The 8th Edition of the AZBJJF’s Copa Bella All-Female Event

By Danny O’Donnell

The Arizona Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (AZBJJF) will host the 2019 Copa Bella all-female tournament at Phoenix College on Saturday, April 27th. The Copa Bella is one of the largest and longest running female only tournaments in the sport, with the first edition taking place back in the spring of 2012. The tournament has attracted some of the top female competitors including Mackenzie Dern, Tracey Goodell, Sophia Mcdermott, Sarah Black, and Tammy Griego, among others. More of the top female competitors are expected to register for the 2019 edition of the Copa Bella as the tournament is offering a $1,000 cash prize for the winner of the combined brown and black belt open weight division.

The evolution of Jiu Jitsu in the U.S. has been very evident over the past decade, with many of the major tournaments attracting thousands of competitors from all over the world. The female demographic has been one that has shown the most growth. Classes dedicated solely to women, full divisions at many belt and age levels, and cash prizes for open weight division champions are becoming more and more common, which has attracted more women to the sport. The inaugural 2012 Copa Bella tournament had 36 competitors while this year’s event is expected to have more than three times that amount.

If you want to be a part of this historic event, please keep the following dates in mind. Early bird (discounted) registration ends Friday, April 5 at 11:59 pm. Normal registration ends on Friday April 19th at 11:59 pm. The late registration deadline is Monday, April 22nd at 11:59pm. Get signed up today at and we look forward to seeing everyone there!

4 Tips for Your First BJJ Competition

If you are a BJJ enthusiast and you trained long enough then you probably thought about going to a competition to test your skills.

However, the competition and preparation can be scary for the first-timers. There are a number of things that can affect your overall experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition.

Your first match can be intimidating as the anxiety can overwhelm you and hinder the main reason you signed up for – to test your skills and most importantly to have fun.

But don’t worry, we got you. In this article, we are going to give you 4 great tips for your first competition.

Pick The Right Event

Back in the days when combat sports and particularly BJJ were not so popular, there were not a lot of events and competitions to choose from.

Fortunately, that is not the case in modern days and you have plenty of options to choose from.

When you prepare for your first competition, you should always choose the option you are most comfortable with. This is one of the most important factors to create a good overall experience.

Make sure to check the place, ruleset, and organization before signing up.

For a start, it’s better to choose a smaller local competition and build your way up to bigger ones. This will help you with the anxiety and will build your confidence.

The ruleset should be exactly like the ruleset you use in training. There are a lot of great tournaments with different types of rules but you can test them later.

The most important thing, for now, is to build your confidence and have fun.

Weight Class

One of the most frequent mistakes you can make is with the weight cut.

A lot of novice competitors cut a lot of weight to qualify for the lowest weight class possible. However, this is not always the best tactic.

Of course, you need to cut some weight but losing too much in a short time-frame can be a disaster for your energy and performance. Competing in a lighter weight class won’t help you if you are depleted and far away from your best shape.

Instead, you should try to cut the extra weight in the months before the competition and only cut a few pounds in the last moment.

You should feel strong and energized before entering the competition not drained and weak.

Game Plan

While it is important to be flexible during the match and change your strategy as you go, it is also very important to have a game plan first.

Where are you at your best? How are you feeling most comfortable and confident?

These are questions you need to think about and make a plan that is most beneficial for you.

Of course, things won’t always go according to your plan but it’s good to have a clear goal in mind.

Your game plan should be made around performing your best techniques and getting in positions where you can apply your best skills while hiding your weaknesses.

When you have a gameplan you will enter the mat with a goal of imposing your will and not just reacting to your opponent’s moves.

Know The Basics Of Every Position

An important thing to know before going in your first competition is the basics of every position.

Of course, you don’t need to be a master of it. But you should be aware of what you should do in every position.

For example, you should now at least one escape of the most popular positions like bottom mount, bottom side control, back control, while knowing how to attack from dominant positions.

If you are not familiar with some position – don’t panic. You will have some time to study it prior to the competition.

But it is important to identify what are your weaknesses and work on them.

By knowing the fundamentals of every position you will be able to avoid being hopeless in the middle of the match, not knowing what to do.


Competing for the first time can be stressful and scary. However, try to focus on the positive things, listen to the tips we gave you, have fun and enjoy the moment.

After all is done, you will be glad that you participated.

Remember, you are doing this for yourself and if you are not feeling ready – it’s okay, give yourself some more time because competing should be a good experience.

Have fun training and competing!

This article was written by our friend Asen from

Epi 292 John Combs

This week we have an interview with Amal Easton black belt John Combs. John is the 77kg ADCC west coast trials winner.

We talk about:

  • His start with wrestling
  • His early jiu-jitsu
  • How he studies jiu-jitsu
  • Teaching jiu-jitsu
  • Training for ADCC
  • Making the jump from brown belt to black belt
  • Waking up early as a habit
  • And lots of tips for BJJ


Quote of the week: “I didn’t think; I experimented.” Anthony Burges

Article of the week: 5 Things Every White Belt Must Learn Before Blue Belt


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod

Epi 291 Mason Fowler

This week we have an interview with brown belt Mason Fowler. Mason has recently won the ADCC West Coast Trials for the 99 Kg division.

We talk about:

  • His start to Jiu-Jitsu
  • The decision to do BJJ full time
  • Changing from MMA to BJJ
  • Lessons learned from MMA and rugby
  • Doing both gi and no-gi
  • His performance at the ADCC trials
  • What Mason was like as a lower belt
  • Dealing with a loss on the mats
  • Getting a good warm up
  • Tips for the hobbiest grappler


Quote of the week: “It is the fight alone that Pleases us, not the victory.” Blaise Pascal

Article of the week: What role do sports play in the mental health of children?


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod

Epi 290 Top Game

We talk about:

  • Why play top game?
  • Advantages of top game
  • The types of top games we like to play
  • Passing guard
  • Passing half guard
  • Keeping top position
  • Getting more pressure

Quote of the week: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” Dale Carnegie

Article of the week: Ring Bell For Service


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

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Disorder and Chaos

Byron asked me to do the impossible and write a Jiu Jitsu article on this picture. He thought it would be funny to watch me struggle. I will not struggle because I will use the skills that I have acquired from Jiu Jitsu to write this article. Skills such as patience, problem solving, and perseverance are learned in Jiu Jitsu. These skills will not only help you on the mat but off the mat as well.

Confusion can be defined as disorder, upheaval, chaos or lack of clearness or distinctness. In BJJ, we are trying to control and submit an unwilling or resisting opponent. This is not an easy task unless you outweigh your opponent by a 150 lbs. and have the strength of a wounded cougar. In order to submit your skilled and resisting opponent, you need to lead this person down a path that is undesirable for them. You want to lead them into disorder and chaos. You want to put your opponent in position where you can take advantage of them. Think of a takedown, you may post or push your opponent’s head to get him to move his hand up. As you opponent moves his hand up, this leaves a space for you to attack his legs. You change levels and shoot in for the takedown. You get the takedown. Whoever wrote that sign is trying to confuse the customer seeking service. We will combat this confusion with good old common sense.

Common sense is defined as sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training or the like. You can clearly look at the scenario and realize that there is not a bell where the arrow is pointing. Using a little common sense, you can see there is no bell anywhere. There is a button that probably will send a signal to the person working the front desk that a customer needs service. We also need to use common sense in Jiu Jitsu. Remember we talked about how our opponent is trying to take us down a dark path where he will seek to gain an advantage. Use your common sense to combat it. An example is your opponent has side control and is putting tremendous pressure into you and turning your head away. He also has an under hook. Suddenly, he releases the pressure. He is trying to make you react to his advantage. He wants you to turn into him quickly to relieve the pressure. When you turn into him, he will scoop you up with the underhook, move north south and apply a Kimura. Remember, if it is too easy for you to escape, it is probably for a reason and that reason is a submission or better position by your opponent.

I also think about the basics when I see this sign. In Jiu Jitsu I hear all the time that the basics are the building blocks of Jiu Jitsu. You need that strong foundation to really excel and grown in this sport. People will try to cheat the basics and while it may lead to more submissions in the short run, it will hinder your BJJ development in the long run. Leglocks can be a good example of forgetting the basics. I see many people wanting to learn leg locks from day one without even knowing how to pass a guard. This will hinder your development in the long run. This sign shows me this business forgot about the basics. Instead of having a smiling human greet you, you get an incorrect sign that is very impersonal. I would not want to do business with a company whose basics are lacking. I tried to buy a new cell phone 2 days ago. I could not complete the purchase on that day due to time constraints. The salesman asked me to make an appointment to meet with him the next day. We agreed to meet at 11am the next day. I show up at 11 and he was nowhere to be found. Two other employees were helping other customers and 2 other people besides me were waiting for service. I waited until 11:30 before I left. I was never greeted and the sales person who I made an 11am appointment with never showed up. I will take my business elsewhere.

Life is going to throw confusion, chaos and disorder at us. Life will take us down some crazy paths that may not be ideal. We can use our skills that we have learned in Jiu Jitsu to combat these situations. Commons sense, problem solving, patience and perseverance are just a few things that we will learn on the mat that will help us combat this disorder. As Joe Thomas would say(he is a real friend not like Byron), Train Hard, Train Smart, Get Better my friend.

Epi 287 Jake Mackenzie

This week we have an interview with black belt Jake Mackenzie. Jake is a under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. Jake shares lots of stories about his early travels to Brazil, and developing his favorite guards.

We talk about:

  • His start to BJJ
  • Traveling to Brazil
  • Early competitions
  • Dealing with nervousness
  • Tips for half guard and deep half
  • The difference between half and deep half guard
  • Reverse half guard
  • How his competition experience helps him as a coach

Quote of the week: “I was told that I couldn’t do it, I was stupid, I was crazy. But because I believed in my dreams, I accomplished them.” D. Gary Young


Article of the week: Optimizing Body Composition for Jiu-Jitsu Performance


Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod

Epi 268 BjjBrick Extra Jeff Westfall

This episode we have an interview with Jeff Westfall.

We talk about:

  • His start in martial arts
  • Early Jiu-Jitsu in the USA
  • The Martial Brain Podcast
  • The concept of thinking outside of the box
  • The power of continuing education
  • Survivorship bias
  • Closed guard tips
  • Getting out of side control tips and ideas


Tip: Pulling workouts help develop muscles to add pressure to your game.

Question: The question involves taking private lessons from different instructors













Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod

BjjBrick Q&A 19 Am I Too Passive?

Question: I’m 3 months in and I have a question for you. I’m 38 years old and most of the guys at the school are in their 20’s. they have high energy, they’re fit, they move quickly. I just don’t seem to have an intense killer instinct to win a roll, I’m a very passive personality, very submissive, I was never into sports. I recognize Jiu Jitsu as an effective FOR of self defense that I may need one day and I’m sure if needed I could operate at 110% in an emergency, but in a roll I just don’t seem to have an intensity that I see others have. Do you think that’s something I could develop over time or something that can be taught?

Epi 172 Six Amazing Black Belts Answer Questions About Blue Belts

This week we have a HUGE episode. We take six well known and respected black belts and ask them all the same five questions about blue belts. There are some similarities and differences within these interviews but the amount of jiu-jitsu wisdom about blue belts in this episode is amazing.

The five questions we asked to the six black belt guests

  1. Do you have requirements for a blue belt? What are they?
  2. How important is it for students to be able to “defend” their belt?
  3. How many intangibles (good teammate, good effort, helps others) come into play when promoting someone to blue belt?
  4. Do you ever regret giving someone a blue belt?
  5. What advice to you have for the new blue belt?


Tim Sledd 24m 25s

  1. Tim explains some of the techniques he requires for a student to know before receiving a blue belt.
  2. Tim talks about why some students get tapped by lower belts and if it is a big deal.
  3. Why he looks at character of a student not just technique, and how this can hold someone back.
  4. Why he has no regrets of any belts he has given out.
  5. Advice for the new blue belt.

Matt Thornton 58m 30s

  1. How he evaluates blue belts based on performance, and not looking at particular techniques.
  2. Why it is important for your first blue belts to be very good at a school.
  3. The importance of having good people on the mat.
  4. Why he is confident in all his blue belt students.
  5. Why it is important to relax and work on open guard as a blue belt.

Bernardo Faria 1h 17m 30s

  1. Bernardo talks about Fabio Gurgel’s system to get a blue belt a student must attend 120 classes.
  2. The idea of not tapping to a lower belt is an old mentality.
  3. Having a bad attitude will hold students back.
  4. Not having an actual belt test, and not regretting giving someone a blue belt.
  5. Keep your ego low, and work on learning jiu-jitsu.

Daniel Covel 1h 25m 05s

  1. His minimum requirements of techniques for a blue belt. The responsibilities of the instructor to the students.
  2. The importance of learning from your mistakes, and making adjustments.
  3. Why it is important to have good people and teammates on the mat.
  4. He has no regrets about any of his past blue belts.
  5. It is important to recognise the hard work on the mats.

Henry Akins 1h 42m 50s

  1. Understanding the basic positions and a handful of basic submissions.
  2. Why some upper belts get caught by lower belts.
  3. Why it is important for a blue belt to be a good training partner.
  4. Why getting tapped out is part of the learning process
  5. Why blue belts should work hard to develop a strong base.

John Will 1h 59m 30s

  1. Why he likes having requirements for blue belts but not so many for other belts.
  2. It is rare for a colored belt to get tapped by a lower belt, but it is no big deal.
  3. Why the culture of the gym is so important. The concept of a ox neck and rat’s head.
  4. It is often normal to feel like you don’t deserve a new belt
  5. Ask five simple questions for every technique you learn to learn more details.

Mat Tales 14 Mouse in the House

Quote of the week: “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

Article of the week: Production Now and Production Long Term















Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesStitcher radio, and Google Play Music for Andriod