After his new book “BJJ Techniques to Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents” hit #1 under the entire category of “Martial Arts” at Amazon.com, BJJ Legends writer Daniel Faggella sat down with us to talk about the book’s success, and his personal journey of putting the book together. Dan is a No Gi Pan Am Champion, expert division champion many times over, and one of the most prolific writers and interviewers in the BJJ world, having conducted dozens of interviews with world champions, and producing three books on combat sports skill development.
BJJ Legends: Dan, you’ve done a LOT of writing about beating bigger opponents in BJJ over the last number of years, why did you decide this year to finally put together the book?
Dan Faggella: Believe it or not, I like to say that this book has taken me four years to write. It was four years ago that I conducted some of my early interviews with Justin Rader, Ben Askren, Draculino, and many of my heroes in the world of grappling, and I’ve kept up the interview habit ever since. Over the past year, after teaching a ton of seminars and writing a lot of articles on this similar topic, I decided that I finally had a clean way to explain the core message.
BJJL: What was that core message for you, Dan?
DF: The message of this book is pretty simple. Statistically speaking, the game of beating bigger, stronger opponents is different from the “normal” game of winning at your own weight class. The sweeps, submissions, and positioning strategies that the best little-guys use to beat the best bigger grapplers are unique, and it’s a skill and strategy that’s teachable.
Roughly six months ago I decided to go to Los Angeles over Labor Day weekend for the sole purpose of meeting up with some of my jiu jitsu e-friends and to take advantage of the world class instruction that the city has to offer. This trip was about immersing myself completely jiu jitsu and training full time. Over the next four days I met and trained with dozens of amazing people including some legends of our sport. Traveling back to St Louis on Monday I was re-energized and excited about my training in a way that I hadn’t been previously.
“A black belt only covers two inches of your butt. You have to cover the rest.” Royce Gracie
I became a bit obsessed with finding a belt made out of gi material a few months ago. You’d think they’d be everywhere, right? Unfortunately that’s not the case. During my overly involved research I found the Ligustica belt by Killer Bee. This belt is made from the same gi material as their Mark II kimono and available for $19.00. I was familiar with Killer Bee from their recent focus on custom gis and also because several of my training partners wear their gis. Everyone I know had good things to say about Jesse and Killer Bee so I decided to take a closer look at their belts.
Tom Barlow, Braulio Estima blackbelt, decided to work with a strength and conditioning coach to prepare for the 2012 British Open. Enter Will Badenoch of Plymouth Performance Gym. Will designed a strength and conditioning program specifically for Tom that took into account that Tom had other responsibilities outside of BJJ, didn’t want to sacrifice mat time and was coming off a long layoff due to injury. Tom went on to win his division in the British Open and said, “I can honestly say that I’ve never felt in such good shape during a competition.” Will decided to use his work with Tom to create an e-book outlining a 12 week strength and conditioning program for other grapplers. The manual, The Complete Strength and Conditioning Blueprint for Grappling Sports, is a succinct treatise on how to incorporate Will’s program into your training.
Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza is a lifesaver. This book explains how to avoid injuries through correct body mechanics, and is a blueprint to treating injuries that do arise. After my experience I consider it essential reading for anyone, especially those involved in body-brutalizing sports like Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo.
This spring, the past 25 years of abuse from judo, jiu-jitsu, skateboarding, and sitting at a desk came to a head and my hip / upper glute / lower back went on strike. I was pointed in Kelly Starrett’s direction by Andrew from Dig Deep BJJ and after watching some of the MobilityWOD videos, decided that I needed a copy of his book. The last month of putting these exercises to work has led me to believe that over the course of a lifetime, Supple Leopard will prove to be worth its weight in physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture receipts.
Train to push yourself both mentally and physically; Compete to improve yourself, as well as those around you; and Live to be healthy in mind, body and soul. Hylete
You may remember Hylete from our review last year of their Compete 1.0 shorts. Since then I’ve become a regular customer buying their shorts, compression gear and even a shirt for my oldest. In July they added a gear bag to their product list. The bag is a voluminous backpack that can be converted to shoulder strapped equipment bag for extra storage. The bag has: a shoe locker, wet storage area, tablet sleeve, side-pocket cooler, metal buckles and comes with a 2 year warrantee. As a bonus to our readers please use the code: LEGENDS25 to get 25% off this or any Hylete product.
Platinum Jiu Jitsu has a small but deeply loyal following of jiu jiteiros that appreciate the flash of their designs and the quality of their craftsmanship. Each gi is produced in a very small batch, just 25 total gis divided among the 4 sizes, and features a fully sublimated rashguard liner. The rasghuards are based on artwork by Hawaiian artist Katch1. The exterior patching, embroidery and color schemes are all intended to compliment the interior artwork. Sean sent me the Grenada, #5 of 25, in A3 a few months ago and I’ve been putting it thru its paces ever since.
Intro: OSS made its intro into the BJJ clothing scene about a year ago. In that short time they’ve developed a reputation for quality and exception customer service. Their initial line up consisted mostly of BJJ-themed tees but it wasn’t too long before they begun to add kimonos. OSS has two models to choose from, the Original (available in white, blue & black) and the limited edition Wolf. The Wolf, $150, is a beautiful grey gi with accents designed by Seymour Yang, aka Meerkatsu, and the subject of this review.
"The GRIPS™ Kimono has been created with the finest attention to detail. Kimono Secret Weapon uses light, breathable fabric and is designed with a focus on efficiency. The mixed martial artist athlete today needs maximum mobility for athletic precision and performance. That’s why the quality of our Kimono is enforced in all aspects of design: temperature regulation, durability, and comfort.” Grips Athletics
We’ve spent the last few months beating up the Secret Weapon to see if it lives up to its billing as a high-quality gi with innovations that you can’t find anywhere else. Now on to the review for the Grips Secret Weapon 2.0 in White – Size A2!
“At the moment of exhaustion, inspire yourself to take on last step and that is when you have reached the next level. In Korean folktales, dokebi is a mythical being. Dokebi is considered to be harmless but nevertheless mischievous, playing pranks on people or challenging wayward travelers to a grappling match for the right to pass. The Dokebi’s free-spirited attitude reflects what we believe is the essence of the BJJ lifestyle.” Dokebi Bros
The Balance is Dokebi’s first in a line of BJJ gis that are made in Korea. This is the first Korean made gi that I’ve been able to review and to my knowledge one of the very few Korean made BJJ gis on the market.
Fuji Sports has been manufacturing martial arts apparel for close to five decades. They’re best known for their judo and BJJ gis, but they also make MMA/grappling shorts and rashguards.
“In Japan, ancient samurai utilized the base of Mount Fuji as a remote training area to prepare for battle. FUJI, meaning abounding with warriors, has outfitted thousands of professional martial artists since the 60s. Our products have been put to the test during rigorous competitions and training sessions. The result is high-quality products that are built to last and have proven to withstand the ultimate punishment on the athletic battlefield.” – Fuji Sports
Fuji sent BJJ Legends their Sakana rashguard, which they describe as follows: “The Fuji Sports Sakana Rashguard is a true piece of art with traditional Japanese design elements. Koi artwork symbolizes one’s will to succeed no matter what the challenge.”
“Established in 2012, Fight Culture Clothing is a brand that makes athletic wear designed for the warrior that lives among our civilized society. Our brand realizes that all fighters carry certain qualities inside their hearts that separate us from everyone else. We understand that in fight culture we are willing and eager to embrace hardships, whether on the mat, in the ring or inside the cage in order to be the best we can be. Therefore Fight Culture Clothing is committed to providing high quality apparel that will meet our need for intense training and competition. Most of us recognize that we will never be a World Champion or achieve Gold, but as fighters we are all linked by our desire to succeed – in our lives, at our jobs, for our families and to make a difference in the world.”
Some of you may be familiar with Flow Kimonos from my previous review of their hemp gi earlier this year. Flow also has an ultra-light competition gi. The Pro Series 2.0 is made in China, available in black ($144.99) & white ($134.99), has long AND husky sizing and weighs just a little more than 2 iPads. Seriously, this thing weighs nothing. Before this gi my Manto X Pro was the lightest gi I’ve ever had at just under 4.5 pounds. The Pro Series 2.0 is a pound less and for anyone that cuts weight you know just how nice that can be.
Al Kavadlo'sPushing the Limits is a simple, straightforward guide to using bodyweight exercises to achieve full-body fitness without equipment. The book is an in-depth exploration of Kavadlo's three favorite equipment-free floor exercises: push-ups, squats, and inversions (bridges), which BJJ Legends readers will recognize as key movements for passing guard, escaping a mount, maintaining strong posture, creating space when trapped in side control, etc. For those looking for off-the-mat ways to enhance their Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Pushing the Limits will show you how to get stronger, improve your range of motion, and increase your body’s durability without spending a dime on equipment.
"Al Kavadlo is one of New York City’s most passionate and successful personal trainers. A fixture in the ever-changing fitness scene, Al has worked with all types of clients including athletes, models and even an Olympic medalist." – from author bio, Pushing The Limits
Where to begin with this alternative material rash guard...
For one, the cut and fit of the rash guard is wonderful. I'm sure I'm not only grappler annoyed by rash guards that roll up and expose our bellies and get stuck up there. In my opinion submission fc hit the mark with the fit.
I've worn the rash guard as much as I can, both with and without the gi. And so far, the rash guard's construction has held up well. The logos, being sublimated, is there to stay.
Now the aesthetics of the the rash guard are crisp and clean. The only thing I was confused by was the design around the logo. For the longest time I thought that it was the ink bleeding on the rash guard. It wasn't until after a friend reminded me of the rash guards material, the cloud around the logo finally made sense. However, it is a bit of an eyesore. It makes the otherwise great rash guard appear imperfect. Overall, the rash guard is great. It fits well, and other than the ink bleed cloud, looks sharp.
Fuji has been manufacturing martial arts uniforms for decades longer than most of the competition. The company was founded in the 1960s by Frank Hatashita, known in the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame as “The Father of Canadian Judo”. A judoka since 1927, Hatashita received his black belt in 1934 and went on to act as a driving force behind introducing judo to the 1967 Pan Am Games and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, in which he coached Canadian judoka Doug Rogers to a silver medal.
Hatashita/Fuji Sports was founded in the 1960s, expanded into the United States in the 1980s, and has continued to evolve through partnerships with judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts athletes and organizations including Jimmy Pedro, Gracie Humaita, Ronda Rousey, Jeff Curran, and the Abu Dhabi Combat Club. This company has roots.
Fuji sent BJJ Legends one of their newest products for testing, the IBJJF-approved Kassen II Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi. It’s light, comfortable, no-nonsense, and may just have elbowed its way to the top of my kimono pile.
Intro: I train and compete in the Midwest, specifically in St Louis. I’ve been fortunate enough to compete fairly frequently and it was at one of these competitions, the IBJJF Chicago International Open, that I saw my first Quantum Kimono. I saw about half a dozen that day, many of them with Comprido/BRASA patches. The gis fit the athletes very well, especially the long and lanky ones. I’d never head of this brand before and was curious what they were about. A friend of mine is a brown belt under Comprido so with the help of a little Facebook stalking and I was able to track them down and beg them for their Comp gi to review.
"We started our gi company because it was so hard and expensive to the get the kimonos that we wanted. We decided to make our well-built gi at a reasonable price.” Quantum Kimonos
I would like to start this by telling you this is my first gi review. I'm really happy to have been provided the chance to review this gi, it is an awesome choice in training and for tournament competition. There are three prime characteristics I want in my gi. I want a durable gi with a close fit that meets all standards for competition in the federations I compete. I want the gi to be light weight and easy to clean. It also wouldn't hurt my feelings to find a gi which looks good.
As I judge the Estilo Premier 4.0 by that criteria I find it quickly became my absolute favorite gi. The combination of prime functional improvements and simple aestetics has made it my #1 choice for tournament or training day.
bI was first introduced to 1-Leg X-Guard by Emily Kwok in her How To Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents DVD set. I played around with it and even though I pulled mount more often than not I didn’t give up. I kept working on it, asked questions and researched on my own. Fast forward almost a year and this is my go to attack when my opponents stands or posts his leg.
A few months ago we were approached by MGinACTION about collaborating and this article is the result. What you’ll find below is a downloadable PDF (and graphics file) that shows you my notes on all the instructional videos in MGinACTION that cover the 1-leg X-Guard. What you’ll also find is an interactive map that has links directly to the videos in MGinACTION so that you can watch the videos that were just mapped out.
Conca “Our goal is to provide the best quality gi possible at the lowest cost. We strongly believe that everyone should be able to acquire the best quality gi to represent themselves and their schools while on the mat.”
The Joker Lightweight Gi by Conca
Style The Conca Joker is a white gi with colorful, what I like to think of as Mardi Gras colors. My teammate referred to the gi as my Miami Dolphins gi. Truth be told the color scheme was inspired by DC Comic’s Joker.
Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida is a Multi-Time BJJ World Champion, known best for his domination of open weight divisions, his battle with Roger Gracie, and his amazing leg lock and sweep game. Grab some of Buchecha's best techniques for Free here - and learn more about his DVD.
My "combing" of the BJJ world has been tending more and more towards some of the athletes who I feel have really "Rocked the Boat" in competitive Jiu Jitsu in the past year or so. Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida came up QUICK with his amazing win against Rodolfo Viera, and his World Championship and Absolute Division victories.
So when "Buchecha" came out with a DVD set - it was mine preeeetty much as soon as I could get my hands on it - and I wanted to show some sample clips of some of the techniques that Buchecha has online - and also talk particularly about what I think are some of the major virtues of his game. I don't really have the authority to go taking his DVDs and putting them online, but I wanted to share whatever was already online (I'm not a "pirate" of this stuff) and give some cool perspective and stuff you guys can use. Check out these killer clips!
Founded in summer 2010, Poland-based Ground Game Fightwear makes a line of Brazilian jiu-jitsu/grappling/MMA martial arts gear and apparel including gis, shorts, rashguards, belts, and gloves. In their own words: "Our products are extensively tested to the highest standard with the help from our sponsored fighters. Designs are made by people who, like us, are passionate about martial arts. We train, compete and are a part of the martial arts community and that is the reason why we value the relationship with our customers so much. We deliver products that we ourselves wear with pride everyday."
The Titan Energy gi is one of Ground Game's newest offerings and they were kind enough to send one to BJJ Legends for our perusal. The short-term diagnosis? Sturdy construction, nice embroidery, understated colours, and a comfortable fit.