Epi 274 Black Belt Karen Antunes

This week we have an interview with BJJ black belt Karen Antunes. This interview covers a wide range of topics from competing at the black belt level to maintaining a busy off the mat life.

We talk about:

  • Her training background
  • Competing after having a baby
  • Her desire to be a competitor
  • How her brother helped introduce her to Jiu-Jitsu
  • Training less than you did a few years ago
  • What makes a good training partner
  • Training Gi vs no-gi
  • Off the mat training
  • Changes in the women’s division over the years
  • Her role as a coach


Quote of the week: “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” Mario Andretti

Article of the week: Welcome to Jiu-Jitsu 🙂













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 85 James Puopolo Can Make You Laugh and Tap

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

James PuopoloThis week we have a interview with Rafael Lovato Jr black belt James Puopolo.  He has been doing BJJ full time since leaving his middle school math teaching job.  He can be found on the mats at Salem-Keizer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. You can find out more about James here on BJJ Heroes.

We talk about:

  • Running his academy
  • His ever changing style of BJJ
  • Training with out the use of a timer
  • Fitting your BJJ into many different rule sets
  • The importance of finishing your opponent
  • His training schedule
  • Training other grappling arts
  • Training with Luke Tirey
  • His first training experience with RLJ
  • Doing 14 competitions last year
  • His future goals
  • Keeping a training journal
  • The process he goes through before a competition
  • Basic meditation to get you in your zone
  • Advice for a students first tournament

Links for James Puopolo’s sponsors:

Keep up with James on his Facebook page

Quote of the week: Presented by PJ Waicus “The big, strong, tough guy goes to class, and he keeps getting tapped by the skinny, technical guy. It begins to change him. It makes him humble. That’s what Jiu Jitsu does to you. It makes you humble.” Relson Gracie

Article of the week: “What Can The Stock Market Teach You About Jiu-Jitsu?” From Jiu-Jitology

First year of BJJ

Catch us next week for another episode of The BjjBrick Podcast

BjjBrick Radio Episode 1- Train leg locks safely

BjjBrick Radio Episode 1- Train leg locks safely

The BjjBrick Podcast is in iTunesand Stitcher radio

  • Practice leg locks- The more you understand and train leg locks the safer you will be.
  • Don’t force the leg lock- Submissions should not take all your strength to work.  Don’t strain too hard, be smooth.
  • Control your partner- Before you start applying the pressure have good control of your training partner.
  • Work leg locks with more skilled people- Avoid putting leg locks on new practitioners; they will be more likely to get injured.
  • Tap when you get caught- It’s no big deal, if you get caught just tap.
  • Be aware of your own feet- You are often in danger when you are attacking someone’s leg.
  • Tips for when to tap to- Heel hooks, Achilles lock, and Toe hold.

Quote of the week- “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”  Bruce Lee

Article- “It’s All in the Hips: Hip Care 101 for BJJ Practitioners” By Samuel Spiegelman

Legal Leg Locks for BJJ by Roli Delgado– The App Gary talked about.

episode 1 BjjBrick radio

One Handed Drill to Improve Your Open Guard

One handed drill, will improve your open guard.

In any sport, drills are a great way to train your body to move the way you want it to.  Here is an awesome drill to help develop your open guard.  When using the open guard it is difficult yet important to learn to use your feet like another set of hands.  This drill quickly forces you to really focus on using your feet effectively, and using proper hip movement.

The drill- Take one hand and put it under your belt, then grab the ends of your belt with that same hand.  Start with your partner in your guard, and have them focus on passing.  When they pass your guard stop, and restart from guard.  Go for 2 or 3 min, and then switch hands.  By holding the ends of your belt you will be less likely to accidently use your hand.

Do not- Your goal is to improve your open guard.  Do not lock them in the closed guard and hold them tight with your free hand.  The point of this drill is to improve your movement; it is not to prevent them from passing at all cost.

Tips for the guard guy- Concentrate on having 3 points of contact with your partner.  This means that both feet and your free hand need to be on your partner.  Have your partner try to pass standing and on his knees.  If an opportunity to get a sweep or submission is there, go for it.

Tips for the passer- experiment with different passes.  Your partner is obviously not at his top game, so this is a great time to try a new guard pass.  If you always pass to the left try passing to the right or down the middle.

One of my favorite things about this drill is that is feels more like rolling than drilling.

Other articles you might like

Setting goals in BJJ

19 rules to go by for BJJ

Slow down to  improve your Jiu-Jitsu

For more good times like Facebook.com/BjjBrick


Part 2- I got tapped by a white belt (or any lower ranking belt)

The BJJ life is going great.  You have gotten rid of that old worn out white belt and been handed a new blue belt.  There are definitely a few tough white belts you roll with, but most do not give you much of a battle.  Then it happens, a white belt taps you out.  Believe it or not, if you train long enough, a lower ranking belt will tap you out.  Your belt provides no protection from other belts.  If anything, lower belts will likely be giving you their “A game”. Here is a little advice to remember when you get caught by a lower ranking belt; this advice can be for any level.

The disappointment- The first time I was tapped out by a lower belt I was disappointed in myself.  This is probably the most common thing to feel.  You might wonder if you deserve your belt, or maybe you are just getting worse.  Show your instructor respect and don’t question your belt.  If you are questioning your belt, you are questioning you instructor’s judgment.  Most likely the main cause of getting tapped out by a lower belt is that the lower belt is advancing.

Don’t avoid this lower belt- Getting tapped by a lower belt can be a freak occurrence, but most likely this lower belt has been slowly catching up to you.  Do not avoid the lower belt that is putting you in danger and giving you a run for your money.  You have a color belt, you are not just some person to roll with you are also a coach to lower belts.  You need to be helping to develop the members of your team, not avoiding them because they are getting better.  Avoiding the students that are improving is a mistake.

No excuses- When you get tapped by a lower ranking belt don’t give an excuse.  You are not going to lose respect from this person because you got tapped.  You lose respect if you complain and give excuses.  When you are in a submission, fight to get out of it. Do not stop rolling and give advice on how to finish the submission.  Coaching while in a close submission is a cheap way to avoid getting tapped.  It is better to fight out of the submission and then tell them how to tighten it up.

Be happy- So you got caught by a lower ranking student, who cares?  If you get mad when you get tapped out you are forgetting to leave your ego at the door.  Students that get upset after getting tapped have a higher likelihood of quitting.  When I was a lower belt I remember not finishing submissions because my partner would get mad.  Someone who gets mad is not a good training partner or member of the team.  After you get tapped by someone for the first time give them a quick handshake and tell them “nice work”, then get back to rolling.

To sum it up- Worrying about getting tapped out is a negative thought process that will eventually slow your progress.  You will roll one less time because you are tired, you will not branch out of your comfort zone and try new techniques.  I have seen students come to class less due to frustration and then ultimately quit.  That’s a stupid reason to quit BJJ.  No one loves getting caught by lower belts, but it is going to happen sometime.  Just keep rolling; it’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

Read Part 1 -Tapped my first Blue blet (or any higher ranking belt)

Thank you for reading.

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Part 1- I Tapped my first Blue belt (or any higher ranking belt)

Sooner or later you are going to tap out someone who has a higher rank than you. This can be very exciting and a sign that you are making real progress. Here is a little advice for you to consider when you get to this experience in your BJJ journey. To keep it simple, let’s focus on white belts tapping blues, but the advice can be for any level.

Good job- Your hard work and training is starting to show progress. For most new white belts, a blue will seem almost invincible for a long time. You should feel a happy and a little excited. The person you were when you first started BJJ could not have accomplished this task. The technique you used might be something to really focus on. You should do more drilling with the technique and get even better at it.

Be humble- First of all you can’t accomplish anything at the expense of your teammates. You accomplish WITH your teammates. This blue belt has probably helped you get to this point. Do not be rude and celebrate in front of everyone what you just did. Just finish the round like you would if the blue tapped you out.

Think about what happened- Doing this may take away some of the excitement of your accomplishment. Keep in mind that this is not a tournament, this is training. There are many things other than you being awesome that could have helped contribute to you tapping out a blue belt. There is a good chance that your partner was not rolling as hard as they could. In BJJ position is so important. If your partner rolls light with you, eventually you will get a good position and catch them. This blue belt could be very tired, or you might have a size advantage over him. In the long run tapping out a higher ranking belt is a small step.

Don’t tell your coach you are ready for the next belt- This is rude and very short sighted. Your coach will know when you are ready for your next belt. One submission over someone does not deem you worthy of a new belt. Your coach is more likely to be watching how you move in general, and not watching for a few seconds of greatness. For example, you may have a great triangle choke but if you stick your arms up to escape the mount, you are not ready for a belt promotion.

To sum it up- Good job in moving forward with your BJJ progress. But keep in mind that tapping out a teammate that was not giving a 100% is not the best thing you will accomplish on the mat. Keep working hard and look to make submitting higher ranking belts more common. Keep in mind that someday you will be wearing a blue belt and get tapped by a white belt.

Part 2 –  I got tapped by a white belt (or any lower ranking belt)

Thank you for reading.
Like me on Facebook.com/BJJbrick