WBBJJ at the James Foster & Renato Laranja Charity Seminar




Seaside Oregon, the final stop of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, last month became the setting for an epic BJJ seminar. Featured were James “300” Foster and 27 time Mundial champion Renato “Xerxes” Laranja.  This was by no means going to be your everyday seminar.  The event was hosted by Zach and Nathan Adamson. The army of students that came to learn, were also joining forces to help support the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.  Proceeds from the seminar, the open mat the evening prior, and the amazing product raffle all went directly to this great charity.



(Photo by Todd Shaffer – Lewis and Clark statue faces westward toward the Pacific)


The night before the seminar the Adamson’s opened the door to their academy to host an open mat with Coach Foster and Zach Adamson.  Students from as far away as Idaho, Montana, and Pennsylvania joined with the Oregon locals for this once-in-a-lifetime session.  I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to roll with both black belts and I took away a great deal.



(Photo by Todd Shaffer—Hand-painted mural that sets the tone as one walks into Seaside BJJ)


Coach Foster gave me some great new insights about things I do as a bigger guy (some might say husky) that could short change my technique. Many other points were driven home as I rolled with the much smaller Zach Adamson. His superb technique kept him safely out of my patented “Wafflemaker” series of techniques (stay tuned to wbbjj.com for the forthcoming DVD instructional).

The highlight of the open mat for me was to sit in on Coach Foster and Zach Adamson conversing about Keenan Cornelius’ recent “worm guard” innovations.  This open mat session revealed important themes that were to be underscored throughout the seminar by Coach Foster; namely the organic nature of Jiu Jitsu and the importance of training with, and learning from, a wide variety of resources.



(Photo by Todd Shaffer – Professors Foster and Adamson starting a roll)


The day of the seminar arrived and the Academy was buzzing with activity.  The Adamson brothers rushed around handling the logistics of greeting everyone and making sure that everyone had their raffle tickets for the charity auction.  Many great sponsors such as Shoyoroll, Enzo Kimonos and Dojo Outfitters donated prizes. Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club also donated two autographed copies of the novel to be auctioned off.  Kill Cliff, who sponsor Coach Foster, also donated sports drinks for the attendees to enjoy during the seminar.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Andy and Jose from Dojo Outfitters)


As the hour drew near for the seminar to begin, there was one very noticeable absence.  It was clear that the Adamson’s and Coach Foster were beginning to become concerned that Renato Laranja had not yet arrived.  It was finally decided that the seminar would begin without him.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Coach Fosters opening remarks are interrupted by Renato Laranja)


Coach Foster began with some opening remarks welcoming everyone. While he was speaking, in walks the fashionably late Maestre and after an eerie reenactment of the famous scene between Xerxes and Leonidas in the movie “300”. Clearly this event had begun.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Coach Foster is not alone)


During the seminar, Foster and Laranja traded techniques that complemented each other, but stemmed from two distinctly different philosophical approaches.  Coach Foster who placed emphasis on establishing positions that create openings and a “choose your own adventure” approach to one’s next move. Renato Laranja on the other hand took a “my way or the highways” approach and clearly expected the participants to do the move as instructed, otherwise “why was he there?” (a point he reminded us of frequently).



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Laranja attempts to usurp the seminar)


Coach Foster taught what he deems the “headquarters” position; where your opponent has opened their guard and you pressure their legs and hips to nullify sweeps and eventually move to pass their open guard.  After that, Renatch shared a very slick “shin on shin” block that opened up a knee slice pass.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Renato Laranja advises participants to crop Coach Foster’s image from the seminar posters)


Like dueling guitarists trading scorching licks, these two went back and forth covering a variety of passing, escape, and submission techniques.  As the spotlight transitioned between the two, there would always be moments of brilliantly hilarious commentary.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Here Renato demonstrates  a knee slice pass variation on the very grateful Nathan Adamson)



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Here Coach Foster brings pressure (and pain) to his partner to open up a variety of passing options)


At the closing of the seminar there was a short break. I was able to get a few minutes with Maestre Renato, introducing myself as Todd from White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I’m not going to lie, the feeling was icy until I clarified with Maestre Laranja that I was not the leader of “White Power” Jiu Jitsu.  He then  shared with me the importance of giving back to the community (“as long as there’s no child supportch”).

As participants we were treated to the raffling of many great prizes and pizza.  This was a great time to rub ‘tight elbows’ with all of the luminaries and get photos.



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Here a very brave, young fan asks Maestre Renato for some advice)



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Nathan Adamson, James Foster, Todd Shaffer, Renato Laranja, and Zach Adamson pose with a young seminar participant)



(Photo by Caryn Brooks – Great seminar, great people, all for a great cause, The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism)



(Photo by Todd Shaffer – Charity t-shirt signed by James Foster, Renato Laranja, Nathan Adamson, and Andy Hung of Dojo Outfitters)


All in all, the seminar was an amazing experience and it was great to represent White Belt BJJ and share in supporting such a great cause.  If you ever have an opportunity to attend a seminar led by any of these gentlemen, DO NOT HESITATE.  You will learn a great deal and come away with many new friendships in the process.

Special thanks to Adamson BJJ student Caryn Brooks who graciously shared her photos with WBBJJ for this article.  Caryn is a blue belt with the Adamsons and a black belt in photography.  We appreciate your help Caryn.

Make sure you take an opportunity to check out The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and support if you can.


For information on Maestre Renato’s seminars, like his Facebook page and message him for more information.


For information on Coach James Foster’s seminars, like his Facebook page and message him for more information.  Also check out the interviews on WBBJJ.com with Coach Foster.


Don’t forget to like BJJ Seaside as well, the home of Nathan and Zach Adamson.  Also check out the Private Session we had with the Adamsons on WBBJJ.com.




 Article by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ.com