My Trip To Burma (We Are Not In Kansas Anymore)

A few months ago my wife and I traveled to Burma (also called Myanmar) to spend time with family. Our time in Burma was spent in the city of Yangon. This was the first time that I had ever been to Asia. It was truly an amazing trip that I am excited to share with you.  We met a lot of great people, tried new and interesting foods, a pick pocketing experience, and I even had time for a little Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In general, the people of Burma are very nice and quick to smile.  I was at a large disadvantage with getting to meet strangers because of the language barrier.  I quickly learned a handful of words “hi” and “thank you” being on the top of the list.

Before we departed on our trip I contacted the Yangon BJJ House. I emailed Tammi and the door was opened for a visit. The Yangon BJJ House has a fun group of skilled grapplers. They welcomed me onto their mat like a friend and we were laughing and joking within minutes. This was a great feeling that no matter where in the world you are you can find a BJJ school and feel like you are home. They asked if I would teach the class and I was more than happy to show a couple of techniques and roll with everyone. I got some great mat time in with this group of dedicated grapplers.

Yangon BJJ House

Yangon BJJ House

I had an opportunity to do a BJJ demonstration at a grade school. I jumped on this opportunity. The kids at this school all do Taekwondo every day for exercise. The majority of these kids had never even heard of BJJ, a couple of them said that is was similar to wrestling. My wife and I teamed up to show a few throws, and demonstrate a couple submissions.

Getting Thrown

Getting Thrown

The first throw was so surprising to the kids that some of them screamed and thought that it was fatal! I asked for volunteers to throw me with a (Seoi nage).  Many hands went up and I selected a few kids.

Burma BJJ kids

This is Shane, he performed a great throw.

Now to tell you about my little situation that happened at Shwedagon Pagoda. Shwedagon is a beautiful Pagoda that is visible from all over the city.  We had a wonderful time looking around and learning about this Pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

While I was looking around, one of the locals came up to me with a camera in hand and motioned for us to take a picture together (there was a language barrier so no words were spoken). This may seem really odd, because I am not famous.  But in Burma I am a rather large light skinned person, with possibly the biggest nose that these people have ever seen 🙂  This was not the first time that a local person wanted to take a picture of me (more people wanted pictures of my wife and sister-in-law but for their good looks).  Two more of his friends wanted to join the picture and I put my arms around the closet guys.  My brother-in-law joined for the photo bomb behind us.

What happened next was the surprising part.  I felt a thumb trying to needle its way into my back pocket. My pocket has a flap, it was not buttoned but it was down.  He was trying to get past the flap, and I felt this.  I took my arm down from the guy on my right side and grabbed his hand with my hand.  Stopping him from getting my wallet, he was busted! Next I smiled for the camera (the wrong camera) and we took the picture. I was excited to get this photographed. After the picture we separated. His friends (I think knowing that he had failed) wanted to take another picture, they did not realize that he got busted. I smiled and made it clear to them and my group that we are not taking another picture because I don’t want to lose my wallet.

Here is on of my favorite pictures from my trip to Burma. The guy to my left is trying to pick my pocket.

Here is on of my favorite pictures from my trip to Burma. The guy to my left is trying to pick my pocket.

I never felt threatened by this group of men. Nor did I feel the need to react in a more dramatic or violent way. I did not want a problem even if it was not my problem, I did not want to find myself dealing with the local police. I was just happy that I kept my wallet. I was confident that my group could handle a confrontation if one happened, but I was happy to just be on my way.

This was the only time in Burma that we had any problem with security. My brother in law and his wife stayed in Burma for a year and had no problems like this.  After we stayed in Burma for a week we went to Bangkok for a week where I hiked up the tallest building in Thailand and got kicked out by security when I made it all the way to the roof, Great Success! Check that video out here!

We have all had training partners like this. Too big too strong.

Did not roll with him

The Floating Market

The Floating Market

Please no sex in the park

Please no sex in the park

Rolling in Burma

Rolling in Burma

Epi 113 Travleing With Scott Boehler

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunes, Stitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Scott Boehler of BJJ Rally

Scott Boehler of BJJ Rally

This week we bring you Scott Boehler. Scott is a brown belt from Montana.  He has been traveling the United States and Canada in his van training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

We talk about:

  • His goals with traveling
  • How he decided to leave Montana to train
  • Politics between schools in the same city
  • How to approach a gym you don’t know
  • Paying mat fees
  • Living out of a van
  • Where to park a van over night and not get into trouble
  • What it takes for your gym to be welcoming
  • Teaching vs doing martial arts
  • Learning from coaches and athletes
  • A list of places that he have visited


Quote of the week: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand. Presented by Roli Delgado

Article of the week: Train in the Gi to improve your No Gi

Just Another Lion to Kill Rashguard

Your first year of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu audio book

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

Epi 112 Roll Out Jiu-Jitsu With Mark Fisher

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunes, Stitcher radio, and RSS link for Andriod

Mark Fisher is a brown belt training at SGBi in Portland Oregon. He is one of the people that is running a Facebook page called Roll Out Jiu-Jitsu. Roll Out Jiu-Jjitsu is a online support group to help grapples that identify with LGBTQI.

Roll Out Jiu-Jitsu

Roll Out Jiu-Jitsu

We talk about:

  • The facebook page RollOut
  • The interview with Kurt Osiander from episode 108
  • Trainnig BJJ and not being out
  • How to find the correct BJJ gym for you
  • Mark’s first day of BJJ
  • How to make you gym more friendly to the LGBTQI community
  • The type of game that Mark plays
  • Why he will try to not over use his flexibility
  • Tips for new competitors
  • The start of a BJJ match compared to the start of a chess match
  • Developing a game plan
  • Why you might want to shrink your game
  • Training on a limited schedule

Fisher me_camp_2014


Other SBGi coaches that have been on The BjjBrick Podcast!

Quote of the week: “Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.”

Article of the week: Fools Gold

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast


Epi 71 Interview With Robson Moura

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radioRobson Moura bjj

This week we are happy to bring you an interview with Robson Moura.  In the Black belt Super Featherweight division Robson won gold in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and then again in 2007.  He credits much of his competition success in going for a fast submission.

Some Highlights from the interview:

We also talk about:

  • How BJJ helps him off of the mat
  • Starting BJJ as a kid in the adult class
  • Why he likes to have a fun environment in his school
  • How the mind of the Jiu-Jitsu competitor has changed over time
  • What he is looking for in a super fight
  • The possibility of doing Metamoris
  • Advice for first time competitors
  • Why most people are joining  BJJ schools today
  • Why survival is a good goal for a 1st year student

links for Robson Moura

Quote of the week: “every champion was once a contender that refused to give up” Presented by Isaac Doederlein

Article of the week: “Jiu Jitsu And The Mature Athlete”

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

Epi 61 The Show Is Going International With Yanal Shahzadeh

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

Yanal Shahzadeh

Yanal Shahzadeh

Yanal Shahzadeh is a brown belt from Jordan under 4th degree black belt Samy Aljamal.  Yanal is one of the top competitors in his region, and he is always looking for a good match.  He competes at 94 kg, and open weight.

This interview we talk about:

  • Getting over an injury to his elbow
  • How Jiu-Jitsu has changed in Jordan over the years
  • Winning 4 gold medals at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Cup
  • His favorite technique the arm crank
  • His submission only super fight in February
  • He tells a story of a time his competition asked him to not submit him
  • He describes the brown belt like a white belt for the legs, because leg locks are now allowed
  • He explains some of his most favorite training methods
  • How he likes to coach during a match
  • What it was like for him to travel by himself and compete without a coach
  • Why he feels like he discovered Jiu-Jitsu as a blue belt
  • Why he recommends a top control drill for new students
  • How the scissor sweep can help you understand other parts of Jiu-Jitsu

You can find Yanal here on his Facebook page

The website for his BJJ school

Check out this article about Yanal Shazadeh to find out more about him

Quote of the week:  “If you are looking for a big opportunity accept a big challenge” This weeks quote was presented by Gustavo Dantas

Article of the week: “3 Things You Will Learn About Yourself Through Jiu Jitsu” From

This episode was sponsored by:

Want a better Guillotine Choke? Check out this seminar by our friend Roy Marsh!

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Listeners doing good work!!

Listeners doing good work!!

Unintended Consequences of the New Double Guard Pull Rule

Now that everyone’s gis have been washed since the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship of 2014, let’s examine the new IBJJF double guard pull rule and how it will affect the sport of BJJ in the long run.  Let’s be honest, this rule was created to discourage both athletes from sitting on their butts for ten minutes and calling it Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, sometimes rules give us unintended consequences.  So let’s jump right in (to double guard) and look at this rule.  You can download the rule book here.

I am glad this was not a common occurrence this year.

I am glad this was not a common occurrence this year.


Rule 6.5.3 When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the referee will start a 20 second countdown. If at end of this 20 second countdown, even if the athletes are moving, one of the athletes does not reach the top position, does not have a submission in hold,or is not imminently completing a point scoring move, the referee will stop the fight and give a penalty to both athletes. In this situation, the referee will restart the combat in standing position.

Ok lets summarize this rule.  You both pull guard, you have 20 seconds to make something happen or you are both given a penalty.

Maybe I am missing something here at first glance, it seems pointless to give both competitors a penalty and expecting them to react in different ways.  If I believe that the only way I will win a match is to pull guard and my opponent believes the same thing, we are going to rack up penalties in a BJJ style of “guard pulling chicken.”

Here is the rule for penalties:

Rule 7.3.1 Referees shall abide by the following series of penalties.
• 1st penalty – The referee will mark the first penalty for the athlete.
• 2nd penalty – Advantage point concession to opponent of penalized athlete and second penalty marked on scoreboard for perpetrating athlete.
• 3rd penalty –Two points concession to opponent of penalized athlete and third penalty marked on scoreboard for perpetrating athlete.
4th penalty – Disqualification of perpetrating athlete.*

I watched over 20 hours of matches from the worlds this weekend.  From what I saw the vast majority of competitors did not play this game of “guard pulling chicken.”  There could be a situation when guard pulling chicken could be used as an evil strategy, I will come back to this.  But there was still plenty of double guard pulls, and I predict that there will be even more in the future.  Why will there be more matches that start with a double guard pull? Because there is a  free advantage point if you are against an obvious guard player, and you don’t mind playing top.  This is because of rule 5.7.6.

Rule 5.7.6 When both athletes pull guard at the same time, the athlete who achieves top position first is awarded an advantage point.

Here is an example:  Gary vs Byron.  Let’s just say Gary is a guard player and Byron knows this and is comfortable with trying to pass Gary’s guard.  The match starts with Gary pulling guard.  Byron has a choice, does he enter into Gary’s guard fighting for a pass?  Or does he pull guard too, then pop up to work for a pass?  The strategic answer is for Byron to double guard pull with no intention of playing guard and then pop up for an advantage point.  This is an easy way for the passer to score an advantage point vs the guard player in the opening seconds of the match.

Another example:  We saw this in the match Bruno Malfacine vs Joao Miyao for the rooster weight final. This was an action-packed match that was a back and forth battle. When it was all over, the score was tied and Bruno won by a referee’s decision.  Do not forget that Bruno pulled double guard vs Joao and stood back up for a critical advantage point at the start of the match.doubleguardpull

In the past we saw a lot of guard pulls with one person being forced into the passing game (pre double guard pull). With these new rules, we might see a time when one person pulls guard, they both pull guard.  What a silly looking way to start a grappling match.

It was good to not see two people sit on there butts for the entire match, but I worry that in the future we will see people who don’t even want the bottom position pulling double guard then popping up to get the advantage point.  That would start a lot of matches out with both competitors on their butts.  The combination of these rules may just give us many MORE double guard pulls that are quickly ended with an advantage point- or a situation where competitors approach each other, sit down, and quickly try to stand up.

What kind of evil plot could use the game of guard pulling chicken as a strategy? You might be asking yourself, who would gain anything if both people get disqualified? You ask yourself this type of question because you are likely a good person who would not do something like this. If something can be done within the rules, given enough time it will be done. When two teammates are in the same division, one of them could be sacrificed in order to circumvent the need to beat the dedicated guard player.

Example of the evil guard pulling chicken game: Now Gary and Byron are on the same team and in the same division.  In the opening round Byron faces a person like Joao Miyao (someone who will pull guard every time).  Byron realizes that he will be unable to beat this guard machine.  If Byron can double guard pull four times and last 20 seconds each time he can prevent his teammate from even facing this guard player.  By sacrificing himself he has helped his team.  Byron can play this game of guard pulling chicken even if he is down on points, giving him less to loose.  

  • Points should not dominate the game, but they usually do.
  • People should not try to work the rules for any slight advantage, but many will.
  • These rules have good intentions, but they can be manipulated, and they will.

I have four questions for you to consider.

  1. What do you think about the new rule?
  2. Do you think people will abuse it?
  3. Is this rule good for the sport?
  4. This rule is intended to improve the sport, would you alter it?

I am not recommending these strategies for anyone, but just pointing out some of the potential flaws in the rules.

If you are new to this page, check out the podcast! Good times my friends!


BjjBrick Radio Episode 2- Bringing a friend to BJJ class

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

Tips for bringing a friend to your BJJ class

Your main goals should be to keep your friend safe and to have fun.

Keep them safe by helping them to roll with experienced grapplers that will not injure them.

They will have fun if they are able to relax, BJJ is naturally fun.

You are an ambassador for BJJ. 

To anyone that you know that doesn’t train, you are most like the best BJJ practitioner they know.  You may have only been going a month to BJJ class, but in their eyes you are the only person they know that trains.  You are their “Jiu-Jitsu guy” or “Jiu-Jitsu gal”.

Tell your friend what to expect for their first BJJ class.  They will be less nervous if they know what to expect.

What is the format of the class? Warm up, technique, rolling….

Tell them about mat etiquette.  They don’t want to break these rules, but if they don’t know the rules they might be breaking them.

Tell your friend what to bring.

What should they wear?  Do they need to bring water?

Drive your friend to class if you can.

This may seem odd but they will really feel like you are doing everything you can to help them.  The conversation you will have on the way home could mean the difference between your friend being frustrated about the class or excited.

What friends should you invite?

Invite anyone that asks you a few questions about BJJ.  Or anyone that seems like they would give it a try.

Bonus tip– Call them the next day and ask them what they thought, try to make it with them to their next class.

3 Tips for helping the new student that does not know anyone.

Be outgoing and welcome them into the group.

Show them around and answer any questions they might have.

Treat them how you would like to be treated if it was your first day on the mat.

Quote of the Week– “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth

Article of the Week “Attending BJJ Class While Injured: You’re Still A Part of the Class and We do Want You Here” By- A Skirt on the Mat

The gyms Gary mentioned in this episode.  Fox Fitness, Wichita Jiu-Jitsu Club.

BjjBrick radio is available on itunes.  email us at

Epi 2 BjjBrick radio bring a friend to bjj class

BJJ in Panama- Your ego is NOT your AMIGO

I went to Panama in August 2013. I was lucky enough to get some mat time and learn from Hector Vasquez. Hector is a great instructor and I recommend his school to anyone in Panama. I also walked around in the old part of panama called Casco Viejo.

Hector and MeI saw this graffiti in Casco Viejo.

great line for BJJ. Your ego is not your amigo

Great line for BJJ. Your ego is not your amigo

Your ego not amigo me

If you are going to train in Panama City I strongly recommend contacting Hector, he speaks perfect English. Hector is an excellent instructor and a very nice guy. He also has kids classes and has hosted a tournament in Panama. Click here to start training in Panama

More pictures here

Stay tuned on facebook here

Here is my quick guide to visiting Panama.
1) Go see the canal. My wife and I went to the Miraflores locks. You gotta see the canal if you go to panama.
2) Experience the rainforest. We booked a jungle day tour here.
It was an amazing experience, we saw four different kinds of monkeys, countless birds and the hundreds of beautiful plants. Carl is a entertaining and knowledgeable guide.
3) Pearl islands. If you have time take the ferry to the islands. We spent the day on the island snorkeling and watching whales. Here is the ferry we took. We went to Contadora Island.
4) Check out Panama City. There is lots to see, just get a decent cab and discuss the price before you get in.
5) Do some Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, go see or call Hector. I recommend seeing as much of Panama as you can. And if you have a little time in one of the evenings swing by and get some mat time.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments or email me at