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четверг, 13 августа 2015 г.

BJJ Organizations - Supporting BJJ Growth

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I believe has a real potential to become a successful a popular sport despite what critics may say in my opinion. Beginning of this year, the IBJJF Europeans had over 3000 competitors. (I think it was 3500 in fact!) and that is tremendous growth over the years as I remember just 5-6 years ago the number was closer to 800.

These kinds of large successful events will inevitably attract sponsors despite the spectator unfriendliness. How can BJJ go mainstream? It is through comps like the Worlds and the Europeans. The Europeans I personally believe has the potential to become even bigger than the IBJJF Worlds though precisely due to the fact that they have separate Masters divisions.

The average age of pracitioner in BJJ is over 30 and many just dont feel in the same boat competing against a tough 21 year old when you are a 39 year old purple belt who hasnt trained for a while and has a huge load of other things going on in your life.

The Europeans is a comp where teams of guys can travel from all over Europe and compete with packed divisions (blue belt divisions hit over 100 competitors these days!). There is prestige and Lisbon is generally a warm and inexpensive location to visit in the beginning of the year. All things are set for a great event.

A lot has been said about IBJJF's lack of prizes in their events and of course we do get a lot of other positives that compensate for this most notably organization quality. I do think however nominal prizes would be cool if money is just too much. I dont think it would be hard to arrange something with the Sponsors for at an event like the Europeans and I think this too would give an additional boost. Afterall IBJJF benefits from the scale of the events (economies of scale) and profitability of the even would increase a lot if in a few years we see 5000 or 10000 players competing, bringing along their family in some cases.

вторник, 26 мая 2015 г.

IBJJF Losing It?

The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation is the largest and dominant organization in bjj competition around the world. The Worlds (Mundials), Pan Ams and Europeans are extremely succesful tournaments that have been held for almost two decades now attracting thousands of players. Now the dynamic seems to be changing.

IBJJF Competition Rage

IBJJF is slowly but surely proving to be a very for profit organization not really concerned about either developing bjj as a sport nor with its own brand. Theoretically it should be motivated to hold only a few larger comps but instead now the schedule is full of watered-down international and regional comps with just a couple of players in the divisions. With this in mind paying $100+ per comp is a bit strange just to compete with like 2 or 3 in your division which is very common for purple and above grades.

Examples of this approach are comps like the one held in Zadar recently. If you look at the Nice Open in France and even the UK Nationals, there are too few players. Either the price is too high or there are just too many competitions around to choose from.

Rule Dynamic

While many of us believe that it was valid to eliminate heel hooks from the IBJJF tournaments to prevent injury, the new rules involving jumping guard and others are hurting competition. Knee reaping is also hard to understand but the fact of the matter is that moving away from the original jiu jitsu could make bjj much more like judo, with limited rules and a lot of politics.

IBJJF Cash Prizes 

It is sad to see that IBJJF cannot find a way to compensate their best competitors in the black belt divisions. Guys competing in the black belt division in the top division are now getting more coverage and we need to compensate the very best. Sponsors could be one way of doing this. I think if they don't sort it out, it will take just a few years before someone else takes over.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a sport where the community aspect is very strong. This community I think can do more to reach out to sponsors and seek support. With the continued growth of the sport, I think we could see top competitions attracting even more players and viewers and organizers need to leverage this to support the competitors.

среда, 29 апреля 2015 г.

Travelling to Moscow? Where to Train BJJ!

Guys if you're coming to Moscow, Russia check out these gyms:

Lion Team
Lion is the oldest BJJ club in Moscow and has two branches, Lion Crocus (located on the border between Moscow and Moscow region) and Lion Baza (Begovaya Area)

Both clubs have suitable gi and no gi classes, run regularly by experienced instructors so its worth visiting and giving it a try.

Lion Baza runs regular morning classes, something that is seldom offered by other clubs for those of you with work committments. All the information is available on the website, but if any questions please post here!

The club was founded back in 2006 by Leonid Gatovskiy, first Russian Black Belt. Currently classes are lead by Ali Magomedov, European BJJ Champion at Purple (Now Brown Belt) and Stas Varshavskiy, a well known competitor teaching at Lion Crocus. Both are english speakers.

Ludus Team
A good club based in the center lead by Alexandre Deda Faria, a brazilian black belt who regularly runs seminars across the country. Check out their Frunzenskaya location if convenenient. They run their evening classes open for everybody and you may see some top black belts joining you in training down there.

Checkmat / Adaev Team
Setup as a Checkmat branch, the academy offers both gi and no-gi classes with a focus more on the no-gi. The head instructor is Daud Adaev who was one of the students of Leonid Gatovskiy.

Kristian Cestaro Team (Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Moscow)
Lead by Kristian Cestaro, a brazilian black belt relocated to Russia, this is one of the leading clubs with several branches in Moscow, successfully competing in the local tournaments. The club is affiliated with the Ribeiro associated.

Ronin Family 
This is one of the local clubs run by Igor Lunyakov, a young purple belt and student of Leonid Gatovskiy. The club is affiliated with Roy Dean academy is despite being one of the younger clubs in Moscow is now active on the local competition scene.

You can find all the information about them on their website roninfamily.ru

Ronin I think has a lot more newer belt competitors but will sure show better results in the coming years.

Strela Team

Despite what people say, Strela Team is perhaps the most successful and big team on the local Moscow competition scene here. A lot of the top guys from Lion moved there 4-5 years ago while others left Strela due to their focus on team loyalty / politics which has pushed also a lot of people away out of the club. You can see this from their interview approach for visitors or new members.

Dmitriy Selivakhin is the head instructor down there and no doubt they will remain one of the most important clubs on the local bjj scene for years to come.


Drop by a post if you have any questions or comments. I have mentioned a few major clubs with some other notable such as Zaleev Team (focused on No-Gi Grappling), Creonche and a few smaller clubs (without websites) out of the picture and probably no the best choice for visitors coming over.

I also wrote this post many years ago in 2009! if you are interested how the scene has changed

How Long Does it Take to Gain Black Belt in BJJ (basic grading guide)

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is famed for being one of the martial arts where you truly have to earn your black belt on the mat with thousands of hours of drilling and sparring, showing the people around you that your skill in rolling is up to the level of black belt.

According to the IBJJF guide you have to be at least 19 years old to gain a black belt and should have spent a minimum of 4.5 years training at least 2 times a week. While this is clearly a minimum, there is no doubt that at the top-level competition academies, students train very often 2 times a day if not more combining all aspects of the sport from self defense and standing techniques such as judo throws, to gi and no-gi groundwork.

For example guys like Keenan Cornelius who clearly trained professionally at academies like Atos and Team Lloyd Irvin have dedicated themselves full-time to the sport and still only managed to reach the black belt after 8 years. 

Others such as BJ Penn and Caio Terra have been promoted much more rapidly and without a doubt remain one of the top brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners having won the world championships (IBJJF) at black belt level.

I think you would typically see a lot of practitioners reach black belt in around 10-15 years of consistent training. I think this should refer more to black belt level rather than the black belt itself as unfortunately today with the rise of the popularity of the sport, some instructors have started to bend the rules and gradually bring down the quality of the sport.

For example there is no denying that the level of intensity and general quality of the sparring partners varies significantly between academies. I personally have found that "family" style academies such as Gracie Barra have a much lower quality of practitioners with many blue belts corresponding more to white belt level and purple belts to blue belt level. Even though the instructors may be the top world class competitors, sometimes you will find that the academy as a whole and the head instructor will choose to promote some of his senior purple belts faster than he really should in order to show that his academy has a big group of senior grades and not just blue and white belts.

There is just no real escape from mat time and dedication required and I think to a great extent the quality of the teaching is very important. The student teacher bond whereby the instructor is really investing time into the student is necessary in order to achieve great results.

Overall I think the time required to achieve the technical ability to reach belt differs but I would say that one needs to be training for at least 2-3 years in each belt to attain a certain level of understanding of the techniques and develop the game. This fact is also supported by the polls I have held on this blog for a while now. I think 2 years per belt is something that is achievable with a minimum of 4-5 training sessions a week schedule and 3 years per belt at 3-4 sessions. 

That makes for around 4 trainings*50 weeks*3 years * 4 belts = 2400 training sessions overall to achieve the grade and 12 years of training required. 

2400/ (50 weeks) / 2 years / 4 belts = 6 trainings per week to achieve the black belt in 8 years

Based on the above you should spend 12 years * 12 months / 4 belts / 5 (since you can also have no stripes) = 7.2 months per stripe! (with 4 training per week)

Of course my calculation is probably a little more strict than reality. I think in reality most people will reach purple belt in 500 sessions and black in 1000 sessions.

It is of course a question of motivation.

Training 6 times a week you should spend 8 years * 12 months / 4 belts / 5 = 4.8 months per stripe

четверг, 23 апреля 2015 г.

Tips to Improving Your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Most of us at some point in our training starts to feel like they've hit a wall. Either its during grueling training when suddenly you start losing to guys that have been training far less than you but for us reason caught you in a bunch of subs or its at a competition where you feel out of place, knocked out in the beginning.

Here are some personal tips that may help you get better:

  1. Private Lessons: private lessons are expensive but are a great way to get over some hurdles. Write down on a piece of paper the positions where you tend to lose and ask your instructor to show you what to do in these situations. Many times you will attempt a sweep but fail to finish. At other times you have a submission locked in but then lose the position. Your INSTRUCTOR IS THERE TO GUIDE YOU. Take advantage of this. 

  2. Training Partners: "In order to become a Lion you have to Train with Lions" - Carlson Gracie. Yes indeed and the great Carslon Snr was right. If you are the top grade at your academy and are constantly winning every position against your training partners, you need to step up the level of training partners. Seek out opportunities to train with tough guys and they will show you your own flaws in your game that you need to correct. This is important for you to progress especially at the higher grades. 

  3. Competition: Even though competition is not necessary to improve, I really believe it is worth competing regularly. It will not only improve your motivation but help you gain varied experiences competing against players from other gyms and around the world. Many of us develop similar styles to our instructors. By competing you will learn that other players may have different approaches that you need to be prepared for.

  4. Visit Other Schools: While the word Creonche does pop up from time to time, the reality is that there are world class instructors out there and there is a high probability that they are not located next to your house. Go on holiday and visit Brazil. Fly to California and train at the best gyms down there including Atos academy and the University of Jiu Jitsu. Make new friends and enjoy jiu jitsu. In the process someone for sure will show you a thing or two about bjj that you did not know.

I hope these pointers will help a little some of the guys looking to improve. Any comments welcome!

среда, 22 апреля 2015 г.

Which BJJ Gi Should I Buy?

Every brazilian jiu jitsu player from white to black belt loves to buy a new gi - the main uniform in bjj which looks a bit like the judo gi and sometimes referred to as the kimono (wrongly)

Unlike 20 years ago today there is a whole range of gi's available sold both online in stores such as budovideos.com as well as at competitions such as the many IBJJF events where you can often buy at discount prices cool gear.

There are many companies that produce BJJ gear with the top brands including Manto, Koral, Hayabusa, Shoyroll, Scramble, Grips and many others varying in price and quality.

From my personal experience it makes sense to try a few different gi brands to get a feel for the different quality available. In any case you are going to need 2 or 3 gi suits for training so inevitably you will be looking for variety.


 - Stay await from Koral and Gracie Barra GI if possible. Koral has been on the market a long time but the last experience I had with their GI was not a good one and the same goes for Gracie Barra. Both disappointed me in terms of quality although to be fair I think Gracie Barra now produce their GI's in partnership with Storm.

- Good to start with cheaper suits initially. You don't need to invest in the latest Shoyroll or Hayabusa gi to start bjj. There are plenty of more basic GI that are normally sold locally. Check with your instructor what he recommends as a starter GI. Tatami produce some cheaper suits you should take a look at as well.

- If you like to look good, make sure the colors of the GI, your current belt and rash guard match. There are plenty of different gis that work. Personally I think black gis go very well with purple and brown belts while blue belts go well with white. I think personal preferences play a big part as well but those are just my 5 cents!

суббота, 15 ноября 2014 г.

Strela Team Wins First BJJ Tournament in Moscow

On the first weekend of November 2014, IBJJF organized its first GI and No-Gi event featuring more than 300 athletes with particular strong participation in the GI event. Many local team competed including Strela, Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu (Kristian Cestaro), Alliance, Gracie Barra and Checkmate.

It was great to see strong participation and a big congratulations to Strela Team for taking first place in the GI tournament overall.

article in Russian below published in Metro magazine:

Российская Strela Team победила в MIO 

Победитель турнира в разделе Gi, синие пояса, Александр Луковкин × 7-8 ноября в Москве в спорткомплексе ЦСКА состоялся Moscow International Open 2014 - первый в России турнир по Бразильскому джиу-джитсу под эгидой IBJJF и при поддержке Всероссийской Федерации Грэпплинга.

Более 300 участников из разных стран мира два дня доказывали свое право называться лучшими из лучших в разделах Gi и No GI. По словам Александра Коновалова, главного тренера Санкт-Петербургского отделения Strela Team, бразильское джиу-джитсу возникло в первой половине прошлого века, а с распространением «боев без правил» получило мировую известность. И сегодня в соревнования по всему миру участвуют тысячи спортсменов всех возрастов и обоих полов. Нужно отметить, что помимо всего прочего данный вид спорта одновременно остается искусством со своей уникальной философией, согласно которой человек слабо развитого телосложения может успешно защититься от противника физически более сильного.

Прошедший турнир смело можно назвать самым значимым событием для джиу-джитсу в нашей стране, поскольку, с одной стороны, показал российскому спортивному сообществу как надо проводить подобные мероприятия, а с другой, продемонстрировал значимость российских клубов на мировом уровне. Все иностранные мастера, посещающие Россию, - рассказывает Александр - отмечают огромный потенциал наших спортсменов, многие из которых занимают призовые места на турнирах США и Европы. Назову лишь немногих - Абдулбари Гусейнов, Александр Луковкин, Антон Селезнев и многие другие. Безусловно у данного вида спорта есть будущее. И если несколько лет назад немногочисленные клубы были только в Москве и Санкт-Петербурге, то сегодня в соревнованиях участвуют спортсмены и из Центральной России, Сибири, и Дальнего Востока. Мы поинтересовались у одного из победителей турнира (в разделе Gi, синие пояса), чемпиона Санкт-Петербурга и Финляндии, вице-чемпиона штата Рио-де-Жанейро, Александра Луковкина впечатлением от турнира. «Все российское BJJ-сообщество долго ждало момент, знаменующий новую ступень в развитии этого вида спорта в нашей стране. Я считаю, что организация турнира на территории России означает, что нас заметили. Огромный труд, который проделали отдельные клубы, наконец принес свои плоды. MIO позволил заявить о себе многим спортсменам, не имеющим возможность выступать в Европе, но имеющими все шансы на победу.» В результате победителем в общекомандном зачете стала именно российская команда – Strela Team. Следующие чемпионаты подобного уровня состоятся в Мюнхене, Мадриде и Лиссабоне.

source: http://www.metronews.ru/sport/rossijskaja-strela-team-pobedila-v-mio/Tponkl---iRispAxOxAe7Q/