Ground Fighter specializes in unique, creative, and minimalist designs on products made with the highest quality materials. Our clothing is durable, comfortable, fashionable, and doesn’t cost a fortune. We know you have lots of choices when it comes to gear. Our hope is that you’re drawn to us because of the passion and creativity we put into our products and that you’ll stay with us because of our quality and customer service. This week`s review of Ground Fighters Inaugural Gi the much anticipated "Northern Lights".
A snippet from the GroundFighter.net website.
Ground Fighter Grappling Gear Ready Set Roll
Ground fighting is its own unique culture made up of passionate enthusiasts around the world who thrive for the battle on the mat. Ground Fighter is an athletic apparel brand founded on that same passion, created specifically for grapplers by grapplers. We’re lifelong ground fighting fanatics who in 2009 decided that we were tired of waiting around for a brand to produce quality clothing that matched our style, budget, and love for the sport.
Let’s get to the review.
WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
Ground Fighters “Northern Lights” Inaugural Gi Release I will be reviewing the A3 White Gi I am 92 kgs and 184cm tall, or 202llbs and 6’1
Jacket Details • 420 GM pearl weave top (single piece) • Sublimated, moisture-wicking shoulder/vent liners • EVA foam collar • Woven taping inside of jacket skirt • Reinforced stitching in high wear areas • Green contrast stitching
Pants Detail • 10 oz drill pants • Pearl weave gusset • Reinforced knee padding • Green rope drawstring with 6 belt loops FIRST LOOK IMPRESSIONS: When I opened the package from Ground Fighters I was pleasantly surprised to see a handwritten note from the Vice President of the brand wishing me the best with my new Northern Lights Gi along with a few stickers and a bar of handmade Soap. Instantly I took a liking to the brand as it is rare to find that level of customer service in the competitive market of fight gear. First look at the Gi with its bright white with green contrast stitching was definitely a very unique look but it was the bright colours of the Northern Lights in the top half of the jacket that really caught my eye. If you, like me also have children that train it would look equally as good on either a boy or girl and Ground Fighter have now released a child’s version of this Gi. When I felt the Gi for the first time I was supremely surprised to feel the softness of the collar the Jacket itself was a little stiff so I threw it in the wash before line drying it. No shrinkage occurred at all. Then it was time to put the Gi in its Northern Lights Gi bag and head of and train.
WORKOUT AND ROLLING PERFORMANCE: The fit of the Gi was quite comfortable, and after the wash the jacket was very soft. When I got this Gi it was coming to the end of winter here in Australia and my first night training in it was a touch colder than usual. On this night I decided I would put a rash guard under the Gi, which for me is a rare occurrence. I am not sure if it was because of this but I found that the Jacket was constantly sliding of my shoulders, which during rolls I found rather annoying.
During my second and further sessions in the Gi I have not worn a rash guard and the slipping off the shoulder has not occurred. The more I have trained in this Gi the more I have come to love it and out of all of the Gis I own this one has worked the way to my number one pick for training. Due to its lightweight design I packed this Gi into my bag when I went on a four week trip overseas just recently, the design of the Gi caught many eyes as I was asked about it time and time again and was happy to send them to Groundfighter.net for further info. Rolling in this Gi was a pleasurable experience its light weight and ability to breathe meant I didn’t find myself overheating or sweating as much as normal. The feedback from my training partners was also all positive with the softness of the collar being noted time and time again.
When I get my next competition Gi I will be definitely looking towards another Northern Lights based purely on the comfort of the Jacket and softness of the collar, combined with the light weight construction and the fact that is IBJJF approved I believe this Gi would rival any of the larger brands. Being the first Gi released by Ground Fighter Grappling Gear I for one am excited about what is on the horizon for this exciting brand out of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
FIRST WASH AND FIT: With this Gi the website states clearly never to tumble dry, which suits me fine I still can’t bring myself to do it even though some brands say it is safe on low heat. The Northern Lights Gi is very light in weight and when hung out correctly I have found is dry almost 100% over night.
Even with the Gis that say wash in cold water there have been times when some of these Gis have shrunk and I am pleased to report that this Gi has not shrunk at all in the month and a bit I have been training in it. I aim to train in all of my review Gis at least 3 times a week where possible. The Northern Lights has been more then put through its paces and has handled itself very well. There have been many occasions over the past 5 weeks where blood has been spilt on it, both a combination of my own and my training partners (more often than not it is my own). When this has happened I have put in the wash straight away on COLD cycle and not one stain has locked itself into the Gi, it has managed to hold its pristine white colour really well.
As mentioned earlier the Gi has not shrunk at all since its first use/wash, and still fits nicely.
THE GOOD: 1. Will not shrink on you after a wash allegedly even if put in the dryer. 2. Eye Catching Northern Lights Design printed on the inside of the Jacket. 3. Light Weight Construction and IBJJF approved. 5. Remains white and doesn’t hold contaminations of you rigorous training sessions.
THE BAD: 1. Priced a little higher on the market (but the customer service you will receive makes it worthwhile). 2. Has potential to slip of shoulders during training (mine at least when worn over rash guard).
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is the second light weight Gi I have tested out and am extremely happy with its performance. The Northern Lights Gi has become my number one pick out of my collection so far. If I didn’t have a competition Gi patched up or I competed a little more, I would have a Northern Lights Gi patched up and ready to roll. I look forward to training more in this Gi as the weather starts to heat up down under. Its Lightweight construction makes it great for the travelling practitioner/competitor. If you would like to take a look at this Gi in a little more detail head over to www.groundfighter.net. While you’re there be sure to check out the rest of the range that this sensational brand has on offer.
After two over doses, the last one landing him in a coma Devin Chasten started BJJ in earnest. After a broken neck and spine surgery in 2011 Devin received his brown belt this October from Dustin “Clean” Dense. Read the rest of the interview.
Success through hard work is the merit that defines a champion both on and off the mat. Yet being a champion doesn’t come easy as it takes struggle and the will to work to reach one’s goals. October 1st 2015 marked a monumental day for grappling practitioner Devin “Pirata” Chasten of Kansas City, Mo with his promotion to BJJ brown belt under world renowned Dustin “Clean” Dense. This pivotal achievement wasn’t accomplished overnight as Chasten’s rollercoaster nine year journey showcases the results of never giving up and always striving to become better. Devin openly touches on in this exclusive interview with us at BJJ Legends.
Your instructor Dustin “Clean” Denes visited your gym Bodyfit KC to do a seminar on October 1st. In addition he surprised you with a well-deserved promotion to BJJ brown belt. Would you care to touch on your thoughts and feelings about getting promoted that night?
Devin Chasten: It was an incredible feeling with a lot of emotion behind it for sure. He gave a long speech before the promotion at the end of the seminar, touching on a lot of things about our relationship, the beginning of our training together, so on and so forth. It was an incredible speech that left me almost tearing up to hear how he felt about me and about this promotion, a moment I will never forget.
Achieving this feat was by no means an easy task. Reflecting on your journey when you think of the word “struggle” why is it a good thing?
DC: Struggle is a great thing in hindsight; it is an opportunity to grow. Without a struggle to overcome, you can’t get better. That’s how I looked at it, and believe me I had my fair share of struggles, just as many have. Some people could look at it as a road block and shy away, I tried to stay positive and take it head on. Without my struggles and adversities, I wouldn’t be who I am today or have the knowledge I have. It made me change the way I train, look at Jiu-Jitsu, and my approach to the way I do it. At the end of the day makes you so much better, because you have to try different things and you have to get out of your comfort zone, which is somewhat the essence of Jiu-Jitsu. Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Talk to us about some of the hurdles that transformed you to the man you are today?
DC: I’ve had many, but a few really stand out, I started Jiu-Jitsu not because it looked fun to me, but I needed a way to channel my energy in a positive way. I started training seriously after my second overdose, one I barely survived. I was in a sort of a coma for about a week, when I finally came out and realized my situation and how bad I was getting, I called my friend at the time and told him I need to do this seriously, I need to have direction in my life because if I didn’t I knew I wouldn’t last long once I got out. So in a serious way, Jiu-Jitsu saved my life for real. Another serious hurdle was when I had broken my neck in January of 2009, without really knowing it. I trained that way for six months before I Finally went to the doctor’s office about it, after my right pec, triceps, and forearm had completely atrophied. I had nerve damage from my shoulder to my finger and couldn’t feel my right index finger. The whole time Clean made me push through, sometimes training 8 hour days for days straight pushing through the injury because we thought it was just my arm, not my neck. For the next 6 months after I did physical therapy, cortisone shots, everything we could fix it to no avail, leading to Surgery December 2009. All the while, I never stopped training. I took 3 months off after surgery, came back to train 3 months and competed in the IBJJF world championships my first tournament back. I’m now dealing with spine issues in my lower back, which at one point about a year ago I was having troubles walking or even getting out of bed, but with the knowledge from the years of dealing with these situations and with the help of a fantastic physical therapist I have managed to recover, train hard and work around it without it affecting me too much.
Everyone’s journey has reason it began leading to you experiencing your share of ups and downs. Tell us a little about how you got started in BJJ?
DC: I was living a very hostile life before I started Jiu-Jitsu, and I always watched the UFC and always thought I could do it. Growing up, if I wasn’t skipping school I was getting in fights to get kicked out, I had lot of anger so before I even put on a gi, I fought MMA on a few shows on a local circuit. I was 18, fresh out of high school and fresh out of the hospital. I got released out of the hospital in October 2006 and took my first fight a month later with only a month of \"MMA\" training and a few years of high school wrestling experience. I got the W by TKO in 1:33 of the first. I had two more fights, the latter one where I had a pretty serious eye injury to my good eye, I say good eye because I am actually blind in my right eye already and have been since I was a year old. I made a full recovery from the injury in that fight and realized MMA was not a smart choice, and that was right around when I met Clean and immerse myself full time Jiu-Jitsu with him. The rest is history.
Dustin Dense is known in the BJJ Community as a respected and intense individual. Tell us about of your experience training under him and most importantly what you learned from him that’s helped shape your life on and off the mat?
DC: Intensity was an understatement; it was downright insane training from the beginning. We met Clean when he lived in Missouri for a short period of time but when he moved back to Florida he would come back once sometimes twice a month and we would drill and train for 6-7 days straight, 8-10 hours a day. He would try to kill us. I remember guys getting vertigo from the sessions, most would come once and we would never see them again. At some points I would have to peel my gi off my skin, leaving what looked like bed sores from training so much without any breaks. The old Clean, he wanted us to be killing machines. My friend David Vava and I used to wake up at 4 am and drive 2 hours to a gym he would teach at when he lived here, to train for 2 hours then I would come back home and go to community college (which I eventually dropped out of so I could train with Clean more). Those two hours were nothing but us getting smashed as bad as we could by guys who Clean had waiting for us, it wouldn’t stop until Clean was satisfied. He was crazy, and we didn’t know anything different.
We were young, stubborn, and wanted his respect. I remember after of those sessions I went to shake Clean’s hand and he looked me dead in the eyes and said \"Your Jiu-Jitsu it shit. You are shit. Don’t come down here and train unless you’re going to bring something better\". He shrugged my handshake off and I left. He was hazing us, seeing if we were worthy of his time. We kept going back until we earned his trust, and we eventually did. After training for a few years I moved to South Florida for 3 months to live with him and train at his academy he opened, there I got my purple belt that was in 2011. As always, every day was war and you had to be the last man standing or suffer the consequences. I look back, after going through all of that I knew that nothing else in life could be that hard, which made me more successful in everything else I did. He showed me how to work hard, how to push past any point of wanting to quit, how there was a way through any situation no matter how intense. I owe almost everything in my life to that man, for all the hard times he was always there for me, always believed in me and never let me give up. I am forever grateful to Dustin Denes.
Are there any other individuals that have helped in your growth in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
DC: I also cross train at KCBJJ. Owner Jason Bircher, Travis Conley, Taylor Kettler and Carlos Dallis are my main training partners there. Although Clean is my master, Jason Bircher and Travis Conley have been mentors of mine as well. Travis is my go to guy, one of my best friends who keeps it real and says to me what I need to hear, and pushes me beyond my limits in the training sessions. We have a tight knit community here in KC; they all want the best for me as I do for them.
Switching positions in your current as an instructor at Bodyfit KC how do you use your experience to inspire and help your students?
DC: I feel like I’ve been down a special and unique path, whether it’s been what I’ve been through with Clean, what I’ve been through with injuries and life in general that I feel I can relate with just about anyone on some level which helps as an instructor. Due to severe injuries I’ve had to change my game so much that I’ve learned a diverse style, so it’s easy to show people something in all aspects of the game. I don’t think I’m great at any one thing, just a jack of all trades because I’ve had to learn and switch my style with each injury, which is a great thing because it made me open my mind to so much more and not be stubborn on something and closed minded to the rest, which translates so well to teaching. I love teaching and interacting, training with students. It makes you stay on top of your game and relevant, I’m always reviewing things I worked on for years, it’s awesome.
Finally with some much accomplished in your life what does the future hold for Devin Chasten?
DC: As long as I’m able to train, I know whatever is in store in the future will be great. Of course I want to go and win big championships, but the journey along the way is what I live for. Now as a new brown belt, I’m ready to come out of the gate strong, compete as much as possible but also learn and enjoy the road. With age, development and experience comes wisdom, and I’m ready for more and whatever the future holds!
Devin Chasten Shout Outs: David Vava at Bodyfit Kansas City, Jason Bircher and Travis Conley at KCBJJ, Anyone and everyone who has ever had a positive impact in my life in Jiu-Jitsu and off the mat, I owe it all to you. Finally Last and not least, Dustin \"Clean\" Denes. I owe him more than I can ever explain.
Interview with Ohana Academy owner Jason Yerrington about his philosophy on running a gym, Cronh's disease and their up coming Ohana Award Ceremony.
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”-Socrates
BJJ is not always about being number one or how many titles you obtain. For some, the lives of the people positively affected while on the journey truly is THE POINT. United States Martial Arts Inductee Professor Jason Yerrington talks to us about his special journey. A journey that he needed a helping hand with and those that love him rallied. Tamo Junto (TMJ) means you can count on me and when he needed it the most, Team Ohana was there to be counted on. The Ohana Academy Owner discusses training with Crohn’s Disease, the changes that led to the Ohana expansion, new black belts, and how he still has a fighting spirit whether or not the odds are in his favor. He has had the overwhelming love and support of friends, family, and his students during the most difficult time of his life. Professor Yerrington is living proof that it really isn’t about how you start the race but how you choose to see it through to the end.
BJJL:Why BJJ, not baseball or basketball, what drew you to this particular martial art?
JY: BJJ was something that I decided to start doing after I had finished playing basketball. I played two years at Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas and then transferred to the University of Incarnate Word where I red shirted my first year and finished out my eligibility the next two with them. When basketball was done there was a competitive void in my life. I saw the fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. I was captivated watching those two guys put it all on the line. I knew right then and there I have to do that. Three months, I was the main event at a show in Waco, Texas. Needless to say, I got knocked out. I went back to the gym and started to really throw myself into Jiu Jitsu. Prior to that fight I had never trained in the Gi but as soon as I put it on and had my first roll, I was hooked for life!
BJJL:You are the owner of Ohana out of San Antonio TX. Ohana, what does it stand for/represent…why that particular moniker?
JY: Ohana is a Hawaiian term referring to family. The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another! As I began to progress in my Jiu Jitsu journey I started to feel a sense of community and bonding with every one of my training partners. I chose to name our school Ohana because of this and the Hawaiian culture seemed to embody a lot of the concepts that I was becoming accustomed to from my experiences in Jiu Jitsu.
BJJL:How long have you been training, what’s your lineage?
JY: I started training in February 2006. I received my blue belt from a man named Jaime Miller. Shortly thereafter I left and enrolled at Marra Senki Jiu Jitsu Academy where Professor Sergio “Marra” Correra took me in. Once he awarded me my purple belt he helped me open my first Ohana Academy and he has been my professor ever since.
BJJL:How involved is your family?
JY: In the beginning my family (mainly my wife) was just a supportive and fan. Once my daughter Arianna turned three yrs old we started her in our Jitz for Totz program and since then my family has been very involved in everything we do at Ohana. Well that’s not totally true. My wife just recently started her journey on the mats a couple of weeks ago. My second daughter is two now but will also start training when she turns three. It makes my heart so happy seeing them on the mat. I know that I can feel comfortable as my girls grow up because they will be prepared in ways that the majority of people will not be. They may never ever want to compete and that’s fine. I know that the experiences they gain through Jiu Jitsu will prepare them in ways I never can as just their dad.
BJJL:A guy your size must have a difficult time finding the optimal training partner. You are in great shape, but you are what I call, a size extra. How do you compensate when training so that you don’t get hurt or so that you don’t hurt anyone?
JY: Being a big guy comes with its challenges and its pros for sure. It has always been my approach to training to try and move like a little guy. I never wanted to have a static strength type of game. I have always strived to have a flow more in tune with someone that is 150lbs or lighter as opposed to the kind of games that you see from guys 220lbs and above. Injuries will happen in training but I have found that there are three main philosophies when training jitz. Win/lose… lose/lose… and win/win… I strive to keep a 40% win/lose to 60% win/win ratio. A win/lose roll is a competitive roll. A win/win roll is more along the lines of catch and release or flow rolls. This way it allows me to explore and expand my game because of the investment that my partner and I put into our training rolls. You cannot however ever remove competitive rolls. If you do then what good would it be if you had to defend yourself on the street or in a competition.
BJJL:What aspect of your game do you think has improved the most since you began training?
JY: The aspect of my game that has improved the most would have to be my inversions and also my escapes. Movement with a purpose but never straying from the movement. As soon as you stop moving you start dying
BJJL:What do you try to instill in your students the moment the set foot on the mat?
JY: I try to instill in the students to invest in losing or as we call it learning. I try to let people know that the wall of China wasn’t built in a day. There are so many ways to answer this question but the truth is that it is different for each student. Everyone has an individual journey!!
BJJL: I don’t know how many people are aware of this but in 2012 you were inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. That is an AMAZING accomplishment. Talk about what that meant to you, to your family.
JY: That was a VERY unexpected honor! I do this because I love Jiu Jitsu and I love helping people. In a way I see Ohana Academy as a church, a church of Jiu Jitsu! Lol but that is the truth. Being inducted was a major validation and one in which I am EXTREMELY proud of!
BJJL:What are the various programs that Ohana has to offer?
JY: My first academy (the Central San Antonio location) offers it all and we still pretty much do. We have BJJ, Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, No Gi, and of course MMA. My second location in Stone Oak we wanted to create a grappling only school where our focus was Jiu Jitsu!
BJJL:Ohana had a transition with its black belts. Gustavo Carpio moved to California and you were able to partner with Bruno Alves (GFT). How did that transpire?
JY: Gustavo had a great opportunity to partner up with some business men in California and open his own school, Connect Jiu Jitsu. I was sad to see him go but so happy for him and his family! We still text and talk all the time. That’s one of things that I love about jitz, every class is the opportunity to meet your next lifelong friend. Basketball never did that for me. The opportunity to work with Bruno Alves was like a golden egg falling into my lap. He is a great guy with great Jiu Jitsu and an awesome addition to our family. It has been a pleasure to get to know him and his wife Alessandra.
BJJL:What are your long-term plans for Ohana?
JY: My long term plans for Ohana are to always be a family environment that uses Jiu Jitsu as a vehicle for accomplishing whatever your goals are. Whether that is to be a world champion, lose weight, stress relief, self-defense, or open up your own school.
BJJL:You have had a rough year due to illness, will you talk a bit about that?
JY: This year has been one of the most trying years of my life. I was diagnosed in 2009 with Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis. In Nov 2014 I went into the ER for lower abdominal pain. At the ER they diagnosed me as having diverticulitis. I then had another colonoscopy in Dec 2014 and it was there that the doctor said I was misdiagnosed and it was not diverticulitis but instead a ball of cancerous cells in my colon. This is the average for people with active ulcerative colitis.
The risk for cancer increases dramatically after 6 years of an active disease. Since being diagnosed with that I have undergone chemo infusions, steroidal treatment, tons of drugs. I literally can’t even list them all. I have had countless accidents. At times it feels like I’m trapped in my own home due to the fact that I can’t leave without the risk of an accident. Then the doctors ordered me on total bowel rest which means they inserted a PICC line and every night for 14hrs I was given medicine and food. When I say food I mean this nasty white substance that had carbs and fats and proteins. I did this for just over three months before the PICC line became infected and the organism tunneled through my heart and made its way into my lungs and then was filtered into my blood.
I then had heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure with a bad case of pneumonia in my lungs. In other words my body was septic. The doctors said that if I had waited one more hour I would have been dead. I then spent six days in the ICU. After getting out I refused to have the PICC line put back in and instead went on a juice fast after watching the documentary fat, sick, and nearly dying (I also competed in the Austin open five days after getting out of the ICU…DUMB). Since then I have begun a drastic recovery. I am still receiving infusions and am still on numerous medications including the steroids.
The good news is that after all this the ball of cells has decreased dramatically. I am still waiting to do another colonoscopy to biopsy the mass and go from there. Throughout these things I would never be able to have made it to where I am now without the constant help and support of my wife Megan. She has been there for me through everything and her undying love even in the worst situations has been such a blessing, but that’s what family is! That’s OHANA.
BJJL:Biggest setback since you began training?
JY: The biggest setback in my training has been these last 9 months.
JY: My proudest moment was winning the No Gi worlds as a brown belt. I have not yet been able to compete in the worlds as a black belt due to my health but I promise you I will make it back
JY: I think we all have regrets or things we would have liked to have done better. I wish I had started juicing earlier, paying closer attention to my health, and trying to do everything in my power to not let this sort of happen. I know that some things are out of my control but if I had known the type of affect that juicing has had on my disease I would have started years ago.
BJJL:Do you have anything coming up in the next few months at Ohana that you would like to announce?
JY: Coming up at the end of the year we have our rank day on Dec 3rd and I’m excited to announce the 1st annual OAC (Ohana Award Ceremony)happening on Dec 4th. This is going to be an awesome event where it will not be as strict as a black tie affair but more like a black tie affair OHANA style!
BJJL:Would you like to thank anyone for helping you along the way?
JY: First and foremost I want to thank the lord Jesus Christ, then my wife, and my two beautiful princesses. My father and mother for their support. My professor Sergio Correra, Gustavo Carpio, Randy for all of his awesome insights, and all my students that have believed in us and the concept that is Ohana Jiu Jitsu.
A journey begins and ends wherever we want it to. The path is ours to choose. When the time comes will you fight? Will you fight for your hopes, your dreams, and the very air that you breathe? When the time comes will the fight be in you? Will you push the limits and go above and beyond what is humanly possible? Professor Yerrington chose to fight. He has fought every step of the way of his journey in BJJ and in life. Professor Yerrington’s Journey is unique and inspirational. On that day when you know you have absolutely nothing left and you think you have gone as far as you can go. Just get up, think outside of yourself for a moment, and just like Professor Yerrington, FIGHT!
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”-Confucius
Follow Professor Jason Yerrington and Ohana Academy at:
Da Firma Kimono Company: How the Brand Continues to Evolve
The Da Firma Kimono Company established a brand of kimonos customizable to the body type of the individual only a few years ago. This year the Da Firma Training Center opened its doors for training. In a remarkable amount of time Ricardo Tubbs, a dedicated service member, and owner of DFKC expanded his brand and it is thriving. The company is a major supporter of 2 non-profit organizations and sponsors some outstanding athletes. With the impending release of an updated version of one of the brands most popular selling kimonos (the Arte Suave V2) BJJ Legends took some time out to talk to the DFKC owner Ricardo Tubbs about the Da Firma Kimono Company, family, and brand.
As a service member, how did you get involved with BJJ?
My very good friend Andy Barker was the one who first really got me on the mats. Andy is a Judo Black Belt who was starting to cross train in BJJ. Before that my very first grappling lesson was from a guy named Bas Rutten, after training with me he went on to become a UFC Hall of Famer…coincidence …….I think not! He did give me my first lesson but the last part is a joke before Mr. Rutten kicks my butt (notice how I called him Mr. Rutten)
What’s your lineage?
As a service member I traveled and moved a lot, trained under Marcelo Alcantar and Alan Merullo in the past. I am very proud to be a Brown Belt under Master Ricardo Cavalcanti. He is an amazing man and true leader; he is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. My current professor is Jean “Dalua” Cartagena and I train at Da Firm Training Center in Chesapeake VA, www.dafirmatc.com. We are part of the Cavalcanti Jiu Jitsu association. Master Ricardo Cavalcanti is one of very few men to receive his Black Belt from Grand Master Carlson Gracie.Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Ricardo Cavalcanti.
Do you ever have the opportunity to compete?
I competed a lot in the past and have done very well. I am recovering from knee surgery but I plan to compete again next year in the NO-GI Pans and the Senior-Master Worlds. I will also compete in a few of the regional tournaments. I would also like a super fight with Guto Braga from BJJ Graphics…..calling you out buddy! Metamoris, EBI seems like the best venue.
How did you convince your family members to also start training?
It was not that hard to convince them, we all enjoy it is a family thing. The family that trains together…submits people together!
What made you want to start your own Kimono Co?
My family owned a small clothing factory in Massachusetts when I was a kid, when I started Jiu Jitsu I always thought I could make high quality gear for a fair price. It took me a long time to start, but I was on deployment in Afghanistan and some crazy things happened (to make a long story short) when I came home I started the company.
How do you develop your designs/color schemes for your kimonos?
I listen to my customers and my athletes to be honest with you. I like to change up the colors every year or so. We try not to do anything too over the top or blingy but we want to have a clean look that stands out.
What determines when you will release a special edition?
When we finally decide on a final look, that is when we release new products. I would not say that there is a 100% formula, but we will be releasing the Arte Suave V2 for Pre-sale at the end of September so that they will be available well in advance of the holidays.
How do you determine the price per edition?
As far as price goes we do our best to keep the prices low, the pricing on the limited edition kimonos are usually higher because they cost more to make. Just wait until you see the new Arte Suave V2! We collaborated with Guto Braga from www.bjjgraphics.com for an incredibly beautiful design for the inside of the kimono, but right now it is a secret.
Your kimonos are ideal for women because they accommodate the extremely petite. When you conceptualized the idea of starting a Kimono Co did you think about the gap in the market for women?
I think our kimonos accommodate people of every size. We have 46 different sizes available, long, short, middle, regular, and combinations of all of them.Yes, we thought about the gap for women, we could never find the perfect kimono for my wife so I made it. When we designed our first women’s kimonos with a lot of help from Lana Hunter who went on to become the very first DFKC sponsored athlete. I think we had a group of 20 women, of different body types, that Lana recruited for us to design the first women’s cut. We did the same thing with the guys, but it was a lot more difficult with the women’s kimonos. We started from the ground up, with totally new patterns. I wanted our kimonos to be a true women’s cut!
You will take one of your bulk item kimonos and customize it for an individual customer, NO ONE else does this. This truly sets you apart from all other Kimono companies. What gave you the idea to do this?
Actually we don’t use bulk kimonos to customize, we actually design the kimonos for the customers and make them a truly custom kimono. We are pretty quick too; we take about 8 weeks to turn things around, sometimes we are faster. I had the idea because I traveled a lot and I noticed two things: the teams with custom uniforms had more students and the smaller schools did not think they could afford it. My goal was to make high quality gear that every academy could afford regardless of size.
You have a very quick turnaround rate when an individual buys a Kimono that is not a special order, it is two to three days in the U.S. (correct me if I’m wrong), what is the turnaround rate for an order going overseas?
Yes we try to get orders shipped out the same day they are ordered, I hated ordering from a big online store and waiting 2-3 weeks to get my gear. Depending upon the country and the importation rules it will take about 1-2 weeks on average for overseas shipments.
Are there any overseas areas you can’t ship to and why?
We ship just about everywhere in the world.
Your company sponsors some very prestigious BJJ competitors, what made you decide to start doing this?
We sponsor people who we think represent Jiu Jitsu and our company with respect and dignity. All of our athletes are special people; if you read their biographies you will see what I mean. They are all good people, there is a lot more to them than podium appearances and twitter followers.
Do you have a process that the competitors have to go thru or do you approach them for sponsorship?
I pretty much will not consider anyone for sponsorship unless they own our gear. To me a sponsored athlete must love the gear that they represent; if not sponsorship is just about getting free stuff. I do something I call a spot sponsorship; I pay close attention to people who wear our kimonos and post about us on social media wearing our gear. I will contact them and let them know that I will pay for a tournament entry fee for them. I really love to connect with our clients like this, it is fun and you make a friend for life. It is great way to pay back loyalty. I also love to go to tournaments and talk to people who are wearing our gear, I usually don’t tell them who I am until the end of the conversation!
This past year your brand expanded even more with the opening of DTC, how long had you been planning that?
We are very proud of Da Firma Training Center in Chesapeake VA, www.dafrmatc.com. We are starting to grow and I am very proud of our team. Our Professor, is Jean “Dalua” Cartagena, a Carlson Gracie Black Belt under Andre “Tim” Monteiro. We offer Athletic Performance Strength and Conditioning, with Coach Zack Roberts and Yoga!
What can we look forward to next DFKC energy bars or drinks, the brand must continue expanding ;)?
Haha, no we are not expanding into any of those arenas, but we love to support other companies that do! We would rather partner with other like-minded companies.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with the growth and expansion of the DFKC Brand so far?
Making great gear that is affordable that fits the fighter. I am really proud that we have been able to support two non-profit Jiu Jitsu organizations in the states, Vector Jiu Jitsu in Mississippi and Level Ground MMA in Massachusetts; we also have been able to support two social programs in Brazil with Action and Reaction (Master Ricardo Cavalcanti Professor Moises Costa) and Brazil 021 (Andre Torencio and Hannette Staack)
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Anytime we make mistake it drives me nuts!
What are your long-term goals for the DFKC/DTC?
I love where we are going with DFKC we are improving every day and it is awesome! As far as DTC we are looking to grow and teach authentic BJJ. We want to be a staple in our community and provided training to everyone, especially our police officers and military members. Jiu Jitsu has changed my life and I want everyone in my community to have the opportunity to learn what I have. We are more than just a local small business at DTC we are a part of the community. We will provide high level training, but not just competition BJJ, real world, self-defense, and training. We recently had DFKC athlete and MMA veteran and Coach Jorge Gurgel in for a seminar, and next month Master Ricardo Cavalcanti will be in the house. We have some pretty awesome seminars planned for next year too!
Team Gacho: Alliance Powerhouse Competitors of Texas
“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
The last two years for Team Gacho has been outstanding. Gold at Master's Worlds, Gold at Pans, Gold at Worlds, Gold at Kid's Pans, the list goes on and on. This family of competitors is an absolute POWERHOUSE. It takes hard work to achieve this level of succes as an individual. It is amazing that this family is able to achieve such success as a team. They are truly an inspiration to us all. Husband and wife, black belt Raul Jimenez and brown Gabriela Muller talk with BJJ Legends about the biggest loves in their lives their family and BJJ. Team Alliance Gacho is located in Spring Texas, about an hours drive outside of Houston.
BJJL: Why MMA? Is it big in your Country?
Raul: MMA is big in Ecuador but Jiu-Jitsu is bigger, more people do Jiu-Jitsu. I wanted to do MMA for the adrenaline and to challenge myself and see what I can do. Also, I got to travel with MMA, I fight in Brazil, Korea, Ecuador and Mexico.
BJJL: Husband/Wife how did you meet?
Raul: We met in school in Ecuador.
Gaby: In school in Ecuador. I moved there when I was 12. We went to the same private school and hung out with the same people.
BJJL: You’re a family that does this as a cohesive unit, are your children interested in anything other than BJJ?
Raul: My son Roberto does wrestling in school, he also likes to ride his skateboard and Matias wants to do wrestle.
Gaby: Roberto wrestles, cruises on his skateboard, unicycles and his dream to to learn how to surf. Matias wants to wrestle as well and his seems interested in soccer and gymnastics.
BJJL: As a support system for each other how has this helped you all these years as you achieved your goals?
Raul: My wife and son help with the academy when I travel to compete or seminars.
Gaby: Before Roberto got so big he was my best training partner. We were about the same weight and he pushed me, now he smashes or plays with me (ughhhh)
BJJL: Talk to me about your BJJ lineage?
Raul: I am a black belt under Mestre Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti and he is a black belt under Master Rolls Gracie.
Gaby: I am under Alliance, Mestre Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti gave me my purple belt and my husband is my main instructor.
BJJL: What equals a well-rounded fighter? How does one train to become the equivalent of a Kenan Cornelius?
Raul: Train hard, there is no other way.
Gaby: There is no easy way to be a well-rounded fighter. I see my son’s evolution and how much he has worked to get to the level he is at. You need to be dedicated, train hard and love it.
BJJL: Is there anything you would like to tell a person that is starting out in MMA/BJJ/Boxing…etc? Some pearls of wisdom you wish you had known that would have prevented injury, aggravation, etc?
Raul: Don’t hurt your partners. Leave your ego when you go train. If you hurt your teammates you won’t have anyone to train with. Also, don’t say “let’s roll light,” then try to rip off their foot.
Gaby: I would tell them not to spaz out and work on technique and not on ripping your teammates head off.
BJJL: The right gym, the right black belt, what advice do you have for people searching for the right environment to train in?
Raul: It is both. You need to find an academy that is serious about the sport. Find out the credentials of the instructor. If you're interested in competing, find a school with an instructor that competes and will push you to train hard.
Gaby: You need to train where you feel comfortable. Research the instructor, see what their Bjj lineage is.
BJJL: If there is one thing (across the board) that you would like to be standardized when it comes to BJJ rules, what would it be?
Raul: I don’t like advantages, you should get point on what you actually did, not almost do.
Gaby: Let purple belts do toeholds and knee bars.
BJJL: There are so many BJJ competitions out there, a person could compete on weekly basis, how does one distinguish a good tournament from a bad one?
Raul: Find tournaments that are organized and don’t mix weights and belt ranks just to fill a bracket.
Gaby: I like to refer our students to the well-organized tournaments.
BJJL: What is a solid piece of advice you think all competitors would benefit from when picking a tournament to compete in?
Raul: There are so many options, just look at the rules and see what tournament fits you.
Gaby: Compete when you are ready and feel comfortable.
BJJL: Do you have any women only classes?
Raul: Not at the moment, Gaby wants to do one in the summer.
Gaby: No, we don’t have enough girls for that.
BJJL: Do you have any thoughts about women only classes? Any thoughts on, “The Blue Belt Curse” in relation to women that train?
Raul: I support all women's class but it’s hard to find women that train and love it. The blue belt curse is for men and women, they think they black belts when they get the blue belt. Blue belt is you finishing kindergarten, I don’t understand why people quit.
Gaby: I think there are great, even all women’s open mats are extremely beneficial to women that train. Personally, I am not one to start something and not finish. I recently just graduated college at 37 years old. When I started jiu-jitsu I never had a doubt in my mind that I would continue until I got my black belt. I don’t understand women that start training for 1 or 2 years and quit. I think in the first weeks on training you know if it's right for you. If you accomplish getting your blue belt why quit?
BJJL: Your Team finished strong in 2014 and has started 2015 with a bang, what do you attribute your success thus far to?
Raul: Alliance is a successful team because everyone helps each other, all the top level guys share their knowledge to everyone on the team and the team is always evolving. We don’t just stay on the basics. My school is still small and I would like to continue to see it grow, I want to form champions, not just my kids, I want to see my students up on the podiums at high level tournaments.
Gaby: Alliance it the only team to win 10 world titles. There are many high quality, top notch athletes.
BJJL: Your oldest son (Roberto, 15) has been competing since he was very young, he is a force in the BJJ world. He is a dynamic competitor to watch, why do you think he is so driven in this sport?
Raul: He loves the sport. If it was up to him, he would only train, eat and sleep. He is driven because he wants to be a world champion at every belt.
Gaby: It took him a while to warm up to the sport but now he only thinks about training. I think his passion is seen on the mats when he is competing.
BJJL: Do you have any regrets thus far? Training miss steps/setbacks, not following advice, etc.
Raul: Rest when my body needs it, if you have an injury listen to your body and rest. Also, I thought that bodybuilding and lifting heavy would help me when being big guy doesn’t help and it's important to eat right all the time.
Gaby: I wish I started training when I was younger. If I would have started when Raul started training I would be a black belt. Not cutting too much weight.
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you began the practice of BJJ?
Raul: Winning Pan-Ams as a black belt, brown belt and purple belt and getting my black belt.
Gaby: Winning my first IBJJF gold last year at Dallas Open
BJJL: What are your plans for the future? What goals do you still have left?
Raul:Keep training as long as my body allows me to. I would like to be ranked number one in my division. Make my boys, my daughter that will be born in December, and my students World Champions.
Gaby: I want to get my black belt and continue to compete. I compete masters so I would like to win Masters Worlds or Pan Ams.
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank that you have never had the opportunity to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
Raul: My wife, I don’t thank her enough for everything she does and all her support.
Gaby: My husband and sons, they motivate me every day.
BJJL: If you could go back and change anything about your journey, would you?
Raul: I am happy with everything I have accomplished. I wish I started younger and focused more on my training when I was younger. I am glad I pushed my kids to train and not quit because they will be champions.
Gaby: Just wish I started younger and valued the importance of drilling earlier in my journey. I feel my game got better the more I drilled.
Team Gacho started off 2015 with an unbelievable winning streak and has been on a roll ever since. 2016 is right around the corner and I see no signs of them slowing down. This family trains together, competes together, and wins together. That is something we all can respect and admire. Team Gacho is reaping the benefits of all their years of hard work and deserve each and every blessing that has come their way.
“I ask not for any crown But that which all may win Nor try to conquer any world Except the one within.”