Blog - Page 2 of 3 - BJJ & MMA Auckland | GroundControl

Rank bonanza. 2 blues, 2 purples and 2 brown!

John Will’s visits to GroundControl always generate excitement. His latest trip on November 24 proved to be even more significant than usual. Not only did we get the usual degree of best in class instruction in both  MMA and BJJ skills, but there was also some significant upgrading of senior ranks.
It started with two new blue belts in Fran and Martin, two friendly and hard-working students who thoroughly deserve this significant grade. And then it only got better with the awarding of two purple belts. The first  going to Thomas Kwok, a staple of the GC mat who can be found at training, well pretty much any time the club is open. Thomas, officially known as Zen,  is well known for his calm cool demeanor on the mat which belies how dangerous he is as a grappler.
The second purple belt was a significant one as it went to our first female to receive the grade, Inger Craven.  Inger is a tenacious grappler and extremely hard-working student while at the same time being notable for her constant good mood. Her ability to hang with the boys in free sparring is the result of countless hours of dogged determination and an ego-less approach to learning.
And then in a significant step for GroundControl John awarded brown belt  to head coaches Andrew Craven and Mike Fooks.  The brown belt represents a major step up, and recognition of the last three year’s progress.   The grade is the result of many hours coaching, training and travelling and expense to learn from our coach John Will and his coach Rigan Machado –  amongst others.  At the same time there is a degree to which these ranks are owned by the entire club and without our students we wouldn’t be progressing.  We feel very fortunate to have a mat at GC full of awesome people operating a culture which both supports and challenges us.

Wins, Learns and upgrades.

It’s a been a huge couple of weeks for GroundControl.  On February 11 Shayne Young was back in the cage fighting to keep his undefeated record intact.  After weathering a storm in the first round Shane fought back hard to take out the second and show real dominance in the third to win a unanimous decision.  The win a testament to his composure under fire and exceptional conditioning.  This brings Shane’s undefeated run to 5 straight victories.

Then on February 18 we had BJJ 4th degree black belt and our head coach, John Will back in the house.  John once again showed why he is the best at what he does, taking us through a range of not just new techniques but as always training concepts that can be applied on and off the mat.

John’s visits are also a fantastic opportunity to recognize the progress folks have made and award some well deserved ranks.  And this time round there were a bunch!  Going to the highly regarded rank of blue belt were Shane Young, David Grant, Matthew Tusa and Bryan McKenzie.  All of whom have shown outstanding dedication to their training and have developed some formidable skills.

Speaking of formidable it was an absolute pleasure to have John award the rank of purple belt to Jason Kelly.  Jase has been a central part of the culture at GroundControl for many years now and his dedication to training is simply awesome.  A big man who has the rare ability to roll heavy or light with a thorough understanding of BJJ’s technical landscape this significant rank could not be more deserved.

The injection of more blue and purple into the auckland mat will give another boost of learning to everybody there, and we’re excited about the future prospects.

As if that wasn’t enough, the following day in Hamilton John also awarded the purple to Errol Watson.  Errol, assisted by Travis, has been leading the charge in BJJ development in Hamilton for many years now, and it’s fantastic to see him rewarded with this grade.  Well done my friend.

There’s a lot more to come this year, with ICNZ and several grappling comps just a few weeks away, more seminars from John to come, and the Will/Machado NZ nationals in the planning stages.  2012 is shaping up to be even bigger than 2011 was.

What a year!

Well another training year almost in the books.  And it was another standout.  We welcomed a host of new students onto the mat, bid farewell to some old ones and all in all had a great time rolling round hugging each other.

Stand out seminars again from John Will this year in both BJJ and MMA.  Everytime he comes he gives us a new way to think about our training and new ways to open up our game.  Truly an inspirational coach.
With seminars come grades and we awarded some very well deserved grades this year – of particular note Gareth Terry and Andy Mui taking the big step up to purple belt.   Both of these gents have been around since the garage days and both of them are obsessive about their training.  And it shows.
 And then what better way to finish off the year than with some absolute gold from multiple world champ Robert Drysdale.  And as if that wasn’t enough the women got to spend time with Robert’s wife Sophia -an outstanding black belt competitor in her own right who delivered a cracker of a session on how to beat up the boys.
Speaking of competition this year was another great one.  Andrew competed at the worlds in Abu Dhabi and also put on a dominating display in his first pro class MMA fight, good enough not just to win by rear naked choke, but also to win a well deserved fighter of the night.  Mike came home from the Australasians in Melbourne with a gold in his division and other GC members won countless other medals in local gi and no gi competition and we continued our winning record in MMA.  Not be outdone the juniors stepped up and had some standout performers in the growing juniors competition circuit.  Supported by Drew and Amy they came back with fists full of medals and often it was an all GC final.  Of special note was Hannah’s performance in May where she not only took out the mixed girls/guys division but also came away with most technical fighter of the day.
So how do you wrap up a year like that?  With a party of course.  And what’s the best way to start a BJJ party – rolling around hugging each other.  So 17 December is our end of year party -come along to the club from 1pm and celebrate a great year.  We’ll be rolling, playing grappling games, calling each other out for death matches and then at some point fire up the bbq and break out the beers.   Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Last opportunity to train with one of the worlds best BJJ competitors – Book Now!

Title: Robert Drysdale Gi Seminar
Location: GroundControl Auckland, 20 Stonedon Drive
Description: Rare opportunity to come and learn from one of the sports most successful competitors

Professor Robert Drysdale is one of the most accomplished tournament decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts in the entire 100+ year history of this martial art. Robert was born in the USA in 1981 and has lived in both the united states and Brazil. Robert started his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu career in Las Vegas, NV in the late 1990’s and trained extensively with MMA pioneer John Lewis as well as the American black belt Steve Desilva.

Early on in his career, as a blue belt in BJJ while still living in Las Vegas, Robert Drysdale made the decision to return to Brazil to train full time with the best teams in Brazil. From
1999 to 2008 Robert lived full time in Sao Paulo Brazil where trained in BJJ full time, owned and operated a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School, and coached his students when they competed. Additionally, Robert Drysdale made the commitment to compete for almost 10 years. In this time span he competed in more than 100 traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and earned over 90 different Titles.That list of championships includes 6 different medals in the adult division at the Brazilian Mundials and the Brazilian world Cup.

Start Time: Gi 10 am  No Gi 14:00
Date: 2011-12-11

Yeoman boys make their MMA debut

Congrats to Matt and BJ Yeoman who both made their MMA debut in B-Class matches in Shurikens Rising Soldiers promotion on the weekend.  Both boys have worked extremely hard leading up to the event and it showed on the night.  Matt took an early knockdown to come back hard and dominate in the clinch and takedown.  He showed great control on the ground to eventually finish with a back choke in the first round.

BJ’s fight looked to follow the same script at first as he recovered from an early knock down as well.  His opponent however was able to defend on the ground and the fight turned into a three round war.  BJ showing great grit to wear some big shots and still stick to his game plan and drive the match to the ground time and again with some big takedowns.  He dominated on the ground to take out the decision victory.

Expect some big fights to come from these boys in the future.  Well done lads.

New Website Section – Articles


We’re pleased to announce a new section to the website – Articles.  This is where you’ll find the thoughts of various coaches and friends of GC on a range of topics.  The posts will tend to be longer and more in-depth  than the updates you’ll find on the news page.  So if you have a few moments spare make yourself a cuppa, have a read and feel free to post your thoughts.  The first article on having a game plan is up now.

GC brings home Gold from the Australasians

Every year, the second weekend of September sees the Will-Machado Australasian BJJ family come together in Melbourne for The Gathering.  It’s a not to be missed event with the Saturday devoted to the Australasian champs, and the Sunday to Rigan Machado’s seminars.

With this years event dedicated to the memory of  black belt Troy Flugge who had passed away barely a week earlier, it had a special feel to it.

This year saw a solid contingent of Kiwis attend the comp with some fantastic results.  Errol Watson and Travis Browne – GC  Hamilton coaches  attending for their first time,both came away with silver, Carleen Pearce and Jeremey Gibbons both put in gutsy performances to come away with bronze and Coach Mike Fooks took out the gold in his division, winning the the gold medal match with an armbar from guard.  Andrew Craven while not medalling this year demonstrated again his competitive jiu jitsu in both the weight class and open divisions.

Mike attributes his win to having a clear game plan and focusing on his guard game over the last few months.  “It’s probably been the most focused I’ve been on executing a specific game plan – in particular getting it to ground quickly, trusting in my guard to be ok if I didn’t end up on top.”

New Zealand as a whole punched above it’s weight with further medals coming from the team at Submission Martial Arts, the Hamilton clubs, GSW and Academy of Combat.

Even better was the chance to spend time on the mat on Sunday with BJJ Legend Rigan Machado.  Rigan once again delivered pure gold in his Sunday seminars.  In fact so good was the seminar material Will-Machado purple belt Leyla Okyay was able to take one of the techniques and win gold at the panpacs the following week!

The seminars are also a great place to catch up with old friends and opponents, and in particular  it was fantastic to catch up with black belt Ken Dunstan who gave GC so much support in our early days.

Medals, new techniques and catching up with old friends, more than enough reason to  reserve the date for next year now!


GC Fighters win at ICNZ 15


September 3rd saw two GroundControl fighters make their A-Class debut in ICNZ’s brand new cage at ICNZ 15.  After successful runs at B-Class, both Nic Saxton and Shane Young were stepping up to the A-Class ruleset, allowing strikes to the head on the ground.

Nic Saxton was first up.  Nic had been working very hard on a game plan and executed it perfectly.  Dominant in the clinch Nic was able to take it to the ground and obtain the “beatdown” position he has been working on.  This position takes away the opponent’s ability to defend strikes on the ground.  So when Nic worked into the position the ref acted quickly to step in and stop the fight.

Next it was Shane’s turn.  Shane was up against a very tough and hard hitting opponent in Hayden Watt, and this match turned into an absolute war.  In a back and forth battle that many have called the fight of the night both men showed their heart.  Bloodied early in the match Shane never took a backward step and at the end of  four rounds the judges could not seperate the two fighters.  After escaping an early backmount attempt early in the overtime round, Shane dominated position to leave no doubt and took out a well earned unanimous decsion.

Both Nic and Shane worked exteremly hard in their preparation for the fights, as did their coaches Neil Swailes and Andrew Craven, and we couldn’t be more pleased for them.

Coach Craven does it again.

Andrew celebrates his fight of the night performance

June 25, ICNZ 14 was a much anticipated event for GC.  Head coach Andrew Craven stepped up to pro class MMA and dropped down to lightweight to fight a dangerous opponent in Fightshop’s Adam Calver.  Andrew put on his most impressive MMA performance to date to take the match in the second round by rear naked choke.  Not only that, he was awarded the NZMMA fighter of the night.   A decision we can’t help but agree with whole heartedly.

Andrew’s preparation for this fight was intense.  Few people realise the total dedication and commitment required to truly prepare for a pro class MMA fight.   The many hours and rounds on the GC mat, the additional work Andrew did on his strength and conditioning (with thanks to World Health and Fitness Drury), the hours of honing his striking game (with thanks to Francis “Danger” Vesetolu) and of course the input of our own Neil Swailes.

As well as the focus on skills and strength and conditioning, Andrew dropped a weight class for this fight.  Cutting weight is an art, get it wrong and you can miss weight or deplete yourself too much before the fight.  Andrew’s focus and discipline saw him manage this process perfectly, comfortably making the much lighter weight (69.5 kgs) and coming in to the fight strong.

The hard work on all counts was more than evident on the night.  Traditionally a fighter that’s been most feared for his ground game, Andrew dropped his opponent with a right hand in the first round.  He then demonstrated just how well rounded he’s become with seemingly effotless takedowns off the fence, strong ground control and striking and solid defense.   To top it off he finished according to his game plan with the rear naked choke.

We congratulate Andrew on not just the result, but the discipline and focus that delivered it.  If anyone is looking for a poster boy for the concept of “train hard, fight easy”, we have just the man.

Good Showing at BJJ nationals

Saturday June 25 was a huge day for GroundControl.  It started with the BJJ nationals run by Douglas Santos and Paulo Sorisso.  Due to some event clashes we had a small bit perfectly formed team this time round from GC auckland, including Jono McFarlane, Travis Singh, Matthew Tusa and Andrew Davis.  Andrew, Matthew and Andrew all acquitted themselves very well against tough opponents.  We saw some great skills from these three, one of whom lost by an advantage to break a nil nil score, and another of whom came very close to winning points at the last minute.  Meanwhile Jono made good use of his attributes to move through the heavyweight division and take gold!  Congratualtions to Jono who is still at the start of his BJJ career – we are excited to see what you’re capable of with even more technique behind that brawn!

It was great as well to see our good friend Karl Norton Sensei from Maai Hyoshi dojos enter his first BJJ tournament.  Karl performed very well against an opponent with much more competition experience and we can’t wait to see him at future comps.  Also fantastic to see Serina Cole from our sister Machado club on the north shore (Submission Martial Arts) take another gold medal to add to her growing pile.

Travis with his opponent after the match.

Thoroughly impressive on the day were the Hamilton grapplers.  Our old friend Carlo moved through some stiff competition to take gold and the white belts racked up a third and second place as well.  And special mention must be made of GC Hamilton BJJ and MMA coach Travis Browne.  Travis looked to be down and out in his purple belt match as the clock wound down to a minute to go with Travis at a significant points disadvantage.   Giving up is a concept that somebody forgot to explain to Travis and as the clock ticked down he pulled off a spectacular last minute reversal to go immediately on attack and finish with a text book far side armbar!  The crowd goes wild!

Next stop, the Will-Machado Gathering in Melbourne in September.  Look forward to seeing folks there.