NABJJF L.A. Open Part 1 – No Gi

Hey guys, so this past weekend I competed in the NABJJF’s L.A. Open and decided to challenge myself by doing no gi as well. I train almost exclusively in the gi, but I figured that I’ll probably pick up something that will better me by doing the no gi division so I went for it and had a great time. I got to meet some new Checkmat teammates that I only knew through facebook pics and I also learned a lot.

Like I’ve said before everything is a process and this just showed me that I’m taking steps in the right direction towards next years World Championships.

Thanks to everyone who was there, to everyone who I’ve been training with this past month in California and everyone out there who’s been sending messages of support and good vibes.

On a side note I want to say again that I’m truly surprised and humbled by the messages I receive sometimes from people and although I never really gave any thought to how starting this blog might affect those outside my immediate circle of friends and family, it’s awesome to hear that people have been able to gain something from following it. Hearing these things always gives me great joy. Thank you!

Hope you guys enjoy the video and a special shout out to Brandon Grayson who will surely watch this video tediously and then send me a message saying that he’s got my number now and that he thinks he can beat me…

P.S. If you know Brandon and his trash talking ways leave a comment to show him your love. lol





Post 2013 IBJJF Worlds: Thoughts and Reflections part 1 – The Process

Hey guys, so it’s been over a week since the IBJJF World’s and I decided to finally share the personal process I went through while I was in Brazil getting ready for the Worlds. In this blog entry I discuss the ups and downs I went through, how I was able to grow from them and how all that affected and helped my performance.

In this entry I share a lot of my personal reflections and thoughts and I would love to hear your opinions on what I have to say and if you agree with it or not or even better if you just have something to add.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for all the support and kind words, I really appreciate it.

Hope you enjoy!



The Checkmat crowd at the 2013 IBJJF Worlds

The Checkmat crowd at the 2013 IBJJF Worlds


Checkmat Team BBQ at the Favela Cantagalo

Ever wonder how a BBQ/party in a Favela in Rio would look like? Well this Saturday after finishing up the morning BJJ session the entire Fightzone/Checkmat team headed up to the Favela Cantagalo to celebrate Philipe’s birthday by having a big BBQ. A lot of the guys from the team are from Cantagalo and came up through Ricardo’s BJJ social project so I’ve actually been up there quite a lot..

Antonio, one of the instructors over at the project, was nice enough to host the party on his rooftop. Antonio is a super nice guy and also the father of two ridiculously talented kids, “the Gomes Brothers” who you will definitely hear about in the future!

I hope you guys enjoy this entry and feel free to share!



favela bbq

The Checkmat Rio team

My First BJJ Class

Hey guys, this post is a follow up from the “How the Journey Began” blog post. In This blog entry I talk about trying to find a place for the first time in Bangkok and the difficulties that come along with it. I also share how the first BJJ class I had ever attended felt like and offer a formal apology to all my early training partners!

I hope you enjoy!

Like finding a needle in a haystack

So a couple of days after receiving the info on where to train from Zohan I decided to go check out BKK/BJJ. It was at the end of September and around the end of the rainy season in Thailand. Since I had been in Thailand for only about a week at the time and I didn’t really know what to expect as far as how long it would take me to arrive somewhere for the first time. I must explain that Bangkok isn’t exactly the easiest city to navigate it. There are a lot of one way streets, the buildings aren’t always numbered and at times it can be a real mess.

I wanted to give myself a chunk of spare time so that I can get there early and show respect to the instructor and introduce myself, but when I walked out of my apartment there was a pretty intense monsoon going on and apparently Thai cab drivers prefer to nap in their cabs rather than take a passenger when it rains because of the traffic. So after trying to catch a cab for 15 minutes and getting completely soaked in the process one cab driver agreed to take me and after a long traffic congested ride (and a couple stops to check if we were at the right place or not) I was finally at the gym! I thanked the cab driver while feeling very proud and cultured that I knew how to say thanks in Thai and went inside.

I Train UFC!

When I walked into the gym I was greeted at the reception by a pretty Asian American girl who told me that she was also the yoga instructor at the gym (This was also the day that I learned that Asian people can get upset if by accident you think they are from a different country in Asia then they are actually from. Or of Thai decent instead of Korean decent in this case…)

She helped me find a gi I could use for the day and I rushed onto the mat. Class had already started fifteen minutes ago and I was immediately paired with a green belt to start pummeling. He said his name was Lorne and asked what was mine, I said Itamar to which he surprisingly responded in Hebrew “Ohh you’re Israeli!”. After we exchanged a couple niceties there was a booming voice from behind us yelling “shalom, shalom! Get to work!.” Those where the first words I heard from Professor Adam Kayoom. lol.
During the class we worked on x guard sweeps and although I didn’t really know what a regular guard was I felt like I understood the specific things he showed and how they manipulated joints and worked. We sparred at the end of class and I had a blast. I didn’t really know what to do so I just figured I would compensate for it with a ton of aggression and power (I’m around 6’1″ and 90 kilos). Don’t you love newbies that are like that?! I did have some success and was able to catch two other white belts with really sloppy rear naked chokes which I improvised from what I saw in UFC matches. I know, I know! I was definitely that guy at the start. To everyone, you may consider this my formal apology. Sorry!
After the class ended I talked with Professor Adam a bit, bought a gi and signed up for three months!
BKK/BJJ was where I spent my first 6 months of training and is where my journey began. That first class will always be a found and special memory for me. It’s where without me realizing it my life started to change…

Anyone else have found memories of their first class? Can you still remember the feel and experience of the first time you stepped on the mats?

Professor Adam and I after a No-Gi Class

Professor Adam and I after a No-Gi Class

“Staycation” in Rio – Muscle beach and Acai

This week I did my best to enjoy what Rio has to offer besides BJJ. I was letting my knee heal and decided to have myself a little “Staycation” in Rio and just enjoy myself a little. In this blog post I talk about how I spent the past week and show you guys the best place to get Acai in the city and Rio’s caveman version of muscle beach.

I also got to go to the Copa De Podio yesterday which was an awesome experience. I’ll be making a post about it soon, but right now it’s time to hit the mats!

Hope you guys enjoy!