Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bahrain BJJ

For anyone looking to start or continue training Brazilian Jiujitsu while in Bahrain, they should check out Reza's Martial Arts Center. The school teaches Brazilian Jiujitsu, Thai Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Capoeira and has its own gym facilities. Classes are taught by Reza Monfaradi, a BJJ black belt under Roy Harris of the Joe Moreira lineage, and have regular guest black belt instructors coming over from Brazil to add a different flavour to the class. The Thai Boxing is taught by a professional Thai fighter brought over from Thailand and is a very good class too. Capoeria, starting in October, will be taught by a Brazilian, again coming over from Brazil.

The Brazilian Jiujitsu class is at the core of the academy program. The class has a good variety of students with many purple and blue belts regularly attending. Training is aimed at increasing all areas of BJJ, from fitness and technique to live sparring. The school attends as many tournaments as it can, venturing as far as the USA and Thailand to compete. With Abu Dhabi so close by, the BJJ Asian Super Cup and the Professional Cup are also attended every year. Starting in October, Rodrigo Mangabeira, black belt from Nova Geracao team in Brazil, will be co-instructing the class along with Reza Monfaradi.

Brazilian Jiujitsu classes run everyday apart from Fridays, and are from 7 to 830pm. However, starting in mid October, there will be 2-3 BJJ classes everyday! While the class is BJJ, there are variation classes throughout the week:

Sundays and Wednesdays are no gi BJJ

Mondays are 'circuit training' and involve king of the hill style rolling

Thursdays are similar to open mat but vary from 5 minutes, 10 minutes and unlimited time rounds

Sunday, 27 September 2009

This and That

This week we are working deep half guard sweeps and have learned some very interesting and unique twists that Reza has personally added on to several moves. Competition training has now begun in preparation for the Asian Super Cup and involves much more cardio and strength exercises. Classes are getting tough! It seems the usual setup is 30 minutes fitness training, 30 minutes technique and then 30 minutes sparring. Thursday are similar to open mat in that after a warm up we roll for 1 hour - either no time limit or the usual 5 minute time periods. Mondays are 'circuit days' which usually involve some sort of 'king of the hill' style rolling for 1 hour. This week it was sweeps and guard submissions while the other person had to pass the guard. Sundays and Wednesdays are no gi. After only doing gi for almost a year, its a very nice change of pace to switch things up a little bit and try out those arm triangles again!

Also, I have a feeling that regular rolling with a particular, almost 16 years old, green belt will really up my game in the next few months! Ali got a bronze medal at the previous World Jiujitsu Cup in the blue belt division and has a very impressive game (but we won't tell him that as he is already too cocky for his own good :).

In other news, Reza is bringing over a Brazilian BJJ black belt to add a bit of a different flavour to the class! How cool is that? Two black belts teaching in one class? Yes thats right! So that will be very fun and interesting. Who knows, we might even learn some protuguese! His name is Rodrigo Afonso Alves, nickname 'Mangabeira'. He fights out of the New Generation team or 'Nova Geracao' ... see my portugues is improving already!

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Seems that life is very busy at the moment! Still getting settled in Bahrain as well as trying to see what my job options are. Also I am running around saying hi to all the family and trying to spend time with everyone. Did I mention I do Brazilian Jiujitsu too? :) Seriously, its a bit hectic right now but hopefully I will find my groove soon.

If I wrote this entry right after training it would have been a bit miserable, but seeing as I went out and ate 30+ pieces of sushi afterwards, I am in a substantially better mood. Every now and again I can expect to have an off day, but when you do actually have an off day it sucks. Nothing went particularly wrong today but I didn't feel as energetic as usual and could not implement my game as much as I wanted to. When my current game plan doesn't work, I start to question what direction I need to take it in to make it better. I think I need to remember the whole reason I started using half guard: sweeping people. It seems that I am spending a large percentage of the roll on bottom trying to go for submissions, instead of focusing on the sweep and then imposing my top game. Its not a huge change, but I feel this may be the direction I need to get my game moving again. Reza said that he will be going over some deep half guard sweeps, which will be good to refresh my memory and learn some cool new ones, as well as some tricks to make it all easier! A few hours ago I felt quite crap about tonights session, but even while writing this I can't wait for the next session to try going straight for sweeps again.

The level of BJJ is very high at Reza's, but I think this will only push my game further as for it to work against some of the guys who train here, it will have to be good!

Congratulations to Isaac Perez from BTT Slough who won gold at the blue belt pluma weight at the Europeans! Also well done to everyone else from Slough as I know you guys brought alot of medals back.Well done guys! Here is the video of the final:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Jits in Bahrain

First post from sunny Bahrain! I have been here for 4 days now and am still settling in but its nice to see all my family, friends and old training partners again. However, I can't help myself from wondering what the guys in Eastbourne are drilling or what technique is 'move of the day' at the moment. I keep finding myself thinking about what move I might be able to pull off, only to realise I now traing at a completely different school and need to adapt my game to exploit the weakneses in a whole new group of people. That being said, after having a few training sessions I don't think I will be making any big unplanned changes to my game. What worked before still seems to work now and if anything I seem to be much clearer on which submissions I am aiming for when we spar. Usually I will take the first few minutes of the roll to mess around or try a new move out before going to my bread and butter, but now I know exactly what I want to do before the time starts. I am not sure what changed - it might be training with strangers, or having a new belt, but something definitely happened thats upped my game!

Ramadan has just finished in Bahrain and it is now the Eid holidays for three days, which unfortunately means no training. However, on a positive note, starting Wednesday training will be aimed at competing at the Asian Super Cup tournament in around three months. This entails much more conditioning, sparring and competition specific training which will hopefully allow me to work on my weaknesses. Right now I feel I need to work on several areas, including improving my knee on belly and top half guard game. But this shouldn't be a problem as training is 6 days a week! For the short term future I will not be working just yet as I need to see what jobs are available and which are best suited for me, but this means more time to train.

Speaking of complimentary training, me and Rach bought a large swiss ball today to work on core strength, balance and flexability. They have several of these at Reza's academy and the other night I worked up a sweat trying to balance on one of the balls of around 30 minutes. Hopefully it will look something like this in a few short weeks:

and not like this...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Blue Belt!

This week was the first BJJ grading for BTT Eastbourne! Ze Marcello came down from Milton Keynes to oversee things and present new belts to the deserving. Oh and also hip toss the crap out of everyone...

Its been a full year since the class started and it has grown so much! It has gone from 5-6 of us in a class to regularly having over 20 people on the mats. At the grading there was barely enough space to warm up with over 30 people showing up! We all ran around for a bit and then went over some really great half guard passes and submissions from on top. Definitely going to try and incorporate some of these moves into my game! After around 45 minutes of technique we all paired up and sparred for another hour, but because there were so many of us, we would roll one round and sit out a few to give everyone a chance at some mat time. Ze rolled with all the guys who were up for their blue belts and was doing all sorts of crazy stuff! I couldn't help grinning as he helicopter arm bared me into next week haha! At the end Ze spoke about how jiujitsu goes beyond training and being on the mat. He reminded everyone that jiujitsu was about creating a family of friends and being there for each other, not about who can tap who. Eventually he called out each person up for their blue belt, presented them with their new belt and certificate, and then proceeded to hip toss them! Thankfully T's back is injured and he couldn't hip toss all of us as hard as I know he wanted to, but I am sure he will make up for it when he is better. In the spirit of what Ze spoke about, a bunch of us decided to go out in the evening for some celbritory drinks, which swiftly devolved from intellectual conversation to drunken jiujitsu in a great display of debauchery at its best!

It a weird feeling getting my blue belt. I guess its been my goal for the past year and so much time has gone towards achieving it, now that I actually have it, I don't know what to do with myself anymore! Guess am just going to have to keep on plodding along and train even harder! Congratulations to all the guys who got stripes, with a special mention to Pete, Ruben, Ian, Adam, Rach, Sophie and Oli who all got their blue belts. Its going to be interesting to actually have a few ranks in the class now haha! So whats next? I don't know really ...

Hold on, whats that? Can't you see it? All the way in the distance, right on the horizon? That smudge of colour that you can just make out if you screw up your eyes and squint hard enough? Well I'll be...looks like a purple belt to me! :P

Funny Jits

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Last Week Training In Eastbourne

Only one week left till I get on a plane and fly to Bahrain! Its a bitter sweet moment as I am looking forward to seeing all my family and being at home again, but at the same time I am going to miss all the guys from BTT Eastbourne. It has been a kick ass year in terms of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I have learnt so much, and made many friends! We have gone from that very first class at Canton Martial Arts where there were just 4-6 people, to having regularly over 20 people on the mats and it has been great to be part of all of it. Seeing these guys day after day on the mats has made many of them much more than training partners and I feel I have found some very good friends over the past year. While I won't be around as, I know I will always have a team to train with whenever I find myself in the UK. Thanks guys you know who you are!

Personally, I feel I have gone from knowing a few moves and not really understanding the rules of BJJ, to having my own solid game plan and a good understanding of what this whole world is about. I have had a good taste of competition and am beginning to really enjoy both the mental as well as the physical side of jiujitsu.

Luckily, I will be able to continue training once I get to Bahrain, under Joe Moriera lineage black belt Reza Monfaradi. This is another amazing team with a very high level of jijitsu, and I can't wait to spend another year training with more top tier guys!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Tatami Gi Review

I Ordered a BBJ Competition gi from Tatami fightwear in black A2. The website says it is made from a single piece of gold weave competition standard material. Was pleasantly surprised how quick it got here - just two days! Initial impressions? This thing is huge! The trousers fit pretty good and were a bit on the baggy side but that was to be expected, but the jacket was crazy big! The sleeves were a bit long and the skirt of the jacket was longer than any of my other gis. However I didn't despair as I knew I could shrink it down to size (probably what the company expects its customers to do :P).

I started off by soaking it in a cold bath of water for a couple hours to get rid of any extra dye. Some people suggested adding some white vinegar to the bath water to help set the colour but, as usual, I didn't have any on hand. I am not sure if this works or not but it can't hurt to try. After the bath the gi went on a 90 minute cotton wash at 40 degrees Celsius. I was tempted to put it on a higher temperature but figured I still needed to dry it over a couple hot cycles in the dryer and didn't want to risk over shrinking it. Once this was done I stuck the gi into the dryer, checking it every 10 minutes to see how it the size was. The trousers needed around 15 minutes before they fit well, while the jacket needed 25 minutes. Was very relieved when I realised that it was going to fit me and not be way too big as I initially thought.

After the gi had been washed and tumble dried to fit, I tried it back on. The sleeves fit quite well, reaching just short of my wrists when my arms were outstretched. The shoulder area was a bit big when compared to my Koral or Feral gis, but fit much better than before I shrunk it. The one thing I don't like about the Tatami gi is that the skirt of the jacket is very long! I didn't risk shrinking the gi anymore as the sleeves would have been too short, but I would have liked to get the bottom part of the jacket shorter. I left the gi slightly on a the big side just in case it will shrink anymore after a few more washes.

The gi has some nice patches running down the front of the jacket and across the shoulder area. Also there is a nice Brazilian flag patch located on the back of the jacket. On the rear of the skirt area of the jacket there is another Tatami fightwear patch. I think that with a 'competitor' patch and a club patch, the back of this gi will look pimped!

Overall, this is a nice gi at a very low price. It seems to be made of a high quality material and looks pretty slick. However, I think anyone shorter than 175cm and A2 would find it very long in the jacket/ skirt length. The shoulder area was quite large on me, even after shrinking, It seems to be made for taller, mesomorph type bodies. Apart from this, a very good gi!

Rach is going to do her own Tatami fightwear gi review very soon so keep an eye on her blog to read a bit more about this brand:

Friday, 4 September 2009

Normal World Fridays

Last two days have been no jits days. Usually I manage to get an informal session in with some of the guys down at Canton where we meet up without an instructor, drill a few moves and then roll for however long. But this week it didn't happen so I have deprived of training for 48 hours! This led to me doing a bunch of random bits and bobs which needed doing. Since me and Rach are moving back to Bahrain in less than two weeks, I spent most of the time sorting out my clothes, paintings, cooking books and all my other things so I can decide what I want to take with me immediately, what to ship and what to leave behind or give away.

Also my new Tatami gi arrived yesterday so managed to it down to size. It looks pretty slick with some nice patches on it and the material feels pretty good, but thats a post for another day! I was a bit skeptical about getting a black gi as I always felt that a black gi should be reserved for higher belts, but since both schools I train at are allowing them I figured what the hell!

Another thing on the cards is a one day trip to Amsterdam to sort out some family business (and possibly indulge in some perfectly legal substance abuse!). Booked my tickets on EasyJet and I'll be heading out this Thursday. Unfortunately I will need to spend a night sleeping at Gatwick Airport as my flight leaves early in the morning and the trains won;t get me there on time.

On a less positive note, Thursday is the designated day where I can break from my usual diet and go out to a restaurant with Rach and eat whatever I want, but all this extra imposed time off led to me eating more than my fair share this week via an Indian takeaway, several pastries, a huge chocolate chip cookie and not too long ago a crazy big plate of fish and chips! I'm not sure why but on the days I don't train I crave junk food much more than the days I am training. Oh well, will need to fit in a few extra runs or gym sessions this week and all should be good!

To continue with the complete random direction this post is taking, I have started watching two TV series which are really great. These are 'True Blood' and 'Burn Notice' ... highly recommended for non juijitsu days! Anyway, the intro clip for True Blood is freakin awesome! Its weird, religious, sick, time distorting, vampire goodness. Oh, and the sound track is sweet! Check it out:

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Deep Half Guard Sweeps

Over the last few competitions I was really struggling to connect my top game to my bottom game. While I was scoring points and getting submissions on top, if I ended up on bottom in guard I was finding it hard to end up back on top. I started looking at different solutions and various positions to initiate sweeps so I could have a 'complete' plan. After trying a few different things, Tolly let me borrow his Marcelo Garcia X guard book. What a cool book! Loads of cool moves in there and a nice biography on Garcia. Some nice pictures too. However, after trying out a few of the moves, I quickly realised that for me to develop any sort of X guard game, I first needed to refine and improve my guard game (which is exactly what Marcelo Garcia reccomends in his book). And that got me thinking about delving into half guard...

However, practicing 'half guard' would seem to be a very, very broad statement. Within 'the half guard' there is deep half guard, quarter half guard, Z guard, butterfly half guard and a bunch of other ones I am sure I havn't come across yet! After messing around with a few of the different positions, I decided to dedicate a couple months to the deep half guard. Check out these cool sweeps :)

These sweeps have been great fun and I feel they have made me really comfortable in half guard. There seems to be so much to do from this position! Anyway I just wanted to post these videos, more for myself so I can find them easier than anything else.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Tatami Gi Review coming up!

Since me and Rach are heading back to Bahrain in a couple weeks as we both have finished our university courses here in the UK, we both agreed we needed to go back with a good stock of gis, as they are hard to come across in the Middle East! Seeing as I have been pretty much broke for the past month, my selection was limited to UK based companies (due to lower shipping costs and shorter mailing time) and heavily influenced by price range. The best deal that I could find was between the Tatami fightwear competition gi and the Feral fightear gi. I briefly considered a Faixa Rua gi, but as far as I am aware they don't do them in black! And seeing as I have a Feral gi already, I decided to go for the Tatami one. I wasn't a huge fan of the white trim on the sleeves of their forte BJJ gi series, but this was of little concern as I decided to go with their Competition BJJ gi series, which is all black. Rach ordered one as well so hopefully there will be two new reviews floating around the web in the next couple of days! Check this space for updates!