FORWARD [from DSTRYR]: Hey, grapplers. Just a quick introduction. We are fortunate to present a guest write-up on this past weekend's IBJJF No-Gi Worlds by my old teammate John Salami. John is a brown belt in the 10th Planet System, is the former head instructor at 10th Planet, Portland, and holds a black belt degree in BJJ as well. John's got a style all his own, so sit back and read a bit. I'm told it's good for you.
Nothing could be better than heading to a major event with a two BJJ legends. So many reasons, so let’s get started. One - you’ll always be late. When Renato Magno spoke to me the day before, he said, ”Lets go early, around 8am." I am a 15 year vet of the game, and right there was an alarm. Gabriel Vella, an even more “easy flow" kinda Brazilian said, ”Whatever time is good.” We went with an 8:30 am start. Now, Daylight savings hit as well, which could send any non-time proficient person into a frenzy. Morning came. Got up at 7am, game point punctual Gringo! Gave Renato a call … and so it began. He wasn’t ready; he had to eat. Let Brazilian time begin. I had known that my favorite redneck, Matt Lindland was to compete around 10 am. Matt was making his triumphant return to “submission wresting” since the 2003 ADCC in Brazil.
We end up rolling at 11. Renato had the best back way cut-the-line parking tactics I have ever seen. I had packed a lunch and had $10 to park. Only $5 today, some change on the floorboards, and I’m looking at an açaí bowl from the vendors. The history is Rio Juice in Santa Monica was the first to import the concept of açaí in America. That's what I heard, not debating. How genius to bring this concept to the event. Long hours, hungry people. One of three food options on site. Pizza and caramel corn bringin' up the pack. The venue, if you’ve never been, is breathtaking. That's why so many photos of the mats end up on Facebook. Something about the lighting is ingenious. The set up is awesome for viewing. The only problem is, you have to communicate to family, friends ,or friends watching the live feed, what mat you’re on. A quick shuffle to get to that area might take a bit. In finding my spot, I run into my dear friend, Matt Lindland!
He was done already; game point “Brazilian Time.” Excited to think, "Matt at Purple Belt? He's gonna crush." He said, "I was DQ'd!" Wait, what? Envisioning a superior Olympian suplex filled my head! He said, "The guy said I hit him." I watched the video on Matt's phone. Good thing Hollywood is right down the street! Can I get a contact for The Gersch Agency, Spielberg’s got an epic in the works. Sad, but you know the guy’s Coach was pre-gaming him with “Meu Deus, ele e’ assassin!” Matt has a great sense of humor. He was bummed out for a couple reasons. Not breaking a sweat, and not getting to showcase his skills. He said a return would happen, but not 'til Black Belt. He felt they “just went for more subs.” Back to the rain of Oregon for “The Law.” By this time, it was getting around time to eat. You can always count on this truism - if you look at a Brazilian and say,"Açaí?"… their eyebrows will raise! Gabriel was the victim. Best of all he said, "I'm buying!" The line was long yet distinguished with the stars of the sport. Kinda cool how legends attract legends. Some of the coolest conversations happen at the açaí line. If you're an autograph seeker, post out up there. The lack of vendors was prevalent. I remember the days of ten. I really only saw three. I feel they really make the event. It’s like the Internet deals only with the chance to see and touch the product.
Let's get on to the action, and delve into the world of opinions and judged sports!
In the preliminaries, standout performances came from Leandro Lo with a 45-0 win and JT Torres with a 14-0 win.
Cobrihna's prelim performance was great - going knee slice to back take, to what I know as “Spiderweb Control” to triangle, arm bar combo! To link combos is the fastest way to way to improve. Heed these words: Youtube will not make your game go through the roof.
Watching DJ Jackson in prelims, makes me wonder, "Who has better takedowns?" His base is unreal at this level. He's short in stature. How much does this play a part?
Eduardo Telles won in prelims by D’arce. Observing a little less Turtle Guard in the matches, had me wondering if Turtle Guard is somehow more of a staple in the gi.
A couple noteworthy matches:
Tanquinho Mendes/Leandro Lo. Here’s a Guard that, we would later learn, can handle much larger size competitiors in Lo. Finally able to freely compete over in the States. I think that may anger the
Competition. He approaches it differently than, say, the Mendes Bros. Lots of X and De La Riva combos.
Tanquihno tries for half the match to pass, and I have personally learned a lot from studying Tanquihno's passes. Wow. Nothing blows me away more than watching these heroes in epic battles. The nuances are something overlooked by so many. If you want to improve your game, take the advice to slow down, chill and enjoy the finer details! Your flying triangles will come in time. Lo advances with a jacked up leg, from a massive toe hold defense in the final seconds
Justin Radar/ Samir Chantre. Radar has a heavy head attack game. Nice to see. It lacks a presence in the gi world. Even with the collars, the options are there. The nuance we're sharing -when Samir looked at the refs, held up a finger to distract, then tried a distracting takedown. Cool idea.
Caio Terra/Fabio Passos (Light Feather Final). 30 seconds in, Caio won by RNC. The nuance we study here is this - Caio,is the man! Back-takes from everywhere. Really, just another day in the park. Unorthodox moves for people at every level. Friends of mine weigh 225lbs have been quoted as saying, ”When I trained with Caio, I felt helpless!” His entries are a multitude of angles and options. This weight and this high level is where to learn fluidity!
Justin Rader/Rubens “Cobrihna” Charles (Feather Final). Rader possess what I feel (in an article of opinions) some of the best takedowns in his division (and many others). This was a battle between Rader's heavy head attack/takedown game Cobrinha's guard sweep kinda game. They have met before and it’s always a pleasure dissecting. Cobrihna heavy on the DLR against Rader's pass attempts. Cobrihna takes the back with 45 seconds to go. It would be worthwhile to study each match they have had, to see the how their attacks have evolved.
Tanquihno Mendes/ JT Torres (Light Final). They’ve met before in competition. Great takedown attempts again, from the Lloyd Irvin camp. JT was single leg seeking. The match looked like it may never hit the ground and JT was winning this portion. Tanquihno has some good defense. 2-0 in advantages to JT. Medical break due to JT’s eye. Butt flop for Tanquihno. He goes for a no arm triangle. JT cuts the angle to pass and, with time running out, will not tap. Doesnt look in danger. WHAT? Advantage point for Tanquihno? I heard later that the broadcast team disagreed with the call. That’s two Black Belt's and a Brown Belt's opinion. Ref's decision goes to Tanquihno. This is the same Ref who was involved in the debacle with Lloyd Irvin's other fighter, brown belt Keenan Cornelious (for not being awarded points seemingly earned). Quick Fact - Tanquihno is an IBJJF referee. Watch for yourself and render your own opinion of it. Seems like there are some different opinions flying on this one!
DJ Jackson/ Clark Gracie (Middle Final). DJ has to bust the takedown skills in the final. Butt flop for Clark. I had a butt flop tally going for the event, but gave up. DJ does secure a takedown. He has nice top pressure and is definetly transitioning to Black Belt very seamlessly. Clark has some cool Guard work to learn from. Likes going to Williams Guard.DJ who is a dominant passer.puts those Medal Chasing reps to work and ends up with a Black Belt World Title. I believe that’s one in every division. Only American to do this! Our nuance is ,what are the keys to study about DJ. The system, his work ethic, drive, or a multitude of factors. Make your opinions.
Pablo Popovitch/Romulo Barral (Middle Heavy Final). I have looked at Pablo's game extensively. Especially Guard passing. Why not? Got street cred. Not everyone beats Marcelo Garcia. I like his concepts.
Romulo but flops. Yeah I stopped counting. Was it Pablo's past matches that were on Romulos mind? Eye poke against Pablo. These are common occurences today. Dang guys, if ya can't grip the Gi, don’t get bored and eye poke! (That was an opinion people.) Williams Guard for Romolo. Looks like there is a comfort level in this type of guard. With no handles, the security of overhook, underhook becomes so important. See any Eddie Bravo vid for a breakdown of these concepts. Another no-arm triangle attempt. Pablo actually smiles. Our nuance to study - this was one of the best passers versus one of the best guard players. What timing and angles are being used?
Rafael Lovato Jr./ Tussa Alencar (Heavy Final). Saw these guys chatting it up in the açaí line earlier. True martial artists. Which prompted Renato Magno to say, ”Man, before finals in the açaí line? Whoa, must work!” Thought that was comical. Kinda makes me wanna try it too. Butt drop for Lovato, no need to count. For a larger guy, Lavato has ridiculous guard retention and dexterity. I’m straight in awe. He is working a great bottom game. Straight leg attacks with butterfly, x, reverse x. Heavy with the straight attacks. Tussa is “swamp walking” to desolve the mystery. There is a kinda weird situation that arises. There is a knee reap… kinda accidental. Got a crowd reaction. Tussa take down yields no points. X sweep attempt by Lovato with 10 seconds to go. Referees decision to …Tussa! Whoa! Another mystery. Lovato was attacking; attacking with a multitude of techniques. OK. Nuances here were a great guard from a larger man in Lovato and all of his great combos of guard sweeps. Opinion time again…man, I can’t agree with this outcome,
Xande Ribeiro/Joao Assis (Super Heavy Final). Good to see the arm drags attempts. Xande was working his now go-to Lumber Jack sweeps. He had the overhook from guard. Lets look at Referees decision. I love the face of Assis, at the decision. I read it as, "Cant I get a break around here?" I would have to say I agree with him. There was a phantom Advantage given. This is a match that was determined by someone's opinion.
Cyborg/Gustavo Elias (Ultra Heavy Final). Cyborg butt drop. Yes, over it. Sweeps up and ends in the Deep Half of Elias.I have never seen a more solid base than Cyborg on top. Fantastic. He shuts down any rocking sweep motion by sitting directly on the head of Elias. Man, that’s solid. Back attempt by Cyborg gets an advantage point. No questions there. The rest of the match plays out in 50/50 from Elias. Cyborg defending any attempts. A sweep is tried. Cyborg glances at the clock, been here before. Waits and counts. Roll under sweep attempt by Elias, but time's ticking. Breaking free, Cyborg pulls Guard and Elias tries a desperation knee bar. It’s over. One of the nicest guys in the biz has won! Nuances to keep in mind - Cyborg's sweeps, and studying 50/50. It's here and it’s only getting better.
Xande Ribeiro/Leandro Lo (Absolute Final). I saw a ton of ice on Lo’s leg in the stands. I thought to myself, "Wow, he won’t be competing later." Then, when he was literally sprinting laps in the bullpen, I shook my head. I wanted to see Xande and what he could do with Lo’s guard. In an interview, Xande said, "I’m ready to show some old school Jiu Jitsu." Kinda chuckled because I’m in the same generation.
If you want a free burrito, bet a newbie that Lo will do a full circle before engaging. It's worked for me! This match would be very interesting. Lo would play a distant very open Guard. Xande would seem to be trying to smash double under passes and two-on-one ankle control passes. Lo, even with a busted knee, is staying at a distance with great hip movement. Sometimes with no upper body control. Xande's double under pass heads an advantage. What a great guard match. A takedown sealed the deal for Xande. Nuances to take away here: (a) Lo as a Guard player who will make some all time lists here in a couple years, and (b) Xande resorting to a power game because of a guard that, in my opinion, he hasn’t run into very often in competition.
Congrats to everyone and, even if you didn’t win, remember that it's often a matter of a collective group of opinions. There will be plenty of rights….. and some blatant wrong’s.