Inverted Gear Blog

What I learned my first year as a Black Belt.

It's been a year since I was promoted to Black Belt by Fabio Clemente and Kevin Sheridan. As cliche as it sounds I’ve learn more in the last year than I did in years prior to the big promotion. I moved to the North Philadelphia area shortly after being promoted, and for the first time since I was purple belt, I got to be a student again. Big thank you to Jared Weiner, Emily Kwok, Phil Migliarese,Jason Frawley and Alex Britto for letting me and my wife Hillary to train at your schools. We really appreciate it.

Here are the biggest things that I’ve learned over the last year. I think a lot of the applied to many BJJ players so wanted to share.

My takedowns needed work, a lot of work; I am a brown belt in Judo and wrestled in high school. I think I have a better understanding of takedowns than most pure BJJ players. However, I very rarely worked on them. When I started training at BJJ United, Jared starts every round from the feet, most guys there very rarely pull guard. First few weeks there were rough! I was out gripped, timing on my shots were off, my sprawl needed work. And my cardio felt awful. A year later I feel much better, timing is back, and I’ve been developing few things that I can consistently both gi and nogi.

My game had become very grip dependent. When I started getting ready for nogi pans, I started working one more of a sit up guard and x guard game, which was rusty, I had been working lots of De La Riva and Spider guard. Biggest hurdle was passing. It took a lot of drilling to feel comfortable passing again, I had spend about two years, my whole tenure as a Brown belt, working on leg drags and x passes. I now have more of a folding/smash pass passing style, still incorporating the x passes and leg drags.

I didn't realize how much work my leg lock game needed. I think this is the area that I experienced the most growth over the last year. IBJJF wise I added Estima locks to my game, which not only added an awesome submission to my game, but made my passing better. Non IBJJF wise I was able to train with Reilly Bodycomb. First at a seminar at 50/50 bjj, where I spent the weekend getting heel hooked by Reilly, Ryan and Seph. This was a huge eye opener, I had a basic understanding of heel hooks, I even won a few NAGA matches by heel hook. But this guys were miles away! Reilly has a great approach, I highly recommend it if you can ever make one of his seminars or training camps. You can check out his stuff at

Hope this is some help to someone. And helps people realize that while getting your black belt may be your goal, is by no means the end of your journey.

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How much training does it take to be a champion?


People in BJJ often find themselves asking how much the best spend training each day.  The answer is obviously very different for different people, but the quick and easy answer is usually a lot.  Most of the best (world champions and highly respected competitors) spend in the range of 3-6 hours per day 5-7 days per week in order to reach that high level.  I’d like to run through some examples, and talk about what this type of training usually consists of.

I recently read an article on Gianni Grippo’s website where he talks about drilling and why he feels it is such an integral part of anyone’s training.  In the article Gianni states that he trains 2 classes per day at Marcelo Garcia’s gym in NY and also drills before and after the first class, and before the second class.  

Keenan Cornelius has stated in interviews that when he was going for the grandslam at purple belt he had heard rumors that the Miyao Brothers trained 4-6 hours per day, he said in the same video that he knew that this meant that he had to train more and harder than 6 hours per day.  Since this video, he has relocated to Atos from LLyod Irvin, and his schedule has changed slightly but he still hits 1 morning session, a strength and conditioning session, and a long evening session of training.

As I stated previously the Miyao Brothers have been reported to train up to 6 hours per day.  I have heard stories of them staying at their gym in Sao Paolo, sleeping and eating there, and also spending the entire day drilling and training.  In a recent video they also confirmed that since training with the Mendes brothers that they realized the importance of strength and conditioning and have made that a regular part of their routine as well.

At alliance headquarters in Atlanta we have seen both Cobrinha and Lucas Lepri as head instructors.  They each taught multiple classes per day (and also joined in sparring), and regularly scheduled drilling and strength and conditioning sessions as well.

Caio Terra recently had an excellent interview where he talked about his training, coming up through the belts, and his rapid rise from blue belt to black belt.  In the video he discusses leaving his gym and setting up mats at his house where many of his friends (high level competitors and black belts), would often come to train with him.  He describes training in the evening, going to bed, only to be awoken by someone knocking at the door at 2-3am looking to do more training.

We can see by these examples that if you truly want to be the best, or compete at a very high level that most of the sports brightest stars are training hard, training multiple times per day, mixing specific training, drilling, and sparring.  I am sure there are a few exceptions to the rule,  being that a select few may only train one time per day, but these are by far the exception and not the rule.  Most of the top competitors also add additional workouts of strength training and or cardio vascular work.

The take away is this. If you aren’t achieving the results you would like to achieve ask yourself how far you want to go, how much success you want, and how much work are you willing to put in?  The best have gotten where they are by working harder than anyone else, by refusing to accept defeat, by working while everyone else is asleep or at the movies.  The days of training once per day and becoming a world champion in BJJ are coming to an end.  The sport is growing rapidly and becoming more refined and scientific at an exponential rate.  If you want the results then you have to be willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work that other champions do.
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Embrace the spirit of learning.


Have you ever picked up a book or watched a documentary and became fascinated with a subject (could be history, human relations, sports, or anything else), and this very same subject was one you studied in school or were previously exposed to, yet you had zero to little interest in the first time?  If this has ever happened to you, then you most likely experienced the spirit of learning, the passion of learning something that is relevant to you.

I think the big switch that occurs in these situations is two fold.  First, when you initially came in contact with the subject you decided for some reason or another, that this subject or information was not relevant to you.  Rather, you decided that because of your current beliefs, priorities, and paradigms that it had no “net benefit” to you as a person.  Because you didn’t feel that relevance, that urgency within you to learn this topic, you overlooked it, only to find later that this topic did have bearing on you and that it could benefit you.

It is important to always try to keep an open mind, a closed mind is often closed to a lot of new opportunities for growth and expansion.  Those people who welcome diversity and new experiences with a spirit of learning and passion will make huge gains in life compared to their close minded counterparts.


This can vary widely in application but the gist is this, when you get an opportunity to learn something new, realise it is an opportunity for growth.  We often form paradigms (like little lenses we look at the world through), these paradigms are made up of our past experiences, things we’ve been told, and the values we believe in.  It is important to know that your judgement on the value of something does not determine its value.  Where you see trash many others may find hidden treasure.  The problem with paradigms is that we subconsciously do everything in our power to make sure they stay true, often at the detriment of our own well being.

Example:  You have tried to play open guard, time after time, you got your guard passed.  It felt like nothing was there, no points of contact, you were reaching out for a ghost where a person should be, but nothing was there.  You start to justify to yourself in your mind why it doesn’t work (we don’t like to think that we are inadequate or rather that we just need more practice), so you say things like: my grips aren't strong enough, i'm not fast enough, i'm not flexible enough.  Suddenly you begin to form a paradigm that influences all the new information you receive.  You believe that open guard isn’t for you, that you have inherent limitations that prevent you using it effectively.  Suddenly when someone shows you open guard techniques you write them off, they have no “value”, they have no value to your current paradigm of life.  You never learn open guard, and as a result you are reliant only on half guard and closed guard, your game suffers greatly in the long run and you never learn to control a disengaged opponent, because of this when someone escapes your half guard, or opens your closed guard you get passed easily.

An open mind, and embracing the spirit of learning can help prevent situations like this from occurring and ensure that your growth as an individual continues.  The next time you find yourself saying in your mind “this move doesn’t work” or “maybe if I had longer legs I could do this” ask yourself why you believe this.  Ask yourself if other people use the technique successfully.  Ask yourself what details you might be missing that could make it work for you.  Always do this, and you will begin to learn at a faster rate guaranteed.

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How to develop willpower and discipline.

Willpower is a vital ingredient in the recipe of success.  No matter what your goals are, you are going to have to have guts to make your dreams a reality.  Willpower is basically just a daily commitment toward your goals, it means that you are in it for the long haul and that you can say no to instant gratification in order to protect your long term visions.  So we all know dedication and willpower are important but how do you develop it?  Why do some people unwaveringly decline fun, food, and friends for their priorities while others struggle to turn down seconds on desert?

Know what you want, why you want it, and what it will take to get it.

Willpower and dedication don’t develop quickly, they are personality traits that are forged and grow stronger with each conscious effort to turn something down for the greater good, but it all has to start within yourself.  Willpower starts with desire; desire for change, desire for something better than what you have at the moment.  You have to see the value of what you want, you have to know what you are willing to sacrifice to make your vision a reality, you have to know that times will be hard, and that you are willing to see it through to the bitter end.  Having a realistic expectation of the kind of work it will take to accomplish your goals will also better prepare you for the sacrifices you will need to make later.


Start small:  Set small goals and get them done.

Rather than making your first goal something that will take you years to accomplish, start small.

Your short term goals should be measurable and should be accomplishable quickly (think within a few months tops), then set daily and weekly goals that will hold you accountable.  For instance, rather than just setting a goal to lose 100lbs within a year, set smaller goals to hold you accountable.  Try to lose 1.5-3lbs per week, if you do the math it adds up to roughly 75-150 lbs in a year.  Not only will you build more confidence and see results sooner, but you can begin achieving your goals on week one, this is going to keep you going when times get hard.  Instead of thinking of the 98.5lbs you have left to lose this year, you’ll be focused on the 1.5lbs that you have already lost.

Hold yourself accountable to your daily actions.

Will power comes down to consistent daily action.  As you start doing the things you need to do each day to reach your goals, you will also start saying no to the things that might distract you from reaching them.  As you learn to say no to “negative” influences in your life and learn to say yes to the actions that will make you successful you will become more firm in your resolve to meet your goals.  By starting small and hitting your goals consistently you will experience the positive reinforcement of success, you will begin to see that bypassing the instant gratification of temptation and standing strong will offer much more fulfillment and reward than the little distractions of life.

There is no secret to developing will power, you find something you are passionate about, you make goals and hold yourself accountable to their fulfillment, and as you start to see success it gets easier and you can reach farther.  No one is born with the ability to be a disciplined machine, it is something that is learned, over time, step by step.
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S-Rolling with Slow Cookers

5 Golden Rules to Slow Cookers


We do not always have to be sprinting, whether we are talking about our training or, in this case, our cooking. Going slow has its benefits but that is only if you truly follow the rules behind “going slow.” The same applies with cooking, low and slow works wonders for the end result that is if you follow the rules. Luckily for us, the culinary gods have developed a product ages ago that has simplified the process. What do you think they called it? You guessed it, The Slow Cooker. They did not have a team of marketing gurus working on that name clearly. These have saved Nelson and myself time, money and energy on a weekly basis.


Times are tough and days are long, wouldn't you want to come home from training to a warm, full meal ready and waiting for you? Well meet your new best friend, Mr. Slow cooker. Shockingly though it is not as simple as “dump everything in it and turn it on.” If you throw raw pasta, raw chicken, water and scattering of vegetables in and turn it on you won’t have the best chicken soup. It is not magic. Though there are a few simple rules to follow and by doing so you can become a culinary wizard. Also you’d be surprised at how many things you can actually cook in it. Soups, roasts and even bread. Enough with the praise though, let me get to what you all are drooling over, the meat and potatoes of this article.


Rule No.1 Spray and pray

Have you ever used a slow cooker and had to try and clean it afterwards? It can be a major pain in the cooker. A very simple step to avoid sticking and ensure easy cooking is to spray the inside with cooking spray such as Pam before using it. Do not worry about it adding any fat. The luxury of slow cookers is that they eliminate the need for cooking oil.


Rule No.2 Know Your Training Partners

 When looking through recipes or when playing Iron Chef Apartment knowing what vegetables you are going to use will affect the end result. Not obviously in the sense that “if I put onions in it, there will be onion flavors.” I am talking about truly knowing the vegetables. Knowing how a vegetable will hold up to cooking is crucial. Onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips etc are a lot heartier than say, peas or fresh beans. With that knowledge those heartier vegetables can be added in the beginning, save the softer and more delicate ingredients for the last hour of cooking. The same goes with pasta. Add raw pasta within the last 30 minutes rather than in the beginning. Pasta cooked for 6 hours probably won’t be the most enjoyable pasta you have ever had.


Rule No.3 A Layer Within a Layer Within a Layer.

 Vegetables and meat cook in different amounts of time, go figure. With that knowledge you need to load up your slow cooker with the proper layer sequence. Vegetables first, then meat and finally top with seasoning and liquid. That is because the heat comes from the bottom of the slow cooker, thus the bottom will be the hottest part of the pot. You utilize that heat differences in layers to give everything an even cooking time though each individually have a different. This isn’t as hard as understanding Inception, but it matters, this is not a dream…or is it?


Rule No.4 Mastering Your Meat

 Browning on meat is important for flavor (read why in this article, its called the Maillard Reaction.) The last thing you want to eat is gray steamed meat. Browning occurs in meat at high temperatures via direct heat method (Example: pan searing.) Slow cookers do not possess that capacity to do this. So it is important to brown your meat before adding it into the slow cooker. Do not worry about cooking it fully, the slow cooker can handle that part, just get a pan ripping hot, add a little oil and develop some color on that meat before adding it in to the little hot tub of flavor.


Rule No.5 Don’t Drown

 Slow cooker recipes usually call for small amounts of liquid. Our curious nature will sometimes make us say “oh I can add a little more salt because recipes are usually wrong.” I agree with that, recipes are more so guidelines than set in stone commandments. BUT with slow cooker recipes do not change the amount of liquid because you are worried it might be too dry, or you for some reason think it will improve the flavor. Liquid will not evaporate while cooking in a slow cooker. You want the liquid to just cover the food within, never more than that.



Buy a slow cooker, follow these rules and live a happier life because happiness starts in the stomach. Like this article? For more fun food reviews, techniques, guides and interviews head over to Grappler Gourmet and follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@GrapplerGourmet). Eat well, train hard. Oss.

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