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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Congrats to New Level 1 Muay Thai Students

Congrats to Cory Lawson, Jay Humphrey, and Nathan Musick. Sifu Kevin Seaman had another round of Level 1 Thai tests at Tai Kai tonight. All three students passed. This was the first time the cage was used for Sifu’s Thai Test. Congrats to all the Muay Thai students and to Sifu Kevin Seaman for being such a great instructor. We looked foward to more Level 1 Muay Thai students in the future.



Thirty-one years old may not seem young to many of you, but how long do you think it takes to graduate from medical school, complete a residency in Ophthalmology, then sub-specialize in Ocular Oncology (eye cancer) and Pathology (eye diseases)? Beyond getting an M.D., to obtain a PhD and then become a professor at one of Canada’s most prestigious medical institutions? In conjunction with that, how long would it take you to get your black belt, and become good enough to become a 4-time World Champion and then be asked to train the likes of….let’s say, UFC World Champion Georges St. Pierre and award him his black belt? Did I mention that this 31-year-old is opening his own Gracie Barra School in Montreal, Canada in January 2010?

Although you still may not think that 31 is that young, when you look at all these accomplishments, I’m sure you would agree that it is very young to have reached so many laudable goals in life. Some people work their whole lives to accomplish just one of these milestones, but Bruno Fernandes has achieved them all, and I can tell he’s not finished yet. Oh, and just to annoy those of you who think he must be lacking somewhere, I have to inform you that he speaks four languages, is an avid surfer, is friendly, engaging and very handsome, too! Sorry guys.

Fernandes began practicing BJJ at 11 years of age. He started with Carlson Gracie, but switched to GB at 16 as a blue belt and has been with them ever since, because he “loved Gracie Barra immediately.” Master Carlos Gracie, Jr. awarded him his black belt in Rio de Janeiro, after he won the World Championship as a brown belt in 2000.

Fernandes is a multiple-time Brazilian National Champion and 4-time World Champion and says, “I grew up doing BJJ. It’s now a part of my life and me. I see BJJ as a lifestyle. I embraced it a long time ago and now it just can’t be changed.” People always ask Fernandes how he finds the time to balance BJJ and his professional/academic career, “I don’t know how I could do it all without it! In Brazil, going to the gym was the best part of my day. I would get my physical exercise, meet my friends, unwind after a stressful day, and forget about the problems I had, all at the same time and place. I tell people that if you can’t spare one hour of your day to something you love, there really is something wrong with the way you manage your time!”

Bruno in his other professional uniform.

Fernandes is a professor on the mats, and off them, too, “I’m a Professor at Mc Gill University in the Department of Ophthalmology andPathology. I do research most of the time, but I also teach medical students and residents. I work closely with graduate students and supervise master and PhD theses.” Fernandes says he loves to teach, “It gives me great pleasure to see my students improving at the University, and on the mats as well.”

When Fernandes first moved to Montreal, Canada in 2005, his intention was not to pursue BJJ, “Teaching BJJ in Montreal was not in my plans when I moved. My goal was to pursue my PhD degree. However, as the interest in BJJ grew in Montreal, some people found me and started asking me to teach them. It started as a small group, and hasn’t stopped growing since then.”

Fernandes has been teaching BJJ at Tri-Star Gym in Montreal for some time. Tri-Star students discovered he was living in Montreal from the Gracie Family in New York. They contacted him and asked if he would teach them BJJ. That’s where he met Georges St. Pierre, “I had a group of 3 or 4 students. GSP was there from the beginning.” As their relationship grew, GSP asked Fernandes to be his BJJ coach, which he is to this day. In fact, Fernandes awarded GSP his black belt in 2008, “GSP is every coach’s dream. He’s extremely intelligent, respectful and always eager to learn. He picks things up fast and adapts all BJJ moves we work on into his MMA game. It’s extremely rewarding to see him doing things in the octagon the same way he was taught. I think he will continue to be on top for a long time.”

Georges St-Pierre (left) with Professor Fernandes after UFC champ promoted to black belt.

Fernandes is most excited about his new GB school opening in Montreal in January 2010, “It’s a true honor to be able to open a GB school. It’s great when you believe in the same values as the team you represent. We see BJJ differently than other teams and I believe that this is what makes us strong and keeps us together.” Fernandes says he’s wanted to open a GB school from the first day he moved to Montreal, “First I had to finish my thesis and then I had to spend a year in Toronto. My future was so uncertain that I couldn’t make long-term plans, but I moved back to Montreal last summer and now I plan to stay for quite some time.” Fernandes says he loves the city of Montreal and has made some really good friends there.

As for GB Montreal, he says, “It’s awesome! I had the chance to visit GB San Clemente and GB San Diego, in California, and I got a lot of great ideas. I want GB Montreal to have the same type of environment that we had back in the days in Rio. It opens January 11, 2010 and I have very high hopes for it.”

A conversation with Gracie Jiu Jitsu Master Rickson Gracie

author: Maynard Keenan

A conversation with Gracie Jiu Jitsu Master Rickson Gracie
Balance. This simple concept seems to be the underlying answer to all
questions posed by Steve and I to Rickson Gracie (pronounced
Hickson) this morning. Rickson, a native of Brazil, is one of the
older brothers or Royce Gracie (three time champion of the popular pay
per view event “The Ultimate Fighting Championship”) and, with a
record of far more than four hundred straight wins, is considered to
be the most formidable of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Steve
and I asked at great length what, in his opinion, made it possible for
him to achieve such a status. Much to my pleasure, it had nothing to
do with being a three hundred pound hairy ape on steroids. It had
nothing to do with lifting weights till you achieve stretch marks or
eating any and everything all day long. Nor did it have anything to do
with hatred, psychosis, or whateveraphobia. It did, however have
everything to do with balance.

Rickson: Jiu Jitsu is like a philosophy. It helps me learn how to face

Maynard: In what way?

Rickson: In every way. To understand our society, to relate myself to
people, to compete in an actual self defense tournament, to feel
confident to walk on the street and to be able to help people, to be
strong enough to forgive…

——-Balancing the Scales of Justice——

Maynard: Do you think it is better to avoid a fight rather than to
provoke a fight?

Rickson: I believe that you must do what you believe you have to do.
If I don’t believe I should fight, I’m not gonna fight. My decision
is based more on my personal honor than it is on who I’m channeling my
anger towards. For example, if I see a guy smacking an old lady I’m
going to do something about that. I don’t care who it is. It’s a
moral concern. I cannot live with this on my mind without taking
action just because I don’t know who it is. In cases like this my
honor, my dignity, and my moral code is much more important than my
physical body.

——Balancing Aggressive Nature with Physical Limitations——

Steve: Do you think that Gracie Jiu Jitsu has something for the person
who doesn’t have a natural talent?

Rickson: Definitely. I can’t think of any one with less physical
ability than my father, Helio Gracie. When my father was twelve the
doctor said that he couldn’t do any exercise because of vertigo. If he
ran 200 yards in a sprint, he would pass out. But he is a very short
tempered, tough guy. So with the impossibility of using power while
training with his uncle in Jiu Jitsu, he was forced to develop his
own technique thus balancing his inability. We like to say that
Einstein was to mathematics what Helio Gracie is to Jiu Jitsu. He
totally invented 80 percent of the Jiu Jitsu we have today. Leverage
and sensitivity and using the opponent’s energy against himself are
basic to Jiu Jitsu, but the application of these principles was never
done in the way my father developed them. My father broke the mold. He
initiated a different perspective. It used to be that when someone
told you, “hey, there’s a tough guy coming here to kick your ass,” you
imagine this big guy with and ugly face. He’s 280 pounds and has big
fists. You don’t imagine a guy who weighs 135 pounds.

——Balancing Wants and Needs——

Maynard: I don’t know if you realize how significant it is but, seeing
your whole family showing up in support of Royce at the UFCs is a very
moving image for many people. It seems that you don’t see that kind of
family love and pride much anymore.

Rickson: Especially in the big cities. People don’t make the time to
give to each other. I think that’s just a sign of our times. Smart are
the ones who try to preserve those old elements. People today just
want to make money. I understand that and respect that but… I find
myself in a very fortunate position because I love what I’m doing and
I’m good at it. So I make a living.

Maynard: It seems that here in the states, people are more concerned
with doing something to make money than they are with doing what it is
that they love to do. They decide that money is the goal and then
begin to figure out what they’ve got to do to get it. They forget to
listen to themselves to find out what it is they really are not only
best suited for but are passionate about as well.

Rickson: Yes. I think exactly the opposite. You need to make money but
it should never be the priority. What you like to do is what you
should try your best at doing. The money is gonna come. That’s the way
people really get rich, you know? They just enjoy what they do and the
money comes in some way. It’s the same with the work out. Some people
think that the workout is to increase heartbeats or flexibility or
endurance or coordination. So they make up exercises to improve one of
more of these areas. When I’m doing exercise, what I’m trying to do is
meditate. Get in a state that I feel a balance between body, mind, and
spirit. It’s just enjoyment. When I train in Jiu Jitsu I don’t have a
clock in mind. I’m just feeling and flowing. When playing or surfing
or hiking there are no timings or special rules. If you love it you
just get into it with your whole body. You don’t care that it’s

Maynard: …and the endurance comes.

Rickson: I can’t imagine going on a stair master or lifting weights or
whatever to get in shape.

——Balancing the Diet——

Maynard: I heard that the Gracies also follow a specific diet.

Rickson: Yes. It doesn’t have as much to do with what or how much you
eat as it does with how you combine your foods. You can eat
vegetables, fruit, rice, beans, meat, or whatever. But the most
important thing is the food combinations. The digestive process is the
biggest workout your body does on a daily basis. You use energy to
digest. You can save energy by choosing foods that digest better in
certain combinations, and you can absorb more nutrients and gain more
energy by choosing food that use compatible enzymes to digest.

Maynard: So in the reverse…if you eat something that is difficult to
digest and has no nutritional value…

Rickson: Exactly. You waste even more energy. We are not cows. We
don’t have to eat all day long to maintain. We eat, digest, absorb,
then rest. For me, I think three meals a day is enough. I spend at
least four hours in between without anything but water.

Maynard: A very traditional Brazilian dish is black beans and rice,
but in your diet this is a bad combo.

Rickson: That’s right. What you really want to fight in your body is
the fermentation process. Fermentation basically is a bad combination
between acids you produce to digest your food. For example, when you
eat rice, your mouth produces specific acids to break down the rice so
your stomach can begin the digestive process. When you eat ice cream,
or an apple, or watermelon juice, your mouth produces completely
different acids. And that can create a bad chemical reaction in your
body. You feel heavy or sluggish which is not good. It’s not only
uncomfortable, it’s counter productive.

——Balancing Perspective/Points of View——

Rickson: I believe that you should have an evolutionary point of view.
You must meditate, you must pray, you must be thankful, you must give.
I think those things are very important spiritually for you to be at
peace with yourself. Once you’ve tried to improve spiritually,
physically, and mentally your are in a good way. Even if I lost my two
legs now I don’t think that it would make me lose the sense of life.
Of course I’m not gonna be a fighter anymore, but I’m able to allow
myself to do other things. I’m gonna try to swim. I’m gonna try to
surf. I don’t know what else, but I’m definitely going to still be in
love with life and learning. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play
the piano, but I’ve never had the time. Or play the guitar. So many
things. Some people have legs and they don’t use them because they’ve
focused on something else. I think every bad thing has a good way to
look at it. Of course I love to do what I’m doing, but if I get
sick…understand? The mind is so beautiful and so wild and you can
have so many different things. There’s always a good side to
everything. Nothing is totally desperate. Like “Oh…I lost my job.”
You lost your job? Go to the beach, man. Get some waves.

Maynard: If you have a clear mind like that, and if you have
confidence in life and in yourself you’re going to get fed.

Rickson: Definitely. You can’t be negative all the time.

Maynard: You can, but don’t expect for things to come to you very

Local fighter on ‘Ultimate’ stage-reprinted from Scotsman/Pennysaver

Photoand Story by Dan Bernardi

Marc Stevens, right, trained under the direction of Ken Kronenberg, left, at Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu in Liverpool. Stevens is a current cast member on Ultimate Fighter 12, airing at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on Spike TV.

The third time was the charm for mixed martial artist Marc Stevens on his road to being featured on the television show Ultimate Fighter, airing on Spike TV.
On his third time trying out for the popular cable program, Stevens, who trained in Liverpool, was cast for a shot at UFC stardom.
The show pits two teams of aspiring Lightweight and Light Heavyweight mixed martial arts fighters against each other under the coaching of accomplished Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans.
Stevens has come a long way since getting his start in Mixed Martial Arts in 2005. Prior to then, he had only wrestled.
“I wrestled my whole life. After I left college I was watching the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and saw my old wrestling coach,” Stevens said. The coach was Josh Koscheck, who was an assistant coach at the University of Buffalo at the time Stevens wrestled there.
That spurred him to find out more about the sport of MMA.
Stevens began training with Ken Kronenberg at Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu (www. syracusebjj.com), 911 Old Liverpool Road, Liverpool.
At Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu, Stevens learned the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a style made famous by Royce Gracie, a UFC Hall of Famer. The style centers around grappling and ground fighting. Using this technique, a smaller defender can often defend against a larger opponent by using a combination of joint-locks and choke holds. This skill combined with a background in wrestling makes Stevens a versatile fighter.
Since 2005, Stevens had attended two Ultimate Fighter casting calls.
“This was actually the third time I had tried out,” Stevens said. “I got a call from my manager about a week before the tryout and he told me I had to be in North Carolina the next week for tryouts for the show.”
Stevens went to North Carolina, tried out, and returned home to wait.
“If they don’t call you just didn’t make it, if they call then you know your going to be on a plane in two days. You’re going to Vegas for casting,” he said.
He was flown to Las Vegas for three days of medical check-ups and interviews with Ultimate Fighter producers.
“After you come home (from Las Vegas) they call you either way,” Stevens said.
Luckily for Stevens, the call was one in which the Ultimate Fighter producers told him they wanted him on the show.
Stevens wasn’t sure whether he would automatically be granted a spot in the house or if he would have to fight his way in.
On the season premiere of Ultimate Fighter 12, Stevens was featured in a match against fellow upcomer TJ O’Brien to determine who would earn a spot in the Ultimate Fighter house. Stevens fought in the first match of the show and defeated O’Brien in 13 seconds.
When asked if that was Stevens biggest match of his life, he answered, “Yeah, I would. Some of the guys had said that. Javier Mendez, (founder of the American Kickboxing Academy) brought up a good point when he said, ‘This shouldn’t be different from any other fight, every fight is your biggest fight.’”
Stevens kept this in mind and tried not to let the fact that this would perhaps be the most noticed and widely talked about moment of his young MMA career affect his preparation.
“I had fought on TV before, but never on a stage like that. The thoughts (regarding the magnitude of the fight) would come in and I’d try to get them out.”
For Stevens, this is the most important time in his career. He explained that opportunities to be featured on a national stage are very rare and success is a necessity.
“As a fighter you have a short window,” Stevens said. “You’re no good to anyone if you lose, you’re pretty much done because nobody wants to watch it.”
To watch Marc Stevens on his quest to become the Ultimate Fighter, tune in to Spike TV at 10 p.m. Wednesdays.
Marc Stevens is a cast member on Ultimate Fighter 12 on Spike TV. The show airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays.