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

Copa Do Brasil – The Process Continues…

So as those of you who are following the “Itamar Marani BJJ” Facebook page know, I competed in the “Copa Do Brasil” last week and things didn’t go so well. This is a post about the competition itself and how things were in the immediate aftermath.

Oddly enough I really enjoyed making this video and I’m really looking forward to making the next one where I’ll share my insights from this experience with you guys.

On a side note it’s really nice to receive all these messages of support from everyone and I just wanted to say thanks!

Hope you enjoy!

Guest Post – How to tape your fingers for BJJ and Judo

For a little change of pace I’m going to share a video done by someone else. Every once in a while I plann on sharing content that isn’t mine as long as I believe that it’s worthwhile either for BJJ or just life in general. If anyone ever wants to do a guest spot let me know!

My good friend, Dan Simmler, was nice enough to make a video explaining how to properly tape your fingers for BJJ and judo. I’ve started to tape my fingers like this and others in my academy have followed suit. It’s great because it protects the joints but still allows your finger to bend properly. I definitely recommend it.

Dan is a black belt in BJJ, and has trained extensively in Sambo and Judo. He is also the head coach of the Abusado Team in Worcester, MS.

Check out his blog at WWW.DANSIMMLER.COM.

First Video! a look back at the past year

So on the flight from Tel Aviv to New York I had a lot of time to kill and figured I might as well try to figure out the video editor that I’m going to be using for the vlog. After a bit of playing around and always thinking that it would be really cool if I had a highlight reel of my own here it is, my first little video project… I hope you enjoy!!


A Good Place to Start From

I’ve been planing to launch a blog for almost a year now but it’s never happened for some reason. I guess I just didn’t think it was important enough for me to put the time and effort into it.

A couple of days ago I wrote a long post on FB about the past year in my life and i really enjoyed writing and sharing it. The post also  received a ton of positive attention in the form of likes, comments and even shares, some by people I’ve never met and after seeing and enjoying the out pour of support i decided to go ahead and launch IMBJJ (Itamar Marani BJJ)!
This blog/vlog is going to be something special for me where i get to share my journey with everyone. I figured there’s no better way to start it then with that aforementioned FB post. So here it is and I hope you enjoy!


so it’s been one year since i decided to walk the path less taken and by myself a ticket for a 6 months stay in Rio to see if I could do this jiu jitsu thing for real. looking back i couldn’t be any happier. I got to meet so many interesting people, see a lot of new and interesting places and experience things i just wouldn’t have if i had just gone to uni like I was planning to. I lived in Rio Brazil , Worcest (MS) USA, Tel Aviv Israel, Bangkok and Phuket Thailand and was blown away and humbled by the generosity i was shown by some along my travels and was also surprised at the negativity i got from some and came to understand where it really came from.

I learnt just how much you can’t take even the little things, like speaking the language and being able to communicate and enjoy people’s company for granted (honestly if it weren’t for skype and viber i think i might have gone nuts). I also saw how much being humble and working hard will earn you the respect and friendship of people who you yourself admire and how much people are wiling to give of themselves when you yourself are selfless.
there where a lot of ups and downs, wins and losses, disappointments and hardships but i grew tremendously because of each and every one of them. i understood the meaning of doing what you love and looking back it’s kind of cool to see what i was willing to put up with at times in order to that while just being grateful for the opportunity. i slept in guest houses, hostels, apartments and gym mats and my entire day was built around training, sleeping and eating. I studied the art with a focus and dedication but also gave focus to the “off the mat” part of the BJJ spirit and started to understand what kind of martial artist i want to aspire to be.
on the professional side of things i got promoted to blue belt and had a record of 23-7 and was able to learn from all 7 of my losses. it was a good year but i hope to dwarf it this year and i’m stoked to head back to rio tomorrow, train my ass off and try to achieve my goal of becoming a world champion this year.
on the personal side i can only hope that this year goes as well and ill be able to grow as much as i did last year. It’s really amazing to be able to look back and see how much i’ve changed.
All in all i had an amazing year and as much as i dread the though of being apart from my girlfriend for 5 months i’m looking forward to this next chapter in brazil and cali.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone i’ve met and hung out with along way, everyone who’s gone out of their way to help me, to everyone who’s supported me (you’ll be surprised how far a message on FB can go when you’re alone in a foreign country lol) and most of all to Minyoung Kim for all the endless support.
sorry for the long rant!
all i can say is that i can’t agree more with that saying: “quit your job, travel the world, do martial arts, be awesome”
there are way way to many people to tag in this post but i truly appreciate all the friendships i’ve made… thanks for a great year guys!