Happy New Years!!!

(In Which We Are Introduced to Caio Terra Online)

One of the changes that I’m making this year is to write a lot more on this blog and as a guest contributor on other blogs and in Jiu Jitsu Mag.  For the last 2 years I’ve had an amazing experience with Kris Shaw and BJJ Legends and I can’t thank her (and their fans) enough for the opportunity to write/blog at BJJ Legends.  Doors have opened that never would have otherwise and I’m going to explore them as much as possible.  So that said, let’s get to the 1st post of the New Year:

It probably won’t surprise anyone reading this that I have or have had subscriptions to several on-line instruction sites.  I’ve used MGinAction, Mendes Bros Online, BJJ Library, Grappler’s Guide and most recently Caio Terra online.  All of them have their upsides and are a great tool if you’re looking for good on-line instruction from a trusted source.

However, Caio Terra has really set himself apart from the rest by having structured lesson plans that are regularly posted in addition to new techniques.  One of the biggest challenges for newer BJJ students is information overload and the lesson plans do a great job of focusing your attention on specific part of your game and of course Caio’s instruction is excellent.  At the end of each month there will also be an interactive (for subscribers) mindmap to use as a reminder of what was shown the previous month.

For the month of December Caio’s Lesson plans focused mostly on the half guard with a single lesson plan showing some nogi options when you opponent is standing.  Check out the map below and you may have missed.

Caio Terra Online: December 2012 Lesson Plan

Caio Terra Online:
December 2012
Lesson Plan

New Site

I wanted to give everyone a huge thanks for following along this last year.  Because of you I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have normally had.  One of them is my association with BJJ Legends Magazine.  I’ve recently become one of their associate editors.  I’m still blogging and writing a lot but everything is over there now.  To follow along please go to:

My Facebook Page
BJJ Legends FB page

Or follow me on Twitter  @matthewdcorley

Thanks again,

Matt

http://www.bjjlegends.com/bjj/

Mapping the Grappler’s Manifesto

I’ve just finished mapping out The Grappler’s Manifesto.  I divided it into 4 parts because I felt that breaking this down into sections would make it a little more user friendly.  There are plenty of great reviews (check out the comments at Amazon and Budovideos) including this one.

As you may notice it’s a little less detailed that the maps that I make when breaking down videos.  The reason for this is that I’ve included the page number for the technique and the author has given you the details much better than I can.  I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

PDFs:
Grapplers Manifesto part 1- Guard
Grapplers Manifesto Part 2 – Butterfly and Half-Guard
Grapplers Manifesto Part 3 – turtle, sprawl and crossbody
Grapplers Manifesto Part 4 – Mount & Back

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Culture of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Abstract:
There is a persistent perception in high-level BJJ competitions that many medal winners are using steroids and other PEDs to succeed.  This article collates the opinions of nearly 700 BJJ practitioners and provides a detailed breakdown of the opinions of those participants based on their demographics.

Insight from current and former world champions was also solicited for a first-hand perspective on PED usage at the highest level.  The bios of the subject matter experts are available by hyperlink at the end of the article under the acknowledgements section.

Methods:

On September 3rd, 2012 an anonymous survey was created and publicized at numerous online message boards, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  Over the next eight days 695 people participated in the survey.  The questions were designed to get basic demographic information and to determine the participant’s perceptions on the (mis)use of steroids and other PEDs by athletes that practice Brazilian jiu jitsu.   The survey consisted of the following 10 questions:

  1. What is your gender?
  2. What is your age?
  3. What is your BJJ rank?
  4. How often do you train?
  5. How often do you participate in private lessons?
  6. How often do you compete in BJJ tournaments?
  7. If you could get steroids legally, would you?
  8. Have you ever used anything that could be considered a performance enhancing drug (PED)?
  9. What are some of the dangers of steroid use?
  10. What percentage of medalists at high-level completions (ADCC, Pans, Worlds, etc) do you think use steroids?

As a supplement to the survey well-known BJJ competitors, instructors and bloggers were contacted with four open-ended questions on the same topic.  Responses were gathered from black belt world champions (current and former), current black belt competitors, respected instructors and BJJ bloggers.  Their questions were:

  1. Why do you think people are turning to PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) for BJJ competitions, especially when there is little or no money?
  2. How do you feel about people using testosterone legally to compete?
  3. If you found out one of your long-time students had started using PEDs, what would you do?
  4. Other than testing at tournaments, how do you think the BJJ community can stop the use of PEDs?

Introduction:

Survey demographic breakdowns can be found in tables 1 & 2.  The survey participants were consistent with what is typically seen in many BJJ gyms across the country.  Most participants are men, aged 18 to 35, white belts or blue belts and train three to four times weekly.

Demographics for PED and BJJ Survey (table 1)

Males

613 (88.8%)

Females

77 (11.2%)

<17 years old

14 (2.0%)

18-25

185 (26.7%)

26-35

362 (47%)

36-45

141 (20.3%)

46-55

25 (3.6%)

56-65

3 (0.4%)

66+

0

White Belt

220 (31.7%)

Blue Belt

251 (36.2%)

Purple Belt

142 (20.5%)

Brown Belt

45 (6.5%)

Black Belt

22 (3.2%)

No rank/Other

14 (2%)

Training Frequency and Composition (table 2)

Up to twice weekly 118 (17.0%)
Up to four times weekly 358 (51.6%)
Five or more times weekly 218 (31.4%)
Weekly private lessons 31 (4.5%)
Several times monthly 33 (4.8%)
Monthly 35 (5.1%)
Several times yearly 57 (8.2%)
Once or twice yearly 118 (17.1%)
Never 418 (60.4%)

Findings:
The results of the survey were divided into several categories to determine the differences and similarities between groups within the same overall population.  The groups consisted of those that answered that they would use steroids if available legally, athletes that compete three or more times yearly, experienced practitioners (purple belt and above), white belts and finally participants that indicated that they have previously used PEDs.

When asked if they would use steroids if they were legally available 21.7% (n=150) of those polled said that they would. For comparison nearly as many said they weren’t sure (n=128).  Nearly half of those that answered in the affirmative felt that sterility, heart attacks and other serious health risks were all associated with steroid use.  There were female respondents (4 of 77) and athletes 17 and younger (3 of 14) that responded in the affirmative as well.  The age breakdown was very similar to that of the overall survey and was slightly skewed away from the 18 to 25 year old group and towards the 36 to 45 year old.  When adjusted for overall participation most of those that answered they would use TRT most were blue belts (56 of 251), purple belts (45 of 142) and brown belts (12 of 45).  Black belts were the least likely to use TRT (<10%).

There are two areas where the athletes that would use TRT differ significantly from their peers.  The first is that over half admitted to prior PED use (53.3% vs 20.7%) and 60.7% (vs. 35.3%) feel that the majority of medalists at high-level grappling events are using steroids.

An active competitor is defined as someone that competes 3 or more times a year (n=260).  The active competitor differs from the overall sample group in frequency of training (over half of them train at least five times a week), slightly higher frequency of private instruction, and frequency of previous PED use (24.7% vs. 20.7%).  The group is mostly blue belts (36.5%) and purple belts (25.4%).  They are very similar to the overall population when asked if they’d use legal steroids and were only a little more inclined to believe that high-level grapplers are using PEDs.

Experienced practitioners are those that have achieved the rank of purple belt or higher in BJJ (n=209).  Not surprisingly they tend to train more often than the overall group and compete a little more often as well.  Looking at their stance on legal steroids and previous steroid/PED use is where this group starts to separate itself from the others.  Less than half said that they would not use steroids even if they were legal.  28.5% said they would use them and 22.7% said they weren’t sure.  Previous usage of PEDs is highest in this group with 28.5% of respondents answering that they have used PEDs in the past.  When asked what percentage of medalists at high-level competitions use steroids, nearly half (47.1%) responded that the majority medalists use steroids and nearly a third (32.0%) think that between 26% and 50% use steroids to compete successfully.

The responses of white belts (n=220) were reviewed to see how those new to the sport view competitive BJJ and steroid/PED use.  White belts tended to be younger than the general population and their training frequency was also less, with three to four days a week training being the most common response (52.5%).  These participants were also the least likely to compete (33.8% never compete) and when they did compete it was less often (38.4% compete once or twice a year) than other belt rankings.  When asked if they would use steroids legally, they were less likely to answer yes (15.1% vs. 21.7%) and also were less likely to have used PEDs in the past (13.8% vs. 20.7%).  White belts were less likely to believe that medalists of high-level competitions use steroids, with 56.4% believing that more than a quarter of more medalists use steroids vs. the overall group response of 68.0%.  Of the 3 respondents that thought that all medalists were steroid free, two belonged to this population subset.

The final grouping to be reviewed is those that have indicated previous PED use (n=143).  This group has very similar demographics (age, rank, training frequency, etc).  The only notable exceptions are gender (there were only 3 women in this group), and a somewhat higher frequency of competitions per year.  Just over half of this group (55.9%) stated that they would use steroids if available legally.  The group felt that steroids were less likely to cause significant health risks that the overall group (29.8% vs. 14.4%).  When polled about the use of steroids by medalists at high-level competitions more than half (51.4%) felt that that majority of medalists use steroids and a third (33.1%) felt that between 26% and 50% do.

Discussion:
BJJ is a demanding sport both physically and mentally.  As the sport has grown in popularity the level of skill and physical ability at the highest levels has also grown.  The smallest advantage (or disadvantage) can mean the difference between a world championship and going home after a single match. The advantages that can be gained from using steroids may be too big of a temptation for some.

“To carve a place for yourself in this sport is becoming increasingly difficult which is why many people turn to PEDs to help them.” Zak Maxwell

 “Your body is capable to handle more training sessions…especially for the ones who also diet.” Caio Terra

 “People get caught up in the win at all costs mentality…Your ego and future earning potential rides on your competition resume.”  Georgette Oden

 “I think some people do it for the vanity, some have the illusion that if they win that is all it takes to make money…”  Felipe Costa

 “Fighters want to win and to be able to tell everyone that they are world champions.  They are doing it for pride and bragging rights.” Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros

With a time investment measured in years and even decades BJJ practitioners become vested in their sport and immersed in the culture.  To be successful at the highest levels, even as a blue belt or purple belt, requires an almost full-time commitment to their sport.  Their awareness of the superstars of jiu-jitsu grows and as a result these men and women begin to emulate them.

“They want to follow an example to get to the same level as their opponent…even more unfortunate to know that some top fighters are responsible for this bad example.”  Lucas Lepri

“Everyone knows that the guys getting the medals are doing it and not saying anything.  So they are thinking it’s OK because these guys are winning.” Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros

The survey suggests that as these athletes are finding their identity within the world of BJJ they are more likely to be influenced by the blind-eye that is turned to steroid and PED use within our sport.  The colored belts of today are the black belts of tomorrow.  Being aware of the trends in perception is the key to determining how to change them.

“It’s important that this message starts early. Teaching the teens how bad this can be for you. Teaching the kids how technique and leverage can beat strength and physical abilities. Reassuring the adults that they are learning a sport that believes that a small guy can beat a bigger one, that what really matter is studying techniques not working out, that the most important “muscle” in BJJ is your brain.”  Caio Terra

“A good start is the magazines talk more about it and show it’s not ok to use this. The young generations are growing watching those champions being treat as “heroes” and they want to be like them…they think is normal to train 8 or more hours a day, while we all know this is not possible if you are a drug free person.”  Felipe Costa

A common theme among the individuals that I approached as subject matter experts is their belief that competitors feel they need to win at all costs.  BJJ is unique among most martial arts because we train at nearly 100% with our partners nearly every day; we compete constantly, if not in a tournament then in our gyms.  Competition is a way of life for us.

“We are competitive creatures…It’s power, performance and prestige” Roy Dean

We can see from the survey that the participants that have used PEDs and/or would use steroids if available aren’t competing more than the group.  So why do they do it?  We hear a lot about medal chasers but what of the belt chasers.  The relatively high incidence of purple and brown belts that say they’d use steroids suggests that the next promotion is just as important as the medals.

Almost every subject matter expert that responded the open ended questionnaire said that they felt the need for increased education on the dangers of steroids, PEDs and drug use.  The poll data shows that the majority of respondents understand that there are serious health risks (85.6%).  The evidence suggests immediate success is more important than long-term safety and health.

Black belts and white belts polled where the least likely to have used or to use PEDs in the future.  Is this because they’ve already established themselves within the art and feel they have nothing to prove, quite likely with the black belts.  Or because the culture that we’re a part of hasn’t yet taught them that, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” (Vince Lombardi).

There are two more questions that are firmly entrenched in the debate on steroids/PEDs and BJJ.  The first is what would you do if you found out that one of your students was using PEDs?  And secondly, how do you feel about using TRT legally to compete?

What are your thoughts on athletes using legal TRT to compete?

“It’s not even in the rules…It’s not illegal but it is immoral” Felipe Costa

“I think (it) is their option to use it…people free of drugs will have a disadvantage” Hannette Staack

“I compete to see who is the best at BJJ, not the strongest” Caio Terra

“I have no issue with people using it in non-combative sports….Combat sports are another kettle of fish!  You’re putting another’s life in the balance.”  Liam Wandi

“Totally fine.  Under the supervision of a doctor, TRT is a fountain of youth for many people” Roy Dean

“These fighters are 25 and getting TRT, it’s total BS.  Maybe if you are in your 40s and need for medical reasons.  I still think it’s cheating to compete on steroids.”  Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros

“I’m a grappler, not a judge. I have no say or real opinion on what people take or do…If it were legal, I’d probably do it. I would probably take hgh (human growth hormone) too. I’d also drink from the fountain of youth!” Jeff Glover

“Well From what I have read Testosterone replacement therapy is for older men suffering from I’ll health. Not for anyone who is competing in jiu  jitsu tournaments.” Zak Maxwell

If you found out one of your long-time students had started using PEDs, what would you do?

“I would feel I had fail(ed) to (impart) this moral value to him and that he though(t) he need(ed) to cheat to become better.”  Felipe Costa

“He has free will, to decide what is best for him but he should be aware of the problems that come” Hannette Staack

“That would be a discussion” Roy Dean

“If the student is older and not competing we’d talk about it and see.  If it’s to compete I’d come down on him worse than his father.”  Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros

Conclusion:
Many have stated numerous times that there is a need to test either randomly or at the very least test the medal winners of the Pans and Worlds.  There one thing that needs to be done first.  The first step is to have the federations actually make it against the rules.

“The guys winning, none of them say anything except to complain about judging.  Not enough people are standing up and being heard to say it’s cheating and not ok.  The feds do nothing without pressure.”  Comprido

“Examples have to be made and people have to waking from their stupor on the impact this is having on our sport.”  JW Wright

It is commonly believed that using steroids to compete in BJJ and submission grappling tournaments is against the rules.  To date there has never been a drug test performed at the request of any grappling federation.  Review of the published rule sets for the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), North American Grappling Association (NAGA), S7 Submission Grappling and Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) show that none of them mention steroids or any other type of PED as a banned substance.

The elephant in the room is the opinion that there is rampant use of steroids at the highest-levels.  The survey strongly suggests that as athletes become more entrenched in their study of the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu they are more likely to use steroids/PEDs and they are more likely to believe their peers are using them as well.  Their belief that steroids are used by those that are successful at the highest levels undoubtedly influences their decisions.

Make it more prestigious to win without PEDs. Winning is everything for some people. How you win is more important to others. Clean victories are a better tribute to the art.” Roy Dean

We’re a self-regulated sport.  If the magazines, federations, sponsors and leaders of the community don’t make a public stand against steroids and PEDs there will be no changes.  Currently it’s not against the rules, it’s not tested and no one has ever gotten kicked out of a high-profile team or competition for doing steroids.  In some ways it’s a wonder that more people are doing it, especially when you factor in the physical rigors that we all put ourselves thru pursuing the sport that we love.

If you feel that steroids should not be allowed in competitions then take a stand and support those that feel the same as you do.

Acknowledgements:
A huge thanks to all of those that participated in the survey and to those that helped to spread the word.  Particularly: Francisco Arias, Felipe Costa, Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros, Kauai Kimonos and my training partners at Finney’s MMA.

Several world champions and well known jiu-jiteiros also provided their invaluable insight.  Thanks to Jeff Glover, Hannette Staack, Lucas Lepri, Caio Terra, Georgette Oden, Liam Wandi, Roy Dean, Zak Maxwell, JW Wright, and Aparecido “Bill” Ferreira.

Final thanks to Kris Shaw and Ezra Lenon for the guidance and support.

References:

  1. NAGA rules – http://nagafighter.com/pdf/rules_naga_01-12.pdf
  2. IBJJF rules – http://nagafighter.com/pdf/rules_ibjjf_01-12.pdf
  3. S7 rules – http://s7sg.com/pdf/S7-Rules.pdf
  4. ADCC rules – http://www.adcombat.com/adcc-rules-and-regulations
  5. Survey – ALL
  6. Survey – Competes Regularly
  7. Survey – Has Used PEDs
  8. Survey – Purple and Above
  9. Survey – White Belts
  10. Survey – Would Use TRT

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)

 

Testosterone replacement therapy is probably one of the hottest topics in MMA and BJJ right now. Almost every major fight card has fighters that are either openly on TRT or who have tested positive for anabolic steroids at some point in their career. According to Larry Pepe the Nevada State Athletic Commission has given 6 UFC (current or former) fighters TRT exemptions.

If you think that the use of TRT is limited to MMA then you haven’t been around the competitive BJJ scene for long. Prominent BJJ competitors, such as Caio Terra, have been very vocal on instituting testing of all black belt winners and addressing (in his opinion) the rampant use of PEDs in competition. To date there are no major tournaments that include PED testing for any of their athletes.

This article is meant to educate about TRT. It will not go into any detail on any aspect of using testosterone or other anabolic agents illegally. If you’re not going to your physician to get a prescription and then filling it at your local pharmacy you should stop reading now. A level playing field is fundamental for all sports. Athletes should compete within the rules of the sport that they’ve chosen, whatever those rules happen to be.

What is testosterone deficiency (aka hypogonadism)?
Testosterone deficiency is defined as low levels of serum testosterone (low T) when also in the presence of signs and symptoms associated with low testosterone (T). These signs and symptoms could include any of the following: reduced libido, poor morning erection, erectile dysfunction, reduced muscle strength/size, shrinking testes, and infertility. Other less definitive signs are: decreased energy, depression, poor concentration and memory.

Defining the serum testosterone has its own special challenges. For one thing, T levels fluctuate naturally throughout the day based on your circadian rhythms. Another issue is that the standard for what is considered “low” hasn’t been completely agreed upon either. The Endocrine Society standard is <300ng/dL, while more recent studies have shown that men with a T of <350ng/dL are more likely to exhibit the signs and symptoms associated with hypogonadism such as sexual dysfunction, physical dysfunction and diabetes.

What are some of the potential causes?
Two of the more common risk factors for hypogonadism are type 2 diabetes and obesity. Beyond that there are certain medications that can also affect your body’s testosterone levels. Specifically, long-term treatment with glucorticoids (such as prednisone), ketoconazole (an anti-fungal) and opioids (narcotics for pain) can also cause decreases in testosterone. Additionally, previous (mis)use of testosterone can temporarily, and in some cases, permanently alter your ability to naturally produce adequate testosterone. Social activities such as smoking, drinking and general laziness may also contribute to lower level of testosterone.

The Hypogonadism in Males (HIM) study looked at men at least 45 years old to determine the prevalence of hypogonadism in this population. The results were eye opening, of the men tested over a third of them had a serum T of <300 ng/dL and of those men identified as hypogonadal less than 10% of them were being treated. What this suggests is that many men meet the definition of hypogonadism and that most of them either choose not to be treated or don’t have treatment offered to them.

What are some options if you have low T?
Chances are that if you’re reading this you’re probably already doing everything that you can from a non-medication standpoint to improve your testosterone. Limit your alcohol intake, no smoking, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest. Exercise and diet can go a long way towards addressing the two most common contributors to low T (obesity and diabetes).

The pharmaceutical options available today are much different than those of even just 10 years ago. Oral tablets are no longer manufactured and the use of injectable testosterone has decreased dramatically. Physicians can now choose from several different transdermal (absorbed thru the skin) options, implants below the skin and there are still some who use intramuscular injections. The table below is a very brief overview of some options and details about them.

Pharmacy Options to Treat Low Testosterone

Pharmacy Options to Treat Low Testosterone

Options

Frequency Given

Advantages

Drawbacks

 Transdermal Gel

Daily Readily available, flexible dosing, less likely to irritate the skin (than a patch) Messy and potential risk of transfer to others thru skin contact; daily administration

Transdermal Spray

Daily less messy (1 spray in each armpit) daily administration

Transdermal Patch

At Night Mimics body’s natural daily fluctuations in testosterone daily administration, skin reactions are relatively common

Buccal Tablet

Twice daily Oral administration (tablet placed under the tongue to dissolve) twice daily administration, gum/mouth irritation relatively common

Sub-Q pellets

every 3 to 6 mo only used a few times a year invasive placement, infection risk and site of insertion pain possible

IM Injection

every 1 to 2 wks low cost testosterone levels are over-corrected initially and then fall to hypogonadal range by the time the next dose is due;  injection required;

Many pharmacies do not carry injectable testosterone in their regular stock because of the perception that it is rarely used legitimately. There is also the concern about getting, using and disposing of needles correctly. To put it simply, getting a script for injectable testosterone filled will probably be difficult under most circumstances and may be impossible in some.

Changes, side effects and risks:
Common wisdom is that the use of TRT will cause positive changes in both muscle mass and body fat. This is one of those rare instances where common wisdom has been substantiated by medical studies. TRT can help you achieve the holy grail of training, namely an increase in lean muscle mass while also having a decrease in overall fat mass.

Just so you don’t think that all TRT does for you is make you bigger, stronger and faster there are other benefits, some of which might be a little less well known. TRT can help your love life but it can also improve your good cholesterol (HDL) and improve blood sugar control in diabetics. These changes may not be as interesting as the others but fat diabetics with bad cholesterol place an enormous burden on the medical community.

You may also think that the use of TRT will increase your risk for developing prostate cancer. Meta-studies have been shown that there is no causative link between testosterone levels and risk of developing prostate cancer. Further studies have also shown that there is no relationship between TRT and other prostatic/urologic outcomes.

Increases in patient red blood cells counts (hemoglobin and hematocrit) is the most common side effect observed with TRT. These changes are managed by reducing the dose of TRT and their clinical significance on patient outcomes is still unclear. Potentially, this would increase patient’s blood pressure, lead to an increased risk of clots and strokes. There is also some data to suggest that men at a high-risk for cardiovascular events may be at an even higher risk if they are placed on TRT. The authors of that study did caution against extrapolating that data to include younger, less at-risk populations.

Wrapping it all up:
Legitimate use of TRT is likely to increase significantly in the upcoming years. Studies have shown that it is an under diagnosed and undertreated condition affecting over a third of middle aged men and that is can be treated successfully and safely in most circumstances.

The quality of life expectations that most middle aged men have include a level of activity that our parents would have never dreamed of. We hear sayings like “30 is the new 20″ or “40 is the new 20″. Medical science is now able to put some of these expectations into the grasp of anyone. Like it or not TRT isn’t going anywhere.

REFERENCES
1. Bhasin S, Cunningham GR, Hayes FJ, et al. Testosterone therapy in men with androgen deficiency syndromes: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95:2536-2559.
2. Traish AM, Miner MM, Morgentaler A, Zitzmann M. Testosterone deficiency. Am J Med. 2011;124:578-587.
3. Bhasin S, Pencina M, Jasuja GK, et al. Reference ranges for testosterone in men generated using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry in a community-based sample of healthy nonobese young men in the Framingham Heart Study and applied to three geographically distinct cohorts. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96:2430-2439.
4. Mulligan T, Frick MF, Zuraw QC, Stemhagen A, McWhirter C. Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. Int J Clin Pract. 2006;60:762-769.
5. Corona G, Monami M, Rastrelli G, et al. Testosterone and metabolic syn-drome: a meta-analysis study. J Sex Med. 2011;8:272-283.
6. Corona G, Rastrelli G, Forti G, Maggi M. Update in testosterone therapy formen. J Sex Med. 2011;8:639-654.
7. Androderm C-III [package insert]. Corona, CA: Watson Pharma, Inc; 2005.
8. AndroGel [package insert]. Marietta, GA: Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc; 2009.
9. Axiron (testosterone) [prescribing information]. Indianapolis, IN: Eli Lilly & Co; 2011.
10. Kaufman JM, Miller MG, Garwin JL, et al. Efficacy and safety study of 1.62% testosterone gel for the treatment of hypogonadal men. J Sex Med. 2011;8:2079-2089.
11. A new testosterone gel (fortesta) for hypogonadism. Med Lett Drugs Ther. 2011;53:29-30.
12. Striant [package insert]. Livingston, NJ: Columbia Laboratories, Inc; 2003.
13. Testim [package insert]. Malvern, PA: Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc; 2009.
14. Testopel [package insert]. Rye, NY: Slate Pharmaceuticals; 2009.
15. Sattler FR, Castaneda-Sceppa C, Binder EF, et al. Testosterone and growth hormone improve body composition and muscle performance in older men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94:1991-2001.
16. Jones TH, Arver S, Behre HM, et al. Testosterone replacement in hypogonadal men with type 2 diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome (the TIMES2 study). Diabetes Care. 2011;34:828-837.
17. Fernández-Balsells MM, Murad MH, Lane M, et al. Adverse effects of testosterone therapy in adult men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95:2560-2575.
18. Aaronson AJ, Morrissey RP, Nguyen CT, Willix R, Schwarz ER. Update on the safety of testosterone therapy in cardiac disease. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2011;10:697-704.
19. Basaria S, Coviello AD, Travison TG, et al. Adverse events associated with testosterone administration. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:109-122.
20. Roddam A, Allen N, Appleby P, et al. Endogenous sex hormones and prostate cancer: a collaborative analysis of 18 prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:170-183.
21. Anawalt BD. Guidelines for testosterone therapy for men: how to avoid a mad (t)ea party by getting personal. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95:2614- 2617.
22. Rosen RC, Araujo AB, Wu FGW, et al. Natural history of hypogonadism and effects on prostate health and function: The Registry of Hypogonadism in Men (RHYME). Presented at The Endocrine Society 2011 Annual Meeting. Boston, MA. June 4-7, 2011. Abstract P2-45.

 

Gorilla Fight Gear: Slim Cut Apeman, Crystal Weave, A4S

Intro:
Gorilla fight gear is starting to make a name for themselves by offering a high quality, competition ready gis in so many different sizes that everyone will find something to fit them. I’m reviewing the Slim Cut Apeman crystal weave in A4S.  They also have offerings for more traditional sizes and for stockier athletes.

The gi top is made out of a 550gr crystal weave jacket (similar to pearl weave but a little softer and heavier), triple stitching throughout, includes a mouth guard pocket and a thick rubber core lapel. The 12oz twill pants feature 5 loops, a crystal weave gusset and knee reinforcements that go all the way to the cuff.

A little bit about Gorilla Fight Gear:

Gorilla Fight Gear is different than most fight gear companies because we have taken charge in the design process of our own gear and equipment. We did this to ensure that we produce products at the highest standard and are unique the market. We source only the best materials for our manufacturers, and implement strict 3rd party quality controls and inspections to ensure and maintain superior standards.

 Since July of 2006, Gorilla Fight Gear has been providing customers with nothing but the best in quality Brazilian jiu jitsu, Muay Thai Kickboxing and MMA equipment. 

We have spent countless hours researching the latest products and innovations of our competitors to try to continually stay at the cutting edge of innovation. The hours we ourselves have spent with our team of manufacturers in research and development of new products are countless but the effort is well worth it as it keeps you, our customer, with some of the best equipment on the market. Through our website you become as informed as possible about the products you are purchasing.

Over the last two years we have grown tremendously thanks to the word-of-mouth efforts of our customer’s referring their friends and coaches to the Gorilla Fight Gear brand. We believe this growth is mainly due to our focus on always pleasing our customers, and treating them like they are our friends and family. And in the future as we become one of the leading MMA brands in Canada we will continue to aim for this 110% customer satisfaction formula with every order. We feel if we take care of you everything else will just fall into place.

First Impression:

  • Wow, that’s really blue J
  • Seams, stitching and embroidery look good and no loose threads
  • Noticeably slimmer cut even without putting it on
  • It comes with an honest to goodness BJJ belt
  • Interior seams are covered for additional comfort
  • Reinforced stress points

Fit:

Right out of the box this gi fit very well.  I also have an A3L Redstar Stamp and the cut is similar with the Apeman being tighter in both the chest and cuffs.  I was surprised to see that the arms were a little long (before washing). Finally, the pants fit very well.  I was initially a little concerned about the overall tightness and if I would notice it while rolling.

My first roll was in it right out of the bag and then I rolled in it twice more after washing and drying the gi.  I washed it in cold with vinegar (to set the color) and then dried the top on medium heat until it was just a little damp. The pants were hung dry.  The measurements below show a little shrinkage.  After the initial wash and dry the sleeves fit much better and the top was even more fitted.

 

Kimono

Out of the box

One Wash & Dry

A – Cuff

5.875”

5.5”

B – Chest

21.875”

21.5”

C – Wingspan

72.75”

71”

D – Length

32”

31.5”

Pants

Out of the box

One Wash & Hang Dry

A – Cuff

9.75”

9.5”

B – Waist

22.25”

21.25”

C – Length

42.125”

41.25”

D – Inseam

32.75”

31.5”

Test Run:
My initial concerns about the overall tightness of the gi were proved groundless. Technique, drilling and rolling felt good.  The overall weight of the gi was comparable to my pearl weave gis (Redstar, Let Love Fight and Ezekiel). The crystal weave is a little softer than pearl weave and I didn’t notice any stretching.
While rolling I definitely benefited from the tighter fit, especially in the sleeve cuffs.  The collar is larger and stiffer than the others that I typically wear.  Again, the difference was noticeable while rolling particularly as I was defending a few collar chokes. The pants fit well and weren’t too heavy.  One of our fighters commented that I looked like a blue ninja, so apparently the fit was visibly tighter to others as well ;-)

Final Thoughts:
If you’re a tall and thin athlete, there really isn’t any good reason to not get a gi that is specifically cut for you. The Slim cut Apeman is longer in the arms, tighter in the chest and the sleeves.  It’s also nice to have pants that don’t look like capris.  The gi has a lot of high end features: mouthguard pocket, crystal weave, triple stitching, foam core collar and reinforced stress areas.

While other gis have the tall part covered, Gorilla has done a great job with the slim portion. The A4S fit me very well (I’m a shade over 6’4” and 195lb) and they even have sizes that would fit George Roop or Cole Miller. For those that compete this is a huge.  While the material is a little heavier than pearl weave you have less actual fabric (making the weight of the fabric a non-issue) and your opponent will definitely notice the difference while grip fighting.

The quality of construction appears to be on par with my other high-end gis and I’m confident that it will hold up well to drilling, rolling and future competitions. Don’t forget to check out Gorilla Fight Gear at their website and also on Facebook.

Base price is $179 (fairly common price for a high-end slim fit gi).  The gi is currently on sale for $149 with the included belt.

Pros:

  • Best fitting gi I’ve ever worn
  • Very comfortable
  • High quality embroidery and plenty of room for your own patches

Cons:

  • Not sure how I feel about that big star…
  • Only available in blue right now

Mindmap: Emily Kwok’s How to Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents DVD 3

Emily uses this DVD to break down her top 5 submissions, sweeps and escapes/transitions.  All of the techniques are broken down into a lot of detail and she does a great job of educating on the setups and situations where these techniques would be best used.

If you haven’t already checked out the review of DVD 2 you can find that one here. As before I strongly suggest that you check out Liam Wandi’s review of the full set and Aesopian’s review specifically of DVD 3.

For some more on Mrs. Kwok I’d encourage you to check out her website and her school’s website.  Briefly, she is Canada’s first female BJJ black belt, a world champion (Mundials 2007), and has competed successfully at the highest levels (2nd place at American Nationals, and 3rd place at the Pan Ams).  Emily and Stephan Kesting created this video series specifically with the smaller, lighter competitor in mind.

Piranha Gear Tall & Slim Gi Review

Piranha Gear’s entry into the tall and lanky gi market is a value priced (~$75) gi that is cut to fit even the tallest and longest jiu-jiteiros in your gym. Their gi is a simple single weave kimono that includes pants with a reinforced knee area and a “karate” style belt. This gi is intended for those just beginning their journey with BJJ. While the collar and material of the gi are much tougher than those in traditional martial arts it is not as stiff as those preferred by many competitors.

Piranha contacted me about my request for a gi to review and within a few days I had gi in hand.   I didn’t have many questions for Bill but each email was responded to promptly and if this feedback is anything indication Bill places a high priority on the needs of his customers.  The gi came with a very detailed pamphlet on washing and taking care of your new purchase.  While this may be redundant for many of you reading this, it’s a great addition for this product’s target audience, the neophyte grappler.

A little bit about Piranha Gear:

We enjoy using the same clothing and equipment we sell – that’s why we started the company – so we could get good gear at reasonable prices. We were tired of getting stuff that wore out too soon, wasn’t comfortable or just cost more than it should.

Since it didn’t make sense to design and manufacture stuff for just a couple of people or limit it to our work-out partners, we took the big plunge and by 2004 we had a business. Our first product was a white single-weave Jiu-Jitsu Kimono. In the first month, we sold 3 on eBay under the seller name “Jiu-Jitsu-Style” and we were thrilled!

While we don’t sell on eBay anymore, today Piranha Gear ships our three different brands to schools, academies, and individuals around the world. We feel grateful for the wonderful feedback from literally thousands of customers every year.

We try to treat everyone the way we like to be treated. It’s not a “company mission statement” (so many companies seem to ignore theirs anyway) – it’s just the right thing to do.

First Impression:

  • Kimono top fabric is very soft
  • Very lightweight pants
  • Overall weight of the uniform is about 4.5 lbs
  • Sleeves and pants more than long enough
  • Double stitching at most of the seams

After trying the gi on out of the package I decided to wash it in hot water and dry with high heat before rolling or drilling in it.  I did this because this is probably one the longest gis that I’ve ever seen.  Washing and drying did shrink it up some, as you can see from the measurements below:

 

Kimono

Out of the box

One Wash & Drying in Hot

A – Cuff

7.5″

7″

B – Chest

25.75″

24″

C – Wingspan

76.5″

71.5″

D – Length

35.75″

34.75″

Pants

Out of the box

One Wash & Drying in Hot

A – Cuff

9″

9″

B – Waist

14.5″ (23″)

13.75″(22.5″)

C – Length

49.5″

47.75″

D – Inseam

40″

39″

Test Run:
After washing and drying gi I took it out for a spin that night.  The gi was perfectly fine for warm-ups, drilling and technique work.  Even during drilling the overall length of the gi was evident, my partner had plenty of fabric to grab onto and use.  While the gi is baggy and long it was still comfortable to wear and would be perfectly suitable for drilling techniques.

After technique work I did a few rounds of rolling in the gi. The overall size and length of the gi did work against me somewhat while rolling.  On the plus side, I did manage to hit an ezekiel choke from the bottom that I would never have been able to get in any other gi.  While rolling the gi seemed to hold up well.  I did notice a little stretching and my partner stopped once because he thought he heard a rip in my pants (I couldn’t find anything wrong after class).

For more pictures please check here.

Final Thoughts:
This gi is best suited to the BJJ hobbyist and/or someone who only rolls occasionally. For those new to BJJ this is a comfortable gi that is available at a price that is accessible to anyone. The large number of sizing options and simple design make this a gi that can be used by anyone at almost any academy. This is also a gi that many BJJ practitioners may outgrow (from a training perspective) once they’ve decided that they’re in it for the long haul and/or would like to compete.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable
  • Would fit Stefan Struve. If you’re extremely tall this will fit you.
  • Great price point for a tall gi

Cons:

  • Too loose/big for competitive rolling
  • Would fit Stefan Struve. If you’re not at least 6’4” the A4S will be too long for you. Go ahead and look at the normal size ones and/or the A3S
  • Double stitching may not be durable enough for long-term heavy use while rolling

Mindmap: Emily Kwok’s How to Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents DVD 2

These maps have taken an inordinate amount of time to get out to you and for that I apologize. I was initially given the DVDs to help a fellow blogger, Georgette Ogden, with some reviews that she’s been working.  As often happens, life reared its ugly head and things got very busy, very quickly.  This set of maps/flowcharts breaks down the 2+ hours of material on the second DVD.  The entire set can be found here.

You may be wondering why I skipped thru DVD 1?  Well check out Aesopian’s review and you’ll see that the focus is on drills and grip fighting.  Two very important things that don’t really lend themselves to mapping out.  My next map will be of the 3rdDVD, that will probably be done in a week or so.

For some more on Mrs. Kwok I’d encourage you to check out her website and her school’s website.  Briefly, she is Canada’s first female BJJ black belt, a world champion (Mundials 2007), and has competed successfully at the highest levels (2nd place at American Nationals, and 3rd place at the Pan Ams).  Emily and Stephan Kesting created this video series specifically with the smaller, lighter competitor in mind.  The section on sweeps includes techniques from: half-guard, butterfly, open guard, X-guard and single-leg X-guard.  The passes and escapes give you options while count in most of the more common guard types.

I highly suggest that you check out Aesopian’s review of the second DVD and Liam Wandi’s review of this set.  They both go into a lot of detail on what you’ll find and a what to expect from this set.

Aesopian perfectly summed up my thoughts on the set below:
“It’s a very good resource for beginners, especially white and blue belts, and I’d recommend it to them with no reservations. Experienced guys may want to take a look over the chapters first to see if enough of it catches their interest. There is no faulting the quality of the instruction, so it simply comes down to how much you need what Emily and Stephan offer.”   Aesopian

90 Days Later: Newaza Nation A4 Kimono Review

Dustin over at Newaza Nation (also found on FB here) has quietly been slaving away in the Pacific NorthWest making what he feels are the best gis out there.  To that end he’s made a bombproof gi that will last longer than most of the guys in your intro to BJJ class.  There is only one style of gi but the available options make this a gi for everyone.  There are 9 sizing options for the top and pants (A1 thru A5 with half-sizes/slim cuts) and it’s now in white and grey.  For those mutants out there you can even mix and match the top and bottom to get exactly the fit you need.  A quick email to Dustin and you’ll be taken care of at no additional charge.  The most current size charts are here.  At $110 this is a great option for anyone looking for a simple gi and especially for those that are on a budget.

Each kimono is made out of 550g, medium weight gold weave and has a traditional all fabric lapel.  The pants have either 3 or 4 loops (depending on size), the knee pad starts at mid-thigh and continues all the way to the cuff.  Back in mid-May I posted my original review of an A4 kimono that Dustin sent me.  Since then I’ve wore the gi 20 times (about 30 hours on the mat).  After each use I’ve washed the gi in cold water.  I hang-dry the pants and put the gi top in the dryer on normal heat.  As you can see from the tables below there hasn’t been much shrinkage since I got the gi.

90 days later - kimono full 90 days later - Pants Full

Kimono Top

Out of Package

30 min in Dryer

90 Days Later

A- Cuff Width

7″

6.75″

6.75″

B – Sleeve Length

25″

24.75″

24.75″

C – Chest Width

25.5″

24.5″

24.5″

D- Skirt Width

26.5″

25.75″

25.5″

 

Pants

Out of Package

Hang Dry

90 Days Later

A – Waist

23.5″

22.5″

22.5″

B – Length

40.5″

40.25″

40″

C- Cuff Width

10.75″

10.5″

10.25″

D – Inseam

30.75″

30.75″

30.25″

The stitching and fabric of the kimono have held up incredibly well.  The fabric has gotten softer and more comfortable and none of the seams have shown any signs of wear.  Below are pictures of the collar, the top turned inside-out (to better see the interior stitching) and also the back.  As you can see from the photos everything looks new and the color hasn’t faded either.

90 days later - collar close up   90 days later - inside out top   90 days later - kimono back

The material of the drawstring loops has frayed some.  The seams connecting the loops to the pants is still in perfect shape.

90 days later - pants loops
Here a few more pictures.  One is a closer look at the interior stitching of the arm/armpit and the other shows the small patch at the bottom of the kimono skirt.

90 days later - inside out arm     90 days later - kimono skirt patch closeup

Final Thoughts:

  • $110 for a gold weave kimono that will last for years
  • Pants and Top can be different sizes and available in half-sizes (slim cuts) from A1 thru A4
  • Portion of proceeds goes directly Hire Heroes
  • Excellent customer service from Dustin
  • Now IBJJF Legal!
  • For someone my size (6’4” and 195lb”) the A3.5 top with A4.5 pants should fit very well.
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