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VERBAL TAP (Episode 88) with Mik Milman


VERBAL TAP (Episode 88) with Mik Milman

[buzzsprout episode='201359' player='true'] Mik Milman

Raf's Recollection | Not gonna lie, I'm a little jealous of Mik Milman's photography skills.

As an avid photography enthusiast, I spend a great deal of my spare time researching different photographers and trends within the field.  Which is why it came as a nice surprise when I found there was a photographer taking the time to capture the essence of everyday jiu-jitsu practitioners.

That's right, not the guys you see standing on podiums or shouting out their twenty thousand sponsors.  Nor the guys selling you DVDs, telling you what you need to know about jiu-jitsu.  Not even the people trying to make names for themselves showing you a cool move on YouTube.

In fact, Mik (pronounced "Mick") none of that really seems to matter all that much to Mik Milman.  For him, there's a way bigger interest in the psychology behind why people step foot on a mat.

Mik's passion project, People Who Train, is a photography-based narrative BJJ endeavor that seeks to find out the psychology behind why ordinary people step on the mats.

And the results, thus far, have been fascinating.

Panel Group ShotI first caught wind of the projects a couple months ago and was intrigued by the quality of the photos.  In each of Mik's still frames you truly get a representation of each interview subject's soul.  And while I've never rolled with any of the people in the photos or heard a single word about their story beforehand, the photos give a great peek into the role jiu-jitsu plays in their life.

NextIt's even more awesome when you see the photos juxtaposed with some of the short narratives that give you a little more insight into these folks' everyday lives.

On the podcast [his appearance starts at the 58:30 mark], Mik describes his process (all the way from the photography sessions, the type of people's he's interested in photographing, and the unexpected narratives that have propelled him to do even more for the BJJ community).

If you're interested in being one of the folks featured in this project (seriously, don't be shy.  We all have cool stories that deserve to be featured), be sure to check out People Who Train and hit up

You can also check out Mik's work on Instagram (@retrograding) and give him a like on Facebook.

But Wait, There's More

We talk about Dana White's latest PR fail, some stupid parents on a dumb reality show force their kids to do jiu-jitsu and are pretty extreme about it, the devastation of UFC 177, and Todd Levin [21:11] returns to find out if he beat Kevin on our last installment of "Over/Under Kevin" (spoiler alert, of course he did).

So take a load off and kick back as we help you unwind and make sense of this crazy week in BJJ and MMA.  And don't forget to follow us on our social media stuff as well.

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

Oh yeah, one more thing.  We've got our new Around the Mat episodes coming out (we filmed one episode per Metamoris 4 match).  Check our our first installment right here!


VERBAL TAP (Episode 86) with Karl Penn


VERBAL TAP (Episode 86) with Karl Penn

[buzzsprout episode='198059' player='true'] Raf's Recollection | Jiu JIdiots and UsKarl Penn is our kind of idiot.

Well, jiu-jidiot to be precise.

In a short amount of time, Karl has made a name for himself as the guy behind some of the funniest jiu-jitsu memes hitting the net.

We've had the pleasure of getting name checked in a couple of his memes as of recently (including the one to the right-hand side here, pronouncing his appearance on this week's show), so we wanted to return the favor by having him on the show.

If you haven't seen some of his work, allow us to share a few of our favorites:

Example 4example 3Example 2And my current favorite...

Example 1On this week's episode, we find a little bit about Karl's jiu-jitsu evolution, what he did before BJJ, and even get him to explain a few of his most recent status updates.

We love supporting folks like Karl who help put a smile on our face in this crazy world of BJJ.  For a sport that can sometimes take itself a little too seriously, we love having an ally like Karl Penn who gets that a simple meme can help us make sense of the more ridiculous aspects of BJJ.

Be sure to follow Karl and his facebook page, Jiu Jidiots, and tell 'em your friends at Verbal Tap sent ya.

Where'd I Train This Week?


I made a stop over to train with the guys over at The Warrior's Club this week.

As some of you may recall, our pal Jim Lawson publicly put me on blast on last week's podcast and told me a beating was in in the foreseeable future.

He was certainly right.

A beating did happen, just not at my expense.  As the picture on the right demonstrates, Jim may have pushed this white belt a little too far.

That aside, Jim teaches a really cool class, helping me lay a strong foundation for my footlock game (don't worry, I can't do any of it remotely well, so you're all safe for the time being).

What I appreciate was that as I struggled to grasp the proper grips and technique, Jim really made an effort to make sure I understood the concepts (even going as far as to blame himself for me not getting the techniques right).  I assured him it's my general stupidity (or jiu-jitsu dyslexia I've diagnosed myself with that renders me incapable of even the simplest of BJJ moves), but I sincerely appreciated his efforts to go above and beyond helping me better understand the techniques of the day.

Those are the kinds of instructors you want in your corner, the people who make it their mission to make you better (and feel like they're letting you down if you don't quite get it).  I can assure Jim that his help is greatly appreciated and will one day pay off.

Great rolls and fun times.  I look forward to giving Jim his well-deserved rematch any time he likes, but let this be a lesson to all: it's not polite to call out your podcast host.

They might get angry.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

... or hungry.  Now that I think about it, that's probably worse: hangry.

Nonetheless, my thanks to all the good people at The Warrior's Club and I look forward to getting beat up by you all again sometime soon.

Oh and BTW

If you haven't watched it yet, please go check out the first technique video from your pals here at Verbal Tap.  That's right.  Our pal Travis Conley identifies a problem in my current game.  Please feel free to like and share, and let us know if you want to see more of these in the future!

Let us know what you thought about this week's episode on our social media:

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

Until next time, folks!


VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


[buzzsprout episode='196339' player='true'] M4-Poster-full2Raf's Recollection | Following in the lead of our most popular episode ever (our Metamoris 3 recap, Episode 66), we enlisted the services of a host of guests who know far more about the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than we do to help us review all things Metamoris 4.

That's right, we cover it all: the shocks, the surprises, the missing championship belts, the streaks that came to a halting end, the "secret match" that was hardly a secret to anyone, the fashion, the beards, the Nevada Athletic Commission, the drum circles critiques.  It's ALL here!

Also, how have we not discussed the official promo poster to the right here looking like the worst direct-to-Redbox movie cover to ever hit the scene (are they athletes or aliens)?

But I digress, let's carry on:

Allow me to introduce you to our all-star panel for this episode:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.57.49 PMAmechi Akpom Our brotha from the mighty BJJ Training Journal ap (now available for droid users!) kicks things off for us with his review of the high caliber match between Garry Lee Tonon and Kit Dale.  Not only was Amechi there to see the event live, but he also got the chance to run into Kit and Garry later that evening post-match (because that's the kind of in-depth reporting Amechi brings to this podcast).  Amechi tells us a little bit about the behind-the-scenes action and breaks down how he saw this fast paced match.

BJJ Training Journal #1 BJJ Training Journal #2

Jim Lawson - Now I hear you asking, "Hey Raf, why would you put a rival BJJ podcast host on your show?"  And I'd tell you the answer is simple: he threatened me.  Yep, literally called me out to come train with him and I've yet to do so (I've been busy, lay off).  Nonetheless, Jim from the amazing The Warrior's Club podcast brings a true black belt perspective in helping us break down the match between Saulo Ribeiro and Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros.  And although he's a "rival" podcaster in this crazy saturated world of BJJ chat shows, we here couldn't be happier The Warrior's Club is back on air.

Brandon Mccaghren - Since the day we stumbled upon the guy behind the hilarious "I Dominated Eddie (The Gracie Filter)" show, Brandon has become a beloved staple here at the podcast.  His giant goofball nature has fit in perfectly with us and we were stoked when he agreed to talk about the epic encounter between Keenan Cornelius and Vinny Magalhaes.  But that's not all, Brandon pulled double duty for the podcast this week when he premiered the very first song written about our show (that's right, we have a song written about us!).  Not since the days of Eagle Eye Cherry have I heard lyrics and guitar work that poignant.  Thank you, Brandon.  Thank. You.

Eric MedinaEric Medina - Eric made his Verbal Tap debut on our last Metamoris recap show and gave us some great insight into Eddie Bravo's training regimen.  This time he ups the ante as he gives us a play-by-play account of how he figured out the highly guarded Metamoris 4 "secret match (well, most of it)," then talks about the crazy exhibition put on by Baret Yoshida and Jeff Glover.  We are also stoked to hear that Eric will be participating at the next Eddie Bravo Invitational and look forward to seeing him do his thing on that stage again.

Brent Burniston - Brent BurnistonIf you've been listening to the podcast lately, you've likely heard me speak about the excellent experiences I've had training with Brent and his crew over at SubconsciousBJJ.  With the historic result of the match between Josh Barnett and Dean Lister, we needed the kind of expertise and analysis that only a Jean Jacques Machado black belt can provide.  Brent not only does a great job breaking down the match, but also gives us some much-needed perspective on what's next for bothBarnett and Lister.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, Brent's instruction is top notch.  There's a reason why everyone at my viewing party turned to him to help make sense of this match.  Lucky for us, he was happy to give that same analysis and insight for the podcast.

John EvansJohn Evans - It's not a true Metamoris review show without John Evans.  There's a reason why John Evans is one of the most popular guests on our podcast.  His love of jiu-jitsu is infectious.  One only needs to watch a few minutes of his detailed insight on his BJJ Breakdown youtube page to really see how much jiu-jitsu and the practice of teaching the art are in his soul.  Which is why we asked John to help us break down the final match between Andre Galvao and Chael Sonnen.  We talk about what surprised him in the match, the drama leading up to it all, and even break down the hilarious promo that left many of us cheering for Chael (even if we didn't really understand what the hell any of it actually meant).

streakmadnessMetamoris cards always bring the best out of us here on the podcast and that is due in great part to our panel.  I want to thank these guys for taking their time to walk us through a great event and can't wait to hear what you all think about it.

Hit us up folks.  You know the places to give us feedback.

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

And stay on the lookout for a new installment of our Around the Mat YouTube series.  Word has it, we've got a Metamoris 4 Review show that's worth your time.  Look for it over on our YouTube page right here in the next few days.


VERBAL TAP (Episode 82) with Joey Diaz

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 82) with Joey Diaz

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Raf's Recollection | Joey Diaz is a real motherfucker.

There's an old adage that says "never meet your heroes." The saying implies that you'll only set yourself up for disappointment when you finally meet the person you admire.

In entertainment, that saying consistently true.  But not with Joey Coco Diaz.

I've always been a fan of his style of comedy and over the past year I've had the pleasure of getting to know Joey as both a stand up comic and a BJJ training partner.

On stage or on his podcast (The Church of What's Happening Now), Joey is ferocious, uncensored.  A beast.  He has this great old school energy that is severely lacking in this PC sensitive world.

Off stage, Joey is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.  The dude's selfless and has gone out of his way to do nice things for his friends on numerous occasions.  He's offered to do my talk show, he did this podcast, and he even offered to help me out with a new project that I'll be sharing with you all very soon.

On the podcast this week, we ask Joey about his training in BJJ, why MMA audiences gravitate toward his sense of humor, and get some fun stories about his time working with Robert DeNiro in the movie Grudge Match.

It's a great conversation that is truly an extension of the great vibe that Joey brings to my gym, Valley Martial Arts Center.  And I can honestly say that our gym is all the better having him there.  Our thanks to Joey D. for one of our favorite conversations.

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Subconscious Jiu-Jitsu

Last week, I had the chance to train over at Subconscious Jiu-Jitsu over in North Hollywood.  Friend of the podcast Brent Burniston teaches a hell of a class.

At the end of the podcast, I talk a little bit about what it was like to watch an instructor teach the counter to one of your go-to's (and love every second of it).

I was stoked to finally get to train there and I look forward to visiting Brent's academy sometime soon again!

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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!



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.


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!



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—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 (, 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.



VERBAL TAP (Episode 70) with James Koh and Brandon McCaghren


VERBAL TAP (Episode 70) with James Koh and Brandon McCaghren

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Raf's Recollection | A day after appearing on our podcast and hearing the show, Brandon McCaghren, sent me a text saying, "don't ever try to sing my song ever again."

Brandon 2.jpg

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've laughed at that text this evening.

The song Brandon claims we butchered is new hit single, "I Dominated Eddie (The Gracie Filter)"--a gripping acoustic ode to the epic Metamoris 3 match between Royler Gracie and Eddie Bravo.  It's a playful tribute to the epic match that took place at Metamoris, as well as some choice words said after the event.  Most impressively, the breezy vocals and relaxed vibe could easily slip their way into a Jack Johnson discography.

Fans of our show, however, know from time to time Kev and I like to occasionally leave an Easter egg to close out the podcast.  On this go round, we thought it might be fun to try and harmonize Brandon's single over Skype (which is surprisingly hard to do).  It left such an impression, Brandon felt the need to channel his inner GSP and let us know he was not impressed with the caliber of our voices.

And he's right, there is no way we could ever do his song justice.  I mean, just listen to it (and pay special close attention to the bridge).

Brandon 1.jpgThe man has some serious pipes.  Which is why we were stoked when he agreed to come on the podcast.

In addition to getting some great insight behind the song and the accompanying video that was produced for him, we talk a little bit with Brandon about his experience getting into jiu-jitsu, what Eddie Bravo thinks of the song, and talk about his great 10th Planet affiliate he has out in Decatur, AL.

Give his page a look and like and if you make it to the Alabama area, be sure to visit his gym.

Just don't sing the song to him as bad as we did :-)

Over/Under Kevin: UFC 172: Judgement Day

James D. Koh returns to the podcast to find out who last week's installment of Over/Under Kevin.  And while I don't want to give anything away, the following photo might give you an idea of how the end result turned out.

Kevin's Twitter Front Page


It was pretty rough.

But James sticks around to help us recap all the fights that took place at UFC 172 and then Kev and I discuss some of the #TakeAways from last Saturday night's #UFC card.

What's That? You miss the One Minute Review?

A new season of The Ultimate Fighter means it's time for the return of the 1 Minute Review.  Yes, we hear you loud and clear folks.  And boy do I have some impressions in store for you this season.

Let us know what you think of the review on Twitter (@VerbalTapCast) this week and immediately start following us on our new social media.  That's right, bitches, we're on Instagram and Vine now.  So feel free to follow along all of our hijinks.

Until next time, fight fans.