Tag Archives: BJJ

Gi’s Galore and Reviews ahoy

Well I am almost back to the same lack of physical fitness I was at the end of the year and some consistent training is on the horizon :-)  I am booked for some physio so may be a fully functioning human soon.

Was at a wedding last week which was great and have the big party for it this Friday but not sure the whiskey and beer has helped, though guess it is kill or cure :-) I think it is time for a serious weight loss program and new diet as I turn 34 April 1st and it has gone on too long to quote Cypress Hill “Fat guy on a diet, don’t try it” well think I am gonna have to.

Anyway I now have a stack of Gi reviews due as I have been very lucky and had some great folk help me out so to follow on in teh next few weeks and months are in no particular order.

Black Eagle Predator – the new Gi in the big guy size and initial view is it looks and feels lovely

Tatami Estilo 2 – The next generation from Tatami and as ever it it seems a quality item

Sick Gi – Had some issues with this one as the one I was sent had short arms and some quality issues, however I spoke to Jim who said this was a review Gi issue and he would send a new one, well this has arrived and it fits great and seems a far better Gi

Lucky Gi – Thanks to scotty for what is of course a top Gi

Gorilla Gi – Heavy duty and hard wearing but initial rolls may have highlighted some issues

I also hope to have a app review from a UK black belt and I have some top interviews coming up which is all exciting, so onwards and upwards this year I intend to make April 1st 2011 my turning point and kick on from there.

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Filed under Gi, Reviews

Notes From a Samurai II – Rash Review

Much like Mark Morrison you knew that he’d be back, and here he is again guest writer Samurai =================================================================

Well I’ve been called back to active service following my review of the Bruno Alvez seminar at the top of the year.

In the mean time a lot has happened; Grandao is back on the mats (“This Death Star is fully operational!” is the battle cry I heard which caused me to LMAO), our illustrious leader John Goldson received his black belt from Lagarto and…to prove there is always hope, I got my blue belt on the same day :-)

So my Samurai skills are today focused on the Caged Steel Short Sleeve Rash vest.


Firstly I don’t know why they’ve gone with “vest” as opposed to “guard” but I’ll use the terms interchangeably. I always think of Rab C Nesbitt and Homer Simpson when I hear “vest”…

The Caged Steel brand is an offshoot of the MMA gym which goes by the same name. They get off to a fantastic start with being based in God’s own county…Yorkshire! As you all know we Yorkshire folk work harder than anyone else (Just watch the ‘4 Yorkshire men’ sketch on YouTube lol) and despite being busy putting ferrets down our trousers and instigating industrial action we have a plethora of solid MMA, BJJ and Thai gyms in the county.

First impressions are good. The black with lime green stitching is a good colour combo. The stitching is rubberised which, it is claimed, prevents it from becoming tangled in the Velcro on shorts etc. The rash vest material is dubbed “Duo Breathe” and “Sharkskin” – more on this later.

The material was much thicker than my Manto rash guards and the athletic Nike ones I purchased many moons ago. This wasn’t a bad thing and gave the garment a more substantial feel.

The elastic at the bottom of the vest was also the widest and most taut I have seen on such a product. When donned, you certainly feel it clamping in around the top of your legs. I’d feared this would inhibit free movement during rolling but needn’t have worried. It was perfectly comfortable and didn’t ride up. The neck line is also great and snug. I experienced no problems with errant fingers grabbing for my gi and accidentally grabbing the top of my rash guard too.

The stitching also doesn’t go under the armpit but either side of the sleeve/rib panel of the garment. This prevents the irritation that can develop otherwise.

A word on sizing too. Whilst I’m not a dainty little fella I’m no man mountain either! I wear an A3 in a gi and a Large in all my rash guards. This was an XXL! It fitted well; just like my L’s but almost gave me a heart attack as far as the success of my weight loss programme was concerned :-)

The branding is the “Caged Steel” logo on one arm and the upper back of the vest. In small print it says ‘Grappling Jiu Jitsu MMA’ across the chest. Sadly it is not a sublimated print and will therefore show clear signs of wear and washing. I personally can’t see why sublimated print isn’t adopted as a standard, particularly when such items are branded and that forms part of the “added value”.

At this point I pause and ask “What makes an MMA rash guard/vest?” One assumes, expects quite frankly, that it has been designed with the specific rigours of BJJ/MMA in mind. When the printed logos disappear what are you left with?

My best efforts turned up nothing about “Duo Breathe” and “Sharkskin” as materials. I then checked what I had suspected within minutes of actually handling the garment…it was essentially a rash guard used in diving.

I compared it to the O’Neil one I use when I dive and the attributes I’ve described above (elastic width, rubberised stitching etc) were all present.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this per se but you can pick up branded diving rash guards for £20 – £30 and high profile MMA/BJJ rash guards from £30-£40. With the Caged Steel coming in at £29.99 what warrants the extra money? What is the added value?

If it’s the branding then I don’t personally think it’s strong enough to warrant the premium; particularly as it will disappear due to it not being sublimated.

So in answer to “When the printed logos disappear what are you left with?” I have to answer a generic, all be it very functional for BJJ/MMA, diving rash guard.

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Filed under BJJ, Caged Steel, Rash Guard

Tatami Gi Review – 3 month update

As I always said the purpose of this blog was not only to review how the big guy Gi’s fit and react but also how they stand up to the pushing and pulling, the rolling and sparring and the washing and care that generally is put onto a Gi when you are my size. A quick illustration of this is taken form the fact I weigh around 310 lbs and spar in general with the bigger lads who are at about 210 lbs. Therefore (and these are rough calculations): I place 26 pounds of pressure per square inch on my knee when it is down. 155 pounds of pressure per square inch on my elbow when it is down. Around 500 lbs of torque on the sleeve when I stand and lift an opponent who is gripping my sleeve. This is a lot of pressure to put on a garment which costs at the start around £70 and just go up and up from there so how do they stand up to it, is the purchase going to be good for a while but start to come apart quickly and soon become a patchwork quilt or a discolored mess? Thus after the reviews I do I will be going back and looking at the Gi’s after a few months and then after about a year so here is the Tatami look back 3 months down the line.

Well to be honest the Zero G has done a little bit as I expected, it is a very light Gi and while the jacket still looks fairly pristine the trousers have started to scuff a little and show a few broken stitches.  However as I said this is a Gi I would recommend to a larger competitor when they compete or when it is very warm.  It has stood up very well overall it is just starting to  look a little battle worn, but by no means is it looking like it will give up the ghost any time soon.

As for the Estilo I have to say I am amazed it has stood up incredibly well it looks pristine and has had some real hard hammer, especially the half guard session with Fiddy and numerous rolls with Chaz.  It looks as good now as it did and has not a stitch or scuff out of place.  A fabulous effort considering the pressure and tension it has been out under to say the least.

I will be off line for the next week or so with a wedding (not mine) amongst other things in my diary but I for one cannot wait to review the new Estilo 2 along with a couple of other reviews for Gi’s and a new App which will be coming soon.

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Filed under BJJ, Gi, Reviews, Tatami

Some Cool News From Black Eagle

Just had contact from Black Eagle and they are bringing in a brand new range of Pearl Weave BJJ Kimonos very shortly.

Not only that but they are back and up at the grandao size of A5 and have asked me to review one which of course I jumped at the chance to do, this is great news and will give all the big lads of the UK BJJ scene another quality British make to have a look at.

Watch this space as they say, whoever they are.

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Carlos Zapata (Team Quest) – Interview

I was lucky enough to have a chat with Carlos Zapata the blackbelt owner of Team Quest training centre in Redding California tqredding He is a fascinating man to talk to and as friendly and helpful as I have come across so my thanks to him and to Rob for putting me in touch with him

-          Tell me about yourself your path into BJJ and training in Brazil?

I started training BJJ in 1997 with some guys in Redding, California while I was attending college. Like many others, I watched the early UFCs with Royce Gracie and I wanted to learn what he knew. Luckily there was a few guys that had trained with Rickson and Joe Moreira that lived in my area and I began to learn from them. I fell in love with the challenges that Jiu-Jitsu presented and with the effectiveness of the techniques. When I was a brown belt, I had the opportunity to train with Carlos Diego here in the states and he invited me to train in Brazil at Clube Pina. Training in Brazil is intense and I learned that you have to keep pace to survive. The guys down there are very tough and the academy had many brown and black belts to train with.

(note Carlos received the Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Faustino “Pina” Neto and is the first American to be graduated to the rank of Black Belt at the prestigious Club Pina Academy in Brazil.)

-          Was there any link between your BJJ and military training?

There really is little similarity between military training and BJJ. BJJ is very technical and methodical, where military fight training is very basic and uses much more large motor skills than fine motor skills. I never compared the two as there is little comparison. It did, however, give me a good mindset for when I teach law enforcement and military personnel.

-          Is there any difference in teaching normal students and marines as I see you are also a marine corps instructor

There is no real difference with teaching Marines or normal BJJ students. They all require much attention and guidance. In both you have good students and some not so good ones.

-          What led you to open your own school and why team quest?

I got out of the Marines in 2007 and by this time I felt comfortable with opening a BJJ school back in Redding. I wanted to open the door for others to learn and I wanted to continue my journey in Jiu-Jitsu as an instructor.
I used to train at Team Quest in Temecula, California and I always liked the way that they ran their programs – Very organized and had a great sense of teamwork. I enjoyed the environment. I also trained at the Portland gym and really got along with the guys there and felt that we could work well together so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. It’s a great fit for us.

-          Is there a difference between your style Club Pina and other systems such as Gracie Barra in which I train?

Every person that trains BJJ has their own style which is developed by their own interpretation of Jiu-Jitsu for their own needs. This is what is great is that BJJ is truly for everyone, just as Helio and Carlos envisioned. Clube Pina and Gracie Barra have very similar styles as they are rooted in the same lineage. Clube Pina actually used to be a GB school and many of their top guys such as Bibiano Fernandes and Carlos Holanda have fought under the Barra flag – But really, each school has it’s own personality and there is something for everyone in the BJJ world. Everyone has to find a school that meets their needs.
-          How did Jose Chavez’s (the first Redding BJJ World Champ) success make you feel and who else do you have in the gym who might make an impact?

Jose Chavez made me extremely proud as he is the first world champion that I trained. His success is the success of his teammates and training partners. He works extremely hard and his dedication paid off. I have quite a few guys in the gym who are very tough and talented. I look forward to our team making a splash in the BJJ world next year with competitors in different divisions. I also have many great students that love the art and train tirelessly to improve BJJ. When one guy improves, our martial art gets better.

-          That is very true indeed, so if it is OK can I ask a bit about your MMA tside specifically cornering, how do you approach cornering fighters?

My approach to cornering fighters has always been focused around mindset. I like to make sure that they believe in themselves, in their training and in their gameplan. Fighters are either victorious or defeated before they enter the ring. I like to make sure that they envision winning and that they feel happy and poised as they enter the ring. The hard work is done in camp and the fight is a contest of who had the better preparation, so the focus of energy is in the camp.
-          Do you teach it all or do you bring in specialists?

I work within a team of specialists. Because of my background, my best input is with regard to the situations on the ground. Jiu – Jitsu has 3 aspects. Sport BJJ, MMA, and street self defense. When training guys for MMA fights, I ensure that I am giving them the correct aspect and techniques that will keep them safe in that realm and within the parameters of that fight. My Muay Thai coach, Josh Hernandez, ensures that the fighter has good fundamentals in the standing, and My Boxing and MMA coach, Mark Shoemaker, ensures that the fighter is polished and technically superior in all aspects. We have a lot of talent within our camps and everyone brings something to the table. We all learn together and from each other. It’s definitely a team effort. If you go to a gym and one guy is teaching it all, you are not getting enough perspective to make a guy successful. For this camp, we are bringing in Robert Follis for a couple of days. He is the true “guru” of the MMA world and always bring a good perspective to inspire our fighters. We will also travel to the Portland Team Quest gym to cross train with our brethren there and to keep fresh guys in the mix.

-          Will you focus more on MMA or more BJJ

My focus is in coaching and developing fighters and students. I leave every door open and see what presents itself, but for now I will continue to train everyday with my team and focus on them. I am fascinated with coaching, leadership and training. My students can have the spotlight – They have earned it.

-          What next for you and your team

We have a lot of guys fighting MMA right now and a few champions within the gym. We will make sure they stay busy along with our BJJ team. We will continue to learn, grow and wave the Jiu-Jitsu flag wherever we go, on and off the mats! Osss!
-          Thanks so much for your time and patience.

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Filed under BJJ, Black Belt, interview, Team Quest

Did you spot the gorilla

Well it has been too long, far to sporadic and just not what I wanted but I finally feel well, healthy ish and in a couple months should be back at full silverback power.

The blog has also slowed down as it is hard to write and review about a sport that you love so much while you are not able to do it for one reason or another.

However I made a proper return to training and sparring last night and it felt great and this time I am back and pushing harder than ever, I will also be getting some Gi reviews, another couple of app reviews, Mr Samurai will be adding a review soon and even a book or two as I am a bit of a reader (don’t worry they will be BJJ/MMA/Fighter related).

I was really pleased when Jiu Jitsu style dropped through my door, it is an excellent magazine and is just what the british scene needs, also good to see Mr Yang spreading his media output even further.  I would heartily recommend a subscription you will not be disappointed http://www.bjjstyle.com

I also had a revelation when rolling with the newly promoted black belt John Goldson about 10 days ago, I was able to catch another blue belt opponent a few times in submissions but with John (while I never get close ever) it all seemed even further away than ever.  I was unable to get anywhere no small positional wins nothing.  John then asked me why I did certain things I did and I explained it was because I always did them and got away with them, in fact I had been getting away with them in the roll just before.

Then it struck me, Big Man Jiu Jitsu is a style as of course the game has to be adapted to your body style and size but do not fall into the trap that I had fallen into.  I was too reliant on the fact that I was so much bigger, heavier and a wee bit stronger than a lot of the lads I rolled with and either my size or my strength meant that I could get away with bad technique.  I could tuck my arm behind my head to defend a potential arm bar as a lot tried to rive it out and I won that battle.  However against John and others like the purple belts and some blues and especially the other hulks I compete against this does not work.  They are either strong enough to change my position which I have already made poor for myself or more often they have the technique to exploit what I do.  This was further re enforced last night while drilling a technique, I asked if the way I did something would also work as it seems too and the answer was the same yeah it does work against those who I can out power or who know less but it is not gonna work as I move on and up.

I guess then the advice is this, by all means adapt your game to play the one that works for you, John was talking to me about this, I need to play a big man game, control, control, position, control and then submission.  Careful movements, all pressured and controlled and always use technique.  It does not matter if you do not know 5 submissions from every place at first, just learn the position first and the submission will come and even if it doesn’t in competition the guy on top normally wins.  Size and strength have got me to my blue, but only technique and application will get me further and I want to go further.

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Filed under BJJ, Black Belt, forge, Jiu Jitsu Style, John Goldson, Meerkatsu

Braulio Estima Interview

This is a translation of an interview Braulio recently gave to kombat.ro in Romania, I thought it was an interesting one which may folk would like to read so have done my very very best with the translation, sorry if there are any errors.

Read a great interview with Braulio Estima, one of the hottest grapplers today. See what he says about the world’s BJJ about the best MMA fighters and many more!

How was it for you the Europeans? You had some injuries last year ..

Braulio Estima: I had a neck injury in mid last year that kept me away from the mattress. Then I resumed training but was told by the Dr I have to operate if you want to avoid the risk of becoming paralyzed in an accident. One of my best friends died on January 10 this year, so I decided to attend the European Championship in his name, and to win for him. Basically, on 29 January I was at his funeral in the evening I returned to London, where we flew to Lisbon, where we arrived around 23:00. The next day we fought and we won the category, and on Monday I came back because I had surgery on Tuesday. It was a pretty busy week.

Although I was not in the best shape, I felt good during the match and was able to control their actions. I beat two opponents and I beat him on points to win overall.

Who was the man’s number 1 and who is no 1 competitor in the world?

Sergio Moraes was the best man of the competition for winning the Open site. Obviously, and I was as good as I’ve just beaten the him in the category, right? :-) The world number one is definitely Roger Gracie.

How would you describe briefly your BJJ?

Lifestyle, respect, spirit of competition.

What is the most important principle in BJJ?


What was the hardest match, the victory and the defeat that disappointed you the most?

I had many hard matches, each time the tests were true. The most important victory for me was the Open at ADCC in 2009 and was the biggest disappointment was at the World Pro finals, when there were some errors in arbitration.

How is your training in MMA going? When did you begin and with what objectives?

MMA workouts are going well, I have had the chance to prepare myself with the best athletes in the world. I had the surgery just for MMA and to not have problems later in my career. After I recover I will dedicate myself to training. I want to conquer all and win the most important belts in the sport.

What do you think of fighters like Jacare, Galvao, Maia, etc coming to MMA and surely they need more than just grappling and BJJ in MMA?

I cannot know what they think, but obviously the money was an important issue. Fortunately, BJJ’s becoming increasingly professional and there are already major competitions each month. I think all the world’s most famous MMA fighters do BJJ through.

Name three of the best ground fighters in MMA!

Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Junior dos Santos.

Name the three weakest ground fighters in MMA that have come a long way!

Overeem, Chuck Liddell, Cro Cop.

How was training with St. Pierre? Have you finished?

No comment on training, because anything can happen there. We did exchange information.

Who influenced you most in your career?

My instructor, Jose Radiola.

Favorite Submission?


Describe in one word the following people:

Carlos Gracie, creator
Helio Gracie, transforming
Georges St. Pierre, athlete
BJ Penn, talented
Rickson Gracie, undefeated
Jacare, explosiveness
Roger Gracie, incredible
Braulio Estima, determination

What are your goals for 2011?

First I want to come back after surgery to the neck, and I will begin to dedicate myself to training again. The main objective is the ADCC’s in September and then I will put MMA first..

Name the four semi-finalists of the BJJ Open in 2011!

Roger Gracie
Bernardo Farias
Claudio Calasans
Ricardo dementia (or Xande Ribeiro)

What is the biggest rivalry in BJJ?

Certainly Cobrinha vs. Rafael Mendes



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Filed under BJJ, Black Belt, interview

Awesome Gi and Professor John

So tonight was John’s first class as a black belt and he already has James referring to him as professor while he is laying down the pain :-) James however just seem glad that Pete is back so that John has another demonstration body.

A big shout out to Big Rob my brother from across the pond who had the first roll in class with John as a black belt and who was as close to tapping John as I ever have been, which is of course not at all close in any way.

I was also given some really good advice from John about the need to look at my game and actually start developing it as it should be, stopping working in other folks games, stop half committing or half carrying out a move and then resting and to be honest it all hit home.   He is dead right, all too often I work an escape, get some off my back and am in a good position only to pause, rest, collect my thoughts and by that time my opponent has moved and is back into a dominant place again.  For me it become so frustrating that I spend too much time moving, moving, moving which is not my game.  I need to move, escape, establish dominance and control and then if needs be take a rest.  Being off ill recently has not helped and my recovery is slowing me down but all this means is that I lose sooner it is not the reason I lose.  I have to say that of all the physical pursuits I have been involved in this is the one that most gets me down at times as no matter how much effort I put in, effort is not the key.  With rugby I was not the most talented but with effort and hard work I turned myself into a good player and played at a good level alongside future international stars.  With BJJ that effort alone is not enough, I have to work harder on the application of the effort and the technique as I want to progress in this sport more than any other one I have done.

So will I get there, well yeah I honestly believe I will as I have an amazing team and John one of very few Black Belts I have met who is prepared to invest so much in other people no matter ability or grade.  Couple that with the input from Lagarto and how can I not improve and progress?  The only thing holding me back now is how I play my game and how I focus in my head, so watch this space.

Now for the awesome Gi, have a look at James in the pictures below and you tell me if you do not agree :-)










Filed under BJJ, Black Belt, Gi

John Goldson – Black Belt

Well I have to say it was a momentous day yesterday for GB Sheffield, I am so sorry I could not make it down but I am on the comeback trail and I will be back to the next Lagarto session all being well.

Why was it such a big day well there were quite a few belts handed out:

Young Jake received his Orange belt and I am pretty sure he is a black belt in the making that boy

Blue Belts went to Naz the Samurai, Adam, Dimitri and Kyle which is a great achievement and well deserved by all.

Also a number of stripes were given out, and my good friend and brother in arms Chaz got his second stripe which is fantastic and makes me feel better about the fact that he so frequently kicks my ass :-)

However the big news of the day has to be this:


pic courtesy of Gregg Rodgers


Our coach and a man who has given me so much support and help through the last 2 and a bit years received his black belt and received it from a great in the sport Lagarto.  This is such a well deserved achievement as John has worked so hard both personally but far more so for the sport both at the gym and in the north of the UK in general.  He has done all this in a selfless and tireless manner never in it for anything other than the love of the sport.  I am so sorry I was not there to see it but will continue to train with John and will see him tonight in his first full session as a black belt.

This is the goal that we all aim for and very few will make it all the way and it is something that John I am sure and all of us at the forge are immensely proud of and we will all go from strength to strength as a family and a team.


Filed under Black Belt, forge, John Goldson, Lagarto

BJJ Sweeps – iPhone App Review

I just got a copy of this app with the aim of reviewing it and hopefully some others out there on the market. I am reviewing on an iPhone 4 running IOS 4.2.1 (8C148). The app version is the latest version 1.0.0

This is a fledgling market and really only the Machado Brothers, Stephen Kesting, Darculino and Roy Dean have embraced it fully, with only Roy and Draculino going for a full course offering. But there are more and more apps coming out offering some BJJ instruction.

As with all new apps and technologies there are bound to be teething problems and issues so I have taken this into account in this review. It is not the same as reviewing DVD’s, Gi’s or belts as these are all established and should be at that point of perfection, or at least nearing it.


BJJ Sweeps is headed by Black Belt Marcos Torregrosa and covers Deep Half Guard and Leg Wrap positions. It is produced by Handcrafted Web Solutions and the main man is Dan Munk who I hope to be dealing with again soon.

There is the standard disclaimer at the start of the app, about the risk of the sport and the fact that you take this on yourself and should always be aware of the risk but this varies from app to app.

It has a nice logo which is a good branding point.

There is no loading screen you are just presented with the app and the bottom task bar menu which is very basic but does all it needs. It has videos and an about button which has an extensive and impressive bio of Marcos.

Then inside each section there are move broken down by position in quite a basic but very easy to use style


For example:

Deep Half Guard
- Fundamentals
- Entries
- Rocking Chair Sweep
- Dump Sweep
- Scoop Sweep
- Multiple transitions to the back
- Multiple Gi Grip Sweeps
- Omoplata
- Transition to Leg Wrap

Leg Wrap
- Fundamentals
- Entries
- Single leg
- Taking the back
- Standing Sweeps
- Transition to Ankle Lock

- 50/50 Entry
- Ankle Lock Details

There is a nice shot of Marcos on the front screen and a fairly sparse menu no favourite section or such but this is something which could easily be added as the app is updated.

The menus then take you straight to a set of moves without the small icon previews but have a good explanation.


Now this is slightly different from the standard video app and I must say the presentation is lovely. You first get the move at full speed with a good music track behind it (suitably rock) and then you get an in depth breackdown by Marcos. Finally you get the steps which are highlighted by some very nice concise on screen bullet points. The video, is smooth, close enough and just looks great one of the best video offerings I have seen.

The sound, my old high horse, nemesis, chagrin call it what you will, well what can I say but awesome guys. It does not sound like it was recorded in a cave more that you are just listening to a teacher telling you what to do in the gym.

I guess you could say that it is relatively advanced techniques and not the for some looking for true basics and maybe not all moves are actual sweeps, there are some for taking the back, but that would be just looking for flaws.


So what do you get:

BJJ Sweeps App £2.39 / $3.99
21 techniques
Full explanation of all moves


This is a good app it looks and sounds great and does all you would need, but it really is for folk who are looking for these specific techniques and not a basics app however you will not find a better show or sounding app at this price range in my experience.

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Filed under App Store, BJJ, Black Belt, iPhone, iTunes, Reviews