Archive for October, 2010

US Open Videos and Afterthoughts

October 31, 2010 2 comments

First Match against Pitbull BJJ. I won this match 11-0.

Second and final match against Paragon BJJ. I lost this match 0-0 by advantage.

Afterthoughts: The experience of my first big tournament was better than I had hoped for. It was great to have so many friends and teammates there to cheer me on and give me support. Dave Camarillo and Mike Prudencio were in my corner coaching me at the top of their lungs and although I really wanted to bring home the gold medal for them, I came up a little short.

I’m not beating myself up about getting second though. Remember tournaments are just a game! Neither of my opponents scored a point on me and neither of them were able to submit me. I made some mistakes…even in the match that I won and I have already been working on correcting those mistakes with my coaches. At the end of the day my Jiu Jitsu will have improved from both my win and from my loss. 

The thing that stood out the most about my competition experience was the major adrenaline dump I faced during my first match. I trained my butt of physically but nothing really prepared me for the dramatic and sudden fatigue that I felt after only three minutes of competition. It’s amazing how the brain and body just go into overdrive and wreak havoc on you. My body tensed up, I couldn’t think straight, I literally got tunnel vision and six minutes seemed like an eternity. I was physically exhausted after my first match even though in the academy I could do five or six rounds with only one minute rest in between before I felt fatigue like that.

I guess it’s just something you get used to as you compete more, which I look forward to doing. Please feel free to share any competition tips or stories in the comments section. Also, don’t forget the Andre “Negao” Terencio and Hannette Staack seminar this coming Saturday, November 6th, I promise you that you will not be disappointed!

Thanks for reading,


Upcoming Seminar!!

October 24, 2010 2 comments


It is my pleasure to have helped put together AKA Sunnyvale’s first ever Jiu Jitsu seminar featuring Andre “Negao” Terencio and his wife Hannette Staack. This will be a 3hr, gi-only seminar that you do not want to miss! If you haven’t heard of Andre or Hannette, please scroll down a few posts to read my article on Andre’s visit to San Jose and check out their website at

The seminar will be held on Saturday, November 6th, from 12pm – 3pm. The cost is $60 for students that register by November 1st and $75 for those who register after November 1st or sign up at the door (cash or money order only please). Click Here for the registration form. Please turn in or mail your form and payment to AKA Sunnyvale. For those of you who train at the AKA in San Jose, you can leave your form and payment with instructor James Wright.

Anyone is encouraged to attend regardless of their school affiliation or belt rank. We hope to make this a very successful seminar! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I look forward to seeing you there!

US Open XV Update

October 20, 2010 2 comments

2nd Place US Open XV


Well the excitement is over and I am finally able to sit down and write a little summary of my experience at the US Open XV. This year the US Open had over 900 competitors which is 200 more than last year making this by far the largest US Open in its 15 years of existence.  Men, women, and children of all ages and skill levels gathered from around the world to compete in one of the best run tournaments in California.

As some of you know, this was what I consider to be my first real Jiu Jitsu tournament and I was very happy to walk away with a second place finish. My first match was with a student from Pitbull BJJ whom I have actually met and trained with before. He is a really nice guy and it sucked that we had to be matched up, but as competitors, we are there to test our skills against one another and that’s what we did. The match went the full 6 minutes and I won 11-0.

My second match was against a student from Paragon Jiu Jitsu. We had a great little battle which basically consisted of me trying to pass his guard and getting denied several times. The final score was 0-0 with him winning by an advantage for a triangle attempt during the last 30 seconds of the match.

Trying to pass in the final match

Overall, my first experience at a large tournament was a very good one. I will be writing a much more detailed account of my experience leading up to, during, and after the tournament as well as posting the videos, but for right now, I need to catch up on some of the things I have neglected in my preparation for the tournament (like work and my wife!).

Thanks for reading,


Technical Evolution

October 10, 2010 3 comments

As I write this post I am 6 days away from competing in the US Open in Santa Cruz, Ca. This will be my first competition since white belt and will also be the largest competition I have ever competed in. I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned while preparing for the tournament:

First off, I’ve never been a big fan of Jiu Jitsu competitions. To me, competitions don’t necessarily determine who is a better fighter. I’ve seen many competitors and my own teammates lose competitions by points or advantages to what I feel were less skilled opponents. I didn’t see the big draw in spending money, training extra hard, dieting, waiting around, finally competing and then losing because a referee didn’t give points for that pass or because some guy layed on you and eeked out a victory by stalling for the win.

Lately though, I have begun to accept competitions for what they are……..a game. Nothing more, nothing less. There are guys who compete for fun and there are guys who do this for a living. At the end of the day, Jiu Jitsu competitions  are a test of who can win the game in 5-10 minutes, on that day, at that time. The better player doesn’t always “win”. Once I started to realize this, I began to be honest with myself about the other reason I wasn’t a big fan of Jiu Jitsu competitions. I have a fear of losing.

The fear of losing is very common and can be down-right debilitating. Who wants to get onto the mat in front of your coach, teammates, and hundreds of people and lose their first match or not go home with a medal around their neck? For me, this fear has kept me from competing for a long time and just now I am starting to realize that I’ve actually been holding myself back from my real potential to excel in the art of Jiu Jitsu. In my interview with Paul Schreiner last month, Paul admitted that he isn’t a huge fan of competitions but feels that competing forces you to train differently and speeds your “Technical Evolution”. In his book Ultimate Fighting Techniques Volume 1: The top game; Royce Gracie writes “While it isn’t essential that you compete, preparing for a competition will turbo charge your progress in the art. The narrow focus of preparing for a match-winning by either points or submission-will sharpen your moves and exacerbate your weaknesses so that you will easily see what needs to be worked on. Many times, the preparation for the competition itself is the most important part of this step.”

Over the last two months of my training, I have been doing things very differently because I am aware that I will be competing with very skilled opponents. When I get on the mat to spar right now I am not trying to finish my opponent as quickly as possible. I am not trying for fancy sweeps or low percentage moves that could put me in a bad or worse situation.  I am not trying to learn new moves or play different guards. I am trying to not let opponents pull me into “their game”. Instead, I am trying to perfect and focus on what I know I am good at. I am taking more time to give each position it’s due and not rushing to the next. In short, I guess you could say that I am speeding my “Technical Evolution”. I am turbo charging my progress in the art.

The other addition to my training regimen has been drilling. I cannot stress the importance of drilling although I have admittedly pushed it aside for far too long. Many times it’s hard to force yourself to drill because just banging heads and sparring is so much damn fun. The repetitive nature and seemingly slow payoff of drilling keeps many of us from turbo charging our progress. Situational drills, limited scope drills, 50/50 drills, repetitions, etc., are all extremely important for your training and especially for a competition. Do yourself a favor like I did and round up some training partners who are also competing or want to get better and drill!

I wish I had listened years ago to what so many people have been saying about training for competitions making your Jiu Jitsu better. Who knows where I would be now? But that’s irrelevant, the important things is that I’ve validated this myself and I’m running with it. For those of  you competing, scared to compete, or feeling stagnant with your progress in Jiu Jitsu, I hope that this article helps to motivate you to take your training to the next level! Win, lose, or draw, when my competition is over, I’ll walk away knowing that my Jiu Jitsu is much better than it was a few months ago and no opponent can take that away from me.

Thanks for reading,


Andre “Negao” Terencio

October 3, 2010 7 comments

Andre, Ryno, Jon, James

 On September 22nd and 23rd, 2010, Andre “Negao” Terencio taught private lessons to a handful of lucky people…..out of my garage in San Jose, Ca. Yep, you read that right. I not only had the honor of receiving private instruction from Andre Terencio, I was able to do it in the privacy of my own home. How did all of this come about? The short answer is that I have some great friends and training partners. The long answer is that my friends Jon and James, who are close friends with Andre, talked him into stopping in San Jose to teach private lessons for a few days before heading to Carson, Ca. to referee in the 2010 American National Jiu Jitsu Championships. What’s to follow would be the best two days of Jiu Jitsu I’ve ever had and will certainly never forget. 

Andre agreed that if we could line up private lessons and provide a place for him to teach that he would spend a few days in San Jose with us. Lining up the private lessons was easy but we had one problem. What gym would let us bring in a black belt from another gym and teach private lessons throughout the day? Without consulting my wife, I blurted out that I had some mats and an empty garage that we could use if Andre was into it. I had met Andre at a seminar he taught in Stanford two years ago and he was very nice but I thought that once he heard we were going to ask him to teach out of a garage that it would be a deal breaker. To my surprise Andre said no problem and once he saw the makeshift dojo we created on short notice he was totally psyched. Not only that but he was actually grateful that I would offer my garage to him! 

Andre and Justin

After hanging out with Andre for a few days it doesn’t surprise me at all that such a simple set up would make him happy. Andre is probably one of the nicest and most humble people I have ever met. Oh yeah, he’s also really freakin’ good at Jiu Jitsu. After my many years of training, I have come to realize that being good at Jiu Jitsu and being a good Jiu Jitsu instructor are two different things. To have a combination of world-class Jiu Jitsu and an ability to clearly teach it to anyone is truly a unique skill set and after just one class with Andre it’s very apparent that he does in fact posses that skill set. 

I took two private lessons while he was here. The first lesson began with him assessing what I needed to work on which meant that we were going to spar for ten minutes. Andre told me to forget the color of his belt and just play my game like he was just another student at the academy. For the first few minutes Andre let me feel like I was in control, but after that first few minutes he began to really crank it up and just completely destroyed me with seemingly no effort at all. I felt like a white belt again in the best way. Not 30 seconds after our sparring session, Andre had the rest of my lesson planned out in his head. We focused on shutting down the single leg stack pass and reconstituting guard as well as a few sneaky submissions and a guard pass that is now my new favorite. The beauty of my private lessons with him is that he only showed a few moves and had some really great drills to accompany them so that by the end of the hour, everything he showed me was easily remembered and committed to muscle memory.

Andre and Jay

My second lesson consisted of a brief review of the previous lesson then some attacks on the turtle guard and reversing a kimura from closed guard top. The last ten minutes of my lesson we sparred again and he answered any questions that I had on what he had taught me. On top of my private lessons and because it was my “dojo” I was able to watch Andre give lessons to numerous students. The second day he was here he taught seven lessons in a row with only one, one hour break and did not fatigue a bit. The last student of the day received the same level of instruction and attention to detail as the first. Watching him work really let me know that this guy loves what he does…’s not just his job, it’s his life. 

Andre and Fiona

Andre started training Jiu Jitsu at 13yrs of age in Brazil and holds a 3rd degree black belt under Carlos Henrique who is a 6th degree black belt under Master Francisco Mansur (9th degree red belt under Grand Master Helio Gracie R.I.P). How’s that for a pedigree? Andre is also the instructor and life partner of Hannette Staack who is one of the most accomplished female Jiu Jitsu athletes of all time. Hannette is a 2nd degree black belt under Andre and is a 6x World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion as well as 3x ADCC Champion and 3x Brazilian National Champion…..the Jiu Jitsu world should be put on notice if and when these two ever have children! Andre and Hannette founded Team Brazil-021 and teach at their academy in downtown Chicago. The link to their website is listed on my homepage under Friends and Favorites. Check out this video of Andre helping Hannette prepare for the 2009 ADCC. 

*Keep and eye out in the near future as I plan on interviewing both Andre and Hannette!