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Monthly Archives: April 2011

How Marcelo Garcia Defeats Larger, Stronger Opponents by Stephen Kesting

There’s nothing quite like watching a smaller, lighter, weaker person use their technique to defeat a bigger, heavier, stronger opponent.
And when it comes to tapping out bigger, stronger, heavier opponents there’s nobody quite like Marcelo Garcia.
Not only is he a four time world BJJ champion and three time ADCC champion in his weight class, but he’s often fought in the absolute division as well. In fact he’s faced weight disadvantages of a hundred pounds or more, and has almost always emerged victorious!
Here’s a video we shot at his NYC academy where Marcelo actually breaks down his best strategies and favorite techniques for both sweeping and tapping out larger opponents.
Go watch it now: it’s really good! And believe me, he defeats larger, stronger guys with these exact techniques ALL the time!!

GQ technique of the week at Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu by Jim Kearns

GQ’s Technique of the Week from Jim Kearns on Vimeo.

This is the first Grapplers Quest technique of the week. It was filmed at Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu today. This technique was choses because I fought and won the first Grapplers Quest Super fight back in 1999 by Toe Hold. So we chose this technique. The end of that match is below. Look at the looks on Ricardo Almedia and Renzo Gracie’s face as this foot lock war ensues. Wow has it really been 12 years since that video.

I’ve fought 122 times in my life—no one can shoot me down” This and other words from Master Relson Gracie at his seminar in SF

“I’ve fought 122 times in my life—and I have no marks on my face, see it’s still pretty— no one can shoot me down!” he shouts. These were the emphatic words of Master Relson Gracie as he began his seminar last weekend in San Francisco with tales of his early street fighting days in Rio de Janeiro.

The weekend seminar drew a group of some 50 Bay Area practitioners from various local academies, all of who came down to Carlos Sapao’s Barra Brothers academy, nestled in the breezy, surf-friendly Ocean Beach, to watch the master teach a few of his favorite fundamentals of what he called his “8 pages of no holds bar” techniques.

The seminar started off with what I thought would set the tone for the entire seminar—we were on the feet, sprawling on our partner’s takedowns. We then moved on to some non-sport, self-defense tactics, where we’d stand toe to toe and close the distance and move in for a takedown. The next moves brought us to the ground where we worked on submission from in the guard, passing the guard, and variations in the half guard—all of which had great details and multiple variations.

Master Relson, a 58-year-old 8th degree red and black belt is the second eldest son of the late Grandmaster Helio Gracie. His father Helio first began training Relson as a toddler in Brazil and beginning at age 10, Relson went on to become a 22x undefeated Brazilian National Champion. Additionally, he was part of one of the earliest waves of Gracie fighters to come from Rio to the United States around the 1980’s.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, along with his cousin Carlson and brothers Rickon and Rorion, the family cemented their reputation of “no holds bar” Gracie JiuJItsu on the streets, in challenge matches against other martial artists from other disciplines and in Rio’s Vale Tudo scene. During this era, Gracie’s like Relson were often part of a series of challenge matches where he and his brothers would take on fighters from other martial art disciplines who would challenge the Gracie’s in their then relatively unknown fighting style. You might have seen them in some of the old “Gracie in Action” DVD’s from back in the day.

In 1988, after Relson’s hay days of fighting under his legendary father as a national champion and a brief stint living in California, Relson moved with his family to Honolulu, Hawaii to open his first academy. He would then go on to help his youngest brother Royce prepare for his eventual stardom in the earliest UFC days. At that time, the UFC allowed many of the “no holds bar” Vale Tudo tactics which Relson and his brothers are acclaimed for in Brazil, but were quickly forbidden in the U.S. and are now only to be captured on the highlight reels of MMA’s not too distant past.

Once the seminar ended, I had the opportunity to sit on the mat with Relson to ask him a few questions about his family, the sport of jiujitsu competition today and whether he foresees jiujitsu becoming an Olympic sport in his lifetime. Relson is a man of many words—and they are passionate words. He has strongly held opinions about his family, jiujitsu in America and how the sport is currently governed. His deep-rooted loyalty and admiration for his father immediately apparent. Amongst all his silly banter and ways he finds to pick on his brother Royce in some fashion or another, you can feel in his core and essence that this is his life 100% and always has been. An aura most younger Gracie’s do not embody.

Relson, vehemently stands by his father Helio, as his only master and the god father of Gracie JiuJitsu, he says. When I asked him how he would compare modern jiujitsu to his era of fighting and competition, he responded by stating “there is so much more knowledge out there—with YouTube, books, teachers all over the world, anyone can use these secrets of fighting—it’s a secret no more.” “There were guys back then who would say now that competition is easier because now you can go and look at tapes, people eat differently, there are more competitors now and in 20 years there will be even more, competition will only get harder, he says.

What Relson said he was most disappointed in is that the way the sport is governed. He was referring to the sometimes strikingly different rules across the hundreds of tournaments held across the U.S. and other countries each year. “You have over 700 jiujitsu tournaments in the U.S. each year—and how many different set of rules do you have— 700!!” he says. “I believe there should be only one set of rules, otherwise we are never going to have an Olympic games with jiujitsu.”

These tournament rules have changed in a way that Master Relson does not like. He feels it is estranged from the ways of his father’s style. “Nowadays guys go to compete and they can get their knees blown out, necks, backs hurt—he says. “I don’t like to see my guys or my son going into that.”

I asked him what it felt like to grown up learning such an unknown and even secretive fighting style, to now in his lifetime, the sport has grown to be a rising global phenomenon, through the growth of MMA and BJJ potentially being an Olympic sport in his lifetime. He says he is not optimistic it will happen anytime soon because of the varying competition rules—teams venging to hurt one another in competition—and the lack of the adequate number of black belts required at each competitive division. He described to me that in order for the sport to become an Olypmic sport; there must be black belts able to compete at each division, across 20 countries throughout the world.

So what is Master Relson up to these days? In addition to training his students in Hawaii and preparing son Rhalan for competition, Relson travels the world throughout the year holding seminars at his dozens of affiliate schools throughout the U.S. and in Costa Rica—not a bad place to travel to for a seminar!

How to Do a Clock Choke: Picture, Video, and Clock Choke in Action

Opponent is on his knees, ensure your weight is concentrated on the center of his back to prevent him from rolling.

1)Open the lapel on the opposite side of your opponent from beneath his armpit, put your other arm across his neck and grip deep into his collar.With the opposite arm (underneath his armpit) now grab the opposite collar.

2)Bring your weight forward onto your opponent’s shoulders (to force his head down), and start to walk your legs forward.

3) Finalize your opponent by throwing your leg forward (changing your base) and pulling on his collars in order to apply the choke


Mario Sperry Master Series Advanced Submissions Clock Choke

Clock Choke in Action

Royce Gracie vs Ismail Wallid

Flash versus Fundamental by Roy Harris

Over the years, there has been talk about flashy techniques versus fundamental technique. Well, recently, on one of the forums I answer questions on, someone asked, “What exactly is a flashy technique from Brazil? I have heard this coined phrase a ton of times and never really knew what one was. What would be an example of a flashy technique from Brazil?”

Here was my response:

When some people, myself included, use the term “Flash”, we are talking about the “good looking” techniques that generally can only be applied on a consistent basis by fanatics and the athletes. Let me give you an example.

When it comes to kickboxing, let’s compare two techniques:

1. A jab.
2. A jumping, spinning side kick.

From my perspective, I would classify the jab as a “fundamental” technique and the jumping, spinning side kick as a “flashy” technique. While it is possible to make both techniques functional, not everyone is going to have the time nor the inclination to make the second technique (the jumping, spinning side kick) fully functional. Plus, when it comes to the amount of time it would take (in training) to make each technique functional, it would take most practitioners two, three or maybe even four times as many hours to make the second technique functional as it would the first.

So, in my mind, the differences between the two are:
1. Fundamental techniques are used by practitioners of all levels (whether it is a person’s first week of training or a professional’s seventh year of fighting or anyone in between).

2. Flashy techniques are used by fanatics and athletes who have the time, discipline, initiative, emotional resolve and financial resources to train twenty to forty hours per week to make the “lower percentage” techniques work for them.

3. Fundamental techniques do not require a high level of athleticism to employ.

4. Flashy techniques REQUIRE a high level of athleticism to employ. In comparing the two techniques mentioned above, the jumping, spinning side kick would require the practitioner have a high level of balance, coordination, accuracy, power, timing and distancing. Why? Because the kick would require the practitioner to A) Temporarily leave the ground, B) strike with the heel of the one foot just as the other foot was landing back on the ground, and then C) immediately catch his balance after landing on the ground. All of this would have to be done in a split second and would have to have perfect distancing (too short and the movement is wasted and ineffective because it does not make contact; too long and the kick is jammed and balance is thrown off very easily) and perfect timing.

Now, I am sure that some of you are wondering what the different between a fanatic, an athlete and an average practitioner is. Well, here is how I look at it:

1. The fanatic and the athlete will spend an inordinate amount of time training his particular discipline (anywhere from twenty to fifty hours per week). In other words, they will turn their discipline into a JOB. This kind of practitioner will focus not only focus on the fundamentals, but he or she will also focus on the smaller areas of the discipline to gain an advantage over his or her competition.

2. The regular / normal practitioner will practice his discipline in between his normal responsibilities he must attend to on a weekly basis. In other words, this practitioner will treat his discipline like a hobby; something he does for enjoyment – two to ten hours per week.

Does all of this make sense? Do you see the differences between them?

I hope this mini-article has been helpful.

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

New Tai Kai Blue Belt- Matt Spack 4/4/2011

Congrats Matt Spack for being promoted to Blue Belt tonight. Matt has taken his time to learn jiu jitsu and become very technical. Matt is very strong but has really concentrated on learning technique. Now that he is a Blue Belt , it means he is now eligible to do an amateur MMA fight. I know he has been training for this and really looking forward to it. Congrats again Matt.