Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rashguard review: Detales longsleeve ranked rashie

This is the second rashie I've reviewed for Detales (my other posts about their gear can be found here and here.) Once again they hit it out of the park for comfort, fit, and workmanship, with one hardly noticeable bobble on the tag which will be fixed by the manufacturer on the following batches.  Let's dive in...

This is a long sleeve, ranked rashguard that meets IBJJF requirements for nogi grappling wear (your belt color must appear on 50% of the rashie surface, according to rule 8.1.14 here.)  

Like Detales' other rashguard (made in the United States for, and designed by, women who train) it fits a female form very well-- not so tight around the bottom hem that it rides up from hip-height to the waist. It stays where I want it, covering the muffin. The neckline is what I'd call a relaxed crew neck, it doesn't bug you because it's tight around your throat and it's easy to pop your head through even if you have a thick braid or ponytail.  The sleeves are raglan so this will fit comfortably whether you have broad muscular shoulders or narrower ones, and it won't dig into your underarms.

I like the graphic design. The fabric is a hair thicker than a basic underarmor rashie, but very smooth and light feeling.  It doesn't snag either with rough fingernail edges or in the wash, even when I washed it with a zipup fleece that I left unzipped.

You can't feel the seams inside, because of the interlock stitching.


In an abundance of caution, I got a large-- I'm 5'2, 140ish, 36C, and been hitting the comfort eating too much.  I also have broader shoulders and bigger biceps, so I lean towards getting a larger rashguard than a smaller one.  The sleeves and torso length and width would be fine on a taller or heavier lady; I feel like I could have done a medium and will, on my next order.  (This one was free for the review, in all fairness, but I totally would spend the money on it myself.)

I wash in warm and dry on hot with all my other training gear and have not seen any shrinking, pilling, fading or other problems, though it's only been about ten days.

The only imperfection I could find after training once or twice a day in this for a week straight is that the (very soft, comfortable) label inside the neck was starting to peel up.  (Detales tells me this is being fixed by the manufacturer for the next run of rashguards.) This was not a problem for me, since... I don't care about the label.  I tugged on it a good bit to see if I could peel it off all the way, but no. And I don't want to accidentally rip it, so I'll just let it fall off in its own time.

The label is made of stretchy very soft material so I don't notice it at all, even sticking up.

The short sleeve rashie is solid black, for $36.  The ranked rashies are available in blue, purple, and  brown for $56, and they're out of the white ones at the moment (but taking preorders.)  You can buy one on the Detales website right here, and I highly recommend it :)

Monday, April 06, 2015


worth all caps.

I am an inveterate list-maker.  I need to stay organized and prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

This Bullet Journal system is the bomb.  Short video, worth a watch.


Help if you want to train in Brazil...

I just wanted to invite you to check out the site Train In Brazil Group. Anyone interested in training in Brazil (either BJJ or MMA) can use their services for a hassle-free trip. Everything is organized and taken care of before you reach beautiful Brazil.

Team Kazulu

What makes this experience unique is that you can choose from different cities (São Paulo, Campinas or Rio de Janeiro) and academies for your experience; there are also different accommodations to choose from, as well as tours. They can also register you for tournaments, which can be a big hassle as a foreigner wanting to compete in Brazil.

Also, for any of you interested in learning some Portuguese, you can sign up for their mailing list and receive an e-book for free.

A few words from the owner, Brandon: (he's in the center of this photo)

"My name is Brandon Pennington and I am the founder of Train In Brazil Group.  I have been  involved in martial arts since the age of six. I first came to Brazil on  a business trip in 2005 with  other students from my MBA program. Since the first trip, I fell in love with Brazil and wanted to  move here. Eight years later my dream became a reality.

A year before planning to move to Brazil, a friend of mine introduced me to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This was a point in my life when my love for martial arts and Brazil grew even stronger. I started training with my friend from work at an academy in Chicago. I told the guys there that I would be moving to Brazil in a year. Everyone was so jealous of me and they said they were planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro to train BJJ and see Brazil.

It wasn’t until they came here to visit that I realized the difficulty that foreigners have when trying to organize a trip and travel in Brazil. I helped them by calling the academies to find out when they had training sessions, how much it would cost to train, places to stay, visit, and other things related to Brazil that only a local or someone who speaks Portuguese and knows the country would be able to do. My team from Chicago thanked me for my help and realized that their trip would not have been possible without me. The rest is history!"

Friday, April 03, 2015

Trust your jiu jitsu...

Tonight I observed (and semi-participated) in some events which probably happen all the time anywhere in any jiu jitsu academy around the world. But it was the FIRST time for me!

Forgive me for possibly telling too many details, in advance.

I arrived at the academy early because I wanted to do some little things around the place (hanging a corkboard for announcements etc).  There were 3 people waiting outside already, early-- a girl and two guys.  My instructor arrived at the same time I did and we greeted everyone.  She was just watching, one guy brought a gi.  White belts. I cleaned the mats and got dressed while my instructor chatted with the guys and got a waiver etc.

One, I'll call Nick, attended last night's class and borrowed a gi, and this was his second day with us.  His friend, Dick, seemed kind of cocky, but that's not uncommon.  He trained with a local guy mostly nogi, a few years ago, had two fights, pretty ordinary story.  While my instructor got dressed and stretched out his back with a foam roller, Nick and Dick rolled a bit to warm up. Dick had a nice gi,so I figured he'd at least done some gi training too.

After Nick and Dick got done with their roll, my instructor invited Dick to roll.  Meanwhile, a black belt under the other head instructor came in (I'll call him X) and was getting dressed, and another white belt arrived.  So I invited Nick to roll... I explained my neck injury, and he seemed nice enough, and so we rolled a bit.  I pulled guard, played nice and mellow, got passed, got back to guard, swept, mounted.  While I was mounted on him, he kept pushing with straight arms, so we talked about arm bars a bit.  "I'm impossible to arm bar" is I believe a direct quote, which X overheard. X invited Nick to roll next, and I turned to watch my instructor and Dick.

Just in time to see Dick sit back, wrap up a perfect heelhook, and slam himself over bellydown 180 degrees in the nastiest heelhook I've ever seen in real live sparring.  My instructor started tapping when Dick's wrist cupped the heel but that didn't stop Dick. I even yelled "No heelhooks!" My instructor was slapping Dick's shin and then the mat really hard as he tried to roll with the sub.

Dick bounded up angrily and yelled that it wasn't a heelhook.  Then he backtracked and said something about "but you're a blackbelt." Dick yelled a few other things and was visibly out of control.  It was pretty scary. My instructor invited Dick to leave. Dick stormed around gathering his clothes while his girlfriend apologized to us. My instructor was unhurt, but clearly restraining himself, and we all sighed with relief when Dick stomped out.

Nick meanwhile was being armbarred by X, of course. (He wouldn't tap.. and then he yelped.) Afterwards he was very cool about his friend and indicated it wasn't the first time he'd had a blowup. Class was kind of derailed by that emotional energy so we ended up having kind of an open mat/lab/training session instead. But I learned more lessons after class when I had time to process.

Here's what I learned... number one, sometimes you can just tell with your spidey-senses that something weird is up.  I felt some kind of suppressed tension in the air and I'm glad it wasn't me rolling with Dick (my instructor felt it too, and in a way threw himself on the grenade.) Listen to those instincts.

Number two, the profound wisdom from my instructor, who said afterwards -- look, when I know you and trust you, I will let you do anything to me, I will get into bad positions, you can tap me as much as you want, it's all about learning. But if I don't trust you to take care of me the way a partner should, then I must take care of myself by not letting you get into a position where you could hurt me. That's a big lesson and fortunately one learned without physical injury.  Even a blackbelt, even a whitebelt... yeah. You can't afford to assume that someone has your best interests at heart unless you know a little bit about them. Be safe, don't be sorry.

Number three, I learned that (although I prefer playing top) my safe place with a new person is, surprisingly, guard.  That's a big eye-opener for me.  I usually view guard as a means to getting on top-- like cake is a delivery device for frosting.


(this picture came from here, which happens to have a seriously bad ass chocolate cake recipe and frosting recipe.) 

But I realize that for a little while now I have been approaching new students of all training backgrounds from my guard.  It's inoffensive and un-intimidating to a scaredy person... it's non-threatening to a "I train UFC bro" guy... it's not aggro, it's receptive and chill and yet very safe.  I felt awesome when I realized that my guard has grown enough to stymie most pass attempts by a young-20-something self-proclaimed "fitness nut" and even when I got passed (which I kind of let happen, truth be told) I was able to escape easily.

Of course I'm not really saying I'm all that-- he's a white belt, I should be able to escape, and I did have to work to sweep him (and I doubt I could've submitted him without a major fight.) But I felt a bit closer to understanding the Helio perspective-- if you can't hurt me, I win.

Thanks for listening. :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Please chip in to help a self-defense program for teens in Florida!

My name is Joshua Franzke and I am currently a high school teacher in Cape Coral, FL.

In 2009, I started a Brazilian jiu jitsu club at Ida S. Baker High School after several students showed an interest in martial arts.  After a few years of running the club, I found out my school district actually offers a Self Defense class as an elective in our Physical Education department.  I decided to take a shot at certification and passed my exam a few weeks ago.  The class is going to have an emphasis in grappling self defense, but will introduce students to basic striking and striking defense.  The course will also have a focus on physical fitness, nutrition and verbal self defense.  My goal is to give students access to a class that builds self esteem, knowledge of nutrition and hopefully helps to develop a passion for the martial arts.

As a new program, we have no funding and will not receive anything from the other PE programs. I am looking to raise a few dollars to get this program off the ground.  We will need basic equipment like boxing gloves, mitts, Muay Thai pads, etc.  Though the focus of this class is primarily on the grappling aspects of self defense, I do want the students to understand how to throw basic strikes as well as how to protect against strikes.   For this reason, we need the striking equipment to keep our students safe while learning the basics.  If you would to donate you can do so at this link:

Here are several photos from 2010 or 2011 when I ran the jiu jitsu club after school.  Though many students were inconsistent in their participation, this was the best year for students on the mats.  I consistently had 15 kids stay after school two days a week to train the entire year (well, except November-Feb which is wrestling season).  The wrestling coach has been kind enough to allow us to use the mats next year for the Self Defense class.

Here is a quick note about my jiu jitsu history:

I started training martial arts because I was bullied in high school and had no means of defending myself.  I walked into a martial arts academy in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1996.  I trained Brazilian jiu jitsu for two years and earned my blue belt at the age of 18 from Jacare Calvalcanti.  I then quit jiu jitsu for 10 years as I pursued my college degree.  After six years of school, I moved to Cape Coral, FL to establish myself and begin my journey into teaching.  I started training with Sean Wilson in 2008. Phil Cardella took over Sean's academy in Cape Coral and I earned my purple under Phil.  When Phil closed that academy, I began training under a three-time world champ, Marcelo Pereira, just 30 minutes from my house.  I am currently a two-stripe purple belt under him.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Joshua Franzke

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rockin' Green athletic laundry detergent: a review.

I tried out a new laundry soap recently and want to tell you about it...

It's called Rockin' Green and it was created by this lady Kim.  She has 3 kids, so she knows about being on a budget, but she also wanted an environmentally friendly product that actually killed stains and dirt.

Rockin' Green is:

    Biodegradable and made from recycled materials
    Uses recyclable packaging
    Uses no animal products or gluten
    SLS- and Parabens-Free
    Free of optical brighteners and bleach

Rockin’ Green was created for the most sensitive skin (great for babies!) and is made from distillations of natural essential oils.

I received 5 packets of laundry detergent powder, each enough for two loads, and used them all up in a week, no surprise considering the amount of laundry I do.

The soap has barely any fragrance, a light fresh herbal sniff and that's it.  It's a plain white powder and it appeared to dissolve well in the washer.   I didn't do it the smart way (dissolve in the water first, then add clothes) but instead put the gis in, turned on the water, and poured the powder on top.  Seemed fine, even with black gis-- no clumping or residue.

The knees of my white gis did seem less dingy, and old rashguards washed in this soap didn't "revert" to a funk smell once they got wet again (as so often happens at the start of a class, where you KNOW you haven't gotten stinky yet.) There was no difficulty removing a few little spots of blood here and there. I usually use the laundry softener that leave my clothes scented "April Fresh" or whatever-- but this is a great soap to use before that stage of the wash.  They do have some scented ones though-- watermelon and lavender-mint-- which I think I'll try out.

The company also makes lots of other green products-- dishwasher soap, a coming-soon surface cleaner, several types of laundry detergent including one for hard water, ones designed for funky athletic gear, odor neutralizer sprays (on clearance!) and even pet bed soap and stinky pet cleaner.  The website offers free shipping for orders over $100.  A 3.2lb bag is just under $18, and ONE BAG can do up to 90 loads? HE machine users need only 1 TBS of soap per load...that comes out to only about 19¢ per load!

They also have a rewards program, so the more you buy, the more discounts you get on future purchases.  I recommend them highly :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

So excited about my Aesthetic Zero gi...

Disclaimer-- this is not a traditional review, I couldn't wait to wash and wear this sucker, so I didn't take shrinkage measurements, sorry!

Most of the time I don't buy gis unless they're vintage/used on ebay or facebook.  It just gets too expensive, and I already have twenty-something.  It's hard to justify.  I'm delighted to review gis (and then I usually give them to charity or a poor kid starting out.) But buying brand new gis for myself is a tough sell.

Last gi(s) I bought brand new were two gorgeous DFKC gis (Da Firma Kimono Co) and I sold them almost immediately on ebay.  Why?  Because they were super low-rise pants (on my too-full derriere) and the crotch gusset was made of the same thick weave as the jacket, which bunched up between my thighs and made me feel like I was wearing a diaper.  A full diaper.  Not good.

So I rather shame-facedly ordered this Aesthetic "Whiteout" lightweight gi while watching the Pan livestream.  I think it came up because I asked what gi someone was wearing, and my teammate Alex Glavin pointed me towards Aesthetic... I liked something really special about it.  The embroidery of the name is reversible!

Look-- here on the leg.  It says Aesthetic one way, and Jiujitsu the other!  You'll see it more clearly on some of the other photos.

  • 350 GSM Premium Pearl jacket
  • Ripstop pants
  • Sublimated interior trim
  • Double-layered cuff taping
  • IBJJF approved
  • Includes carry bag
The "White Out" is a lightweight Jiu Jitsu Gi that doesn't sacrifice quality or durability, featuring their 350 GSM Premium Pearl weave and super comfy ripstop pants. A great Gi choice for competition or for daily training, teaching, etc. Throughout the top and bottom, all logos are embroidered in white, on white, for a unique and clean look.
The new and improved pants are, simply put, outstanding. Cut and stitched to maximize your movement and comfort while keeping excess fabric to a minimum. Shrinkage is also reduced when compared to previous Aesthetic designs. Other specs include full-length knee reinforcements, multiple drawstring loops, and a round stretch drawstring.
- See more at:

  • 350 GSM Premium Pearl jacket
  • Ripstop pants
  • Sublimated interior trim
  • Double-layered cuff taping
  • IBJJF approved
  • Includes carry bag
The "White Out" is a lightweight Jiu Jitsu Gi that doesn't sacrifice quality or durability, featuring their 350 GSM Premium Pearl weave and super comfy ripstop pants. A great Gi choice for competition or for daily training, teaching, etc. Throughout the top and bottom, all logos are embroidered in white, on white, for a unique and clean look.
The new and improved pants are, simply put, outstanding. Cut and stitched to maximize your movement and comfort while keeping excess fabric to a minimum. Shrinkage is also reduced when compared to previous Aesthetic designs. Other specs include full-length knee reinforcements, multiple drawstring loops, and a round stretch drawstring.
- See more at:
I screwed up and let the string get pulled all the way through but that's easily fixed.  Anyway, I like the waist loop placement.  One bonus, this gi comes with two pairs of pants.  One nice soft twill pair (here) and one super light ripstop pair.  They have a double layer of knee reinforcement that goes midthigh to ankle all the way.

I'll be honest, I think I have been wearing the wrong size gi forever.  I am not an A1.  I am an A0.  I'm almost the heaviest I've ever been (140) and the ripstop pants are a little small on me for comfort, but the twill pants were fine especially after I squatted in them to teach them who's boss. But the gi top is not too long or too baggy, whereas most A1s are.  I just instinctively assumed my bottom half would be too big for an A0.  I wonder if Aesthetic (which is based in the UK) would consider selling them separately? But anyway...

Also I really like that the crotch fabric-- although gi top weave-- in no way possible feels diaper-ish.

This is the embroidery on the back of the collar.   Very low key and subtle.  The collar is incredibly stiff out of the bag (I'll photograph the bag later when I add pics of me in the gi because the bag is also super cool) and even after two washes and dries, it's still impressive.  It's covered in ripstop and feels very substantial.


 I uploaded the pictures from my phone and they're wonky, upside down, sideways, sorry.

Here's the interior bottom of the jacket, two nice contrasting patterns in the reinforcement and seam taping.  Not scratchy, at all. It's little touches that show attention to detail.

I really should re-upload, sorry.  This lining isn't exactly rashguard material, it's not stretchy, but it's mostly for looks anyway I think because it does not extend very far across the shoulders.

The gi top is SUPER light though, and does not stretch when wet and under tension unlike the Vulkan Ultralight.  I will weigh the gi and pants and get back to you with that data. The website says the top is 350gsm pearl weave.  It's delightful to the touch.

Embroidery on the top of the shoulder, as you look at the person...

And the same embroidery, upside down.  SO COOL.  I am enthralled.

So, I am super happy with this gi, and had to tell you about it.  

 This gi is 99 British pounds ($147US) and shipping was another $23 to Seattle. Moderately pricey, for me, but I say well worth it considering two pairs of pants plus the cute bag in which I will be toting stuff to class, seminars etc. 

The Whiteout is available here on their website with free shipping for UK customers, and they also point out it's available to US customers from two other sources (which I didn't even check on, like an idiot, so maybe my shipping could have been cheaper! but I was watching Leandro Lo killing people at the Pan so give me a break.)

If you buy it through as suggested, it's $149.99 with only ripstop pants, and free two-day-air shipping.

If you buy through as suggested, it's also $149.99 with only ripstop pants and free two-day shipping, but they offer custom embroidery for $9.99 and adding a patch for $9.99.  I have not looked into those options... anyone, anyone? The nice thing I can see about is they have a 60 day return policy that allows you to train and roll and wash and dry for two months and still return it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Redline BJJ instructor jailed in Oklahoma for child sex offenses

Whitney Fetters, a BJJ instructor at Redline BJJ in Edmond Oklahoma, faces charges for soliciting sexual contact with a minor among others. I wrote an article about it for Bloody Elbow today.

Yesterday, Redline BJJ made this statement on their facebook page-- kudos...

"We have been waiting on an arrest to make an official statement. Now that Whitney has turned herself in we can speak about it.

We are very saddened and shocked as anyone else. No one could have predicted anything like this happening.

The Gracie Academy runs extensive background checks on every person attempting to get certified. She was no exception.

In Winter 2013 & Spring 2014 Whitney Fetters attempted to be an Instructor at Redline. She attended the ICP camps at the Gracie Academy January 2014, but she never quite made the grade.

In the summer of 2014 Whitney went MIA from Redline & no one saw her in or outside of Redline in over 8 months prior to January 2015 in which Whitney attended a few classes stating she was starting over fresh as a student.

We take situations like this very serious. Our students safety is our number 1 concern in every aspect. Unfortunately, Whitney will no longer be allowed to visit or train at Redline.

She's only assisted a few kids classes in the past (spring 2014), but hasn't been an instructor of any kind at our facility in over 8 months.

This incident did not take place at Redline & we have no connection to the boy or his family. We give our deepest condolences to him, his & her family, & everyone affected.

We are deeply saddened & shocked just like the rest of the jiu-jitsu community, but we know this shall pass.

We really appreciate those of you in the jiu-jitsu community that have reached out to us in this situation with love & understanding.

Huge Thanks to those of you that have sent kind words & support during this time.

-The Redline Team"

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Rolling with cups...

Paul posted a question as a comment and I thought it merited its own post:

"I've got a weird question for you.

What are your thoughts on men wearing cups?

I was rolling tonight and I noticed my partners cup as I went to pass his guard. Like, I thumped up against it and it kind of blocked my knee (without it I wouldn't have thumped his junk but I may have passed his guard). I'm pretty damned new to all of this, and I'm sure I can adjust to that sort of thing, but it did seem to sort of interrupt the flow. Moreso than the occasional indelicate moment which can be ignored, or if need be apologized for.

No big deal, but I wondered how you feel in regards to men wearing cups. I can imagine running into a guy wearing a cup and how it changes the roll, perhaps good and bad.

I don't wear one, but maybe I will at some point.

I feel a woman who has the experience you do might be able to talk about how they affect your roll in ways that a man might not."

My first thought was, I wonder why he thinks a woman would have a different reaction to rolling with a cup-wearer than a man would? But then I reconsidered... maybe a cup could be viewed as a considerate way of putting one more layer of "stuff" between someone's stuff and my body?

But no, in my opinion, cups are unnecessary (for that reason at least) and worse, they are miserable for me to deal with on an opponent.  They make it much much easier to finish an armbar for example, and it's partly for this reason that they are not legal equipment in IBJJF tournaments among others.  If you can't wear it in competition, you shouldn't be practicing with it.

Now, not possessing balls, you might think it's pretty ballsy of me to say you don't need a cup in jiu jitsu... but here's why I have this opinion.  Yes, I've had maybe 2-3 rolls (over about 6 years of training) where my foot slipped off a hip and grazed someone's privates.  I've honestly truly never done a knee-through pass and had any shin/knee-and-groin connection.  And I mean grazed, as in glanced, maybe caused a wince, but not connected with/struck/slammed/pushed etc.

On the other hand, I have been armbarred many, many times.  I've been kneebarred a few times, too.  I have been triangle choked and on the bottom of north-south and even had people take my back.  In every one of these circumstances, I would have potentially suffered a great deal more pain and discomfort from someone wearing a cup.

When I am rolling, I am not aware of someone's privates except insofar as I need to keep my hands, feet, knees, and other bits from using that one area of their body for leverage.  If they're sitting on my face to finish a kimura, the last thing I am thinking about is their testicles.  But, if I feel someone wearing a cup during a roll?  depending on how I discover this, I will continue the roll and then gracefully decline another (and explain why) or I will stop in the middle and not continue. 

So, the bottom line: please do not wear a cup.

Other people have written on this topic, too:
Jiu Jitsu Sweep

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's up...

Well, my academy up here in Edmonds just hosted Darren Branch (aka Keebler) for a few days of training.. what a great experience.  He's exciting and fun, detailed and analytical, and so mellow and easy-going.  Deeply grateful for all the time and energy he gave to us!

I filmed this ;)

I'm hunkering down and grinding out a big work deadline for early April.  That is considerably less fun... but very necessary.

I'm supervising two investigations for Bullshido.  Waiting on developments in the Nelson Monteiro story (the DA is investigating further) and another California domestic-assault case is on my radar too... getting the arrest report asap and then I can tell you all about it.

I have been pretty blue lately.  I am enjoying my training, but not enjoying the quiet time in the late evening.  So I'm reading a lot, particularly poetry.  Here is some Rumi.. please enjoy.

Those tender words we said to one another
Are stored in the secret heart of heaven.
One day, like the rain, they will fall and spread
And their mystery will grow green over the world.