Matwork! 12/8/11


Recent happenings in the worlds of sambo, judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu, submission grappling and/or collegiate/freestyle wrestling. If it takes place on the ground and it's interesting, it should be here.

Last week was a busy one with all kinds of happenings globally and of course, that wonderful advice from Renato Laranja. This week was a bit slower, but we still have quite a few stories, pictures and videos that are worth a gander. Join me after the jump for some updates on the collegiate and international wrestling scene, some quick judo results, Brazilian jiu jitsu happenings and some amazing videos.

Let's start off with one of my favorite things ever: Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles baking some delicious pies in Abu Dhabi to a soundtrack of soothing reggae music. You would never figure that this sweet, talented man is a multiple time world champion in submission grappling and could dismantle your body piece by piece in less than thirty seconds... Or would you... Is the cake a lie?

If you have any links of your own, questions or comments, leave them below or get at me at DefGrappler on Twitter. Please let me know if I missed anything major.

A list of official crew Twitter accounts is right here for your pickings: BloodyElbow Twitter, Luke Thomas,Kid Nate, Brent Brookhouse, Leland Roling, Richard Wade, Jonathan Snowden, Chris Barton, Damon O, Scott Broussard, Tim Burke, Matt Bishop, Fraser Coffeen, Dallas Winston, KJ Gould, Matt Roth, Anton Tabuena.

Wrestling News:

December 5th was apparently the first annual National Wrestling Day, so if you missed that perfect excuse to celebrate, make up for it in whichever way you can (hint hint).

Last weekend, an Olympic Trials Qualifier was held in Vegas. The full results are here, but one story jumps out in a big way. Tyler Graff, a Wisconsin college sophomore taking a redshirt season to chase Olympic dreams, ended up being the 60 kg winner and was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. This is a big achievement, but remember that 100+ wrestlers will enter the trials and only a few will come out as winners or alternates. Some of the wrestlers we remember best from MMA history and the current landscape like Kevin Jackson, Randy Couture, Dan Cormier, Muhammad Lawal and Mark Coleman went through these grueling battles and eventually turned towards MMA. Who amongst these athletes can be turned away from the dreams of Olympic gold and Wheaties boxes?

The current U.S. Olympic squad is gearing up in a big way for the 2012 London Games and a Test event (a pre-event tournament held to "test" the facilities and so on) is being held on Sunday, December 11th. The U.S. will send a very strong men's freestyle team to this event, but will field no competitors in the men's Greco-Roman or women's freestyle divisions. Gary Abbott over at The Mat has the round-up. Note that the list of wrestlers going over to the UK includes Jordan Burroughs, the 2011 NCAA Division I champion, the 2011 Worlds champion and the 2011 Pan Am champion. And he's not the number one right now at 74 kg (Andrew Howe, another beast who was neck and neck with Burroughs for most of 2010-11 is competing as the number one).

The InterMat rankings for each collegiate wrestling division and the overall teams were updated on Dec. 6th. Iowa, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Minnesota and Cornell comprise the top five teams overall. The individual rankings usually feature a wrestler from the above teams inside the top ten, but so many different colleges are represented across all of them that I could see the eventual team title decided in mid-March being a squeaker.

A beauuuuutiful lateral drop from the Cliff Keen Invitational that just wrapped up:

Watch more video of Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational 2011 on

Judo News:

On December 2nd and 3rd, a judo World Cup event was held in Jeju, South Korea. This event is not the World Championships, in which nearly every serious judoka competes, but nearly every division had at least a handful or two handfuls of the top 75 ranked judo players right now (the rankings can be found here, thanks to INTJEU).

A few storylines reveal themselves from the raw results (available here, courtesy of JudoInside). The Koreans dominated the event, winning eighteen medals overall, taking six out of the seven golds in the men's divisions and six medals in the women's divisions. The Japanese picked up second place in the medals table, but may have been resting competitors for next week's Grand Slam in Tokyo. I love it when the Mongolians do well and their team picked third place overall behind a gold medal performance from Tuvshinbayar Naidan (and seven silver/bronze medals from other competitors).

The Mongolians always win the best name competitions; my favorite from this event is "Boldbataar Chimed-Yondon". Tell me that's not a perfect futuristic sci-fi protagonist name right there.

The judo circuit is winding up its long 2011 season and two more international events are left before the end of the year with the Grand Slam in Tokyo that kicks off tomorrow and a Grand Prix in Qingdao. The Grand Slam is giving out 5k for gold in their divisions, which probably makes it a more interesting battle late in the season. I will bring you updates on those in future Matwork! columns.

In Olympic tune-up news, JudoInside has a cool fact: "At this moment 114 different nations will have qualified judoka at the [2012 London] Olympic Games judo event (excluding wildcards)." Given that judo generally doesn't pay as much as other forms of grappling, it's still good to see that so many different cultures and countries keep combat sports alive and strong in their traditions and athletes.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu news:

David over at The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory has a really, really good breakdown of Rodolfo Vieira's favorite guard passes. Vieira is the current Mundials Absolute division champion and is widely considered one of the best submission grapplers currently alive. The best part about this breakdown is that it is the first part of a duo. If you roll BJJ and do not click on this link, I will slap you. Or if you are way bigger/better than me, I will get my teammate Stan the ex-Division 1 heavyweight wrestler to slap you. Nobody messes with Stan and nobody should miss this breakdown.

Kid Peligro, one of the long-standing figures in BJJ news, has a regular short hits column that he does. In one of the recent pieces, he has a Rickson quote that is a little BJJ-centric, but really is applicable to all kinds of things in life beyond the sweaty mats.

"Where there's discomfort, there's fear," he said. "In these very tough positions, you're in a little piece of hell. And through this daily suffering, you learn to survive in these situations. You have to find comfort in the uncomfortable situations. You have to be able to live your worst nightmare. Jiu-Jitsu puts you completely in the moment where you must have complete focus on finding a solution to the problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase your awareness, your capacity to solve problems. Sometimes, you don't have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing." - Master Rickson Gracie

Rafael and Guilherme, the Mendes brothers, spent a while in Hawaii with Mike Fowler and Tracey Goodell, training and doing photoshoots for RVCA (same brand that works with B.J. Penn). Check their Facebook fan page for photos and videos from their time there, as well as more recent updates from them.

The 2011 ADCC Russia Open was held over December 3rd and 4th in Moscow, Russia. Peep the results and a cool photo gallery of this no-gi event here.

Odds and Ends:

There is one last sambo event of the season in Armavir, Russia. It is being held tomorrow according to this calendar, but English language updates are extremely scarce. Maybe it's time I cultivate some Crazy Ivan friends and get my sambo fix that way.

This is a picture of Phillipe Nover enjoying a traditional Filipino snack three days ago in Quezon City, Phillippines after his recent bout at Bellator 59.



Yes, that is balut you're seeing right there. No, Phillipe is not trying out for Fear Factor, he told me genuinely likes this dish (out of training camp, of course). Nover is there visiting family after his - ahem - loss to Marcin Held and has been updating his Twitter with some solid vacation pictures of things like the Pacquiao store, bootleg Shogun t-shirts and lots of Filipino food.

This is probably old news to many of you nerds, but Jon Fitch leveled up his awesomeness by creating his own Skyrim-specific Twitter account. With the decent video blogs, the openness to almost any questions asked of him and now getting goofy cool with a game probably quite a few of you play, what more can you ask of the guy? He's succeeded in winning me over - even if I'll never play Skyrim.

Let me give some free advice to all you grapplers out there. Grip strength is important. Having super-humanly strong hands that can clamp onto an opponent's limbs with ease can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Or it can stop you from losing a tug of war to an orangutan...

As always, an awesome grappling-related video to end the column. Here's what I think Nik Lentz vs. Brock Lesnar really looked like:

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