Competing in Brazil Vs. Everywhere Else

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With my imminent return to the cradle of Jiu-Jitsu, I thought it was time to put out a little something, something. During my year in Brazil, I competed in just shy of twenty competitions between Rio and Sao Paulo, since coming back home in September I have competed across the UK as well as heading out to Europe on a number of occasions. This got me thinking, there really is a marked difference in competing in Brazil compared to everywhere else.

Here are some of my observations:

1. The crowd

There has been a noticeable change in competitions here in the UK in the last few years, they are definitely getting bigger. It used to be the case of a few competitors sitting around the mats ready to jump on, now you see dudes with their whole team, Mum & Dad, chick and kids there to support. But it is still a pretty chilled atmosphere, you might get the odd angry parent admonishing the ref for saving the arm of their four-year old but on the whole it is a layed back environment. Competing in Brazil is essentially the polar opposite to this. I was fortunate enough to compete at possibly the most famous venue for Jiu-Jitsu, the legendary Tijuca Tennis Clube on a couple of occasions. This ageing stone based gymnasium is steeped in Jiu-Jitsu history and folk-law, legends have been created on the famous green mats there. As soon as you walk through the huge hanger like doors you can feel the intensity. Each team has their own section of this old grimy gymnasium, huge banners are put up so cats know not to step into an opposing academies’ territory. Brazilians are known to be passionate people and these sections lose the plot when their fighters step on the mats.The most famed competitors have their own chants sung for them, drums are beaten and every single point, advantage and restart is argued with incredible ferocity. Winners are celebrated as heroes and losers commiserated with the love that only a family could offer.

Safe to say it was a nerve-racking experience competing at the Tennis Club, especially the first time which was my first competition in Rio but it was impossible not to revel in the atmosphere there and similarly every other competition. Even as a blue / purple belt being there with my team and with Terere in my corner, I couldn’t help but feel like a superstar. This made it hurt so much more when I lost but when I won it felt like an atomic bomb of awesomeness had just exploded in my body.

2. Refereeing

I have spent a good deal of time complaining on here about refereeing decisions in both Brazil, UK and well every other country I’ve competed in. A lot of that is probably that I need an excuse whenever I lose a match! In my experience refing in one place is about the same as everywhere else. Jiu-Jitsu is a massively complex sport with a scoring system which thanks to ‘advantages’ relies heavily on the subjective opinions of the officials. There is massive scope for human error which unfortunately occurs frequently and obviously it sucks when you happen to be the recipient of it. But having said that being a gringo competing in Brazil does mean that the refs will look for any way to screw you over! You won’t win a decision, you will be denied advantages, positions will be restarted differently and God forbid if your foot is creeping close to your opponent’s hip. You basically do have to beat cats straight out.

3. Bull pen

I didn’t attend one competition in Brazil that had an adequate area to warm up in. There are 200 dudes packed into the pen like battery hens all doing a few star jumps before diving on the mats and going to war. I suppose when you look at the logistics of things, you would need a large amount of mat space to allow all competitors to get warm efficiently. What really sucks, the IBJJF as essentially the brand leader in Jiu-Jitsu competitions dictate the market so the largest and most prestigious comps world-wide go on without a matted area for athletes to warm their bodies and reduce the risk of injury. In the UK the mid-level tournaments all seem to have used their common sense and given mat space for cats to do their thing. But then somehow you still get dumb-ass spectators standing on said mats to watch their brother-in-law compete at white belt.

4. The loo-roll man

There is nothing worse than when you need that pre-comp food escape and you hit the loo, there’s piss all over the seat and floor, the toilet roll dispenser is empty and what is left are shit stained tatters on the cubicle floor. In Brazil they simply do not have this problem. There is a dude who stands outside the door with a table full of neatly piled loo roll – you take your individual pile and move on and do your business. Somehow it took me eleven months of being there and competing a few times a month before I realised what was actually going on and why there was a load of paper on a table. This might be the highest level of efficiency I ever experienced in Brazil.

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Although in terms of bizarre toilet based findings, I competed at a Sub Only match at a competition in Manchester where the organisers had very thoughtfully brought in some portable toilets to cut down on queuing. When I entered this ‘Porta Potty’ I noticed the skin of a freshly scranned banana. Somebody obviously felt the need to immediately replace the potassium they had just excreted from their body.

5. Less treading in piss

I know that I am not the only one to notice that in competitions up and down, people feel the inexplicable need to visit the toilet without their kicks on. Everyone knows when competing toilet visits come more frequently, so then why on Earth would anyone want to sit down to take that nervous shit whilst treading piss with your bare feet. Then stepping on the mats with their weird, stink piss feet potentially creating some sort of hybrid urine based stain of ring worm. In Brazil, I didn’t see any cats just rocking bare feet, although predictably dudes would be rocking Havianas, I’m thinking that they don’t offer much protection either and you still end up with pissy toes.

A non-comp based hygiene observation – in general mat based hygiene seems to mean less in Brazil, a good sweep of the mats usually is enough to clear any threat of any dangerous infection. I remember hearing prior to my first visit to Rio, that dudes on the mats would simply open up their lapel and blow their nose out in their own Gi. After a few months there this wasn’t anything and after three months I was doing it myself. But the favourite example of hygiene related business came when one of the dudes brought his young son to the academy. The little dude can have been no older than two. In the course of rolling Terere had noticed that this little guys’s nose was cascading with run away snot, he gave Dad the heads up. Mid-roll my man stops, walks over to his son, uses sleeve of his Gi to wipe the snot clean from his nose before jumping right back in with his partner.

For me competing (& winning) in Brazil is the most exhilarating feeling, the feeling of euphoria is comparable to nothing else, tomorrow I get to hop on a plane and do it all again.

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Live From Rome Part II: Everything Else

IMG_4358 As outlined in my last entry, I went to Rome to compete and sucked a whole load of monkey nuts. However, visiting the city itself was an incredible experience, without a doubt it was the most beautiful city that I have ever seen. If I had one complaint, there was almost too much to see. No matter where you find yourself, there is some whopping church that is hundreds of years old and the most awesomely gaudy thing known to man. As you would imagine Rome is the ideal place for a TMNT road-trip with ridiculously delicious looking pizza being sold absolutely everywhere. Frustratingly I competed in the Gi on the Friday and then wasn’t due back on the mats until Sunday, as I still had to lose some weight, I had to be content with chicken and spinach. BUT this free day did allow me to do a whole load of sightseeing which I don’t usually get to do an abundance of. In addition to consuming large quantities of expresso in cafes where old men stopped everything and starred like I was starring in an Argento version of American Werewolf. So this blog is a few non Jiu-Jitsu related and completely irrelevant observations and musing based on the cultural sites that I visited whilst in this awe inspiring spot.

Colosseum IMG_4394 I was hit by a few things immediately upon arriving at this quintessential historical site. First I look up and see this magnificent structure which has intrigued me since a year 5 project on the Roman Empire. As I stared in wonderment, I had my personal space ‘invaded’ by an army of cats trying to slang me a ‘selfie stick’. I have a habit of negating things that I actually enjoy to focus on things that really piss me off. The moronic thing is these guys actually get in people’s real non-selfie pics so they can try to sell them on the benefits of using their dumb-ass stick. Despite the mild annoyance, who am I to begrudge these impoverished immigrants making a living & it was pretty amusing watching eager tourists get thoroughly terriorised.

The site also has an abundance of fully kitted up ‘Roman Legionnaires’, the first one I encountered was a big fat whopper who was simultaneously blazing a cig and having a chat on his phone. Dude looked more like a shriveled grape than a cog in a uber-effective fighting machine, the Romans wouldn’t have conquered shit with this dude. Although saying this, the Colosseum itself was absolutely unreal, you could feel the historical significance just having your feet planted into the ground and looking up. This had to be the coolest place I have ever visited. IMG_4417The Vatican IMG_4423One of the things that I first noticed about Rome was how many nuns and priests you see milling around, this is not a everyday occurrence in Dewsbury town centre. Being sat between two priests on the metro would take some getting used to. The run up to Vatican City had a lot of dudes selling Dolce Gabbana bags in addition to a lot of soldiers holding big-ass weaponry, I hadn’t noticed this but my homeslice observed that the soldiers would give different Arnold Rimmer-esque salutes based on which dudes were coming in and out, the more important the more elaborate. Navigating this approach with a variable army of people from all over the world that have dedicated their whole existences to this ancient doctrine was pretty intense. I had fully intended to visit St Paul’s Cathedral but arriving in the square and discovering a two and a half hour queue, I  decided to pass on it. I made do with sitting and observing the thousands of pilgrims and tourists as they did their thing in this iconic square. IMG_4429 Whilst I didn’t get to see the inside of St Paul’s Cathedral, I did peep out a couple of other spots. It would be difficult not to check a site of Catholic significance as literally every street has some grand cathedral or quint but amazingly picturesque little church. Lost on my first afternoon, I found myself at St Paul’s Outside the Walls. I walked in just as a service was beginning in one of the many areas of this enormous church, in-fact I had to be moved out of the way as I was blocking the priest’s march. It must be pretty irritating for all those there to worship, you have these random tourists meandering around, taking a few pics whilst they are trying to get a spot of praying in.

I also happened upon the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore which is the largest Catholic Marian (repping the Virgin Mary) Church in all of Rome. In a way, I guess I’d expected to feel a sense of awe as I entered these incredible structures, a sense of something greater. But as much as they were majestic and beautiful, I couldn’t help but think all the work that has gone into them, all the cats that probably died to make them happen, was hundreds of feet of intricately detailed coffered, ceilings laced with gold really necessary? Straight up though, after losing at the Rome Open in the Gi my agnostic nature briefly strayed onto the path of faith. I lit a candle asking a higher power to help a brother out to become a European No-Gi champ. If there is a God then Jiu-Jitsu obviously isn’t top of dude’s list of priorities. I did enjoy the confession boxes with the little light on them showing that they were presently engaged. IMG_4373 Trevi Fountain IMG_4434This is touted as one of the most famous fountains in the world, so you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t have any running water! You can make out in the picture the mass of renovation work that was taking place, which kind of sucked. There was a little tiny pool where you could throw your coins and make a wish. Again superstition caught me and I threw my coin over my left shoulder and asked for help the next day to become a European Champion. Again my plea went unheeded. In hindsight maybe the brutal ass kicking that befell me was a punishment for the sheer cheek of asking God for a favour whilst leading such a heathen existence.

Spanish Stairs IMG_4455I was informed that the Spanish Stairs were one of the must see places. However what I discovered was pretty much a big-ass set of stairs with a lot of cats sitting on them and the constant threat of being jabbed with ‘selfie sticks’. In 2015 it is actually the selfie that has colonised the globe.

Rome wasn’t all awesomeness though, I did stay in the hostel from hell. The shoe string budget that allows me to travel and compete will not spring for anything above the cheapest hostels available, so I suppose I bring this upon myself. I’m fully accustomed to cold showers and cramped stinky rooms, which this spot had. But I was also inflicted with the girl who was scared of the dark and would only sleep with her bedside light on despite a barrage of complaints. The most annoying manager who had an insatiable desire to chat bollocks and whose very presence made me want to commit an act of brutal asphyxiation. The worst of all was the weird dude who felt it appropriate when everyone was asleep to beat off in his bunk. This of course was the bunk below me and of course I wasn’t asleep due to the light in the room being on. The ethical dilemma of hearing someone going to town on themselves, do you tell them to ‘put the dick down I’ve got to compete in a few hours?’ Whilst I struggled with this – he’d already cracked out his tissues. I felt sullied by the whole experience. I made sure to give the cats on Hostel World a heads up on the chronic masturbateur.

That was Rome – I highly recommend to one and all, be sure I will be back next year seeking some redemption.

This week I have my friend, training partner and all around horrible bastard showing a heel hook using a cradle set up. This was one of the three heel hooks finishes dude used to win the expert division at the recent NAGA London.

Live From Rome Part 1: Misery

This is the second time I have written this blog. The first go around I somehow managed to forgo the saving process, hence the delay in getting it out. Fortunately it gave me another opportunity to relieve the misery of it all.

This past weekend saw me venture to Rome to have another crack at becoming European champion. I was to compete in the IBJJF No-Gi Euros in addition to the Rome International Open in the Gi. To make things abundantly clear from the start, I failed at both, I went 0-2 for the entire weekend and this really did suck more than anything that has ever sucked before. At the Rome Open which took place on the Friday, I lost my first match, this was based primarily on the fact that I didn’t bother to defend a lazy take-down. My opponent sort of ran at me, as I was in the process of pulling guard anyway, I just accepted it and fell over. I jumped on his foot but whilst he was I obvious pain, he just wasn’t tapping. I swept before being swept back and lost on those two points. It was a fun match, which means very little when you lose. But I knew I had lost on the back of my own mistakes, which always gives you something to focus on when you get back to the academy. The blow was softened as I knew I had the chance for redemption on the Sunday.

Unfortunately this redemption did not come, rather I was beaten so badly it made me reconsider my entire existence. I don’t remember a great deal of what happened, I have been debating whether this was due to it being over so quickly or more-so that I have blocked out such a painful memory. It began in the same way as many of my matches with a double guard pull. My opponent then jumped up and somehow leapt straight over my guard. He immediately attached himself to my back where he proceeded to choke the life force directly from my body. All of this was done in under thirty seconds.

I have been beaten whilst competing (many times) but it has been extremely rare to have my guard passed. This kid sliced and diced that bitch like it was a promiscuous, big breasted blond teen getting blazed at Camp Crystal Lake. After spending an inordinate amount of time on the mats with my head in my hands, I was informed it was time to move. Leaving the mats in a state of shock, I felt so angry I pretty much wanted to cry. Then sat alone outside the venue in a state of bewilderment, I made the executive decision to quit Jiu-Jitsu (for about thirty seconds). After reconsidering I decided it would be best to just give up competing altogether (for maybe a minute). The agony of defeat is very difficult to summarise, all light is drained from the world and the haunting images of your failure are played on repeat across multiple screens simultaneously in your swede. All food tastes like shit even pizza and anything that any other human says is completely meaningless and irrevelent. Nothing at all can hold your interest other than the constant thought of what just went wrong. To say that I was humbled by this whole experience would be an understatement.

As depressingly painful as this was I did have the opportunity to see some awesome performances from fortified beasts such as Alan Finfou and Jackson Sousa. As well as picking up a sweet deep half detail from watching two female blue belts compete. One of the girls had jumped straight into deep half guard but was struggling to get into the waiter sweep position, in order to deal with this issue she moved her free leg into a spot which allowed her to recollect her other leg and hit the sweep. Watching this completely blew my mind, for years of playing this position, this detail had been something that had completely eluded me. The ability to learn from others, irregardless of age, experience and size is another awe inspiring thing about this dope ass sport.

But the highlight of the tournaments for me, had to be witnessing an old Mongolian sumo wrestler step onto the mats to have his picture taken. I must hasten to add, my idea of his nationality and sport of choice was not based upon any pre-existing ethnic stereotypes or his extreme mass but due to his hoodie which stated ‘Mongolian Sumo Wrestling’! The point of contention and indeed amusement was the fact that a match was already taking place on the mats whilst his equally whopping son took multiple pictures of him all decked out in the four medals he had collected over the weekend. I say ‘collected’ as dude hadn’t won a single match, being a blue belt on the wrong side of 60 and weighing somewhere in the area of 200 kilos meant there obviously wasn’t a huge pool to pull opponents from. This dude did not give a shit that there was two female blue belts on the mats fighting their hearts out, he needed his picture holding up the Four Horsemen sign like an elderly Mongolian Arn Anderson.

This weekend has given me a plethora of things that I need to work on, I guess I was blissfully unaware of how much certain areas of my game suck. I can safely say that some important lessons have been learned, super expensive lessons! Now it is just a matter of making sure that I don’t suck so much ass in the future.

This week I have BJJ Brown Belt, Judo Black Belt and genuine horrible individual Adam Simpson breaking down one of his favourite methods of garroting people.

Further Adventures From Deep Half Part 2: Things That Didn’t Suck

IMG_4243You may have been lead to believe from my previous entry that the last three months involved completely ass sucking experiences, this isn’t the case. Upon my return from Rio, I was able to get myself a cheeky little sponsorship. Sub Only Kimonos, a new Irish start-up brand that are producing that super fresh Jiu-Jitsu gear were kind enough to hook a dude up. Obviously free shit is the best but it was a huge personal compliment for my Jiu-Jitsu to be acknowledged in this way and it has been sweet repping their brand whilst taking gold in high profiles comps such as the IBJJF Madrid and Munich Opens. This confidence to contact companies looking for sponsorship was given to me by my homeslice and creator of BJJ Hacks dopeness, Hywel Teague. I had never even considered this as an option prior to conversations over acai and agua de coco and then being fortunate enough to get the hook up with the pre-release version of ‘The Ultimate Guide to Getting Sponsored in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu‘. This bad-boy was invaluable and one hundred per cent dumb ass proof with step by step guidance of how to go about the whole process.

At the back end of January, I undertook a long ass round trip from Huddersfield to Southampton to Cardiff back to Southampton before heading home to the HUD. I was given an opportunity to meet, train with and pick the brain of another of my heroes, the legendary Andre Galvao, at Terere’s UK affiliate Phoenix MMA. This was two days of grappling based awesomeness which included a two seminars, in addition to a trip to Wales to watch the debut show of Jiu-Jitsu super fight promotion Polaris. The seminars themselves were attended by many luminaries of the UK Jiu-Jitsu scene and were as delicious as one would imagine. Day one focused on a system of passing the lasso, whilst day two we explored guard positions in particular using the lapel, an anally retentive set of notes is available if anyone is in dire need of this knowledge. In general, I’m not a huge proponent of the seminar structure, three hours of being exposed to a plethora of new techniques of which I retain about two, within an hour I’m cold and day-dreaming about creme eggs. Nevertheless I picked up some serious techniques and details here which was worth the ninety beans.

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The real highlight of the weekend came in the coach journeys to and from Cardiff. On the way to Polaris, I was fortunate enough to be sitting across from Galvao and was able to pick his swede for the entirety of the three-hour trip (minus a little nap) on pretty much everything I’d ever wanted to know about Jiu-Jitsu. Like the super eager kid hoping to impress, I was quick to explain to him that I had trained and lived alongside Terere for a year and attempted to deliver my best Portuguese. There was never a lull in conversation as dude can most definitely talk and it was interesting to get his perspective on that huge organisation that runs the Jiu-Jitsu world (misguided), why old-school cats hate on the modern game (lack of understanding), his biggest achievements (ADCC 2011) and the scariest dude on the mats (Jacare). Following the show what should have been a relaxed, sleepy journey back was accosted by a manically jet lagged black belt world champion. Galvao took the bus driver’s microphone and proceeded to bust out a freestyled stand up show. Whilst it’s safe to say dude was no Bill Hicks, the surreal nature of the situation made it funny as hell. I learnt that due to the multi-ethnic heritage of Brazilians it was perfectly acceptable to be racist as shit. Following the impromptu comedy, he proceeded to give mock interviews with sleep deprived and wholly unwilling volunteers which were hilarious in their awkwardness. I always thought from videos and his general online persona that he was a serious, reserved and God-fearing individual but honesty this does not reflect his personality at all, the dude is charismatic, fun-loving and crazy in equal measures.

Upon arriving back to the academy that evening Galvao was scouring the place for an iPhone charger. I had made the fatal mistake of being pro-active with my charging. I desperately needed this bad-boy myself due to the long journey home the following day, plus spending a year in Brazil I was under no false illusions that I would ever see it again. But saying that, how could you say ‘no’ to a legendary world champ like Galvao. Upon his arrival the next day, I asked for the return of this valued possession, the big smile that ascended across his face alerted to the fact that my charger was in-fact lost to the sands of time. Whilst this did suck to a certain extent, I can say that I now belong to a (somewhat) elite club of dudes that have had Andre Galvao steal their phone charger. When it came time to do a spot of rolling, I was given opportunity to roll with him which I assume was based solely on the fact he had jacked my shit! Rolling felt like I was grappling with an aggressive feather. The beating he put on me was magical, he would let me play a little bit before seemingly defying gravity to make my Jiu-Jitsu feel like it was still in its infancy. Many thanks to my man Jimmy Johnson who made this memorable weekend possible, again after a year of living amongst Brazilians, organising something of this magnitude would not have been the easiest thing do.

At the beginning of March I competed Gi and No-Gi at the IBJJF Munich Open and my three month stint of sucking a great deal of ass came to a head. I was fortunate enough to meet a great many splendid individuals during my time in Rio particularly the six months I spent living at the Connection Rio gaff. I was able to hit up one such dude Zivan, who is currently doing some amazing work raising money for Terere’s Kids Project supporting the youth of Rio’s Cantagalo favela. My friend lives just outside of Munich and very kindly facilitated my stay in Germany. Upon arriving at the venue that morning I weighed myself for the No-Gi, only to find that I was half a kilo overweight. I had never missed weight before and immediately had that horrible sinking feeling that only comes when you know you have messed up. So I had to borrow a pair of kicks from my homeboy, obviously two sizes too big, I threw two hoodies on along with my coat and ran out into the German countryside. As fate would have it, it began to snow as soon as I got outside – it felt like ‘hearts on fire’ should burst full blast through the clouds as I did my best Balboa impression. Never having done this before, I was unsure how long to run for, so I figured 45 minutes seems about right. After getting back to the spot & taking a cheeky toilet break, I came back to the scales to discover I’d lost, just shy of a kilo and a half. With the luxury of hindsight, I should have just nipped for a poop first!

Fortunately this didn’t have any impact on my performance in the No-Gi. I was able to catch the first dude with a straight foot-lock. Whilst the second dude was more tricky but I was still able to win via a sole advantage. The highlight of the match came at the death when dude shoot up a last second arm-bar, he was straining so much that he let out the most almighty exploder boff. ‘Suco de bunda’ is an occupational hazard whilst partaking in this grappling based tomfoolery but I had never been the recipient of an exploder farted during the heat of battle! I then competed in the open weight which ended up being a big mistake, I was taken down and spent five minutes fighting all out for a sweep which never came. A 5:30AM get up, running about three miles and doing a spot of Jiu-Jitsu had caught up with me by the afternoon, I felt like a whole load of aching ass. I was still able to put it together to capture gold in the Gi with a points win in the semi finals. Then a hard-fought encounter against a fellow countryman where I was able to capture a super late foot-lock to clinch gold, to round-up a rather satisfying day.

IMG_4200 IMG_4221 The day before leaving Germany I had the opportunity to go and visit the small village of Blaubeuren. The houses looked just like Hansel and Gretel’s neglectful parents had just sent their two innocent young offspring off into the arms of a psychopathic elderly lady with a penchant for young children and a house made from gingerbread, it really was a thing of beauty. Besides the odd motorised vehicles that could be found meandering around, you literally could have lost track of what century you were in. Of the things that I enjoy about Germany, I particularly savour just how vehemently Germans embrace their national stereotypes, cats just love their efficiency in addition to drinking beer and eating sausages. In the airport about to make my return trip, I spotted staff riding on bicycles, dudes are so efficient that they ride around on bikes to get their shit done quicker!

IMG_4240 This week my Sensei and homeslice Danny ‘Cheesecake Assassin’ Mitchell drops some knowledge this time in the kimono.

Chiggidy check the dope shit:

Sub Only Kimonos

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Sponsored in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Terere Kids Project

Tweets From Deep Half

Further Adventures From Deep Half: Things That Sucked

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It has been over three months since I’ve got my blog on. The truth being, I was afraid since arriving back from Rio it was turning into your standard egotistical ‘celebrate of me’ fest, rather than cross cultural musings interwined with a lttle Jiu-Jitsu business. The last few months, has seen me continue to train & teach Jiu-Jitsu full-time in addition to working (a minimum) on that classroom teacher tip to earn the necessary money to eat and travel.  Whilst that isn’t particularly newsworthy, I have also had some pretty freaking awesome experiences with trips to Ireland, Portugal, Germany, as well as being sponsored and having the opportunity to kick it with another of my heroes. So what you are reading is a brief breakdown in two parts of what has been going down, which is undoubtedly egotistic and may or may not interest you at all!

My 2014 was capped off with a trip to Ireland to see all my dudes from East Coast and Satori Jiu-Jitsu which are two ridiculously dope academies that I would highly recommend if your heading to the Emerald Isle. As well as doing a spot of teaching (Deep Half!) & competing at the Dublin International Open. The competition itself, which in-fact was the beginning of the ‘things that sucked’ I eluded to in the title. I lost in the first round in my weight category after being matched with my homeslice Chris Leddy from East Coast. In what was a good fight, I ended up losing to the better man 4-2. In the open weight I fought against a dude called Max Lindblad who won the European Championships the past January at purple belt and just won double gold the week prior to qualify for the World Pro in Abu Dhabi for a second time. It probably would have been better not knowing this info, I didn’t have much hope and my mind-set was not to get horribly abused, which isn’t the most positive or useful outlook! It took him 5 and a half minutes to pass my guard and 6 to choke me out, which after the beating he had been putting on other cats this was a minor achievement! Whilst it is not a profound insight, it is still fair to say that losing does suck more than anything that has ever sucked before.

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This trip did allow me to make a decision which initially seemed like a really dumb-ass thing to do and quickly became abundantly clear that it was up there with the worst decisions I’d ever made. My bro, Eoghan had spent a good couple of days giving me the hard sell on the benefits of ‘taking in the Irish sea’ aka swimming in some painstakingly cold water which he courageously did multiple times per week. Baring in mind it was mid-December and cold as fuck. Against my better judgement, I stood on the side of the wall wearing only my tiny vale tudo shorts, ready to make my entrance into the bitterly cold ocean, I couldn’t remember a time where I wanted to do anything less. I was instructed to lower myself into the water slowly, to acclimatise to the temperature but in my infinite wisdom I thought ‘lets just get this shit over with’ and I jumped straight in. I was fine for about 2 seconds and had even began to swim, when uncontrollably, from somewhere buried deep inside me, I began to make this weird sound and the intense thought of death by cold permeated my consciousness. When I began to scream that I was dying at the top of my lungs, a large gentleman who had just informed me that he’d only managed ten minutes today after doing a half hour the week before, rushed to the edge to ensure I was not in-fact about to perish. The whole experience, which I think lasted about fifteen seconds, ten of those were attempting to scramble out, my genitals literally retreated with the speed of The Flash and remained in hiding for what seemed like hours. I felt thoroughly traumatised, irrespective of benefits this could possibly produce it most definitely sucked.

New year with new goals, aspirations, hopes and all of that sort of business, with that in mind at the end of January, I made my first and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to capture a European gold medal. I flew out to Lisbon on the Thursday to compete on the Friday, at this point I was still overweight. Unable to really eat at the airport I made a slight miscalculation with the number of black coffees consumed pre-flight at Starbucks to console my aching stomach. This turned out to be a serious error of judgement. Initially at the beginning of the flight, I felt like I’d been uppercut with energy and had the urge to strut up and down the aisle like The Nature Boy. But towards the end of journey this had developed into genuine concern that I was having heart palpitations which finally descended even further into an intense anxiety that I was having full blown heart attack! Even worse somewhere in this hazy, caffeine infused chaos, I managed to ‘misplace’ the entirety of my Euros, working on my shoestring budget this really sucked ass.

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Everything was pretty much delish about the experience of the Europeans. Kicking it with friends from all over the world and competing at what was the most well attended competition of all time with 3,400 registered competitors. I had competed at the Tijuca Tennis Clube so I was used to big comps but this was next level with thousands of people in attendance. Seeing Mestre Terere and having him there to corner me for my first match was awesome – although after losing in my second I did wonder where he had got to. Whilst sulking over my loss with overpriced and substandard acai the dude reappeared complete with a hot ass chick by his side which solved that mystery! Whilst in Rio, I remember being genuinely shocked when I was told that black belts have their own groupies, there were chicks that visited the academy with the obvious intentions of getting some of that black belt, world champ based loving.

The rest of the trip was dope as hell, myself and all the homies from East Coast Jiu-Jitsu were welcomed with open arms at Gracie Barra Lisbon. Although during the sweet session there I did have an unwanted & unusual encounter on the mats. I was unfortunate enough to meet and roll with fellow purple belt competitor from England. This particular phallic shaped appendage complained in a snotty and offensive manner to just about everything during our round from grips, to having his foot trodden on, to God forbid his own Gi coming over his head. There are those who preach that Jiu-Jitsu eliminates the dicks but based on this experience, I theorise that it can actually be a penis enlarger and has the potential to turn an already large penis into a John Holmes monster cock.

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To round things off that sucked, I am forced to do the whole complain about the IBJJF and their standard of refereeing. Now this topic has been heavily covered and I also can appreciate the difficulty of the job that these hardworking peoples have to do. I have no idea how much these cats are paid by the IBJJF but my friend just worked a 13 hour day at the Munich Open, manning the scoreboard to receive a grand total of 60 Euros – which is some serious slave labour by an organisation that is making mad dough.

In two back to back competitions, The Europeans and The London Winter Open I came away with two bad refereeing decisions which ultimately cost me my matches. In my second fight at the Euros, after being on bottom and hitting a foot-lock attempt I was given an advantage but then my coming up to a top position was completely ignored, I ended up losing the match by two points. Whilst in the London Open, in my first match I conceded an early advantage and spent the bulk of the match on bottom fighting to sweep. I had multiple sweep attempts which put my opponent on the mat before he was able to get up before me, one foot-lock attempt before managing to get to the top just as the time ran out to be awarded a sole advantage. I appreciated the subjective nature of advantage points but I did enough to win, the referee in question was obviously new to the role after having to confer with a senior official about my late advantage, I was invariably beaten by the inexperience of the official.

Losing to a superior opponent is one thing but when you pay £70 and more to compete at an IBJJF event and you lose due human error outside your control it sucks so much more. These are not solely the complaints of a bitter loser, even in victory I fell victim to mistakes. During the final of the No-Gi Open in Munich, I failed to be awarded two points after initiating a take-down and my opponent pulled guard. Fortunately this played no part in the outcome but it could of been two points which cost me the gold medal. I have been advised to look towards the official due to the illegality of actually communicating with them when you know you have scored points or advantages to ensure it is recognised. However I fail to see why mid-match, I should have the responsibility to concentrate on anything other than my opponent. This isn’t to say that all refereeing sucks, quite the opposite, there are some awesome officials BUT something needs to be done to ensure that there is complete uniformity across the board in applying rules, points and advantages.

Part 2 coming with things that have been awesome!

This week I have my coach and friend, BJJ Black Belt, UFC Veteran and all around kick-ass individual Danny ‘Cheesecake Assassin’ Mitchell dropping some half guard based, No-Gi Jewels

Tweets from Deep Half @ https://twitter.com/AMorrisBJCPS

Cheeky Weekend in Madrid…

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Upon arriving in Madrid, I Stood on the balcony of my room at the hostel, I was feeling pretty good about the world. Truthfully, I had been feeling pretty good about the world every single day since I left my role as a high school teacher sixteen months ago to go full-time with this Jiu-Jitsu thing. Looking out onto the city, it was Jiu-Jitsu that had brought me here, if it wasn’t for this amazing, awe inspiring sport / art / lifestyle, I would have been getting ready for bed knowing I have to get up the next day and spend it grinding for someone else. I do realise, this now sounds like every other blog where I talk about how amazing things are for me and how everyone should follow their dreams and all of that sort of business. BUT it does hold true, I was there because of Jiu-Jitsu, I had just spent the year training with my hero because of Jiu-Jitsu and it kicked absolute ass!

Prior to my arrival, I’d consciously decided to communicate using my bad Portuguese rather than seem like every other ignorant ass English dude. Surprisingly, this worked quite well and within the couple of days I was there, I had picked up some basic Spanish to complement the words that were the same in Portuguese. The proof was in the pudding, after having a crack with one of the chicks working in Starbucks in my hybrid Spanish/Portuguese, her friend came and gave me her number. This was much to the dismay and amusement of my peoples who had been out the night before trying without success to hook up with chicks!

Madrid itself was a deliciously beautiful city unfortunately I didn’t get a great deal of time to explore or check anything of note. But I was privy to the scariest and most bizarre street performers that I had ever witnessed in my life. The large man in the picture below somehow seemed to be defying gravity, I had a good ganders at the dude, walked all the way around him and could not fathom the mechanics of it. I encountered a fully grown man in a baby carriage, it was literally this whopping man swede and then the body of a baby, this was an horrifically surreal image. As I walked past he began to make baby noises, at which point my face exploded with laugher that seemed to spill out of the core of my being, this must have been me look somewhat weird too as I was walking alone whilst laughing so hard I had to restrain a little pee from trickling out. There was also sinisterly peado Mini and Micky Mouse who didn’t look at all like the loveable characters from the Magic Kingdom.

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The reason I was in Madrid was to compete in the IBJJF Madrid International Open, I had made my UK competition debut at purple belt the week before and the results had been less than spectacular, so I was super motivated to go and kill it. In my weight category, purple belt master one there was four dudes, which meant two matches to capture gold. In my first match, things could not have gone more smoothly. I came out and pulled guard, built up a 14-0 lead before finishing the dude with an arm-bar from side control at about the three minute mark. The final went even better, from my guard pull, my opponent attempted to pass, I swept from single leg X-guard straight into the foot-lock and when I went belly down, it was over in about a minute. This was enough to win the gold, it wasn’t quite the emotion explosion of having Terere there to corner me winning in Sao Paulo but it was rather delicious nonetheless!

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A long wait ensued with the open weight category beginning at 8PM and my category having finished at 230ish. In the meantime I watched my homeslice Krish take gold at white belt with an awesome display of deep half guard. It was quite intimidating competing in the open with some big ass dudes who definitely weren’t jokers after medaling in their respective categories. I received a bye in the first round and was scheduled to meet a super nice American dude in the semis, a super nice guy but horribly aggressive game of Jiu-Jitsu with a tendency to face-ride. Fortunately I was able to score an even quicker foot-lock straight from the guard pull. In the final, I wasn’t as successful, I fought a large and scary human being who after my initial waiter sweep, swept me straight back like I was a small child. My second waiter sweep brought disaster as I didn’t come up fast enough and the dude managed to triangle me with my own leg, which sucked ass but couldn’t help but smile after being choked in this random fashion. No complaints though the dude was a killer.

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The homies went off to get pissy, mack on chicks & celebrate, I went for the worst meal that I have ever paid for and then sat in Dunking Doughnuts reading how the homeboy George Orwell was ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’. As I was competing as a master, I guessed I might as well act like one!

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Coming home…

I arrived home over a month ago now –  it took about 7 minutes in rainy Manchester until Rio felt some distant dream. Reality really sank in upon returning to the spot I inhabited with my bro and homie which was straight up crack den, this is bearing in mind I had just spent six months in a Brazilian favela. Initially, the weirdest thing was actually being able to understand the words that were coming out of people’s mouths, everyone spoke to me in English and obviously I had to respond back in English which felt very alien. I had to chiggity check myself not to greet the women at customs with a ‘Boa tarde’ and was forced to think before saying ‘excuse me’ as the phrase had seemingly been erased from my conscious memory. Most people seemed to assume it would suck ass to be home but it was actually awesome. After one whole year in Rio, I was ready to be up out of there at least for the time being. What I really needed were potato cakes, not being killed by homicidal bus drivers and Earl Grey, I hadn’t drank a cup of tea in a year and that shiiiiit was crazy! My first four weeks were spent travelling around seeing friends and family and of course getting that mat time in. During my time away I had realised the importance of kicking it with loved ones – the last six months in Rio I had spent a lot of time chilling on my tod, there really is only so much 90s pro-wrestling you can watch before your brain starts to melt away.

It was sweet being back in the gym with my bros at AVT and my coach, BJJ Black Belt, grappling whizz kid and my mat based mentor Danny ‘Cheesecake Assassin’ Mitchell. I guess, I felt a little pressure coming back onto my home mats that I had to be a bad mutha-fucker after a year out in Brazil. That thought was quickly put to bed when rolling with some my peoples who really are bad dudes and quickly showed me what time it was. It was very different in style going from training 10+ sessions in the Gi per week to a timetable which is more No-Gi centric. Saying that it was a beautiful thing to be jumping on those guillotines again without that big ass kimono lapel getting in the way of some serious choking action. There is nothing quite like that feeling of wrapping your arms around the neck’s out your closest friends and attempting to put a stop to their precious life force.

After my revelation towards the end of my trip that I had no takedowns and the thought of being on my feet scared me more than saying Candyman five times I had made a concerted effort to improve my wrestling by taking private lessons. I was determined to keep the momentum going especially as I now regarded all guard pullers as straight up chicks. At our gym, we are lucky enough to have Catch Wrestling beast, BJJ Brown Belt and the manliest dude I have ever meet in my life, Kam Atakura dropping mad knowledge in his wrestling classes twice a week. During these classes it has felt like I have returned to the land of white belt, I have been getting thrown more times than the Nature Boy ‘WOOOOOOOOS’. I actually think that my fear on being tossed on my swede is subsiding every-time someone makes me see the ceiling which is a lot. Check out my brother doing his thing:

So far, I have been pretty much haemorrhaging money. I have discovered whilst training Jiu-Jitsu full-time there is nobody jumping out trying to hand you any scrilla. Starting to teach private lessons has been dope and provided me with the first lot of fresh money I have seen in sixteen months, making that Jiu-Jitsu dough which is obviously the best kind that there is! It is super fun being able to impart some of the knowledge which I have spent the last five years killing myself everyday to acquire. Being home has also allowed me to maximise the hours in the day, getting in 6AM classes two days a week. When the alarm goes off at 4:15AM I would rather let someone kick my in the dick than have to get up, walk a mile and a half into town to get a bus to drop me at the gym. But after Busta Rhymes screams ‘Woo Ha’ in my ear this reminds me to get my shit in check. 6AM or not once you on the mats, slap hands with your dudes, life is beautiful.

My return has allowed me to do the rounds traveling both to train and to teach. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to go and take a couple of sessions with my peoples at 12 Gauge MMA in my hometown of Macclesfield. Being up at the front of the class feels very natural which I guess could have something to do with being a high-school teacher for six years. It felt awesome to be able to share some of the new concepts and ideas that I have picked in my twelve months training with Terere as well as being able to make as many penis related jokes as possible without fear of being reprimanded.

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I was also able to get over to Factory BJJ which is one of the best Jiu-Jitsu academies in the country. I was given some awesome instruction by world level competitor and newly promoted black belt Adam Adshead. Training there for nearly a week I was able to roll with some super high level dudes who were all playing the most contemporary styles of Jiu-Jitsu. The highlight of the week was taking part in the competition training class. The structure of class involved the creation of scenarios that one might encounter whilst fighting in a competition. For example you are 0-2 down with ninety seconds left in your match and you are stuck in closed guard, you really have to kill yourself in that time to pass the guard and get your three points to win which isn’t easy when you are paired with killers and you rotate twice through with a fresh man before switching. This format was super useful and necessary for anyone wanting to compete and succeed in today’s modern competition scene. Prior to this I had never experienced a class that was able to replicate the sensation of competing as successfully and by the end I felt like I had been put through the meat grinder in the most satisfying of ways.

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This week my homeboy Adam Adshead showing a dope concept driven technique that will help you solve the most Rubix Cubian stylee of guards like it was a twelve piece jigsaw puzzle.