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Women's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blogs

Review - Whisky Wolf Hard Soap

Meerkatsu - Wed, 2016-07-13 17:22

It seems in the world of jiu jitsu, MMA and grappling, we do love our artisan soaps. Whisky Wolf is a UK based company. They sent me their Okami Kit Tin Can package, which contains their red label soap bar, soap tag, skin balm and stickers.

The tin itself looks like this:

Once opened, out pops the contents...

The 'Hooch' skin balm is designed for post training skin burns and abrasions. It smells nice - a mix of tea tree oil and peppermint and once applied, it soothes the skin in a way that an oil rich ointment would.

The soap tag is like a clear guitar plectrum and you stick it into the soap bar and then hang it up in the shower...

I've been using this soap for the past 5-6 weeks after each training session in the shower. I can testify that the hard soap lasts a very very long time. Even after this many uses, the bar is barely 60% used up. The fragrance isn't overpowering like it is in some other brands. There are the faintest traces of exfoliating seeds (actually coffee grounds) inside which I personally am not a fan of, but they're not as obtrusive as in other brands that use poppy or other larger seeds.

One observation I had was that the soap doesn't lather up very much. It creates enough slipperyness for you to cleanse yourself in the shower with, but it's just not that lathery, which is something I kind of expect in a soap.

Overall however, beautiful packaging and sturdy long lasting appeal make the Whisky Wolf Okami Tin a nice present to reward yourself with all the hard training.


Artwork - Mat Life Comic Strip

Meerkatsu - Wed, 2016-07-13 03:05
Above: First appearance of our hero, Matt

Mat Life is a comic strip I created for publication in Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine. The character, Matt, is a complete novice and each episode followed his progression as an early beginner who makes all the mistakes that everyone else makes. The strip was also an excuse for me to attempt sequential art, something I had previously never tried before.
The first appearance wasn't an official episode 1, it was merely a two panel sequence to illustrate a written article. The next issue of the magazine expanded the format to a four panel story. Editor Callum then wanted the strip to fill the whole page, hence a six panel format appeared. I discovered that a six panel set was much more of a challenge. Telling the story without too much 'filler' material or repetition is a real art. I admire comic artists who can deftly add story, action, humour, drama and dialogue, all within the space of one page. 
It was a great exercise for me. Sadly, I have decided to end the strip, the final episode appears in Issue 33 of Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine. 

Above: This first nerves when lining up for sparring!

Episode 2: perpetuating one of the many BJJ memes out there

Episode 3: dreaming of success and glory!

Episode 4: sucked into the gi addiction gameEpsiode 5: trying out a bit of nogi for the first time
Episode 6: Finally, the day has arrived! 

Review: Footlock Mastery by Oli Geddes

Meerkatsu - Wed, 2016-07-06 06:36

Oli Geddes is a prolific competitor amassing over 600 tournament matches. Many of his submissions have come via straight ankle lock. Here in this one hour instructional, Oli presents a game plan based around the straight ankle lock. It is an easy to follow system where the straight ankle is not only a submission finish, but a starting point with which to transition to numerous other techniques and positions. This video set is based strictly on IBJJF legal techniques from white belt and above. For beginners, it's a very good, detailed look at an often neglected submission technique. More advanced players will enjoy the positions Oli shows - including the 50/50, outside hook ankle lock and the overhook x-guard.

Available from:
Price £24.99

Oli Geddes is a British BJJ black belt under Roger Gracie. He is also one of the most prolific competitors on the scene with over 600 matches to his name. Among his many achievements, he is 2 X Euros champion, Purple, Pan Nogi silver purple, pans bronze purple, 2 X abu Dhabi European trials winner, bronze black belt pans masters. Abu Dhabi European trials winner at purple brown black and brown black. Many of Oli's submission wins have come about by straight ankle lock, a finish he says he first started using as a blue belt because he did not have much of a top game. Fast forward to Oli as an experienced black belt competitor and you have here a straight ankle lock game plan that has been refined over hundreds of matches and years of experience.

The quick video below shows Oli in competition action using his overhead sweep into straight ankle lock to devastating effect. You can watch near enough all of Oli's matches over on his YouTube channel.

Chapter Listing and brief summary
The entire set consists of 38 chapters.
  • Introduction - Oli explains the origin of his straight ankle lock game and how he worked out ways to enter the straight ankle in order to not only finish, but to sweep or transition to other positions.
  • The ankle lock as a position (0.55) - rundown of how to hold the basic straight ankle lock position.
  • The importance of the shell (2:09) - Oli explains how to prevent the opponent from invading your space and destroying your straight ankle position.
  • Ankle lock finishing theory (3:11) - grip placement, leg position, angle of attack
  • Ankle lock, turning to the knees finish (6:23) - how to move into a belly down version of the lock
  • Turning to the knees to top position (9:48) - very useful tip to transition to a better position
  • Ankle lock to crossover leg drag (11:00) - transition from leg lock to leg drag in readiness to pass the guard, very useful if you lose the leg lock position
  • interlude with commentary on why straight ankle locks are so good to use (13:04)
  • Outside hook ankle lock - theory and finish (13:43) - nice variation based on you placing your legs in a different position which creates better outward force.
  • Outside hook ankle lock, turning to the knees (16:12) - nice belly down straight ankle finish, I found this more intuitive to do than the one at 6:23.
  • 50/50 theory and use (17:12) - Oli likes the 50/50 because he can set up straight ankles nicely from here.
  • Breaking the defensive 50/50 with the knee push (18:56) - straight forward way to open up opponent's legs if he locks them together.
  • 50/50, basic ankle lock finish (20:19) - ankle locking the near leg
  • 50/50 calf crush (22:29) - cheeky little submission if your straight ankle slips too high up the leg.
  • 50/50 Reverse grip finish (24:32) - a really tight way to finish the lock
  • 50/50 Outside leg finish (25:38) - a surprise attack on the outside foot
  • Standing ankle lock, control theory (27:35) - when the opponent stand up over you, that's the perfect entry point for the straight ankle. Here, Oli engages in a single leg x-guard.
  • Standing ankle lock, cross sweep (28:33) - a more effective way to topple the opponent from single leg Xguard
  • Standing ankle lock, double ankle sweep (30:10) - similar to previous but grabbing both ankles
  • Standing outside hook, tripod sweep (31:21) - very powerful sweep, though a bit more complex to set up.
  • Standing outside hook, overhead sweep (33:14) - 
  • Overhook x-guard, transition theory (34:35) - transition from single leg X to regular x-guard but you have your arm overhooking the standing leg, not the usual underhook.
  • Overhook x-guard, angle change to ankle lock topple (36:13) - 
  • Overhook x-guard, tripod sweep (37:22) - simple but effective sweep
  • Overhook x-guard waiter sweep (39:29) - cool sweep if your x-guard position can't extend very far
  • Overhook x-guard, getting the near sleeve (41:00) - nice tips regarrd balance and weight distribution in this position
  • Overhook x-guard, near sleeve single leg stand up (43:15) - follow on from the previous chapter
  • Overhook x-guard, near sleeve overhead sweep (45:50) - nice showy offy technique reliant on opponent pushing back into you
  • Overhook x-guard, far sleeve drag down sweep (47:09) - not as fancy a sweep as previous, but very solid and secure once you grab that far sleeve
  • Entering footlock from the knees (49:16) - this is the entry method Oli uses in the tournament footage above
  • Entering the footlock from shin to shin (51:14) - 
  • Entering footlock from half guard / 93 guard (53:23) - a simple route to straight ankle from this very open type of half guard.
  • Entering the footlock from spider guard (54:30) - Oli transitions from spider to overhook x-guard
  • Entering the footlock - Leandro Lo sweep from spider guard (56:27) - Learn more about Leandro Lo from BJJ Scout
  • Entering the footlock, basic entry from the top position (58:21) - When you encounter a stubborn guard player, being able to footlock from the top position is a handy weapon.
  • Ankle lock defence, moving to top position (61:14) - if you know attack, you must also know defence
  • Ankle lock defence, the scoot (62:47) - 
  • Standing ankle lock defence, back step to side control (65:25) - using the back step to end up in knee on belly, also useful to pass X-guard position.
  • Ends

Standard straight ankle lock
Production notes
The entire video zips along at a brisk pace. Oli talks while he is showing the move, sometimes he'll repeat the move one more time, usually though the video moves immediately along to the next chapter. There are no boring slow motion repeats nor are there any additional camera tricks like boxed insets or multi-directional views etc, it is shot pretty much straight all the way through.

For the majority of the time, the viewing angle is perfectly fine. Sometimes while Oli is talking, the body part in question is actually hidden from view and you have to wait a bit before the cameraman catches up as he pans around or cuts in to zoom - not a big deal.

Sound is perfect, lighting is fantastic and the overall production is very professional.

Rolling practice
I've only had this video for a few days prior to its official release but in that time I was able to try out a couple of techniques that I hadn't used before. Personally I love using the straight ankle lock a lot when sparring, but a common problem is when I lose the position. Oli's chapters on dealing with this were of immediate benefit to me. I also like his explanation of the 50/50 position and how he uses it to work in the straight ankle lock. The calf crush Oli shows looks devilshly wicked but I found it does require a fair bit of precision to execute correctly. I immediately benefited from his cool tip on how to sweep from the single leg X position.

One set of techniques I especially liked were the sequences based around the outside hook ankle (photo below). This is a new(ish) position for me but already I can see it being added to my game. It's just so useful to swap between outside hook and regular leg positions when holding the straight ankle, this giving me a lot more options.

Outside hook ankle lock variationI also enjoyed his selection of techniques based around the overhook x-guard. I had not known that this could be as effective a position as the regular (underhooking) x-guard. I often end up in the overhook position and instantly think, oh this is a crappy X-guard let me try to change it, but Oli shows that in fact, it's a great place to set up the straight ankle and other cool stuff.

This set brings together a game plan centred around the straight ankle lock position as a platform to submit, sweep or transition to other positions. In many respects, it is better to view this set not as a way to get a submission, but as a platform to do a whole variety of things. It could even be renamed, the straight footlock guard.

It is worth knowing that the techniques here are ones that have been honed and successfully used by Oli over hundreds of matches against high level opposition. As a primer for the straight ankle lock itself, it's vital viewing for beginners. Higher level practitioners will also find a lot to use here: especially noteworthy is the overhook x-guard - a position that is rarely covered in depth on other instructionals.

What this set is not, however, is a detailed theoretical analysis of positional work. The 50/50, single leg X and X-guard are positions with a rich array of moves and I recommend viewing instructionals by Ryan Hall and Gianni Grippo as a complement to Oli's set here. There also is an absence of other leg attack techniques, such as the toe hold, knee bar, estima lock, heel hook etc etc. If you require a set with a wider spectrum of submissions, Legal Leglocks by Roli Delgado is a superb introduction. That being said, using the straight ankle lock hold as a singular focal point with which to launch attack, defence, sweeps and transitions makes Oli’s set highly appealing, especially for guard players.

Running at around 67 minutes it is a tightly edited package that is loaded with techniques and absolutely zero filler. I consider it excellent value for money.


Tournament Coverage: TUFF Invitational 4, Purfleet, UK

Meerkatsu - Sun, 2016-07-03 06:17

Following the success of the TUFF 3 Invitational submission only tournament earlier in the year, I was happy to cover photography for the next installment of this event. The fights did not disappoint, with the best of UK talent on display, fighters from teams all over the UK displayed plenty of skill, heart and spirit.

More photos ...

TUFF 4 Invitational 2-July-2016


BJJ: Advice for Children (and Adults!)

Julia Johansen - Sat, 2016-07-02 06:44

American readers: Happy Independence Day! Non-American readers: Happy weekend!

Jiu Jiu’s Note: Big news in my household: we are NOT moving this fall. My husband’s orders were rescinded, as the band he was going to move to is shutting down. Most likely in response to this amendment which would ban military bands from playing any social gigs. We will stay another year in Virginia, then our next post is to be determined. I will be training with Diego Bispo both at Diego Bispo Academy and at MAMMA’s Boys

The first week of summer was hectic. We enrolled stepson in a BJJ kids camp at Diego Bispo Academy, and I helped out! It was Monday through Friday, 9am to 1pm. In addition to helping out the kids, there were lots of bits of advice I gave out that I think is helpful even for adults.

All the little troopers at our BJJ kids summer camp. Photo courtesy of Diego Bispo Academy.

All the little troopers at our BJJ kids summer camp. Photo courtesy of Diego Bispo Academy.


I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I got my black eye, I sat in the middle of the mats and cried. After that, though, I made it a point to cry in the locker room, away from the mat.

What happens when you cry on the mats: things stop. People get worried. It feels weird and callus to just go on and ignore it. It’s normal to want to check on someone. It’s also normal to want to be alone when you cry.

What you should do: Just get off the mats. Excuse yourself quickly. Walk off the mats. Have a good cry. Tears have been shown to have positive benefits: getting rid of negative chemicals, reducing stress, etc. Come back when you’re ready and steady.


What happens when you roll while mad: people get hurt, either you or your partner. When you’re mad, it’s easy to interpret normal partner actions as intentional and aggressive. When you’re mad, it’s easy to respond with more force and aggression. I’ve never had a good outcome when I rolled while mad. Instead, I got more frustrated.

What you should do: Excuse yourself from training. Tap out, say “I need a break” or “I need a minute.” You don’t need to explain that you’re pissed off. Calm yourself down and roll when you feel more normal. That might mean that you’re done for the day.


Jiu jitsu is a very physical sport. If there is someone who you don’t like, or who doesn’t like you, there is still a very good possibility that you’ll be partnered with them at some point because jiu jitsu is still a very small sport.

What happens when you treat your partner negatively: It makes rolling personal. It escalates the negativity, which directly translates into a worse experience on the mats. It also means that it’s unfortunately easy to go harder to get back at someone, or to feel like you’re physically being bullied if the person is going harder and stronger than you want.

What you should do: If you know you can’t get along and you just hate that sonuvabitch, treat them like a stranger. That is to say: Don’t be rude. Greet them, say your pleases and thank yous, don’t go extra hard, and smile when you see them. These are manners. If you are somewhat neutral, do the same, but engage in friendly small talk. In both cases, you might consider asking them to do you a favor. It’s been shown that if you ask someone who hates you to do you a favor, they end up viewing you more favorably.


Oh man. Kids were HORRIBLE about this! Boys would get all weird when paired with girls, the little girls would be overly dramatic with their “ow ow ow”s, kids would take a million years to do their drills, kids would actively resist while their partners were trying to drill, and when rolling, they’d pwn the new kid.

What happens when you act weird to your partner: They have a sucky time. This means you are actively contributing to their negative experience in jiu jitsu. It means you may find it hard to find a partner if you act weird with some people.

What you should do: Have empathy for your partner. Don’t waste their time. Try to be helpful, try to let them use their time effectively, etc. If you’re partnered with the weird/different kid, treat them as you’d like to be treated at a new jiu jitsu gym. We don’t always get our ideal partners, so we should remember that we are someone’s less-than-ideal partner as well.


It happens again and again – online, in person – someone says “They did it on purpose!!!” It’s true for adults as well as kids.

What happens if you don’t give your partner the benefit of the doubt: You will build up animosity, convinced that they intentionally tried to slam you/hurt you. You will get frustrated and mad. You will make an enemy.

What you should do: Remind yourself that people often don’t realize how hard they’re going, and even though you might feel like you’re matching them, you may be contributing to them going even harder. Remind yourself that new folks (ie. white belts) aren’t as physically in control of their bodies as blue+ belts, who have generally been doing this longer. Remind yourself that accidents do happen and you’re probably going to accidentally hurt someone at some point. Finally, communicate with your partner. Use your words. “Can you go lighter?” “My shoulder hurts – please go slowly on shoulder locks.”

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What advice was helpful for you when you started? What advice do you tend to give (or get) a lot? Please share in the comments below!


The Birthday Door

BJJ Grrl - Mon, 2016-06-27 18:53

This is not a BJJ post, just a funny-ish story. (I’m training still. I’m much more consistent about going M/F/Sa. Even if I lie to myself that “I’ll just warmup” or “I’ll just watch” when I’m tired, I end up diving in anyway and feeling great by the time it’s over.)

So for my birthday this year, my mom announced she had no idea what to get me. (Not really true; she just didn’t like any of the options. If I liked shopping or dresses or buying furniture, she would have found something.) Apparently cash was not an option. She decided that my gift from them would be a new storm door for my house. She doesn’t like the old one; it has no screen but the sun hits that side of the house most of the day, so it gets hot between the doors (and this is the way she comes into my house). It was also, for reasons I never figured out, impossible to keep clean; it would get some kind of film on the inside that you could scrub off… and it would come right back in a short while. Did not matter what you used. So, new door! Sure, fine.

She has a friend who sells doors & windows; he got her a good deal on a door. His son, a friend of mine, is a general contractor and came to install it. First problem, they immediately found some wood issues around the door. (I kinda suspected that was there, but did not want to acknowledge the issue. Maybe it will just get better on its own. You know, just like ribs do…) So authorized him to address that. Second, the door install took four times longer than they expected. Everything was more complicated than it usually is. (In talks with folks later, he learned that it’s because my door is not set into the frame, but into a deal with windows on the sides. Not as cooperative as real frames.) Then they absolutely could not figure out how to get the handle installed; they worked on it for over 2 hours. He’s installed doors many, many times, and this one was somehow different than any other he’s ever done (even from the same manufacturer). They eventually had to leave the handle inside the house and went to order another handle, assuming the first was broken.

He came back today to install the handle before I went to work. First problem, the new handle was the wrong color (nickel instead of brass. Big difference.). Second problem, it’s exactly the same style as the first one. Wat. We had ordered a different style. So he decided to try the first handle again. This time he acted as if he’d never installed a door handle before and followed the instructions exactly. Installed in 5 minutes. The difference: every other door handle this company makes, you have to screw in the faceplates first and then attach the handles to each other. On this model, for “reasons,” you thread the handles through the faceplates but do not screw them in until the handles lock, because the faceplates need to spin a bit. 

So he left and I finished getting ready for work. As I left, I shut the front door. And heard, “Clunk.” Wat. I pulled the door opened, then slowly closed it, watching as the deadbolt keypad headed straight for the new door handle. Clunk. Oh, lovely. I had to push open the new storm door then shut the front door and deadbolt it, letting the storm door hit the deadbolt pad and prop itself open by about a half inch. I called my mom to explain the situation, as I had to go to work. She called both the father and son and explained the issue; they both agreed to meet her at my house to look at it.

They pulled out the old door handles to compare it to the new one. The old door, made by the same company as the new door, should also have handles that are equal on the inside and outside (so you can do a left-hand or right-hand door with the same hardware). Surprise, the old door handles were not equal; the inside one was shorter. The father was surprised, because he’s worked for them for years, and he knows they don’t sell a lower-profile handle like that — but it’s got their name on it. So apparently the original installation had this exact same issue. Rather than fix it properly then (readjust lock locations or something), the original installers decided to cut down the inside handle to make it a lower-profile handle, thus creating problems for anyone who ever wanted to replace the door. Alllllriiiiight. (I wonder if they did that to all the houses in the neighborhood, which were all built by the same company.)

The solution we chose was to reuse the old handles since they do fit in the new door. The hardware doesn’t quite match (new & shiny vs 10 years of wear), but at least the door latches now.

The kicker in all this was that, while my mom bought the door for my birthday, she didn’t pay for the installation or the extra work he did on the woodwork. So my birthday present cost me about $400. Thanks, Mom…

I think next year I’ll make the case for cash.

Adding to the Purple roster

BJJ Grrl - Mon, 2016-06-06 18:15

On Saturday, Janet was promoted to purple belt at the end of the women’s class. (Tim had to steal a purple belt off one of the guys who was waiting for Open Mat, which she had to give back after pictures, so tonight she came beltless while her new belt ships.) So now there are 3 of us, a whole lot of blue belt women, and more white belt women joining. It’s great to see how much it’s grown. On Friday night, the class was evenly split between men and women (not counting instructors) at 6 each. 

My attendance has still been spotty recently, a combination of actual legitimate reasons and rather bad reasons (e.g., was dumb and left my contacts at home, or was just tired and lazy). Friday night in class, I did something to my rib and, oh, did it hurt. Saturday morning in class, too, though I pushed through it. Then all Saturday it hurt; some better on Sunday and today, but still talking to me. Rolling tonight, Brandon did a heavy knee-on-belly on that side, and I heard and felt a “pop!” I gasped or something, and he was concerned that he’d hurt me, but I said that he’d just put my rib back in place. So much better now.

Review - North South Jiu-Jitsu Underwear

Meerkatsu - Sun, 2016-06-05 10:08

North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear sent me a couple of pairs of their mens pants to try out. They offer a number of helpful additional improvements over regular underwear.

North South Underwear website
Facebook page
Cost: $35

These pants* are excellent. I wore them over a period of several weeks of training and they fit perfectly. I must admit, I was skeptical at first that they would offer any benefit over and above a regular pair of pants, but there are a number of things about them that are very well thought out.

View from behindThe pants feature a strong elastic waistband, elasticated leg openings, inner crotch lining and are cut to contour around your privates in a way that cups the crown jewels snugly yet still allows room to 'breathe' so to speak.

Turned inside outWearing them, the first thing I noticed was the grip from the elasticated leg openings. These prevent the pants from riding up your upper thigh. The bamboo inner lining was super soft and hence very comfortable. The construction looks rock solid with flat locked stitching throughout. These pants are definitely made for a rigorous workout! They even thought of a cute little hook with which you can hang the pants (photo below).

After wearing them for a while during training, the spandex/polyester material does a good job wicking away the build up of me sweat keeping my groin region cool.

North South Underwear have made a wonderful product to wear that is functional and a genuine pleasure to wear during a tough, hot, sweaty workout. For some, the relatively high price might be a barrier - I'm pretty sure regular high street spandex compression underwear can be found for less than $15-$20, however these North South underpants seem to have been designed with more consideration for the day to day grappler.

*In the UK, we refer to men's underwear as pants or underpants.

Meerkatsu Brand - New Tshirts: Fighting Tigers and Bonsai

Meerkatsu - Sat, 2016-06-04 14:59

I have a few new T-shirt designs over on the Meerkatsu store. Check them out!


Review: Lucas Lepri, Knee on Belly

Meerkatsu - Sat, 2016-05-28 12:18

Lucas Lepri explains his knee on belly techniques. It is a position, he states, that he arrives at often after passing his opponent's guard. From knee on belly, Lepri showcases the large array of attacking options available, especially once you have succeeded in making the opponent extremely uncomfortable with your position.

Available: Digitsu website and app store.

I have seen knee on belly techniques in many instructional sets but there are usually only 3 or 4 at most. Here World Champion Lepri gives us an entire two-disc DVD set of knee on belly goodies to gorge on. Clearly, he values this position as a great system for controlling and then finishing off his opponent.

The last gi-instructional Lepri produced was his guard passing set so this knee on belly set follows on nicely. Viewers will also note a marked improvement in the production and filming, there is far less of the video gimmickry that plagued the guard passing set. The knee on belly set is cleanly shot, with zooms and alternative viewpoints added only when needed.

You can see Lepri move swiftly to knee on belly (10:28) following the guard pass over JT Torres in this video below:

Disc One
KOB Concepts
Mounted Triangle w/ Armbar
Forcing The Triangle
Step Over Choke
North South Collar Choke
Baseball Bat Choke
Step Over Choke 2
Cross Choke w/ Lapel
North South Choke w/ Lapel
Lapel Choke vs North-South Escape
Backtake Vs Turtling

The set begins with a great chapter where Lepri breaks down in detail the placement of every part of his body when playing knee on belly. Of particular interest is the way he uses the grip around the ribcage which, when coupled with the knee placed angled towards the opponent's shoulder and his own hip weight placed above the opponent's hip, makes for an aggressive stance that can react to movements and attack quickly with submissions. This opening chapter alone is worth the money in my opinion – Lepri’s guidance on grip placement and body posture led me to immediately improve my own knee on belly stability and effectiveness while sparring against a variety of different sized training partners.

The next chapters deal with submission attacks once you have established a stable (and frankly uncomfortable) knee on belly position. Many of these attacks (such as the baseball bat choke, step over choke etc) will be familiar go-to attacks to knee on belly enthusiasts but it is the very large amount of attention to detail that Lepri provides that ensure the success rate of these attacks.

One interesting aside - I notice Lepri does not show the farside armbar from knee on belly. It is the one that almost all students first learn when being taught knee on belly. My assumption is that Lepri is offering in this DVD a set of techniques that have been honed against high level black belt opponents...and high level black belt opponents simply do not put their opposite hand and try to push the knee away.

Disc Two
KOB Strategies: Step Over Triangle/Armbar 
KOB Strategies: Back Take 
KOB Strategies: Step Over Armlock 
KOB Strategies: Wrist Lock 
KOB Strategies: Wrist Lock / Ezekiel Choke 
KOB Strategies: Wrist Lock / Flavio Canto Choke Lapel Control 
KOB: Triangle Lapel Control 
KOB: Cross Choke Lapel Control 
KOB: Double Lapel Choke Lapel Control 
KOB: Reverse Arm Bar Lapel Control 
KOB: Kimura/Arm Bar Lapel Control 
KOB: Cross Choke 2 Lapel Control 
KOB: Arm Triangle Lapel Control 
KOB: Arm Triangle 2 Lapel Control 
KOB: One Handed Choke Lapel Control 
KOB: Ezekiel Choke Lapel Control 
KOB: Arm Bar

Disc two is divided roughly into half, the first half titled knee on belly strategies and the second half focusing on using the lapel and collar as part of the controlling tools. The KOB strategies focus on using the knee on belly as a bait that elicits a reaction from your opponent, which then allows you to segue into a secondary attack. The three techniques involving wrist locks are particularly nasty!

Of the lapel control techniques, Lepri uses the opponent's own gi jacket to smother and disable the defending arm, then proceeds to submission.

Overall, disc two includes techniques that are a little more involved and perhaps less suitable to raw beginners, but they are worth viewing since the scenarios presented are much more realistic against a resisting opponent.
Lepri has excellent command of English and explains every detail thoroughly, often repeating concepts and key points he already explained in previous techniques. Viewers who are used to the high speed delivery of a Gianni Grippo or Ryan Hall tape however might take a little getting used to Lepri’s slower delivery. Regardless, it is the content that is what matters most and here, with a World Champion at the helm, rarely has the knee on belly been explored to such intricate depth. I thoroughly recommend it to top game players looking for a high percentage controlling position after they pass the guard.


Review: BJJ Rings

Meerkatsu - Thu, 2016-05-19 13:03

BJJ Rings sent me a sample pack of their silicone training rings. These items are intended to be used for people who can’t wear their wedding (or other decorative metal) ring on their fingers while training in a sports activity yet still wish to wear a ring.

Available to purchase:
Facebook page:

In my particular case, I’ve been married over ten years and although I have a lovely wedding ring, I never wear it since taking on and off many times a week proved to be a pain to do and I was scared I would lose the ring somewhere along the way. I also have increasingly gnarly knuckles which makes pulling off my wedding ring harder each time. Needless to say, I would never wear the ring during training – you only have to Google image ‘degloving’ to see what could happen!

Before shipping my ring, in had to select my ring size. The BJJ Rings website offers a handy online guide. You will need to have your own wedding ring available and compare it to the circles shown on screen. The company does not offer half sizes so the recommendation is to buy the size up. I’ve been wearing the black and red BJJ Rings model for a fortnight now and have to say it’s been holding up really well. The soft pliable nature of the silicone material means it feels comfortable to wear. The size I chose seemed to be a perfect fit.

During BJJ training the ring did not impede my grip pulling/pushing, nor did it snag or feel uncomfortable when my fingers are squeezed under pressure of an opponent. In fact, I barely noticed I was wearing a ring at all. After an hour or so of sparring however, I did notice that the sweat/moisture buildup on the skin of my fingers caused the ring to be more prone to slipping. It didn’t actually ever slip off my finger, but was looser and it felt could be removed. Most importantly, I did not feel I was in any danger of it hurting me or my opponent, which a metal ring could possibly do.

When I first posted a photo of the ring on my social media, it was very interesting to note the reactions, which fell into two camps: those that responded with wow I want one, to those who asked what was the point? I guess married folk who have wedding rings instantly get the concept and anyone else, they don’t see the point. [I’m making broad assumptions here.]

For those who train yet still want to wear a ring, the silicone ring offers a practical compromise. The snazzy BJJ belt colours are also a kind of fashion accessory when worn outside the gym. A little symbol of your marriage to the mats, so to speak!


Borehamwood BJJ - First class

Meerkatsu - Sat, 2016-05-07 14:59

Today I had a great time teaching the very first session at my new club, Borehamwood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I taught a kids class for the first half hour and then an adults beginner's class for the next hour.

For me, it was an excellent opportunity to showcase Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to fresh eyes and open minds. For the kids session my focus was directed mainly at movement drills so much of the class was based around animal walking drills. I then introduced the kids to the most important animal in all of jiu jitsu...the shrimp! (to much confusion and laughter). We then of course covered the idea of shrimping. Following that, I got the kids to pair up and play with a couple of the games from the Gracie games Bullyproof program. We finished off with a vigorous and fun bout of Bulldog!

For the adult class, I covered technical stand-up, shrimping, bridging and escapes from the mount. I also made sure to emphasise the connection that BJJ has as a sport/martial art and as a means of self defence. This topic alone is worthy of a lengthy write-up some day, but suffice to say, with the seminar I conducted today, I hope I was able to communicate the basic concept of BJJ as an intelligent fighting art. I concluded the session with a brief demonstration roll with my team mate and fellow black belt, Chris Hearn - video below:

Thanks to all the newcomers who took that first step onto the mat and huge thanks to my BJJ friends who came along to support! I look forward to seeing how the new club will grow and develop.


Seminar - David Onuma, The Mount

Meerkatsu - Mon, 2016-05-02 12:44

David Onuma is a second degree black belt under Ricardo de la Riva and head of his own team known as CFS (Combined Fighting Systems). His mantra is: 'Intelligent Combat' which promotes a more cerebral approach to learning martial art techniques. I have attended many of David's past seminars and I find his approach very good at looking at familiar things in a new light. Today's session on the mount position was no different.

Learning to escape the mount or learning to maintain the mount becomes one of the fundamental lessons a student learns from early on. But it's easy to make the assumption that once mount is achieved, the finish will follow. David opened up the session by explaining how the mount is often taught in isolation without any reference to how the person got there in the first place. He then demonstrated why this was an important consideration when it concerns the mount.

The first portion of the seminar was dedicated to top mount. David showed us how to progress from a basic low mount position to a very high mount. Once here, it was possible to execute all manner of high percentage submissions. The key to remember here was to concentrate on the space between the opponent's elbow and the side of his torso. A concept also covered in Ryan Hall's The Open Elbow DVD (see my review).

Following the first half of the seminar looking at the top position, David then switched attention to the bottom person - specifically how to escape the mount. He suggested we throw away our habitual assumptions about certain textbook style shrimping and bridging movements. Instead, David explained why he felt that the regular way everyone drilled their shrimping and bridging exercises were not applicable when used in a live situation. He referred to a seminar he attended with Rickson Gracie. During the seminar, Rickson taught his method of bridging out of a mount. At first impressions, just viewing the movement, it doesn't look any different to the regular way of bridging, but after explaining the subtle nuances we realised we needed to change the way we executed the bridge. David also introduced to us his favoured defensive arm position when under mount, something he referred to as one-up-one-down elbow. This alone was a huge nugget of wisdom.

The final portion of the seminar looked at the chess game of two combatants each using their fine tuned knowledge of the top and the bottom position to outsmart each other...intelligent combat style! It was here that all the bits and pieces from the previous two hours fell into place. We looked at one example where black belt Martyn executed his high percentage flower sweep from closed guard. Normally Martyn would land the sweep and instantly, almost without really needing to think about it, end  up in high top mount and ready to target an armbar. His technique utilised the early parts of the seminar where we examined the space between the opponent's elbow and his torso. Now under normal circumstances, Martyn's sweep would be pretty high percentage against most folks, but here, David showed how the bottom person could anticipate the end position (ie bottom of mount) and be ready to place his elbow and knee to escape the top mount.

David Onuma seminars are heavy on theory, concept and principles as well as of course actual techniques. When combined together, he provides lots of food for thought and a refreshingly new way to look at familiar techniques and positions. In my opinion. seminars like these are often better than just trying to learn techniques by rote. I'm certainly looking forward to more of David's #intelligentcombat and #gamechangingshit !


Borehamwood BJJ

Meerkatsu - Fri, 2016-04-29 13:12

I'm opening up my own class to teach BJJ in my home town of Borehamwood, Herts, UK. I will teach each Saturday at the Venue Leisure Centre in the upstairs dance studio. Kids will be from 12:45 until 1:30 then adults from 1:30 until 3pm.

Full details of my class can be seen on the Borehamwood BJJ website.

If my Saturday classes do well and there is demand, I hope to add a mid-week evening class to the schedule.

To kick things off, I have a complete beginner's seminar for the first session, details on the poster below:-


Health: Physical Therapy

Julia Johansen - Thu, 2016-04-21 18:52

I went and saw a physical therapist this week. Once on Tuesday, and once today. My hips suck, according to professional opinion.

I have problems with my hips, specifically related to moving things outward. Here is a picture of me with my legs stretched as far as they go. This was even me laying on the ground, relaxing them and letting gravity help.

A photo posted by Jiu Jiu (@jiujiubjj) on Sep 26, 2014 at 6:29am PDT

This also affects my internal rotation of the hip. For example, a healthy hip can generally go out around 40 degrees outward. Mine only goes to 19 degrees on one leg, and 20 degrees on the other. There’s another test. The Physical Therapist rotated it out, pressed it toward center, and I was supposed to try to resist it. No joke, I couldn’t resist a toddler.

Normal hip range

Normal hip range

Another aspect of this is the trajectory of my knee. You know how you can lay down and pull your knee straight up into your chest and hold it? I can’t do that without injuring my hip flexors. My leg scoops out and the knee heads toward my armpit.

It also means that in jiu jitsu, if I’m sitting open guard, feet together and knees apart, if you push a knee of mine to the ground and I DON’T adjust my hips, I’ll injure myself. Sitting in full mount is incredibly painful for me, and even closed guard can be painful. My hips adversely affect my jiu jitsu.

Those hip muscles also attach to the lower spine, which means that my back has been aching like crazy, ready to seize up at any moment. My hip flexors also feel ready to be injured – sincerely, just rotating my legs a little too far, and I get VERY sharp pains. It sucks!

The physical therapist believes the ball of my leg’s ball and socket joint is off track. It doesn’t sit in the right place due to unknown reasons. She first pushes her finger deep into the side of my belly and presses on the hip flexor near my spine. She does this to help relax it. Then she has been pressing strongly on my femur downward, then pulling the leg out, trying to help it sit where it’s supposed to.

Then begin the exercises. So far I have had to do the following:

  • Foam rolling my back
  • “Open Books” – lay on the side with the knees bent and arms extended out together. You then open your arms like a book. Your knees and hips stay facing the wall, but your arms open like a T and your shoulders/back are ideally laying flat.
  • Lumbar Rotation – my back is on the floor, my feet are on the floor with my knees bent. I then rock my knees from side to side.
  • Hip Flexor stretch – kneeling in a deep lunge with the back knee on the ground.
  • Calf stretches – standing on a wedge, hugging the wall.
  • Bird Dog with rotation – on all 4s, I am on opposite hand/knee. One hand is on my neck, and I touch that elbow to my opposite knee, then bring that leg out straight, and twist my torso so that my elbow is facing the ceiling and my chest is facing the wall.
  • Bridging – my knees are parted, with a resistance band on them. I have to hold them apart, and I bridge slowly.

So far, just in the past 3 days, the physical therapy has helped, although my back has been so terrible. Terrible enough that I have just rested or done easy movement this week, with no jiu jitsu. I’ll work on getting some photos of my range of motion – both for my personal documentation and for the blog.

Jiu-Jiu’s Question: Have any of you had success with increasing hip flexibility or flexibility in general? Have you gone to physical therapy and had success? Any words of encouragement? I’m feeling bummed and frustrated and in pain over here.

Women’s Grappling Tights Review: Ranger Up USA Leggings

MegJitsu - Fri, 2016-04-15 11:30

Women’s grappling tights review of the Ranger Up Women’s USA Leggings. The Women’s USA Leggings are part of Ranger Up’s new premium Bombshell range for women. They are made in the USA and retail for $59.99USD. This limited edition legging sold out in 2 hours in its first run and is now on pre-order. So, if you want to get your Wonder Woman on while grappling, lifting, running, or chasing down preschoolers – stay frosty!

Women’s Grappling Tights Review: USA Leggings Styling

 Ranger Up USA Leggings Full
The USA Leggings offer a grunge-style stars and stripes design. The palette is nicely muted. There is very subtle red and blue-black on a black background with white stripes. The colours are blended with a paint-splatter effect. For me, this softens-up and dirties-up the look in a really appealing way. This is literally the first American flag piece of clothing I’ve ever worn. What swayed me? Full disclosure, Suzy Palmisciano, the absolute machine behind Bombshell and the USA Leggings, is a personal friend of mine. Only she could get me to put on patriotic wear, but I gotta tell you – I love the look of these things! The grunge styling gives them a tough edge. The very subtle use of colour means a design that could be naff or cheesy, ends up looking sassy not saccharine. There is also a super-heroine quality to these leggings. More Jessica Jones and less Super Girl, more badass misunderstood vigilante and less by-the-book Girl Scout. I really dig this reimagining of an American flag theme and look forward to future Bombshell designs.

Women’s Grappling Tights Review: Fit and Performance

 Ranger Up USA Leggings Close Up
These are my best-fitting leggings. By best-fitting, I mean the smoothest lines at the waist and the least hiking up. The stay-put fit applies to grappling, lifting and hitting the grocery on the way home from strength & conditioning for BJJ. The USA Leggings don’t use the much-touted wide waistband. On me, I find that these lay much smoother than the leggings I’ve worn with the big band, ie Sweaty Betty, Nike, Under Armour and Athleta. The USA Leggings waistband sits firmly just above the hip bone and anchors there. It feels secure and moves only very little, even during grappling practice. Yet, it isn’t so tight that it is uncomfortable or that it pinches and bunches any softness in that area.

The great fit of the USA Leggings is in part due to the secure waistband just atop the hips. I think it is also due to the great fabric. The leggings use a very thick – and silky – polyester / spandex blend. The fabric has a good level of stretch and is totally opaque. While the leggings fit like a second-skin, they are not extra tight as with compression gear. As mentioned the fabric has a lovely silky feel. The thickness of the fabric gives the leggings a premium feel and really helps with a good fit that doesn’t shift around as you do your work.

The sizing runs Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large. I typically wear the size one-up from the smallest and the Medium fits me perfectly. For comparison, I wear a Small in Under Armour and Athleta leggings. I am 166CM / 5’5″ and the length of the Mediums is great for me.

ConclusionsWomen's Grappling Tights Review Armbar

Pinching my knees but – tree trunks!

I’ve tried to be objective and fair in this review. I honestly feel great in these leggings and love their fit. Nevertheless, it is only fair to concede my personal affection for Sooze. With that in mind I can confirm that these wash and wear very well when the care instructions are followed (cold hand wash cycle). I’ve also been impressed by how well they’ve withstood grappling training. My UA Coldgear pilled at the knees pretty much from the start, and my USA Leggings aren’t showing any signs of no-gi training abuse. I’ve also slayed in class when I’ve worn them and managed a legit armbar on Toby Reh, the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Victor blue belt, pictured above in a recreation of my glory. So, yes, I love these leggings and I’ve already pre-ordered the Valkyrie Leggings. Clearly, it is more that my friendship with Sooze that has me re-uping so fast! These leggings are a quality item, designed to turn heads and get you in the zone.

The post Women’s Grappling Tights Review: Ranger Up USA Leggings appeared first on MegJitsu.

BJJ: This Pain is WRONG

Julia Johansen - Thu, 2016-04-07 13:19

After heading back to jiu jitsu three times in the span of a week, I got broken. My hips were absolutely killing me. Husband has this AM/PM beginner yoga dvd and literally me just sitting cross legged was TOO PAINFUL. I eased into it, then experienced GREAT PAIN just changing which leg was on top/bottom. I normally experience hip pain, but it’s just a “whoa I’m sore.” This was much more excruciating. Husband suggested I call a doctor.

Me, but much less whiny

Me, but much less whiny

I waited an hour for the doctor, and when he came in and saw me, I described the pain as FRAKKING AWFUL, like BONES GRINDING ON BONES. Doctor said, “Well, it’s a trade off – people who sit around on a couch don’t generally develop arthritis, but they get horrible heart disease, and vice versa. So, do you want to be the old person hobbling around with a walker, or the person in the wheelchair with an awful heart.” I voted for arthritis.

He thought I might need an x-ray, and he tapped on the bones – no pain. Then he tried to rotate my legs. “Wow – you are REALLY inflexible” he noted. It’s not arthritis, but rather the soft tissue connecting legs to hips. Tomorrow I will call to schedule my appointment with a physical therapist. For now, I’m popping (no, autocorrect, I’m not pooping) horse pills of ibuprofin before class, as well as gently doing that beginner yoga dvd.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What pain has your sport exacerbated? What has it helped with? How do you manage your pain?

BJJ: The Lies Our Instructor Tells Us

Julia Johansen - Wed, 2016-04-06 06:20

“Tomorrow will be an easy class.” “We’re only doing 1 more round.” “You can work on an easier thing tomorrow.” Lies! Lies! Lies! (I say with mock accusation).

This was the "Easy" day

This was the “easy” day. Thank you Diego!

The whole day was HIIT training – pick a position. Go hard for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds, then switch (top to bottom). Go hard for 30 seconds. Change partners and rest for 30 seconds. Rinse and repeat. “Tomorrow will be the easy day!”

“Tomorrow” was even harder. 30 seconds go hard, 20 seconds rest, repeat. We all died.

I KNEW he was lying, but I WANTED to believe him. I let myself believe the wonderful lies. I hung to them. It was honestly very funny and got me back in the gym two days in a row. “See, it was so easy!” he said at the end of the day. I fake glared at him and made plans to come back.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: How does your instructor inspire/motivate you? What kind of banter does s/he use? What works for you?

BJJ Book: The Combat Codes

Julia Johansen - Mon, 2016-04-04 13:44

A review of The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin,  published by Insight Forge Press in 2015, ISBN 978-1517765064. You can see this review at Amazon, and GoodReads. Rated 4 stars out of 5.

Click the link to get to Amazon

Click the link to get to Amazon

Murray Pearson is sick of buying broken kids from the slave Circles. He’s sick of training them to become skilled combatants, only to watch them break again. He’s sick of reporting his failures as a talent scout to men who don’t have the guts to stand in the Circles themselves.

Cego doesn’t understand why he’s fighting. He doesn’t understand the grueling training sessions he’s forced to endure every day. He doesn’t understand why they scream for blood when he steps into the Circle. The one thing Cego does understand is hand-to-hand combat. He was born to fight.

Cego is sent down an unlikely path at Murray’s side, paved with fierce competition at the world’s most prestigious combat school along with the answers to his own mysterious past.


This story is mostly fighting/combat set in a scifi universe. Older, retired fighter finds young hopeful in a fighting pit. Retired fighter recruits young fighter for a battle school. Young fighter is awesome. Retired fighter discovers why young fighter is awesome, rocks young fighter’s life with the truth.

The obvious parallel is to Ender’s Game – especially with a young boy going to a fight school, but more like if Ender had been sent to a Japanese judo school and learned to fight. It also had a bit of a Matrix type feel to it, especially with the hyper-realistic simulations.

The Fighting

There were many elements of jiu jitsu, judo, and grappling in this, with the school levels being white, blue, purple, brown, black, and red; the many “OSSS”s that characters uttered; the pieces of martial arts wisdom such as “You may need to give up position to gain position,” and the fighting jargon. The vocabulary in this book was highly specific. This makes the fight scenes very easy to follow if you know fighting terminology, and potentially confusing if you don’t.

Cego shrimped his hips out, circling his legs around Farmer’s knee and shooting his hand in for an underhook. Farmer allowed him to take the underhook, fishing his own overhook under Cego’s armpit and through to the other side of his neck, countering with the brabo choke. Cego felt the pressure on his neck and shrimped out the other way.

The Sci-Fi

This story was enhanced by it being set in a scifi universe, and the main plot point about why the main character is special required a universe with this type of science. Watching a fight and being able to see all the person’s biometrics displayed – being able to see heartrate, images of skeletons and muscles, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure – all things I could see them showing on a UFC fight were this technology available. Having a fight ring that influenced a fighter in various ways – confidence, speed, etc, simply by which element it was made of. Having physical simulations to help train students to be better fighters. All these elements greatly enhanced the fighting storyline. There was also a deeply embedded theme of “Light/Darkness” – purelights vs lacklights, the scifi swear word “darkin’,” and even some beings of light – spectrals.


I most enjoyed the storyline, and the integration of scifi with fighting. I thought they both enhanced one another quite well. It was imaginative, and even though there were very familiar themes present in many scifi stories, it was unique. I thought the final 1/3 of the book was much more interesting than the first 1/3, and I thought the ending was both satisfying and interesting, and it made me want to go back and reread the first part of the book.

There were a few points I disliked. I honestly thought the boy was in his 20s, and it felt jarring to realize he was 13. The character was NOT written like a typical 13 year old – he was far too wise for his age, and missed a lot of the common faults that 13 year olds have. I also sometimes had trouble transitioning from one main character to the next, but this could be me reading at night when I was tired. Finally, I have zero idea why there were “spectrals” – beings of light – not a clue what purpose they served, why they were there, etc.

Disclosure and thanks

The author sent this book to me for the purpose of a review. I did not receive any compensation, nor did I promise a good review. I have no connection to the author other than sharing the same hobby, Jiu Jitsu. Thanks to the author for sending me a copy and entrusting me to give a thoughtful and frank review.

As of the publication date, this book is available on Amazon Kindle for only $2.99 (free with unlimited Kindle), and the physical copy is between $11 – $15.

BJJ: The dangers of “I’ll Do Jiu Jitsu When…”

Julia Johansen - Mon, 2016-04-04 09:17

I have been caught in a terrible trap. Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

  • I’ll do jiu jitsu when I’ve lost more weight.
  • I’ll do jiu jitsu once I’m in better shape.
  • I’ll do jiu jitsu after I move.

Ah those conditional clauses. I’ve found that they tend to be wonderfully convenient, best-intentions, excuses. They’re my mental blocks as to why I’m not doing jiu jitsu right now. They’re much better than this one: “Well, if I go to jiu jitsu on Monday, it’ll be hard to find a parking spot when I come home.” Unfortunately, that came out of my mouth last night. My husband said “Really?? THAT’S your reason to NOT do jiu jitsu? Parking?”

Perhaps Dr Horrible has our solutions. The world is a mess. He just wants to rule it.

My status quo right now = not doing jiu jitsu

The reality is, it’s easy to keep the status quo. It’s easy to continue what you’re doing. If you’re doing a lot of jiu jitsu, it’s easy to keep doing it. If you’re not doing it, it’s easy to keep not doing it. Right now: not doing jiu jitsu > doing jiu jitsu.

In 2016 I can count the number of times I’ve done jiu jitsu on one hand. I’m a rock that is not rolling. There is no momentum. A tiny bit of momentum will move me a little, but not get me rolling. What I need to do is build that momentum. The conditional clause that has been my great excuse to not do jiu jitsu: “I’ll start doing jiu jitsu after I move.” Husband and I are moving to Huntsville, Alabama this fall. That’s like another 6 months of not-doing-jiu-jitsu excuses right there!

Thankfully, I started visiting a welcoming little gym in Virginia Beach, VA. The black belt, Diego, has been actively encouraging me to come to his class. Here was our recent exchange:

I am full of all the excuses

I am full of all the excuses

I will not lie. There is part of my brain that is seeking permission to NOT do jiu jitsu. I throw out excuses like “difficult parking,” “being sore,” “it takes 45 minutes to get there,” “I can start after I move” because on some level I want the people close to me to say “I totally get it.” Unfortunately they all know me, and they see right through my bullshit and call me on it. Sigh. I went to BJJ on Saturday, now I need to keep that momentum, but I won’t lie – it’s hard right now.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: What’s your status quo right now? Active? Lazy? What lame excuses have you been relying on to not be healthy lately?

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