Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Grief and tragedy are known quantities in every community. It is an unfortunate truth. But there is always relief. There are always unions borne of need and compassion. One topical example is the growing number of organizations hoping to give back to the community, to children, by way of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Yes, you read that right.
Up in Milwaukee, WI, a change is underfoot. Never Ending Light Productions, the studio behind multiple award-winning, praiseworthy documentaries is currently working on their project “BJJ 4 Change”.
Train with Jiu-Jitsu Champions. Star in your own documentary. Return home from Brazil. When you purchase a ticket to this event, a portion of the sale is going directly to the children. When you play the documentary in your city, proceeds from the ticket sales go back to Brazil and the children. Resources they need like education, mentorships, gis and new equipment that will go into the gyms where they train. We are also working with the Brazilian and US authorities to help provide paid visa sponsorships for BJJ coaches to travel abroad.
Included in the purchase of a ticket: All travel, food, accommodations, and safety within Brazil for our scheduled itinerary (the final itinerary will be published December 1st). Your ticket includes all of your training, a close-up moment in the documentary, and one tournament entry. This organization is gaining steam, and so are likewise movements and organizations around the globe.
The children of Brazil have long been grappling with unspeakable violence, poverty, and limited opportunities for change. Fortunately, the leading fighters, coaches, and students of Jiu-Jitsu are uniting against the grim, and pay their success and positivity forward. Recently, the Fightland Blog’s Ottavia Bourdain detailed the 1993 massacre of eight homeless children near the Candelaria church in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
"In the favelas, children were routinely shot during exchanges between drug gangs, but far more horrifying were the so called “death squads.” In May of 2012 I traveled to Rio with my husband, accompanied by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend Igor Gracie. The highlight of our trip was a visit to Insituto Kapacidade, a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Kyra Gracie and businessman Bruno Neves, that teaches BJJ to children in need. Using the sport as its main tool, the institute aims to educate and empower children and improve their self-esteem."
Here is an excerpt from Ottavia's interview with Kyra Gracie:
Fightland: What is Kapacidade about? What inspired you to create the institute and how did it happen?
Kyra Gracie: It all happened when in 2007 I visited the Santa Clara Family (an organization that was Ryan Gracie’s idea and that at the time took care of 70 kids), and I was touched by what I saw. I wanted to give back what BJJ gave me, so in 2010 I got together with Bruno Neves, who is a BJJ practitioner and was already involved with the Santa Clara Family organization. We started teaching the children BJJ and taking them to tournaments. That’s how Kapacidade institute was created.
What are the benefits of BJJ when it comes to children?
Martial arts help them with their self-esteem, respect, competitiveness. It builds their character into become a better person. Because for these kids reality is something really harsh and cruel. They live in shacks with no flooring and sleep on the dirt.
What are your hopes for your students?
When you are born really poor in Brazil, you don’t have many opportunities. Big chances are you will end up involved in crimes. When the children start training BJJ, we are giving them a trade. Something that they can embrace and carry on and eventually become a black belt. With a black belt on their waist, they will have a whole lot of opportunities. They might become BJJ instructors and provide for their families.
You can support the Kapacidade institute by attending their jiu-jitsu fundraising seminar at the Renzo Gracie Academy in NYC on June 22, or you can donate directly to Kapacidade through their Web site.
Meanwhile, Nico Ball of the very same Fightland Blog, has had a major life change, centering around Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
From her Fightland Bio:
Nico Ball recently left her life as a teacher to train mixed martial arts full-time in Brazil. Originally from Pennsylvania, she attended George Mason University in Virginia and got her Masters degree studying the impact of martial arts-based social projects. She’s now living the fighter’s life and pursuing her dream to become a pro mixed martial artist, but has found a way to continue her interest in creating social change by helping organize The Tererê Kids Project, a nonprofit for the children living in poverty in the favela of Morro do Contagalo. The project is centered around jiu-jitsu star Fernando Augusto da Silva, widely known by his nickname Tererê, who used the Gentle Art as a way to escape a life of crime. We asked her to send us periodic updates of how the Project is going.
The following documents one such update: Tererê’s Kids Project.
Fernando Tererê started from the bottom, achieved greatness, and is now a dedicated guardian of the pathways to success, safety, and positivity for others:
Hailing from the slums of Rio de Janeiro, life for Fernando Tererê was replete with problems from a young age. Before the police occupation of the favelas that started in 2009, drug dealers imposed “Favela law”, using violence to maintain order in the slums located a few blocks from the picturesque Copacabana beaches. For Tererê, Gracie Jiu Jitsu was a way to escape the violence that inundated the then un-pacified favela of Cantagalo.
Tererê attributes his success in life to Gracie Jiu Jitsu. His involvement in the sport as a student and later as the founder of the first Jiu Jitsu social project in the Favela of Cantagalo, Pavao, Pavaozinho (PPG), was his salvation, not only as a small kid coping with a violent environment, but also as an adult, battling against schizophrenia and drug addiction.
In 2000, as a blue belt, Tererê founded Amigos Do Morro, the first Jiu-Jitsu social project in the favela of Cantagalo, Pavao, Pavaozinho (PPG). It was in this run down academy with second hand mats, holes in the wall, and no running water that BJJ stars like Jackson Souza, Michel Langhi, Alan Finfou, and Ricardo Viera began their ascent to greatness. It was also there that the charismatic Tererê found his passion for teaching. Tererê’s personality attracted people to him and he had a natural talent for recognizing raw talent like in the case of stars like Cobrinha. It was his dedication to his students, to his family, and to his community that kept his name alive.
Now 14 years later, Tererê's legacy in the favela remains intact, despite his struggles. Amigos Do Morro, now Academia Fernando Tererê or Tererê Kids Project, is still thriving and providing free BJJ classes for the residents of the Cantagalo favela.
Sally Arsenault, a BJJ coach based in Nova Scotia, Canada uses her own personal history, along with the marketing campaign of OK! Kimonos, to speak to the needs of children today, and how BJJ can be a soothing, galvanizing, productive force for the young:
Most of my clothes were second hand, and without those hand-me-downs I would have had a very limited wardrobe. Because we were lucky just to have food left at the end of the month, it never occurred to me that I could play sports or take martial arts classes. Instead, I spent my days getting into trouble with other people who didn’t do anything productive with their free time.
The brand mascot [for OK! Kimonos] symbolizes Brendan [Hufford, creator of OK! Kimonos]’s message for children. “I want kids to know that it’s alright to be silly, nerdy, and dorky and then step on the mat at a tournament and hit a flying armbar in six seconds.” Training hard, confidence and assertiveness are key but he doesn’t promote unnecessary aggression.
Perhaps “luck” is a kind, yet incorrect word for what is going on with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s positive effect on communities and children with few options. These groups, missions, and efforts live the ethic of paying it forward. These stories are beautiful in their similarity; the chain of hard work, loyalty, and respect remains unbroken.
Luckily, this is not restricted to Brazil. In the Midwest, in Milwaukee, a group of BJJ coaches are cultivating a dedicated family of hard-working adults and children through jiu-jitsu. It is called BJJ4Change. The efforts of this group, soon to become a documentary, can be followed at BJJ4Change.org.
About the Author:
Kate Carsella is BJJ supporter, writer, and advocate for a healthier world.
Monday, October 12, 2015
I'm happy to report it went smoothly and I feel like I kept mistakes to a minimum. Here's what I learned...
Random quick notes: wear layers, it will be cold in the morning and by afternoon you'll be roasting hot. Also bring a sandwich or two and fruit, unless you don't mind waiting for lukewarm pizza.
I couldn't have done it had I not competed before, and attended many tournaments, and worked many many tournament matches as a scorer/ring coordinator. I feel like that level and depth of experience filtered into my subconscious and I was able to better communicate with my scorer/timekeeper and table staff, how to predict the action, understand how the score was being earned, and how to carry myself professionally.
What does that mean? First I should say that as a relatively new (1 year) purple belt I am just now edging in to being qualified to ref. The most challenging aspects of scoring are kids' matches, takedown scrambles, and sweeps, for me. I feel like being a purple belt is a bare minimum, to really grasp when you are in someone's guard and when you have passed or when you get a takedown or when they've pulled guard at the optimal moment and whether you've maintained a dominant position.
I think having been a scorer/timekeeper gave me a better appreciation for how to ref as well-- how to make sure hand signals are clear and held for long enough, how to communicate "oops" and how to get peoples' attention without making too big a deal out of the fact that you caught them woolgathering... I know on occasion when it happened to me as a scorer, I was so grateful not to be called out on the carpet, and I tripled my efforts to be alert and attentive and not get distracted just watching all that jiu jitsu.
I feel like having been a ring coordinator gave me essential skills to help my (at times, less-experienced and at times brand-new) table staff figure out how to run brackets, how to follow complex arrangements for loser brackets and running multiple divisions at once, and how to handle questions from the audience and competitors.
(I did get frustrated with a guy who was trying his best to figure out how to do the bracket, and eventually replaced him with someone else more meticulous. Advice for all table workers: DO NOT MESS WITH THE BRACKET. Do not change competitors around, do not add names in "blank spots" and do not alter anything except the order in which prearranged matches happen, as is necessary when competitors are not present on time.)
You wouldn't believe how much it helped me to tell myself "Ok, red is in green's guard, so if there's a pass that's 3 points for red. If there's a sweep it's 2 points for green." In the adrenaline of the moment, knowing ahead of time whether you'll use right or left hand to hold up the score really helped me be smooth and clear for my table people.
More importantly, I was always worried about the safety of my competitors, spectators, and people on neighboring mats. I kept my body in the best place where I could watch for scoring positions (such as being able to see whether they got both hooks in) and illegal grips and near-submissions (less a concern with adults because I won't tap for a grownup absent crazy circumstances, though I did worry about chokes a bit). I also focused on using my body to visually cue the rolls to stay on the mat, to protect the table, to protect other competitors or spectators, and to keep other refs with their backs turned safe.
I tried very hard to carry myself professionally. I have learned from watching many many tournament matches that sometimes refs let their eyes stray to the next mat. I tried very hard to focus only on my mat and my current match. I tried to have good posture, silly as that sounds, though the one photograph with me in it looks like I have an enormous spare tire around my waist, thank you dumb tournament tshirt. I always visibly counted out the 3 seconds of dominance before giving points, by holding a hand with the fingers extended (like 2 for a sweep) low along my leg and swinging it distinctly to measure the beats before putting my arm up straight and holding it up until I saw that the score was adjusted properly. I didn't get on my cell phone except for when I was on a break and someone else reffed. (I did, however, stuff my face with pizza between matches, and I feel like that was kind of pushing it to start a match with a mouthful.)
OMG KIDS' MATCHES... In my first four kids' matches I had 3 little ones crying because they got armbarred. I tapped for them, but not quickly enough apparently, and I FELT LIKE CRAP. After that I jumped in much faster, and fortunately only one parent complained. That's a good complaint to me-- it means I acted to put myself in the way of danger and injury. I'm fine with that. Afterwards, I had some kids crying-- but they were crying from feeling overwhelmed halfway through the match and not from being hurt. Or they were crying from anger -- "But I didn't tap!" Look, your arm was locked out all the way... it's my job to keep you safe. And part of that was being willing to be face-down-to-the-mat so I could see what the grips were and whether little arms were in danger.
The thing I loved about kids' matches, though, was I felt a real opportunity to help make their tournament experience a kinder, gentler, more fun one. I could clown around a little before things got started, especially when I saw little lower lips trembling and big eyes looking scared or sad. I often got down to their level for hugs, before and after the matches, and more than once I picked up a little baby and held them while they cried for a second before passing them off to mom/dad/coach.
So... that was my day on Saturday, 8am-4pm, and I couldn't praise Seth Daniels and Fight to Win more thoroughly for running a nice, professional, prompt tournament. I am excited about being able to ref again :)
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Yup, it's starting to get towards the holidays, though I can hardly believe how fast this year has flown. Anyway, this pie is great. Got the recipe from Farmhouse Delivery in Austin. Dark chocolate and nutty pecans set off with a salty sweet kick. Enjoy with clouds of softly whipped cream.
1 recipe basic pie dough
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 Tbs butter
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. organic corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. pecan halves
1 tsp. coarse, flaky salt
Preheat oven to 400. Line an 11 inch tart pan with rolled pastry, trim edges, and set aside.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate with butter, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In another small sauce pan, heat sugar and corn syrup to a full boil over medium high heat. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla, then pour in melted chocolate mixture and sugar syrup. Place pecan halves in tart shell and carefully pour in filling mixture. Sprinkle salt evenly over tart.
Place tart on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and continue baking until the crust is evenly browned and the filling is set, about 25 minutes longer.
Monday, September 28, 2015
I know the point system, and for sure I'll be reading and rereading the tournament's policies and rules so I know what subs are legal and illegal at what belt level, etc. I am comfortable predicting the direction of a fight, both physical and strategic, so I think I can keep competitors safe. The only things I'm scared of, besides making a mistake generally, are the moments where you're challenged about your scoring and you have to remember what all was happening in the match and what points you gave.
What are your thoughts on purple belts reffing?
Have you refereed? advice? suggestions?
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Hi Everyone from Bobby McMasters!
My organization, Pride Moldova is currently running a gi drive to help benefit Team Burlacu BJJ, Moldova's oldest BJJ team. If you happen to have a new or used gi that is still in good shape (i.e. still has 2-3 years left in it with no rips or thin material) please think about donating it! In 2011 the gi drive was a great success. We can really help this small community grow if we do it again! The gis can be sent directly to the beneficiaries (which is more optimal for us) or if you don't have the postage you can send them to me. Here are the addresses, respectively:
s. Burlacu, r. Cahul
c/o Tip O' Texas RV Resort
101 Sioux Rd
Pharr, TX 78577
I know what you're thinking: "That first address is crazy. It doesn't even have a street name or number or zip code!" Trust me, I've received literally dozens of packages of BJJ material at that address without any issues. It is a small village in the middle of nowhere so they don't have street names. But, again, if you are unable to or uncomfortable sending your donated gi to that address, go ahead and send it to the second one.
Here's a little background on the team: Burlacu BJJ was started in 2006. Burlacu BJJ's current head instructor, Alexandru Birlea, was only 16 at the time, but has stepped up and has carried the team ever since. Alexandru is an avid competitor and currently holds the rank of purple belt under Tudor Mihaita of Bucharest, Romania. Alexandru also puts on Moldova's longest-running tournament, the "Burlacu Open" as well as the "Moldova Cup," both of which are held annually. Since 2006, Team Burlacu has recently expanded to include a developing gym in nearby Cahul, Moldova (pictured, posing with 2.5 gis!). Burlacu BJJ was featured in the short documentary, "Uncharted Territory: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the Republic of Moldova".
If you'd like to help out but don't have a spare gi, we could always use some extra cash to help pay for postage and to go toward various other initiatives we have coming up. All you have to do is go to our website, pridemoldovabjj.webs.com and click the donate button! 100% of proceeds go directly to benefiting the fighters since we are a 100% volunteer-run organization.
Please reach out and help however you are able! And contact Georgette at georgettejitsu (at) gmail.com if you'd like a poster to hang at your academy to help promote this gi drive!
Saturday, September 05, 2015
I’m starting this review with a slight tangent. I started reviewing gis almost 5 years ago. The main reason that I began reviewing is that it took entirely too much effort for me to find a gi that actually fit.
At 6’4” and 200 pounds very few gis fit me correctly. A3s came down to my forearms and A4s were big enough to cover two people. Jiu jitsu is hard enough when you’re just starting. Having a gi that fits like a muumuu wasn’t helping. I knew I wasn’t the only one having this problem so I started to research companies that made gis with different cuts to review.
Five years later I rarely write gi reviews. To be perfectly honest, I hate to do them. They’re tedious work and take quite a bit of time to do correctly. I’ll let you in on another secret. The only thing that I really care about for my gis is fit. That’s it. I’m perfectly happy with a plain gi that fits great. I’ll wear a gi with patches and embroidery all over it too. Everything else is secondary and other than cut (and material) most gis are manufactured the same way (usually in the same plant). Speaking of manufacturing, I haven’t seen a poorly produced gi in a very long time, the competition is too stiff. Companies that make crappy gis go out of business quickly.
If you’re still reading you’re probably wondering why the hell am I reviewing a gi if I hate doing it so much? Simple, I’ve wanted a Lanky gi since they first came out over 2 years ago.
When they came onto the market they focused exclusively on athletes that are long and lean. A few others had tall/slim sizes but no one build their brand around those athletes. At the time of this review they have 17 different sizes for their gis. The even have 2 different versions for each size of the tall/slim gi. When I saw a Facebook post requesting testers I asked if I could be included and was fortunate enough that John chose me to test their new PRO 550 v2 in black (they also have blue and white).
The jacket of the PRO 550 v2 is constructed of 550g pearl weave with pants constructed of 10oz ripstop. Knee reinforcements that start at the upper thigh and continue to the cuffs.
The pearl weave is very rough on the exterior of the jacket, similar to the sandpaper-eque weaves of older Atamas. I had no discomfort wearing the gi, though I do wear a rashguard. There’s been a trend towards lighter and lighter gis and the heavier weight of the jacket was a welcome change. The gi wasn’t noticeably hot during summer rolling even while wearing a rashguard under the jacket.
I mentioned earlier that virtually all jiu jitsu gis are well made and the PRO 550 v2 maintains that level of quality. The stitches are straight, even and tight throughout the jacket and pants. Grey contrast stitching is used, red is use strategically as a design element, stress points have triple stitching and seam tape improves comfort.
The lapel is covered in ripstop to make grip breaks easier. There are 6 loops on the pants for the cord drawstring.
Speaking of drawstings. The drawstring is probably the shortest one that I’ve ever used. It’s long enough to get the job done but I wonder if it might come out of the pants in wash (hasn’t
Out of the box the pants fit me very well and the jacket was just a little bit too long, which is exactly what I requested. When life permits I train twice a day and the only way I can keep in clean is by putting them in the dryer (on low heat) after washing them. At the time these pics were taken I’ve worn the gi at least a dozen times. If the gi is clean and dry I wear it. I have 20+ hours of mat time while wearing it.
The gi fits me very, very well and will stay in my gi rotation. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this as my competition gi if I ever compete again. It’s worth mentioning that the sizing chart is comprehensive and accurate. If you’re not sure what size to get start there and be sure to contact John directly if you have any questions.
It can be a real challenge for leaner athletes to find a gi that fits well enough to be suitable for competition training. John over at Lanky recognized this need a few years ago and has stepped into the niche very nicely. The Pro 550 v2 is heavy enough to stand up to a lot of abuse, will last for a long time and fits as well as any competition gi that I’ve ever worn. The Pro 550 v2 has been a staple in my rotation for the last few months and it’s not going anywhere. At $150, available in black, blue and white, the Pro 550 v2 is competitively priced within the market. The next time that you’re in the market for a new gi be sure to check out their website, Facebook and Twitter for sales.
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Many thanks to Matt Corley-- writer at Jiu Jitsu Magazine-- for his guest post reviewing the Lanky FG gi!
Monday, August 03, 2015
WHITE FLOWER BALM
Saturday, July 11, 2015
First the good news-- I'm told that the academy heads in the area around Cancun where Pierini teaches have banded together, informed local schools, and gotten law enforcement authorities involved.
But the bad news-- Pierini was invited to teach a seminar at the Brasa affiliate in Cancun where the instructor is Ismael Sacramento. I've messaged Prof. Felipe Costa to get his input on this.
Also bad news, Pierini is apparently teaching at the Lotus affiliate in Playa del Carmen. I've messaged Prof. Giva Santana inquiring, as well. In a brief reply (since he's at Nationals in Vegas) Prof. Santana assures me that the Lotus people there are not affiliated with *his* Lotus. He'll explain more when he returns from competing and I'll update you then.
I hear that Pierini is lying and telling people that he was merely fined for buying alcohol for minors. Folks, if you have any access to students or families in Quintana Roo, Mexico and that general area, please encourage them to look at the screen shots in this blog. It's way worse than getting teens some booze. He's a predator.
Thursday, July 09, 2015
In 2006, Pierini assaulted teenage boys in Half Moon Bay CA and pled no contest ( to 1 felony, 3 misdemeanor charges of child molestation) and was convicted in 2007.
He was deported after a year in jail and is a lifetime registrant on the sex offender registry.
In 2010 he sneaked back into the United States illegally.
Mugshot from his original arrest for child molestation.
Detail from the probation violation case (sneaking back into the US) when it was on appeal. Contains detail from the original convictions. I don't have all the screen shots, sorry, just the ones most relevant to the facts of the cases.
June 30, here's Joao Marcos Pierini, posting as Joao Campeoes Marcos, in Mexico.... compare to the photos in this post. It's Pierini in the well-striped-up blackbelt. June 30 is the facebook post date... the actual promotion took place June 27, 2015 (look at the certificate below.)
And here's Joe Moreira promoting Pierini...
Read the certificate. And guess how old the young man he has his arm around is. (I do not know, but he's a green belt so I blanked out his face.)
I am grossed out.
Pierini aka Marcos is the Mestre at Live to Fight in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Here's an email exchange I had with IBJJF staff. Read from the bottom up.
On Jun 17, 2015 6:49 PM, Rebecca Silva <email@example.com> wrote:
we never had a problem with you at the event. You are definately right about that. You were always professional with while working for us and I appreciate that.
However, its our police that people who have an active voice/take stands (i'm sorry for the language barrier) should not be added to our staff. Our staff should ne neutral.
I wrote you that because I believe its best to be honest. I agree that you have the right to have your opnions and we have the right to have our polices.
▼ Hide quoted text
On Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 4:12 PM, Georgette Oden <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
By the way, there were no issues at Seattle Open. And if it helps, of course I will always behave, as I have always in the past, with complete professionalism. My rights to free speech stop at the door of the workplace, which of course includes the IBJJF. Thanks :-)
▼ Hide quoted text
On Jun 17, 2015 5:52 PM, Rebecca Silva <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you for your interest on helping us out.
You do work very well in our events. However, you are a very active blogger in our community.
IBJJF avoids as much as possible to take sides on controversial situations that are not our business. Because of this reason, we may not have in our staff team a person who may or may not like one of our athletes.
I hope you understand my situation, but I cannot add you to the staff team at this point.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Georgette Oden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 2:14 PM
Subject: Austin Open
To: Jacob Vasquez <email@example.com>, Event Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Need staff? I moved back and happy to work the open....