IBJJF Charleston Open 2022

On the weekend of March 26 and 27, IBJJF hosted the Charleston Open in South Carolina. We took a total of 4 competitors to this tournament, Professor Tony, Ferny, Riya, and Troy. There were also three students from the school who chose to travel to Charleston just to watch and support their teammates, Henry, Devin, and Anna. This was a 5 hour drive, so we especially appreciate their support!

Also, as a part of Alliance, our association was awarded 1st place of all the teams at the tournament!

Competition Results

Riya competed in the Juvenile Blue Belt Gi division, and after winning her weight class, she decided to also compete in the open class. She won the open class as well, ultimately bringing home 2 gold medals. She got two submissions, a kimura and an armbar. Riya trains almost everyday in the evening classes, she helps out with the kids classes, and she studies Jiu Jitsu outside of training. She now has her eyes on Pan Ams 2022, where she will compete next week!

Ferny competed in the Adult Purple belt division against some of the toughest purple belts in the world. This is his 3rd IBJJF as a purple belt, and he competed in both the Gi and No Gi divisions for his weight class. In the Gi division, he was calm and used his pressure to get in good positions. When he was utilizing his guard, he was able to trap his opponents shoulder and secure a triangle and then lock up an arm bar.In the semi finals, he lost to the champion (an Alliance teammate and great friend of the academy) by armbar, but fought hard throughout.In the no-Gi division, he won by 31 points. He didn’t get the submission, but he was hunting for the submission the entire time. He didn’t get scored on at all. In the finals, he was up 2-0 from a sweep he set up. He then got caught by a triangle from the closed guard. Ultimately, Ferny fought his way to 3rd in the Gi Division and 2nd in the No Gi Division.

Troy competed in the Blue Belt Adult Division for the first time, and put on some great performances! In the Gi, he had a tough match against the champion (a member of Alliance and great friend of the academy). In the match, he showed heart and technique, with a very strong passing game in the beginning, but got caught by a bow and arrow in the end. In the no-Gi, his only opponent didn’t make weight. So he automatically won the division. With the hunger for battle, he went into the open class and fought an opponent over 30 pounds heavier. He was able to sweep and score points, but then lost by armbar to his opponent who medaled at the open class division. Troy has a bright and exciting future ahead of him in competition, since he is always positive, hardworking, and composed!

Professor Tony competed in both Gi and No Gi. With eyes on Pan Ams, he wanted to test his cardio in the most fast paced and technical division in the tournament – Adult Black Belt. Although the matches did not go his way, his performances were strong and he showcased techniques he teaches everyday at the school. His cardio was tested, and he took notes on what he wants to improve for the upcoming competitions! There will also be a breakdown of his No Gi matches on the YouTube Channel soon.

[Coming Soon]

Day In The Life

To see an inside look at the tournament, check out this vlog created by one of our students that shows a Day In The Life of competition Jiu Jitsu!

Upcoming Events:

Keep an eye out on the blog for gym updates or follow us:

Instagram: @tonycasarez | @lepribjjraleigh
Facebook: Tony Casarez | Lepri BJJ Raleigh
Youtube Channel: Tony Casarez

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Jiu Jitsu Goals for 2022

Welcome to 2022! It’s a new year, which means new  Jiu Jitsu goals for 2022!

Goals in Jiu Jitsu are so important. If you have not yet created a list of goals for yourself, go ahead and do that now. Goals will help you to measure progress, stay motivated, and continue improving.

I’m not here to tell you what goals to create for yourself. Everyone is going to be different when it comes to their goals in Jiu Jitsu. Some students want to win tournaments, others want to lose weight, some want to make friends and improve their mental health. This is where you need to take time to get to know yourself on the mat and what you want to achieve. If you are a white belt, here are some common themes to focus on to get you started with your goals. 

What I can provide you with is 3 of the most common mistakes that are made when creating goals for Jiu Jitsu and how to avoid them. This will help you create goals that are productive and effective in your Jiu Jitsu journey.

Mistakes to avoid in your Jiu Jitsu goals for 2022:

1. Goals that you can’t control

The most common mistake that students make when creating their Jiu Jitsu goals is creating goals that they cannot control. What does this mean?

Goals that you cannot control include goals that involve outside variables and factors. For example, if you commit to the goal “end every roll with a submission”, then you are bound to be disappointed.

Why? Because you cannot control the technique, intensity, or experience of your opponent. Your opponent is the external factor that you cannot control, and so if your opponent has great defense and you are unable to submit them, you will become disappointed, demotivated, and ultimately give up on your goal.

Reframe this goal to: “Begin every roll with a submission in mind”. This goal involves only factors that you can control – your mindset before a roll. You can control the conscious thoughts that you engage in before a roll, and no matter the external factor, you can always begin every roll with a submission in mind. This is a goal that will improve your Jiu Jitsu, without causing frustration and disappointment. Some other examples of goals that you can’t control and how to reframe them include:

  • Never get my guard passedNever accept a pass (meaning don’t get discouraged when you are about to get passed or if you get passed, and always be looking for a way to recover)
  • Roll 8 times every class (there may be days where the instructor does not alot time for 8 rolls)focus on my breathing during every roll
  • Don’t tap (inevitable…this is jiu jitsu, hopefully you tap! Otherwise you’ll get put to sleep, arm broken or leg snapped off)Take notes after I get tapped out, and focus on learning rather than getting discouraged

2. Goals that are outcome oriented

Not only do I hear this all of the time, but I myself have made this mistake. Outcome oriented goals are the infamous “I am going to win 5 tournaments this year”, “I am going to win the Worlds”, “My goal is to get my purple belt before December”.

Instead of writing goals that are outcome oriented, focus on writing goals that are process specific.

For example, instead of “I am going to win an IBJJF this year”, your goal should be “I am going to follow this training plan with no exceptions, read books on champion psychology, and lift at least 4 times a week”

These goals are process specific, so they set a clear path forward. By following this goal, you enter the competition feeling motivated, prepared, and confident. The next step is to simply trust the process that you created for yourself, and let the outcome speak for itself.

Ironically, goals that are process specific as opposed to goal oriented are more likely to help you reach your goals.

  • I am going to get my purple belt by DecemberI am going to train at least 3 times a week and study at least once a week

3. Goals with no foundation

The final most common mistake students make is creating goals because that’s what they were told to do and that’s what everyone else is doing, but they take no time to understand why they are creating the goals.

The truth about goals is that they take time, and time inevitably involves bad days, curve balls, contingencies, and other roadblocks we cannot predict.

Whatever goals you create, you want to expect and plan for the inner voice that will tell you, “you don’t really need to do this”, “do you really even want this?”, “no one cares if you make this goal or not”. You have to plan for the days when you are sick, when you are tired, when you receive bad news or are feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed.

What will carry you through these days is a foundation. A “why” for every goal you create. It will help to write these “why’s” down, because on the low days, it will be very hard for your mind to retrieve them. This will help keep your goals alive, and will avoid them falling to the wayside because “well they’re not that important anyway”.

If it’s something you want, then understand why you want it.

For example…

  • My goal is to train 3 times a weekwhy? Because this will help my mental health and I will be a better father, husband, and employee if my mental health is in check.
  • My goal is to follow my training plan to a tee and hopefully win this next tournament → why? Because I’ve wanted to for a long time and it will make me feel proud of myself. Because I want to set an example for my son and for my students. Because I want to prove to myself that I can.

Any and all of these are sufficient for your “why”. As long as you have your “why”, you are more likely to achieve your goals and overcome the days when you feel like giving up.


Take time now to reflect on the goals you have set for yourself this year, and maybe reframe some of them to avoid these most common mistakes. When you have goals that are intentional and well written, you will be more likely to achieve the goals and grow further in your jiu jitsu journey.

FUJI Raleigh Tournament October 2021

The FUJI Raleigh Jiu Jitsu tournament was hosted on October 24, 2020, and we had 13 students that competed and represented Team Casarez. For many of the students, it was the first time competing. It is always exciting watching students compete for the first time because there are a lot of emotions that come with competition.

Managing the emotions that come with a jiu-jitsu match at competition pace is challenging. There is excitement, but there are also nerves and fear. This is normal, and I encourage my students to compete if they can because it is a way to face these nerves and fears that we have. These weekends always leave me so proud of the students as they take on these emotions head first.

The 13 competitors brought home a total of 17 medals, with the following results:

Kids:

Silas – 3rd
Valentina – 3rd
Cristalia – 3rd
Gabriel – 2nd, 2nd, 3rd
Caike – 1st, 2nd

Adults:
Caike – 3rd
Noah – 1st
Xavier – 3rd
Shawn – 3rd
Brian B – 2nd
Andrew – 1st, 2nd
Brian – 2nd

Arthur and Henry also competed, and while they did not medal, they fought hard and showed true understanding of technique as they competed. This is important to me because it shows that the students are learning and improving, and are able to retain this information even under a stressful situation.

I would also like to shout out Andrew, who competed for the first time in the purple belt division. He earned his purple belt only 2 weeks before the competition, and won his division in Gi and got 2nd in No Gi. It was also his birthday, and it says a lot that he chose to spend the whole day competing! We are very proud of him.

We also had students who were not competing come out to support, including Sarah and Trinity. It is always a good feeling to have teammates cheering you on as you compete, so we appreciate students who take the time out of their weekend to be there for their teammates.

Every competition, we learn more about what we need to improve and focus on, and we take these details into the gym, and eventually into the next tournament.

Congratulations to the whole team for an amazing and exciting weekend!

Jiu Jitsu Concepts: Gui Mendes Seminar

As Lucas Lepri affiliates, all of our students were invited to attend the seminar hosted by the Lepri Headquarters on October 16. The seminar featured Gui Mendes, a 4X World Champion and current professor at Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa, California.

For the students who were not able to attend the seminar, I wanted to share some of the key takeaways that were discussed. I would also encourage you to watch some of Gui Mendes’ competition matches so that you can get an understanding of his style.

Concepts in Jiu Jitsu

Gui Mendes began the seminar by stressing the importance of concepts in jiu jitsu. In particular, he focused on concepts that involve passing the guard. His belief is that concepts are fundamental to learning jiu jitsu, and help students to tie techniques together.

The concept that he shared first was the idea of varying degrees of distances that are used when passing the guard. These distances were:

  1. Far distance
  2. Middle distance
  3. Near distance

Far distance includes any time when an opponent has control of the arms or collar, but your legs are kept far away so that the opponent cannot control them. Far distance, for example, would be when the opponent has spider guard.

Middle distance is when an opponent has control of one leg, and a sleeve or collar. This would be when an opponent has de la riva, for example. Finally, near distance is when there is little to no space between the opponent and yourself when passing the guard, and this would be headquarter position or half guard, for example. He showed examples of passes for all of these guards.

When passing far distance (spider guard), for example, he shared a three step process:

  1. Create distance
  2. Open the gap
  3. Attack

Creating the distance involves constant movement, or “a flow”, as he described. He encouraged students to always stay moving so as to keep the opponent active and adjusting. As an opponent is adjusting, this is when the gap is open. He described a 1-3 second window of opportunity for attack that involves the time when an opponent is adjusting to recompose their guard.

Techniques to Pass the Guard

The other techniques that he showed were guard passes from middle distance and near distance. The middle distance pass was a de la riva pass when the opponent also has the underhook on the leg. Because the leg is underhooked, you cannot remove the de la riva and slide your shin over. You have to also address the underhook. His approach was to move the de la riva leg up to the hip, and then grab their collar and pressure in. This traps their leg, so that you are then able to initiate passing. This technique is difficult to describe in a blog post, so if you are stuck on passing de la riva, come talk to me either in person or through DMs, and I will share it with you.

There were a lot of great concepts and techniques shared by Gui Mendes that it would be impossible to share all of them. Some of the concepts can be found on this video: How to Control the Distance to Pass ANY Guard In Jiu Jitsu by Guilherme Mendes.

How to Study these Jiu Jitsu Concepts

If you are interested, the entire seminar will also be posted on Lucas’ Online Training Program. I highly suggest purchasing the program if these concepts and techniques spark your interest. The Online Training Program also has hundreds of Lucas’ techniques and other videos such as training footage and guest instructors.

Finally, Gui Mendes also has BJJ Fanatics instructional collections on Understanding the Distance on Top.

We will also be reviewing these concepts in class over the next few weeks!

3 Takeaways from the Tap Cancer Out Tournament 2021

On September 11, we took 21 students to the Tap Cancer Out tournament. The event was full of exciting matches and team camaraderie. From the tournament, there are 3 clear takeaways that I want to discuss.

1. Fundamentals are Key!

The first takeaway is that I noticed that our students had a different particular style compared to the other competitors. Because we are under Lucas Lepri and Alliance, our students tended to play a more controlled game with a good, steady pace. For example, there were a lot of fundamentals, such as knee cut passing to side control to basic finishes. Our students played both open and closed guard. They also demonstrated knowledge of basic takedowns from our curriculum which focuses on basic judo and wrestling influenced techniques that are part of our style.

Out of the 21 students who competed from our school, 17 medaled. Out of those 17, 8 got gold. And out of the total competitors, only 1 was a full time competitor who happened to snag a gold. This means that the 16 students who competed and medaled are all hobbyists who train only a few times a week. They have families, full-time school or jobs, or businesses of their own. Their success further proved the system we practice is effective. This was a local tournament but it was still interesting to see this dynamic played out through statistical data.

I learned that our students who practice consistently even just a few times a week can still build the fundamental framework needed to do well in a jiu jitsu tournament. Afterall, fundamentals are key.

2. We Are Family

The second takeaway I noticed at the tournament was that our team relied on each other as family. Since many students were competing at one time, it was hard to coach every single one of them.

Students stepped up, and were able to help each other: from coaching to helping with warm ups to taking videos and pictures of the matches. Our school culture is very important to us as it displays lots of brotherhood and sisterhood that is supportive and encouraging, regardless of results.

Our head of our association, Lucas Lepri, always preaches “we never walk alone,” and this past Saturday was a great example of this. Win or lose, we fight together. And the incredible support from the family and friends radiated and showed us that we are not only a team; we are family.

3. Winning Isn’t Everything

Finally, the 3rd takeaway from the tournament is that this was a great learning experience for everyone. A lot of our students learned from their mistakes. Being humbled is undoubtedly one of the best things that can happen to a person. Everyone wants to win, but winning isn’t everything. As cliche as it sounds, you learn so much from losing. Our team was able to pick the pieces up and rebuild from any losses they experienced. Those who were defeated at the tournament were back on the mats the Monday following.

Where they go from here is really up to them. I am proud of them for all they did not only at the tournament but also the preparation that was involved. As I mentioned before, the majority of these students have full-time lives outside of jiu jitsu. Yet, they made time to prepare mentally and physically. Now, they all know what it feels like to compete. And they know what to change or continue as they move forward.

I’m also really grateful for even the students who didn’t compete because they were there helping out. If they weren’t, they were there in spirit with support. They also helped to prepare these competitors with training at the gym beforehand. In jiu-jitsu, the beautiful thing is you can’t get better by yourself. You lose as a team; you win as a team; you fight as a team.

 

Follow us!

Instagram: @lepribjjraleigh

Facebook: Lepri BJJ Raleigh

Youtube: Tony Casarez

Why BJJ is a Positive Solution To Bullying

Bullying can come in many different forms and no one deserves to experience them, but the reality is that it does happen. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches ways to limit physical altercations through grappling movements and self-awareness to situations. Why is BJJ a positive solution to bullying? Providing confidence to a person when they are grabbed, pushed, placed in a hold, or even struck. Knowing what to do when one of these happen takes a level of vulnerability away and allows for quick thinking to stay safe.

Bullying Comes in Many Forms

A child or adult may not experience forms of physical bullying, but that does not mean mental or influential bullying is not happening.

  • Name calling
  • Exclusion from others
  • Being spoken down to
  • Peer pressure

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you learn to adapt to all different kinds of situations, and this builds confidence. If you can recognize situations and change the outcome, then why not? Bullying can get out of control quickly, and this can lead to physical altercations, change a person’s behavior out of fear, and even just make common everyday situations uncomfortable for a person.

How a child benefits from using their BJJ to avoid conflict

When a child notices a bullying situation arise with them or someone they know, it is so helpful when there is a confidence in diffusing the situation without fighting. A strong mind can protect a child from comments and actions of others allowing them to stand up for themselves and people they know. BJJ for self-defense is not about fighting, but instead it is about defending yourself from harm and creating opportunities during an attack to get to safety.

The “if it happens, what will my child do”answer

The reality is that if your child is training BJJ and they start to get bullied by someone, it will mean they will be well-prepared. This simply means if someone puts their hands on them, it will be met with swift action, and if another child was to push them when they fall, it will be accompanied by a break fall and a technical stand up to ensure they are not in danger. BJJ brings self-confidence, respect, standing up for others, and self-defense into one mindset. There are many general benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a child, but when it comes to handling bullying, all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Contact us today and enroll your child at Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC.

Technique Of The Week #4

This fourth installment for the technique of the week breaks down what to do when an opponent is attempting place a rear choke from the standing position. For this to properly work it comes down to reaction time from the first moment the choke is attempted. You notice that the right when Tony recognizes he is being attacked the threatening arm is controlled, and at the same time the momentum is used to throw the opponent. From there with the arm still being controlled the other hand is used to control the leg of the downed person at which time the armbar is transitioned into.

The breakdown of The Move:

    • React to the rear choke attempt by controlling the attacking arm
    • Use the momentum to throw the opponent
    • Keep control of the attacking arm during the throw
    • Secure the leg with a grip to prevent an escape
    • Transition into an armbar

This is a scenario that happens a lot and when one is not expecting it, so knowing how to react is key to it working properly. At Casarez BJJ here in Cary NC a Lucas Lepri affiliate Coach Tony Casarez and his team want to ensure that all the students here at Casarez BJJ are prepared for any situation.
Our Adult BJJ and Kids BJJ programs drill moves just like this to make sure all students know the fundamentals that keep you safe and ready. BJJ has changed the lives of many and we invite potential students interested in Raleigh, Durham, and Cary to come try out a free week. Contact us today for more information on our BJJ programs.

Technique Of The Week #3

This third installment for the technique of the week displays how to avoid someone from attacking you from the back, preventing a slam or takedown, and then transitioning into a kneebar.

The breakdown starts with:

  • Upon the attacker wrapping their hands around your waist control the grip.
  • Lock your foot around their leg to prevent them from picking you up.
  • When you touch back down from the failed slam, reach between your legs and grab their ankle.
  • Pull up and fall to the same side as the leg at an angle.
  • Apply the kneebar by flexing your hips and pulling up on the leg

This is a common self defense scenario and one that can happen to anyone. At Casarez BJJ here in Cary NC a Lucas Lepri affiliate we strive to not only show moves that work on the mats but also on the street. Coach Tony Casarez and his team want to ensure that all the students here at Team Casarez BJJ are prepared for any situation.

Our Adult BJJ and Kids BJJ programs focus on moves just like this and more. For either self defense or sport, BJJ has changed the lives of many and we invite potential students interested in Raleigh, Durham, and Cary to come try out a free week. Contact us today for more information on our BJJ programs.

Technique Of The Week #2

This technique of the week is showing how to stop an aggressive strike, with then moving to a hip toss controlling the opponent down to the ground. From there you see coach Casarez subdue the opponent with a strike allowing him to transition into an armbar. A key concept here is that prior to fully applying the armbar he secures the hip or pants of the downed opponent to prevent any reversal after the armbar is applied.

A move like this could be used in competition or the street and something everyone should know for self defense. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fundamentals like this and much more can be learned right here in Cary, NC at Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a Lucas Lepri Affiliate. We offer both Adult BJJ, and Kids BJJ classes that are build around these exact fundamentals displayed in this video. Contact us today and come check out a free week of training.

Technique Of The Week #1

Here is the first of many technical videos showing the fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Located here in Cary, NC at Team Casarez BJJ, a Lucas Lepri Affiliate you will find top notch instruction from Head Instructor Tony Casarez and his team.

Below is the breakdown of a strike defense to a controlled takedown. This move can be used in many self defense scenarios and something even the most basic practitioner should know.

We are excited to offer this series of techniques and if you are looking for Lepri BJJ in Raleigh, then look no further than Team Casarez BJJ. Contact us today for more information about our Adult BJJ, Kids BJJ, classes and more.