and a dying race, you know what I mean?” said Medeiros. “When we have the right mindset, when we have the right crowd around, that’s when we really excel.”
Now five years into his career, things don’t appear to be slowing down for Medeiros. A company man, he’s taken fights on short notice, some of which haven’t gone his way. Being the guy to step up, even if doesn’t always result in a win, does mean he’ll have a roster spot for a long time to come. For the upcoming bout against Proctor, Medeiros has a full camp and will be looking to put on the performance of his career.
“I had 12 weeks’ notice so I really wanted to work on my weak points,” said Medeiros. “I have to work on some things to be complete a complete martial artist, build up my weak points and fix my bad habits. I’ll be finishing in California with the Diaz bros for the next five weeks until the fight.”
When Medeiros enters the cage on December 12, he’ll be representing Hawaii.
“Growing up in Hawaii, I’m really proud about being Hawaiian,” said Medeiros. “Hawaiians have had a rough life, a rough history. We’re very welcoming and a great race but when it comes to battling we get the job done.”
If Medeiros can get the job done against Proctor, it will mark two straight wins in the UFC’s ultra-competitive lightweight division and a move closer to bringing back a potential championship belt to the islands he loves.
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Ryron Gracie spoke at his seminar about improving your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at faster rate while the general populace improves at a slower constant rate. Imagine a graph with a one grappler improving at a steady rate while another grappler may improve 2 or 3 times that amount. Now just imagine if that same grappler starts compounding his knowledge into an exponential curve. Those guys are often called the prodigies and earn their black belt in as little as 4 years.
But is it really something unique with them? Or are there principles that you could apply to improve your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu just as fast. These are 5 principles, that looking back on it, could have helped me progress faster in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
1) Show up to class
It may seem a little over simplified to start off with this, but the fact is this: to get better, show up to class. Too many guys I see WANTING to get better are not actually training. Watching videos, and participating forums are great. And sure there are even times you need to take a day off, but the bottom line is: if you want to get better, show up to class. One way I do this is to set a schedule and stick to it. If I’m going to train 5 days this week, I train all 5 days. If I’m sore, I’ll go to class to drill and then roll lightly. It’s ok to have a light day, just make sure you stick to your schedule.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter give up after getting his blue belt. If you want to get better, you have to stick with it. Train because you love to train and you plan to train for life. Be in it for the long haul and don’t be chasing a specific belt. If you train with this attitude, before you know it, you’ll be a high ranking belt. It doesn’t matter what age you begin, be in it for life.
2) Understand the Principle
Understanding the principle was something I discovered and improved my Jiu Jitsu. “There are a million different methods, but only a few principles.” If you understand the concept, you won’t have the worry about the new specific technique. There will always be a new popular technique. Focusing on the concept will also allow you to adapt the move to your body and ultimately create your own Jiu Jitsu. Understanding why the move works and the principles behind the technique will expand your understanding of grappling. If you don’t understand this yet, you will later. Just keep focusing on the principles.
3) Drill, Drill, Drill & Drill Some More
If an instructor gives you a move to practice, don’t just do 3 each and sit on the side. The best grapplers are always those who put in the most work. Maximize your time at the gym and drill some more. Better yet, stay after class or show up early to drill. I like to tell myself to drill until you are bored and then drill some more. If the move hasn’t become boring, you haven’t drilled it enough. The rule of 10,000 applies here with the basic principle being, “Repetition is the mother of all learning.”
4) Set Small Goals
Like anything in life, setting a small short term goal is very important. When it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I tell myself to improve ONE thing each day. If I improve just one thing, over time, the accumulated gains will be enormous. I’ll go to training and say to myself, today I want to work on [INSERT WEAKPOINT OF MY GAME]. Then I’ll spend some time drilling certain moves to fix it and force myself into that situation in sparring. At the end of the day, I have improved and accomplished a small goal. Don’t make the mistake of coming to class with a blank slate. Come to class with a purpose and I guarantee you’ll leave 10% better.
5) No-Gi / Gi Grips
When training in the Gi, I try to minimize my use of the kimono as much as possible. That way, when I take off the Gi I am not lost. Sure there are great moves with the Gi that maximize your efficiency, but if you train that way entirely, once you take off the Gi you will be at a huge disadvantage. One benefit from this principle is that you will also save your fingers. A general rule I use with myself is to always know what grip translates to No-Gi and, if possible, don’t use the Kimono. If I must use the Kimono, I don’t hang onto it longer than 10 seconds. This way I have a style that translates to both Gi and No-Gi.
Hope you enjoyed this.
If you have your own ways that help you improve faster, leave a note in the comments below telling us what works and doesn’t.
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We arrived on Kauai after a short plane ride from Oahu to link up with ATH Team Rider Dustin Barca. We wanted to shoot a talk story with Dustin and figured why not get some training in while we were in town. Luckily for us, Dustin Barca is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown Belt under the Royler Gracie Black Belt, Bruno Ewald. At 6’4”, Bruno earned his nickname “Cumprido” back in Brazil which means “Longman” in Portuguese.
In 1991, Bruno was a recent purple belt transplant from Brazil living and surfing on Kauai. There were no places to train, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had not yet been created, and Gracie Jiu Jitsu was still widely unheard of. While hanging out at his house, Bruno showed some locals Vale Tudo fights that he had recorded on VHS and brought from Rio de Janeiro. Immediately the locals were interested and a few grappling matches later he convinced them it was time to learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
Laying down some mats in his garage, Bruno’s first students were Kai Garcia, Carl Ragasa, Lyon Hamilton, and Chris Kaamoana. These guys were all surfers who instantly fell in love with the art. Soon classes started getting too full for the garage, so Bruno and Carl rented a house in Princeville Kauai. They turned the two car garage into their dojo and named it Longman Jiu Jitsu. There, they were able to lay down the mats and train 7 days a week, flying over to Oahu to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournaments.
Fast forward to today, Bruno has a thriving Brazilian Jiu Jitsu association with 3 Academies on Kauai. That night we were able to train at Bruno’s North Shore Academy. Bruno demonstrated his variation of an arm lock and defenses to getting stacked. Being so long, Bruno had some clever tricks that experienced grapplers develop over time.
When arm locking an opponent from the guard, Bruno likes to place his same side hand behind his opponent’s elbow to prevent him from pulling his elbow back to his side to stop your arm bar. This way he attacks his opponent’s arm two on one. Then with his other hand, he controls the sleeve and pushes the face to pass his leg over for the submission.
When your opponent attempts to stack you, Bruno angles off to force the opponent to the mat instead of driving your own knees into your face. To do so, he stays off the back of his neck and rolls onto his inside shoulder. This redirects your opponent’s force to the mat and prevents him from full stacking you.
From there, Bruno climbs his outside leg over his opponent’s shoulder, locks a loose triangle, and proceeds to attack you with a double threat arm bar/triangle choke. If your opponent defends, he arm drags to the back.
This was a good variation of your typical defenses to the stacks that are particularly applicable to a grappler with long arms and legs like Longman. Redirecting your opponent’s force is something that resonates strongly with Gracie Jiu Jitsu. It’s as if the harder you try, the deeper and more entangled you become in the spider’s web.
Overall it was a great trip training with some tough guys from Longman Jiu Jitsu. If you’re ever on the Island of Kauai, be sure to stop by Longman Jiu Jitsu.
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Michael “The Count” Bisping and Luke Rockhold have been swapping barbs for months. Be it on Twitter, during interviews, or at press conferences, the two fighters have not kept their disdain for one another a secret. They’ve mocked each other for recent losses. They’ve questioned the legitimacy of one another’s records. They even got into it over a sparring session that happened years ago. Maybe it’s petty, maybe it’s justified, but the two middleweights don’t seem to like each other one bit.
Thankfully, they’ll have a chance to bury the hatchet in less than two weeks. In the main event of UFC Fight Night 55, which goes down on November 8 in Sydney, Australia, the pair will slug it out to settle their score. It’ll surely be a relief for both men (and for any fans that are tired of the squabbling) as it takes a lot of energy to feud so fervently. But the fight is important for more reasons than the end of their beef. It’s a must-win for both men.
Is it a number one contender fight? Probably not. With Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort’s meeting bumped back to the first quarter of 2015, and monsters like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Yoel Romero waiting in the wings, the road to the middleweight strap is a long one. The victor, of course, takes a step in the right direction, but more importantly, the winner stays relevant. A loss won’t send either man to the unemployment line, but it would certainly be damaging.
Let’s take a look back at each fighter’s recent records. They’ve both got wins in the rear-view; Bisping’s was over Cung Le, and Rockhold’s were over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch. But they’ve both also recently stumbled near the top of the mountain— Rockhold against Belfort, and Bisping against Belfort and Tim Kennedy. It’s an unfortunate truth, but a truth all the same: fans don’t give top-ten fighters very many chances. If you falter once on the verge of title contention, you can bounce back. Falter again, with hard work; you might climb back to the top rung. Falter a third time and you’ll find yourself labelled “good, but not good enough,” branded with words like “gatekeeper.”
Bisping is in more danger of this fate than Rockhold. As a middleweight, he’s tasted defeat against several elite fighters, and a loss to Rockhold will probably be the final nail in the coffin of his championship hopes. Considering his age (he’s 35) a defeat in Sydney seems even more likely to send the Brit to the point of no return— career twilight spent in the cage with mid-level fighters like Thales Leites and Tim Boetsch.
Rockhold is younger, and has only tasted defeat twice in a seven year career, so he’s got a little more wiggle room. That said, losses to perennial top-tenners like Belfort and Bisping would not be good for him. If he can’t punch his way through the top-ten, how are we supposed to believe he can cut it against the champion? He’s only 30, so it’s possible he’d have time to work his way back to the top, but a loss to Bisping might leave him in a middleweight grey area too.
Yes, the stakes of this matchup are high for both men, and not just because they’ve laid their dignity on the line with a war of words. They both need a win, but more importantly, neither can afford a loss. So, when the cage door closes on the 8th of November, who emerges victorious? That’s hard to say.
On paper, Rockhold seems to have the advantage in most facets of the game. He certainly hits harder, and he’s got a size advantage to boot. He’s also the stronger wrestler. The odds say he’ll win for a reason. That said, experience is a dangerous weapon, and Bisping has it in droves. Having clashed with the likes of Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Brian Stann, Cung Le, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, and Yoshihiro Akiyama, it’s unlikely Rockhold will hit the Brit with anything he hasn’t felt before. That fact bodes well for Bisping. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that a calm, collected Count frustrates his younger opponent en route to a win— be it a stoppage or a decision. With five rounds to play with, both fighters certainly have a lot of time to make something happen.
It’s an important fight for both men, and for the division they call home. Which man will fight off gatekeeper status and rise to the occasion? Until fight night, there’s no way to know. But given the animosity between the pair and the implications this fight has for their careers, you can expect it to be a hell of a fight while it lasts.
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Everybody knows how good Max “Blessed” Holloway is. Whenever fight fans talk about him, the discourse is dominated by terms like “promise” and “potential.” Yes, at 22 he may be young, but few will deny the Hawaiian featherweight has an extremely high ceiling.
Yet it hasn’t been an easy road for Holloway. Perhaps it’s due to his obvious potential, but his UFC career thus far has been a classic example of being thrown to the wolves. His was not a slow climb. There were no stepping stones, no testing of the water. Let’s recount.
At just 20 years of age, he found himself across the cage from Dustin Poirier, who had already waged war with name opponents like Danny Castillo, Josh Grispi and Pablo Garza. It was a stark test, and unfortunately, it would not be Holloway’s night. 3:23 into the first round, he tapped out to a triangle arm bar.
Still, nobody questioned his potential. Sure, he came up short, but his defeat against Poirier was the first on his professional record. At such a young age Holloway undoubtedly had ample room to grow. And grow he did.
Over the course of his next three fights, Holloway erased the memory of his loss to Poirier with three impressive wins. His first victim was pat Schilling, who he pummeled on route to a unanimous decision. Next, he defeated Justin Lawrence with a savage barrage of punches in the second round. Then at UFC 155, he battled Leonard Garcia— tooth and nail— to a well-deserved decision win. It appeared that after faltering against Poirier, the young Hawaiian had hit his stride. Barely old enough to legally order a drink in the United States (not that a fighter of his calibre has time for boozing); he appeared to be realizing his potential.
But the fight game is a tough game. For rising fighters, the road is fraught with speed bumps. Just when Holloway seemed to be finding his groove, he hit another. It’s name? Dennis Bermudez. It was a highly contentious decision, but unfortunately for the Hawaiian, a loss all the same. And it would be followed by another. The culprit? One of the most talked about fighters in the game today, Connor McGregor. Though he survived three rounds with the notorious finisher (he’s McGregor’s only UFC opponent to do so), it was a sour setback for the young talent.
Suddenly, talk about Holloway took a turn. As always, nobody questioned his potential, but the consensus—once again— seemed to be that he had some work to do before he reached that potential. He was having growing pains. When it came to hanging with the divisional big dogs, he was too young, too green.
Yet Holloway is a rare breed. He swims in a small pool of fighters who respond extremely well to adversity. Defeat makes him more dangerous. Following his losses to Bermudez and McGregor—who are both now title contenders—“Blessed” has pounded out four straight wins. And not one has seen the judges’ scorecards.
The result of his recent success? Holloway, again, seems to be realizing his potential. Yes, with his last win, an absolutely brilliant knockout win over Akira Corassani in Sweden, he blasted his way into the divisional top-15. That means big fights on the Hawaiian’s horizon. What kind of big fights? Let’s play matchmaker, ladies and gentleman.
A fight with Charles Oliveira or Clay Guida would be a great test for Holloway. A scrap with slugger Jeremy Stephens would be also make an excellent pairing— and it’s got bonus money written all over it. Should Holloway win a fight of such a calibre, he’ll find himself in the top-ten, and from there, it’s no more than a few Ws from a featherweight title shot.
Will the Hawaiian hit another snag? That’s hard to say. In the fight game, no fighter’s continued success is guaranteed. But he certainly has the skills to make it to the top. And he’s only ever improving— his current win streak is proof of that. His TKO wins over Will Chope and Clay Collard were showcases of his stunning striking and the effectiveness with which he uses his mammoth reach. His late submission win over the highly-touted Andre Fili was evidence of his ever-evolving ground game, his patience, and his composure. His KO of Corassani was proof that even at 22, he can hang with the best. Sure, Corassani is no Chad Mendes or Jose Aldo, but he’s a respected enough fighter to earn matchups with the likes of Dustin Poirier and Chan Sung Jung. And Holloway shut his lights off as easily as I’ll hit the switch on my lamp when I’m done writing this article.
The moral of this story? Now, more than ever, fight fans should keep their eyes on Max Holloway. I know it’s been said before, but his potential truly appears to be coming to fruition. He’s got the tools, and they’re sharp. Despite his youth, he has the experience and “fight IQ”. When it comes to the featherweight division, everyone is talking about Mendes, McGregor and Aldo. But the hard-hitting Hawaiian might just sneak up on us.
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Dustin Barca, professional surfer turned professional mixed martial artist now turned environmental activist, sits down and talks to us about finding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and growing up on Kauai. Dustin Barca grew up on the island of Kauai and started training when he was 15 years old with Bruno Ewald of Longman Jiu Jitsu. He took a brief break while surfing in the professional ASP Surfing World Championship Tours but found his way back to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts. He is currently keeping himself busy with environmental activism and running for Mayor of Kauai.
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You can’t mention Gracie Jiu Jitsu and not mention the grandsons of the late Helio Gracie, Rener and Ryron. Rener and Ryron both help run the flagship Gracie Academy in Torrance, California and their father Rorion, created the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC). So when I caught wind of a Ryron seminar coming to town, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
This seminar was set to focus on escapes. Ryron is probably most known for his Metamoris match versus Andre Galvao, who Ryron claimed he won just by the fact of him surviving for 20 minutes without being submitted. An impressive feat in itself, since Andre Galvao is a multiple time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion.
The first defense that Ryron went over was the cross choke defense. The late Helio Gracie famously said, “When it comes to chokes, there are no tough guys, everyone goes to sleep.” And because of this, Grandmaster Helio’s favorite technique was the collar choke. Ryron explained a few different variations to defend the cross choke, slowing down the choking hand, trapping and rolling. As always, the fine details are what separates a world class martial artist from the average joe.
Next, Ryron showed a series of triangle defenses, the main emphasis being: not being there. He demonstrated the classic, “stuff the wrist and control the collar” set up from guard along with a clever escape. In a classic Gracie-esque move, instead of fighting the opponents force, he simply dove the uncontrolled wrist through your opponent’s legs, preventing the triangle strangulation. Instead of having a triangle choke, your opponent now in danger of having his guard passed. That seemed to be a common theme, finding the most energy efficient move possible. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Ryron preached to redirect the opponents energy and use their strength against themselves.
Finally, Ryron showcased a series of armbar defenses, ranging from an upa (portuguese for bridge) to a defense that split your opponents legs apart, negating the leverage and preventing your arm from being hyperextended. Gracie Jiu Jitsu has that way about it, a smaller man can defeat a bigger foe by setting a trap and waiting for your opportune time. It’s like Helio Gracie once said, “Jiu-Jitsu is a mousetrap. The trap does not chase the mouse. But when the mouse grabs the cheese, the trap plays its role.”
With thousands, if not millions of techniques, what I take away most from a seminar is the philosophy of jiu jitsu. Ryron’s philosophy of energy efficient jiu jitsu was easily relatable. “There are times,” he said, “that you cannot move.” If you move, you will be submitted. He used an example of passing the guard, “If you try so hard to pass the guard, your opponent will have the opportunity to strangle you. But if you force him to move, like a game of chess, he will make a mistake and give you the pass.”