Purchasing Jiu Jitsu Gis

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that is performed on the ground and is based on certain techniques that involve a lot of flexibility. It is for this reason that you have to be very careful in buying the uniform. The quality of the cloth and its stitching is of utmost importance. Besides this, the uniform has to have a proper fit. When the Jiu Jitsu uniforms match all these qualities, only then it is worthy of being purchased. The dress may have the perfect look and color but may not fit you and be very uncomfortable as it can tear in between an act and cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment.

The material of the Jiu Jitsu Gi can be of single weave. This means that the cloth will be very thin and light. It is of great utility in summer, as it gives comfort while training as well as while participating in a tournament. The dress must fit you perfectly as it helps proper movements. As the cloth is of single weave, you have to be careful as it undergoes wear and tear easily. If you use it with care it will last for quite some time

The next type of Jiu Jitsu dress/uniform is of the double weave variety. It lasts longer than the single weave. The dress is thick and durable. It is usually tough and stiff in nature. As it is double weave, it is thick and very comfortable too. It is very difficult to get a hold on the collar due to this reason. It is a long lasting uniform for which you don’t have to bother. The third type of dress is the gold weave dress. As the dress is very tough and durable, it does not tear easily. It fits slightly better than the double weave uniform. In comparison to the single weave it is thicker. It has a very good quality.

The Jiu Jitsu Gi pants are of great importance as a lot depends on the drawstrings of the pant. In looks, it is a bit different from the normal kimono pants. Rope drawstrings are more durable and it holds the pant in place too rather than string-tie pants. They are wider and more durable. Some have a wide opening near the ankle whereas some are tapered. It is on the basis of the opening near the ankle that the opponent can grab the leg of the participant or the one who is wearing the pant.

The dress is incomplete without the belts that not only holds the jacket in place but also tells you the category of the fighter. You can purchase your uniform from mainly two companies- Atama and Keiko. The uniforms made by Atama are tough and durable and so are those made by Keiko. In case of the pants, it is the drawstrings of Atama that is made up of string-tie that causes inconvenience. While that of Keiko is made up of rope string. The pants are tapered in case of Atama that makes holding of the knee difficult during a game. The Keiko pants are wider that gives ample opportunities to your opponent. The best part about the Jiu Jitsu Gi is that they are made in such a manner that they last for quite a while. You can buy your dress from MMA Warehouse too.

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Shawn M. Nassiri

Serafin BJJ Gym Review


Ultimate Fitness Evanston

823 Emerson St

Evanston, IL 60201



Jeff Serafin- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt (Jack McVicker / Megaton Dias)

Current Schedule:

Monday: 5:30pm Gi

Tuesday: 12:00pm Gi, 6:00 pm No-Gi

Wednesday: 7:30pm Gi

Thursday: 12:00pm Gi, 6:00 pm No-Gi

Friday: 5:30pm Open Mat

Saturday: 10:30am Gi

Sunday: Open Training


Serafin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is located within Ultimate Fitness Evanston.

Parking: There is adequate parking all around the building and on the street. Make sure not to park in the dry cleaner’s parking directly in front of the building. They are old and cranky. Don’t park there.

Jeff Serafin has an incredible space to train in. There is a cage, full boxing ring, heavy bags, a LOT of mat space, weight equipment (including other training equipment like ropes and two extra rooms with even more equipment in them), lockers, and showers. There was a lot of room on the mat with the 15 people training on a Saturday morning.

My experience:

Traffic was really nice on my Saturday morning excursion to Serafin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Evanston, IL. I arrived late regardless (kind of my m.o.) so I missed what would’ve been the first 10 minutes of a Ginastica Natural class. I wanted to include it in the review anyways because it’s an awesome addition to the classes offered at Serafin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and it is not currently listed on their website.

The warm-ups for class were brief and simple, but definitely sufficient. From there we moved straight into technique.

Technique for the day (and for the previous classes as well) was working on the omoplata.

We went through entries into the omoplata and drilled those.

Then we discussed a way to break down the opponent’s posture once we lock it in and drilled it.

Next were two alternate shoulder locks from the omoplata (near and far side shoulders) and we drilled.

Last was a collar choke from the omoplata based on whether the opponent gives you the far side shoulder or not. This was drilled as well.

I wrote this in a specific manner to make a point. Jeff teaches each move individually and doesn’t overwhelm students with instruction (as some instructors may do). I noticed that the majority of students were not having great difficulty when allowed to drill on their own. He breaks things down into understandable chunks.

Also, Jeff spent a lot of time talking about theory behind what we were doing, why we were doing it, and why it will work. If you’ve never read Matt Thornton’s blog about the effectiveness of ‘Aliveness’ training, you should. I don’t know if Jeff has, but I believe that the method that Thornton and Serafin both use to teach technique is one of the most effective methods for teaching BJJ. I loved what Jeff had to say about the omoplata being a position / guard and not just a submission.

Along those same lines, after technique we sparred 50-60% with a partner with the omoplata already locked in. I won’t go into a large diatribe about why this is essential for understanding, but I was really happy that Jeff uses this method to reinforce what was just taught. The things that he taught that day have stuck with me and immediately became a part of my game because I was able to drill it on a lightly resisting partner. Very good idea for building muscle memory.

The class was made up of mainly blue and white belts, but I do not believe this to be typical of Serafin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Most of Jeff’s higher belts were taking a break because the class I came to was right after a big competition and many of them were taking the day off to recuperate or travel. Still, Jeff’s blue belts are nothing short of awesome. They’ve almost all been with him from their beginning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and it was obvious.

After the omoplata sparring, we went into free sparring where I was paired with blue belts, and also had the opportunity to roll with Jeff. The blue belts all gave me a great deal of trouble and I can tell that the skill level at Serafin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is very high. I’ve been to gyms in the past (prior to the inception of this venture), where I was able to dominate everybody except for the instructor. This is NOT the case with Jeff’s students. I was swept, mounted, tapped, etc. by a very skilled group of guys.

The sparring was very intense, but controlled. Every person played a unique game (this is a good thing because some gyms have everybody trying to play the exact same game) and every match was competitive. Even the white belts that I observed played games based on solid basics each with their own individual flair.

Rolling with Jeff was a fantastic experience. He stressed the importance of control and when I rolled with him, I felt that control. Jeff has his own game and is very good at it (watch out for those kimuras!), but he is absolutely amazing at shutting down your game. I tried everything:

De la riva? Nope.

Berimbolo roll? Nope.

Okay, closed guard? Nope

Half guard? Crap, I forgot he loves half guard. Nope.

Okay. He pulls guard. I get swept like it’s my first day.

When time was called I was simultaneously bummed and overjoyed. I didn’t want the roll to end, but I’ve never felt control and patience like Jeff had with me. I was different being controlled, but not being smashed. Great experience.

Total berimbolo fail.

Jeff was exceptionally hospitable and very welcoming to a visitor. I was surprised to learn that the more I travel, the more I discover how we all know the same people. Jeff has been a part of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scene in Northwest Indiana, Illinois, and Chicago areas for over ten years. Jeff and I sat and talked for a long time after class was over and I feel that’s pretty typical of Jeff. He was very willing to give his time to benefit his students.

Students in Evanston are very fortunate to have Jeff. His academy is large, has great training equipment, and excellent instruction. That being said, I hope this review has been an accurate representation of him and his academy. When choosing an instructor, often times you need to look at their personality. I will (hopefully) be doing an interview with him soon.

Thanks for reading! A special thanks to Jeff for opening up his academy to me!!

Again, thanks for waiting so many weeks for this review!

I’ll have my reviews of Mota Martial Arts and Gracie Barra Chicago up next week so keep your eyes tuned for that!

More to come this summer!

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Brendan Evan Hufford

I Am Bored! 3 Ways to Never Be Bored Again!

Being bored is not a good feeling. Many people are looking for new things to do in their daily lives. With the popularity of mixed martial arts and the UFC, many people have started training in martial arts. The UFC has changed martial arts and brought it to the fore front of society. There are many different types of martial arts that can be practiced. If you do some research about martial arts and find a good fit, you will not have to think to yourself, “I am bored, what should I do?” You will just practice your art when you get that feeling.

One particular style of martial arts that was popularized by the UFC is   Brazilian   jiu-jitsu . Royce Gracie fought in the early 90’s and showed that a smaller man can defeat an opponent of much larger size using the right technique and conditioning. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a style that is practiced by many people in the U.S. and Brazil. It is also gaining acceptance in other countries overseas. Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can teach you have to use technique, leverage, and be patient while teaching you self defense. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is primarily focused on grappling and submissions. Strikes are not emphasized in the curriculum of traditional  Brazilian   jiu-jitsu . Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one option for the person that is always saying, “I am bored.”

Another type of martial art that is popular in the U.S. is muay thai. Muay thai is a national sport in Thailand and was popularized in the United States by Grandmaster Chai of the Thai Boxing Association of the U.S. and also the UFC. Grandmaster Chai brought the sport to the U.S. and the UFC facilitated a large scale venue for fighters to practice the art in a mixed martial arts. Muay thai is characterized by kicks, punches, elbows, and knees. Kicks and knees to the legs are allowed in the sport, and clinching using a technique known as the “plum” is also legal. The plum is used to break the posture of an opponent to throw a knee into the body or head of the other fighter. Muay thai can also be practiced without a partner using a technique known as “shadow boxing.” Shadow boxing entails throwing strikes and combinations without a partner. Since you can practice many muay thai techniques without a partner, there is no reason to say, “I am bored, what should I do?”

Another martial art that is popularized in the UFC is wrestling. Wrestling stresses balance, leverage, strength, and conditioning. Having a good base is an important asset for any physical sport. Wrestling also teaches perseverance to its practitioners. The object of the sport is to take your opponent down and pin him or her. In practice, you always have to get back up and try again. This mentality can be used in many important facets of work and general life endeavors. The popularity of wrestling has increased significantly because of the UFC. There are many open wrestling clubs available so one should never have to think to themselves, “I am bored.”

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Bob Blamer

Judo GI

Judo is a fight form that is deadly and graceful at the same time. These two warring adjectives actually define the extremes of the fight form very aptly. It is an ancient fight form that developed in Japan but now it is quite popular in the whole world. It has been adapted by different cultures and has also been modified somewhat by the developing times, however, the essence of judo is etched in proper discipline and the effort of regular practice that sharpens and hones the skill.

There are various levels to the training and a person moves up the levels with a grading system this is an interesting and very systematic approach to the levels of learning.

The judo GI is the uniform that is worn by a person training in judo. They have to wear the uniform for competitions and trainings. They start off with the beginner level and the level is marked by the colour of their belt which is white for the first level. The GI is made up of coarse grain cloth and that helps with the fact that even during excess training they do not have the fear of ripping the material. The material should be cotton as that provides breathability and the comfort required during heavy training and that is also needed to avoid any fault in precision.

The next level in the training is the blue belt which then moves on to the blue belt, orange belt and so on up till the black belt. This is the last major step in apprenticeship in judo and the highest level to be achieved is the 10th Dan.

The techniques of the fight are also influenced by the GI of the form. Judo GI is used in many of the moves that make it a very direct and important part of the fights. There are chokes and guillotines that require the fighter to grab hold of the opponents arm or neck in a vice with the help of the GI to choke them or cut the air supply to any of their body parts that makes them vulnerable and unable to properly use the particular body parts against their opponents in the tussle.

The trainer should determine for the early beginners the type of GI that they should wear. This is because it provides a professional and experienced opinion on the choice that works for the best with the trainer.

The GI can be heavy weight or light weight depending upon the weave of the GI. Different people have different preferences regarding the GI and they are therefore advised to practice with both the types of weaves to get a grasp of what suits them best. Many people rely on the heavy weight weave GI for training purposes because it provides a sort of hindrance that helps in the strength training and they have light weight weaves of GI designed specifically for competitions and exams or grading ceremonies where the speed and the agility have to be on clear display.

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Chang Frappang

Anderson Silva Versus Demian Maia – Predictions at UFC

It’s been touted as the match “between MMA’s best striker vs. MMA’s best grappler.”

Although I feel that there is much to this statement, the truth is that there is much more to this fight.

If Silva can keep the fight standing or more importantly if Demian is unable to bring the fight to the ground and fast, then it will be a short night for Maia. Silva’s striking skills and spped are too much for most strikers in the sport, so when loking at a fighter like Demian Maia, who is predominantly a grappler, he won’t stand a chance on the feet. But the good news is that Maia has great takedown skills and even greater ground skils as he is easily one of the best ground grapplers in Mixed martial arts and that issaying a lot considering the Brazilian Jiujitsu talent in the UFC.

Not to say that Silva himself is a slouch on the ground, he is not. But despite being a Brazilian Jiujitsu black belt he still isn’t of the same caliber and Maia who has one of the most precise and skilled ground games in the sport bar none.

The thirty two year old originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil is not only a second degree Black belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu but also has won several grappling tournaments through out the years including the ADCC 2007 77-87 kg. weight division. As well as others.

Most importantly is that he has won six out of his seven UFC matches and five of those by submission, including dominant victories of some UFC notable like Nate Quarry, (who did nothing in his bout against Maia) and Chael Sonnen, the number one middleweight contender, who lost by submission to Maia as well.

What the outcome will be depends on several variables but one thing is for sure, no one wants to see this fight develop into a boring match that Silva had against another Brazilian jiujitsu stylist in Thales Leites.

That fight had Silva avoiding the ground against leites and Leites avoiding the stand up. What we were left with was a boring match in which both fighters were trying to pull the other into their respective ranges and neither willing to comply.

One thing is for sure though, Silva remains an exciting fighter who is undefeated in his previous ten matches, and this match has the potential of going either way in an exciting fashion.

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Kosta Megas

Starting BJJ Class

So you’ve Decided to start BJJ.

You have purchased some BJJ equipments, a set or two sets new BJJ gi and have even been to the gym or club. Perhaps you have exercised a few times, but you didn’t do very well. Your instructor tried to feed you jiujitsu education and tips, but it only confused you.

Whenever you actually would like to play and enjoy the exercise, so do yourself a big favor.

Take some lessons to enhance your jiu-jitsu techniques! Here’s the options you can choose : A. You can find out a friend who’s really good, and have some extra practice. B. Find a local pro at any of the local jiu-jitsu classes and expend some cash. Most of them will track your development and help you to improve your skill. C. Watch all the jiu-jitsu match and download it when you can. Buy Instructional video from your instructor (it really help your development even faster). D. Plunk down the cash and have a private lesson with your instructor for some serious training.

Whichever option you decide to pursue, the most important thing is to learn from your lesson, especially if you’re paying someone. Pay attention to what you’re instructed. As soon as possible you need to go to local competition to have an experience. Even professionals that you watch on video spend a lot of time at the practice.

Your jiu-jitsu experience will be more enjoyable once you can go down the fairway not side to side. The more you practice and play better you’ll get at the game. Don’t forget your jiu-jitsu equipments! I can’t count the number of times, I’ve had to turn around and go back home because I forgot my equipment. If you can, just put your jiu-jitsu equipment in a special bag. Enjoy the Game!

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Budi Mutsuclan Wibowo

UFC 124

UFC 124 featured one of the most significant draws on it’s roster, and no it’s not Josh Koscheck’s frizzy hair. I am talking about a Canadian fighter who goes by the name Georges St. Pierre. GSP has made simple work of clearing out the entire welterweight division. UFC 124 saw the rematch of GSP vs Josh Koscheck for the welterweight title. Koscheck used every available moment of camera time during his stint on TUF 12 to yap about his “upcoming victory” over Georges. Georges kept noiseless on the show and decided to use Saturday night to give Koscheck a first hand lesson in “talk is cheap”.

GSP, a recognized wrestler, had been working with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach leading up to his bout with Josh Koscheck. I would say that this was money well spent considering that St Pierre used his swift jab to pretty much close the right eye of Koscheck. Now, since this fight didn’t display much   jiu   jitsu , we will move on, but I do want to use this fight as a wonderful example of how unused the jab is in MMA. To many fighters in MMA use the windmill tactic when it comes to the stand up game. Hopefully, after seeing this, more fighters will recognize it’s value and spend some effort in the gym working the jab with their trainers. It probably doesn’t harm to have Freddie Roach there to give you some recommendations either.

UFC 124 also had some fascinating submissions on the card. I am someone who understands a good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter. This is why we pointed out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Dustin Hazelett on our site leading up to the event. Well, you can’t get anything and everything correct. Hazelett faced Mark Bocek on the prelims of UFC 124 but his fight was aired live for free on the UFC’s website. Hazelett made his come back to 155 pounds, only to be given a very unfriendly treat from Bocek. Bocek was able to lock in a very seamless topside triangle and rolled to his back. Bocek was able to finally push the arm of Hazelett across the body to cause the tap but not before giving Hazelett some elbows to the head to remember their time together by.

The only other submission win on the card goes to Jim Miller who handed Charles Oliveira his first loss of his MMA career courtesy of a kneebar. The fight started with Oliveira appearing to be the aggressor in the  jiu   jitsu  game. Oliveira attempted a guillotine as Miller shot in for the single leg and was searching for what might have been a triangle before sliding down to the leg of Miller as Miller stood up. Miller had some  jiu   jitsu  ideas of his own though. Miller snatched the leg and rolled into a kneebar of his own. Now, I am not sure what Oliviera’s kneebar evade approach was, but continuing to strike Miller in the ribs with no thought for your own leg was probably not the strategy to use at this moment. Oliviera, instead, made a decision to keep the side hammer-fists going and was obligated to give up at the 1:59 mark of round 1.

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Jeremy Weedman

5 Top Tips For Buying A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi

Here are the five most important features you will need to consider when purchasing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu GI:

1. Material. Probably one of the most important elements is the fabric use. Almost all of the research and development in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Kimono has been on the materials used. Lighter and thinner material is how most of the newer   Brazilian Jiu Jitsu   GI’s  has started to be made. Some companies even use their own special mix of cotton. A  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu   GI  should be lightweight, strong, and durable.

2. Weave. A more recent improvement in Jiu Jitsu Kimono is the type of weave that the gi is made from. There are various weaves including single weave, double weave, gold weave and pearl weave. Single weaves are lightest but not as strong as a double weave and hence double weaves are heavy. Gold weaves are strong and comfortable and are of medium weight but they suffer from shrinkage after washing them. In my opinion the pearl weave is the best weave. A pearl weave is light in weight, strong and does not suffer from shrinking. Most GI companies have their own special type of weave and they name it with their own brand of name but most new weaves are effectively just pearl weaves.

3. GI Trousers. Most Jiu Jitsu Gi trousers are made from drill cotton and come in various weights including 12 oz and 8 oz. Some are made from military rip stop. These trousers are very light in weight and are very strong. Some trousers have a material drawstring. This is the most common drawstring but is not the most effective they come undone quite easily. The best option is the rope drawstring. These are very strong and they vary rarely come undone.

4. Lapel. The Kimono lapel is normally made form a strong material. Newer Gi’s have started using rip stop to cover the lapel. Rip stop is a stronger material than a normal weave. The material inside the lapel is sometimes just normal cotton stuffed thickly inside of the lapel but most of the top brands have a rubber insert inside the lapel. This helps in drying the gi and also makes it harder for people to apply collar chokes on you while you’re wearing the gi.

5. Branding. Branding varies from GI to GI. It comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer a  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu   GI  that is plainer and some prefer a kimono that is a bit bolder. Most GI’s have some patches on them with the branding of the company and some also have logos embroidered on the GI top or on the trousers. Some newer Gi’s now have contrasting stitching running through the gi and also printing inside the GI jacket.

A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu GI are the most essential piece of equipment you’ll need to be a submission fighter. For inspiration you can check out what the pro’s are wearing as this will always give you a measure of how good a  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu   GI  is. Some fighters wear a rash guard under the  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu   GI  this helps with preventing from mat born diseases.

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Tony W Carter

Andre Galvao’s Drill to Win

There are purists and then there are innovators; purists chose to stick with the original Jujutsu from Japan, whereas people elsewhere took this sport and modified it into a fiercely competitive sport, today known as the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also a form of martial arts but has it reigns in the top class ground fighting. It was realized that fighters needed to be agile and nimble and at the same time be able to ‘grab’ their opponent and disable their movements – this gave rise to the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

It is a form of MMA – mixed martial arts but has its origin in ‘fighter families’ in Brazil who have further laid down rules and regulations for it to become a major sport. Now, when it is has become a sport, many stars have come into the fore – the topmost being the legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter – Andre Galvao.

Andre Galvao

From 2001 to 2008 of the IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship he has won a record 7 Golds, 2 Silvers and 1 Bronze! What’s more – he is the undisputed champion in the Pan American Championships. He has won 7 Golds in total and has never been beaten in the tournament! Obviously he a master at grappling and flooring people (quite literally)!

Andre Galvao Drill to Win

For people who look up to him as an inspiration, he has been messiah of sorts for them. He has penned down a book with his dear friend – Kevin Howell. Perhaps it was the book that made Andre a world renowned figure rather than his enviable track record at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championships and tournaments. Sadly enough, people did not know him (thanks to the absence of the sport in Olympics and other major tournaments), but he defied all ignorance and came out a winner of sorts with his book – Drill to Win.

Since the day of its release, the book is a major hit and was one of the bestsellers in the category of Sports Writing. The lucid language and inspirational stories in the book motivated people and youngsters to take up the sports. Interestingly, those who had nothing to do with the book would yet buy it owing to its motivational tone! Andre has a Jiu Jitsu academy; therefore when he is not fighting in tournaments, he is fighting and training at home and imparting training to many youngsters who idolize him!

Rightly as the man mentions in his book – ’12 months to better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’ – it truly is a piece of art. If one ditto followed what he wrote in the book, undoubtedly he would better his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills in 12 months flat. This book is as good for the advanced fighters as is for the beginners. Further on flipping the pages, you will find a step by step guide to how-to-achieve, etc and pictorial representations of the same.

From mastering grapples to locks – you now have everything under a book about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here. And what better than to learn it from Andre Galvao himself?

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Chang Frappang

Dipping Your Toes in the Water

The first taste of ‘the leather’. The first time you taste your own blood on the inside of your mouth. The first time your eyes water from a jab to your nose and everybody laughing, thinking you are crying. An old friend of mine summed it up pretty good. “You can never forget the first time you smell ‘the leather'”.

At first I thought he was using some sort of metaphor and meant the smell of fear. It was only later, during another sparring session that the penny dropped. The smell he spoke of was the smell of leather in your face as yet another punch found its way home.

It took some years getting used to it. Once I was,it was replaced with the feeling of panic as you suffered a choke that almost made you pass out. Strikes had been replaced by grappling and with it, the feeling of burning in your aching muscles and limbs.

I imagine, most of us, during these times ask ourselves what the hell we are doing there.

What events took place in our lives to compel us, even drive us to this moment and the similar moments that come after it on many more occasions? If, like me, you make promises to yourself that this is “the last time” only to make and break the same promises the next time then you may want to take a journey back to the start.

My own experience is probably typical. As a bullied skinny kid, I was lucky that my sister started dating a Black Belt Karate Instructor who took me under his wing. I sat in and watched the first session and, whilst admiring the participants, did not, for one minute think I could do that! “Still, might give it a go” I thought. A tiny ripple was made as I dipped my toe in the water for the first time at the next session. As a novice, sparring was out of the question, thank god. So after being taught a few basics, I made my way to the sidelines to watch the advanced grades score points off each other. There was absolutely no contact allowed with no protective equipment worn or needed. The skill and control shown was excellent. Again in my head the “not for me” mentality shone through and again it was followed by “well it can’t be that bad, must be worth a try” voice.

The next time sparring was on the agenda I was asked if I wanted to try it. Nodding, I took my turn. I don’t remember how I did but I do remember how much I enjoyed it, especially as there where no marks or bruises on me. There were none on my partner either but I suspect that was pure luck rather than any skill on my part!

I soon became a fan of sparring, preferring it over kata (personal choice not a reflection) and looked forward to more of the same.

At this time, the club I belonged to travelled out of our area to train in a joint session to be hosted by our Sensei who taught basic Shotokan and a club from Liverpool who would host the second part of the evening, teaching us an unknown system (certainly to me)”Freestyle”. They, if my memory serves me correctly, wore red suits and a type of boxing glove. We had, never seen suits of this color, we all wore the Traditional white gis. The guys from Liverpool whilst respectful, literally wiped the floor with most of the Karateka from our gym. They certainly did with me as sweep, after sweep saw my gi bottoms strike a close resemblance to the gym floor.

It was only a few years later when I became more familiar with the “names” in Martial Arts that I realised we had just been introduced to Alfie Lewis and his boys and their maverick, effective and highly skilful way of sparring. Again, I decided that their style was not for me. Far too heavy handed even at semi contact, yet a niggling desire to know more about this way of fighting kept cropping up in my mind.

For one reason or another, after some years of training and earning my purple belt, I parted company with Karate. It would be a few years before my interest was rekindled and when it was, the new club I joined wore white, elasticised cotton mitts with marginal contact allowed. The seminar with Alfie Lewis temporarily forgotten, along with the bruised calfs and bashed ego, I watched with fresh fascination as the guys at the new club, fuelled by the confidence of wearing mitts, gave and took a few heavy digs.

“Mmm, not sure about this” I thought to myself as my toes itched and wiggled to dip themselves into the water again. So, I bit the bullet, padded up and proceeded to take a few hits. Still with control but now with a touch more aggression techniques were thrown in my direction and I threw some back. A couple of bruised ribs, bit of a lump to the side of the head, nothing major and I was comfortable again. I was happy where I was until I came across some semi-contact guys who re-sparked in me what the Liverpool guys had first bought to my attention.

We were at a multi-style tournament in the North West and, as usual at these tournaments, some of us were on time, some weren’t. People, mostly in Traditional Gis and pads, warmed up and waited for their turn to fight when our attentions were turned to a group who had just arrived. There seemed to be a change in the atmosphere as we watched them warm up. I had never seen Karateka use skipping ropes and focus pads to prepare themselves before and it is fair to say that the majority of the other people there were intimidated by it all. Even more so I think, when the semi-contact guys “padded up” in their shiny dipped foam equipment.

A clean sweep across the scoring boards in the favour of the nonchalant semi-contact guys grabbed my interest. Non contact Karate was a good stepping stone and the now padded light contact was, for me, as far as I would go. Except my bloody toes thought different as they itched to “dip” again. I visited a local semi contact club affiliated to Howard Brown’s ECKA/WCKA and watched as they sparred heavier than I was used to. Common sense gave way to the itch that can’t be scratched. I remember thinking to myself “well it’s not full contact, its not going to hurt so I’ll give it a go”.

To anyone watching semi-contact and thinking the same as I thought, you, as I was, are both right and wrong. It wasn’t full contact but it did hurt. Nothing major and all in good sport, but a few cut lips and sore limbs, perhaps the odd ringing in the ears from a few hooks caught from not paying attention. These were par for the course and this was how I proceeded for a while.

Until Stallone appeared. Damn those “Rocky” films and the real hitting taking place as Balboa mania swept through all the fighting arts. Suddenly everybody wanted to know what it felt like to get hit by a big lump of meat. I myself developed an interest in Full Contact Karate which we know went on to be relabelled as Kick-Boxing. I started watching regular Sunday night bouts at a local nightclub and as the sport grew in popularity, was fascinated to see Wales’ Russ Williams defend his World crown against a strong opponent from the USA. A guy I knew also thought on the same bill and in a chat later on he laughed at my questions and explained “it’s good fun but doesn’t half hurt!”

A good friend of mine was making his name in the ABA’s and invited me to the local boxing club. I had not done any full contact conditioning and was put onto the bags straight away, snatching the odd peek at the sparring taking place behind me.

After a few sessions I had deja-vu from my Shotokan days when the coach called me to the sparring area and asked “do you want to glove up and have a go?”.

Adrenalin in overdrive, with a dry mouth and my brain screaming “no way”! I listened instead to my toe as they demanded a “dip”.

“C’mon” they seemed to say “It can’t get any worse than full contact can it”.

Right, easy for them to say, hiding comfortably in the safety of my Nikes.

My first spar was with my friend who was much more experienced in the full contact game and worked at my pace. I appreciated the respect and we became regular sparring partners. After several months we hired a room to have extra sessions ourselves and introduced kicking into the rounds. He was slightly heavier than me but with my experience in kicking, we came out even.

I had been watching a Heavyweight train at the gym and tried to imagine what it would like to take a punch from him. When he was sparring I would develop an interest in more bagwork. I was not getting hit by one of those!

Spoke to soon. One Friday night I arranged to meet my friend at the gym but upon arriving, learnt he had decided partying was better than getting hit. So now the gym was occupied by just the three of us. Myself, the coach and, that’s right…the heavyweight. Even my toes gulped as the coach suggested a few rounds.

In for a penny and all that… Whoever thought of that saying must have been stupid or never trained in full contact. Or perhaps he was stupid but had trained in full contact, hence coming up with stupid sayings.

Several rounds over and the following day I was back for more. Days became months, months became years, sparring partners, opponents and partners in crime became friends.

From absolute no contact Karate through to light, semi and eventually full contact I thought there was no further I needed to go. I had dipped my toes in enough water.

Until I met up with a leading Martial Artist who asked how my ground work was. I didn’t know how it was because I had never worked on the roads.

When I told him this he looked at me like I was speaking a different language and proceeded to explain he meant grappling. I watched a video he sent me and realised there was another aspect of “fighting” I was going to have to sample. And so I trundled off to courses and training sessions and eventually became a BAWA Wrestling Coach. My nose, jaw, ribs and other bones in my body were happy they weren’t being punched or kicked anymore. However, my muscles ached, my limbs cried out for a rest and the burns on my knees and elbows needed much love and affection to heal. At least some parts of my body had a respite.

That was until my toes thought it a good idea for another “dip” when I came across sessions that “put it all together”. “Animal Day, No Holds Barred, Strike & Grapple” call it what you will. The whole non-contact training to the “what the hell was that!” experience was and is an education, a humbling experience and well I suppose to be honest…. fun!

So good luck if you are embarking on this path, I wish you well. I will never forget my first taste of ‘the leather’ nor the first smell of ‘the leather’. I am getting to the stage were I think it’s time to put my toes in their slippers, keep them there and stop them dipping my feet in the water again… Not a chance!

Hypnotik Bearimbolo Gi

Source by Simon Morrell