Technique of the Month- Half Guard Sweep: Wrist Control

2. Video/Technique of the Month: Half-Guard Sweep: Wrist Control (the Anti-D’Arce)

One of our most popular technique videos, the wrist control sweep—aka the “anti-D’Arce”—is pure gold. Why? First, because it works gi or no-gi. And also because it completely reverses your fortunes—you immediately go from potentially getting choked to a more dominant position. But the most golden aspect of this technique once you master it? Your training partners won’t even try to D’Arce you anymore.

Instructor Spotlight: John Piper

Piper Promotion

John Piper was promoted to Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the Great Grappling 3rd anniversary party on April 26th, 2014 by 5th Degree Black Belt Roberto “Gordo” Correa and Jeremy Arel. Professor Piper is the head instructor of our 4-6 year old children’s program and teaches allclasses on Tuesdays & Thursdays at GGBJJ. He’s also a father of two amazing kids and a husband of 16 years to the love of his life. When he’s not training or teaching BJJ he’s most likely watching BJJ videos and cleaning up the house.

1. Did you train BJJ prior to coming to Great Grappling? If so, where and for how long?

Up until I received my purple belt I trained in a satellite school of Marcelo Alonso (a 5th degree Carlson Gracie, Sr. black belt) with Dan Graff in Bend, OR. Then my wife had an amazing job opportunity all the way across the nation here in SC. Moving away from your instructor in BJJ is a hard thing to do. I found a small gym headed by 3rd degree black belt Paulo “Mushu” Elsimaani in Charlotte, NC, where I trained for almost three years before coming to Great Grappling.

2. What sports did you play prior to training in BJJ?

I played semi-pro football for a few seasons. I also enjoyed lifting weights and bodybuilding. In high school I was on the diving team. I love to challenge myself in different ways, and I try to always be learning.

3. Why did you decide to begin training BJJ?

I’m not exactly sure what the draw was but when I walked into the BJJ gym weighing 250 lbs with almost 20” arms I thought there was no way this 150-pound purple belt instructor would last one minute with me. Man, was I wrong… I was arm-barred at least 20 times. I felt so helpless and I’m really not a fan of that feeling. That sparked my love for the sport and it has turned into my passion outside of my family.

4. What are your training goals?

Well, one of my goals was to win a “world” title and that happened last year at the Masters Worlds in L.A. as a brown belt. I would love to do that again as a black belt!

5. How has grappling improved your life?

BJJ has changed so much about my life it’s hard for me to say. It’s helped my relationship with my son so much. It’s also made me calm and confident in almost any situation outside of BJJ. I love it and am lucky to have found it!

6. What’s your favorite submission, position, or transition, and why?

I like the back mount primarily. I’m not a big guy anymore and the advantages from that position work in my favor. As far as submissions go, I’m a fan of chokes in general I would say a one-arm rear-naked choke is my current favorite from the crucifix position.

7. What’s your proudest BJJ-related accomplishment?

My proudest moment was achieving my black belt with the support of so many. My journey has been an interesting one with many ups and downs, with so many amazing people influencing my style and learning. I’m humbled by the opportunities I have had to meet such great people, and to have them in my life!

8. What would people be surprised to know about you?

I would say I’m a skilled woodworker and love to cook dinners for my family and friends.

Black Belts
The newly promoted John Piper with his instructors Jeremy Arel and Roberto “Gordo” Correa and visiting black belt & GGBJJ friend Steve Hall.

Great Grappling’s 3rd Anniversary Party Is This Weekend!

If you’re a Great Grappling student and you’ve been in class over the last month, you already know this because Professor Jeremy Arel has beat it into your brain every time we’ve lined up at the end of class: this Saturday, April 26, Great Grappling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will celebrate its third anniversary with a seminar, a party, and a promotions ceremony for students.

If you’ve been to one of these before, you know it’s a good time. This year, a unique aspect of the day will be the attendance of Roberto “Gordo” Correa, Professor Arel’s teacher from Brazil. Gordo will not only be joining in on the festivities, but he will also conduct the morning seminar. Obviously, Gordo is well known for creating and evolving the half-guard position, so there’s reason to celebrate simply from the standpoint of having a living legend in the house this weekend.

While the celebration marks the anniversary of the grand opening of the school, the day is really all about the Great Grappling family. While it should be looked at as a time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going, it’s also a time to simply have fun with your training partners. Since our students have varying training schedules, aside from the Christmas party this is only one of two times a year when we can all come together at once.

The day kicks off with the Gordo seminar at 10 am, and will be followed by the promotions ceremony at 1 pm. Afterwards BBQ and drink will be provided for students. It’s important to note that you do not have to attend the seminar to come to the party. In fact, the party is free to all students, as well as their friends and family. As always, you’re encouraged to bring anyone who’s ever shown interest in BJJ—or any martial art, for that matter.

Students should also keep in mind that school photos will be taken on Saturday. That means you shouldn’t just bring your best smile, but also your best white gi. We all know how Professor Arel likes his gis to match. So if you show up in a blue or black gi, you’ll be watching from the sidelines when we take the official 2014 school photo. Let’s be honest: that would be very sad. So make sure your best white gi is washed and ready for Saturday. We’ll see you then!

When It Comes To Gi’s, Wearing Is Believing

While the Internet affords the modern shopper a gazillion options, it also breeds paralysis by analysis. With countless reviews, vendors, and styles in the mix, making a purchase becomes much akin to compiling data for a case study. And when it comes to something you’re going to wear? A decision becomes even more difficult.

Take shoes, for example. You can look online, but the proof in the pudding comes from lacing them up. The same is the case for a BJJ gi. You can stare at photos of the sports’ stars wearing the latest innovation, waffle back and forth between canvas or ripstop pants, or wonder about the fit of the latest entrepreneur’s contribution to the burgeoning gi market. However, you’re never going to know if a gi’s the right fit until you try it on.

Alas, there’s no true Zappos.com for gis. Buying and returning isn’t as simple, especially if you have to pick up the return fees. But we’ve pulled together some common sense tips to help you make the best decision.

Your Intent Always Matters

One thing you simply have to know before making a purchase is how you plan to use the gi, and this boils down to whether you’re going to wear the gi for training, for competition, or for both. When it comes to gis used exclusively for training, there’s far less pressure on a purchase; while a perfect fit is always wanted, it’s not as critical. But when it comes to competitions, you’ll probably want to be much pickier.

The first thing to do is review the IBJJF rules and regs (page 28) for gi fit. The last thing you want to do, especially if you’ve traveled far and wide to a major competition, is have a gi that doesn’t meet the IBJJF’s stringent requirements. Since giving your opponent as little gi fabric to latch on to is always a benefit, most competitors want a snug fit, but one that still allows for maximum mobility.

But let’s be clear: when competing, your skill level, strategy, and endurance are far more important than the gi you’re wearing—no matter how perfectly it fits. Just chalk a well-tailored gi up as a small advantage, but never as a game-changer. However, if you typically roll in a looser gi, don’t just save that snug gi for competition. You need to feel comfortable in your competition gi, so as much as you probably prize it (especially since they’re typically more expensive) make sure you train in it extensively beforehand.

For Trial and Error, Beg And Borrow

Like most sizing systems, the universal sizing system for gis is very imperfect. An A2 in one brand may fit far differently than an A2 in another. This is another reason why staring at a computer screen serves you very little—even if you pull the trigger on a new gi based on the slick design or thickest collar, the sizing may not be in line with gis you’ve worn from other brands.

The best—and of course, most logical—way to size a gi is by asking your training partners to let you try theirs on, especially if it’s a brand you’re interested in. Better yet, attending a seminar often presents a great opportunity since a large group of practitioners has gathered. While you might not be comfortable asking a stranger to try their gi on—which is somewhat illogical since you’d probably be willing to roll with them—you’ll just have to weigh if that request is easier than having to head to FedEx to return a gi that just didn’t work for you.

Again, with so many new gi companies on the market, and with many of them using smart marketing tactics such as “limited run” gis, “champion-approved” kimonos, and slick new designs, it’s not going to get any easier any time soon. So when faced with these factors, always fall back on fit. That’s why most seasoned practitioners are brand-loyal; it’s usually based on the fact that a particular gi has consistently been a good fit for them, and nothing else.

Piper Takes BJJ To The Cage At Fight Lab 35

On Saturday, February 8, Great Grappling’s own John Piper—gi and all—took to the cage at Fight Lab 35 to take on Swamp Fox Jiu Jitsu’s Brian Edwards at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte. Piper, a brown belt, emerged victorious with a unanimous decision from the judges, becoming Fight Lab’s first Brown Belt Champion.

Piper enters the cage with support from his training partners

After being marched down to the cage in a Gracie train with his Great Grappling teammates, Piper’s bout got underway quickly with Edwards pulling guard. After passing to side control, Piper, for most of the match, stayed in a dominant position. In an effort to control his larger opponent, he transitioned to north-south, and also spent some time in mount.

Piper was very close on a couple of submission attempts. Twice he almost trapped Edwards in the crucifix—the position Piper utilized to win his championship at Worlds last fall—but Edwards defended himself admirably. Piper also came close on an armbar attempt, only to have Edwards escape.

Piper with the Crucifix attempt

Though the cage represented a new challenge for Piper, he seemed to enjoy the change from the standard mat competitions.

“I’m always down for promoting BJJ to everyone,” he said. “Fight Lab was nice enough to let the traditional BJJ guys do their thing in the cage, so why not? It was not as serious as the IBJJF comps, and all parties had a great time.”

Still, he acknowledged that grappling in a cage is far different, and represented new challenges.

“The cage gave me fits,” he said. “I heard Jeremy yelling something about ‘He’s going to wall-walk!’ and it made no sense to me at first. It also messed up my normal favorite position and submission. Still, it was awesome though.”

Brown Belt Champion John Piper

Obviously Piper has been on a roll since last year’s Worlds. With his work ethic on the mats it’s not all that surprising, either. Of course Jeremy is proud of him, as well as the Great Grappling family. Of course, only one question remains: would he do it again? The answer may surprise you. (Of course, his self-effacing overall response will not.)

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love to test my skills out against another opponent if I have the opportunity again,” he said. “And I’m always humbled by the support from my wife, kiddos, and GGBJJ.”

The Great Grappling team cheers for Piper at Fight Lab 25

The Great Grappling team cheers for Piper at Fight Lab 25