This year’s Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships represent a major, sweeping change for jiu-jitsu as a competitive sport. The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation made the bold move of introducing country-qualifiers at the prestigious event, in which athletes from each country compete against their fellow nationals for the chance to represent their respective countries in the final stages of the World Pro.
What this means is that we will see much more broadly distributed podium results in terms of winning countries. The idea here is to help jiu-jitsu grow beyond what it is today, and into something that is represented on the world stage by more nations than just the competitive powerhouse that is Brazil (and perhaps the USA to a lesser degree in the most recent years).
Some may feel that this change will only serve to dilute the talent on the podium, effectively filtering out top athletes from the most competitive countries, while allowing lower ranked athletes (lower ranked in terms of UAEJJF world competition rankings, that is) pass through to the final stages of the event simply because they come from countries with a less developed talent pool. And that sentiment is not entirely wrong, not in the short term at least. But the UAEJJF is playing the long-game, making strategic changes that will be good for jiu-jitsu’s future… and most importantly for the higher-ups at the UAEJJF, good for jiu-jitsu’s chance at Olympic viability.
The new Director of Finance and Marketing at the UAEJJF, Mr. Mohamed Al Marzooqi, has taken on his newly appointed position with the objective in mind of helping jiu-jitsu to reach Olympic status by 2024. As he knows, it’s a tall order, as a lot needs to happen between now and then in order for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to recognize a sport like jiu-jitsu as viable for Olympic competition. Namely, the IOC requires a minimum number of national federations officially representing a given sport around the world, and favours sports that are broadly contested across many parts of the world and not dominated by a small number of nations. But all of the UAEJJF’s strategic decisions keep these objectives top of mind.
So instead of an all-Brazilian podium lineup in most of the categories of this year’s Abu Dhabi World Pro, we’ll likely be seeing lots of different flags being waved during the medal ceremonies. To be clear, this change is GOOD for jiu-jitsu, even if it may mean some growing pains in the short-term. But if you love the gentle art, and you genuinely want it to grow and flourish and have a meaningful future as a competitive sport, then this change is one that you need to support.
Perhaps one day we will all look back and reminisce about the days when jiu-jitsu was dominated by Brazilian competitors. Hopefully at that time, jiu-jitsu will be a truly worldly sport, with deep penetration into nations across the globe (both in terms of competition and community culture), and countless non-profit national federations on every continent and in every region, each managing the competitive jiu-jitsu circuit in their respective geographies. When that day comes, jiu-jitsu will have a small rule-change like this one to thank, at least in part, for the help. Sometimes a little intervention can go a long way.
To all those watching at home, enjoy the final two days of the 2017 Abu Dhabi World Pro! Lots of incredible match-ups to come, plus some exciting ‘Legends’ fights. Stay tuned to @jits_magazine on Instagram for updates.
Starting BJJ As An Older Adult
An interview with Emiliano Cardona, 48, owner of Central City Jiu-Jitsu & Self Defense, Tampa, Florida, a Purple Belt one stripe under Royce Gracie and Certified Gracie Academy Instructor for Tampa Bay area under Ryron and Rener Gracie; training in BJJ for over 18 years.
1. You used to be the faculty advisor for the student Jiu-Jitsu Club at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Can you compare and contrast training college undergraduates with older adults in Jiu-Jitsu?
I have found that the commitment levels are much higher with the older, paying adults. The undergrads are quick to bring in moves from the Internet with no structure. Consequently, they develop with fundemental flaws in their Jiu-Jitsu knowledge. The youngsters also get easily distracted by other things. I have adults that never miss a class.
2. It is common for older adults to take up martial arts for a variety of personal and health reasons, why do you think older adults should take up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
The first reason is the confidence developed when you learn self defense. Secondly, the low impact exercise is truly beneficial. I have one gentleman in his 30’s lose over 37 lbs in 8 months doing JJ low impact.
3. Do you think there is an actual age that one could max out with training and/or competing in Jiu-Jitsu?
No. There are too many masters and grandmasters curreny practicing, teaching, rolling. I sparred with Grandmaster Helio Gracie when he was 74 years old!
4. Can you explain the difference between sports Jiu-Jitsu and self-defense Jiu-Jitsu? How can an older adult excel at both?
For clarification, I will refer to self defense Jiu-Jitsu as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the other stuff as sport. The new mantra is “if you are not throwing punches at your training partner at LEAST once a week, you are not training Gracie Jiu Jitsu.” GJJ has no timers, no weight class. We always assume our opponent is larger stronger and faster. We focus on surviving and exhausting their energy. Other schools teach to force a move to score a point and hardly consider getting hit in the face. I have spent weeks honing how to break free someone’s hands when they protect their arm in an armbar. In GJJ, all you have to do is “push the button”, which is a hammer strike to the face. Their hands immediately release.
5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seems to be gaining popularity and becoming better known, plus more women seem to take up interest thanks to Ronda Rousey. What do you see as the future of the sport? Will it become as big as competitive team sports?
I think it will continue to grow. I see more and more girls at tournaments. 6 years ago, you would only see one.
6. How can local/regional/national/international competitions/tournaments contribute to the popularity of Jiu-Jitsu?
It provdes immediate feedback on your Jiu-Jitsu. It shows what is possible and attainable. It exposes the art on a local level.
The Day Nate Diaz Earned His Black Belt
As much as many of us would one day like to take the stage with some of the world’s top jiu-jitsu competitors for an event like Metamoris or Polaris, such hyped-up events are usually far out of reach unless you’re a big deal.
But one man is changing all that.
Seth Daniels is the founder of the Fight to Win Pro series: an event that gives the celebrity treatment to jiu-jitsu and the people who have dedicated their lives to it. Utilizing state-of-the-art light, sound, and video systems, Daniels and his tiny, but dedicaed team are working tirelessly to create a competition atmosphere that thrills audiences and gives jiu-jitsu competitors the attention they deserve. And the best part is that it’s all for a down-to-Earth cause that you’d never expect from all the flashing lights and fancy promotion posters.
What is now one of the biggest events in the BJJ world started out as a job that Daniels couldn’t stand. He started working as an MMA promoter in 2007, then combined it with promoting rock shows in 2013. He describes the experience as “financially, emotionally, and mentally crippling,” mostly due to the bad interactions he had with many of the rockstars and cage fighters. “There are a lot of great people in that industry, don’t get me wrong, but so many of them were just so entitled and had huge egos,” he says.
It would have been worth it if Daniels had loved the things he was promoting, but instead, he found himself wanting to work with what he was truly passionate about: jiu-jitsu. Daniels and his wife put their heads together and brainstormed what they could do to create something that could utilize the $500k his company had spent on equipment while helping to grow the jiu-jitsu community from coast to coast. Just like that, Fight to Win Pro was born.
Since its inception, “F2W” has grown exponentially and featured competitors that include Mackenzie Dern and Joao Miyao. The upcoming event on July 15 will see Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Rafael Lovato Jr. on the main card. But despite how big these shows have gotten, Daniels has never raised ticket prices for spectators. Not even once.
You see, Daniels didn’t create F2W to get rich. In fact, he says, he and his crew usually only make enough money out of the event to cover expenses, pay their workers, and survive. The big cash goes towards the fighters, who can earn thousands of dollars off a single fight.
While you might see some overlap between the competitors who take the stage at Fight to Win and those who appear at EBI or Metamoris, what makes F2W stand out is that it also showcases jiujiteiros who are excelling at the local level.
“We’re jiu-jitsu nerds,” says Daniels. “Sure, we love seeing the ‘one percent’ competing in the sport. Everyone knows they’re the best in the world, so it’s awesome to watch them fight. But shows like Metamoris and Polaris aren’t geared towards getting new people involved in jiu-jitsu.”
“So what we’re doing is something different,” he continues. “Our next event has Cyborg and Lovato. Of course everyone’s going to watch that. But I’m also building up the 25 other fights that are happening. So those guys and girls who aren’t part of the ‘one percent’ are getting to fight in the same event as these major players in jiu-jitsu.”
The result is that family and friends of the other “99 percent” who are competing in F2W come out to support their loved ones . . . and that’s where the magic happens.
“These people are used to coming to all-day local tournaments with lousy food just to support their friends,” says Daniels. “But when they come to a Fight to Win Pro event, it’s different. Now they’re seeing it showcased almost like a UFC event. With MMA, you don’t really see people coming home and being like, ‘I wanna do that. I wanna get punched in the face.’ But these people who have never done jiu-jitsu see it on my stage, and they think, ‘I can do that.’”
Part of the reason F2W plants the appeal of jiu-jitsu into people who have never done it before is because it features competitors of all ages and genders. Applications are open to kids who are least yellow belts, teens who are at least orange belts, and adults who are at least purple belts. And Daniels makes a point to show off all the female talent in the sport.
“I grew up respecting female martial artists. When I was four, my dad brought out [judoka and mother of Ronda Rousey] AnnMaria De Mars for a seminar. I’ve gotten by ass beat by women like Hilary Wolf and Ellen Wilson. I was raised to respect people for their skill set, so I push hard to get more women on our cards.”
The problem, however, is that not many women apply to be on F2W. “If I have 120 applicants, only four of them will be women,” says Daniels. He suspects that part of the reason is that there simply aren’t many female jiu-jitsu practitioners at the purple belt level or above. But he says if he can get them, he won’t hesitate to give them a spot in an event.
Even though F2W is seriously huge, with fifty competitors and thousands of spectators at each event, the incredible amount of work that goes into making each fight a reality is done by about ten people. Between 200 and 400 jiu-jitsu players apply to fight at each event, and out of those, only fifty will make it onto the final card. After the selection process is complete, about 25 hours are spent analyzing the fighters’ styles and abilities to create the best matchups possible. The event photographers, James Snyder and Mike Calimbas, get to work promoting the fights, and everyone else starts booking hotels and renting what needs to be rented.
Throughout it all, Daniels has to be prepared to replace a fighter on a moment’s notice.
“If your opponent gets hurt or drops out, I will find you a new one. If I say you have a fight, you have a fight. I’ve never had to break that promise.”
The real chaos comes once the crew arrives at the venue. If they’re not lucky enough to be allowed to set up early, it can mean 48 straight hours of ten people setting up a stage, lights, sound systems, ticketing areas, and video systems.
“We call ourselves the ‘no-sleep crew.’ If we’re lucky, we might get a two-hour nap in. We’re trying to get better about being healthier, but for now, we’re fine living off energy drinks and the demons inside us,” Daniels says, only half joking.
While he could hire more people to set everything up, he feels better working with people he knows and trusts to handle thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and set it up correctly.
By the time they’ve driven across the country, unloaded thousands of pounds of equipment, and worked hundreds of hours, the “no-sleep crew” will have made about a dollar an hour for their work.
“It takes a special group of people to do what we do,” says Daniels. “A lot of people try to do what we do, but I call them ‘Spice Girls’ because they’re wannabes. They try to do what we do for cheap, without the insane amount of effort and energy that we give. The ‘Spice Girls’ are in it to make money, but we’re in it for the love. You go to an MMA event and you’re going to see a ‘Dana White’ type there in a suit shaking hands with the VIPs. That doesn’t happen with me. I’m not the guy in the suit; I’m busy running the event. We don’t have time to BS. Your soul has to be in this; it’s not about fattening up your wallet.”
If you’re interested in showing off your skills on one of the greatest jiu-jitsu stages in the country, the first thing you have to do is earn your rank. Daniels wants to showcase competitors who have “paid their dues” in the sport, which is why he’s set the belt minimums for applicants. Once you’re there, all you have to do is apply on the Fight to Win Pro website. It helps if you have videos of your previous competitions on social media, but Daniels also looks at the personalities of the people he considers for his events.
“I don’t care how good you are at jiu-jitsu; if you’re a douche, I won’t pick you. I’ll happily take a purple belt who pays his gym fees by mopping floors over a black belt who thinks he’s too good to sell tickets.”
Should you get selected, the payoff is huge… and not just financially speaking. The environment is “as close as you’ll get to fighting at Bellator without getting punched in the face,” according to Daniels.
“I don’t have a billion dollars at my disposal, but I own all the equipment I use, so you get the star treatment anyway. It gets you excited. You’ll be backstage and you’ll hear your song on this ridiculous sound system, and your blood just starts pumping. But beyond that, you also get a professional environment. You get paid what we promised to pay you, and you get a fair matchup. We’re determined to make this one of the best experiences of your life.”
Spectators at Fight to Win Pro events will also be getting their money’s worth. For $30, they get to see jiu-jitsu the way it was meant to be seen and watch their friends and family do what they do best in an environment that’s normally reserved for professional MMA fighters. And if all goes well, they might even seek out a BJJ gym and sign themselves up.
With upcoming events taking place in Denver, CO (July 15); Oceanside, CA (July 23); and Albuquerque, NM (July 30), Fight to Win Pro goes all over the place in an attempt to help support local fighters and promote jiu-jitsu across the nation. You’re likely to have the opportunity to attend an event close by at some point, but until then, you can also watch the events on the FloGrappling website. Daniels is doing everything he can to make jiu-jitsu something that people can fall in love with no matter where they are.
“I’m not doing this for my ego. I just want to grow the damn sport. I want new guys to do jiu-jitsu, and I want the people who are already doing it to go out there and support local tournaments, too. Don’t just wait around for something like this or IBJJF or EBI. I don’t look at those other big events as a threat. I’m just doing what I love and trying to help other people do the same.”
Lalita Krishna’s Before His Time is the astonishing story of a determined Trinidadian doctor who immigrated to Halifax. The son of a headmaster, Alfred Waddell set out for New York in 1923 with his young bride Amelia Maria, dreaming of becoming a doctor.The couple worked menial jobs to support themselves in New York. In 1928 Alfred left his family to study medicine at Dalhousie’s medical school in Halifax. Amelia Maria finally joined him with their 4 children. Graduating in 1933, he faced the suspicions of Halifax’s white and black communities who regarded him as an “outsider.” His practice took off slowly. Members of the Chinese community were among his first clients.Despite his own hardships, Waddell treated many isolated people who had no access to medical care. Waddell brought medicine to far flung black communities; spoke out against injustice; and even billeted black musicians like Cab Calloway, when he could not get a hotel room. A champion of social equality, Dr. Waddell raised his children with ideas of fairness and earned the respect of an entire city.Although he died of a heart attack before he could see many of the the social changes he fought for, Alfred Waddell is remembered fondly his those who benefited from his advocacy.Filmmaker Lalita Krishna tenderly weaves interviews, archival footage and lovely photography, in this heroic tale of a Trinidadian doctor whose humanity helped bridge the divide between Haifax’s black and white communities.
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Jiu Jitsu Seminars; Are they that important to your training? Some people say maybe, some may say it depends on who it is with, some may even say no (for what reason? I have no idea.), but I say YES. Absolutely! Seminars are such an important tool to your BJJ training. Yes, they can require some traveling and may be time consuming. They also can cost a decent amount, but that cannot compare to the knowledge that you can gain from each one.
The most recent seminar I attended was by Rafael Mendes at ScrantonMMA. I am positive you all know this name, and if you don’t you better get on your research. I cannot even express how much I learned from a mere three hours with him. At first, I was not sure what to expect especially when I realized we were doing a set off the Berimbolo (which does not come easy for me!) By the end I had gained SO much more knowledge to add to my BJJ repertoire. It made me realize that everyone should be attending seminars taught by those who have extensive knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu and who are thought of as leading BJJ Players. To be able to work with the elite and have them spoon feed you their knowledge is invaluable. It gives you the chance to see technique from a different perspective and gives you even more insight to the sport. Even if you walk away with one new technique or detail, you will be able to carry that with you for all the years of training to come.
Also, when attending a seminar make sure you bring a notebook! This is so important. There are so many details and things you are going to want to remember, you need to write them down. If you walk out of there without taking notes, I promise you there are going to be things you don’t remember the next day. Seminars are packed with so much information it is impossible to remember every little detail….unless you write it down.
Besides all of the knowledge you gain and new moves you learn, seminars are a fantastic way to meet your fellow BJJ players! We all follow each other on every social media forum, but this is a great way to meet each other in person. You get the chance to meet individuals who share the same love of the sport you do and it’s a chance to make new friendships and meet more training partners. How can someone not enjoy that? It is an awesome way to bring the BJJ community together.
So throw all the excuses out the door on why you cannot or do not want to attend an awesome seminar and go register and learn! Knowledge is power and in regards to BJJ we can always learn more. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is always evolving so take the opportunities to learn from the best. We can always be looking for ways to expand our game.
FLORIDA COMBAT CHALLENGE V
“V IS FOR VICTORY!”
Saturday, May 18th 2013
Location – JANNUS LIVE!
Doors @ 6pm, Fights start @ 7pm!
VIP STAGE $50
VIP TABLE (Cage side, seats 6) $500
PRIVATE BALCONY SUITES ( includes 2 bottles and private bar) $1,000
THIS EVENT WILL BE NATIONALLY TELEVISED!
Member of MMArecruiter.com
Made promotional video for the USF MMA/BJJ club.
Previous Treasurer for the USF MMA/BJJ club,; resulted in awarded “Most Improved Club” by the USF Sports Club Council.
Videotaped some USF student grappling tournaments
1) Sponsoring MMA/BJJ fighters and tournaments
2) UFC local fight pay per view parties
3) UFC national event ticket sales investing.
4) Hemo-Rage video contests
Dana White does the right thing in admitting that UFC 149 was a massive disappointment
5 hours ago
The UFC’s success in the last 11 years has been based upon deep cards filled with evenly matched fights in which the athletes took risks in a desire to put on a show.
None of that occurred on Saturday at UFC 149 in a very lackluster main card at the Scotiabank Saddledome, in which Renan Barão claimed an easy unanimous decision over Urijah Faber to claim the interim bantamweight belt.
Hector Lombard’s debut vs. Tim Boetsch was one of many sub-par UFC 149 fights. (US Presswire)
Fans in Calgary and in social media sites blasted White before the fight for what they perceived as a poor card. A slew of injuries to high-profile fighters decimated the fight card, but White spent the week before the show angrily defending his men.
He said to anybody who would listen that “our guys always deliver.”
On Saturday, though, they did not and White wasn’t shy about sharing his displeasure. After Barão’s unanimous decision was announced, the crowd stuck around and booed loudly to let White know what it thought of the company’s first trip to Calgary.
Appearing on the post-fight show on Fuel TV, White said he was “not too excited about” how the card turned out, though he wasn’t nearly as upset with either Barão or Faber. The rest of the fighters on the main card, though, felt White’s wrath.
Heavily hyped middleweight Hector Lombard fell flat on his face, doing next to nothing in a split decision loss to Tim Boetsch. Cheick Kongo won a unanimous decision over Shawn Jordan only because he was slightly less horrid than Jordan. And James Head defeated Brian Ebersole by another split decision in a fight whose highlight was Ebersole giving a thumbs up while Head was trying to choke him.
Only Matthew Riddle, who defeated Chris Clements with a third-round arm triangle choke, put on the kind of effort in the main card that makes White smile.
“If the undercard didn’t suck so bad, they wouldn’t have been so [angry at] the main event,” White said.
Fights, no matter how good they look on paper going in, can turn out far differently than most expect. And, as White said, the UFC does routinely put on far more good fights than bad.
It was good, though, that White showed his anger on Saturday. One of the reasons that the fights are so routinely good, in addition to the outstanding matchmaking of Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, is White’s personality.
He won’t accept cards like Saturday’s very well and lets the fighters know it in no uncertain terms. It creates a culture in which the fighters compete with a sense of urgency.
The late boxing trainer, Georgie Benton, used to tell his fighters, “Win this one; look good in the next one.” And fighters, who know how much it means to win in the UFC, can slip into that mode if someone isn’t around to remind them that’s not acceptable.
Barão certainly wasn’t scintillating in his win over Faber, but he did everything right. He kept Faber on the outside with his kicks and fired punches and knees the few times the ex-World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion managed to close the distance between them.
They fought a tactical fight and Faber wasn’t able to find a way to get near to create the scrambles he’s so good in. As a result, Barão won by scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 49-46.
“I knew he was trying to keep me at a distance,” Faber said. “Those kicks were coming from pretty far out and it was difficult to get in for takedowns.”
But there was no excuse for the lack of action in the Boetsch-Lombard, Kongo-Jordan and Head-Ebersole fights. They were awful and weren’t nearly up to the UFC standards.
“I was excited about this card,” White said on Fuel’s post-fight show. “I didn’t just come down here and say a bunch of things I didn’t think were going to be true. I never expected Hector Lombard would look like that [against] Boetsch. I thought those two would go right after each other. Cheick Kongo and Jordan, that was disgusting.”
The card was awful but those things happen in sports. Not every fight can be Hagler-Hearns. Still, if you want to blame someone, blame White, since he’s the man at the top and he puts the shows together.
Give him credit, though, for not sitting back and looking past what was a poor show for the people who paid their $55. He made his feelings known, loudly, publicly and unequivocally.
White getting angry and blasting the show isn’t going to guarantee that every card will be hellacious in the future. It does, however, set a tone and reminds the fighters that there is a standard that has been set and expected to be followed in a UFC fight.
That was not the case on Saturday by any stretch of the imagination.
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