Check out this amazing match from the black belt finals of the 2011 Dumau Kimonos cup in Japan.

It showcases the skill and heart of Koji Komuro, a former Kodokan judo instructor and black belt in BJJ and judo, and Marcos Souza, one of the famous Souza brothers.

Enjoy!

Ps have you noticed the new Scramble black grappling spats? Check em out!

I must get this DVD for the Scramble store!

Takanori Gomi, Kohei Yasumi, Sayaka Shioda, Shrek Sekine, Tetsu Hadairo… Shit! I want to watch it now!

In my opinion, nobody is doing more to raise the profile and iamge of UK grappling than Ground Control.

They clearly invest a lot of time and money (and a great editing team!) in elevating the sport above just two guys grappling.

I really identify this and it harks back to my love of Pride FC, and the hype videos they made…

I can’t understate how important this kind of thing is. To bring some drama, some human interest, some excitement to the fights. This is what grows our sport. Because if two grapplers have an amazing fight but only a small crowd watches, who does that benefit? We want the sport to grow in the UK. We need audiences, we need sponsors, we need crowds of chanting fans.

These videos are a step in that direction.

BONUS SCRAMBLE POINTS! Spot the Be Water Rashy (hint: 8:20!)

On Sunday, we went up to Ground Control in London and gave away prizes to the winners of the Intermediate and Advanced divisions.

It was a  good day and while the crowds were not as large as in their Manchester event, Ground Control put on a great show with a lot of talented fighters.

Scrambler Oli Geddes took third place in a very tough advanced division, and we were very pleased to see two Scramblers wearing our gear take golds in their respective divisions, too.

Osu!

Scramble vs. Manto! (Scramble won)

Scramble overload!

Scrambler winner!

Tom from Bristol kicked butt. Winners took home Scramble goods.

Factory BJJ represent!

Large winner

More photos and news on the Scramble Facebook page!

And  you can catch Ground Control in Manchester on the 27th March.

Available to buy at Scramble

KAPOW!
Scramble shorts are here!

Feel that on your face? That’s a breath of fresh air with these bright purple and yellow MMA and grappling shorts.

Made to the highest standards, these shorts are guaranteed to make your striking, grappling and wrestling eleventy-nine point five times better.*

The Scramble ‘Bushido Athletics’ shorts feature contrast yellow stitching, a yellow flex panel in the crotch for all your high-kicking / rubber guarding needs, a velcro strap with drawstring inner, a pocket for storing your gum shield or your opponent’s balls, and all kinds of other awesome crap that you need when grappling or doing MMA.

The Japanese characters on the front say “Bushido” – warrior way for life!

As always, Scramble gear is limited run, so get yer grubby mitts on them ASAP.

*Not a real guarantee.

Available to buy at Scramble

Featuring the new song “Take Down” by Paraele Stripes, an up and coming band in Japan.

Some different footage from the OJJ Kiwame Night that was so well recieved online.

Enjoy some fun and dynamic jiu jitsu grappling!

LET’S ENJOYING TOGETHER WITH ME!

The boys and girls at OJJ just keep thinking of new ways to enjoy life. I love it!

This video is less energetic than the last one (that made it to the pages of Bloody Elbow!), but as far as I understand it, it was a prototype–a test run for the real event in May.

Nothing better than setting up a makeshift mat on the beach, strumming out some tunes, and doing some grappling in front of befuddled locals.

If you look closely you’ll see my pal pro fighter Okumiya sporting a Fokai hat.

First of all, dear blog: I am sorry! I have only used you to pimp my online store. What online store you say?! The totally incredible and amazing Scramble Stuff where you can buy exclusive Japanese import MMA t-shirts and jiu jitsu DVD magazines!

Ahem, sorry again.

Here is a 100% BJJ related post!

I just got back from Japan where I spent new years and a few days afterwards. It was an amazing trip. I got to see all my old friends and training partners, and meet new ones.

All the good family stuff aside, this is what I did.

On the 30th of December, still groggy from jetlag, I went to Paraestra Hakata, my old stomping (or being stomped) ground for the last training session of the year. Now, I have had the experience of returning to Hakapara after a hiatus before, and at that time I was a little underwhelmed by the reaction (which was: none.) This time I was prepared for it. You see, the thing about the Japanese is, they don’t go overboard with their reactions. Had I been a veteran of an American, Brazilian or even UK gym and returned after a long asbsence, I would expect at least some raised voices, possibly some slapping of the buttocks and perhaps the odd takedown and playful pounding.

At Hakapara, it was a raised eyebrow and a “Oh, Matto!” and that was it. But I like that. I like the way things are just accepted for the way they are. Matt was gone, now he’s back. I like the Japanese way. Stoic. The phrase “still waters run deep” came to mind.

I chatted with Tomari-sensei who straight away was thinking of ideas for me to further my BJJ-related career. He even suggested I should sponsor Daisuke Nakamura, the penniless but awesome Japanese grappler / MMA fighter. Sounds like a good idea but I need more items in my range before I can really sponsor someone. At least I need a rash guard, or some shorts.

Training began and it was a fairly relaxed ordeal. I alternated between gi and no gi, enjoying stretching my legs in a real academy after six months of haphazard training in England. I basically got trounced by everyone but the weeks of working on the brabo choke at Scramble BJJ and Grappling paid off and was able to nail it on someone it is very difficult to nail things on. Which was nice.

The team at Paraestra Hakata

The team at Paraestra Hakata

Most importantly, though, we went and got pissed afterwards. Ide-san, the creator of OJJ – a club within a club with a growing membership of good, honest, and hard-fighting judoka and jiu jitsuka–took us to Bar Roch, a literal hole-in-the-wall bar deep in what is basically the night district of Fukuoka, Nakasu. Full of dodgy girly bars and expensive restaurants and exclusive bars. It was honestly like trying to find someone serving drinks in a rabbit warren. We snaked through alleyways barely wider than my shoulders, between structures that seemed to have grown organically between buildings, past burly bouncers and giggling girls, under buzzing neon signs, eventually finding the bar. It was nothing more than a long counter with a single recessed table in the wall, but it had an impressive collection of whiskies and drinks.

Bar Roch

Bar Roch

Still feeling slightly surreal, jetlagged, and tired from training, I sat back and soaked up the atmosphere. It was as if I had never been away. The drinks flowed, my rusty Japanese slowly creaked into action thanks to the lubrication of alcohol. There were one or two new faces in the OJJ crew, most notably Joe the Boxer. Joe is a good guy. Honest, fast talking, and hard working. I think there is something dark in his past that he doesn’t talk about, but his future is bright. I remember training with him when he started, seven or eight months ago. One night, after a long session, we slapped hands and I said “yukkuri, ne?” meaning “let’s have a slow one.” He shook his head and asked me to go as hard as I could. He said he wanted to feel what jiu jitsu is capable of. I thought for a moment and then obliged as only a purple belt can oblige a white belt whom he outweighs by a number of kilos. To his credit, he hung in there, but it was intense. He grinned and thanked me afterward.

Tonight, he told me, “I’m going to be a world champion.” I think I believe him, too. He had recently debuted at the Kyushu BJJ tournament, and won (although sustained an injury in the process.) I’ll definitely be following his progress. He picks up fast and trains with the relentless energy of the Japanese.

The OJJ crew

The OJJ crew

It was a  quiet night in the end followed by a few days of family activity for everyone.

I was very pleased to be able to shop at Isami (Japan’s biggest martial arts company, parent company of Reversal) in the new year. I met up with Pat of Murasaki BJJ, and there was much rejoicing. I bought a fukubukuro, a lucky bag, and it contained a rash guard, t-shirt, mma gloves, and grappling shorts for an incredible 6,800 yen. I was so pleased with it, I bought another one. They will come in useful this year.

Ide-san invited me and my family to his house for dinner early in the new year. A few people came, and we ate and drank and talked. It’s always fun at Ide-san’s house. His front room is paved with judo tatami, various judo and jiu jitsu medals line the walls (including two All-Japan golds–blue and purple belt), stacks of gis lie on the floor, a thick rope hangs from the ceiling, rubber cords tied around posts for throwing practice, two grappling dummies lean in the corner… It’s pretty much the dream house for a grappling fan.

Yet more of the OJJ krew

Yet more of the OJJ krew

Later on in the week, we trained again. This time I was nursing a totally pathetic sore throat, not an infection but an irritation brought about by the cold air at night. I had swallowed some painkillers and gone to the gym thinking to take it easy. Tomari-sensei didn’t like that plan though and said I had to spar with everyone in the room for a minute each. Luckily there were only seven people there, but still, it was tough. I went from white belts to purple belts, with a new partner literally jumping in every minute. I got tapped a couple of times I think but enjoyed myself.

The next day, I met Kato-san, the owner, manager, designer and basically genius behind Art Junkie, to pick up some new shirts. Tomari-san tagged along as Art Junkie had previously made special edition t-shirts for his gym. It was great to meet him and do aisatsu (greeting), very important in Japanese business!

Kato-san behind the pro-wrestling mask!

Kato-san behind the pro-wrestling mask!

Kato-san and my boy

Kato-san and my boy

As quick as that, my time in Fukuoka was over, but my time in Japan was not. I hopped on a plane to Tokyo for two days and nights of as much BJJ-related fun as I could squeeze in. Which turned out to be not that much as I spent most of the time limping from my hotel located approximately in the middle of a place called nowhere, carrying incredibly heavy bags.

Still, I did get to do a number of very good things. First, I met one of the editors of Gong Kakutogi, probably the best MMA magazine in Japan, and the producer of BJJ Spirits and Grappling Spirits, the absolutely amazing BJJ and grappling dvd magazines I sell in my store. We went for lunch together, and I just sat listening, basically in awe of the coolness of their jobs. They spoke about all the big names of the Japanese MMA industry as if they were friends (which they probably are), name dropping like there was no tomorrow. Aoki, Kitaoka, Nakai… they had the scoop on everyone. The big talk in Japan at the moment is the “Aoki mondai“… the problem of Aoki. His conduct at Dynamite !! has landed him in all kinds of hot water.

Suzuki-san and me.

Suzuki-san and me.

Waragai-san of Gong Kaku

Waragai-san of Gong Kaku

The editor of Gong Kakutogi was originally going to take me training at his BJJ gym, Tri Force Kojimachi. Sadly, he was too busy, but he still got on the train with me and walked me into the gym itself to say hello to his instructor. Now that is generosity.

Tri Force Kojimachi is an amazing gym owned by Yuki Ishikawa. When I arrived he was busy snapping photos of a grappling class. Yuki-san speaks fluent English and we hit it off immediately. In the short time I got to know him, I really respect him. He’s an honest, hard-working, intelligent funny guy, not to mention an absolute animal on the mat. He has won the Asia BJJ championships as a brown belt, and placed on the podium at the mundials in Brazil as a purple belt.

Yuki-san and me

Yuki-san and me

Grappling class.

Grappling class.

I stayed at the gym for two beginners classes and an open mat session, until closing time. The training was excellent. Yuki-san teaches in English and Japanese, interpreting for himself as he goes along. He taught a number of techniques in great detail with plenty of repeitions. I should mention the warmup as well, which was brilliant. I think I will steal some of the moves. I’ve seen them on youtube, invovling one partner on his back and the standing partner drilling various guard passes as smoothly as possible.

Sparring was good. I sparred with just about everyone in the room, holding my own fairly well and picking up some pointers along the way. I make it a point not to be a dick when I go to a new school. Some people may feel they have something to prove–both the visitor and the resident–but I don’t encounter that very often, which is good. I make a point of acknowledging when someone pulls off a nice move on me, and they usually do the same. Visiting a new school should be about playing jiu jitsu just hard enough to make it interesting but soft enough that you can feel the different techniques of another way of training.

I sparred with Yuki-san who completely destroyed me without even trying, naturally. He reminded me of Tomari-san, but his style was slightly different and he was much, much stronger, despite being considerably smaller than me. I had gotten so badly beaten that I asked him for another spar later, a much slower one, and there I was able to actually feel what he was doing to me. Tomari-san has a way of not offering you anything to push against. Yuki-san was similar, only his style felt firmer and structurally very strong.

We chatted for a while after training, and I hope to see Yuki-san again if he comes to the UK.

I’m ashamed to admit I got a McDonalds on the way back to the hotel. I was completely exhausted and could not be bothered to investigate and select a restaurant. I promised myself I would eat somewhere proper the next day.

My hotel had a laundry room so I washed and dried my gi and got some sleep. The next morning, without really thinking about what I was going to do save for the vague notion of seeking out the Paraestra headquarters, I set off.

Paraestra Tokyo is pretty much the mecca of martial arts, especially BJJ and MMA, in Japan. Founded by Yuki Nakai, legendary Japanese fighter, it has spawned champions like Aoki Shinya, numerous Shooto beltholders, Yukinori Sasa and Yusuke Honma (both mundials medalists at brown and black belt), and tonnes more of those scary guys whose names you don’t even know but can snap your face off clean off your skull in the blink of an eye.

I checked the map, found that is was approximately fucking miles away, figured out where I would have to change stations and decided to bank on the fact that there would be something to do there. Luckily, there was… an art museum and a bunch of nice cafes at Ikebukuro. I sat in a large courtyard slurping coffee and listening to Adam and Joe on my iPod. I watched a crazy Japanese homeless man with a surprisingly good body running around a fountain. When the police came to clear him off he protested, claiming that he was only doing taiso, exercises. He weaved his way towards me and I did my very best impression of an angry statue that would not respond to any form of questioning or communication. It worked and he steered clear of me, presumably into a lamppost where he slid to the floor and went to sleep.

I ate rice balls and miso soup for lunch, still feeling guilty about the McDonalds from the night before, in preparation for training. I had an insider tip from my contact at BJJ Spirits that there would be a training session at 2:15 that was (suspenseful strings please) not on the schedule. A secret training session, then.

Finding Paraestra Tokyo itself is a bit of a rite of passage, so I won’t tell you how here. But it involves lots of traing changing and walking down long, drab streets, then walking around in circles looking for some kind of sign that the gym is nearby. There is no sign, no nothing in fact except for a tiny sticker the size of the palm of your hand on a mailbox.

I did find it and let myself in. As always, the people inside were friendly and a few spoke English. I did my best to speak Japanese though. As Tomari-san did the bulk of his training and competing in Tokyo, most people there know him, which is good for us students of his. It’s always good in the BJJ world to have mutual acquaintances who can vouch for you. I got changed and took in the atmosphere, which was, in a word, stinky. Parato has a reputation for being “jigoku“… hell. I imagine it is, in summer. It’s a dungeon, a basement, with a window that opens up to… a concrete wall. The walls are old, and they look it. The debris of decades of fighting litter the edges of the mats. Posters peel from the walls. This is the kind of place you travel miles to train in.

The BJJ Basics shirt in the BJJ Japan mecca!

The BJJ Basics shirt in the BJJ Japan mecca!

Show me the sweep! never gets old.

"Show me the sweep!" never gets old.

There were mostly purple and brown belts there, some very serious looking chaps. After some self-directed warming up, it was straight into drills, then sparring. I sparred with most people there and had a whale of a time, warming up really well towards the end… a couple of hours in total.

Notable moments… a big brown belt who was smashing people from wall to wall, literally, asked me to spar. When we started I felt that he was going easy on me, and in fact he kept checking to see if I was OK. In the end, I told him, in the best Japanese I could… “mina to issho onegaishimasu! tsuyoku!” meaning–I hoped–treat me like everyone else and go as hard as you can! He obliged, knee-riding my guts into oblivion, which was cool.

Later I sparred with another brown belt, a very big guy, who welcomed me by straight armbarring me twice in a row while he was lying on his back and I was trying to pass. After that I remembered to keep my hands to myself and my elbows in tight! A few seconds later, though, he snoozed, and I had one of “those moments.” With people breathing hard on the sidelines, resting and recovering for the next round, we were one of only two pairs sparring. I dropped to my back, managed to sneak the de la riva hook in deep, and started working for a sweep. Like I said, he snoozed for a moment, and I took the opportunity to get to his back and put both hooks in behind his knees. I grabbed his belt, kicked out, and he did the waterslide as we call it, falling to the floor directly into my back control. I sunk in the RNC immediately, squeezed away, and he tapped! There was scattered applause and cheers. It felt really good, and we both laughed and I said something along the lines of “don’t kill me now please.”

My joints started to give me some trouble after that, having trained pretty hard three out of the last four days, and the session was winding to a close anyway. I helped sweep the mat and said my goodbyes. I hope to visit that gym often enough that they begin to recognise me in the end.

That night I ate at a proper Japanese restaurant… Tendon, tempura on a bowl of rice, with soba noodles and soup. Yum yums!

It was an early night followed by a horrendous plane journey back to the UK.

The good news is, I shot a lot of good footage on this trip and I hope to shape it into the best episode of Grappling Dummies yet, so please look out for that.

Osu!

The latest from the Art Junkie Tokyo factory of pure primary colour grappling-themed Japanese awesomeness.

This time it’s the Catch Wrestling themed shirt as worn by the catch wrestler who most recently won the BJJ world championships, Josh Barnett!

Josh modelling the black version

Josh modelling the black version

It’s on sale here as a pre-order with a discount so check it out. As it is a new design it is still quite pricey and fetches almost 5000 yen even if you buy it in the shop in Tokyo.

I plumped to bring you guys the blue version because I preferred the colours. Enjoy!

Front

Front

Back

Back

Two professional fighters happened to get in touch with me last week about the Scramble grappling club. I felt honoured, surprised and excited. One named Jimmy, who had recently fought and beaten some big Russian guy in London, and one named Jordan who has fought on a few big shows in the UK.

In fact I was so pumped about it I went home and built a bookcase, then picked up the bookcase and dropped it on my toe. I happened to be building the bookcase without any shoes or socks on, which was probably not that smart. In fact, it was definitely not that smart. My toe quite quickly started looking like a piece of fruit that an elephant sat on. I taped it up and hobbled over to training, totally gutted that I wouldn’t be able to go 100% with the new guys. Jimmy made me feel like a pussy when I said my toe hurt by replying “Oh yeah, I have a broken toe at the moment, too.”

Training itself was great fun. We worked on passing the half guard, and then sparred. I felt alright, but the toe definitely held me back. Got subbed a few times, Jimmy had some very nice sambo moves and Jordan had some tight subs. I just kind of played it easy and didn’t spaz out too much.

Mat, the club’s official Polish Tough Guy, gave everyone a good spanking and kept up his unsubbed record. Very impressive. He also had me in a deep choke from underneath and wrenched me around a bit by the neck, but very graciously let go before doing any real damage. Not everyone would have.

I’ve been lucky enough to be given the chance to teach on a more regular basis at a new academy in January, but it’s under wraps for now. Suffice to say I am very excited about it.

In other news, Scramble Stuff is going very well. Have you seen the Fightlinker competition? It’s panning out exactly as I had hoped with some really on-the-ball entries from Fightlinker’s hilarious crew of commentors.

If you pick up this month’s Fighters Only, you’ll see an article on Wallid Ismael that I wrote, and that I am very pleased with. It looks great! Got one next month, too, on a very big name!

I’m going to Japan at the end of December, and I have some very big plans for a super special Grappling Dummies that you guys are going to love. Something that might be huge. Watch out for that.

© 2011 The Grappling Dummy Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha