Mes Top 5 Ouvrages
Termes les plus recherchés
WE LOOK BACK AT A FANTASTIC 12 MONTHS OF BJJ
TAKI N G IT
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ISSUE 30 -2016
42: ORLHNDD SRNCHEZ
50: MHSTERCLRSS WITH ZE RHDIOLR
94: EBIV TOURNAMENT REVIEW
THE BIG PICTURE
A striking image from
Snaps from your gradings
Roy Harris Team
On quitting the job and
chasing the dream
With the Fightworx
Structuring a class - the
hows and whys
What to consider when
visiting another gym
Questions that can help
BJJ IN POPULAR CULTURE
With Emil Fischer
BJJ -THE NEW RELIGION?
Matt Jardine's 10 BJJ
THE BJJ DOCTOR
Braulio Estima answers
SHEDDING THE Gl
Matheus Diniz shares
some nogi techniques
Attacks from sleeve and
Top tips for your nutrition
planning from our expert
Why we limit our BJJ
The latest BJJ goodies
under the JJS microscope
The adventures of a bjj
noob - Meerkatsu style
JIU JITSU STYLE 7
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EDITOR: Callum Medcraft
CONSULTANT EDITOR: Roger Grade
Jody Clark, Seymour Yang & Gartista
Blanca Marisa Garcia
COVER ILLUSTRATION: JODY CLARK
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“ON R PERSONAL NOTE, I DM
ODOHONI THAI 2016 WILL BE THE
YEAR THOr SEES ME RETURN TO
FIGHTING IN THE Gl”
I always enjoy writing my first column of
a new year, as it offers a great chance to
reflect on some of the standout stories
over the past twelve months. As expected,
there have been some fantastic performers
at the major competitions, and we've
decided to put together a list of our
favourites in 'Our Year In Review' feature.
Mackenzie Dern will look back at 2015
as the year she managed to cement her
status as one of the best fighters in jiu
jitsu. Beating Gabi Garcia in Abu Dhabi,
then picking up a submission win in her
World Championship final against Michelle
Nicolini were both fantastic to watch.
I also want to congratulate Bernardo Faria,
who emerged as the man on top at the
World Championships this year. Though
Rodolfo Vieira was not able to compete
due to injury, and Buchecha was as also
forced to withdraw, Bernardo looked
like he was in unbeatable form and he
deserves his moment in the spotlight.
Rafael Mendes is another fighter
who is clearly competing in a
league of his own at the moment.
To win his fifth world title without
conceding a single point in any
match is exceptional. Mendes
now stands alone as the only
featherweight to win five world
titles and who knows what more
he is capable of achieving.
We have a great Masterclass inside
this issue with my friend and great
teacher, Ze Radiola. Ze has been
responsible for helping to develop
some amazing athletes, like Braulio
and Victor Estima, as well as Charles
Negromonte who teaches at my academy.
Ze is a guy who always likes to keep up to
date and learn new techniques, so make
sure you check out this feature.
On a personal note, I am adamant that
2016 will be the year that sees me return
to fighting in the gi. I've been talking to a
number of people about some potential
super fights that would be very interesting,
so let's see what the future holds. One
thing is for sure and that is my desire to
make a return to jiu jitsu.
Enjoy the latest issue of the magazine guys
and - until next time - keep training and
enjoying jiu jitsu.
B JIU JITSU STYLE
BRITISH G EUROPEAN CHAMPION
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One of the standout athletes
of 2015, Mackenzie Dern,
photographed in California.
* • ] & N b' c * N ] '
JIUJITSU STYLE 11
Full range of new products at 0
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“I DIDN’T EXPECT THE G1 LOVERS TO JUMP FOR
JOY, BUI I MY THOUGHT THEY WOULD ADMIT I
WHS ONTO SOMETHING. INSTEAD, THEY DID THEIR
BEST TO SWEEP MV VICTORY UNDER THE RUG. IT
WHS THE LARGEST UPSET IN HBD DHHBI HISTORY,
AND THEY SIMPLY IGNORED IT” -EDDIE BRAVO
By 2003, Brazilian jiu jitsu was fairly well established in the United States and
beginning to spread out to the rest of the world. It was an integral (if declining)
part of IVIMA, though the Grade family status had diminished with successive
victories by Kazushi Sakuraba. In BJJ competition however, 'Grade' remained a
name to conjure with. Royler Grade was of particular importance, a legendary
and still active figure in the featherweight division. His trophy cabinet was
overflowing with titles from the Mundials as well as the most prestigious nogi
tournament, the ADCC.
American black belts were unusual at the highest echelons of the sport. BJ Penn
was an exception, becoming the first American to win gold at the Mundials
in 2000, but his
(and has remained)
a rarity. Even today,
only Rafael Lovato
Jr, Robert Drysdale,
Hillary Williams and Lana Stefanac have been able to follow Penn's example
(Lana went one better, winning the Absolute division as well). Though the US has
a slightly better pedigree in the ADCC (with ten champions up until 2015), few
expectations rested on the shoulders of a Jean Jacques Machado brown belt
competing at the 2003 event, a man who entered the world as Edgar Cano. He
became rather better known as Eddie Bravo.
An experienced competitor, Bravo had begun his training in 1994, entering
his first tournament in 1 996. He was only a brown belt, but had demonstrated
his skill by defeating Gustavo Dantas, a well-regarded competitor out of Nova
Uniao. However, Bravo would next be facing Royler Grade. A largely unlauded
American brown belt approaching his mid-thirties, against the greatest 66kg
competitor in the sport's history? The result was surely a foregone conclusion.
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EDDIE BRAVO SPENT 48% OF THE MATCH
FIGHTING FROM HIS HALF GUARD
m JIU JITSU STYLE
BY CAN SONMEZ
Visibly nervous, Bravo dropped
straight to the mat, scooting
towards Royler. He eventually
managed to pull Royler into his
half guard, working on head
control. Royler passed with his
patented knee cut, but his side
control was loose, enabling
Bravo to roll back on top. He
didn't stay there long, as Royler
drove through to the top a
few seconds later while Bravo
Bravo re-established half guard,
which Royler almost instantly
passed. Yet he didn't count on
Bravo's flexibility: the American
was able to hook his foot by
Royler's hip, using that control
to gain butterfly guard. It was at
this point that the rubber guard
Bravo is best known for made
an appearance, though to little
After attempting a triangle
set-up, Bravo locked in closed
guard, but his legs slipped
down low on the Brazilian's
body. Sensing a lack of control,
Royler exploded into a guard
pass. However, Bravo caught
him a second time with that
same escape to butterfly
guard. He got Royler's wrist
and pushed out Grade's arm,
providing him with the space he
needed to move into a classic
Royler tried to stack his
opponent, but Bravo rolled with
it, curling his body, never letting
go of that triangle. Royler sat
to his butt, pulling on Bravo's
knee. It was too late: almost
imperceptibly, Royler tapped.
MATCH LENGTH: 8 MINS 30 SECS LOCATION: SAO PAOLO, BRAZIL
DATE: 1 7TH MAY 2003 EVENT: ADCC 2003
VENUE: GINASIO DO IBIRAPUERA ATTENDANCE: 5,000
Nobody was more surprised than Eddie Bravo at the victory. He answered the
Brazilian interviewer in a daze, eyes wet. "He's a legend. I can't believe I won.
I can't believe I won." He would be knocked out of the ADCC by Leo Vieira
in the next round (Vieira went on to win gold). As Bravo put it in an interview
with Total-MMA.com, fighting again after beating Royler was "like winning the
Super Bowl, then having to win again." His head was no longer in the game. It
didn't matter. Bravo's victory over Royler was undoubtedly the making of him.
As the first American to defeat Royler Gracie, he now had the notoriety he
needed to establish and build his own team, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.
Initially, the rhetoric coming out of that team, denigrating the gi (something
Bravo dismissed as "an ancient Asian superhero outfit") and making bold
claims about Bravo's 'revolutionary' approach, were ridiculed. Though he
always attracted a certain segment of the market, reaching them through his
books (especially Mastering the Rubber Guard) and later his DVDs, 10th Planet
was outside of the mainstream. Bravo was somewhat bitter about what he
perceived as a lack of recognition after the Abu Dhabi victory, writing in the
introduction to Mastering the Rubber Guard:
"/ didn't expect the gi lovers to jump for joy, but I truly thought they would
admit I was onto something. Instead, they did their best to sweep my victory
under the rug. It was the largest upset in Abu Dhabi history, and they simply
ignored it. I figured the American jiu-jitsu press would at least give me some
props in the magazines, but that never happened either."
Things have changed since then, in large part due to another match between
Bravo and Royler. This time the stage was Metamoris III. Though Bravo did not
submit Royler, he dominated the fight: Royler was forced on the defensive,
using his incredible flexibility (something he and Bravo have in common) to
his advantage. While Royler's game looked much the same as it did in 2003,
Bravo's performance proved he had grown a great deal in the last decade. The
BJJ community was impressed.
He then compounded that goodwill by establishing the Eddie Bravo
Invitational, which has further raised the profile of both Bravo and his team. He
was able to use EBI to showcase some of the rising stars at 10th Planet, like
Geo Martinez. Along with other new promotions like Polaris, the Eddie Bravo
Invitational has become a premium submission only event. It has been a long
wait, but the day when a student produced by 1 0th Planet Jiu Jitsu manages to
surpass Bravo's achievement and win the ADCC looks to be getting closer.
SOURCES: BRAVO, EDDIE, THE TWISTER [ DVD] • BRAVO, EDDIE, MASTERING THE RUBBER
GUARD (LAS VEGAS, NV: VICTORY BELT, 2006) • BRAVO, EDDIE, MASTERING THE TWISTER
(LAS VEGAS, NV: VICTORY BELT, 2007) • THEFIGHlWORKSPODCAST.COM •
WWW.SLIDEYFOOT.COM • WWW.HIGHTIMES.COM • WWW.TOTAL-MMA.COM •
JIU JITSU STYLE IS
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JIU-JITSU WORLD TOUR
Open to ALL nationalities. ALL Belts, Adults & Masters Massive cash prizes and
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THE OMOPLHTfl APPEARED IN BRAZIL EITHER THROUGH JUDO OR CATCH WRESTLING, BOTH POPULAR FIGHTING
STYLES DURING THE 1930S AND 1940S. THE POSITION WHS NOT SEEN AS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE IN THE EARLY DAYS,
BUT WHS PART OF THE CURRICULUM TAUGHT BY MOST JIU JITSU ACADEMIES.
When interviewed for this piece, Otavio 'Peixotinho' one of the great
Carlson Gracie students of the 1970s and 1980s stated that:
"The omoplata existed, but it lacked effectiveness. It was something you'd
try in training, but not at competitions. I saw Rickson and Rolls compete
many times and even they wouldn't put it to use."
Firstly with the 'submission only' style competitions - and later due to the rigid
jiu jitsu rules established by the Rio de Janeiro federation in the early 1970s
- the omoplata was regarded as a submission move only. It was not seen as a
set up for a sweep, so remained dormant in the competitive scene for almost
seven decades. It was only in 1994, when the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Confederation
(CBJJ) re-opened the rulebook allowing points for this situation, that the
omoplata started being seen as a good option for a reversal.
The change in the rules of jiu jitsu's sporting environment coincided with
the growth in popularity of this ancient technique, a growth led by one
competitor who revolutionised the guard game during the 1990s, Mr
Antonio 'Nino' Schembri.
Schembri opened the eyes of many fighters to the efficiency of the position,
using it as a set up not only for sweeps, but also armbars, chokes and other
“THE OMOPLHTfl EXISTED, BUT IT KICKED
EFFECTIVENESS. IT WHS SOMETHING YOU’D
TRY IN TRAINING, BUT NOT AT COMPETITIONS”
- OTAVIO ‘PEIXOTINHO 1
developments. Since the improvements made by Nino, many more have
added their input, making the omoplata one of the most utilised attacks in
modern day jiu jitsu.
WORDS: ANDRE BORGES, EDITOR AT WWW.BJJHEROES.COM
JIU JITSU STYLE 13
IF YOU WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE AWARDED A NEW BELT RECENTLY, THIS PAGE REPRESENTS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SAVOUR
THE MOMENT WITH RECOGNITION IN JIU JITSU STYLE! SEND IN DETAILS OF YOUR RECENT PROMOTION, INCLUDING THE RANK YOU
ACHIEVED AND YOUR INSTRUCTOR'S NAME, AND WE WILL PUBLISH AS MANY AS WE CAN IN OUR MAGAZINE.
SEND YOUR EMAILS TO U2US@BJJSTYLE.COM
Jiu Jitsu Style contributor, Matt Jardine, received his purple belt from Mauricio
Gomes and Roger Gracie.
Nora Malchin receives her blue belt from Franjo Artukovic, Dominik
Artukovic, Nico Penzer and Renato Migliaccio. at Stallion Gym, Artukovic
Jiu Jitsu, in Stuttgart, Germany.
Alex Cannon received his purple belt from Arlans Siqueira (Arlans Siqueira
SO JIU JITSU STYLE
Keith Scott (aka Bruce) received his blue belt
from Aaron Naisbet at The Dungeon
Grading day at Urban Kings Gym for Jude Samuel and his Inglorious Grapplers team - congratulations
to everyone that was promoted!
Seymour Yang, Shaun Beattie and Stephen de Aguiar were promoted to black belt by Nick Brooks.
Shawn Bunting received his brown belt from
Paul Creighton (CMMA) and Sam Joseph
(Buckhead Jiu Jitsu).
Noor McVay was promoted to blue belt by Nova Forca UK head coach
Ricardo Da Silva.
Lubomir Repasky was promoted to black belt by Nick Brooks.
JIU JITSU STYLE SI
'N ] n Naa* ]
THE DREHDED INJURY LRY OFF...
After over eight years of training, it finally happened. I
suffered my first extensive injury lay off, which left me
genuinely worried for my sanity.
Like any jiu jitsu practitioner I've had my fair
share of minor injuries: a bloody nose, hyper-
extended limbs (I did eventually learn to tap),
sprained fingers and cauliflower ears. As you'll
all know, these relatively minor injuries do little
in the way of keeping you away from training;
they're more of an inconvenience if anything
else. As fate would have it, what eventually kept
me away from the mats for my first extensive lay
off was a fall during judo practice.
Having fallen awkwardly during judo randori
and experiencing a sharp pain in my lower
back, I stumbled through the rest of the session
feeling like I was constantly winded. After
peeing blood for 36 hours, being admitted to
hospital for two days, getting diagnosed with
renal trauma and ordered away from training
for six weeks, I started to think of other ways to
Our resident BJJ Doctor, Braulio Estima, has
addressed the issue of developing your BJJ
away from actual training in our last mag, so I
dug through my back issues and sought out his
words of wisdom. Though I still felt depressed
by the prospect of no rolling or any physical
exertion for such a long time, I was also excited
by the prospect of watching, reading and
reflecting on as much BJJ content as I could get
my hands on.
I decided to use my new found spare time
to research some of my favourite athletes
and their standout techniques in an attempt
to head back to the mats with plenty of new
material to work on. It was not only great
fun watching highlights, reading blogs and
searching for new content, but it also helped
me think about the sort of grappler I aspire to
be. Instead of coming home from a training
session reflecting on the obvious areas I
needed to work on, watching and reading
content helped me think more about the
additional areas I'd LIKE to work on.
Obviously we need to be mindful of addressing
the flaws that live sparring unearths, but I think
it can be equally important to maintain an idea
of the skills you wish to learn. For example,
though I'm a brown belt my attacking leglock
game is still very limited, but I don't often
come away from a training session reflecting on
this in my game because I can work around it.
However, after watching and reading content
from the likes of Eddie Cummings and Dean
Lister, I have a new-found desire to look at this
whole new area of potential development.
At the time of writing I'm due back to training
in the next few days for the first time since the
injury, and I can honestly say this has turned
into a really positive experience. My hunger for
development has grown greater than ever and
- if it is possible - I think I'm in love with the
gentle art even more. If you're facing a lengthy
layoff from the mats, my advice would be to use
this as a time to reflect on your journey so far,
figure out where you want to grow as a grappler
and work hard to keep jiu jitsu in your life even
when you can't practise it.
Thanks for picking up our latest issue, and keep
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& Instructors welcome
* Please get in touch"
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MADE IN USA
As our brand continues to grow,
so will our never ending quest to produce
the best gi in the world. The Classic 2.0 is our USA made kimono
that was inspired by our classic fit kimono,
which has been our staple design for many years. The theory behind this
project was very simple, take our classic fit and make little improvements
to make it better and
manufacture it in our home state of CALIFORNIA.
OSVALDO "QUEIXINHO" MOIZINHO IS A SOUL FIGHTER'S BLACK BELT
AND ONE OF THE MOST TECHNICAL FIGHTERS COMPETING IN THE -70KG
DIVISION. HAVING TRAINED EXTENSIVELY WITH CAIO TERRA, QUEIXINHO
IS KNOWN FOR HIS EXCELLENT USE OF THE DE LA RIVA GUARD AND
PRECISE, VERSATILE PASSING AND SUBMISSIONS.
MATCH LENGTH WAS
6 MINS 52 SECONDS
THE SCIENCE OF JIUJITSU
OF QUEIXINHO’S WINS
WERE BY SUBMISSION
QUE X NHO GAINED MOST
SUCCESS FROM STANDING
Ek JIUJITSU STYLE
N*N & N 8$ N8M
os* i\r &n
All matches observed of Osvaldo "Queixinho", used
in this small sample occurred at IBJJF events, inside of
his weight division, and in the years 201 1 -201 5. Only
techniques, occurrences, and outcomes that were recorded
are displayed in the data below (i.e. if no butterfly sweeps
occurred, there will not be a representation of that in the
sample data charts). Matches were selected at random
based on freely available matches. This is a limited sample
but - given the estimated amount of matches in this time
period - it is well above the percentage necessary to create
a scientifically validated trend sampling.
I \TN &N *]]&INI
] N' *
HE SCORED FIRST IN
10 OF HIS 11 WINS
' ^ -t M 1
isr * m
There are some names that fly just under the
radar in BJJ, and one of the guys that has to be
mentioned in this category is Osvaldo "Queixinho"
Moizinho. Many will recognise him from his
successful battles with Joao and Paulo Miyao this
year, but Queixinho has been a dominant force
in the featherweight division for years now, and
the most interesting thing about him may be the
diversity in his game.
Queixinho first came to prominence several years
ago with a quick footlock win over UFC star Nate
Diaz. Since then the young Brazilian has proven
himself to be a top IBJJF competitor to watch.
What makes watching him so much fun is seeing
just how well-rounded his game is.
In the matches we viewed Queixinho had an
impressive 73% win rate. His submission rate in
those wins ended up being around 72%! This is
no easy feat. What's even more impressive is that
he found a way to get those submissions in seven
different ways. That's the greatest submission
diversity we've seen in any of our studies.
Queixinho's entire game is diverse; we witnessed
him employ different strategies for each opponent.
In fact, the only technique he successfully used
more than twice in the entire study was de La Riva
guard. He does a very good job of deflecting and
shutting down the berimbolo of his opponents,
and even countered with his own on one or two
occasions. His sweep to pass ratio was almost dead
even (10/9). When he went to sweep, he would
often rely on various open guards, with de La Riva
being the most popular. When passing, he really
kept his opponents guessing; while nearly 80%
of his passes were from standing, he varied his
approaches considerably. In the study, he was able
to execute seven seven different styles of passes.
What's important to keep in mind is that in most
of our studies we see a strong prevalence of
a "game". Queixinho seems able to tailor his
approach depending on his opponent. Whether
this is done subconsciously or on purpose, his style
is dynamic nonetheless. He found success passing,
sweeping, and submitting in more different ways
than anyone else we've studied.
Ultimately, what's most impressive about Queixinho
is how dynamic his submission game is; he was
able to nab a lot of different kinds of submissions
from many different positions. While many athletes
we've studied have found success from minimising
their toolkit, Queixinho seems to thrive with a
Queixinho has yet to win a world championship,
but with the exit of Gui Mendes from the division
and his recent success over the Miyao brothers,
Queixinho has to be a favourite for a 201 6 world
title. He is certainly an athlete to follow.
QUEIXINHO FINISHED 7 DIFFERENT
KINDS OF SUBMISSIONS
DE LA RIVA 4
HALF GUARD 2
SPIDER GUARD 1
OPEN GUARD 1
RNKLE PICK 2
SIT-UP RND OVERTAKE OPPONENT 1
SUCCESSES: STANDING GUARD PASSES
AVOIDED: BOTTOM HALF GUARD
TOP TECHNIQUES: STANDING GUARD PASSES £ DE LA RIVA
LEG DRAG 1
KNEE THROUGH 1
KNEE CUT FROM HALF GUARD 1
REVERSE SITTING HALF GUARD 1
TAKING THE BACK
SIDE CONTROL 1
FROM PASSING THE GUARD 2
SIDE CONTROL 1
HALF-GUARD TOP 1
DE LA RIVA 1
CHOKE FROM BACK
CROSS COLLAR TOP
NECK CHOKE (GUILLOTINE, BRAB0, ETC.]
ROY HARRIS TERM
about these Brazilian guys who were awesome
on the ground. Up until that point in time, I
only had a minimal interest in ground fighting.
However, my friend showed me what it was all
about. We sparred in the parking lot outside
of the Academy. He took me to the pavement
and choked me in about ten seconds flat.
Now, keep in mind my friend weighed 50
lbs less than I did. Needless to say, I was
impressed. No one had ever done that to me
before, so I knew he was onto something. I
went driving through Torrance in search of the
new Grade Academy."
The United States was the starting point for jiu
jitsu's international expansion, initially due to
Rorion Grade's second attempt to establish a
US foothold in 1978, which accelerated in the
late '80s with the release of Grade Jiu Jitsu in
Action and subsequent instructional videos.
The major catalyst arrived in 1993 with the
UFC, but by that point the legendary Dirty
Dozen group comprising the first non-Brazilian
black belts had already been training for years.
The first of them to reach black belt, Craig
Kukuk and Ken Gabrielson, earned their rank
in 1992, a year before Royce stepped into the
There are multiple versions of the Dirty Dozen
list, with some debate about the order, but
Roy Harris can lay claim to a place. Like a
number of other early adopters, Harris had a
long background in other martial arts before
encountering Brazilian jiu jitsu. He counts an
impressive twenty-seven different
disciplines on his website,
ranging from familiar styles like judo, aikido
and boxing through to rather more esoteric
names, like sho shin ti karate and balintawak.
That all began in 1 981 , as Harris documented
in a fascinating thread on The Underground
back in 2001 . He writes that after reading
Bruce Lee's Fighting Methods: Basic
Training, he headed off to a wing chun class.
Unimpressed, he moved on to jeet kune do
with Rick Faye in Minnesota until 1986 (due
to a move to California). Faye recommended
Harris try Dan Inosanto and Paul Vunak, who in
keeping with the original precepts of JKD were
always looking to expand their knowledge.
As you might expect from an open-minded
martial arts school in California at that time,
word about the Gracies training over in
Torrance had got around:
"A friend of mine who was training
at the Inosanto Academy told me
Though Harris has since voiced his regrets at
publically sharing his early recollections of BJJ
(it's a remarkably honest account), it remains
a valuable insight into a very different world.
Back in the early '90s, BJJ was a closed-off
environment where training was hard to come
by, knowledge tightly held by a handful of
Brazilians. His first classes were with Rorion
and Royler, in the winter of 1990.
After only thirteen lessons with Royler, Harris
was presented with a blue belt. He was also
teaching self defence classes at the time, over
at the University of California (which also led to
a year training in sambo with Nikolay Baturin).
That would eventually lead to a falling out with
the Gracie Academy over money in 1992, as
Harris was being paid by the University. Harris
states that he was already passing some of that
income to Rorion, but that Rorion expected
more. According to Harris, he went
SE JIU JITSU STYLE
Y CAN S NME
- ... V... L I V
T MEL NE
Harris starts training in wing
chun, inspired by Bruce Lee
Harris moves to California,
having trained JKD in Minnesota
Harris enrols at the Gracie
Harris begins training with Joe
Moreira in Newport Beach
Moreira promotes Harris to
Harris promotes Sheila Bird to
SOURCES: royharris.com • stickgrappler.net • fightergirls.net • awakeningfighters.com •
CHAMPIONSCREED.CA • SLIDEYFOOT.COM • MODERNSELFDEFENCE.COM • MIXEDMARTIALARTS.COM
J/U JfTSU STYLE
] N NBdo
* «]&N ]* Nd]&
QUIT THE JOB, CHRSE THE DRERM
A Chico Mendes brown belt since July, London Fight Factory's Samantha
Cook has had a barnstormer of a debut year at faixa marrom.
H aving secured a place at the Abu
Dhabi Pro Finals next year, quickly
followed by becoming a World Nogi
Champion, we caught up with Sam to
talk success, being a role model, leaving
a competitive profession and generally
seeing how the cookie really crumbles.
Hi Sam, can you tell us a little about your
life before you decided to take up jiu jitsu
I started training in 2008 or 2009 under
Italo Ferreira, I got my blue belt under Italo
before he moved to Abu Dhabi, so we had
Chico (Mendes) come over. He changed the
gym and I continued to train with him.
However, I recently moved to London to
fulfil a mission of full time training. With
Chico moving at the time and creating
the new academy, there was a vibe that
many of the people trained part time. I
was working as a physio,
living in Cheltenham and
commuting to Bristol to
train every night. I'd go
straight after work and
then not get back home
I went to the Europeans
for the first time in 2014
and won it as a purple
belt and decided to leave
my job to train full time.
I thought 'why not? You
have the rest of your life
to work and I'd really like
to see how this goes as a
career.' I handed my notice in at work, left
and started training full time. As I did that, I
injured my knee and was out for six months,
I had no job, no sick pay and no jiu jitsu - it
was a miserable time in my life!
Anyway, in the September-ish I came back,
competed at the London Open and I didn't
do very well. I needed the full time training,
so as much as I had fantastic training and
partners in Bristol, I felt like I had a different
mindset towards what I wanted to do. It was
more than a hobby to me, so I spoke with
Chico and explained; I'd already trained
with Luiz ('Manxinha' Ribeiro) so it was the
most natural progression.
“I’M NOT SUPER HUMAN,
NONE or US ARE, I JUST
ENJOY WHRT I DO, Hfll/E
FUN, TRAIN HARD RND
IT PAYS OFF’
avenue I should explore where I can, because
I have my degree and previous hard work to
fall back on. If I could switch the work to part
time, like I'm trying to get now in London, I
could keep my foot in the door.
I enjoyed it, but the work with sprains and
strains, it wasn't too satisfying and I didn't
really believe I was helping people, so I
specialised in respiratory physio where I
helped people on intensive care, cystic
fibrosis sufferers, people where I could
make a difference.
Well, as a world champion in jiu jitsu
and working in physio, it's a similar kind
of story to Janni Larsson. She's a world
champion, working in medicine and she's
also your good friend! Tell us about your
frequent trips to Denmark.
Yes, she's my very good friend. So I
originally did a Europeans training camp
in Copenhagen under
Shimon Mochizuki. I
started speaking with
Shanti (Abelha) before
I'd met them, she told
me Janni would be
there, Camila (Hansen),
Ida Hansson and I was
like 'man this is going
to be great training
I spoke with Chico and
he told me it would be
excellent for me. I did
my first camp there
for my first Europeans,
which was very successful as I won. Janni and
I since then have trained together lots - my
whole game is based around, and similar,
to hers. She was awesome, she took time
to show me things, drill with me; everyone
was awesome there but in particular Janni
seemed to stand out. She would smash
me and it would be so effortless, it left me
wanting to learn from her.
In particular, her spider, x-guard and
footlock game was something I thought
I could use. We drilled a lot and when
Michelle Nicolini came to train with us at
LSF, we rolled a little bit and Michelle asked
me if I'd been training with Janni! She told
me we had very similar styles.
Physiotherapy is a notoriously
competitive field, so was it difficult to
leave something you'd worked so hard to
get in to?
I managed to get in at university to study
it on a course of only 70-1 00 people and
in Bristol where it's extremely competitive,
graduating in 201 1 .
I worked from 2011-2014 between
Cheltenham and Gloucester and I just
decided I liked training full time and it was an
Your success on the mat and level of
jiu jitsu has now led to you teaching
seminars, so tell us a little about how you
find that experience?
So I did my first ever seminar in November
before I went to the Worlds and it was
really, really successful, I was so pleased. 21
girls turned out, girls who'd I'd never met
from clubs I'd never been to - I spotted
some familiar faces but there was a lot of
novice girls. It really surprised me!
When I was a blue belt, even a purple belt, I was still
getting smashed and something didn't feel right about it,
but then one day it kind of just clicked. This is what I want
to get across to people when I teach, I want them to know
So how do you think your enthusiasm fits in with your
work in promoting women's BJJ in the UK? Not sure if
there's a competition photo out there where you don't
have a smile on your face!
[Laughs] That's what I want people to know me by. You have
the ups and downs of BJJ, competitions all the time, and
still have a smile on your face and stay humble - that's me.
Most people who spend time around me will pretty much
know I'm laughing all the time and it's usually the loudest
laugh in the room.
It's a competitive sport, but we do this because we love
it, right? I'm training every day, getting smashed, getting
beat up but you know what, I'm smiling because I love
what we do and others can be like that too. I want to be
as helpful and approachable as possible and if me being
happy helps that then I wouldn't
have it any other way.
The number of women training
BJJ is constantly on the rise, but
quite often the numbers turning
up at competitions aren't there
yet - any thought on why this is?
It's difficult to say. I've spoken
with Lawrence at BJJ247 who'd
been offering Europeans prize
packages. I said that he should
think about offering a package for
women at brown and purple, after
he already offered one to white
and blue belts, and he did that,
but only one girl signed up, which
made me really sad to see.
It can't be about the prize offers,
because the prize offers are there. The competitions aren't
SB JIU JITSU STYLE
too far away either, they're all over the UK and anywhere is
accessible if you plan your competition trip properly.
I don't know; for me, I tend to plan for the big
tournaments in the Europeans, Pans and Worlds but in the
UK, we have the UKBJJA now using a ranking system so
rankings are covered here in the UK. It's really difficult to
say, because there are the numbers in the gyms and a lot
of people talk - even Dan Strauss was saying about Kleos
Grappling that the girls wanted their own war hammers.
He said 'okay, I can give you a war hammer but we need
you to get a minimum amount of female competitors,' and
then people didn't really sign up.
It's tricky, is there a stigma attached to it that we haven't
quite outgrown yet? The girls know that when it comes
to the Europeans and the biggest competitions, yes
they're expensive, but you'll get a minimum amount of
3-4 fights and at white and blue, it's massive. There are
loads of people registered - that wasn't there when I was
competing at blue, maybe they're saving themselves
financially and physically.
Is it a double edged sword? More people registered
could intimidate you out of signing up yourself, but on
the other hand, there are people who will only register
when others do.
I would agree. It's difficult because of types of
Is it a case of, do you want to win a medal by
having one fight, or do you want to earn a medal
by having four?
Maybe it will start with the big tournaments first and then
filter down to the national, regional and local tournaments.
I would encourage people to compete all the time.
People get very nervous, that's okay, I used to get nervous
too. But it's like, competition is such a small part of your
training, you will do things in training that you won't do
in competition. In competition you will stick to what you
know, you will avoid being that little bit reckless and doing
fancy stuff if you're going to give something away.
So maybe with the girls, it's people feeling like they're not
ready, but do you know what? Other than training with
my team mates at the gym and within competing, you
learn so much more in competition. You can have some
hard lessons on the competition mats and trust me I've
had them, but when I compete and I make a mistake I will
never make them again.
If you cast your mind back to white or blue belt Sam
Cook, talking to her as a brown belt world champion,
what message would YOU want to hear?
The message I would want to hear and the message I
would give? Easy. It is achievable and it is doable. Even
if you don't train full time and you just train with guys, or
you're not in the best position to travel to competitions
- experience different training, which I think can help a
game quite a lot.
It's just to know that if you stick with it then it will pay
off. Okay, I fight between weights and I'm trying to
stay at middle. I'm not the smallest girl but I'm not the
biggest girl, so it isn't like I'm some monster girl in the
gym who can smash through any opponent - I still get
beaten up every day and it's that reassurance that even
though you're getting crushed, or that technique isn't
working, just keep going.
Try and get some self-training in. If there's a women's
open mat, go to it, or if there's a woman centric seminar,
go and learn. Just test yourself and just try and compete.
Like I said, I want to be the approachable girl who's always
smiling and laughing because that is me and I hope it
comes across to people too. It's not unachievable to reach
a high level at a sacrifice of happiness and relaxation.
We all have our fan girl moments, if you meet Michelle
Nicolini, Mackenzie Dern or Bia Mesquita. It's easy to think
'oh my god, this isn't achievable and it's so far away,' but
it's not. It's easy to forget that these people were white and
blue belts once.
I recently saw a picture of Shanti in a purple belt on the
podium; it took me by surprise because it's easy to think
that these people have always been black belts. It's so
close, the belt gaps may be far apart but you will get your
reward back from what you put in and it will be the best
thing you've ever done.
I hope that my story so far is a success story. I h
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