Active duty Army, father and huband David juggles multiple moves and family obligations and wins at Masters Pans.
Sidney Howard said, “One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” To be the best at what you do takes an overwhelming amount of sacrifice. In the case of the 2014 IBJJF Blue Belt Masters 1 Middle Weight Pans Champion David Johnson, he has done his fair share of sacrifice and this year’s Pans win solidified how much hard work does pay off. You know you are in the presence of an indomitable spirit when asking what feeling did he have going into Pans and his response is, “Pans was my toughest and largest competition to date, with that being said, I knew I was going to win. I worked really hard and I went in with the mindset that no one is going to beat me, I want this too bad and someone is going to have to kill me to take it away from me.” These words made me smile.
David Johnson is no Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prototype; this 14 year active duty army member is so much more. His win at Pans came as no surprise to those who train with him on a regular basis. Training full time in order to compete is unrealistic for majority of the BJJ competitors. Only a select few reach that top tier and they typically do not get there without putting in work. The average BJJ competitor has a family, a job (not always 9 to 5), and a list of responsibilities that barely allows them to make it in to train 2 to 3 times a week. Johnson, a provider, a husband and a father is proving that it is not an impossible task. BJJ is for all ages, all stages, and for those who want to feel that amazing transformation that ultimately happens as long as you stay the course.
Juggling his military obligations, family life, and his passion can be tricky. Having a support system that pushes and anchors you is a must. Johnson said, “I'm very fortunate that my wife supports me. After Pans I think my wife understood the amount of training it takes to compete and win against the best in the world.” Preparation for a tournament has to be done with absolute precision. Moving from place to place comes with the territory of military members therefore choosing the right place to train is as essential as consistently passing any guard. Johnson currently trains under 3rd Degree Black Belt Bruno Alves at Pinnacle/GFT in San Antonio, Texas. “I firmly believe if you want to be the best you need to train with the best.” states Johnson.
David Johnson has become a part of an elite squad of champions, he did not walk the exact same path yet he has achieved on the same level. What more can a competitor ask for? The life he leads is not for the undisciplined. This new breed of competitor must possess the same tenacity and desire to achieve at the top tier and heaven help the man that gets in his way. I had many questions for David about his training and his Pans win. I finally asked what we can look forward to from him in the future and I already knew the answer…PLENTY.
In the storied career of the iconic Royce Gracie, there have been many memorable moments and fights that have defined his career. Be it the Gracie Challenges that began the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu rise, his UFC 1 match against Ken Shamrock, or maybe his phenomenal litmus test against Sakuraba that lasted roughly 90 minutes, Royce has provided some fantastic moments for the fans of Mixed Martial Arts.
What made this fight so unique was Ologun himself. Born in Nigeria, Ologun was on a Japanese gameshow, and through his charismatic antics, became a big star in Japan! He had his own show, where he would try out new activities and sports.
He would eventually give Judo a shot, and the running joke was that he’d be ready to fight in an actual MMA fight by year’s end. Ologun continued to train, and 8 months after he began his experiement, he was slated to fight against the pioneer himself, Royce Gracie!
The dynamic was fantastic: the icon vs. the TV star! Seeing the fight was held in Japan, Ologun had a strong fan base in attendance. Despite the vast experience gap, the fight didn’t play out as you would assume.
Dealing With The Element Of Surprise In Stride
Be it by luck or by skill, Ologun was actually able to control the pace of the match early on the first round. Was Royce taking him lightly? Was he toying with him? Whatever the case may be, Ologun had the dominant position on one of the most notorious men in Mixed Martial Arts history!
With the fans on their feet in shock, Royce showed the signs of a true veteran by not overacting. The much more athletic Ologun clearly had a more impressive frame that could probably pack a nice punch, but Royce wasn’t about to find out.
Keeping his wits about him, Royce did the smart thing and kept the arms—at least one most of the time—pinned to his own chest. By establishing a high closed guard, Gracie was preventing Ologun from posturing and reigning down shots. By eliminating the hands or his opponent, Royce not only saved himself from unwanted damage, but also limited the ground game of Ologun.
However, Ologun continued to dictate the match and where it went. Maintaining top position, Bobby had the legend in the corner, and was ready to unload. Again, being the crafty vet, Royce was aware enough to angle off to the side, while maintaining a grip on the arm of Ologun. This bought him time to fend off any serious strikes, and allowed him to get his right hand on the calf of Ologun.
From here, Royce was able to adjust Ologun’s footing, bringing him back to the mat. This eliminated the posturing advantage Ologun had, and brought the fight back to where Royce was most comfortable.
Trusting In The Foundational Skills of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The bell would eventually ring without any major damage being done, but clearly something special was happening, and it’s hard to argue that Ologun didn’t win the first round.
At the start of the second, Ologun was able to stuff a takedown and even plow Royce over, regaining dominant top position. This would not last long, as Gracie was soon able to hit a series of sweeps, bringing him back on top in full mount position.
Aware of the power and athletic ability that Ologun brought to the table, Gracie was smart and was quick to get high up on Bobby when he mounted him. By establishing the mount closer to Ologun’s chest, Gracie didn’t have to worry about Ologun getting his hips under him and exploding and bucking him off.
The full mount is known in the MMA world as the most dominant position, one that would bring some vicious punches and elbows to the poor soul trapped underneath. However, it was clear that Royce had an agenda, as he didn’t throw a single punch from this position.
Rather, he methodically worked his way towards the armbar. Once he had it applied, his top leg had slipped off Ologun, and was on the mat for the most part. Even with a little kink in the process, Royce was able to work around the technical flaw and earned himself the submission victory in round two.
Royce has proven to be very influenctial on the BJJ scene. For more thouhts on HOW important Royce really has been check out this article!
“Not a Phase, Being Tapped is Part of the Game:” An Interview with 2013 & 2014 IBJJF World Champion Gezary Matuda
Gezary Matuda is the reigning (back-to-back) light-featherweight IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Champion. At the finals, Gezary (“Ge”) beat Ariadne de Oliveira from team Maestre Wilson in a bracket that consisted of the all-time great Leticia Ribeiro, as well as the talented Nyjah Easton. Ge fights for American Top Team out of Coconut Creek, Florida, having received her black belt in 2012 from Ricardo Liborio. Her first instructor was Alexandre “Penão” Conceição, a 6th degree Carlson Gracie black belt who is one of the most regarded but underpublicized jiu-jitsu instructors in the world. (Penao was Anderson Silva’s BJJ coach and Stephan Kesting raved about him in one of his blog entries after attending a seminar.) Born in Curitiba, Paraná, in 1984, Ge and her husband, Katel Kubis, the ATT pro-team Muay Thai coach, moved to the United States in 2009. They live in Deerfield Beach.
Ge’s demeanor is always bright and friendly. She’s one of those positive, forward-looking people whose expansive personality makes them seem much larger than they physically are. Fighting at 118 lbs., she overwhelms with her brightness. The undershirt she wore at the Worlds was a white tank top by Slept Fightware with a large red-lipstick kiss imprint on the front and the words “Don’t let the looks fool you!” on the back. Ge and Katel are very good-looking. They seem like they were paired on purpose for style magazines. As if life wasn’t unfair enough for the rest of us, they can both destroy another human being in about five seconds: Katel has a knockout highlight reel, and Ge has an arm-bar one floating on the web.
Perhaps because of the striking influence (not just from Katel, Ge was originally a Muay Thai fighter), her game is an intense assault on your senses, as if possessed by the demon of speed. Standing, she goes for takedowns, preferring to shoot in. Even when she pulls guard, she goes for an immediate tripod sweep, not letting her opponents rest mentally at any point. She has talons for grips and is relentlessly throwing submission attacks and wave after wave of sweeps. Her motor revs at the redline the whole match. She forces you to reach her intensity, both physically and mentally. After my encounters with her, I have always left with the clear thought: this is what a world champion looks like, acts, and feels like. Her warm up drills turns legs to jelly.
Aside from her wins, Ge is most proud of and happy whenever she sees a flourishing women’s jiu-jitsu program. She is a strong advocate for women in the martial art. I had the chance to interview Gezary Matuda last week. I was extremely impressed with her positivity that’s measured by her understanding of the difficulty of the sport. Below, she gives one of the best answers to overcoming the “tapping out phase” all Jiu-Jiterios encounter when they first begin.
1) Gezary, congratulations on your amazing win. I’d like to start by simply asking how does it FEEL to be the champion? What sacrifices did you make and how did your family, teammates, and sponsors help?
It's magical to see your dream come true! I was beside people that were with me all the time from the beginning of camp, and then we got to celebrate together at the end, it's priceless!
This is the result of a lot of effort, dedication, and hard work with my team. This couldn't be possible done alone. I feel blessed for having with me my coaches, teammates; all of them helped me by not making my training easy. It didn’t matter if I cried, they made me go beyond my limit.
Also my sponsors Shoyoroll and Slept Fightware that believed in me, I am glad to have them support me.
2) When you were a white belt, did you envision becoming a multiple time world champion across all your ranks? (Gezary is a 5-time champion: 2 at black, 1 at brown, 1 at purple, and 1 at blue.) Who identified your talent early on and how did that person motivate you to work hard for the next ten years to reach where you are today?
When I was a white belt, I used to watch the girls that today I have the honor to fight at black belt. I always wanted to fight and my dream was be a Black Belt World Champion! And now I am, twice! My first teacher was Alexandre Penão (black belt from Carlson Gracie). I am so thankful for everything he taught me. He always supported me and put me to fight. At that time there wasn't a lot of girls fighting in Curitiba and I usually have to fight with heavier girls than me. And he always said, “you can do that, believe!” And here I am 10 years later. I kept his words in my mind: believe you can do that!
3) How would you describe your game? During the Worlds, how do you maintain focus when someone else tries to impose their game?
My game is the game plan that my coaches set for me at my camp. I never change what I was trained to do. If I can't do it the first time, I keep going and adapting until I can put everything in practice. I don't give up when my opponent imposes their game. I keep my game plan until the last second of the fight!
4) Can you give your thoughts on the two major rule changes this year? (The 20 second double-guard pull and the knee reap rules.)
I agree with the new rule of double pull. The fights got more dynamic and the advantage point encouraged the fighters to rise. I think these changes are important to Jiu-Jitsu's evolution for competition.
5) When you teach, what is your advice to white belts to get them through that phase where they are being “tapped” by everyone?
I believe that's not a phase. Being tapped is part of the game. It's a sign that you're learning! Look at the bright side. This happens at sports and at life, too. Jiu-Jitsu is selective, the most dedicated are the ones that keep going. I identify with Rocky's phrase: "It's not about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."
6) Finally, what advice do you give to women Jiu-Jiteiras, especially beginners, to keep them in Jiu-Jitsu?
I would love to see even more Jiu-Jiteiras on the mat! Girls have a lot of fun. Keep on training and don't give up the first time it becomes difficult! Talk to your teacher, and make your goals clear. If you're thinking about competing, don't think it will be easy! You'll never see how far you can go if you give up!
Thank you, Aiseop and BJJ Legends, for the opportunity. I am very happy to have done this interview.
Gezary Matuda is available for workshops, seminars, or camps. She is a highly regarded teacher.
Conditioning and preparing yourself for competition has evolved over the years. We no longer have to worry about being fast and strong, but must micromanage and worry about the small things such as grip strength.
Grip strength is one of the things that can go a long way in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu if you know how to use it in your advantage. Just having it is one thing, but any good grappler would know just how it works and why it’s important to have it in your arsenal.
Having adequate grip strength can go a long way for a few different reasons:
Gi Grip: The Gi grip is a very valuable tool as it allows you the opportunity to dictate the opposition. Rather than trying to muscle up and test your overall strength, by simply grabbing hold of their Gi and controlling where they go, you are allowing yourself to be in command of the match without having to do too much and waste energy.
Submission Holds: How many times have you gone for a submission late in a match, only for your hands to slip due to the sweat buildup? This is a common issue we all face. By enhancing your grip strength, it may not eliminate the issues fully; it will at least cause a drastic improvement in your ability to apply last minute submissions.
While there are more reasons why the grip strength is a vital tool to grappling, these are the two main reasons that jump right to mind. By simply improving upon your grip strength, you will soon be able to control the pace of the match, and execute when you normally would face difficulty.
Don’t let the importance of grip strengths pass you by and starting working on them right now!
How To Develop The Grip Strength You Need
There are plenty of ways you can work on your grip strength. For instance, you can go to the gym with a couple of towels and do pull-ups using the towels rather than the actual pull-up bar. While very effective, this isn’t the most practical way to go about it. If you happen to be a bean farmer, this strategy may be helpful too, but I’m guessing your not.
Not every grappler has access to a gym or weight room every day, so being able to work on your grip strength without the benefits of a gym is something every grappler should have at their disposal.
One sure shot way to enhance your grip strength is by using the Finger Master. Easy to use and accessible almost anywhere, the Finger Master is a simple tool that fits right in the palm of your hand! With five triggers, it presents various levels of resistance where you simply have to push down with one finger at a time.
By doing so, you begin to improve upon your grips in no time flat!
What I love about the Finger Master is you can use it at home, at work, in the war, on the bus, you name it!
What’s better than a tool that allows you to progress anywhere you want at almost any time?
When it comes to Gi based Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are fewer things as important as the basic Gi grip. This is something that I preach to my students as much as I possibly can, in hopes that they all recognize the importance and put it into action.
While watching this brief match, it was evident that Paulo Miyao understood just how important the grips can really be when competing in a live match.
Right away we see Tsukada, who looks like he may have the strength advantage over Paulo, begin to try and assert himself from the top position. Actively looking for a more dominant position to work from, Ichitaro found himself unable to do so.
Miyao used two fundamentally sound tactics to keep his opponent at bay: he used his legs to control Tsukada while also applying and maintaining a rather firm Gi grip on his sleeves.
This allowed Paulo to dictate where Ichitaro could and couldn’t go, even when working out of bottom guard. The ability to control an opponent by simply holding onto their Gi sleeve is an impressive trait, and as Paulo showed, can be an extremely effective tool when used properly.
Working From The Bottom Without Doing Too Much
For such a short match, the pace seemed rather frantic for the most part, which was something that Paulo handled rather nicely en route to a victory.
When Tsukada began pressuring, and was unable to thanks to the Gi grip and the leg defense of Miyao, it was almost as if Tsukada had no choicebutto try for something big.
Attempting to step over the head of Paulo, Tsukada found himself being dragged to the mat as if Paulo was saying “I can do what I want,” which caused a brief reset. Upon restarting, it was almost as if Miyao knew the match was in hand, despite only working from his back.
After anincredibletransition, Miyao was able to obtain the back and began working his way closer to the finish line. Tsukada seemingly knew he had no chance unless something crazy happened, and you can even see his body slowly begin to sink closer and closer to the mat as Miyao worked for the choke.
Eventually, Ichitaro had no choice but to drop to the mat with Miyao on his back. After beautifully trapping the arms of his opponent with his legs, Paulo was able to add a little more pressure to the hold, allowing him to scoop up a submission victory.
All be it short, the match spoke perfectly to the skill level that Paulo Miyao posses, and what a little patience can do for you when you’re on the mat with your opponent.
Dream Champion Series Competitor -Travis Conley- The Hunger For Success
Life always seems to be the most challenging when an individual wants something. For many athletes in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu challenges aren't hard to find as it definitely has its share of highs and lows one must encounter in hopes of achieving their goals. Nevertheless the risk is worth the reward because it makes one's purpose that more meaningful when that mission is accomplished.
Renato Tavares Brown Belt, Travis Conley, is one competitor instilled with a burning desire for success. Opportunities have become fully available for this grappling practitioner from Kansas City, Missouri as he has uncovered remarkable talents within himself and achieve great feats in his nine year stint in the sport.
Conley's next challenge will find him as a participant in the submission only Dream Jiu-jitsu Brown Belt Championship Series as he will be going head to head against some of the world's top competitors with a $ 1000 cash prize on the line. But the threat of 31 tough opponents doesn't seem to faze Conley has he looks to put on a Slobberknocker performance showcasing his standing as the Best Brown Belt in the world.
Why So Determined? What Make His Purpose So Significant? Why Even Fear Flees In his Presence?
Conley wasn't hesitant to tell us why here at BJJ Legends as we get an in-depth look at what makes this competitor bound for success.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in BJJ? Travis Conley: My start in BJJ came when I was rehabbing a very severed shoulder reconstruction surgery I suffered from years of professional wrestling. It took me almost a year, all of 2005, working to get back in the ring but one of my college buddies Mike Beyer (I was a junior at CMSU at the time) said, "Hey come roll with us and do some submissions" and I did, never looked back. During high school wrestling I was always getting unnecessary roughness and illegal hold calls and penalty points, so BJJ was a perfect fit haha. I only trained 1-3x a week and didn't train in the gi for probably the first 3yrs, being a wrestler it took me a long while to grasp the concept and adhere to the jiu-jitsu lifestyle.
Reflecting on your journey thus far what do you feel has got you to where you are today? Travis Conley: I think many factors play into what has taken me to this point so far. First, my coaches and teammates, KCBJJ. I have the best any human being could possibly want or ask for. Jason Bircher and Ethan Day were brown belts at the time I started, I train with Jason every day and Ethan has become one of my best friends and motivators. I can't say enough about Renato Tavares, who is completely unselfish and giving, a beacon of a wholesome jiu-jitsu life.
Second and most prominent has to be tenacity. It's hard for me to explain fully, but I know in my heart I've been blessed with something special, something different. We all have gifts and talents, and this is mine. My entire life I've always had this drive, a desire to be World Champion, to be different and not to be mediocre and that fire remains strong, grows stronger each day. I stay hungry, invite and seek new challenges and goals each and every year. I am always the underdog, as long as I can remember, but that role I don't ever see changing and it's who I am. In every situation or obstacle, against odds and opinions I find a way, never give up, never give in...It's this in short that has taken me all over the world, training, competing, meeting all kinds of good people, and to where I am today.
You have made quite a name for yourself as a competitor in the Midwest and even the international circuit. How would you define yourself as a competitor? Travis Conley: I am a fearless competitor. I want the biggest, baddest, best opponents on the planet. The bigger the name or challenge, the more it fires me up, charges me, makes me feel alive. I live for that feeling, the anticipation, the rush, build-up and moments right before a match...nothing else in the world compares. Historically there hasn't been high-level BJJ in Kansas City or the Midwest, but definitely over past couple years it has emerged. People always say, "You can't win a World Title living and training in the Midwest". I don't believe that, and I feel as a trailblazer of sorts for Kansas City. I've realized a lot of the things I've accomplished and I'm doing no one else has, there is no blueprint for me or anyone, and to me that's exciting.
What has competing done for you? Travis Conley: Competing keeps me going. I am a very goal oriented person, that's never the problem but over the past couple years what I've realized above all is the inspiration and motivation what YOU do gives to others. I'm always taken back, in awe when people make comments to me, tell me they saw me at this tournament, or remember that fight, or follow me on social media and that what I'm doing motivates them. It truly is the most rewarding feeling, and I feel a deep sense of responsibility and duty that further motivates me! Competing is the ultimate test, physically, mentally; spiritually...you find out about yourself things you never would have. Step outside of your comfort zone. It's one of the most important things we can do in life to help us to grow and learn.
Speaking of competition your next major battle finds you in the Dream Jiu-jitsu Brown Belt Championship Series tournament. How does it feel to be a part of this prestigious event with some of the best brown belts in the world? Travis Conley: I feel fantastic. It's an honor to be invited and to be among 31 other killers and to have your hard work and dedication recognized. Thank-you to Dan for reaching out to me, and to Raf for going above and beyond, sponsoring and making the trip possible. It's amazing to be able to continue to represent Kansas City and KCBJJ. I feel every single time the whole city is with me, and that just empowers me beyond measure.
What do you feel separates you from the rest on the brown belt competitors? Travis Conley: I pour my heart out every single time I step on the mat, and people recognize that. You can't fake it. I can't speak for the other competitors. Will this be your first time in a no time limit Submission only event? Travis Conley: This will be. I love it, I've always wanted to test myself with one and feel my style fits the rules and format. I've wrestled for hours before, and done crazy matches in professional wrestling, my conditioning is never an issue so I feel great, just excited.
How has the training been going for you preparing for this event? Travis Conley: Training is always good. KCBJJ is building more and more monsters every month, it's insane. I'm there every day, sometimes twice a day. I train clients full-time at my place, Underground Gym as well as run the company and work with online clients. I make time to hit my strength and conditioning workouts, sprints, drills, and yoga. I was in Florida training with Renato last week. Ethan comes to town often, or I make trips to Denver. I'm always getting good training, expanding, reaching out and learning from all my connections, bad asses from all over that I've met over the years.
Hoping to come out on top what would winning this tournament mean to you? Travis Conley: MONEY IN THE BANK and another title to my name!
Finally as you journey continues what do see for yourself in the future? Travis Conley: "The future is not set, there is no fate but that which we make" - Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I plan on continuing to carve a great future for myself and others en route to a World Championship. This year specifically I have goals on qualifying for ADCC and entering into a big IJF tournament as well. I see myself as being a feared opponent, putting people on notice!
Is there anyone you would like to thank before we close this interview? Travis Conley: I have to thank my friends and family, brothers, my roots in Kansas. I love my city. My team KCBJJ and the RTBJJA. My sponsors Ground Control Fight Gear, iFlow, Elite Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, Defense Soap, Zen Zone Yoga, Underground Gym. I would honestly be nowhere without any of them, they back me and believe in me, they make these dreams I'm chasing possible. Last but certainly not least, I have to thank my beautiful girlfriend Laura who strengthens, inspires, and makes me a better version of myself every day!
New Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Athletic Apparel Company Launches, Offering Training Apparel Exclusively for Women
Los Angeles – DETALES Clothing, a brand new BJJ athletic apparel company that develops training apparel exclusively for women, announces the official launch of www.detalesclothing.com, an online store for the brand. The Website features the very first line of DETALES Women's No Gi apparel, allowing customers to purchase items directly from the store.
DETALES clothing is exclusively made for women who love to train with heart, grace, power, and technique, by women who love to train that way too. Whether a novice or experienced BJJ practitioner, DETALES apparel was specifically designed to meet women's grappling needs.
As DETALES is devoted to supporting the Women's BJJ community, the apparel and information provided on the website was also designed to encourage more women to try BJJ, and to make first-time experiences more approachable. To that end, DETALES apparel is divided into two collections - FirstGuard and No Gi Training Apparel. For more information on DETALES launch apparel, please visit the official Website: www.detalesclothing.com.
About DETALES Clothing DETALES [n. dih-teyls - pronounced exactly like the word "details"] is a brand new athletic apparel company that develops clothing for female combat athletes who train and compete in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). The company goal is simple: to provide women with top-of-the-line gear that is durable, classy and fashionable.
We know that perfecting our technique has much to do with mastering the details, and our legacies thrive within the tales of our wins and our losses. Hence, DETALES.
DETALES | Train with precision. Win with heart.