Posts Tagged ‘“Three Rivers Academy”’


Firstly, this isn’t a religious post, except in the fact that jiu-jitsu is a deeply religious thing for me. Rather, I’m referring to having faith in the training, in the technique, in the realization that all will come when you are ready for it.

The first truly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique I ever learned was a half guard pass. I had virtually no context for it. It had never come up in a fight and I hadn’t realized what it was if it occurred in training prior to learning it. I repped it out and listened to the explanation for it but it wouldn’t be accessible to me for some time.

Finally, probably 2 or more years later I found the exact right scenario and that technique, which I thought I had forgotten by then, came to the surface. I was ready for it! Has this ever happened to you?

This is one of those beautiful jiu-jitsu epiphony, metaphorical moments of clarity, when it all makes sense again. When the roll speaks to you, you understand it to be the truth because it proves its inherent value in the moment perfectly. There are of course other moments in life when the pieces fall into place, but jiu-jitsu is so often times complex and chaotic yet formulaic and precise, that it seems to hold an equation up to the universe and say “See! This is how it works!”

Sorry for the philosophical rant, but that’s the nature of the thing. If you dismiss a move as not useful, either in itself or just for you, you miss out on the possibility that maybe you were simply not ready for it. It happens the other route as well. For example, the white belt who has “mastered” the upa escape and now only relies on the elbow escape because the upa is “too basic.” Or then there is the intermediate student who “needs another sweep” because everyone has caught on to his standard sweeps. It is simply a matter of readiness and appropriateness. So then the statement above could equally say, “If it isn’t happening for you, the situation isn’t appropriate for it.” Same meaning.

The answer, to me, is a matter of having faith that if the technique is trained enough, it will work for you when you are ready. Or that you will reach a moment when the situation is apporpriate and you were able to apply it to the situation. The only missing ingredients then, are a lens for determining if the technique is sound in itself (which comes with time), and the patience to stick it out and develop proficiency and ability with the technique (which takes faith.

Now go train!

DaFirma Kimono Company

I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu for a couple decades, and in that time I have had many gis. I remember when bjj specific gis started really hitting the market and Krugan and Kikskin were all the rage. Howard Combat Kimonos were big for a long time. Atama was king and is still one of the big dogs. Storm, Hyabusa, Origin…there are so many incredible gis on the market that I can’t include in here. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m pretty much done with any brand other than DaFirma Kimonos.

I don’t fully believe that DaFirma is the best quality kimono on the market – just being honest. But they rival the top quality gis on the market for certain. And the difference is in the care, consideration and professionalism of the company.

Ricardo Tubbs, the president of the company, makes sure each and every order is handled with the utmost attention to quality and oversees every step along the way. Whether it’s a custom job, which DaFirma exceeds once again in doing, or a standard order of the company’s pre-designed awesome merchandise, every order is treated like it is the most special order. This is something rare to see these days – a company more concerned with customer satisfaction than turning a huge profit!

So how does the quality stack up? I know I keep harping on the customer service and friendliness factor, but make no mistake, these gis are comfortable, durable, and gorgeous. They are so competition-oriented in design that they are perfect for professional performance. I am happy to see more and more big and respectable names in the jiu-jitsu community catching on the the fact that this is the kind of product and service that should be the standard in jiu-jitsu kimonos. I recommend these gis to my friends and students, and my home base academy of Three Rivers Martial Arts uses DaFirma for our custom academy uniforms. Additionally DaFirma handled my custom KnightBJJ kimono designs too.

So if you’re looking to have your academy custom gis made up, looking for a premade and super sweet gi yourself, or in the market for shorts or rash guards, then I highly recommend for your next purchase. Here are some videos where I sport my custom Knight BJJ gi made by DaFirma while showing a cool technique, and I along with Amy Kilpatrick of Atmosphere Martial Arts show a slick sweep while wearing our DaFirma kimonos.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu submissions from kesa gatame, or “scarf hold” with Eli Knight, black belt under Royce Gracie.

1. Near side straight armbar
2. Near side bent armbar (Americana)
3. Far side straight armbar
4. Far side bent armbar (Americana)



I recently was contacted to be featured in the US Combat Sports “Grappler’s Spotlight.” I was happy to do it, and was asked what would I like to focus on for the interview. I decided to share my journey, particularly as it pertains to the difficulties of maintaining and progressing my training in such a geographically-challenging area of the country as the Midwest, especially at the time I began my training when there were few resources for Jiu-Jitsu instruction anywhere in the states, not to mention Kentucky! Here is a link to the article:


I haven’t posted anything in a while on this blog. Mostly because I have been busy teaching every day, and today is no exception. I just finished a lesson with a 61-year-old Marine veteran. And I am truly humbled. Again!

The most exhausting thing about teaching and training to the degree I do isn’t the physical expenditure or even the mental – these are both extreme at times, but I can handle each much more than the emotional toll it takes on me. I try to give all I have emotionally to my students, and in the process I take on a lot of what they bring in with them emotionally, which is oftentimes a lot of negativity or pain in one form or another. To call it an honor to meet and train with and teach the people I get to is a gross understatement.

Whether it is my student with epilepsy who struggles daily in a battle with her own bodily control, or the autistic children who a few months ago could barely follow a 3-step verbal set of instructions, or the gentleman I just mentioned from this morning, I am humbled and privileged to see what real strength and fortitude is, when there are so many others in the world that fall victim to self-pity, whereas these folks who overcome so much. This veteran, who is twice my age with more holes in him from bullets than I care to mention, including in his head, arms, legs, abdomen, and all points in between, showed me the utmost respect upon meeting me. At his age and in his condition, to walk in the door and sign up is amazing to me! And it motivates me to be the best version of myself and to polish my understanding of the art so as to give him the best representation of what has affected my life so greatly. There is no doubt that what we do at Three Rivers Martial Arts is extraordinary and life-altering, but if ever there were question to it, it would quickly be extinguished by the evidence of our students’ accomplishments.

These are not things that they hand out trophies or medals for (though plenty of our students have those too), and these accomplishments are not things that are widely publicized (though Three Rivers has made quite a name for itself). Rather, the quiet achievements of the unsung champions of our academy scream a brilliant emotionally-charged primal scream that resonates through the universe and advances a shift in consciousness that is inextinguishable and unstoppable.

So today, like most days, I am humbled. I bow in completed deference to the wave I am riding, and I am proud and elated to even be associated with what is going on here! I will do my best today and pray it is received by as many as possible.


Here we are having some fun in the academy. Jason Hawkins and I have been training together 16-17 years now.