Monthly Archives: June 2010

Big Stew is away :-) Gracie Barra goes to Glasto

Tomorrow my girlfriend is running in the race for life so anyone who wants to sponsor this amazing charity please go here–13-jun-10-1030.aspx

Then I will be going down to catch the end of the Lagarto Seminar which is on tomorrow to cheer on the boys and see who gets what stripe and belt wise and to pay my respects to John Goldson head of, in my opinion, the best BJJ school around and to world class BJJ player and top man Lagarto.

After all that tuesday morning I am off to the hopefully sunny climbs of Glastonbury and I will be spreading the word, I am taking my Team Gracie Barra T-Shirts and will be extolling the BJJ virtues to anyone who asks me about it.

So until I get back thanks for reading I kinda started this just to record my progress and thoughts for later life so the fact that more than just me has logged on surprises me……………………….. scootch a butt, awma bwar move a spwyder gward and monch


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Filed under BJJ, Holiday, John Goldson, Lagarto

A very proud day, a blue belt and tears……..almost

Well back in December I went to a Lagarto seminar as a 3 stripe white belt, I was really pleased with this as it meant I could go to the intermediate class and fully develop my game.

I entered hoping more than expecting that I would get my fourth stripe and get me one step further towards a blue belt.  The session started well and the techniques that we were being taught were all things that I could do and suited my large frame.  I was able to carry them off quite well and found a couple that I use to this day as part of my everyday game.

Then came sparring and the weeks leading up to this with John paid off,  weeks of him in my ear telling me to move my ass, to keep pushing, to leave it all on the mat, to stop giving up on positions, to show some aggression no matter that it is not in me anymore really.  With all this in mind I sparred well, probably as well as I ever have at a class and I took top people’s backs, got a few taps and still tapped a few times of course as our school has some seriously high standard guys.

Then came the line up, Lagarto asked for 3 purple belts which went to Max, Ryan and Noel which were so well deserved as they are three guys who have really helped me get to where I am today along with the likes of Gregg, Hayden, Russ, Rich et al.  Stripes were handed out and I did not get one, oddly enough I was not that disappointed as I knew I had sparred as well as I had ever done at a seminar and just clearly was not ready.

John and Lagarto then got their heads together again and Lagarto asked for 2 blue belts and I looked round and saw a good few worthy candidates, Taff (oddly enough a bit Welsh that lad) nudged me and said “I reckon one of those is for you” I politely replied “Forget off, there is fun all chance”.  Then the first belt went to Yousuf which was fantastic, he has been a mate from the start of my journey pretty much, we went to our first comp together (story coming up) and have travelled the road with a big smile.  He has become a human backpack and has real stragglers mitts.  A huge round of applause went up a cheer and I gave him the traditional big Stew hug has he came past.

Then Lagarto started asking for someone called Grandão and looking near me, Dave T (Fiddy as he is known) said, “he means you it is Portuguese and basically there is big, bigger and Grandao” (bigger than bigger). I pointed at myself embarrassed in case Lagarto said “No that guy” but he didn’t he just smiled and nodded and I believe John said “get your ass over well done”.

Then it hit me, he was giving me my blue belt I was not going to be a white belt anymore I had worked so hard, lost over 50 lbs and grappled till I was black and blue but only hoped for a fourth stripe.  Then I heard the cheer and the applause went to put my belt on, and realised that I was back as part of the family fully now and almost, and I mean almost cried.  Now I admit this is not that manly but I suddenly realised how much this all meant to me.  Not the belt so much just the fact that I had achieved something I so dearly wanted to.

I went through the back whipping process which some people seem to enjoy handing out too much, Majid, John and “Handsome” Chris as he calls himself (ginger Chris to the rest of us) being prime examples.  I had the pic taken with John, Lagarto and Ben Poppleton getting my belt and walked out to the car, where my girlfriend asked “did you get your stripe” I said “nah” and she comforted me and pointed out that I love it anyway so I will just get it next time.  I then told her I had ordered my blue belt from John and was waiting for it to come in to stock on my side and almost, almost shed a tear again, thankfully she did it for me instead.

So on December 6th 2009 I got my blue belt it got my first stripe on it May 15th 2010……………..the journey is just starting


Filed under BJJ, Blue Belt, John Goldson, Lagarto

BJJ at the Forge

Well I first decided I wanted to learn BJJ after watching UFC about 15 years ago but then I started playing rugby and that took over my life.  I played at a good level until a bad skiing accident wrecked my knee, broken thigh bone, broken and double dislocation of the ankle, broken knee cap, snapped patella tendon, interior and anterior medial ligaments gone, ACL ruptured and shin broken.  All in all over 2 years of surgery and re hab, during which my weight ballooned from 17 st  7 lbs of pretty fit muscle to 25 st 10 lbs.

So it was at this point in October 2008 after once again getting back into the UFC and combat of that kind that I decided to look for a BJJ gym.   I had a google found 2 in Sheffield picked one and went down, and too this day I thank the lord that I picked the one that I did.

I decided on The Forge and have never looked back.  John Goldson is the owner and head honcho of the school plus the number one trainer, we also have input from British black belt Ben Poppleton as well as Lucio Sergio (a world class Brazilian born Black Belt) and all of our belts are given to us by Lagarto who is a multiple world champion and the head of the Gracie Barra school in Europe.

Now like all folk I have made my mistakes but I was welcomed back by John and the team as everyone deserves a second chance and that is the motto “Organised like a team, Fight like a family” and I have never looked back or wanted to be anywhere else.

So I walked in mid Oct 2008 without a Gi as my girlfriend said I had to wait until I liked it to buy one (yes I know but we are all the same :))

I liked it and I liked it alot, it was all I had wanted to find since I quit playing rugby, I used to get so bored in the gym hence my weight climb and this was something that would get me fit and that I loved.  So I bought my Gi a Keiko Raca one in an A5 which at the time was the largest they had sent to the UK (I am still secretly quite proud of that) and it began.

I spent months on my back or side getting pummelled by everyone, my total lack of fitness began to tell and all I did was defend.  As the months went by I got better at defending and fitter too boot.  I started going to all the sparring classes and made some good friends all of whom would kick my ass but then tell me how they had done it, how I could stop it and encourage me that I was getting better.

I learnt some attacks but perhaps most importantly my weight came down from 25 st 10 lbs to 21 st 10 lbs and then the breakthrough came.  John explained that I needed to learn how to use my weight coupled with technique and not just strength, learn control and submissions would come later.  So this is all I worked on for some months, side control and mount mainly.  I then learnt an arm bar from the side and an ezekiel choke and I was all set for my assault on actually winning a few sparring sessions.

During this period I went through from one to three stripes and then in December 2009 Lagarto and John really surprised me and presented me with my blue belt.  This was a moment which I had not been expecting and it filled me with so much pride, I admit I almost cried and definitely felt a bit shaky as I went round shaking everyone’s hands.  Even the standard whipping did not worry me as it meant I had made it.

Never been happier then I am right now and the forge offers one of the highest levels of BJJ anywhere in the country in my opinion, and the results seem to back this up.

Since then I have trained with London Shootfighters, Royce Gracie, sparred with a few pro cage fighters, met some very cool people and managed to  get my first strip and my first competition medal in the same month, but more of that to follow…….


Filed under BJJ, forge, Lagarto

Hello – My Journey in BJJ so far

Well this is my first blog post somewhat influenced by others who do this and also as an attempt to record my BJJ journey.

I always loved combat sports, boxing, wrestling and anything with physical contact and as such took up rugby, got to a good standard, blew my knee out and ballooned in weight.

Fast forward to November 2008 and I have decided that after years watching the UFC and things like that I want to find somewhere to teach me BJJ.

I googled round and found The Forge in Sheffield home of John Goldson and Gracie Barra Sheffield and I have never looked back.  Without a doubt this has proven to be the best experience and sport that I have ever found.  I stepped onto the matt as a 360 lbs white belt without a clue.

I took a lot of knocks, armbars, chokes, foot locks and beastings oh the beastings.  I went to competitions and got my ass handed too me and I got hammered week in week out, but I LOVED it.

Now in June 2010 I am 302 lbs (still some way to go) and  a Blue Belt I stripe, which was the proudest day I have had in years when I got my Blue.  I have met and trained with Lucio Sergio, Lagarto, Ben Poppleton, London ShootFighters, Royce Gracie and others.  I have been to the Seni and come away with a silver (blog to follow) and I cannot get enough.

Journey is only just begun but I will keep on it as long as I can.

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Filed under BJJ