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VERBAL TAP (Episode 86) with Karl Penn

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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?

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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!

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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 75) with Stuart Cooper

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 75) with Stuart Cooper

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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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VERBAL TAP (Episode 37) with Artechoke Media

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Raf's Recollection | If you practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the meme over on the right hand side here pretty much says it all.

As much as we want to go around and spread to the gospel of BJJ to our friends and family, there are some who—despite our best efforts—will never care about the "gentle art."

I know it hurts to hear. I know that it's a lot to take in all at once.  But it's better that it comes from someone who cares.

The realization that some people will never care about a sport that you and I love so much is a fact of life that stings and sometimes causes us great emotional strife (stay with me here, it's going to get better.  Promise).

Our guests on Episode 37 of Verbal Tap know this struggle all-too-well.  Marshal D. Carper and Darryl Cozza are two BJJ practitioners who wrote an uproarious eBook entitled, Don't Wear Your Gi to the Bar, that teaches you how to survive everyday social settings while still preserving your inner BJJ nerd.

And in Verbal Tap first, I'm gonna go ahead and put this as the very first book to receive MUST READ status from our podcast (calm down, we're not starting a book club yet or anything).

Aside from an obvious love of sport, there's a real wit in this eBook that accurately describes the losing battle that is explaining the culture, beauty, and art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu to people who just can't get past why you like dressing up in pajamas and choking your friends.

Wanna know the most insane part?

These guys aren't even charging you a single dollar to read it?  Simply follow this link and download it from their website.  All for Free.99.

Don't Wear Your Gi to the BarAll the guys ask in return is that you share the book with your training partners and other BJJ enthusiasts (and maybe even drop a five star review on sites like Amazon if you dig it).  Also, for you non-cheapskates who like to promote authors on the independent circuit (like a real American), there's also an option to buy a version of their book.

While the book is a great display of subversive humor, there's more to Marshal and Darryl than well-written jokes and Game of Thrones/BJJ metaphors.

They're not just funny, their BJJ knowledge is legit.

Artechoke MediaAs we discover in the podcast, the eBook is only the first in a long line of instructional BJJ videos and articles from the pair.  Recently, the duo have launched their own online venture entitled, ArtechokeMedia.com, a website that's designed to promote "the organic growth of jiu-jitsu thought, theory, and technique."  The guys were nice enough to send a preview of their next project to Kev and I during the podcast--and all we can say is that you all are in for a treat when they launch it in the coming months.

It's truly spectacular.

And, for me, that's what made this booking so great.  While we do our fair share of talking with pro fighters and MMA personalities, at our core Kev and I are major BJJ enthusiasts.  When you hear these two explain the rationale behind the website (they want to shine a light on the unsung heroes of BJJ such as coaches, instructors, and mentors who may not necessarily be on the covers of magazines, but who make significant contributions to the sport), it's hard not to do the same and give a voice to two individuals who, themselves, are doing exactly that through their humorous writing and insightful videos.

Maybe that's why we like the sport so much.  There's a camaraderie in jiu-jitsu that extends beyond the walls of a gym or a dojo, independent of affiliation and ranks, that consistently introduces us to people like this.  Even though we have never physically met Marshal or Darryl, our overall hope of growing and sharing the sport is one and the same and Kev and I would be down to roll with them when/if the opportunity presented itself.*

Of course, cool people like us already know the caliber of folks who train BJJ.  Even that smug, appropriately cast "Gatsby" Leo DiCaprio meme knows the deal.

So check 'em out on our podcast and while you wait for the episode to download, enjoy Marshal and Darryl at their finest.

*However, if when I actually meet them they're a couple of d-bags, I reserve the right to take all of this back

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 29) with Gilbert Jamal Smith

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 29) with Gilbert Jamal Smith

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Raf’s Recollection | Don’t any of you let a word of this get back to Kev, but I might be moderately proud of the guy.

No seriously, not a word to him.  Before we know it, the compliment will go to his head and then we’ll all have that to contend with.  Fortunately, he never reads these things, so I’m usually at liberty to insult him as I please.

Im So Hungry

But this week is a little different.  On this week’s podcast, we talk a little bit about Kevin’s jiu-jitsu game and discuss his experience at a US Grappling tournament in Virgina last week.

Over the past year and a half, Kev has developed and refined his competition game.  And under the fine direction of the folks over at BJJ and MMA Training Center, he has been able to meet and surpass a great deal of his competitive goals in a relatively short time span.  It’s a testament to both his team and his own dedication to the craft—and, while I might be speculating here, I think we may just be hearing the beginning of it.

We spend a great deal of time insulting one another on the podcast, but when it comes to competition, I don’t kid around.  I’ve never quite been the type that thinks the competition is defined solely by wins and loses, but my overall hope is always that he does well and that he meets and surpasses his own competitive goals.

I will, however, become absolutely get pissed if I don’t get results fast enough.

When I finally got the good news about the tournament, I was momentarily happy to hear how he placed—and then, moments later, really pissed it took so long for me to get a goddamn result (do you not get 4G on the East Coast?!!!)!

Anyway, this week, we rightfully acknowledge his hard work and then get right back to calling him an idiot (that will conclude the one compliment I pay Kevin per year).

1044978_203271166491019_468157311_nBut that’s not all we’ve got this week.  Our pal, Gilbert Jamal Smith, returns to the podcast to talk about his upcoming fight against Jason Lee for Prize Fighting Championship on Saturday, July 13th.

What we like most about Jamal is not only his ability to respond to a joke (he tends to respond to internet trolls on Twitter with kindness), but also the honest and candid ways that he responds to our questions.

He never ducks a question, he’s honest to a T, and there’s always a memorable sound bite or three that comes out of an interview with him (my personal favorite comes towards the end of the interview with his response to a question about a “game plan”).

Not only that, but he’s willing to be silly and doesn’t take himself that seriously—demonstrates as much by playing not one, but TWO games with us on the Podcast (one of which was an entirely new segment, created just for Jamal).

Nonetheless, we wish Mr. Smith all the best as he gets ready for his fight in two weeks and hope that if you live in Colorado, you go support the guy in action.  And if you can’t make it to Colorado, be sure to drop the man a note on the Twitter and let ‘em know what you thought of his appearance on our Podcast.

Until then, we’ll just be waiting for results, Jamal.  And, as I’ve denoted earlier, I’m really bad at waiting for results.  So I’m gonna want to hear from you how it all goes down.  From your pals at Verbal Tap: Best of luck to you, good sir!

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 27) Goes to Metamoris 2

IMAG1389Raf's Recollection |  Allow me to be entirely forthcoming: Metamoris II was the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling tournament.

Over the years, I’ve covered and attended dozens of UFC’s, Mixed Martial Arts competitions, and boxing matches, but last Sunday marked the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling-only tournament.

Yes, I, too, have no idea how I’ve never been to a single grappling-only tournament; No, I don’t get out much.

Now that’s not to say I’m completely oblivious to the competitive world of competitive jiu-jitsu.  I’m familiar with the athletes, I regularly watch the matches, and have an above average recollection of the trends in the sport.  But it’s also why I thought it best to bring along a strong jiu-jitsu technician (and all around good guy), John Evans, to properly contextualize the event for all of our dedicated grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu fans (you can read his excellent summary of the event right here).

Having said all that, I came to Metamoris with high expectations.  This is, after all, an event that prides itself on being the alternative to the oft-criticized world of elite jiu-jitsu.  The format, the rules, and the first-rate caliber athletes involved display a thoughtful and measured response to the “point” and “advantage” system that some argue ruin the essence of modern jiu-jitsu competition.

And with just that concept and design, the event gave us plenty to talk about this week: On our podcast here, we touch upon all of the individual matches (good and bad) and have a thoughtful discussion about type athleticism that was displayed on the Metamoris mats.

But I’d like to take a moment to talk specifically about my own experience and the concept of “spectacle.”

To begin, you could tell there were a few looming ghosts from inaugural event.  After the event started over an hour late last year, everything seemed rushed at the pace of a runaway freight train.  I’m a stickler to keeping things prompt, but I can also understand the difficulty of keeping things on time for a PPV, when you have matches that can go anywhere from one to twenty minutes (especially when five of the six matches go the distance).  However, from a production standpoint, if the audience feels like you’re rushing, chances are it’s because you’re rushing.  There is a certain effortlessness the event has yet to find that can easily make the production value of the event come off as more assured.

Second, in what was perhaps the biggest conversation piece after the event: Match-ups are key.  When they work (Galvao v. Lovato Jr., Dern v. Nicolini), they produce fascinating displays of jiu-jitsu between two equally matched opponents that, even if they don’t end in a finish, do more to advance the art.  But when you get match ups that are a hard sell to begin with, you sometimes get what you pay for.  My sincere congrats for Brendan Schaub for volunteering to be a participant in the event.  Seriously.  It’s a level of competition that is truly difficult and I don’t think anyone would fault him for wanting to be involved.  Would I have like to see him engage more with Cyborg?  Of course.  Would I have like to have seen Cyborg calculate a new game plan when there was an opponent who was “running away?”  Sure.  But the fault isn’t so black and white.  Did Schaub have an obligation to “fall into Cyborg’s guard?”  Should a seasoned jiu-jitsu guy like Cyborg—who doesn’t typically have the problem of an opponent who is constantly backpedaling—be forced to dictate the pace and abandon his own game plan just because he “knows better?”  Again, a tricky conundrum.  It seemed both performers were implementing a game plan to “win,” which sadly came at the expense of anything remotely worth watching.  So let’s take it a step further: With the very prevalent disparity between the participants, what was the expectation in this match?  I’ve run this scenario a hundred times in my brain and have still yet to produce an answer, except to say that maybe next year we give Cyborg an opponent that’s at least on his level.  I think there are few people who would question Cyborg’s placement on a Metamoris card, why not give him the type of opponent he deserves?  Who knows, could produce something that’s fascinating for all the right reasons.

And I’m sure I can spend a lot of time discussing how the event would have been better served with more than a week after the Worlds (we can play this set of “what if” scenarios for days).  But I take Metamoris President Ralek Gracie and team at their word when they say they plan to work around other jiu-jitsu competitions in the future.

Blemishes aside, Metamoris has more in its win column than it does in its needs improvement file.

The stage.  The programs.  The invitationsThe promos.  All things this tournament gets right.  But it’s more than just all the small things, for me the thing that makes Metamoris so uniquely special is “the feel.”

The majority of the audience (when they’re not heckling Schaub) is quiet and respects the athletes.  The mood is tense and ooh’s and aww’s come with every sweep and take down attempt almost instinctively, with the tempered politeness a reflection of an educated audience who understands how difficult many of these moves are to pull off.  In some ways, despite the band, the big lights, and the large cheering crowd, the competition gives off a kind of “exclusive” vibe.  At one point, the intimacy of the venue and quietness made it feel like we were given the opportunity to watch a match between two high level practitioners at a local academy that would otherwise be closed off to the lower belts and spectators.  The kind of thing that in years past would have just been the subject of lore and storytelling.  Pulling off that kind of thing isn’t easy and is certainly worthy of recognition.

So depending on what it is you consider ideal, I think when it comes to format, even the most impassioned jiu-jitsu fan would have to admit that the concept of a perfect system seems somewhat out of reach.

There will always be Brendan Schaub’s.  Time limit draws.  Audiences who may not “get it” or resist these kinds of events from time to time.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.  Aside from all of the superb attention to detail and ethos the Gracie family loans this event, the strongest thing Metamoris may have going for it right now is zeitgeist.  It is the right tournament at the right time.

Frankly, as a jiu-jitsu fan, we don’t have many large-scale options.  There’s no other event that makes this sport come off like a spectacle.  The athletes are treated like rock stars, the selection of venue is just right, and a majority of the players and participants are spot-on.  For the time being, why not make this the exclusive home for competitive jiu-jitsu?  Care less about giving us match-ups with marquee UFC fighters and care more about filling that spectacle void that so many of us jiu-jitsu fans crave and need.

And, in return, as fans of the sport, we should keep the following grim realities in check before we use our collective wit to troll the internet: we don’t live in an age where Nike sponsorships happen to the elite-level jiu-jitsu practitioner, we don’t have coverage on national prime time television, and the sport that closest resembles this one is currently fighting for its rightful place in the Olympics.  At the end of the day, I think we need to ask ourselves: do we want to see something like this on a regular basis?  And, if so, is there anything else out there like it?  At least here, for better or worse, we have a collection of folks putting this event together who care.

The very figurehead of said organization caring so much he does something like this:

I’m not sure I share the look of grave concern expressed by Ralek here (I think the show was far from a disappointment and has more positives than his face lets on), but it is nice to know that going forward we’ve got someone who wants to give us the best kind of experience possible.  But I also feel good in knowing that as long as he and his team are committed to giving us a first-rate event, they merit a strong consideration for an experimental format that puts jiu-jitsu on display for those people who love it.

And that’s why I, for one, was happy to call Metamoris II my first live grappling experience.  And hope it’s the first of many to come.

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