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mackens semerzier mma -1Mixed martial arts wasn’t what Mackens Semerzier wanted in his life.  Having started wrestling at age eight and pursuing Brazilian jiu-jitsu after the military, Semerzier had the talent to excel in MMA.

When a national Muay Thai and MMA tournament came to south eastern Virginia, people at the Linxx Academy dojo in Virginia Beach were curious about Semerzier.  Was has  going to fight?  His response to the inquiries was simple.  ”I’m not doing that,” said Semerzier.  ”I’m not letting people kick me in the face. That’s crazy.”

But the curiosity of his peers persisted on the martial artist…and an MMA fighter was born.  ”They kept asking and asking.  I don’t want them to think I’m scared so I’ll just do this one tournament.”

In his match at the WKA Nationals, Semerzier faced a previous year’s champion, Brent Hess.  Pressure mounted on Semerzier, being in his first amateur MMA event and having UFC legend Jens Pulver watching the match.  Keeping focused on his bout, Semerzier won by decision.  ”It was a scrap,” he said.  ”It was the only win amateur or professionally in which I won but didn’t finish the guy.”

So was this going to be Semerzier’s last fight?

“…then you win the tournament and everyone is happy then they ask you, ‘When’s your next one?’”

Having a strong military background helped the MMA fighter with his career.   Being a former Sergeant in the Marine Corp, the high intensity training he received was a crucial part in his preparation for MMA.

“I think military training has helped my martial arts as far as putting things in perspective…as far as fighting goes.”

“We like to build things up and make them the worst things ever in life.  There are a lot of things going on that are way worse than what we are doing. People putting themselves in danger on a daily basis.  If they can run at guys shooting at them head first, then you can can fight someone with gloves on with referee and rules.  It’s not that big of a deal.”

“That and the commitment to training.  If you know that training is gonna produce results…if you don’t train hard, some day you are gonna pay for it.  Especially in the Marine Corp, you get what you put out.”

After years of training in martial arts, Semerzier’s career began to take off.  People began to take notice.

Semerzier finished opponent after opponent, then the WEC called.  His good fortune continued winning four times in the fight promotion.  When the UFC bought out the WEC, the they were impressed enough with Semerzier to sign him to a contract to fight at the highest level.

It was there that Semerzier faced his greatest adversity.  Semerzier recalls his first fight when he faced Alex Aceris in the octagon.  In the first round, Aceris caught Semerzier with a punch to the face and ended up breaking his nose.  Not wanting to back down, Semerzier gritted his teeth and went for the attack.

“I just went on auto pilot again.”

Semerzier clinched Aceris is a crushing bodylock which constricted his opponent from moving.  ”Once I grabbed him he started making noise,” said Semerzier.

Smelling blood, Semerzier went on full assault.

“I said, ‘ah man, I’m not letting this guy go.’  It’s like a dog on a bone.”

After getting to Aceris’ back, Semerzier slapped on a choke and ended the fight.

Semerzier’s next two bouts in the UFC wouldn’t be as successful.  A loss by submission in his second bout against Peralta and a no contest in his third would eventually cost him his spot at the organization.

Although not currently at the UFC, Semerzier still presses hard on his training.  Taking days off for him is not an option.

“I train a lot of jiu-jitsu at Linxx.  I train as much as possible, just keeping it playful…you have to open up your game and you can do stuff but you have to fail at it so you know that you shouldn’t not try this in a fight…if it happens in the training room it’s all good.”

“I like to play and just have fun and show different things.  You know…give up positions, even to higher belts and just try to survive in those positions  and just realize that you can’t tap everybody out.  You shouldn’t be able to tap everybody out.  Eventually you might catch them once or twice, but not consistently.  If you can, you probably need to find tougher training.”

Semerzier’s latest fight was in November 2012 at Combat Sport Challenge in Richmond, Va.  ”I was super comfortable.  I knew I wasn’t gonna get stopped, he wasn’t gonna hold me down in any positions.”  Semerzier’s training and instincts allowed him to finish his opponent in the second round by an “alligator” choke.

As far as Semerzier’s future plans, Semerzier kept things in perspective.  ”I’d like to keep doing it as long as I can do it at a high level.  as long as I can keep it playful and keep having fun doing it, I’d like to continue to fight.  But once it becomes stressful to me or becomes a super job where I have to worry about feeding myself on the way I perform, I’ll be done with it.”



Crazy 88 BJJ’s Tim Spriggs was featured in a recent GracieMag article.

The stand out grappler came for first place at the European Championships in Lisbon, Portugal and walked away from the tournament with double gold in his weight division and also the purple belt absolute.

At Crazy 88 BJJ in Baltimore, Md., Spriggs is a full time BJJ instructor. Pursuing what he loves to do, Spriggs puts his students and training at the top of his priority list. “I was training all day. I was doing strength and conditioning. I was doing running. And just a lot of rolling.” On his day off, he usually spends time studying BJJ film.

His most difficult match came during the finals of the heavyweight division against Hannu Karjalainen of rival BJJ association, Alliance. In the weightclass finals, it came down to the last few seconds of the match. At a tied score with no points scored, Spriggs found an opportunity to pass the guard with a knee cut pass. After passing, Spriggs waited to see the three points for the pass by attempting to stabilize the position, but the three points never came. Time expired on the match, and the referee awarded an advantage to Spriggs, which was good enough to win the match and earn Spriggs the gold medal.

“If the match ended, and I didn’t score the last advantage, I would have probably lost,” said Spriggs.

Because at the Europeans, one section of the competition mats was located adjacent to a wall, Sprigg’s match did not allow anyone to coach him from the sidelines.

“All my teammates and my coaches were on the far side…I could barely hear anybody.”

“I had to look up to see what the score was.”

After winning his division, Spriggs said of the victory, “I gave everything I had. I was just drained. I didn’t even have enough energy to celebrate. I was like man, ‘I did it’.”

Putting nothing less than 100% was Spriggs’ strategy for the event. “This whole tournament I just put everything I could in every match. I held nothing back. And that’s the best thing that you can do…do it full speed, with authority…and let the chips fall where they may.”


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sergeant Laurie Porsch, a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a strength and conditioning coach at BETA Academy shows three techniques that can help you with your Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.



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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sunday afternoon, over 25 women came to BETA Academy for a free women’s seminar to learn the basics of the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  The seminar was taught by Marine Corp Sergeant Laurie Porsch, an active Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor in blue belt competition and an energetic strength and conditioning coach.  The eager participants at the seminar included brand new Brazilian jiu-jitsu students and experienced white belts. Sergeant Porsch went through detailed instruction for fundamental techniques such as the mount escape, armbar from the guard, and the scissor sweep.

Sergeant Laurie Porsch teaches the scissor sweep to BJJ students at the free seminar.

Sergeant Laurie Porsch teaches the scissor sweep to BJJ students at a free women’s only seminar in Washington, D.C.

The two hour seminar ended with some exciting drilling games, led by Kru Melanie Phungephorn, a co-owner of BETA Academy.  Phungephorn taught a basic defensive technique known as the shrimp movement which is used to push the body out from under dangerous positions such as the mount.  For the drilling games, the women were divided into five different groups and each competitor had to do the shrimp drill to the end of the mat in a relay race.  The team that finished first was the winner.  In the end, a tie braker had to be held, but the team title went to team “Fried Shrimp”.

At the end of the seminar, a special surprise for Sergeant Porsch was given to her when she was presented with a colorful bouquet of flowers for her birthday. The seminar closed out with a group picture full of smiles and a few new future grapplers in the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Learn the scissor sweep from Sergeant Porsch!


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At 6:38, Keenan Cornelius shows why it is important for someone to have the proper grips on an opponent while playing open guard.  Cornelius uses a quick step to the inner thigh and pushes the other leg out of the way to score a blink of an eye guard pass.

Check out Keenan Cornelius vs. Paulo Miyao at the European Championships!


Episode two of Lloyd Irvin’s BJJ Kumite: Enter the Bulldog was released last week.  The featured story of the event was the women’s black belt superfight match up between Nyjah Easton of Team Lloyd Irvin and Sofia Amarante of Team Avenger.  In both the gi and no-gi matches, Nyjah Easton showed her jiu-jitsu prowess and tapped out Amarante with a pair of kimura arm locks.  Easton said, “Using the Kimura Trap System that we work with Master David Avellan, I was able to control the arm.  I stepped over the head and finished.”

After having several matches, the injuries started to take its toll on the fighters.  Luke Costello of the UK and AJ Sousa of the United States had knee and ankle injuries that could have been aggravated by a submission hold on the injured body part.  Costello and Sousa are given three options: 1) Don’t compete 2) Ask the guys that roll with them not to attack the injury body part while rolling 3) Just fight.  Both competitors choose option two.

Sousa competed against Sean Roberts and Roberts attempted a calf slicer.  Sousa says, “Really, are you gonna attack my calf?”

Roberts replies, “That’s not your ankle man” and finishes the match with a calf slicer at 8:19.

Sousa explains that he can’t effectively escape without possibly hurting his ankle.  ”I pray to God I get to fight that guy one more time man,” says Sousa.

The matches started to take its toll on the competitors.  Sean Roberts complained that he has an extra match again a competitor that just flew in for the competition.

Gary Tonon said, “I’m not really one to complain.  I’m here to fight.”

Keenan Cornelius said, “all the guys are starting to complain…This is nothing to me.  It feels like a training day to me…that’s why it is so important to have good training partners.”


At UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago this past Saturday, Glover Teixeira took on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in headline bout.

In the first round, Rampage got off to a terrible start when he was easily taken down and quickly exposed his back. Teixeira, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, went immediately to Rampage’s back and put the hooks in. Rampage fell on his side and Teixeira worked for a head and arm triangle. While still on Rampage’s back, Teixeira released his hooks, and Rampage got up to his feet. The two broke apart and Teixeira landed a punch. Rampage then shot in for a takedown, but Teixeira defended and allowed Rampage to run by him. Teixeira, from behind, then landed a punch to Rampage’s face. The two squared off again and Teixeira landed another punch that put Rampage on the ground. Rampage got up but was in trouble.  Trying to shake off the cobwebs, Rampage played defense, then threw a couple of combinations and made it past the first round.

Teixeira again got off to a quick start in the second round by hitting a double leg takedown and landing in Rampage’s open guard. Rampage went to half guard and started to sit up, working to turn the position into a single leg takedown. Teixeira, feeling Rampage’s increasing leverage, stood up to avoid the position reversal and the two began standing.  After exchanging some punches, Teixiera landed a strong upper cut and stuffed another takedown attempt by Rampage. Teixeira mixed up his striking combinations and landed a couple of damaging shots to Rampage’s body.  The round then ended.

In the third and final round, Rampage came out with a sense of urgency and an active style. Teixeira started off with a big left hook that caught Rampage.  Teixeira shot in for a single leg and put Rampage on his back. Teixeira ended up in Rampage’s half guard and dropped some hammer fists. Teixeira then threw some elbows, but backed off and let Rampage get up. Rampage started throwing some wild punches, hoping to connect and turn the bout into a street fight. Rampage shot in for a takedown, but then backed out with no success. Teixeira connected with a left hook that hurt Rampage, then connected a head kick.  Teixeira shot in and scored a single leg takedown on Rampage. Rampage got right back up, but started showing major signs of fatigue. Teixeira shot in for a double let takedown and then immediately hit full mount with about 28 seconds left. Teixeira threw punches from the top position trying to setup an armlock and the round ended.

The winner by unanimous decision was Glover Teixeira.


Accusations of PED’s will always be rampant in our sport. There will be some that cheat, and others that play by the rules.

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation has taken its first step to combat against PED’s.

On their Facebook page, the IBJJF announced that it will begin anti-performance enhancement drug testing at the next Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championships tournament in Irvine, Calif. on March 20-23, 2013:

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Is this a step in the right direction?

With almost 1000 likes and 646 shares, the response was overwhelmingly yes. PED’s have long been suspected of use by some elite level Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes. One of the most outspoken of all against PED use is world champion Ciao Terra, who’s response was liked by 40 people:

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For one person, the move didn’t make sense.

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The truth is, until we known the details of testing, such as who they are testing, when they are testing, what tests they have to take, we won’t know how effective this will be.  One of the big questions is, how much of the costs will be passed down to the competitors?

So what do you think? Should the testing be for adult black belt competitors only? Or should all belt colors be included?

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Adam Jetton is a brown belt in Nova Uniao Hawaii and a recent graduate of Appalachian State.

The highest gi division of the Copa Nova BJJ tournament came to its peak in the finals when Adam Jetton of Nova Uniao Hawaii in Wrightsville Beach, NC took on Charles Gomes of Gracie Barra in Calif. The 6’1 Jetton came off with a fast start with some slick spiderguard work to get an early sweep that spun Gomes on his back. Throughout the rest of the match, Jetton used his guard work to control the pace and win the match by points.

Jetton is currently a brown belt under Jeremy Owens and Renato “Charuto” Verissimo at Evolution MMA, a club with approximately 40 students and four black belts. Jetton has been training for eight years and also trained at Appalachian State with a group of 10 guys. When asked about his strategy for the finals, Jetton said “Closed guard…I had a little ear infection so I didn’t want to wrestle much. Since I figured the guys were a little lighter I could get their posture down.”

Jetton’s pursuit of jiu-jitsu is not just to make himself better, but to inspire others.  ”It has been a goal of mine to achieve as much as I can to show people that you do not have to use your location as an excuse to not be your best. If you can’t live in CA or Brazil, there is no reason to not work hard, utilize what you do have and believe in yourself.”

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German Salas stands with his Fifty/50 BJJ coach, Jen Flannery, after winning the lightweight advanced division.

Coming off a fresh victory over a BJJ brown belt at Lights Out Combat, German Salas, a purple belt at Fifty/50 BJJ worked his jiu-jitsu skills in the lightweight advanced division finals of the Copa Nova BJJ tournament against David Tepper of Yamasaki Academy in Woodbridge, Va. Salas came up hungry, taking his opponent’s back in the first few seconds of the match. Salas said, “I started setting up the arm drag. I put some pressure and when he came in I just went for the back. It was good that I got it in the first 10 seconds, which is a good start.”

Watch the match!

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