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VERBAL TAP (Episode 99) Metamoris 5 Extravaganza

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 99) Metamoris 5 Extravaganza

[buzzsprout episode='224400' player='true'] Metamoris 5Raf's Recollection | Metamoris recap shows are always my favorite episodes.

Always.

Not only do we dedicate an entire episode to breaking down the techniques, production value, and implications of the big event, but we also get a chance to catch up with some of our favorite friends (new and old), as they help us analyze these matches from every possible angle.

Following in the tradition of our previous Metamoris recaps (Metamoris 4 and Metamoris 3), we enlist a team of six to help us take a look at the card and break down each match.

Joining us this go round...

kit daleKit Dale - Leading us off on this podcast is our good pal Kit Dale.  When looking to analyze the explosive match-up between Garry Tonon and Zak Maxwell, we figured: who better to speak on the match than a guy who not only had some of the best seats in the house, but also happened to commentate on the match as it was going on (not to mention: who knows a thing or two about competing against Tonon at Metamoris).  In addition to his observations about the match, Kit also hooks us up with some great details about the behind the scenes nature of the show, reveals what Kenny Florian was too scared to do, and Kit and I discover where our jiu-jitsu venn diagrams intersect.

Ruben Avila Ruben- As one of of the more prolific BJJ writer/bloggers on the circuit, we decided to turn to the guy behind BJJGrappling.com, Ruben Avila, to help us try to make sense of the lengthy (and ultimately underwhelming) game show that was "Submit Vinny Mahalhaes for $10,000!"  More importantly, we ask if this is a format that Metamoris should continue to use in future installments going forward.  That and he gets Kevin to inadvertently support the use of WWE-esque rules in order to make a match like this more interesting (slick move, Ruben. He never even saw it coming!).

Jim LawsonJim Lawson - It only makes sense that we enlist the help of our friend Jim Lawson of The Warrior's Club to help us break down the epic rematch between two exciting BJJ warriors.  Jim makes his second appearance on the show detailing the finer points of Keenan Cornelius' and Yuri Simoes' respective games and attacks.  As the lone gi match of the card, Jim tells us how the match stacked up against the five other bouts (and even describes how the fight looked like in person at the Long Beach Convention Center that night).

Newaza

Travis Newaza - Very few people can refer to themselves as the "sweetheart" of Brazilian Jiu-JItsu and get away with it.  Yet somehow the distinction doesn't seem too far off when you get around to talking about Travis Newaza.  As one the owner of one of the coolest BJJ brands out on the circuit (Newaza Apparel) Travis has made a name for himself as a brand owner who doesn't just make clothes for the BJJ community, but who also takes a great deal of pride in being immersed in the culture of the sport.  On this podcast, Travis helps us measure the shock value of the Metamoris "secret match," it's overall impact, and even discusses the finer points of Ed O'Neil's head.

JT TorresJT Torres - In order to get the most objective account of the match-up between JT Torres and Rory MacDonald we decided to ask JT himself to take an objective look at his match against Rory MacDonald.  Just kidding.  No part of our conversation is objective in the least.  Instead, JT gives us the inside scoop on what it was like to compete against an opponent who outweighed him by close to 40+ pounds, outlines the game plan he used during the match (and describes the adjustments he had to make), and even takes a minute to respond to the comment that Rory was prepared to let his arm get broken on the Metamoris mats.

Rob Acree Rob Acree- And finally, closing out the podcast, is one of Kevin's training awesome partners from BJJ and MMA Training Center out in Chantilly, Virgina, Rob Acree.  Rob uses his black belt acumen to properly contextualize the match between Renzo Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba, navigating us through not only the historical significance of this highly-anticipated rematch, but also giving us a detailed breakdown of the techniques and strategies utilized by both Renzo and Sakuraba.  Additionally, he helps me get in some great digs at Kevin's expense, so I seriously can't complain about that.

A damn good podcast from start to finish.  Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us breakdown this monumental event.  And keep an eye out real soon for episodes of Around the Mat to start popping up all around.

And get ready guys.  Kevin touches down in LA in just a few days and we've already got big plans for our 100th episode!  Get ready folks!

If you want to send us a message on our social media, merely hastag #VerbalTapTurns100 with a twitter message, Instagram meme, video or Vine to send us a message (we might just talk about it on air)!

Oh Yeah, Check This Out

I got the chance to shoot the shit with Garry Tonon this week.  Good times were had.

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 98) with Mac Danzig

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 98) with Mac Danzig

[buzzsprout episode='222389' player='true'] MacDanzig_HeadshotRaf's Recollection | I'll never forget the time I discovered Mac Danzig and I had a mutual set of friends.  Years ago I discovered that Mac and I were only a couple degrees of separation away from each other all thanks to my best friend Bobby.

And when you're in good with my long-time best friend (and future best man at my wedding) and his family, in my book, it means you've already been vetted and that you're good people.

Before I had a podcast, or even really knew I'd take up jiu-jitsu, I was just a UFC fan who enjoyed Mac's work in the Octagon.  Perhaps it's my knowledge of how reality shows work and get spliced together, but even when I sat at home watching his time on The Ultimate Fighter I always thought he got a bum wrap on the way he was depicted. It's not entirely surprising, it's just the nature of the beast known as reality TV.

But as someone who doesn't tend to get caught up in that sort of thing (even then), I just knew I liked his fighting style and thought he had a promising future (in retrospect, I can see that I have a long history of rooting for the jiu-jitsu guys).  Naturally, I was stoked to see him go on to win the show and have a solid run in the UFC.

After years of hearing great things about him and the way he teaches from our mutual friends, I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago when I heard he was holding a Striking for Submissions seminar down here in LA.  I packed up the gym bag and made it down.

Before the seminar, I got the chance to meet and exchange pleasantries.  We talked about our mutual connections and BS-ed about a number of MMA and BJJ topics, all the while Mac lived up to all of the great qualities our mutual friends had come to say about him.

By the time we got around to the seminar and I saw him demonstrate his first BJJ transition, I realized something I had long since forgotten: Mac was one of the first people I watched and learned how to do jiu-jitsu technique from.

While I had watched a number of fights before his tenure on The Ultimate Fighter, I never really paid attention to the science of it all.  For whatever reason, his style just clicked with me and, while I may not have understood the exact reasoning behind every grip or underhook, I remember finding myself interested in the craft and wanting to learn how to break it all down.

And on this day, on these mats, there he was telling me to stop doing the technique so wrong and try to get it right for a change.

He didn't actually say that, but you're all familiar with how I roll by now.

Nonetheless, it was just a cool moment in my training journey and all the more reason his appearance on the show was so cool for me personally.

On the podcast this week, Mac (37:20) drops in to provide a little more insight about the actual production of The Ultimate Fighter, the awesome connection he has to the world of animation, his interest in photography, what its like to transition out of fighting, and even describes what it's like to be on the other side of the cage as a referee.

It's a fantastic first conversation with a guy who's been a friend of podcast long before we even had him on.  We look forward to having him back on some time soon.

In the meantime, check out his work at http://www.macdanzigphoto.net/.

As an avid photography fan, I'm not one to put over work if I don't find it really good.  But his stuff is awesome and I strong encourage you all to give it a gander.

But Wait, There's More!

Our pal, Alex Perez returns on this week's podcast to find out if he beat Kevin in our UFC 180 edition of Over/Under Kevin

In addition to finding out the results, Alex helps us recap all of the awesome (that sick main event), the disgusting (Ultimate Fighters taking a #2 in the cage), and the really disgusting (the worst PSA for Cauliflower ears ever) things that made one of the shortest UFC PPV's in recent memory a fun and unpredictable night of fights.

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Metamoris 5: The Game Show

Because no Metamoris card is complete without at least three match-up changes, we had to get creative with our latest Around the Mat preview series.  We always like to record these things a week out of the show as to try and get you a preview that's the most up-to-date possible, but when the news hit that Kevin "KO" Casey was out of his match-up (prompting the BJJ equivalent of American Idol to take place) as I was editing the latest installment of our Metamoris Preview Series, I had to do something.

This was that something.

The following is a sneak preview of our show that's coming out a little later tonight.  Hope you all enjoy it!

EDIT: And here's the entire full length episode for your viewing pleasure:

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 97) with Garry Tonon

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 97) with Garry Tonon

[buzzsprout episode='219848' player='true'] garytononRaf's Recollection | We all know Garry Tonon [46:54] as one of the most exciting grapplers on the planet.  With an aggressive style on the mats that relentlessly goes after submissions, Garry has made a huge name for himself in the world of competitive jiu-jitsu as one of the most reliable "sure bets" for an exciting match.

Even when if it means putting himself in terrible positions.  And that's just part of what makes his matches so unpredictably exciting.

The guy has a gas tank that puts a great number of us to shame (despite a number of well-documented accounts of how much fast-food the kid ingests).  But, as I came to find out last week, even interviewing Garry Tonon can be a workout.

Not because the guy is a difficult interview (our conversation is a lot of fun), but because he just has so much energy, you have to match his level of intensity during the interview.  Even in the moments we spent talking with Garry off-air, before our interview officially began, Kev and I found ourselves having a great time comparing notes and jokes.  As I overheard the rapid-fire cadence in his voice, it began to make complete sense:

Garry Tonon doesn't do anything slow.

Garry Tonon

With that in mind, I encourage you all to give a listen to a dynamic interview we do with Garry, as we touch upon all the bases: his match at Metamoris 5, what his expectations of his opponent Zak Maxwell, if his eating habits are truly as terrible as some Metamoris preview videos lead us to believe, what it's like to train with Rory MacDonald, and what he really thought of my interpretation of his BJJ game at Metamoris 5.

Yep.  This one.

It should be noted that a running joke at my gym has been how when I played Garry, my jiu-jitsu was way better than normal.  Leaps and bounds better.  So while I'd love to base my game entirely on Garry's movement, I will remind you that too is an exhausting endeavor (the guy never quits moving).

Be sure to give Garry's episode a listen and then let us know what you think!

Peace Out, JEvans

Last week, we said goodbye to our pal, John Evans who is forging ahead with his journey to open out his own jiu-jitsu school.  Mind you, he'll still be here in the Valley, but he's going to be opening up his own place for BJJ instruction very soon.

As one of the most influential people in my BJJ career, I can't thank John enough for his patience and his help with my game.  Any gains I've made over the past few years are due in part to his superb coaching abilities.

And because no goodbye is without it's hardships, allow me to post the video of the way we closed out John's experience here at VMAC.

[embed]http://instagram.com/p/vE4UiBj6r5[/embed]

Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @BJJBreakdown and look out for more updates about his school at BJJBreakdown.com.

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 95) goes to the 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu Expo

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 95) goes to the 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu Expo

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[buzzsprout episode='214622' player='true']

Raf's Recollection | Considering all of the videos and writing I have to get done this week, I'll keep this short.  We had a huge week on the podcast, previewing this weekend's UFC 179 with our pal Marcus Kowal and discussing all things World Jiu-JItsu Expo.

Marcus (pictured here in a new headshot compliments of our good friend Blanca Marisa Garcia) joins us this week to take on Kevin on our latest installment of Over/Under Kevin.

Some of you know Marcus as our pal from Systems Training Center down in Hawthorne, while others of you may somewhat recognize this guy as the host of his own podcast the MMA Roundtable.

Yep, since we last left Marcus, he has now grown up and started a podcast of his own.  So we decided to give him some well deserved shit to start the show and then get into our picks for this weekends fights.

FightersMarket016I Went to the World Jiu-JItsu Expo!

Let's just say this weekend was another mad capped weekend of insane jiu-jitsu coverage.

Accompanied by my two awesome photogs (Alex Perez and Octavio Villanueva), we hit up the World Jiu-JItsu Expo for a second year of crazy coverage.

On the podcast, Kevin spends the first twenty minutes asking me all about it and I talk a little bit about some of our favorite experiences and observations from an event that is something akin to what we call "Jiu-Jitsu Christmas."

I got to talk with this guy.

RafBraulio009And this guy.

Renato003And even catch up with this guy.

Keenan004I'm working to get out a video per day, but right now, here are two of the first videos we've edited from this weekend.

Keep an eye out on our YouTube page as we'll be posting as many videos as we can from this weekend's World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.

Hope you enjoy it, folks!

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VERBAL TAP (Episiode 94) with Vinny Magalhaes

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VERBAL TAP (Episiode 94) with Vinny Magalhaes

[buzzsprout episode='212870' player='true'] VinnyRaf's Recollection | Vinny Magalhaes {13:29) is the MMA version of a workaholic.  It seems like every time he finishes a fight or a grappling match, he's already lining up the next fight (or two).

You might even call him a fight-aholic.  It's like the guy's addicted to competing.

Lucky for us it results in some amazing fights to watch both in the cage and on the mats.

Shortly after walking us through his sick light heavyweight title win at Titan FC 30, Vinny talks to us about his next Metamoris 5 match-up against Kevin "KO" Casey (... only to work on creating a match for himself at Metamoris 6).

That's right.  A month before Metamoris 5 even happens, Vinny's already offering himself as available and ready to fight at Metamoris 6.

But that's the spirit of the fight in Vinny.  He's a goal-oriented fighter who's not just content holding MMA gold around his waist.  It seems like he's ready to fight any time, any where, any place.

Untitled-4-620x330On this week's podcast, Vinny describes his Titan FC 30 fight camp, what his training partners think of his workaholic tendencies, and even gives us some insight into the fighter psychology that takes place inside of the cage.

Then Vinny switches gears to answer some BJJ questions, including his thoughts on Keenan Cornelius' performance at Metamoris 4, what it's like to film one of those Metamoris preview videos, and even starts walking us through some of the competitors he'd like to have a rematch with.

Also, he fields a question thrown our way from Renato Laranja and then is informed about Kevin's poor attempt to recreate Vinny's match from Metamoris 4.

So Vinny, if you're watching.  Here's the video of the terrible re-creation and I will be happy to provide you with Kevin's address once you finish watching it.

EBI Dos!

AEBI 2lso on the podcast, I talk a little bit about what it was like to watch the Eddie Bravo Invitational 2 in person.

I don't want to go too much into detail (as the show has yet to be televised and we're working on a cool side project here as part of our coverage), but it was a cool experience that was a blast to attend.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank the wonderful participants (a number of whom are friends of the podcast) who did an exceptional job that evening.  And also, my thanks to Alex Perez for the fantastic work helping us with fight coverage through the night.

Are You Going to the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo?

If so, don't be afraid to stop by and say hello.  I'll be covering the event live in Long Beach all weekend and would love to run into you guys while we're there.

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And FINALLY...

Check out our latest installment of Around the Mat, where we break down the Metamoris 4 match between Dean Lister and Josh Barnett.

We love hearing what you guys have had to say about our other installments, so keep them comments and likes comin'!

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 79) with Eric Jackman

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Raf's Recollection | I want everyone to look at the photo of Eric Jackman over on the right hand side of this page.

What look do you see?

Do you see the look of a stone cold killer, here to bring an end to the one win streak of Kevin's Over/Under Kevin miracle win?  Or do you see a deer-in-the-headlights realizing he's in way over his head?

Aside from being a phenomenal rorschach test, our pal Eric provides a true challenge to Kevin.  As the main prediction guy over at the MMA Hour, the guy knows a thing or two about being accountable when it comes to picking who will win or lose a fight.

Which is why it only made sense to bring him on our podcast to basically crush Kevin's dreams.

But the question is: does Eric go straight for the kill or does he let Kevin think he actually has a chance?

Only time will tell.

We outline the prospects for not only this weekend's huge UFC 175 card, but we also take a look at this weekend's mercy-killing finale to the "season of boring" Ultimate Fighter.

Speaking of, we've got not just one, but TWO "1 Minute Reviews" of the past two episodes of The Ultimate Fighter to bring you up to speed on a show you probably haven't been watching.

So quick, come get your fix of my BJ Penn impression before Dana White likely makes him try to retire this Sunday night!

Until then fight fans!

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 76) with Amechi Akpom and Brian Carlsen

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Raf's Recollection | On the podcast this week: Amechi Akpom and Dream Jiu-Jitsu’s Baddest Brown winner Brian Carlsen.

But first, let me just start by saying, I’ve ingested a lot of jiu-jitsu this week. And by a lot, I mean, even more than the ridiculous average I normally ingest in a given week.

My weekend started with a fantastic seminar conducted by my pal (and former Verbal Tap guest) Travis Conley last Saturday afternoon. Kev has spoken so highly of his friend Travis for so long that any time I’ve asked what it’s like to train with him, Kev merely lets out an exhausted sigh and mutters “…rough.”

At his own BJJ home base in Virginia (BJJ and MMA Academy), Kev is surrounded by a set of friendly, but competitive killers. And as someone who is no averse to an aggressive style of sparring, his recommendations are highly respected.

So there was little doubt in my mind Travis would bring a certain kind of game to a seminar.

IMAG0243And the man did not disappoint.

Travis’ style is heavy. It’s pressure filled, it’s intense, and controlled all at the same time (kind of the exact opposite of my own style I bring to the table)—which is all the more reason I wanted to see him at work. I like learning from people who challenge me to venture outside of my comfort zone.

But there’s more than just the element of smash that Travis brings to his seminar instruction, it’s an impressive ability to adapt to the needs of his individual students.

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We had a wonderful spectrum of folks at the seminar whose skill levels were varied (ranging from experienced BJJ practitioners to my buddy, Ross Ellis, who was there to try out jiu-jitsu for the very first time) and Travis did an excellent job of making sure each student walked out with more than just a choke or a guard pass, but that every person in attendance left with something to improve their individual game.

That’s a tough thing to do.

We want to send a very sincere thank you to Travis for taking the time to stop by The World Famous Gracie Barra Encino to conduct a truly one-of-a-kind seminar. We also want to send a big shout out to the homie, Marcus Kowal, for playing host and being so welcoming with his establishment.

IMAG0257And our biggest thanks go out to the great people who came to join us. Many of the folks in attendance are friends of the podcast and their support was a wonderful reminder of the excellent company we keep here at the podcast. And to our new friends: I look forward to training with you beasts again sometime soon!

Superbad

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The day after the seminar I got the chance to work Media for Dream Jiu-Jitsu’s Baddest Brown tournament.

For those not in the know, Dream Jiu-Jitsu is leading the charge of alternatives for BJJ junkies who are seeking more just out-advanting-ing or point-ing their opponents. This California-based organization has quickly made a name for itself by providing athletes with a series of tournaments that feature creative and innovative stipulations.

The main attraction of last Saturday’s tournament: a 32 man, brown belt invitational that’s no time-limit and submission-only. The catch? Competitors flip a coin before each round to determine if they will compete in either gi or no gi competition.

Crazy, right?

So it was no surprise when I found out that Travis was contacted to be a part of this group.

I was fortunate enough to interview all 32 participants in the competition and found myself immersed in their backstories (in the coming days, we’ll be posting some of the fun interviews we conducted at the tournament). Each of these killers seemed excited and motivated to be a part of tournament that wouldn’t be left in the hands of a ref or lost by a sweep in the last thirty seconds. And the thrill of shifting gears between gi and no gi proved to be a great catalyst for their excitement.

10459093_716119845114174_7648174429276656614_oAmong the interviews, I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Carlsen (from http://eastonbjj.com)—a mild mannered, self-described nerd who’s spent the better half of the past year competing at tournaments every other weekend. Carlsen’s upbeat attitude and easy-going attitude made him a breeze to interview (I mean, he shouted out his grandma and grandpa during my pre-interview with him, how can you hate the guy?).

And while I was not surprised to see him win the entire tournament—having had a front row seat to the grueling wars between highly skilled BJJ competitors that were all around—I was keenly aware of the degree of difficulty involved in each of those hard fought wins.

I was thrilled he agreed to come on the podcast to talk about his experience. On here, he talks about the tough mental stamina used to win the tournament, the caliber of his competition, and then Brian describes the hero’s welcome he received when he got back to his training partners back at Easton BJJ.

On a personal note, I was truly inspired by the dedication and resolve demonstrated by each of the guys in the 32 man invitational. In getting to know many of them and their backstories, you really got a sense for their love of sport. It’s my hope to be able to relay their narratives, as thanks from the wonderful technique, heart, and soul they left on those mats.

I learned so many things from them all and can’t wait to butcher all of their technique back at my gym.

But Wait There’s More…

Our pal, BJJ Training Journal’s (BJJTrainingJournal.com), Amechi Akpom, returns to the podcast to take on Kevin on another thrilling installment of Over/Under Kevin for UFC 174. Listen in to find out if Kevin will remain undefeated at losing, or if Amechi will be the first person to lose to my slow-witted co-host.

 

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 75) with Stuart Cooper

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 75) with Stuart Cooper

[buzzsprout episode='179694' player='true'] Stu Cooper

Raf's Recollection | What do you do when your co-host is unavailable during a week when you have an interview with Stuart Cooper and need to review what took place at this year's Worlds?

Well, naturally you carry on without the guy and replace him.

J/Ks everyone.

Don't worry, Kev isn't going anywhere.  He just was out of town for the week (and will be back with us next week).

In the meantime: We landed a whale of an interview with Stu (We've been truly anxious to hear about his legendary filmmaking process for some time now).

If for some reason you're unfamiliar with Stuart Cooper, you would be well served to check out the documentary about him below.

And if that's not enough to help you understand the the man behind the camera, why not take a look at a few samples of his work.

We've had the pleasure of being in contact with Stuart Cooper for some time now, but we've long been fans of his work.

His documentaries do a superb job of filling in the metaphorical and narrative ellipses for the avid BJJ enthusiast.  The stories behind many of our favorite BJJ athletes often extend further than what we see on the mats during tournaments. When you watch a Stuart Cooper film, you get more than just why a match or a tournament is important.  We get a rare insight into the philosophy, the psyche, and even the small nuances of the fighter's personal lives (try telling me any two Stuart Cooper documentaries are alike).

Stuart CooperFor me, his films aren't just comparable to quality found on the big budget, fight countdown shows (similar to the ones produced for the UFC and Bellator), the creativity exhibited in many of these vignettes stand up against a number of documentaries period.  They strive for uniqueness in an industry where narratives are often uniform and bland.

On the podcast, we talk about his filmmaking process, some of the crazier experiences he's faced, and his new Indiegogo campaign he's mounted (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stuart-cooper-films) to help off-set the costs of making these films.

While the notion of traveling around the world, training BJJ, and making films sounds like a dream, the cost of making multiple, high quality videos on a regular basis basis is anything but glamorous.  As a man who's portfolio has been a free and open book for the past several years (and who's films have often showcased the sport in an entirely different light), we highly implore you to donate to his Indiegogo.

Believe us, we know no one likes taking out their wallet when they don't have to.  But the breakdown of his production costs is a mere fraction of what other places would charge for a comparable product-- and a loss of films like his would be a huge setback for a sport we all love.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stuart-cooper-films

Verbal Tap Goes to Worlds

IMAG0166This was my first time attending a Worlds competition.  While I've been a number of tournaments over the past year and a half, I learned a lot from my experience down in Long Beach last week.

For example, Worlds is loud (http://instagram.com/p/oorT9Wj6rD/).

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And there's a lot of matches that happen all at once.

(#TwoEyesTwelveMats was a personal favorite hashtag to use).

And it's a lot to take in all at once.

But it was a great experience and I got to see a ton of great matches and friends.

(I didn't get the chance to mention it on the podcast, but I really do believe this: Much in the same way they have warm up mats for the competitors, they should also have mats designated just for spectators who want to start drilling something they learned and thought was cool during the competition.

Hell, I should get some perk for my spectator fee, right?).

IMG_20140530_195040But, I did go at it alone.  I had back up at the event to help me better understand all of the action taking place.

Yep, that's right.  Our good pal, BJJ Breakdown's John Evans (seen in the accompanying picture looking more bad ass than ever thanks to me, #streetcred) was there to help explain all of the moves that blew my mind.

John not only covered the event with me, but he also shows up on this podcast to walk us through some of the highlights.

All this plus we get in a One Minute Review of The Ultimate Fighter (!!!).

What are you waiting for, listen in now!

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