Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Amazing Photo

Sorry for the layoff on the blog of On the Road To Black Belt but life is running fast right now I need some sleep now and then.

Well recently we hosted a great weekend developmental tournament at the Academy. After which we had the pleasure of a seminar with the Lafayette area instructors, Tim Credeur and Micah Lopez, along with BJJ Revolution Dojo head instructor, Jeff Messina from Houston TX. As if this wasn't enough Brazilian jiujitsu expertise on the mat we also had BJJ Revolution founders Rodrigo Medeiros AND Julio Fernandez adding to the seminar.

Amazing to say the less.

So here is a picture taken from the seminar.

I remember this because if you look closely I'm tapping to a Kimura from Tim. We were reviewing the technique he was going to teach.

So Tim starts teaching the technique and at almost this exact moment Rodrigo walks over and adjusts Tim's foot to the correct position. Tim responds with "I guess I'm still learning."

Here I am with my arm getting cranked backed to my neck thinking WOW here I am a 40 year old man with a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu getting instruction from 2 men who trained under Carlson Gracie Sr., who was the son of Carlos Gracie, who trained under Mitsuyo Maeda, who was a Judo black belt from the Kodokan and trained under Jigoro Kano. I was blown away.

So I would have to say that right now the road to Brazilian jiujitsu black belt has some nice scenery and no potholes.

Uma Familia

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Road to BJJ Black Belt: The Beginning

I'm still waiting for a doctor's appointment for my knee. The cool thing about it is I get to use my cane. As a joke birthday gift it's turned into a useful tool. The knee is still hard to walk on but I can still do a little ground work so I can still stay in shape and along with Pilates I think I will be fine until I get a diagnosis.

So I have been taking it easy and just coaching the guys and gals at Gladiators Academy. So this week I want to tell you how I got into BJJ. As most people my first exposure to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was watching the UFC. I was watching the first UFC at my first bachelor party(LOL first). I watched Royce Gracie win the first tournament and wanted to learn how to arm bar people. I was in Taekwondo at the time and started training with some guys that did American jujutsu.

I was training with them on weekends for about a year when I meet a Japanese student at USL. He was a black belt in Shodokan and was interested in seeing how we trained. He came with me one day and after we left he told me to not go back over there. I was shocked. So we talked some more and I showed him the UFC VHS(for the kiddies that was a tape we used before DVDs and the internet).

He said that what I was looking for was a Judo school. He had never heard of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu but 
said that looked like Judo. This was 1994 before the BJJ guys get pissed. As luck would have it USL had a Judo club and I needed a physical education credit so I signed up. I figured how hard could it be I was a black belt in Taekwondo and Judo is just another martial art. Man was I wrong.

They utterly destroyed me. I remember one day being just rag dolled around the mat. The guy was literally swinging me around in a circle and then snapping down to my knees. I looked up at him and said "I hope you're enjoying this." Knowing full well that he would continue to do it until I learned how to endure having another human hanging from me trying to slam me to the ground.

It was some of the toughest training I have ever done outside of boot camp. I was bound and determined to learn Judo because I wasn't the type of person to walk away from a challenge. Long story made short, I walked away from Taekwondo and started training only in Judo.

My Judo experience was amazing. I got to train with some of the finest people in the world, many who remain good friends to this day. I have meet Olympic and World Judo champions and got to train with one of the best blind Judo players in the world, Scott Moore. Scott was one of the black belts at USL Judo and a good friend, great coach and training partner.

To be continued......................

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Road to BJJ Black Belt

So I began working the closed guard like I said I would and well lets just say frustration is setting is coming on strong.

For about 3 months now I have been playing a flow style game. Which I believe we all should aspire to do be able to do at will. Now I am going to explain what I mean by a flow style game so people will understand what I mean by it and not confuse it with a defensive style game. Experienced practitioners will say "duh, that's what your suppose to do." while some people will need to have it explained.

What I do is attack my partners weak spots and when I run into resistance I will move into the next technique. By attack I mean sweeps, positional changes, AND submissions. Trying to stay a step ahead of my partner and have him focusing on stopping techniques and then catching them when they leave an opening.

For example I am in the mount trying to secure a cross collar choke. As a defense my partner traps my arm and attempts a bridge and roll. Instead of stopping the positional change a alter the choke and work it from my guard. If that gets defended I switch to say a pendulum sweep and regain top position and attack with an arm bar or just retain mount depending again on my partners resistance. I simply feel like I'm flowing from technique to technique.

This is were I felt I was developing a lot of my BJJ "skills". So when I decided to work on just playing my guard I started forcing techniques. I would start attempting a flower sweep and if it failed I would go back and do it again. Never taking advantage of my partners reactions just trying to perfect a technique that I feel I need to work on. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't need to work on the technique any more I know the technique.

The thing I should be focusing on is WHEN to do the technique. Just because I want to do a move doesn't mean its the move that should be done. The secret to a good technique is not just the mechanics its the timing and application. Equating it to Judo I would say that you need to throw someone where they want to be thrown not were you want them to be thrown. Again this makes perfect sense to me if you follow cool if not come back in a couple months of training and go, "I got it now".

It has taken me a couple of weeks to write this and I have been at a lost of words to explain the efforts and mindset I have on the mat. In this time period I have seem to injured my knee again. My next blog may be asking your thoughts on micro fracture surgery.

Friday, October 21, 2011

1947 Judo what have we lost?


Ok take a good serious look at the techniques demonstrated. She is pretty good. Why wasn't this expanded on? Why did Americans dismiss Judo?

Look at what happened to every other sport in America that was being done at that time. Look at the advancements, innovations and progressions that was made in them. Why didn't we do this with Judo?

BJJ was in it's embryonic stages at this time. The Brazilians grew Judo groundwork by leaps and bounds in the same time period and we are basically a third world country when it comes to martial arts.

Instead of being a leader in this area we are a joke for the most part, aside from a few exceptions.

I blame the infighting and politics of Judo for this. I blame the arrogance of people who thought they knew better and the idiocy of those that followed them. I blame money and the lack of it.

Judo was not thought of as a profession yet we pay college coaches millions for a game that contributed very little to society besides entertainment.

In a nutshell we, judo instructors, fucked up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My secret weapon.

In my ongoing quest for martial arts knowledge I have been injured many many times. Just so you will know that I'm not BSing you let's run the list.

I have broken my hands, fingers, feet and toes multiple times and currently have a plate and 12 screws in my left hand.

I have undergone ACL replacements in both knees and most of the meniscus (I'm not going to look up the plural) is gone in both knees.

I have broken my ribs countless times
as well as pulled nearly every muscle in my body in some way shape or form.

I have had 2 major concussions. Which may explain some problems I have. (Bad joke I know).

The major injury that I have suffered was a broken back. Yes a broken back. My spine was compressed in an accident that broke the L5 vertebrae in my back into three pieces. Luckily nerves were not damaged but it took some time to recover. I also lost 3cm of height.

Over the years I've tried many many things to get some relief from the injuries. Chiropractors and acupuncture even yoga from a DVD were some the things I tried even massage therapy and that water massage thing they have in the mall.

I would go to medical doctors and get steroid packs (not anabolic) and anti-inflammatories and cortisone shots. I have also done enough physical therapy that I could get a job as an assistant.

So I say these things because I believe I have a good idea what has and hasn't worked for me.

So what is my secret weapon on the road to BJJ black belt?


Seriously this is the best form of body conditioning I have ever experienced. The instructor at Gladiators Academy, Blake Aillet, is not only a ninja at BJJ, he is a ninja at instructing Pilates.

Blake does an excellent job of formatting his classes to movements that enhance jiujitsu movement. The moves are sometimes very difficult to do because you are trying to maintain proper form.

I consider myself a pretty agile person with decent flexibility. After 25 years of martial arts I was pretty confident in that assumption. Wrong. Dead wrong.

Since doing Pilates I rarely have a limp now. My neck and shoulders are not sore all the time. My core body is stronger than it's ever been. I can pump out situps now like it's nothing.

For the BJJ guys, my core is so strong now all of my sweeps from guard are stronger. My transitions and movement are virtually effortless.

For the Judo guys, since my core strength went up when I hip check someone coming in for a throw they fly off my hip like they ran into a wall.

If you're at Gladiators Academy you're missing out on the best conditioning class we offer. If your reading this and not from Lafayette, LA then go find a Pilates class.

Try the class for three months. After that come back and tell me if you feel better or not. I feel like I've gained an inch of height back and my back is not sore all the time now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The road to black belt

Recently I was awarded a brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu from Tim Credeur with his instructor Rodrigo Mederios present.

I started thinking how this would be the third martial art I am trying to attain the rank of black belt. My other two belts are in Taekowndo and Judo. I still remember when I received them and hold them in a special place in my heart.

So I thought I would document or report on my time spent as a brown belt in BJJ.

So we will start of the first week with doing some guard work. I've decided that my exploration period is over and I'm just going to stick to a few things and make them virtually unstoppable.

Closed guard I'm going to focus on standard submissions, arm bar, triangle, and collar chokes. I'm going to tune up flower, pendulum, and scissor sweeps.

My idea is to keep it relatively simple while in the guard and make it active and dangerous.

Thursday, February 17, 2011



This is a film about the guys in Louisiana fight scene. The people of the film are Gil Guillory, fight promoter, Dustin Poirier, fighter, Albert Stainbeck, fighter, Tim Credeur, fighter and gym owner, Josh Artigue, trainer, and a multitude of other people from the area.

I was fortunate enough to be part of this process and will let you in on how this got started. Several years ago one of the fighters from the gym, Scott Sonnier, had an MMA match against Mike Goss. Mike was the subject of the acclaimed documentary, How to Fold a Flag.

Scott beat Mike in the match.

Mike then returned to Louisiana for another match and asked Scott if he could help him out. Scott offered to let Mike stay at his house and cornered him for his fight which was being filmed for the Flag documentary.

While screening the documentary the film maker, Micheal Tucker, explained this situation to the production company. They were so impressed by this that they told Micheal to go get the rest of the story about these crazy people in Louisiana. This is how the film was born.

Tucker came down to film an event with USA-MMA, a fight company owned by Gil Guillory. Dustin and Albert were fighting in the event. Tucker then asked to come to the gym to do some filming. This is where he got hooked on the idea. While filming he became exposed to the cast of characters that is Gladiators Academy Lafayette.

Over the course of a year Tucker would come down and film the gym and the events we were participating. We had a great time and Tucker loved every minute he was down here. Tucker used a very non-intrusive style of filming. He just hung out in the background and would scuttle about making sure to stay out of the way. He once described the filming process as being allowed to live with a pride of lions.

The film is a glimpse into the world of MMA fighting at the beginning level up to the big leagues. It shows how guys live, train, and fight.