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My BELT life today:


9AM: drinking coffee and reading BJJ news:

"Mr. Whoever BLACK BELT under Mr. Some Big Guy did whatever"

"Does receiving a XCOLOR BELT makes you..."

"10 tips to earn you XCOLOR BELT"

"BLACK BELT fraud ..."

I have the sad feeling those are injecting all of the BJJ headlines. Here is a small check for "belt" occurrences in 10 last articles of the most popular magazines:

site belt count black count average per article article count without the word belt
BJJEE News 36 32  3.6 3
BJJ Heroes 38 24  3.8 2

I might fill this table later on with more info you can help me with counting it on your favorite site or if you are admin you can provide me with a nice black belt counting SQL Query like:

select len(@<YOUR ARTICLE>) - len(replace(@<YOUR ARTICLE>, 'belt', ''))

Yet the main conclusion is that you better be a BLACK BELT so that you can land on the news!


12PM: lunch break watching random BJJ clips:

I hardly see a single BJJ highlight without the mandatory scene where some tough guy is folding his whatever belt. Even Luta Livre guys doing NoGi training with their belts on (click). The video descriptions are "beltized" richly too, in case you missed how cool they are.


7PM: finally landing in the BJJ gym:

"This guy XYZ, a XCOLOR BELT did whatever..."

"When do I get my XCOLOR BELT?"

"I tapped a XCOLOR BELT"

Kinda missing the "How can I do the XYZ move" or "How to escape XYZ position" or just "How can I get better" mentality.


10PM: out at a bar with BJJ people:

"Hi I am XYZ what belt are you?"

"When I received XCOLOR BELT I ..."

FUCK OFF! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE WITH MY FUCKING BEER!

If you ever wondered how Matrix Saarbrücken came to life, this is the article you've been searching for. I'll write shortly, yet won't spare the major events from the beginning that led to a grappling fellowship, from which the best submission wrestling gym in Saarbrücken was born!

2014, 1th December, Pfalz Grappling Challenge is a local low level grappling competition and one of my first competitions back in the days. Despite my pretty much numb right arm from a spinal disc herniation, which was about to be finally diagnosed couple of days later (click to read full story), I decided to give enroll anyway. It was this competition back then, where I cognitively perceived both Matrix Brasilian Jiu Jitsu and Alexander Neufang. I fought two guys from team Matrix, yet what impressed me was not only the way they fought, it was their motivation and how they build up a big team and went all together in a competition. While, as usual, I was all alone at this 100 km distant competition and no one out of my team bothered to fight or come to watch at all, I had plenty of free perception wange to perceive new things. What got me even more excited was that after a chat with Chris it turned out that they are just 70 km away from my town. So a simple calculation that if they have 3 guys fighting in my weight division (Andy, Chris, Robert), there will be plenty of other guys at my weight class at their gym, which made it a potentially perfect open mat destination. Unlike most of my miscalculations, this one turned out to be much better than preanticipated!

Somewhere along the competition there was a huge anabolic ~120 kg black guy, which I couldn't miss to anticipate roaring and stomping around the hall. So at some point of a time I saw this huge specimen in a midst of a fight against some tall and skinny guy. The monster was on top and squeezed the shit out of the little fella downstairs. If someone did that to me back then I would have become crippled for a lifespan. Yet out of nowhere, the genie came out of the smashed bottle and locked a triangle. Total silence. By the way I was at the other corner of the hall watching with compassion through a crack between other people. What I saw then, my eyes couldn't believe. The huge Hulk hand tapped! The monster was slayed! What the fuck?! The whole hall exploded. I was so impressed that after the mixture of screams and applauds I went on to shake this guy hand and congratulate him. His name was Alexander Neufang. Who would've thought, what the years to come will bring us?

So yeah, at the beginning of 2015 I went on to see this Matrix BJJ in Kaiserslautern and met, among all, Renè Becker - the first guy that took actively care of my grappling skill development. I had a great sparring there, got to know the guys and so on. Besides that I just graduated as master of computer science and was looking for a job. I wrote my thesis at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Saarbrücken and worked as a part time software developer there too. Yet after my gradiation there was no available job offer from there, but luckily there was a DFKI branch in Kaiserslautern that was offering multiple researcher positions and I was hired there. So my Matrix visits slowly increased from 1 per 2 months through 2 per week to 1 in 2 days and substituted totally my previous gym, which was btw closed for a month, in the days around Road to ADCC Germany 1 in 2016. Couple of months later leading to Road to ADCC Germany 3 same picture. Old gym closed for a month, while I had to prepare for the fight of my life against ADCC South America winner and 2nd degree black belt Leozada Nogueira and UFC TUF trialist Sascha Sharma. It is the point when I decided to unsubscribe from my former gym and go on my own. Btw, I somehow won and this is one of my milestole tournament wins, which put my name into peoples mouth from then on (read full article Road to ADCC Germany). It was so shocking that even the organized super fights later on got less attention, one of which was Alexander Neufang tapping out Daniel Brauchle in a gi.

Speaking of which, at Submissao 2015 just couple of months later of PGC, Alexander tapped the then perceived as invincible and previous multiple time champion Benny Russ with a crazy reversed inverted back triangle. Again the whole hall exploded and I went on to shake his hand for a second time. This time I already knew that this is this Alex, whom I've heard of and by matter of circumstance, living in the same city as me! So yeah, competitions went on and as always Alex was pretty much the lone warrior accompanied rarely by some of his friends. So despite us being in the two rival schools, we slowly stated going to competitions together and to Matrix BJJ open mats. One think you should know about Alex is that he is a total BJJ maniac. He went on fighting hundrets of fights in whole europe with no driving license, money and anything. As a real maniac he had devoted one of his 3 rooms in his shared flat to put on a puzzle mats to be able train 24/7. So we sparred there, went to competitions, open mats, training camps, even fought against each other once at Matrix Open :D

During all this time Alex was constantly experiencing pressure from his former "coach", whom I put in "" due to his total lack of BJJ understanding and incapability leading a martial arts academy in a respectful way towards "his" students. You might notice I am putting years of frustration and game changing stories into a single sentence, but yeah Alex's situation at his home turf was literally fucked up. I'll keep shortening up for a while, starting with Alex meeting Raffaela, who finally joined our pact of putting straight thoughts into Alex's head and convinced him to leave his old shithole, through Alex leaving his flat with the mats and to even demoting himself to a whitebelt! Bottomline is that Alex had no mat space anymore, so if we wanted to train, we had to do the 1 hour ride to Kaiserslautern, while at same time we dreamed to open our own martial arts academy!

In late 2017 I made the decision for myself to pursue opening an academy at all cost and was looking actively for room to rent. After failing to find anything even partially usable, a friend of mine at the climbing gym told me about a place, where I could ask. Without a hesitation I immediately took the phone and got an appointment. What I saw then was a room full of potential. This was dreamlike combined with perfect pricing and it resides in a fitness gym with showers, sauna and boxing room! Totally psyched I gathered the usual suspects Alex, Rene, Andy and Raffaela. Turned out none of them was even a bit less psyched than me and the only question in the air was - what do we need to do and how? I'll spare you the exact details of the building process, yet leave you with a video of the building process having visually shown the same plot as this plot starting off our unforgettable sessions with Alex and our bondage with Matrix BJJ, through our whole building process and finally our grand opening.


This video shows it all - a dream that came true!


Can you imagine what the first roll in your about to be opened gym is like?!


There are so many people I have to thank at the end of the line that if I do so this article will become at least twice as long. That's why, if you read this article you are most likely one of them, so THANK YOU! :)

I had my first NAGA competition last weekend in France. On all of the previous dates they offered I was somehow occupied with different events, mostly climbing. So I was curious how it will go and luckily it turned out to be a hell of a trip. I fought eight times and secured 6 submissions 4 of which by heel hook, one by kneebar, and one by guillotine to take silver in the adult and bronze in the master expert divisions! In the following I'll make kind of a picture story:


The trip started at Friday noon with the usual company of Alexander Neufang and picked Kristian Popov and Angel Karaivanov from the Airport of Paris


We checked the Airbnb accommodation and went for the weigh-in

 
I was once again professional and managed to go to 70 kg weight limit, dropping from 76 kg. Then I got my deserved steak with burger and beer ;)

 
After eating more than enough we watched some movies, had some chats on the phones and it was time to go to bed before the big day

 
For first time I had so many fights in a single day. My record before that was having a 5 fights in one competition, but this one having 8 literally destroyed me since all of the fights were consecutive. I fought adult and master divisions and they ran both divisions at same time, so I fought pretty much non stop. I got also headbutted terribly by a guy jumping into me like a torpedo head forward. He connected with my eyebrow and even got cut on the top of his head by this hit. Anyway, shit happens. This kinda handicapped me a little for my next fight, which was a great final I lost unfortunately by points in a overtime after a draw. Then on the fight for the third place I nailed a perfect guillotine you can see in the video below:

 
My guillotine, which might be the fastest one in NAGA :)


One of the four heel hooks I landed ;)

 
Alexander Neufang, who besides surprising again his opponents with his funky shit style, got the fastest NAGA submission of all time (5.5 s so pretty sure he did). A match, which I happened to film since I am doing no gi


Kristian Popov on his side won the belt in two systematically controlled matches, where you could tell by watching that the submission is just a question of time, while Ангел lost by a point in the final (like me) after recovering from bad injury (similar like mine)


My teammates Rene Becker (Matrix headcoach), Thabet Agba (Matrix MMA coach) and the third usual suspect Tomek (the Saar gangsta) had a great run. Rene came out with couple years of ring rust behind, which wasn't that evident, since he had very good fights and got double bronze. For Thabet I think it was the first grappling tournament of this magnitude (not counting his professional MMA career of course), and he did also very well until got injured, so get better soon!


Rene again with his signature kimura trap to footlock :)


Tomek took the belt in the gi brown division by a total dominance. There wasn't a single moment of him being pushed! Never saw him fighting with a gi, so man I am totally surprised by his performance, which makes my put my karate gi on and test his shit!


Bruno Amadeo, our young prodigy, who secured title and silver, once again showed great potential at age of only 14 fighting in the -18 expert division.


On the mats we met many more usual suspects like Eldar "Yakuza" Rafigaev, who besides winning double gold after winning a MMA fight just the day before (crazy!!!), played us some Bulgarian hip-hop in my car, which got pretty much overwhelmed by 4 guys 90+ kg above and me. And Wim Deputter, whom I had first time the pleasure to see on tournament and admire for his determination to fight 2 no-gi divisions plus 2 gi division, a feat I'll try myself for sure!!!


Overall, we had a great trip and I am sure my burning abs are from laughing and not from fighting!


That's all folks! Cheers and see you on the mats again!

This post will be about couple 10 kg weight cuts, injuries and finally fighting at the ADCC European Championship. So lets start with the qualification, namely the ADCC German Championships in July. My preparation for it started greatly with the BJJ Globetrotters Summer Camp in Leuven (click to see photos). It finished a month shy off the tournament and I thought I'll be able to perform great. I had couple of minor injuries during the camp so I had a week of easy training. The next week the world start to fell down as I had very bad clavicle bone injury, most likely broken, still I didn't went to doctor to hear the sentence. I happened accidentally, as I slipped on the wet floor during sparring. Anyway, I still wanted to participate and qualify for the Europeans. The next terrible thing happened as I got sick 2 weeks before the competition, which totally screwed my weigh-cut plan. I still had around 10 kilos to cut and with the illness I had the hardest cut of my life ever. I could cut only two kilos as I was sick and had to loose somewhere 8 more in just a week. And the fights started just after the scales, which made all worse...

   
Week before 74 kg and then 66 kg hit the scales

Finally I made the cut, traveled to the competition totally dehydrated for 5 straight hours waking up at 4 in the morning. So guess in what condition I went on fighting... Ah yeah the fight went terrible and I somehow survived just to run to the toilet afterwards to vomit :P


Let us now draw a line and be happy I qualified to the Europeans. The event held on 1st of October and part of my preparation was to combine holiday in Bulgaria with a summer training camp in Sozopol organized by the Bulgarian Grappling Association. Ah and just before the camp I worsened my somewhat cured injury during gymnastic rings training. The camp went well, besides my shoulder not recovering at all and dislocating a rib. So there was me sitting in the bed after training with hands on my head hardly moving at all just wondering how I'll compete at the most important event of my grappling life in just a month. Unable to train grappling I decided to have a lot of trekking around the beautiful, which I either way planned, but not that much as I actually did (click to see video with some 4K shots by me).

I recovered to some extent and two weeks later traveled to Germany to have a short camp before the event. Strangely doing grappling was still pretty risky, since I could re-injure myself, but climbing or riding a bike didn't effect me at all. So I did the techniques of training had very little sparring, only couple of which harder in the last week. Still, I trained 5 hours daily riding around 600 km bike in those two weeks and doing hours of bouldering in the gym. I also managed to climb one of my old rock projects outside, which was a great experience as well. All of this I did eating between 1000 and 1500 kcal, while burning around 4000-4500. All of this to hit the scale under 66 again starting off 76. This time my health and plan worked perfectly and I not only miraculously recovered from the injuries, but made the weight limit perfectly and didn't loose power at all!

In my first fight I fought David Kohout out of Czech Republic, whom I had the fortune to tap with a heel hook after landing a good scissor leg takedown. Against second one, Nicolas Ott, I employed brute force to secure a narrow victory in the last seconds of the fight after failing to tap him in the time limit. With the third one, and the eventual european champion Janusz Andrejczuk, we had great submission scrambles, which I just edged a bit making him to switch strategy and surprise me with a guard pass to side mount and then to full mount. I managed to escape with not much time before the end so yep I lost again by points. Here is a video with all of my three fights:

As you can see on the video portrait we were a big team there, and much of the guys of my team traveled there to watch me and Meraz fight. Speaking of which, the Yazidis bear fought very strong, and only experience cost him a medal during this competition. The other two friends Veso Dukov and Kristian Popov, fought excellent too. Veso won 3 fight by submission and was caught in a surprise by his 4th opponent in a kimura with foot, which left him no option but to tap, while Kristian seriously injured one of his opponents, who didn't tap and sneaked with a point victory. Alex Neufang lost by a point too, but I just told him already that the 99 kg division is just too big for him and on that level if someone is afraid of his sharp submissions, he'll just go for the points game, and so it happened.

Matrix BJJ team :)

Besides fighting I was very happy to have a non grappling friends to cheer me in a competition in the face of my climbing mates Amos, Ricarda, Ruwen, Matze and Maggie. I can only hope I performed well enough as they said :)

flexing with Rici and Amos


Luckily, after the Europeans Kris and Veso stayed at mine for the night, so that before their plane the next day we managed to do an epic roll session at the Matrix gym in Kaiserslautern. We rolled for hours and then ate huge burgers! Time to fly, see you again!

In this story I'll go through three months of my sports life and a severe injury, which could've ended it.

The Injury

On August 22nd I was training harder than usual, because I was going on a journey to the French Alps the next day. Since I wasn't going to train couple of days and I couldn't train recently because if getting cold, I wanted to make up for the lost days. This is what turned out to be a very bad idea combined with the fact, that I've noticed pain during the training, but didn't held. I got home in pain to wake up in the next day almost paralysed, because anywhere I move, I felt huge pain. Travelling to Alps wasn't going to work that day, so I went to the hospital to be checked. There I got the typical offer "do you want injection?", which I declined and was sent home with prescription for 3 drugs and was told everything should be OK in couple of days. So despite feeling bad I decided to go to the Alps and to be honest had a great journey despite having constant pain and very reduced degree of mobility, especially applied to my right arm.

Seeking for Answers

After coming back a week later, the first think I wanted to do, was to find a doctor. Since I am no regular attendant to such places I searched in google for someone nearby. This turned out to be a bad idea, since I found couple of really shitty doctors, which prescribed me without even looking at me the typical Ibuprofen drug and send me back home, because it was nothing unusual. Then again I went for a three week vacation, where I still had numb arm and was suffering huge power withdraw.

Again on my way back I've already booked an appointment on September 27th with a very good rated orthopaedic doctor by the name of Holger Gross, who took me an X-ray to seek for an answer. Note that the other doctors even didn't bother making me a X-ray. So Dr. Gross saw that couple of cervical vertebral bodies were very tight nearby, so this could meant an eventual disk defects in the future if those happen to clash over the time. For the other symptoms he couldn't deduce something very bad, besides the usual drawn picture, but told me to for a MRI scan to make things sure. Well I went a week later on October 3rd to make my MRI Scan.

Meanwhile

In the beginning there was simply no way to come in shape with whatever upper-body training, so I started to ride my hard-tail mountain bike very frequently. Then before having a holidays in my home country Bulgaria, I've decided to complete a intriguing feat - 200 km in one day! Well it was a big challenge, which I completed with my neighbour, who got me into buying a decent bike three years ago.

While still trying to find the injury cause, I was training as much as I could, trying to get in some shape to compete in November 29th. I also wanted to be ready for the winter bouldering season and to be able to get on the rings again.

The Answer

So I went with the CD of my MRI to the orthopaedic and as he saw the image he was pretty frightened and wondered how the hell I am still moving my right side of the body pretty well. The news were bad - I had a severe spinal disc herniation as you can see on the image and it was most likely I would need a surgery and still might not recover well. The other dumb thing is that all of this knowledge came two whole months after my injury. So after weighting the positives versus the negatives I decided to go on without surgery.


My spinal disc herniation surrounded with red circle

One Year Later

During the first year after the injury I experienced my arm partially numb, yet it started regaining its power. I took part in competitions and trained to get it back in shape. Unfortunately my shoulder was weak, so I injured it pretty bad, which slowed my recovery rate a lot. Overall, it was pretty bad year in terms of performance, but the good thing is I learned a lot of new techniques to me, which I wasn't aware of, just because I was not able to do my typical style with my arm fit.

Two Years Later

Writing this on two years later I can now be happy, that my arm has fully recovered. I could do all of my strength feats, I've been doing before, my arm is strong as my left one, and even I can do some new stuff. I am having a great year of grappling competitions too! Bottom line is that this injury was important experience for me and I would like to wish everyone to never give up on injury, whatever it might be!