Father, husband, soldier, Jiu Jitsu junkie, amateur photographer.

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with GFT black belt Gutemberg Pereira prior to his two seminars in Maryland. Gutemberg has quickly made a name for himself in the black belt super pesado division after capturing IBJJF World Titles at both purple and brown belt. We discussed his recent addition to the Trapp BJJ instructor camp and the pros and cons of utilizing online training videos to develop ones BJJ skills. I also pressed him on some additional interesting topics that you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to hear.

Saturday and Sunday Gutemberg and Trapp hosted seminars in Glen Burnie (Noel Smith BJJ) and Ground Control (Columbia) Maryland. I managed to attend the second session at Ground Control where we covered some of Gutemberg’s passing principles and techniques. I can honestly say that the term pressure passing is not just being thrown around lightly, the pressure is real, real painful. Some really good tips that I plan to drill and implement in order to bring my pressure passing up a notch.

The audio version of the podcast is below and is also available on SoundCloud, Podbean, Stitcher, and iTunes. The video version can be found on our YouTube page.

Hope you enjoy the interview. Until next time. Keep Grinding.

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I know I’m a day late but gotta get my mat crush Monday post out to the public. Nope, this is not a male – female post or reference to any physical attraction. This post goes out to all of those grapplers who feel their heart start to race when their favorite training partner walks through the door. That guy or gal that consistently pushes you, challenges you, or gives you that roll that makes you go straight to YouTube to figure out how to beat that f*cker. We all have one, some of us are more polygamous but either way it’s pretty much a blah training session if that special someone or few people doesn’t show up to train.

While my mat crush is more along the lines of a “nemesis,” that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for everyone. I enjoy being pushed and I prefer to leave the gym trying to figure out what’s not working and what to focus on next but that’s just me. Some people approach their training as a bit of a social event so their “relationship” is more casual. They drill with their crush, probably own one or two of the same gi’s, spats, or rashguards as their crush, and you’re definitely not rolling with their crush before they do. Just think back on if you’ve ever noticed giggling or laughter during live sparring and thought, “What the hell are they doing?” Or maybe you actually saw it happen and someone was just swepted or submitted with a technique they probably saw coming from a mile away or have been hit with millions of times. That’s the tell tale sign of a mat crush or a budding mat crush. No ego, no animosity about it, just “you got me again man, damn, good shit ha ha” and back to rolling. They just chill out and have the most fun rolls possible, technique may slip at times but who cares. You may witness a bunch of cartwheel passes, berimbolos, or flying submissions those are definitely telltale signs of two people in a “relationship”.

No matter what and all judgment aside, we all need this type of teammate. They push you when required, provide assistance when we hit plateaus, and add humor to something we all take pretty seriously. If you know what I’m talking about then the next time you train thank your mat crush. No, I don’t mean verbally, I mean a solid fist bump before sparring, choke the sh*t out of them, laugh, and then get back to rolling.

That’s what they’d want you to do anyway. Anything more than that or different would just be awkward.

*This is not my man crush btw. I happen to like the pic. Justin is a cool dude tho. LOL

#keepgrinding

One of the most highly debated items in the Jiu Jitsu community relates to its purpose or why people commit to training. The argument has divided most people into the self defense or competition/sport camp. Of course there are people who enjoy both aspects, but in the end even they prefer one over the other. Today, it dawned on me that most people are overlooking one aspect which I would argue could be the most important, community. The recent success of events such as Cosmic Rolling, the Martial Arts Sparring Club of Md, and now Grapple in The Park 1 and 2 are a clear sign that people are interested in more than paying for comps or drilling self defense scenarios. They enjoy the sense of community and the people who come together to train Jiu Jitsu.

Some quick atmospherics from Grapple in the Park 2 to support this theory – At least 60 attendees and that’s a swag because people arrived and left as needed. Over 11 academies represented from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, some from over an hour away, again a swag based only on people I personally rolled with. Representation from every belt level actively participating, instructing and rolling not just “gracing folks with their presence”. Men, women, teens, and below. No incidences of “ego overload” on the mats and no injuries. Add in free drinks and free wings and what more could you ask for?

After a few unsuccessful attempts I finally grabbed Zach Davis and asked him a few questions about Grapple in The Park. Zach has been extremely busy running the event and answering questions from the local news reporters all in between rolling and answering technique questions from attendees. I wanted to know where he came up with the idea for Grapple in The Park and where he saw it going in the future.

First, why a park and why not a gym? The key here is the independent nature of a public park. The park is a community space designed for recreation in nature. By utilizing a non affiliated space it opens the event up to everyone and does not indicate any bias or affiliation with a particular gym. This turns out to be a great idea considering the unfortunate partiality that still exists in the Jiu Jitsu competition based community.

The “Why” of Grapple in The Park is pretty straightforward. To create a place for people who may never compete / have no desire to compete to roll, meet, and learn from different people in a fun, safe environment. Of course, there are active competitors there as well, but they are also just trying to relax and have a good time.

As most people know, Jiu Jitsu can be pretty insular, especially at the strict competition schools, and it’s interesting to note the number of people who have only trained at their home academy or one of it affiliates. I personally think this is quite unfortunate. I understand a professional basketball player wouldn’t just go play pick up at the city park so I get it for the elite grapplers or the people who only train with focus on their next event. I just don’t understand why someone would not want to experience everything Jiu Jitsu has to offer on and off the mats. Some of these people are more comfortable being big fishes in small ponds or are simply attempting to hide their lack of skill behind their schools name / reputation, because every IG post shows “the best class with straight killers”. Either way they are missing out on a great opportunity to make new friends and enjoy a great time.

So what does it all mean? I guess I have no idea. All I know is that events such as these are great for building the Jiu Jitsu community and building relationships. I know I will fully support them as often as I can and I recommend you check them out. I think Zach may have mentioned the next event will be around January and held indoors. Don’t worry about being cold and don’t worry about snow they have those covered. Pack your gear and come on out. You’ll have a great time and meet some great people.

Until next time, Keep Grinding.

Expedition series #2 took me to 2nd Gear Jiu-Jitsu in Laurel Maryland for Ken Brown’s Sunday open mat. Some people may look at the schedule and notice that it states “advanced practice” and not open mat BUT the very thing that makes it look weird on the schedule is exactly what makes this open mat so special. I know, I know, this really isn’t an “expedition” for me because I go here kind of often but seeing as its not my everyday academy and it is a weekend “open mat”, I wanted to show the love during the expedition series.

So back to the open mat thing, so while it’s not an “open mat” in name it is an “open mat” in the sense that its free and that there are people from multiple academies. What makes it different is that the practice is directed / guided to include drills and scenarios that honestly, most people don’t spend enough time doing. The actual techniques applied are left up to the individual but the drills are provided, maybe something like take down for take down or sweep for sweep, for example. So its kind of a directed open mat for people who need a little direction or who don’t want to feel awkward asking a stranger to drill for 5 minutes when most people at an open mat just want to conduct sparring rounds. Of course there is rolling at the end as well but thats really the sort of cherry of top.

I love this setup, in fact its one of my favorite practices to attend. This practice provides a great opportunity to rep out the new techniques you may have learned that week or to really get quality reps on things you like. I’ve been to open mats where maybe you only know one or two folks, you roll once or twice then get stuck sitting on the wall trying to get someone to roll with you.I have witnessed this being the case with the white belt nobody wants to risk being by or the advance purple / brown belt that people are afraid to roll with. Its strange that everyone wants to roll with blue belts and of course black belts??????

So yeah, week #2 down,  2nd Gear Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Laurel Md, Sundays 10:00-12:00. Its two hours of legit work with good people.

Next stop is Grapple in the Park #2 Frederick, Maryland. Heard they have free wings, so I’m there! Hope you see you there too. If not, more wings for me suckas.

Side note- If you know of any academies in the Virginia area close to Fort Belvoir please hit me up. I’m trying to scout some locales for the military men and women who train at the Fight House during the week. I’m open to travel Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I’d love to swing through, train, and spread the word about your academy. No matter what it’s free advertising for your academy. How could you lose there?

Those of you familiar with my background know that I travel quite frequently. Oftentimes I can link travel to opportunities to train at new locations and these are the trips I look forward to taking. Then there are the other trips…… Overworked and no time to train or just being stuck out in the middle of nowhere and there just isn’t any place to train.

Side note -when I say no time to train I’m not referring to an inability to manage my time wisely but I’m referring to an inability to break free during gym hours.

When Jiu Jitsu is such a big part of ones routine, failing to train can have a significant negative impact on your overall demeanor and this can become problem. We’re not even talking about skill degradation or not getting credit for training (for those who focus on class requirements for promotion) but missing out on the general sense of camaraderie and the “leave your cares behind” feeling that we all get from our academies, friendships, and time on the mats. I feel that you have to find a way to fill this void not only for your own sanity but for the safety of your coworkers as well (or family if the lay-off is due to a vacation or something).

My initial thought is to just say “f*ck it” and rest up and feed my depression. The rest and recovery are always good for my body but the guilt that comes with it is bad for the mind. I also have that thought in the back of my mind that 1. I’m going to get crushed when I get back to the mats and 2. All of those injuries will come back the first day of training anyway. On the plus side, there’s no better feeling than surprising all of the people who thought they were going to crush you because you weren’t training. Little did they know that you found other ways to stay on top of your game.

I’ve found that lifting and METCONS are pretty much the perfect way to go and it’s usually pretty easy to get access to 24 hour globogym. METCONS assist with maintaining cardio levels and you can never go wrong working the beach muscles. One added bonus with METCONS is that if you hit them hard enough you don’t truly need to workout everyday and you can skip a day and have dinner with your coworkers / teammates. It’s never a good look to be that antisocial guy.

Yoga and recovery stretching days are a good plan as well. All you need is a computer or laptop and you’re all set. Your cardio might take a hit but flexibility and core strength are critical to longevity and safety for a Jiu Jitsu practitioners.

I’m sure the options are endless and everyone has a preference or a routine they use to overcome training interruptions. Keep in mind I’m talking about 1-2 weeks max of not training NOT an injury lay-off or 3 month trip. If that’s the scenario you have to at least find some way to train (solo drilling maybe) even if that means beating up your friends that don’t train.

I would love to hear what you think or how you deal with road trips interrupting your training. I might incorporate some of your techniques into my routine. I invite you to comment below or to visit the Work Play Obsession Facebook page.

One point of wisdom often doled out to those new to Jiu Jitsu is “Don’t worry about stripes, don’t focus on promotion. Just show up and train.” While I wholeheartedly agree with the intent behind this comment, it’s just not true. Admit it or not, everyone has thought about promotion at some point, stripe or belt, and when or why the have /have not been promoted. Just look around during you next round of “impromptu” promotions (or look in the mirror) you’ll notice some pretty salty looks.

In my opinion, promotions are a sign that you have been consistently training and that you are absorbing and learning techniques. Promotions show dedication and commitment and hopefully require a little character building as well.

Today I had the pleasure of training with a few guys who were up for stripe promotions and I’ll admit, we put them through the wringer. The guys were put in the pressure cooker and forced to demonstrate their proficiency under pressure against all belt levels. I personally like this approach because the people being “tested” recognize everyone is coming at them hard and they have the opportunity to mentally validate their skills. At the end of the day they feel like they earned their stripes or they know they need to step their game up. It’s not only about time and showing up it’s also about demonstrating skill “at combat speed”. Additionally, it quickly becomes apparent when a competition “one trick pony” or “сant take the pressure guy” can’t make it through the session.

Congratulations to all who earned their promotion today. You earned it. Don’t quit now, keep grinding.

Recently I had the privilege of being the guest instructor at Kogen Dojo in Severna Park, Maryland. I made some new friends, caught up with some guys I hadn’t seen in a while, and of course got to train and have fun on the mats. The visit coincides with the start of my “expedition series” so it was perfect timing. I highly recommend you the visit the academy and check it out or at least drop by the website and see what they have to offer.

Kogen Dojo: Gracie Jiu Jitsu, May Thai, & Taikyoku Budo

Below is a little interview that I did with Rob prior to class. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos so I do not have any to post. All that means is that the next time you see an advertisement for a me guest instructing at Kogen Dojo you just have come out and see for yourself. But if you have the opportunity don’t wait for me, visit the school any day of the week they are open and take a class with their staff. The gym is very easy to locate and has everything you look for in an academy; clean, bright, and friendly people.

If you don’t already, follow Kogen Dojo on Facebook so you can keep up with the schedule of guest instructors. They do a really great job of advertising and you’ll have plenty of time to clear your schedule. You not regret that you made the trip.

The only question that remains is “Where to next?”

Kogen Dojo Interview on YouTube

Use the link, do not click on the photo