Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 5.05.20 AMRaf's Recollection | When it comes to birthdays, I'm really just a simple guy.  All I need are some good friends, some great company, and a fantastic seminar hosted by one of the most decorated BJJ practitioners in the greater United States.

Is that too much to ask?

Fortunately this year, one of my best presents came in the gift of a fantastic seminar hosted by our pal, Rafael Lovato Jr. (ya know, that other Rafael who happens to do jiu-jitsu).

When I discovered that Rafael would be in Las Vegas the same weekend I would be in town, I couldn't think of any better way to mark the birthday than learning some new pressure passing techniques.

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While I've been fortunate enough to get to see Rafael compete, I've never had the opportunity to watch how he teaches the art.  We've heard so many great things from his students and fellow BJJ practitioners over the years, it was truly a pleasure to watch him break down the subtlest intricacies of his strong ground game.

On Saturday, June 28th, I headed on over to Cobra Kai ( to absorb as much as I could from Professor Lovato.  I've long been a fan of his game and have been eager to try and implement some of the techniques I've seen him post on his website (, his matches or even the cool things I've seen him teach on some of his online seminars.

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The only problem being: I roll nothing like him.

Whereas Lovato is one to push the action, my game is a lot more reactionary.  While he's known for his offense, my greatest skill (at present) is my defense.  And while he is tall and lanky, I roll at an average height and weight.  Knowing these differences up front, I walked into the seminar hoping to make some slight adjustments to my arsenal and hear him discuss the finer parts of his technique.

I was not disappointed.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 4.55.38 AMWhat you find instantly at a Rafael Lovato Jr. seminar is the scope and breadth of the techniques.  There were four concentrated areas that were detailed, drilled, and demonstrated at the seminar (that can chain together quite nicely).

And while I can tell you that the seminar included tips for side control, half-guard passing, and finishes from the mount, it would fail to properly describe the impressive array of instruction and options presented for each of those areas.

It's the small things, the details that make so many of the techniques that Rafael does so unique.  With Rafael, there's a strong love for the basics with an appreciation and acknowledgement of the modern game.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 5.06.15 AMAfter the seminar I got the chance to witness Rafael roll with some of Cobra Kai's upper belts and watch as he practiced the very jiu-jitsu he preached during the seminar. It was a refreshing supplement to the instruction that showed what can happen with a mastery of each minute correction (you can check out footage from that roll on the video up top).

Post-roll, I got the chance to catch up with Rafael (video embedded up top) and ask him about his plans for MMA, the rationale and impact of his Save Jiu-Jitsu podcast (listen to it obviously after you listen to the latest episodes of Verbal Tap), and even got him to play a 2 Minute Drill lightning round game with us.

I also got the chance to speak with Cobra Kai owner, Sim Go, about the seminar, the origin of his gym's bad ass name, and about what killers we need to be on the lookout from Cobra Kai.

Overall, Rafael teaches a mean seminar and the nice folks over at Cobra Kai are a great set of people to roll with.  A week removed and I'm still working to implement the exact notes Rafael gave all of us into my game.  I'm a slow learner (even slower implementer), but I like having a better understanding of the concepts behind the moves, as well as an appreciation for a game thatwhile I can't exactly emulate right nowcan potentially be implemented into my arsenal with the proper practice and patience.

My thanks to all for a great seminar and experience, and the best way I could have possibly spent a birthday.