Open Guard Passing Seminar


Felipe Grez – Open Guard Passing Seminar

May 26, 2018

Last Saturday we had the privilege of hosting coach Felipe Grez at our gym. The topic of this seminar was Open Guard Passing in which Felipe provided priceless concepts used in passing many (if not all) types of open guard.

Numbers were down a little this time, with the date coinciding with some popular BJJ competitions in Sydney and Canberra, plus the dreaded flu bug hitting a few students. However, for the members who made the seminar, all learned a ton and have taken away some great information to improve their games!

I would like to thank Rob Cooley from FiveStar Martial Arts for bringing Felipe out to Cowra and also his help at the seminar. Thanks to all who attended and thank you to Felipe for his support of our gym and traveling out here to Cowra to teach us. We are all grateful for his help!

We are aiming to host Felipe again in November so if you are keen to learn some awesome concepts and techniques, lock in a spot and come along! We welcome anybody from any affiliation 🙂

Black Knight Jiu Jitsu

Judo Olympian in Cowra

This past week on Wednesday, January 17th we had the great honor and opportunity to learn from Judo black belt and BJJ brown belt Matt D’Aquino at Black Knight Jiu Jitsu. Matt is one of Australia’s most successful Judo players. He is a 2008 Beijing Judo Olympian, multiple Australian and Oceania Champion and in 2009 Matt made history by being the first and only Australian to win the Pac Rim Championships.

The seminar was called “Takedowns for BJJ” and after a fun warm up Matt spent two hours showing a variety of functional takedowns that were easy to pick up, from beginner to the more experienced BJJ practitioner. Techniques were followed up with a Q & A session where participants were encouraged to ask about any subject, whether it was Judo or BJJ related, life experiences or anything else!  Some participants stayed on for some rolling after our team photo, to end a top evening. Everybody learned a ton and really enjoyed what was truly a fun seminar!

I would personally like to thank Matt for coming along to our small gym! It isn’t often the town of Cowra has an Olympian visiting to teach their sport to the locals. I would also like to thank our members and other members/practitioners who traveled from Young and Orange to support us. I can’t stress enough how important and appreciated it is to have support when holding events like this. My goal is to put the town of Cowra on the Jiu Jitsu map and host a variety of world champions in the future! Without the ongoing support from both our members and the surrounding community I am unable to bring quality instructors to the town.


Matt Seminar.jpg

Felipe Grez Seminar in Cowra


Saturday, November 25 2017

We had the pleasure of hosting Michelle Nicolini black belt Felipe Grez for another top notch seminar. Felipe never fails to blow minds with his  always evolving principles and seemingly simple movements that improve the games of beginners and advanced Jiu Jitsu practitioners alike.

Using half guard as a base, Felipe taught the importance of position and movement, connection and framing to control an opponent from bottom half guard. With fantastic attention to detail and his ability to explain said detail so effectively, Felipe showed over two hours of indispensable principles which not only apply to half guard, but other positions as well.

After the seminar, attendees we encouraged to spar, with Felipe joining in, followed by light snacks. During sparring we also took the opportunity to promote a new blue belt at Black Knight Jiu Jitsu, Shaune O’brien. Shaune began his Jiu Jitsu journey long before our gym opened and has trained as much as possible with a young family taking priority in his life (understandably!) but I couldn’t be more proud of him.

I would like to thank everyone who attended the seminar, including our members from both the Cowra and Young gyms, plus Scott who traveled over from Orange for the event. Thanks also to Felipe for coming out all this way! We are privileged to have him visit us twice a year.

This was our last seminar for 2017 but next year looks promising with the possibility of having some big names in the world wide Jiu Jitsu community here in Cowra for more seminars!  Stay tuned for more information coming soon!!


Young Open Day


Tonight Black Knight Jiu Jitsu held our first Jiu Jitsu class in Young!

The turn out was great, with a group of awesome people coming together to learn the art. The night started off with a talk covering various topics from “what is Jiu Jitsu?” and uniform requirements, hygiene, etc, to a conversation about gym loyalties. I’m a firm believer in sharing knowledge and I accept anyone in our gym who wishes to learn Jiu Jitsu and better themselves, no matter what other dojo or style they train. In Western NSW our Jiu Jitsu community is small enough, let alone making people choose loyalties to any one gym. While I understand it, I don’t agree with it.

After the talk came a warm up consisting of basic movements like hip escapes, bridges, break falls, etc. Some people had a little experience in Jiu Jitsu while a few had never trained it at all but everyone picked up the movements well.

From there we moved into a simple but effective set of moves that could be completed in Gi or No Gi. We blocked a “haymaker” punch, closed the distance, took our opponent down to side control and finished them with an Americana.  Once again, everyone understood and applied the techniques very well! I was very happy with their performance and proud to have the opportunity to teach some awesome people

We finished the class with 20 minutes of rolling. Experienced guys and girls sparred while beginners watched along and got to see what the rolling was all about.

The new club will only grow and get bigger and better and I’m looking forward to being a part of the future of Jiu Jitsu in Young and teaching everything I have learned over the years I have been training. If you live in or near Young, come and try a class! First class is FREE so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Many thanks to the Young Services Club for their help, support and space at the Young Golf Club to train! We wouldn’t be doing this without you!


Young, here we come!


Black Knight Jiu Jitsu is spreading its wings and opening a second location in Young, NSW.

Although our base is in Cowra, we have had quite a few people from Young travel over for Jiu Jitsu training. Some traveled on a weekly basis.  So recently we have decided to start running Jiu Jitsu classes in Young!

A venue and days/times are still being negotiated but we hope to have classes up and running with a few weeks. At this stage classes will run two days per week (Mondays and Fridays) and new members from Young will also be encouraged to come to Cowra any other day for training as part of their membership if they wish. Also, members can attend our seminars with Felipe Grez in Cowra twice a year and be graded accordingly. The first class at the new location will be FREE for anyone wishing to try out Jiu Jitsu!

A dedicated Jiu Jitsu academy will be a first for Young (to my knowledge) and we are hoping to grow our gym family and create some friendly inter-school rolls!

The mats have been purchased and we have 42 square metres to train on… plenty of room!

More news will be posted on our website and Facebook page as developments happen. I’m really looking forward to meeting new people in Young and teaching the gentle art.



Diaphragmatic Breathing – An Introduction

On Monday night I held a seminar on an introduction to Diaphragmatic Breathing and discovering your diaphragm. I didn’t get to video the seminar so I thought I would create a blog about the subject.

What is the diaphragm?

The diaphragm is a huge, dome-shaped involuntary muscle at the bottom of the rib cage.


When we breathe, this dome-shaped muscle contracts and flattens downward allowing a reduced pressure in the upper body so that air may enter the lungs and provide tension across the top of the abdominal area. As we breathe in, we should see the stomach, lower ribs and back expand slightly as the dome contracts and compresses the abdominal space. As we breathe out, both the chest and the stomach return to their original position.

When many of us breathe ‘normally’ we use a shallow breath and quite often through our mouth. This is called Thoracic breathing, inhalation by expanding the thorax, using the intercostal muscles to elevate the ribs. As we breathe in, the chest and shoulders rise and the stomach may contract inwards. This may look good in the mirror but is not a good breathing pattern. This type of breathing triggers our nervous systems fight or flight response and as a result, not only do we panic breathe, but the heart rate rises quickly and we tire and lose the ability to think clearly as we revert to using our reptilian brain.

When you deep breathe your diaphragm contracts and stimulates the vagus nerve, which sends a message to the brain telling us to relax. So many benefits come from deep breathing including:
• Helps lower blood pressure
• Helps lower blood sugar
• Releases serotonin, which not only makes you feel good, but can reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates and other junk food
• Increases the secretion of growth hormone and slows the aging process
• Improves mental focus and clarity by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex of your brain
• Improves sleep quality

Time yourself!

Breathe normally and time yourself over a one minute period to see how many times you breathe a full cycle (in and out). The average person will most likely breathe between 10 to 15 full cycles a minute, maybe more! The following exercise will reduce your breathing cycles down to just 3 or 4 per minute! You won’t be able to do this continuously for very long at the start, but with practice you will last longer. Of course you will not breathe like this 24/7, but with practice your breaths will become slower and longer as your body starts to subconsciously use the diaphragm more and you breathe into your chest less.

Exercise 1: Discover and exercise your diaphragm!

Lay on the floor, place your right hand on your stomach and your left hand on your chest. Breathe in through your nose as if you are filling a balloon in your stomach. Of course, you are not literally breathing into your stomach! But what is happening, is as your diaphragm contracts it compresses your organs in your midsection and expands your stomach. Your chest and shoulders should remain relaxed and should not move much, if at all. Inhale for the count of 8 then hold for the count of 2. (When you hold, don’t close your throat or mouth as if you are shutting off the exit – just stop breathing as if you are in a state of suspended animation. Everything remains open and exactly the same as while you are breathing as your abs, obliques, etc will tense to try to stop your diaphragm from relaxing). Exhale slowly for the count of 8 while making a ‘sss’ sound to control the rate of exhale. At the end of your exhale hold for 2 (“Suspended animation” again, muscles tense to stop the diaphragm from trying to contract) then repeat the cycle. Repeat this exercise for five minutes. If you are unable to reach the count of 8 for the inhale or exhale, start at a lower number and work up.

Exercise 2: The 360 breath

Sitting in an upright position, make a claw with both hands and grab your sides, thumb to the back and fingers to the front. You want your hands to squeeze above your hip bone and below your ribs in that fleshy part. Lightly squeeze as you inhale. Same as exercise 1, inhale into your belly as if you are blowing up a balloon in your stomach. Not only should your fingers move outwards with the expansion of your belly, but your thumb should also move outwards as your lower ribs and lower back expand. Just inhale slowly then exhale slowly without stopping between the two. Breathe 10 full cycles like this

Exercise 3: Multitasking

Now we are going to stand up and walk around while practicing our breathing. Place a hand on your stomach and the other on your chest and slowly walk around the room as you concentrate on breathing into your belly. Just walk casually and take note of your breathing the whole time. There may be the temptation to tuck the belly in and push the chest out in an attempt to look cool, but let it all hang out! relax that chest and shoulders, just walk and breathe!

When it comes to Jiu Jitsu, the benefits should be obvious. Lower heart rate, ability to think clearly under pressure, no gasping for air, etc. Try breathing while escaping side control or mount. Or even while drilling basic passes like the toreando pass.  DO NOT gasp, grunt or moan! Breathe through the stress! Exhale as you exert energy (bridging or shooting for the underhook, for example). Sometimes you may have to take smaller breaths in through the nose and ‘sshh, sshh, shh’ out the mouth. Just keep breathing!

So there you have it, an introduction to diaphragmatic breathing.  Continue these exercises for about 10 minutes each day and feel the improvements!

BJJ is a bit… gay?


This is a very common response I get, along with “BJJ doesn’t work”. But I’m not the only one to hear these comments I’m sure!

The fact is Jiu JItsu works. Yes, you will end up in some compromising positions at times that at a glance may seem somewhat homoerotic but, believe me, when another man is trying to break your limbs or choke you unconscious, the last thing on your mind is your (or his!) sexual orientation!

I must admit when I first seen grappling I thought along the same lines. I had a background in Karate, Kickboxing and Kali/Arnis and never had an interest in grappling. Being a professional musician I have seen my share of ‘street fights’ in pubs over the years. Most of those fights ended up on the ground with some dude on top of another dude and swinging wildly, sometimes hitting his target and other times punching the floor. Rarely did a fight remain standing.

I would see these fights happening while singing some ‘Chisel’ and think “oh man, what would I do if I was on the bottom and that dude was swinging at me like that!?” I had no answers playing in my head! Nothing! Until I started training Jiu Jitsu… I no longer think like I used to! I am a hundred times more confident that given a similar situation I can control the outcome.

Once I put those initial thoughts aside and went to my first class the realism and effective nature of the art became apparent and all I could see on the mats was combat. Two people trying to dismember each other! See, you need to realise that when you ‘tap’ to a submission you are saying “ok, you got me.. I would be dead (or broken arm etc) if you kept going any further”. Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport and extremely effective self defense. Jiu jitsu is more than just ‘fighting off your back’.

I think what it all comes down to is this; If you think Jiu Jitsu doesn’t work, you obviously haven’t trained any grappling and are ignorant to the facts. If you think Jiu Jitsu is ‘gay’ let me put things into perspective:

Look at some other sports… Football, for example. League, Union, take your pick. How is it that sweaty men hugging each others hips as they stick their head between two guys legs to pack a scrum isn’t any less ‘gay’ than Jiu Jitsu? Boxing, when fighters clinch to tie up their opponent and break their momentum. Are they not ‘hugging’ each other?

Things that are gay:
Being attracted to some members of your sex.

Things that aren’t gay:
All other things.

Each to their own! But if we ever go head to head in a fight I’ll be the one whispering sweet nothings in your ear as I choke you unconscious 😛


Meeting Rickson


So I recently had the absolute pleasure of meeting and learning from the man himself, Rickson Gracie!

Fellow team mate Brent and I traveled the four and a half hour drive to Redfern, Sydney on August 26. The seminar was by far the largest I have been to, with well over 100 people in attendance.

We arrived a little early, enough time to meet up with an old team mate and grab a quick bite to eat before heading back to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to get changed and begin learning!


I also had the chance to touch base with other enthusiasts I have met over the years, which was great because living in the bush, I don’t get to see these awesome people very often!

Rickson taught a lot of invisible jiu jitsu, importance of hip movement, self defense aspects and its importance and a lot more over the three hours! I partnered with some great guys from Ribeiro Canberra (Thanks Renato!) and learned some excellent principles to add to my game!

After the seminar came the lining up, buying merchandise and getting the all important photo and autograph from the man himself! A great day spent with awesome people and learning experience I’ll never forget!


Why did I start Jiu Jitsu?

It is winter of June 2012, a year after my father passed away. I had not been dealing with his death very well at all. I was 41 years old at the time and while sitting on the couch one Sunday night I suffered sever Vertigo which led to a panic attack and shortly after, Ventricular fibrillation. I spent a week in the stroke and heart attack ward of a hospital until my heart went back into rhythm and another week in the rehabilitation ward before being released. I still suffered vertigo for the following few months and was taking a handful of medication every day to keep my heart in rhythm and my blood thinned.

Approximately five months after my visit to hospital I was invited to go to a friends house to watch the UFC every Pay Per View event. I had a martial arts background from my younger years, training kickboxing, karate and kali, but had been inactive since my mid 20’s. After watching UFC and seeing some Jiu Jitsu used in the fights I developed an interest and decided to start training at the local PCYC under a pro MMA fighter who had moved here just a few years before.

I was hesitant to go to training at first because of a few things I guess… My age! Being almost 42 I felt I was too old to train with younger, fitter guys. My fitness! I was 116kg (255 pounds) and terribly unfit. My confidence! Although I was a professional musician and played to audiences every week, I was not a people person and struggled to make friends or even talk to people! But I pushed myself to go, mainly because I was scared of what happened to me those months prior and felt I needed it.

At first I wanted to do Jiu Jitsu for the fitness and to regain my balance (I was still feeling short bouts of vertigo every day) but in a short amount of time I developed a real passion for the art. It is so much more complex than any other martial art I have ever seen or trained. In the beginning I was overweight and really struggled to move! I felt like a beached whale splashing around frantically trying to get back in the ocean! But the nature of the art was intoxicating and I had to learn more. The Jiu Jitsu bug had bitten!

When a new gym opened in my town about eight months later, all the members I trained with at the local PCYC moved over to keep training in a new location and new instructor. I stepped up my training to four and five days per week where I developed my skills much faster. One year later I was promoted to blue belt, in December 2014.

Skip forward to now, 2017, I am a purple belt and running my own gym. We don’t have black belts within 150km of my town (otherwise I would be training with them!) so when our other gym closed in July 2016 I had a decision to make.. either train in my living room at home with a couple of fellow students or take a responsibility and open a gym! More to come on that subject…

So if you have even been in a bad spot in life with your health, whether it is physical or mental, you owe it to yourself to do something about it. My path was Jiu Jitsu. I would recommend BJJ to everybody regardless of age, fitness level, size, etc for improving both you physical flexibility and fitness as well as your mental health. The time you spend on the mats is a release from those stressful thoughts. You will be so engrossed in the art of Jiu Jitsu there will be nothing else on your mind for that entire time! It will change your life like no other martial art out there. Try it 🙂