WBBJJ Private Lessons #4 – Rodrigo Pagani






In the past you have seen our “Private Sessions” interviews, where we get to know various BJJ players. Now we will also be doing “Private Lessons” (you see what we did there?) videos featuring some of our favorite Jiu Jitsu personalities.


For our fourth installment of Private Lessons we are featuring Rodrigo Pagani! Rodrigo has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt for 13 years and is currently the Director of Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Brazil. He is a 3X World Masters Champion and a 4X Brasiliero Champion. In this video Rodrigo teaches us the details behind his famed “Curu Curu” Guard (named from a childhood toy) and also a sweep from that position.



Thank you Professor Pagani for the technique!


Connect with Rodrigo Pagani via Facebook.


If you would like to film a Private Lessons video for us, or know someone you would like to see do a Private Lessons video, please contact us!


WBBJJ Private Sessions #12: Tammi Musumeci




Our guest for the twelfth installment of White Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Private Sessions is none other than Black Belt BJJ competitor: Tammi Musumeci! It brings us great pleasure to sit down with her and we hope you enjoy her story!


WBBJJ: What brought you to BJJ?

Tammi: I started training at Fatjo’s martial arts in Marlboro, New Jersey. I loved it instantly! Through the years, I tried many different sports and activities, all while still training BJJ, but my true love remained jiujitsu and still remains jiujitsu today!


WBBJJ: In your experience what should lower belts do more of/less of?

Tammi: I believe beginners should start with learning more self defense jiujitsu! This helps with getting comfortable with the different positions in jiujitsu. Then, they showed start learning basic closed guard and submissions such as scissor sweep and kimura! Very basic and effective! They should perfect those moves until moving on to spider guard an delariva. I feel experience and time is everything in the jiujitsu process and this process is unique to every person. Everyone learns at different speeds and this should be considered when learning jiujitsu.




WBBJJ: If you could go back in time and give the White Belt YOU guidance, what advice would you give?

Tammi: I am really happy with my white belt experience because I only focused on the basics! It Is way harder today to avoid the temptation of learning berimbolo and other advanced techniques, so I am grateful I started when those temptations were non-existent!


WBBJJ: For you what’s been the hardest part of the journey?

Tammi: For me the mental journey has been the hardest part as well! It is sometimes hard to give yourself credit or feel confident and I have found a lot of people also share these same feelings!


WBBJJ: In tough times what has helped you get through and allowed you to persevere?

Tammi: When going through a rough time it’s good to do things that give you confidence and make you feel good about yourself! I also love to workout an go to the beach and I feel both are relaxing and help a great deal! It’s good to do something that promotes happiness or relaxation so I always look for that thing!




WBBJJ: If you weren’t doing BJJ what would you be doing?

Tammi: I have been doing jiujitsu since I was 6 years old and in kindergarten so I really can’t picture life without it!!! I can’t remember before it!


WBBJJ: What do you tell someone who says they want to do BJJ, and then gives the standard excuses; time, money, etc?

Tammi: I would tell them to prioritize! If they really want to train, but the gym doesn’t offer a class that fits their schedule, I would tell them to find another gym to fit their schedule or find someone or even a group of people who share a similar schedule to get some training in! You don’t realize how many people share the same problems and situations as you do until you start looking!


WBBJJ: What is your favorite activity besides BJJ?

Tammi: I have trained Muay Thai since I am 4 years old so, it also has played a huge part in my life and at times, I enjoyed it more than jiujitsu! I love weightlifting too much to the point where it is dangerous! I have to constantly make sure I don’t gain weight!  But, I find so much joy in lifting heavy weights!




WBBJJ: What’s on your iPod?

Tammi: I love the intense music that gets me pumped to workout and train! I need music that matches my intensity!


WBBJJ: What was the last movie that you watched?

Tammi: I love comedies, but zoolander is just too funny an had so many quotable lines haha!! I watch a lot of entourage and Saturday night live as well!


WBBJJ: If you could train with someone living or dead, who would that be?

Tammi: My brother Mikey. He knows how to push me and all of my weaknesses so it is always such a great train every time I get to train with him! I am also honored to get to train with the mendes bros! They are so amazing and inspirational and I learn so much from them.



 Interview by Todd Shaffer WBBJJ.com





WBBJJ Private Lessons #3 – Nathan Mendelsohn






In the past you have seen our “Private Sessions” interviews, where we get to know various BJJ players. Now we will also be doing “Private Lessons” (you see what we did there?) videos featuring some of our favorite Jiu Jitsu personalities.


For our third installment of Private Lessons we are featuring Nathan Mendelsohn! Nathan is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt competitor and instructor under the Master Claudio Franca Coalition 95 Team. He was our seventh Private Sessions interviewee. In this video Nathan teaches us how to break open the Spider Guard and pass to Side Control using the Leg Drag.



Thank you Nathan Mendelsohn for the technique!


Connect with Nathan Mendelsohn on your favorite social media sites:

Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/nathan.mendelsohn.10

Instagram = @nathanmendelsohnbjj


If you would like to film a Private Lessons video for us, or know someone you would like to see do a Private Lessons video, please contact us!


WBBJJ Private Lessons #1 – James “300” Foster






In the past you have seen our “Private Sessions” interviews, where we get to know various BJJ players. Now we will also be doing “Private Lessons” (you see what we did there?) videos featuring some of our favorite Jiu Jitsu personalities.


For this first installment of Private Lessons we are featuring Professor James “300” Foster. Coach Foster has been a friend to us since the very beginning. He was our first Private Sessions interviewee. In this video Coach Foster teaches us some of his Guard Passing concepts!



Thank you Coach Foster for the technique!


Connect with Professor Foster on your favorite social media sites:

Facebook athlete page = www.facebook.com/coach300foster

Instagram = @shoyorollplayboy

Twitter = @fosterjiujitsu


If you would like to film a Private Lessons video for us, or know someone you would like to see do a Private Lessons video. Please contact us!


Female BJJ Bloggers Directory


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more and more becoming a sport that women are participating in. It is no longer a sport just for the guys. BJJ is a system of self defense that allows women to feel confident and safe. It is also a tremendously fun and competitive sport that appeals to women and men alike.

I recall an interview with Claudia Gadelha (womens MMA and BJJ Fighter) where she stated that when she was growing up, girls were not allowed to train BJJ where she lived in Brazil. These days women are coming to the sport in droves!

Below is a list of Female BJJ practitioners who blog about their journeys in Jiu Jitsu. I am a man but I still enjoy reading the female perspective of BJJ. Hopefully this list will lead you to some sources of inspiration that you were previously unaware of!

BJJ Grrl

Georgette Oden

Skirt on the Mat

Julia Johansen

Lauren LaCourse

Meg Smitely

Shark Girl BJJ

Shakia Harris


Grappling Girl

Crawl Atop Me And Meet Your Doom

The Last Ronin

Jodie Bear’s Journey

A Grappler’s Heart

Liv Jiu Jitsu


If there is a female BJJ blogger that you want to have added to this list please contact us!


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