2016 Black Belt Gift Guide for That Special Martial Artist in Your Life!

The staff of Black Belt gets to see and sometimes use the coolest products in the martial arts world. (No, we’re not hiring right now.)

Because it’s the season of giving, we decided to look back at the items we’ve come across during the past year or two and post the most interesting ones — with clickable links — for your convenience. These are a few of our favorite things.

For the Frugal Buyer!

Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition

Since their rerelease as Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: The Complete Edition, the four volumes from the founder of jeet kune do have taken on a new life for a new generation of martial artists. The hardcover book features digitally remastered photos of Lee, a chapter by Ted Wong and an introduction by Shannon Lee. It’s the perfect complement to the Tao of Jeet Kune Do. $24

Nigel The Ninja

The “mission” of Nigel the Ninja is to gather information about the martial arts by studying other young-artists-in-training. A great source of fun and inspiration for any home or gym, Nigel stands 12 inches tall and has a felt body and a resin head. It comes with a sling bag and back-story notecard. Coloring book sold separately. $30


Bruce Lee Action Figure

Bandai and Tamashii Nations have released a Bruce Lee action figure that comes equipped with a staff, a nunchaku, a pair of kali sticks and detachable body parts: three extra heads and nine extra hands. It stands 5 inches tall and is fully posable. $50



ProForce Open Face Headgear

What makes this piece of protective gear special? A heavy-gauge, reinforced vinyl shell. Lightweight molded-foam padding. Multiple openings for maximum air circulation. Plus, the open-face design is lightweight and visibility-friendly. The integrated strapping closure makes it fully adjustable. $60


Tai Chi Documentary

Barry Strugatz made The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West to tell the world about Cheng Man-Ching. In the 1960s, the master moved from his native Taiwan to New York, where he began teaching his art — often controversially — to Americans. This moving documentary, available on DVD or as a download, is guaranteed to make you want to take up tai chi chuan, and it might even have you tearing up by the end. $25

ProForce Compression Shorts

This compression garment uses a wicking fabric to draw moisture away from your body, thus helping keep you cool and comfy. The muscle-hugging stretch fabric is reinforced with flat-lock seams. The meshed pocket allows air to circulate and keeps the vented groin-protecting cup in place during the most strenuous workouts. $40


Traditionz Shirts

These two greats of the martial arts world have joined forces to launch Dragon Traditionz. The company markets a product line composed of active wear for martial artists and anyone else who appreciates shirts and hoodies with great graphics, great materials and great construction. $24-$39 each


For the Working-Class Shopper!

Grapple Buddy

After collaborating with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, Century Martial Arts created the Grapple Buddy. It gives young students an easy way to practice their ground techniques without the distractions that can accompany working with a human partner. This child-size dummy is made of high-density foam and reinforced vinyl for maximum durability. $80

Century Kicking Jeans

Suitable for a variety of styles, Kicking Jeans from Century Martial Arts are rugged denim pants that offer durability without sacrificing comfort and breathability. These stylish and contemporary jeans are made from a special blend of denim and elastane fibers with a stretch range of approximately 30 percent. The VariFlex Twinseam design allows for optimal flexibility with a generous gusset for kicking. $60

Ultimate Karate Collection

Hayabusa recently introduced the Ultimate Karate Collection. It includes everything a serious practitioner needs: professional-grade sparring gloves, shin protectors and footpads, as well as uniforms that are designed for competition and training. There’s even one uniform that’s been called the world’s finest gi. $13-$150


Tribute Jiu-Jitsu Gi

The 96 Especial Jiu-Jitsu Gi is a tribute to Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Ricardo Liborio’s victory at the inaugural IBJJF World Championship in 1996. He became the first world BJJ champion, despite the fact that he was competing in a weight division above his own. Century collaborated with Liborio to create this gi and make it suitable for future champions. $130

For the Big Spender!

Spyderco Nirvana Knife

This top-of-the-line folder from Spyderco came from the mind of Peter Rassenti, who created a design that uses a solid piece of titanium to form the handle. Named Imported Knife of the Year by Blade magazine, it features a stainless-steel blade that’s 3.76 inches long. The materials and resultant weight — 4.8 ounces — make it feel substantial and high quality, like a family heirloom waiting to be passed down. $720


San Da Video: Fighting Techniques From China’s Hybrid Martial Art

“Strictly speaking, san da is a Chinese martial arts amalgam composed of kickboxing and wrestling-style takedowns,” Antonio Graceffo says. “Some writers have referred to san da as ‘Chinese MMA,’ but that’s inaccurate because it normally doesn’t include ground fighting or submissions. Furthermore, in competition, san da fighters are permitted to clinch, but they’re not allowed to hit while doing so.

san da technique

“Some people have dubbed san da ‘Chinese muay Thai,’ but that moniker doesn’t do it justice. Why? Because in general, muay Thai stylists rely on just two leg attacks: the roundhouse kick and the push kick. Although other leg strikes exist in Thai boxing, most of the emphasis — and the scoring in the ring — can be attributed to those two moves. In contrast, san da encompasses an arsenal of kicks not unlike what you’d learn in wushu. Unbeknownst to many martial artists in the West, most san da fighters in China earn their chops in wushu.”

san da technique involving Antonio Graceffo

Saying what a fighting art isn’t certainly can be helpful, but it will take you only so far along the path to understanding. For that reason, Black Belt asked contributing editor Graceffo to shoot some video footage of san da, which is one of the arts he’s studying as he pursues his Ph.D. at Shanghai University of Sport.

For more information, read “San Da: An Introduction to the Chinese Art of Kickboxing With Takedowns” in the April/May 2015 issue of Black Belt. It hits newsstands and bookstores on March 31, 2015. Antonio Graceffo’s book Warrior Odyssey is available here.

Brazilian Martial Arts Expert Pedro Carvalho’s BJJ Techniques: Passing the Guard to Full Mount

Brazilian jiu-jitsu moves expert Pedro Carvalho photographed for Black Belt magazine.Pedro Carvalho immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s and quickly gained a reputation for holding nothing back. The owner of 11 medals won in jiu-jitsu tournaments in his native Brazil, he publicly espoused the belief that instructors should share with their students even their most advanced BJJ techniques because the way those students perform in competition reflects back on their teacher.

That idea prompted Pedro Carvalho to declare in a 1995 interview in Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated, one of Black Belt’s sister publications, “I make sure I teach them everything I know. Even in Brazil, some places don’t teach you all the stuff, but I do.”

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Fast-forward to today: Pedro Carvalho now has more than 30 years of grappling experience under his frayed belt and a growing network of jiu-jitsu schools across the United States, and he’s every bit as willing to share his knowledge with his students — and, fortunately, with the audience.

In this exclusive BJJ techniques video, the Brazilian martial arts expert shows you how to pass your opponent’s guard and move in for the full mount!

Brazilian Martial Arts Expert Pedro Carvalho: How to Pass the Guard and Get the Full Mount

“In any discipline of study, including a martial art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the keys to successful training will always be pace and progression,” says Pedro Carvalho in the introduction to his books, Brazilian Jujutsu — Volume 1: Gi Techniques and Brazilian Jujutsu — Volume 2: No-Gi Techniques. “Each must be explored and experienced to facilitate the best skill development.”

Pace and Progression for Developing BJJ Techniques

“Pace refers to the rate at which new information is given or received and to the speed that the student practices,” the Brazilian martial arts expert explains. “To ensure successful skill achievement, the student should refrain from training or attempting techniques that his instructor believes are beyond his level.”

Such a principle, Pedro Carvalho says, is especially true when it comes to sparring. Until certain BJJ techniques are practiced an adequate number of times, attempting them in sparring can cause a student to lose faith in valuable techniques simply because he is not yet capable of performing them well.

“Each student should pay attention during practice to each detail of a given technique, and it should be repeated slowly and smoothly with a gradual increase in tempo as the technique begins to sharpen,” Pedro Carvalho explains.

Progression refers to the routine used in the class and to the order in which techniques are given to the student.

Essentials for Training in BJJ Techinques

Each class is made up of three progressive elements, each element being essential to proper training, according to Brazilian martial arts master Pedro Carvalho:

  • Warm-Up and Drill: Students are guided through a series of exercises that allow them to stretch and strengthen the muscles particular to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • BJJ Techniques Instruction: Each move is broken down into its various component. The average number of techniques taught in a given class is about three.
  • Sparring: Students are given the opportunity to test their skills against one another and observe other students sparring.

“Most Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools have similar technique progressions, and as long as your instructor is a recognized black belt, you are in good hands,” Pedro Carvalho says.

For an optimal training experience, the Brazilian martial arts instructor recommends:

  • Find training partners who will train safely and allow for sufficient practice.
  • Find a qualified instructor; if he is not a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, then he should at least be a recognized representative of a specific school, not merely someone teaching a generic variation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Study your movements and techniques in detail, ask a lot of questions and spar as often as possible.

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

The Grappler’s Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques (3-DVD Set)

Brazilian Jujutsu — Volume 1: Gi Techniques (e-book)

The Ultimate Guide to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Escrima Sticks Video: Vintage Footage of Remy Presas Demonstrating the Armbar

Escrima sticks expert Remy Presas, as pictured in his book Modern Arnis: The Filipino Art of Stick Fighting published by Black Belt Books.Remy Amador Presas was one of the most vibrant personalities in the martial arts.

One of the Philippines’ premier stick fighters, Remy Presas became a national figure in his native country for his blending of the countless island combat styles into one system, which he named modern arnis.

Remy Presas began his study of arnis at an early age, leaving home at 14 to pursue his interest in the fighting arts characteristic of his homeland. Remy Presas ultimately synthesized important aspects from kali, escrima, tjakalele and arnis de mano into the art he taught. His travel throughout the Philippines led to the rise of arnis as a national sport, taught regularly in physical education classes throughout the country.

In this new excerpt from his Modern Arnis DVD/video-download series, Remy Presas demonstrates how to use escrima sticks to perform an armbar and submit an opponent.

Remy Presas Demonstrates the Armbar

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Remy Presas left the Philippines in 1975 on a goodwill tour sponsored by the Philippine government to spread arnis to other countries. He arrived in the United States, conducting special seminars featuring escrima sticks and other fighting methods to groups as diverse as law-enforcement agencies and senior citizens. The “Professor” (as his students affectionately called him) was welcomed wherever he went, demonstrating the daring techniques of the bolo and the bewitching twirl of double rattan sticks — the sinawali.

In 1982, Remy Presas was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year for his devotion to teaching. Black Belt honored him again in 1994 as Weapons Instructor of the Year. Decades of refinement in his use of escrima sticks gave Remy Presas a personal style that made his seminars among the most popular at many martial art schools.

Remy Presas was actively involved in the formation of the International Modern Arnis Federation in 1970. He lived in the United States for 25 years.

Presas died in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2001.

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Modern Arnis — Volume 1

Philippine Fighting Arts — Volume 2: Double-Stick Tactics and Applications

Warrior Odyssey: The Travels of a Martial Artist Through Asia

Krav Maga Expert Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Defend Against a Knife Attack on the Ground

Krav Maga Expert Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Defend Against a Knife Attack on the Ground
Eyal Yanilov and his krav maga defenses against variations of the front kick were featured as the cover story for the March 2011 issue of Black Belt (which happened to be the third of five special 50th Anniversary issues leading up to the June 2011 50th Anniversary Collector’s Issue). In this exclusive martial arts video filmed during the photo session for that issue, the krav maga expert shows you how to defend against a knife attack from the ground position.

Eyal Yanilov Shows You How to Defend Against a Knife Attack on the Ground

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In this krav maga video, Yanilov is on his back on the ground and an attacker sits atop him, thrusting a knife. Yanilov blocks the downward knife attack, explaining, “At the same time [as we block], we are counterattacking,” as he thrusts a tiger-claw-style eye gouge into the assailant’s face.

“The attacker is usually recoiling,” Yanilov continues. “I don’t let him. … When I recoil, I use my hips to throw him to the side and continue to attack.” Yanilov demonstrates this hip action and counterattack by rolling the attacker onto his back and getting his fist right up into his face. He grabs the attacker’s knife arm and pins it on the ground, immobilizing the attacker’s weapon and supporting his own bodyweight in the process. Yanilov gets up on one knee and one foot to secure his ability to move quickly from the danger zone while still maintaining enough leverage to control the situation.

“The hook is being turned to grab with pressing on [the attacker’s] arm so it will be difficult for him to move the arm,” Yanilov explains. “All this time, you continue to strike. At this moment, you can choose to get away from the danger zone [or] disarm and get out.” The krav maga master then demonstrates how to get out of the situation, grabbing the opponent’s leg and flipping it swiftly to one side to open his own escape route. “The last thing you do [in this particular example],” Yanilov says, “is leave the knife and move away.”

One of the most respected krav maga practitioners in the world today, Eyal Yanilov is currently listed as “master level 3/expert level 8” in krav maga. This is the highest rank krav maga founder Imi Lichtenfeld ever awarded to any student. In 2010, Yanilov founded Krav Maga Global and serves as its chief instructor in a continued effort to spread real krav maga worldwide.

Related Martial Arts Books, E-Books,
DVDs and Video Downloads

Krav Maga Personal Protection: The Israeli Method of Close-Quarters Combat

The Ultimate Guide to Reality-Based Self-Defense

Kapap Combat Concepts: Martial Arts of the Israeli Special Forces