Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh 2011 Recap

Two thousand twelve is here! The past year went really fast for me so writing this was a nice way to reflect on all the good memories. Challenges overcome are always good memories so I’ll start with those. The toughest challenges were thrown at guys most of us respect. First, Lance Thompson had a very serious injury last December. I’ve heard that the number one reason purple belts don’t move up the ranks is due to injuries. This is understandable having had one myself. It is amazing how such an obstacle can change your mental state. Injuries give some people a powerful reason to quit something, even when it is positive for them. Lance underwent surgery and came back even better than when he left! Mike Wilkins faced a different kind of challenge. After establishing himself as one of the areas best amateur MMA fighters, he decided to step up a level and go professional against the advice of the armchair critics and other people involved in mixed martial arts. He finally got a fight in Costa Rica. He lost at the very end of the first round (which he dominated) to a submission. It was a difficult way to lose after spending almost a year on improving his grappling. The critics and naysayers were vindicated, right? Wrong. Mike came back and had a dominating win in his first official pro fight right here in Pennsylvania. Heather Wiederstein also came back from injuries and losses. Read More

Shawn Williams Seminar (Aug. 19-20 2011)

This past weekend members of Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh were treated to not one, but two days of instruction from one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teachers in the world, Shawn Williams. A second degree black belt, Shawn has been studying the art since September 1996. Being only the fifth American in history to obtain a black belt, he graduated under the tutelage of Renzo Gracie himself. Shawn’s long list of accomplishments include medalling in prestigious competitions such as the ADCC trials and Grappler’s Quest. He even created his own variation of the high/rubber guard, dubbed the “Williams Guard.” Read More

Igor Gracie Seminar (07-09-2011)

Today was a very special day at Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh. This morning around 11:30 a.m., twenty two jiu-jitsu students assembled at the academy in Lawrenceville and eagerly awaited the arrival of Igor Gracie; a member of the legendary family who pioneered the sport and art we happily devote so much of our time to. The moment he walked through the door, an empowering aura washed over the room. It instantly felt as though all of us there had realized we were part of something much greater than ourselves. Right away I knew the students attending, including myself, were in for an enlightening experience that would forever impact the way we practice jiu-jitsu. Read More

Gracie Adventure Camp 3-2011

The Gracie Adventure Camp wrapped up today, Sunday March 21st 2011. It was a success and a great training experience. For the first time, probably in many years, several members of the Gracie family where on the same mats teaching together. Roger Gracie, the best jiu jitsu competitor of all times, taught every day. He also grabbed me during one of the live sessions and beat me up. His teaching was very methodical in that he repeated key points from different angles so that it was easier to understand the position as a whole and how it connected with other positions. It seems like this is part of his genius; he sees and is able to covey details without loosing the larger perspective of the position. For a rather simplified example, during his teaching of side control Roger emphasised controlling opponents arms so that once he past to mount his knees where already in the armpits in his deadly high mount position. It was also evident that Roger studies Judo with world class judo players and has picked some of their strong points that work well with jiu jitsu. Alex Shum of Storm Gis (a 4 stripe blue belt under Renzo Gracie) helped me understand some of Roger’s teaching better. He has worked with him before and studies film obsessively. Alex came in from Hong Kong. Read More