Archive for January, 2017

Event Spotlight – 2017 European Championships

As the post New Year’s hangover faded and the weather continued to cool, World Class grappling competitors from Jiujtsu teams around the world prepared themselves for the commencement of another season of Gi competition. The first tournament on the schedule-the 2017 edition of the European Championships. Taking place over 6 days amidst the backdrop of beautiful Lisbon, Portugal this event brought fireworks from both expected tournament favorites and new competitors looking to make their mark.

Though the Pan-American Championships and the Mundials frequently overshadow the European Championships, it’s not for lack of quality. In years past many people erroneously considered the tournament less prestigious and/or lacking the difficulty of some of the U.S. based tournaments, but the European competitors continued to show up in droves to prove the doubters wrong. For the past several years the tournament rapidly reached max capacity and with nearly 3,500 competitors from around the globe, this year was no different-featuring divisions that were deep with talent and doggedly fierce competition.

As the tournament pushed thru nearly an entire week of competition, Alliance Team members of every belt level and from around the world pushed themselves to and past their limits in search of gold. Frequent Lepri-BJJ academy guests and training partners Raul “Gacho” Jimenez and his son Roberto Jimenez added to the tally of impressive Alliance victories with both competitors snagging gold medals from their respective divisions.

Perennial all-star and consistent tournament favorite Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles came to the mats on-fire, seemingly on a mission to prove that age is just a number. At 37 years of age and still competing in the Adult division, “Cobrinha” stood in a field amongst people nearly 20 years his junior, but dispatched them nonetheless with the skill and beguiling flair many have come to expect of him.

In the female black belt division, recent black belt promotee Tayane Porfirio refused to be outshone. Having her black belt for only 6 months (approximately) and already drawing comparisons to legendary Alliance competitor Gabi Garcia, Porfirio could have let the pressure of expectations smother her. Instead, in a division populated with current legends such as Mackenzie Dern and Bea Mesquita, Porfirio again validated the decision of her instructor Gigi Paiva to promote her with another gold medal winning performance.

Though far from it’s home base(s) of Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Atlanta Georgia respectively, Lisbon Portugal provided another opportunity for Alliance competitors to demonstrate their skills. After experiencing the tournament and demonstrating what was possible, the collective eyes of the Alliance Eagle turn towards the next Gi tournament…

 

By: Kenneth Page

5 Surprising Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practioners

With the uptick in popularity of the UFC (and MMA as a whole), many new people are flocking to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in droves. Some people seeking a realistic self-defense art without the striking or contact of MMA see Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as their answer, while others come to the art seeking a full-body workout. Gone are the days of yore when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was regarded as mysterious and secretive, now people of all walks of life are turning to the art in hopes of experiencing its benefits. Below are some notable practitioners that have taken up the challenge


Clark Gregg
– perhaps best known for his role as “Agent Phil Coulson” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Clark Gregg is actually a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Renato Magno. When speaking about the benefits Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has brought to his life Gregg says, “I really liked it right off. I found a lot really useful about it. Being able to relax and breathe when you’re   under great pressure, it comes in handy all around your life.


Chuck Norris
– perhaps best known for his Karate the long-time actor is actually a 3rd Degree blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! As is often the case, he was originally introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu merely  by chance. While on vacation in Rio de Janeiro and seeking a good workout he stumbled upon the Gracie Academy and received a lesson from Helio Gracie himself. Returning to his home of Los Angeles he sought out instruction from cousins of the Gracie family, the Machados. After over thirty years of patient and dedicated study Chuck Norris was awarded his black belt from a legend in the sport Jean Jacques Machado

Guy Ritchie– formerly married to Pop icon Madonna, the English born director is plenty famous in his own right. Beyond directing films such as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and the Sherlock Holmes franchise, Ritchie is also a Renzo Gracie blackbelt. Originally studying in England under the famed Roger Gracie, Ritchie continued his studies under the illustrious Renzo Gracie after moving to the United States. Throughout his buy career he has remained a dedicated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student, even holding the rank of Brown Belt for SEVEN years before being promoted.

 

Donnie Yen– The Asian Cinema titan is known for his wide range and skillful command of various martial arts. Perhaps best known in the west for his role of Ip Man or more recently his portrayal of the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” Yen has taken a more nuanced approach to demonstrating his love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Often directing, starring in, and choreographing his own martial art films Yen has chosen to include moves that the astute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner will immediately recognize. The most famous example? The final fight scene in the movie “Flashpoint” is absolutely brimming with references to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. From triangle-chokes to flying armbar attempts, Donnie Yen has done a masterful job of presenting the art in a way that’s entertaining to all.

Demi Lovato– a recent convert to the sport, the Pop superstar uses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to keep her healthy while constantly performing and touring worldwide. Echoing a statement that many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students can surely relate to Lovato had this to say regarding the fitness aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu “fitness is something that’s very important to me because I perform my best when my mind and body are at its best”.  A student of ADCC Champion Orlando Sanchez, Lovato can frequently be seen training backstage with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners prior to shows, and makes a point to train whenever she’s able. Dropping in at Renzo Gracie’s New York academy and the California based academies of her instructor Orlando Sanchez, Lovato was recently awarded stripes on her white belt as a testament to her progression and devotion.

 

By: Kenneth Page

3 Things for Beginners to Remember when starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Starting a new and unfamiliar martial art can be a tough challenge for anyone, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no different. The collective unfamiliarity with positions, movements and the physical requirements can be a daunting task for the new practitioner. Thankfully however, for those that are beginners there are some universal truths to remember that will assist you in you journey.

Stay relaxed– Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on principles of efficiency and leverage, not strength. Due to their inexperience beginners will often attempt to “muscle” their way through a particular move set, only to find themselves exhausted when/if they complete it. Remember, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not like lifting weights; when finding yourself stuck in a particularly difficult position very rarely will using more strength yield positive results. On the contrary actually, that explosive movement usually leaves the beginner tired and vulnerable. So embrace the technique and new way of doing things, rather than focusing on making your way work.

Leave your ego at the door– Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be a humbling experience for many people. The new practitioner frequently thinks of situations as merely Wins and Losses, rather than focusing on the ultimate goal: learning. Don’t get caught in the trap of basing your progress on how frequently (or infrequently) someone “beats” you. Focusing on how many times you’ve been tapped or whom tapped whom will hinder your growth as it takes the focus away from where it should be. Rather, focus your attention on the things that got you into that position and how you can avoid those errors in the future. It can be disheartening realizing that you are unprepared or at a disadvantage, especially for those individuals with a mental image of how they would react in a particular situation. But keep your goal in mind, you are there to learn-NOT to prove anything. In order for you to progress simply focus on being the best student and training partner you can be, the rest will fall into place with time.

Ask Questions– Learning something new has its own inherent set of difficulties; don’t compound them by refusing to ask for clarification on things you don’t understand. Many times the new practitioner will refrain from asking questions out of fear of being judged or looked down upon. Never feel that your question isn’t valid, because frequently others have the exact question. It’s quite common to see new students hesitantly raise their hand and murmur a barely audible question. Upon the instructors repeating the question for the class to hear there will invariably be many heads nodding and people voicing their agreement. They had the same questions as you! You can’t expect to get better without practice, and the same goes for learning new things. If you have a question, ask! Rest assured neither the instructor(s) nor other students will judge you for it, they will actually be appreciative that you are paying attention and trying to improve.

 

By: Kenneth Page

2016 – One for the Record Books

Hailing from Minas Gerais, Uberlandia, Brazil Lucas Alves Lepri is undeniably one of the greatest BJJ practitioners living, referred to by Fabio Gurgel as “the best lightweight in all of history”. Following nearly a decade’s worth of exemplary performances on the world stage, 2016 would prove to be no different. From capturing yet another World Championship in the black belt division (his SIXTH overall) to creating THREE (3) World Champions in only his second year as Academy owner/Head Instructor, Lucas Lepri once again proved to the world that his techniques and particular methodologies work. Even GracieMag (the worlds most prestigious Grappling and Lifestyle magazine) took notice, placing Lucas on the cover and giving him a full spread to demonstrate the incredible effectiveness of his techniques and the overall efficacy of his style.

Training primarily with his teacher Elan Santiago from Lucas’ humble beginnings in the sport, a new opportunity arose that would alter the course of the sport as BJJ Icon Fernando Terere formed a team (TT) and the young Lepri was fortunate enough to count himself amongst it’s affiliation members. During their training sessions hard grueling work and constant improvement was the focus. Amongst future legends such as Cobrinha, Andre Galvao, Marcelo Garcia, Terere himself and others, Lucas worked tirelessly to refine his craft. Placed within a sea of such remarkable talent Lucas only had two choices; sink or swim. Upon realizing and fully accepting such a momentous task, his teammates would get their first glimpse(s) into the future. Initially being promoted from White belt to Blue belt in just 4 short months Lucas would incredibly go on to receive his black belt in just 6 short years. Immediately proving himself worthy of such a lofty accomplishment he would emerge from relative anonymity to win the 2007 Mundials in just his first year as a Black Belt.

Continuously doing the unexpected thru nearly a decade of top level competition-winning against all odds and with minimal fanfare-2016 would be a year in which Lucas would assert that he was indeed the best. Coming off of a World Championship campaign that saw him submit all but one of his opponents-a performance FloGrappling would refer to as “Flawless”-Lucas would immediately turn his attention to coaching and teaching his students around the world. “When I first came to America I spent much of my time coaching at both Fabio Clemente’s Academy in New York city and Master Jacare’s academy in Atlanta, and I was always watching and learning from the way they did things. I gained experience teaching and coaching, and I told myself that when I get my own school I would implement some of the things I learned. Of course I wanted to focus on excellent technique, but I really wanted to provide a role model outside of the mats that my students could look up to. I wanted to stress the positive lifestyle aspects of Jiu-Jitsu, not just the fighting or competition” Lucas said. With his team utilizing the methods and techniques he’s used his entire career and with Lepri now steering the ship as Captain, the results were immediate and striking. Within the first TWO years of opening and teaching at his school full-time (a feat he manages whilst still competing and winning internationally) the unique training methods of Lepri have produced Three World Champions, Three Pan-American Champions, an overall team victory at the homebase of the team the “IBJJF Charlotte Open”, along with countless regional medals.

Seeing the results produced directly by his hands, the draw for Lucas as a teacher has grown immensely. From being the personal house guest and private seminar instructor of acclaimed chef and BJJ convert Anthony Bourdain, to being flown to the Middle East to personally teach and work with a member of the UAE’s ruling family, those whom are used to the best are now personally requesting the best in increasing numbers. Though the workload and traveling is daunting Lucas does it for the betterment of his team, a group he considers family. “It really is tiring, competing and teaching and traveling and giving my best at each one of them. But I know that it will pay off, people will see the handwork and results and realize that when you’re a member of a family like this and everyone is always giving their best to see you successful….anything is possible”.

With only two years in existence; multiple world champions, a Team Title, and affiliates on 3 separate continents it seems that the Lepri-BJJ family takeover is well under way.

 

By: Kenneth Page