Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Update (26/02/14)

As far as I know this isn't a Tuesday, right? Yes I know, I typically do update posts on a Tuesday, but I've had very little time with school work and stuff, but now I am back!
First of all I would like to say sorry for not posting anything this past week, as I've been very busy with various things, but now that I have got everything out of the way I can focus 100% on producing content for my blog, so normal service will be resumed this week, and a considerable amount of content shall be produced this week in particular, so stay tuned!
So I probably sound like a broken record by now, but the Ryan Hall interview I am still waiting on, but I can't really blame him as he has an MMA fight coming up on March 6th, and I think that is a bigger priority to him than answering some guys questions on the internet but it will happen, most probably after his MMA fight I'd imagine.
On the subject of interviews, I mentioned last week about an interview with Michael Liera Jr, which is still happening and HOPEFULLY will be posted within the next couple of days, if everything goes to plan! I've also just started writing some questions I would like to present to Jiu-Jitsu beast and funnyman Kit Dale, and again maybe that will be posted at the very end of the week, I'll go ahead and say Sunday for now, but it's all dependent upon how quick they reply, and sometimes due to their very long schedules it can be difficult for them to do, which is understandable seeing that they have much larger priorities than doing an interview with me, but all I can say is THANK YOU to everyone who has agreed to take time out of their busy lives to do an interview with me, it really does mean a lot.
Right so in the last update post I mentioned my blog would be going under some aesthetic changes, well I can say that is 95% complete and everything is pretty much done, just a few minor things here and there need to be corrected, so hopefully by tomorrow my blog will look considerably different, and hopefully you guys will love it as much as I do.
I also mentioned last week I was writing a guest post for Nick Aboe, and that it was 75% complete, well to be honest that hasn't really changed due to other commitments I have in my life, but that will be posted on his blog by the end of the week for sure!
At the moment I am also writing a personal post about my journey in Jiu-Jitsu, as I thought you guys would be pretty interested in it, as I have being doing BJJ now for almost 10 years, I actually started in April 2004 and that is a pretty long time in my book! Actually to put it perspective, I'm actually the longest student at my academy (Chris Rees Academy/Gracie Barra Swansea) other than three people who were there on the very first day the academy opened their doors. Actually one of my instructors, Rob Taylor (his blog can be found here) who is now a black belt, I have been training longer than. And my journey in Jiu-Jitsu hasn't been incredibly spectacular, I haven't done anything crazy, or broke records or anything really, but I've loved every second of it and have experienced some truly incredible things along my journey which is would like to share with you. This will post will consist of multiple parts, maybe as much as ten or even more, as I want to go into quite a lot of detail on a lot of  things, and part one shall be posted tomorrow.
So before I finish this post, I will try to post something every day for the next four days, whether it be personal posts, interviews, or even something completely different, I will most definitely try to get some form of content out for you guys to read every day for the remainder of the week.
One last thing, I just want to say I truly LOVE writing for this blog, just sitting here writing this update post makes me feel amazing, and I know to some of you that may sound pretty weird, but I can't really explain it to be honest, writing posts and creating content for this blog leaves me with a self-fulfillment like nothing else, other than Jiu-Jitsu obviously! Yeah, but I would just like to thank everybody who has viewed my blog, read my posts, liked my posts of Facebook, commented on them etc. Everyday this blog is growing, and with every post I make my overall audience is getting larger and larger, so I would like to thank you all, and hope you continue with me on this journey!
Catch you later,
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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Update (18/02/14)

Another update post? I think a pattern is developing here

So it's a new week! And a lot has happened in the last week which I thought I would share with you guys. I have a few things which I want to talk to you guys about, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

So the last post I published was a guest post done by Nick Aboe (his blog can be found here), which was about nutrition and supplementation for Jiu-Jitsu which was very well received, so for that, I thank you kindly! I am also currently writing an article for Nick's blog, and that's about 75% complete with a few things left to add and also a few things here and there to edit, but hopefully it shall be done and posted on his blog by the end of the week.

This week my interview with Seymour Yang surpassed 1000 views, which to some of you may not seem that much at all, but since I'm fairly new to the blogging scene (only six weeks to be exact) for me it is a MASSIVE milestone, so I thank everybody who read the interview, gave feedback, retweeted it etc. So where is the Ryan Hall interview you promised? Well I'm afraid that is still in the works, but be patient as it will be worth the wait, I promise! 

On the subject of interviews, I also have numerous different ones lined up for the coming weeks, some of which I shall tell you at a later date, but one I can announce is that I am conducting an interview currently with Michael Liera Jr, who is one of my most favourite grapplers. I have been a fan of Michael's for a long time, and his style I try to imitate every time I roll, so it is truly and honor to get the opportunity to interview him! A highlight of Michael can be seen below: 
Also, at the moment I am currently talking to a graphic designer about improving my site aesthetically to make it look much more professional and visually appealing for my readers, so hopefully you will be seeing a dramatic change to my blog within the next week. I have also purchased a domain name ( and that should be sorted in the next couple of days. (All previous links will be redirected back to the new domain).   
So expect a lot of exciting things in the very near future!

Catch you later,

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Nutrition and Supplementation For the Jiu-Jitsu Athlete (By Nick Aboe)

This is a post by Nick Aboe, who kindly agreed to do a guest blog for me, so for that I thank him kindly. Nick has just recently started his own blog (which can be found here) so go and check him out! In the next few days a post will also be published on Nick's blog written by me, so I'll keep you posted. I hope you guys enjoy and here is his article:
The human body that we live in, and practice jiu-jitsu in, is a complex and amazing biological machine. I'm sure you've heard the tired old phrase 'you are what you eat'. Interpreted broadly, this can be translated into 'you get out what you put in'. If you put in crap, you'll get crap on the other end. How you feel walking around during your regular day to day, and how you perform on the mat is a direct reflection of how you are treating your body. Whether it be food, drink, vitamins, or a variety of other supplements, paying attention to what you put in is super important for any athlete.  When I started BJJ, I instantly fell in love. I wanted to do anything and everything I could do to get better, and perform better. Naturally I began to adjust my diet and treatment of my body to be geared for jiu-jitsu specifically. There are many variables to account for, but it doesn't have to be confusing or complex. I like to keep it simple, and effective. In this article I will outline a basic guide to giving your body what it needs to perform optimally on, and off the mat.
Your body is somewhere around 60-65% water, which is more than half....duh.  Just to perform it's basic functions, it requires a couple liters of clean H2O per 24 hours.  Try to drink water super frequently.  First thing in the morning, dump at least 8oz down your gullet, just to get going.  Drink coffee or tea or whatever you do in the morning, but water must be in there.  As a rule of thumb, if your thirsty then you are already dehydrated.  You should be urinating clear, and often.  It can be sort of inconvenient, but it's healthy and normal to pee once an hour.
Unprocessed, untainted, and uncooked fruit and vegetables are terrific sources of essential vitamins and minerals and should be a big part of everyone's diet.  These should be a part of every meal throughout your day.  The greener the better, the riper the better.  Eating salads with a good mix of vegetables is the easiest way I've found, I hate just eating carrot sticks or cauliflower just by itself.  If you can't get real vegetables in you for one of your meals, you can drink juices like V8 or similar products....just watch out for sodium and sugar content.  Fruits are easy, because they taste awesome.  I will usually do a banana every morning with breakfast, and before training.  Additionally, I toss fresh or frozen banana, blueberry, mango, raspberry, apples or whichever I choose into the blender with my protein shake.  You should be eating fruits and vegetables with most meals, and as snacks.

Lot's of people overdo and mess up with protein.  Keep in mind what the goal here is....fueling the machine.  Your body does need protein, and athletes tend to need a good bit more, but BJJ players are not bodybuilders.  Don't be pounding down scoops of whey every 2 hours, you don't need that
much.  Besides farting like a monster, whey protein or any other engineered supplement shouldn't be used very often.  I will however drink a nutrient rich protein shake with banana after strength workouts.  Your protein sources should be from natural foods like animal protein (meat) or maybe some dairy, eggs or cheeses, greek yogurt.  I don't do dairy often at all, so I eat a lot of beans because they are a great protein source, but also for carbs and nutrients.  Lean meats like chicken, tuna, and turkey are awesome.  Protein should be about 40% of your daily diet.

Your body NEEDS fats, and they should be 20% of your daily diet.  There are a few different types, and they are Saturated, Mono-unsaturated, Poly-unsaturated  and Trans fats. Saturated are found mostly in animal products such as meat, cheese, milk, butter, cream and eggs.  The Mono and Poly are found in nuts, oils, etc and contain beneficial omega-3 and omega-6, and other essential fatty acids.
Carbs are our bodies main energy source, and calories from carbohydrates are used by the body before proteins, or fats.  Balancing your carbs with your protein and fat consumption rounds out your diet as a whole, and should be given just as much attention as the other things you eat.  Personally I don't eat a whole lot of bread, mostly because it's usually processed and refined, and contains gluten.  White flour food products I try to stay away from in general.  Your carb sources should be natural, clean, and not fatty.  Some examples are brown rice, rolled oats, potatoes, and beans.  Bananas and other fruits also contain healthy carbs, and fiber.  Organic granola is awesome, and there are also a large variety of organic corn meal cereals with lots of healthy flax seeds, buckwheat flour and stuff like that.
Eating healthy is a discipline, and it can be hard to do sometimes.  It's SUPER easy to eat badly, with soooo many temptations out there.  Pizza is amazing, but LOADED with fat and calories that you probably don't need.  Cake tastes incredible, and so do candies like snickers and reese's, and exercising will power 24/7 is a tall order.  Give yourself a cheat day once a week where you allow yourself to enjoy something sweet or salty that may not necessarily be awesome for your body.  One day out of the week, if you are being diligent all the other days should not affect you.  Studies have also shown that days like this can provide a needed break from the normal routine and replenish will power.  Also, it can add a sense of novelty once it is over and you get back to being disciplined with your diet.  I like to think that after a week of training my body and eating super clean that I've earned an evening where I can eat pizza and ice cream, and it tastes that much better!  Your human, not a robot.  Give yourself a break and have a cheeseburger once in a while.
Try and balance your diet at 40, 40, 20.  This is 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fats, making sure to include plenty of vegetables and fruits.  Keep it simple!!  Eating clean, natural, balanced, and consistent will give you an edge on and off the mat.  As a general rule, if it rots, it's good for you.  I try and avoid anything that is processed, comes in a box, and has a long shelf life.  That type of food tends to be bad for you, loaded with sodium, sugar, and bad fats.  Be sure to consume at least as many calories as you are going to burn during training or workouts, and be super conscious of everything you put into your mouth.  You will be surprised how well you feel, perform, and recover when you eat the way nature intended.
Breakfast : Hemp Protein, 1 ounce almonds, 1 cup raw rolled oats, 1 cup blueberries, 1 banana, 1 cup almond milk
Snack : 1 apple, 1 tbsp peanut butter
Lunch : 1 can chunk light or solid white albacore tuna with low-calorie mayo, broccoli crowns, 1 cup wild rice
Snack : Small garden salad with light low-calorie dressing
Dinner : 1 grilled chicken breast, 1 cup black eyed peas, steamed or raw carrot, small serving of linguine pasta.

So, what's the goal body optimization for BJJ right?  I'm not an expert, and I haven't tried everything out there, I can only give my opinion based on my own experiences.  There are LOADS of supplements out there.  I try to get most all of what my body needs from natural food sources, but some things are good to take in pill or powder form.  One supplement that I use regularly is a whey protein powder.  I will sometimes blend up a shake in the morning for breakfast with fresh fruit, or I will drink a protein shake post-strength workout.  That is the ONLY supplement I use besides a multi-vitamin.  In the past, I've taken a bone and joint formula, but never noticed a difference so I stopped taking it.  I am going to be switching from whey to hemp protein, and I'll be doing a review of the product and it's effects.  Another supplement I'm going to be taking and reviewing for my blog, is Alpha Brain from ONNIT labs.  The following is how ONNIT describes their Alpha Brain product.......
"The idea behind Alpha BRAIN was to create a fully-balanced nootropic. Our Alpha GPC and Huperzia Serrata contain nutrients that help your body turn up acetylcholine levels full throttle, while other ingredients assist in elevating neurological components vital to remaining calm, focused, and mentally driven. Our Vinpocetine can help the body deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and the combination of neuro-specific antioxidants, led by our proprietary AC-11®, assists your system in clearing away mental fog and free radicals. The result for our thousands of satisfied customers is an extraordinary combination of lucid dreams, mental drive, focus, and mental acuity."
Sounds awesome and I can't wait to try it.
So like I said, I'm not an expert or a professional, this is just my advice and my opinion so feel free to do things however you like.  Don't hesitate to contact me with questions or comments.  Thanks and I hope this has served you.
Nick from SUPERJITS!
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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Update (11/02/14)

So it's been almost a week since I last posted on my blog. The last post I made, which was an interview with Seymour Yang which done amazingly well! With over 750 views, and is still continuously growing each and every day. So where is the interview with Ryan Hall? Well it's still currently still being done, as Ryan Hall has a very busy schedule, and also has an MMA fight coming up in the next 3 weeks, so be patient.
I have a few things lined up for future posts within the next few weeks, these include personal posts by myself, interviews with various different Jiu-Jitsu athletes, and a few different guest bloggers writing posts for my blog. So it's all looking rather exciting!
Within the next few days I will publish a post about nutrition and supplementation for Jiu-Jitsu, which will be written by Nick Aboe (his blog can be found here) and will be writing it as a guest post for my blog. In return I will also be writing a post for Nick, I was thinking about writing some stuff on the lapeloplata and galaxy guard, but I might get some other ideas between now and then. I just want to say thank you to Nick for being a guest on my blog, and hopefully we will writing more posts for each other in the near future!
Catch you all soon,

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

An Interview with Seymour Yang

Seymour Yang is an artist, illustrator, and blogger who is based in London, UK. He is probably best known for his company Meerkatsu, and also runs a blog which shares the same name. He has produced designs and illustrations for some of the biggest clothing companies and organistaions throughout the fightwear industry. It truly is a pleasure to get the chance to interview him! 

Before we get to the questions, as a sort of mini introduction could you please state the following:

Your Age:  44
Belt Rank: Brown
Time Training: 10 years
Your Current Team: Mill Hill BJJ (Roger Gracie)

Right, so first off, how did you get started in BJJ?

In 2003 I was a black belt in traditional jiu jitsu but I wanted to improve the knowledge I had of the small amount of groundfighting taught in our style. I looked for the closest ‘Gracie’ club I could find (it happened to be Carlson Gracie London) and tried out a session. It was brilliant, a real eye opener. I got really massacred during sparring and it was a huge dent to my perceptions at the time, not to speak of my ego! That single first experience compelled me to take up the sport further.

Have you previously done any other martial arts or combat sports?
I trained traditional ju-jitsu as mentioned above. Prior to that I was really into karate and kickboxing.

How did you come up with the name Meerkatsu? And what inspired you to start your blog?

I needed an online name when I began commenting on martial art forums and discussion boards. Off the top of my head I combined the name of the cute furry animal meerkat with that of my favourite Japanese dish, katsu curry to create a portmanteau and ‘Meerkatsu’ was born!

Blogging seemed to be the new craze sweeping online people at the time so I began one simply because I wanted to see what the platform was like. I opened up an account in 2003 and haven’t stopped since.

Seymour with JT “Spiderman” Torres 

What inspired you to start producing Jiu-Jitsu artwork?

I have always been an illustrator – ever since I sold my first commissions when I was a teenager. I’ve always since then received commissions just through word of mouth. I guess jiu jitsu influences began appearing in the doodles that decorated my blog, and that’s when fightwear brands began to take notice.

What was your first piece of Jiu-Jitsu artwork that you designed?

I cannot actually recall since I probably did a lot of small, uncredited designs before I was more confident about branding my own work. I think the first Honey Badger rashguard made by Tatami Fightwear would be the first high profile item of fightwear with my name credited.

Since then I have continued to produce artwork and designs for other brands as well as my own brand.

What has been your favourite piece of Jiu-Jitsu artwork you have produced? And what was the first initial design you produced for a company?

Oooh tough one. I’m always most proud of whatever is my most recent piece, but I am probably most proud of the Heavenly Footlock t-shirt I designed. I rarely draw humans so that was a bold departure for my usual style, plus it was technically a tough challenge to draw the figures performing a jiu jitsu technique. I must have sketched 20-30 or more drafts before I felt it was about right. The final t-shirt raised a lot of money for RAINN and Rape Crisis and I still see the tee worn out and about at BJJ events. So yeah, that would be among my top projects where I feel I did some good.

The Heavenly Footlock T-Shirt

What influences are behind the artwork itself?

Animals and nature predominate in my work. I love the natural world and the sciences. I actually have a degree in botany so technically I should be drawing plants ha! Artistically, I am influenced by a huge swathe of artists past and present. Pretty much anything and everything can give me a spark of inspiration. I channel all of my daily thoughts into my sketchbook and eventually they come out in my jiu jitsu designs.

Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your Jiu-Jitsu?

My instructor Nick Brooks is the person I admire the most. He has a huge technical knowledge and still regularly competes.

Who are some of your favourite Jiu-Jitsu fighters?

I usually only take a close look at jiu-jitsu fighters after I have actually met them at a seminar. So in the past few years, having learned from people such as Roger Gracie, Braulio and Victor Estima, Michelle Nicolini, Roberto Cyborg Abreu, JT Torres, Robson Moura, Rodolfo Vieira, Jake McKenzie, Ricardo de la Riva, Michael Langhi, Leo Vieira, Terere, Cobrinha and many many others, I often study their videos afterwards to see how they applied the techniques taught in competition. Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of instructionals by Ryan Hall and really like how he teaches. Closer to home our own Daniel Strauss is a great grappler and his nogi sessions are always brilliant.

What has your competition career been like?

I didn’t compete at white belt at all. Tournaments seemed a bit scary when I first started plus I got promoted pretty quickly to blue belt and didn’t feel at all ‘ready’. So my first competition came when I have already been training BJJ for around five years! After that first comp, I realised I had been missing out and attended lots of tournaments. I have won just two gold medals, couple of silvers and dozens and dozens of losses. It’s all goof fun and I don’t take competing too seriously.
What would you say your biggest accomplishment to date is?

In terms of my jiu-jitsu, just still being here and sticking with the training and still enjoying it. It sounds trivial but BJJ is such a long journey and so many give up due to family, career, injury, relocation etc etc. In ten years I still get that buzz when I slap hands and roll so I really value each session I attend.

In terms of my art career, I’m happy to finally (after 20 odd years)  get the commissions and growing recognition I used to dream of when I was younger. All artists will admit that recognition is a big motivator – whether that be an audience for an actor, fans at a concert for a musician or, in my case, people who care and support my design work.  The internet and social media has of course helped me immensely.
What type of Jiu-Jitsu game do you like to play? And how would you describe your style of Jiu-Jitsu?

Being a small type of person, most of my training partners are heavier and bigger than me. I began my BJJ career playing closed guard and remained there for many years. I still feel closed guard is my ‘home’ where I am most comfortable but as I have grown and developed, I have added some fairly reliable open guard positions to my repertoire. Recently, I’ve made a big attempt to concentrate on my top game, especially passing all the various devilishly tricky guards played by my class mates. BJJ is continuous work in progress for everyone, some are better at it than others but we’re all growing and learning.

What are your thoughts on how Jiu-Jitsu is evolving, with many people using "modern" Jiu-Jitsu techniques such as the berimbolo, reverse de la riva, galaxy guard etc, and do you personally use any of these techniques?

I honestly believe there is nothing really genuinely ‘new’ with the techniques you mention. What happens is that a technique won’t get much attention for a few years but then randomly gets picked up and excelled at by one or two people and suddenly it is the hit new thing. If you ever get the chance to speak with the red and black belts like Mauricio Gomes, I recommend you ask him that same question haha.

In the longer term, jiu jitsu is evolving only because the rules keep changing.  For example, if heel hooks were allowed in the gi comps, how different would you see the way people play their game?
What do you think about people saying that learning sport Jiu-Jitsu is useless as it does not prepare you for any street altercations?

My traditional ju-jitsu experience was very much geared towards conventional ‘street’ confrontations. Some of my training friends have been caught in street violence and used their techniques effectively so in the right hands, it can work. For ‘sport’ focused BJJ, common sense prevails. No one is going to pull guard and attempt a berimbolo are they? But BJJ gives you great physical awareness, fitness, balance and if something nasty did happen, I think the general training one receives would be more helpful than a hindrance. I also believe that regular live sparring does something to a person. It changes them maybe…so that in real life, when normally the red mist would descend, maybe a BJJ athlete would simply walk away or deal with a confrontation better? Everyone is different mind, so who knows.

What do you think about people being promoted through online courses without any mat time? (i.e. Gracie University)

In my mind, Gracie University has positioned itself in a way that makes it almost like an entirely unrelated martial art compared to conventional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Therefore, while we perhaps share a lineage and similar techniques, the emphasis differs in various ways. I have no problem with online courses. A blue belt earned via Gracie or any other online learning program is acquiring knowledge, though they must know, that this knowledge must be backed up with regular live sparring. On the other hand, I feel it is a shame that most BJJ clubs around the world have lost a little of the self defence oriented heritage that was an original part of our art.
Now you are a brown belt, I assume inevitably you have thought about receiving your black belt, what are your thoughts on receiving the belt?

Goodness, if my instructor decides the time is right, then I guess he would know best, but it's incredibly unsettling to think it might happen to me one day. Some days I barely feel competent enough and others I feel I'm progressing. There is a bit of myth being circulated around the jiu jitsu community that standards are falling, belts aren't worth what they used to be etc. I don't feel this is the case and in fact, the standard of people I see day in day out is incredibly high. It would be an honour to be promoted one day, my only job is to try to live up to that rank - not an easy task lol!

I just want to say thank you Seymour for allowing me to interview you, it has been a true pleasure! Before we wrap things up, is there any people you would like to thank?

Thanks to you Giordano for this intelligent and well composed interview!
My coach Nick Brooks and all the team at Mill Hill who are the best training partners ever!
Shout out to the Meerkatsu Army - all those who rock my designs - thank you thank you!
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Update (04/02/14)

So around today is typically the time I publish a new post on my blog, but not today. So why? Well that is a good question indeed. The reason I am not publishing a post today is due to the fact that I am currently waiting on the replies of two people who I am interviewing, those people are Seymour Yang, who is probably best known for his company Meerkatsu, and the second is American grappling sensation Ryan Hall. Between the two of them I have asked them a substantial amount of questions, which I am really looking forward to hearing the answers to, and so will you guys also!

Anyway, I presume both those interviews will be published sometime this week (hopefully), but it may run a bit longer due to their very busy schedules. If in fact they do run a little bit over what I hoped, I will most probably publish another post in between.

At this current time, I am not really sure if they will be published as one single post, or multiple posts, it will all be dependent upon the length and detail of their answers. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Ryan and Seymour for the opportunity of interviewing them; it has been a real pleasure!

Catch you later,

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