This is why people mock Midwest MMA fighters…

Word is that the guy on the ground basically had about a week’s worth of BJJ training before he decided to go find a fight.

Don’t give the other guy too much credit. The record I found for him was 0-2 as a pro and 0-2 as an amateur. This fight must have been one of the Iowa fights that people are so fond of us for.

Hmm… I just lost my 2nd straight amateur fight… what should I do next…?

I got it! I’ll take a pro fight! At least then I will get paid for getting beat! Unless it is on Native American land (i.e. a casino).

What the **** guys?

Okay, I know this set-up will take a second but deal with it. Yes, that is the entire Gone in 60 Seconds movie on Youtube, but only about 5 seconds of it is worth watching (go to 0:27:12 and apply it to your training).

 Here, let me help:

You can’t punch.

You can’t sprawl.

You can’t defend.

You can’t fight.

Hell, I can’t please a woman, so you know what I do… wait, that’s not it…

I mean, hell, I can’t fight in MMA, so you know what I do, I keep my dumb ass out the cage!!!

Seriously… you never thought of that before stepping into the cage?

You think you are well rounded?

You think you are well rounded?

You think you are ready to get in the cage?

You spend an hour a week doing cardio kickboxing against a wavemaster heavy bag.

You spend an hour a week hitting focus mits with someone that learned combos on youtube.

You spend a couple hours a week on the mat learning armbars from your “boxing coach”.

You think you are ready to fight?

Uh huh… this was a debut fight, too…

Sure, the kid had crazy flexibility, but come on.

Maybe his mistake was thinking well-rounded was used to describe Roy Nelson’s physique.

That’s right b****es! 93X baby!

I’m sorry, was that juvenile?

If I get the timing of this right, and I really doubt that I will, you will be reading this after I’ve already been on-air at 93X.

Some of you might be asking, “what the **** does this guy know about MMA?”

I know your mother… no, no, I’m better than that now.

What do I know about MMA?

Well, I am a senior writer for the Bleacher Report.

I was the Midwest Correspondent for Fighters.com interviewing local fighters such as Sean Sherk, Nick Thompson and Brett Rogers.

I have over 10 years of combined experience with boxing, muay thai and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

And I own UFC Hits Volumes 1 and 2. You know, the good stuff, before they stopped allowing the move I now only refer to as “The Hackney”.

I love BJJ. It is my first love and my cruel mistress.

However, BJJ doesn’t get the love it deserves and the casual MMA fan doesn’t know **** about the ground game.

Don’t believe me? Then you’ve never been to an MMA event. I am yet to go to an event that didn’t get booed at some point because the fighters went to the mat.

And let’s face it, BJJ in the midwest got a slow start and MMA in the midwest has far from a stellar reputation.

Every little bit helps.

Besides, if you really hate me that much, I’ll see you on the mat.

I apologize in advance about the gas. I live the High Life.

Gym Review: Combat Jujitsu (Minneapolis)

Some of the crew at Combat Jujitsu in Minneapolis 08/20/11

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I would like to open by misquoting someone. A while back I read one of Eddie Bravo’s books where he wrote about starting his BJJ journey. Well, the first school he went to was a Jujitsu academy. At the time he was pretty sure it was called jiu-jitsu, but, in his words (I think), “What difference does a couple letters make?”
Having just recently come from a jujitsu gym, I can personally tell you that if you don’t think two letters makes a difference…
Then go flock yourself.
I feel so much better for getting that line out. I’ve lost a lot of sleep trying to come up with some cute play on words and now that it is out, I think I can get back to my 16-hour a day REM cycle.
I want to let it be known that I didn’t contact Combat Jujitsu, they contacted me (more specifically a member contacted me). I don’t want you to think I’m some kind of benevolent soul. Sometimes having no expectations is just as bad as having too high of expectations.
I know that there is a difference between Japanese Jujitsu and BJJ, and the place wasn’t really on my radar. I don’t want to pretend like I was open minded. 
As if anyone has had that misconception at this point.
One reason I do BJJ is because I don’t like getting punched in the face. Jujitsu guys are more than capable of punching me in the face. I am really only interested in the ground game, and I didn’t know what kind of ground game these guys had.
Now I do.
Combat Jujitsu is in Minneapolis, but don’t let that fool you like it fooled me, we aren’t talking about downtown here, it is about a stone’s throw from Minneapolis-St.Paul airport, pretty much in Mendota Heights or Bloomington.
So, let’s get to the ****ing point, right?
We did some stand-up stuff for warm-up. That’s cool. Not my first rodeo.
Then we did some ground stuff, lead by owner and head instructor, Japanese Jujitsu black belt Steve Peterson.
Fine, cool. There were a couple of variations on things that I hadn’t seen before. 
But how well do they roll?
Let me put it this way. In all the gyms that I have been to, I want to compete against these guys more than anyone else I have come across.
Was I rolling at 100%? No, or course not. And, even though my ego would like to think that they were, I know full well that they had plenty of more tricks in their bag than what they showed on the mat. 
I went in with no expectations. It was just another gym. And frankly, it was another art altogether. 
What I got was a group of guys I would feel honored to compete against.
Don’t let the name fool you. These guys can fight and these guys can roll. Just because you don’t see their school on the points leaderboard at Grappling Comps, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to **** your **** up.
These guys have a tight game and are able to roll at a very high level. Don’t underestimate them. Or maybe you should. It might make tapping you out all the more satisfying.
They welcomed me with respect and courtesy (more than I can say for my parents) and have earned my respect.
In the end, don’t judge a place because of how they spell their art, or where it comes from; if you haven’t rolled on the mat with them, then shut the **** up.
Besides, I’ve seen the **** you all post on facebook. You wouldn’t know what grammar was if it ****** you in the ***.

Seminar Review: Flavio Almeida at Gracie Barra Twin Cities

Bottom left: 3rd degree black belt Flavio Almeida

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If there is one thing that I know- thanks in no small part to all the gyms I have visited and all that I still have to go to- is that BJJ is full of politics and  rumors.
Rumors, stories, theories, legends, whatever you want.
I have heard who said what about whom, who switch their affiliation, who withholds rank, who’s a sandbagger and on and on and on.
I know the feuds and I decided that I would go out and see what I could see in the BJJ world. When it comes to Minnesota, our little world is comparatively small. So I think it is just as important to get out there and find out for yourself what there is. 
I’m not telling anyone to jump gyms, swear some allegiance or anything like that. I’m just saying that you never know a place or a man until you’ve tried.
Case in point: Flavio Almeida. 
Now, I’ve heard about classes and seminars with head instructors (sorry, no names) that are like boot camp drill sergeants.  A lot of yes sir, no sir, stuff like that.
And no laughing. No smiling.
It wouldn’t be the first time I was at a seminar and questioning my life choices.
However, Professor Almeida did not fit the bill.
I’m not sure that there was a moment that he wasn’t smiling.
For a 3rd degree black belt, I think that a certain amount of pomp and circumstance would have been expected.
That’s what I get for having expectations about anyone or anything.
I mean, by beer is High Life. How can I have expectations?
Besides working takedown, sweeps and submissions, Professor Almeida was more than happy to share any insight, tips of philosophies that he has picked up in his lifetime of learning.
Not only that, but he wanted to roll. 
There really aren’t that many black belts that are lined up and ready to grapple at their seminars. Most seem content to wander around or hug the wall, letting others do their best to ape the movements. Not lined up for round after round of grappling with any color belt that stepped in front of them.
A rumor’s not a rumor that doesn’t die.
Between Professor Rodrigo Sul and Professor Flavio Almeida, let this rumor die, because you might be hard pressed to find a Zebra mat (or any other mat) in the state that offers a more hospitable instructor. Let alone such a famed affiliation.
Damn, only one goofy ass remark this time. I must be sober.

Gym Review: Minnesota Top Team (Eagan)

The Crew at MTT on 08/09/11
I’ll be the first one to admit that when I originally heard the name “Minnesota Top Team” I was a little confused. I had heard of Brazilian Top Team and American Top Team, but not Minnesota Top Team. 
If I were to guess, I went to the gym feeling a little snarky and cynical, if for no greater reason than I am often snarky and cynical.
Then I walked into the door. And suddenly, this was me:
Yes, I am the baby seal in that pic. I ****ing love that picture! It makes me happy.
If you have read more than one of these gym reviews, you know I don’t qualify anything. I don’t say stuff like “the best instructor”, “the most successful team”, “the most intense workout” or anything else that might put one group of instructors or students on a pedestal above others. 
However, I am all about loopholes.
This is THE BEST GYM!
I have been all over this state- and many other states for that matter- and in all the gyms that I have been through, this is easily my favorite.
At the same time, I do think I should state that this is also one of the biggest gyms and it is multi-purpose. This is not just a BJJ gym, they also have a separate room for heavy bags and another with a boxing ring and still another with a full gym. 
On top of training combat sports, the owner, Jeremy Clark, has made a really good name for himself as a strength and condition coach for hockey (and more recently lacrosse). So this gym serves for far more than the average gym. 
They were also the main place to train for the recent Warrior Dash (a 5k mud caked obstacle course).
So, please don’t read this and think that this is a better place to train than any other place just because of the gym itself. It just happens to be my personal favorite.
But these articles aren’t about boxing, muay thai or conditioning, these articles are about BJJ. 
At MTT, they have something of a two pronged attack in the form of Judo Black Belt and BJJ Purple Belt Ryan Iverson as well as owner and BJJ Purple Belt Jeremy Clark.
Think of them like the Grey Hulk.
Yes, that is a Marvel Comic Books reference. If you have come to think more from me at this point, your expectations are way too high.
Think of Ryan like Bruce Banner: the mild-mannered every man that you might walk by and not give much credence to. However, the second that you start to walk past him, your feet are over your head and his knee is in your ribs.
I seem to recall a vivid memory of my thinking, “Why the **** are my feet up there?”
That would make Jeremy the Grey Hulk. For those of you that aren’t up-to-date on your Marvel Lore, Grey Hulk was the smarter version of the Hulk, and as strong as the other versions. What makes him worse is that he isn’t mindless. He knows exactly how and why he is smashing you. That’s pretty much Jeremy. I wouldn’t turn my back or take him for granted at all, and I have found out the hard way, that trying to out-muscle Grey Hulk, doesn’t work too well.
I have the physical evidence that he can easily crush the **** out of me. And by physical evidence, I mean stains.
Minnesota Top Team has had a lot of changes going on in the recent years, however, it looks like they have found a home under the Rigan Machado flag as an affiliate under Machado Black Belt Chris McCune (of McCune’s Martial Arts). This makes them a gym run by Purple Belts under the direct guidance and direction of a Black Belt. 
I left the Minnesota Top Team gym feeling tired, sore, and completely content.
Perhaps it was the side effect of being exposed to too much gamma radiation…
… It’s another ****ing Incredible Hulk reference. Deal with it.
**** this, I’m out.
Next Week: Combat Jujitsu in Minneapolis (yes, I spelled that right).

Gym Review: 10K MMA (Forest Lake)

Sorry, no pic at this time. Only I could make the mistake of not checking my cameras memory card in advance to make sure it wasn’t already full to capacity with d*** pics.
Driving out to 10K MMA in Forest Lake was something of a surreal experience for me. Perhaps it was the drive out into the Northern Metro area that soothed me. Being able to take a moment away from my life to go away from my comfort zone and train in a new place. If only for a day.
Perhaps it was the frozen pizzas and six-pack of Miller High Life I had before getting in the car.
Either way, it was a trip I plan on making again.
Here’s the thing, when you drive out to 10K MMA, you might do a double take. Out in an area that looks largely comprised of repo yards and places you could get a snow mobile fixed is a non-descript building made of sheet metal. 
There is a small lobby with a desk, couch, chair and a few fighter posters. Simple enough, the area had probably been home to a dozen businesses before 10K MMA moved in there.
Then you step into the backroom- their workout floor. I don’t think that Feng Shui is the right term, but they certainly have figured out how to use space effectively.  Think of a Minnesota farm-boy version of the gym in Rocky III.
Heavy bag rack, benches, weights, all packed economically into an area only as big as it has to be to leave enough room for the grappling mats.
If I can misquote someone for a moment, the grappling mats “are where fights are won.”
The grappling instructor at 10K MMA is Brandon Smith. As it is no-gi grappling, I don’t know what Brandon’s pedigree is. I don’t know his lineage, rank or affiliations. And you know what, I don’t care.
The point of these isn’t to say who trains what and for whom, it is to learn about the gym and the way people train. 
You probably saw their “Submission Commission” shirts around the Spring Submission Hunt. Though, they shouldn’t be confused with these guys:
Though, there are worse people to be confused with. 
I DO NOT LOOK LIKE LISA LAMPANELLI!!!
And I dig the way they train. Specifically, how Brandon teaches.
There is a specificity to his style. When showing techniques he showed them over and over again, making sure that everyone could see the angles, and if someone got lazy and was out of position, he told them to move.
It sounds like a minor point, but it is attention to detail. Grapplers aren’t exactly the most pro-active people in the world, especially when we think we already know a technique. It is the job of the instructor to keep us in line.
Which leads to my second point: don’t show a technique and walk away! I don’t know how many times I have seen instructors show a technique a few times then just wander off to talk to someone watching or higher ranked belts. Make sure the white know what they are doing!
Brandon hit this one on the head, too. Making sure that each group got attention and he pointed out the little details that would make the movements and submissions tighter. 
A person can have all the medals in the world, but if they don’t pay attention to their students, regardless of rank, what good are there?
I am doing my best to show that there are a lot of options out there. Minnesota is behind in the game when it comes to BJJ. We only have a handful of black and brown belts, whereas when you head out to the coasts, there are gyms that have several black and brown belts at each location. 
Competition can be stiff for students, so don’t think you have it in the bag. 30 minutes in just about any direction and you will find two or three other gym options. 
Success lies in how you teach. Regardless of rank.
I have all the respect in the world for the rank you wear around your waist, but don’t assume that respect transfers onto you. 
Hmmm… too long without an unnecessary comment…
POOP!
I left 10K MMA like I leave my women: wanting more… you know what, that’s a lie. They never want more, unless I didn’t really give them anything, then they expect more just because I’m a sad little man, but that is neither here nor there.
In my first trip to the North East metro, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be going to someone’s garage and get ground and slammed for 60 minutes. 
The gym felt hardcore with people there that wanted to work.
The instruction was attention oriented.
The owner was excited about the future of his students and fighters.
There was a liquor store about a mile down the road.
What more do you want?
SHAMELESS PLUG: whatever they want me to post, when they want me to post it
Next up: Minnesota Top Team, Eagan.

BJJ SEMINAR: Flavio Almeida at Gracie Barra (St. Louis Park) 08/17/11

Alright kids, check it out!

The multiple Time Gracie Barra Champion – Flavio Almeida – will be teaching a 2 hour seminar at Gracie Barra Twin Cities-MN on Wednesday, August 17th from 6-8pm.

Professor Flavio Almeida has become one of the sports most successful and decorated competitors and will be sharing some of the secrets that have helped him defeat some of the biggest names in the Jiu-jitsu world.

Professor Rodrigo Sul has made this an open seminar and everybody is welcome to attend.

See you there!

When: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 from 6-8pm
Where: Gracie Barra Twin Cities-MN, 4838 Park Glen Road, St. Louis Park, MN, 55416
Cost: $50
Private lessons: $100/hour