Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

GB Pro Light

Intro

The first Gracie Barra academy was established in 1986 by Master Carlos Gracie, Jr.  Starting in the 2000’s, they’ve had a requirement for schools to have “Official” gi’s.  Part of this, I believe, was their push to be uniform, and in a sense, one team under one banner.  While other schools have team gi’s, Gracie Barra is the only one I know of that you are required to wear their specific gi at all times while on the mats.  Read more here.

STORM Kimono’s was founded in 1995 and have steadily grown.  They are a leading sponsor of athletes in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu field.  You’ll find competitors at the highest level wearing their equipment, you’ll see them worn by specialists in books and magazines and you’ll even find them on the beach with their new casual wear line.  Read more here.

Info

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” is one kimono in a line of new gi’s designed by STORM Kimonos for Gracie Barra affiliate school members.  It can be purchased online at Gracie Barra Wear or in any Gracie Barra academy for $179.99.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Earning the first stripe on my white belt back in 2009 at Gracie Barra U-H.

Disclosure

I have a special place for Gracie Barra in my heart.  I earned the first stripe on my white belt at Gracie Barra University of Hawaii.  I currently train at Chimera Mixed Martial Arts, whose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program is taught by Gracie Barra Seattle’s brown belt Ben Pyne.  I also drop in occasionally at Gracie Barra Seattle.  However, my love for Gracie Barra will in no way influence my opinion of the Storm / Gracie Barra collaboration or the product they have provided.

Intro

Gracie Barra and STORM Kimonos have teamed up to bring you a pretty slick new gi for Gracie Barra academy’s around the world.  Their design cues are well done but they stay in line with the traditional gi’s of Gracie Barra.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive.  You do see hints that excite you, though.  Like the massive "EQUIPE" logo.

When you first receive the gi, the packaging is unimpressive. You do see hints that excite you, though. Like the massive “EQUIPE” logo.

Inside tag of the collar.  It's a big patch but the way it's sewn in doesn't rub or scratch the back.

Inside tag of the collar. It’s a big patch but the way it’s sewn in doesn’t rub or scratch the back.

 

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done.  The subdued "G"s in the red really make the "BARRA" pop.  Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

After opening the gi and inspecting it, the patch work is really well done. The subdued “G”s in the red really make the “BARRA” pop. Pretty standard logo patching from STORM throughout.

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi.  Not all gi's have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Reinforced armpit patching, which makes for some extra sturdiness in the gi. Not all gi’s have this so this is definitely a feature that I like!

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong.  I also really like the contrasting "G" on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

Extra material and reinforced stitching make the vulnerable parts of this gi extra strong. I also really like the contrasting “G” on the tape that is found in on the edge and inside of the sleeve and pant cuffs.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants.  The red drawstring is an excellent touch.  I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

More reinforcement stitching on the pants. The red drawstring is an excellent touch. I also like how GB/STORM have capped the drawstring with some extra blue material, as opposed to searing it or using a knot.

Side view of the gi.  The larger patches, compared to previous ones, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Side view of the gi. The larger patches, compared to previous Gracie Barra gi’s, go a long way to making this a gi you can really appreciate.

Back view.  I like the small leg patch on the back.  You don't really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.

Back view. I like the small leg patch on the back. You don’t really notice it at first but then it becomes one of those little touches that you really like.  I also really liked the subdued silver “G” in the white “EQUIPE” patch.  Interesting fact, I always thought that “equipe” meant “equipment”.  Like Gracie Barra Equipment.  Turns out it’s Portuguese for “Team”.  You learn something new everyday!

Stats

I ordered a size A3 “Pro Light”.  Its weight, out of the package and prior to washing was 3.8 lbs.  The size chart does not provide a weight for the “Pro Light” gi.  I measured the “Pro Light” prior to washing it.  Its measurements were as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.5” (-.6” difference from the advertised size chart)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (-.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  31.5” (no difference from the advertised size chart)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  39” (-.2” difference from the advertised size chart)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (-.1” difference from the advertised size chart)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10.25” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (+1.3” difference from the advertised size chart)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  12” (measurement not provided on company size chart)

Following the care instructions on the tag, I machine washed the jacket and trousers in cold water and allowed them to hang dry.  The post wash measurements are as follows:

Jacket

Arm length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the cuff, following along the top of the sleeve:  30.0” (-0.5”)

Left cuff, flattened:  6.5” (no change)

Vertical torso length, from the leading edge of the lapel to the exterior edge of the back:  30.75” (-.75”)

Trousers

Exterior length of the leg, along the side, from the top of the waist to the edge of the cuff:  38” (-1”)

Interior seam, from the crotch down to the edge of the cuff:  29” (no change)

Leg cuff, flattened:  10” (-.25”)

Waist, from edge to edge:  23.5” (no change)

Inseam, from the top of the waist to the joint in the crotch:  11” (-1”)

The “fit percentage”, based on the above measurements, from the advertised size chart to the actual received product was 19.84%.  That’s almost 20% of difference between what’s advertised and what’s received.  The disclaimer to this is that I did not follow all of the measurements given on the size chart.  I also am not a seamstress and may not have made the measurements in the exact place as the manufacturer.  These measurements should in no way discourage you from purchasing the gi and are provided for informational purposes.

The percentage of shrinkage, based on the above measurements, from pre-wash to post-wash, following the given care instructions was -1.92%.  Less than 2%!!  That’s great!

Overall, I was pleased with the ratio to pre- and post-wash, the weight, and the ratio to advertised size and actual size.

Fit and feel

I’m 6′ and 185-190lbs and I sometimes get stuck in these in-between sizes.  An A3 isn’t quite big enough (after the wash) and an A4 is way to big (even after I try to shrink the snot out of it).  The GB/STORM gi doesn’t have that problem.  It’s slightly bigger than most other gi’s so it fits me perfectly.  The sleeves don’t shrink up and make me look like an old school judo player and there is plenty of room on the inside of the jacket to move around in.  Some gi’s can bind and tie you down because they lack the space inside the material to move.  Not this one.  If you’re a bigger Jits player that’s on the cusp of two sizes, this may be a perfect option for you.

The jacket and pants fit great.  It’s a little big compared to the other gi’s I own so you may want to size down.  Check out my stats above, this kimono has less than 2% shrinkage so don’t expect to buy an A3 and shrink it in the wash to make it fit.  It’s going to be the size you purchase.  Check their size chart prior to purchasing.

Style and Design

The Gracie Barra “Pro Light” incorporates design inputs from STORM Kimonos and Gracie Barra.  It does an excellent job mixing the old school layout of the GB brand with new modern touches from STORM.  Subdued “G”s accent the logo and patch work.  Larger patches give it a cleaner “read” when you look at it.  The updated tags even standout.

STORM’s touches take it from a gi that you need to a gi that you want!

Fin

I traveled not too long ago to Coronado, CA for some business.  I did some sight-seeing and touring of the area and a few drop in’s.  One stop was Gracie Jiu-Jitsu of La Jolla.  I really enjoyed my experience there.  Here’s a quick review.  If you ever get the chance, go check them out!  Congratulations to Matthew Becker on his recent promotion to Purple Belt!

gjjlj front

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu La Jolla, a small dojo in the heart of La Jolla about 30 minutes from Coronado, California, where I was staying. It was very clean and organized. The mats were not dirty and no one stunk. The dojo didn’t smell like a gym, which is definitely a plus.  Although it was one of the smaller professional training locations I’d been to it still easily fit 10 people on the mat.

I was met by Dione Becker, a Blue Belt herself and the wife of GJJ-LJ’s head Instructor and (then) Blue Belt, Matt Becker.  She greeted me at the door, had me sign the standard liability paperwork and gave me a quick tour of the dojo.  She showed me where the dressing room was.  After introducing myself to a few of the guys, changing, stretching and warming up, I met Matt.  We talked briefly and he then started class.  I caught them in their review week of leg locks for the Gracie Master Cycle.  Matt briefly reviewed the attacks they had covered over the past few weeks, the associated defenses and then paired us up to work through them for the first half of class.  After that we started a round-robin format, where Matt set the timer and we lightly sparred for a few minutes before rotating to the next individual.

I wouldn’t really say I learned a great deal from a technique aspect point of view (although I did get a few good pointers).  He wasn’t teaching, they were reviewing.  What I did get was a unique opportunity to gauge and compare GJJ-LJ’s Blue Belts against other Gracie Academy Blue Belts I’ve sparred with.  Granted, there are many factors here, such as no one was going full out, it’s not a tournament, we’re specifically reviewing and stopping and talking – but the overall impression of the individual was given and learned within that hour.  It would be unfair for me to judge Matt’s teaching style as a whole since it was a review day and he didn’t necessarily get into teaching any specific technique.  He knew what he was talking about and felt very comfortable leading his students throughout the class.

As a whole, I’d say the Blue Belts were all well versed in their techniques.  They were competent, able to flow from technique to technique and defend themselves with ease.  Which is the primary definition of any Gracie Academy Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt.  They weren’t “grippy”, either.  They didn’t grab hold of my lapel and try and smash and pin me relying on physical effort alone.  They weren’t looking to hold a position.  They were quick to release when it became advantageous for them to do so.  Overall, I was impressed with their transitions and movement.

I can honestly recommend Gracie Jiu-Jitsu La Jolla for anyone interested in training.  I can, and will say, with confidence, that they meet the Gracie Academy standard.  Matt’s review of the techniques were the exact same ones featured in the Master Cycle online videos.

purple

I was fortunate enough to attend a mini-seminar at the Academy for MMA and BJJ in Pensacola, Florida with Professor Murilo Rupp. You can catch my video interview with him on my YouTube page. We talked about everything to include why he started training, who inspires him, training UFC star Thiago Tavares  in MMA, his Floripa BJJ Camp, competing, and even using YouTube as a training tool.

His Floripa BJJ Camp sounds pretty bad-ass, too.  Check it out at here.

Enjoy!

Also, for your viewing pleasure, is a pretty slick Lapel Cross Choke from the Guard.

Guest writer and friend, Felix “the Trap and Roll Masta” Flores, provides us with some thoughts as he continues his journey through Gracie Jiu-Jitsu after his recent move. Enjoy! -J.

Up until this year, martial arts – to me – were essentially a string of combat dances that only guys like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan could pull off. I had very little experience and even less knowledge or interest in MMA or BJJ. This past spring my good friend, Jonny Hall, invited me to the infamously steamy space in his garage where he had placed a recently purchased set of mats and practiced Grace Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu alone was an entirely new world to me as it was, but the art – as made famous by the Gracie family – especially piqued my interest. The most interesting selling point to me was the idea of using a style that contains enough raw power and leverage to overwhelm any opponent but also has so much dexterity, maturity, and strategy infused into it that you can practice this art at its fullest potential without seriously injuring the people training with you. That first lesson in April, 2011 marked the start of my BJJ journey.

Jonny and I have had some great times on those package-taped mats; great sweep-or-submit drills, lots of rolling, and even a guest lesson! We have rolled in another gym, gone through flight school together, and even explored silly juice diets. Alas! My career has brought me to Virginia Beach, VA while Jonny’s has kept him in Pensacola, FL. This also means my BJJ journey has continued onward and into another gym, the LINXX Academy of Martial Arts.

One of the bigger questions that went through my head was, “Am I going to be as good as the people in the next gym?”….Ok the REAL question was, “I wonder if I will be able to school everybody at the next gym I go to.” Hey part of growing is being able to admit when your pride gets the best of you. Since I have been with LINXX I’ve learned that pride must be Brazilian for “broken limbs” because if you cannot tap early and often, your pride will cost you days of good training. I digress.

My first day at LINXX Academy answered the better of the two questions. Honestly speaking, I think I turned out to be better than your average beginner but sloppy, unrefined, and very much a white belt. I am sure our black-belt instructor and color-belts feel the same way. Since my first day I have been learning a lot, not just new techniques but how to begin mastering the ones I already know. I think Jonny will agree that the only thing I may have “mastered” is the trap-and-roll – which doesn’t do so much for me anymore, especially since most white belts here with a little dirt on their belts can hold a gi choke and text at the same time.

The people here at LINXX are great. Everyone has enough spirit to train with great discipline but enough humility to continue learning and to aide others who are new to BJJ. Of course there is always the process of fitting in and getting to know everyone enough to convince them that you’re not an a-hole who will take it too far and try to bring “the octagon” to a BJJ matt just before leaving with a musty tap-out shirt.

Without getting into entirely too much detail, I will say that the biggest message that I have received from my experiences so far is that diversity of training is huge! Rolling in Jonny’s garage was amazing and I have had the opportunity to roll with fellow white belts with great technique, others with raw power, and even the blue belt wonder himself, Jonny Hall. But no matter how often we rolled we were still limiting ourselves to each other’s strategy and knowledge. Since signing up with LINXX I have rolled with fresh white belts and have been rolled by powdery purple belts and I have come to understand BJJ that much better. I am looking forward to the rest of my time here at LINXX Academy of Martial Arts and the rest of my journey learning BJJ. For more about LINXX Academy or my experiences feel free to fire away with questions but please refer to the real experts at LINXX for specific information about their Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or Thai Boxing programs at http://linxxacademy.com/.

I’ve said before that I’m both blessed and cursed by my job.  I have to travel a bit so I get to tour and visit dojo’s testing myself against other Jiu-Jitsu practitioner’s, sampling some of the different flavors of styles, and making a few new friends and teammates.  However, this time, I was able to bring the training to me!

Craig Helton teaching a Guard Pass to Knee on Belly

Craig Helton teaching a Guard Pass to Knee on Belly

Craig Helton agreed to come down and train with some teammates and I.  For those of you who don’t know Craig, let me introduce you to one of Alabama’s best trainers!  A police officer in Atmore, owner of Titan Martial Arts Academy and a 4th degree Purple Belt under Adriano Lucio from Brazilian Top Team, he’s one of the best experts to hit up when you need to roll!

Craig is an excellent teacher and instructor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  This is made obvious by his team’s success on the mat and in the ring.  Google Titan Martial Arts in Atmore, AL and you’ll find plenty of news feeds reporting wins for their team.  Check out their Facebook page and all you’ll see is pictures of his team wearing medals or belts.

Craig spent his time teaching us some passes, as well as refining some previously learned techniques.  Learning a few new drills will also add to the arsenal of our onslaught on the mat!  One of the great things about Craig’s teaching was his desire not to reteach a technique we already knew in a different way, but to clean up what we had already been taught.   Sometimes you get these instructors who think you’re doing the whole damn thing wrong and want you to restart from scratch on the technique.  Craig says, hey, what you’re doing is correct, but we can make it even better and here’s how.  It’s the small details that make your technique perfect.  It’s also the small details that make instructors perfect.  Craig is a master at making the small details a large part of your training.

You can feel his passion for the sport.  His kids are all involved in it.  He loves to teach it.  He talks about it all the time and pushes it out to the world.  He’s one of the best and I look forward to continued training with him!  What’s next?  I’m going to visit Team Titan to do some training with Craig on his mats!

Check him and his team out!

Titan Martial Arts Academy