Monday, May 25, 2015

I wish Brazilian jiu jitsu wasn't being used the way it is.

Sexualization of women in jiu jitsu is nothing new... it's been covered pretty thoroughly. 

Julia Johansen, who writes the Jiu Jiu BJJ blog, addressed Tukano Kimonos' use of naked women in body paint to advertise their company here. She also discussed the sexy photos of Kyra Gracie in just a gi top.

I agree with her perspective. I tend to think it's great to celebrate a healthy body image, to revel in being fit and attractive, to put yourself out there.  BUT I also get really creeped out by the kinds of comments that are made.. I don't like thinking of my training partners saying or thinking things like .. well, we all know the things that are said and thought.

So I tried to stay out of (and not click on) recent articles about a photo shoot done by BJJPIX, William Burkhardt.  He shot a sexy series of a female purple belt from California in various stages of undress from her gi.

I wouldn't have pursued it any farther, except a friend recently shared with me some other work of William's that I found startling, weird, disturbing, and creepy. 

He shot a promo video "documentary" for a BJJ blackbelt who is also one of those PUA's (pick up artists).

Arash Dibazar runs a women-only fitness studio in San Jose, CA called IMC Academy. That's him on the left. He says he is the only Persian black belt in BJJ, instructed by Sandro "Batata" Santiago, who is under Gordo.  It appears he was promoted in 2012.

He also runs a "Survival and Fight" center, apparently only for men, in San Jose.

If you can't make it to the academy to learn "Panjo," the Persian street self-defense system he invented, you can order online lessons

Here's the "documentary" Burkhardt shot of Dibazar's bizarre ramblings... NSFW.  In it, Burkhardt proclaims that Dibazar was the "2013 and 2014 #1 pickup and seduction artist in the world."  How is that kind of thing ranked?

I tried to look up something about Panjo, but for four pages on google, it's just stuff about exotic cars or a tiger that was lost and later found.  "Panjo martial arts" pulls up only Dibazar.

Here's the thread on Bullshido which covers negative yelp reviews about Dibazar hitting on his female clientele. Later, Dibazar renamed his business and got the negative reviews removed-- but they're immortalized on the Bullshido thread.  On the IMC Women's Fitness yelp, read the second review:

"This place was terrible. Arash makes uncomfortable remarks towards girls. The trainers ripped me off on countless occasions. Read through the filtered reviews to understand what this business really is. They created a second yelp account to hide the crappy reviews. Do not work out here unless you feel like being harassed. I regret ever coming here."

His response: "Imc Women's Fitness Center Inc. is a company built from an ethical nature. Owner, staff and students are welcome to participate in all IMC Academy events, classes, meetings and any other affiliation in regard to current standard membership if and only if the individual has proper exchange, is mentally stable, doesn't participate in drug use (psychiatric or recreational), expresses healthy emotions, has acute social skills and an ambitious drive to honestly improve themselves all the way from their inner beliefs transferred into their physical appearance, and most importantly, overall carries a positive attitude.

IMC Women's Fitness Center opened and converted into an Incorporated Establishment in November of 2012. Hosting several new programs, employees and other staff members, the business strategies as well as daily business operations became separate from the prior, IMC Academy. By true nature of changing the business and business structure a new Yelp Page was created, as it rightfully should be per the above documented facts. IMC Women's Fitness Center members are extremely passionate about the value IMC Owner and Staff continue to provide to all members. It is recommended you reference each one of the reviewer's public Facebook accounts to see their daily involvement at IMC Women's Fitness Center as well as their life changing experiences stemming from their consistent participation at IMC Women's Fitness Center. IMC Women's Fitness Center has over twenty-five thousand check-ins on Facebook and every single member is proud to be apart of such a vicarious movement.

Any member who chooses to demonstrate unsatisfactory ethics, malicious behavior, and an erroneous attitude is not permitted to stay a member at IMC Women's Fitness Center. The environment is packed with women who are passionately dedicated to achieve their personal bests' in fitness and their lifestyles everyday! The energy is vibrant, the smiles are permanent and the instructors and employees understand that it is crucial to keep the environment as such. You can see that somebody with ill intentions would not stay in an environment listed above. To proclaim such slanderous banter towards individuals, who dedicate their entire lives to bettering the community, is a direct representation of the erratic bi polar behavior displayed by Heather. Each instructor spent many hours working with Ms. Heather, unfortunately her volatile, criminal behavior overtook her membership with IMC.  Ms. Heather has exhibited bi polar behavior and spasmodic communication through her invalid, desperate attacks on the owner and staff at IMC Women's Fitness Center. She has requested reviewers from a former irrelevant yelp page where the business is currently closed to spread devious reviews attacking the owner and current staff on false pretenses that have nothing to do with the current business and business operational standards of IMC Women's Fitness Center. She has posted private photos on a public forum with volatile intentions. IMC Women's Fitness Center Owner and Staff are currently in due process to serve Ms. Heather with a civil harassment restraining order. A cease and desist letter was directly sent to Ms. Heather no longer than six months ago to interrupt her slanderous, libel and defamatory behavior. The legal action is taken to ensure the safety of the staff and current members.

Do not reference Ms. Heather  reviews as a valid opinion. This review is not a direct representation of the Owner, Instructors, or daily business operations or regulatory standards of IMC Women's Fitness Center; it is a slanderous spew of unsatisfactory words spoken from an individual who holds herself at the lowest of regard. (Entrusted to her criminal record, bipolar behavior and heinous personal ethics"

Her response: "**In regards to the incredibly inappropriate comment added to my post by "management" trying to make me seem like a bad person does not and will not change the fact that my post is full of straightforward truthful facts. It's quite sad they had to make a new Yelp page to hide the negative reviews posted here. . Also, to be clear.. I left IMC on my own and was not "kicked out" or "removed" The IMC trainers ripped me off beyond belief, I have no "real" criminal history unless you'd include tickets haha.. nor do I have any "mental issues". Posting such lies was a really juvenile thing to do. I clearly stated there was a time I enjoyed working out here but that doesn't change the fact that things got really crappy after some time. I came to work out not be insulted, criticized, cheated, lied to and made uncomfortable on a daily basis."

There are quite a few glowing yelps, and yet... the negative ones, which allege sexual remarks and hitting on young teen women, ring more true.  

Apparently he invested in a Scientology course.  Another thread about Dibazar on MartialArtsPlanet with some hilarious old video. Here's a portion of Dibazar's bio about his pickup skills, which I pulled from here:

"Having the confidence of a champion martial artist, the skills of an expert actor, and a deep background in Zen Buddhism and body language, Arash had a chance encounter with the book the "Game" that started him on the path to meeting Mystery from the Venusian Arts and devoting his energies and creativity to mastering the art of the pickup. A personal student of the Master Pickup Artist James Matador, Arash brings to the game a unique vibe that is extremely impressive and enjoyable to watch. A teacher for more than 18 years, Arash has a keen instinct for amplifying an individual's inner game and removing quickly the mental barriers that prevent men from succeeding in any field. This, coupled with his extensive understanding of the game, makes for one of the most potent instructors in the world of pickup today.""

Here's his pickup artistry website:

More silliness: Watch "[BJJ Highlights] Arash Dibazar - Fear No One" on YouTube -

And he has a Gracie Academy logo tattooed on his cheek.

I'm rambling, I guess, but I just want to know... why does a very talented BJJ photographer not see a problem with popularizing this tacky guy? I'm told he did the documentary for free.  Why? Dibazar doesn't even know how to pronounce Rafael Mendes' name right... he lets a dog run all over his jiu jitsu academy mats... he has a horrible attitude towards women.  Ugh.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gracie Barra blackbelt Cristiano Oliviera pleads on child rape

Today Cristiano Oliviera, blackbelt and former head instructor at Gracie Barra Yakima, WA, pled no contest (technically known as an Alford plea) to two charges of rape of a child. Sentencing will take place in July. He faces approximately three years in prison and then deportation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Twenty-plus gis--- which one do I like best?

Yep, over twenty gis. (And that's just how many I have right now, obviously. I have no idea how many more I've owned over time.)

The two most common questions I get-- why, and which one is best.

Why is easy: I train 6-7 days a week, often twice a day.  When I was back home in Austin at Relson's and then Humaita, sometimes it was three times a day. You can't just have four or five gis... you'll wear them out, even if (like me) you can machine-dry them without worrying about shrinking.  (I prefer to shrink my gis because usually I'm an A0, sometimes an A1.)

Edited to add: for fit evaluation, just know that I am short (5'2") and fat (too much to fight leve/lightweight) and my shape tends towards pear with junk in the trunk.

The gis I have:
Mizuno Rickson model (vintage)(size 3.5)
Black Eagle Predator (men's fit) x3 (A1)
Black Eagle Predadora (ladies' fit) x3 (F3)
Black Eagle Raptora (F3)
Atama ladies' fit (F3)
M Kimono (vintage) (A1)
Scramble Sengoku (A1)
Moya Hawaii (got it used, I wouldn't buy a Moya new and in fact I want to sell this one as wearing it embarrasses me because of this.) (A1)
Fuji (vintage)(A1)
Ouano (vintage)(A1)
Fenom x2 (one is A1/A2, the other is A1/A1C, jacket/pants)
Maeda Conde Koma (A0)
Datsusara hemp x2 (A1)
Kauai Kimonos ripstop x3 (A0)
Vulkan Pro Light ladies' fit (F3)
Vulkan Ultra Light mens' fit (A0)
Vulkan Ultra Light ladies' fit (F3)
Aesthetic Whiteout (A0)
Competidor (A1)
Lucky (the original Lovato version) (A1)

I've semi-recently also had DFKC and BJJ Globetrotters gis.

There is NO ONE BEST GI.  Sorry.

Coolest for collector/rarity reasons: Mizuno Rickson

Most comfortable material: Datsusara hemp

Lightest/best for hot weather training and travel: Kauai

Best fitting pants for smaller waist, bigger butt/hips/thighs: tie between Predadora, Fenom slim cut but curvy (half size between one and the next), Fenom classic cut

Best heavy jacket/hard to grip lapel: tie between old (no longer made) Ouano and Scramble Sengoku

Best light gi for competition: cross between no longer made, limited edition Predadora, the Aesthetic Whiteout, and Vulkan Ultra Light (either fit)

Best gi for cool colorway/embroidery/interior lining: tough call, some worthy options are the Aesthetic Whiteout, Competidor white with pink flower (no longer made), Maeda Conde Koma, DFKC (2014 womens' competitor, white or black), Scramble Sengoku, Fenom white with dark magenta embroidery.

There you go, my humble opinion, as of now. :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Quick mini review of a Fenom gi

Sorry for the informal nature of this review! I bought this gi instead of receiving it from a manufacturer for review, so I feel somewhat better about this quick and dirty go over ;)

This is a pearl weave 550g jacket in white with deep magenta floral embroidery on both upper arms, surrounding the iconic capital F of Fenom fame. The pants are a looser, classic cut versus Fenom's other, slim cut and they're made of a nice soft twill instead of ripstop. The drawstring is fabric not cord. The pants have doubled fabric from mid thigh all the way down to the bottom hem which I especially like. The waist has two belt loops, each about a quarter of the way in from the outer hip. There's also some stylish embroidery across the top of the right thigh which says Fenom Kimonos in dark magenta and silver thread.

I didn't measure pre wash, sorry. I bought an A1 jacket and A2 pants (love that Triin allows separate sizes!) because this model didn't come in A1C (curvy) and at the moment I'm definitely, insanely fat.  I'm not posting pics of me in the gi, but I'll tell you I weigh about 20 lbs more than I usually do and haven't figured out how to add six inches in height. 

The top and bottoms were both too big when I took them out of the bag...sleeves too long, the bust area bulged outwards in a peculiar way when I closed the lapels, and pants definitely about 2" too long. But after one wash in hot and a long dry on high heat, they're absolutely perfect. Ok, fine, I'm 5'2" 154 lbs. :(  Interestingly the bulge in mid chest disappeared after washing and drying. The jacket is a good length from top of the shoulder to the bottom hem and closes with good coverage across the chest.

I found this gi extremely comfortable to train in....The pants are very soft, the cut is just right as far as being roomy, not form fitting, for my fat rump without having extra diaper material wadded up between my legs, with a slightly low rise but still no plumber's crack.... and after the wash/dry the length is ideal, right at ankle bones. If my behind didn't stick out so far, the pants would be longer, probably long enough for someone even 5'6" or 5'7" tall or so. The sleeve length also adjusted to just skimming my wrist bones, but if I had longer arms I could easily shrug my shoulders back at an IBJJF gi check and pass.

Note the gi is nice and light; website says an A1 weighs 3 lbs 1oz.

Very well made as Fenom usually is except a small one-inch section on a front interior side of the lapel with one row of stitching undone. Nothing significant though.

This gi is available for only $95 from:

Here's Sally Arsenault's excellent review of this gi, too:

Can't wait to try the navy blue gi with pink F and ripstop pants next; it's an A1 top, A1C slim cut pants.