October 20, 2013

Not everyday is a sunny day with birds singing, which is especially true here in Beijing, lol!

I woke up on Sunday with one purpose in mind – to do work in the Absolute division. I had the same breakfast, did the same warm up, and repeated the same breathing exercises I did the day before. The only difference was going to be my strategy. I wanted to pressure more and be more aggressive with my techniques.

The Absolute Division begins once all the divisions are completed, and you have to wait to see who gets invited. I was optimistic I would be accepted, but you never know for sure. After being in the back room for 6 hours, I got the nod that I was in, and my first match would be against Joao Gabriel Rocha, the silver medalist in the heavy weight division.

Match started, and I worked a bit on the clinch game to feel out his wrestling. He gave me a head snap that sent me straight to my knees – man he was strong like an ogre! He got on my back quickly, and left me defending to prevent the hooks. I didn’t want him on my back where he could kill a lot of time, so I made the decision to try and go to half guard. He ended up in the mount, which was fine because there was no points yet. I wanted to pop him up and set up a heel hook, but he was putting good hip pressure to defend. I eventually rolled him over and we scrambled to our feet.

Points then begun, and I went to work for the take down. I saw an opening for a blast double leg and went all-in. As he was back pedaling , he turned over and hit me with an uchi-mata that sent me to my back. I rolled through for the knee bar, but he already scored for the take down. I hung on to his leg for a bit, but I couldn’t pry his legs apart. I then ended up in an inverted half guard.

I felt that his legs were open to attack, but I just didn’t seem to get a good angle on them. I kept hunting for the submission, giving up a couple passes in the process. In the end, I lost 8-0.

Obviously, I did not get the results that I wanted. That means I still have an opportunity to learn. For me, there are several things I need to work on. Mainly, my wrestling has suffered a lot. My timing is not where it should be, my commitment to take downs, and my technique need to be re-tuned. This is a big problem, because my best techniques come from me being on top of my opponents, in which I had no time on top of any of my opponents.

I want my wrestling to be on a world class level so that even an Olympic level wrestler would have a hard time going at it with me. At the moment, I have lost the wrestler edge I used to have in BJJ tournaments. I am going to reclaim that power back, so that no one in their right mind would try to wrestle me and just concede and work from their back. That is the type of dominance I want from my wrestling.

On the BJJ side, I still need to work defending hooks more, as I lost my match to Pablo Popovitch because of it. I hanged out too much on my fours, and I needed to move faster to avoid getting caught there.

I did learn that my conditioning was fantastic. Training smarter and not harder clearly paid off. My diet was also on point, as my weight was completely under control, and energy levels were high. I feel I can be stronger though, and have some more explosiveness as well, so I will have to make adjustments in my training regimen to put some more focus on those areas.

Finally, I need to compete more. Competing once every year is not going to cut it. Even though I feel fine mentally, it is clear that I still have some rust on me. I am going to compete at least 4 times a year. I made the decision that I will be competing in the 2013 No-GI worlds on November 2nd and 3rd. I am not coming back to Miami without a world title (I changed my flight from Beijing to go straight to Los Angeles and will be there from October 23rd until November 4th)!

This will be the beginning of a new era for me. I will be keeping myself in great shape all year round. I want to compete in all the big events and start making a name for myself once again. By the time ADCC 2015 comes around, I want everyone in the world to already know that it will be my time to win it all. I am going to out-wrestle everyone, out hustle them in every scramble, and finish them on the ground.

Finally, I want to wish my friend Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu congratulations on winning the ADCC Absolute division. It couldn’t go to a more deserving champion, and such a humble person. Parabens!

Thank you everyone for your support! I will continue to push myself and make myself a better person for my experiences. I hope that my experiences have useful insights for you so that you can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.

  • I have to disagree with you on one point. I think that you are downplaying the skills that you already have when your direction is matching a world class wrestler at his game. Isn’t this about a strategy and skill set that will neutralize or work around his strengths. I am interested in your response.

    Please understand that my comments are intended to be helpful and are in no way meant to be disrespectful towards you.


    • Yes, but I feel that I am not able to impose the strengths of my BJJ game (top control, passing, etc) without controlling the wrestling.

  • Great job representing yourself, your academy and American martial arts. It takes SO much focus and drive to do what you did and, subsequently, learn from your opportunities. Thanks for giving all of us an inside look at what you have been through and on your continuing evolution. Good luck next month!!

  • David, I love the idea of competing more and it is great to see that your conditioning was not a problem. But is it realistic to think that you can get your wrestling to a level where an Olympian would have a tough time going at it with you in a standup? I like the idea of you trying to avoid giving your back, but if your top game is your strength, shouldn’t you be working more on improving your game from disadvantageous positions? Maybe the reason you used to dominate with your wrestling is because JJ players had weak wrestling and they were easy to dominate with wrestling. Now they have improved their wrestling enough that you can no longer rely on your wrestling but need to practice working from non-dominant positions. Good luck whatever you do and thanks for giving us all your thoughts on the ADCC. I think competing more is going to help you a lot. Hopefully you will learn a lot from any losses you may encounter.

    • In a pure wrestling match, maybe not. But in a grappling match, I know it is a possible.

      Yes, back in the day BJJ guys had weak wrestling and now the wrestling level has moved up substantially. However, I have not done much to improve my wrestling over the years. I am going to take my wrestling to another level, and go above everyone else.

  • David Tice says:

    Hello David. We have talked on the phone several times and you have always
    been real cool taking the time to talk to me. I live in California.
    Very interesting read that I have sent to all my training partners and friends.
    I really appreciate the inside information on ADCC 2013 from you somebody
    who was there and competed so well.
    I wrestled in high school and college and then did years of Judo and then BJJ.
    I suggest and hope you can make it to Gokor’s place. They have very good
    ways of dealing with wrestlers. Many people don’t know that Gokor has worked
    for years with wrestlers. At Gokor’s if a wrestler gets the takedown they immediately
    go for a leglock or some kind of other submission. They have that combinations of
    Judo, Catch Wreslting, Russian SAMBO, BJJ and wrestling. Have been to their
    grappling tournaments many times where they get some great wrestlers competing
    against them. The wrestlers might get the takedown down but bam, they get the wrestler
    with a leg lock or some other sub. Have seen it over and over again. Don’t miss going to
    Gokor’s a least once. You’ll get to meet Ronda R. too.


    • Would definitely be an honor to work with someone like a Gokor. I will have to make time to visit.

  • Don Rendall says:


    You have great attitude, one that I hope I can adopt. Best of luck in LA and all future contests.


  • Good job David. It’s defiantly hard to step out in ADCC as the first competition of the year. I bet your timing will be much sharper at the No-Gi. In the years I compete, I do a double peak in my annual training plan, with a focus to have some warm up tournaments with single objectives (usually scoring first takedown) and a proper taper for my main comps. I think training year round is the only way to go and you should start at least a year before a major comp. Getting out of competition shape at any time can be a slippery slope. We all need a couple of weeks to transition after a competition season, but I think that’s best spent doing other pick up sports instead of detraining.

    I also think you’re right on with dominating the wrestling game. Statistics still agree that the guy that gets the takedown wins the match. I think you’ve got a big strength to use to your advantage there. Can’t wait to hear about the No-Gi Worlds. Find you some wrestlers in LA and sharpen up and it’s yours to take.

  • David Pinon says:

    I think your analysis is pretty good. I’m definitely sure you were a bit rusty, competing more will help you a lot. If you can find suitable training partners, no doubt that your wrestling will get sharper.

  • David, you inspired many people with your performance and I am sure will continue to do so with your work ethic and passion. We were all cheering you on down in Louisiana Boss. Stay Solid and we hope to see you soon!

    Tim Credeur

  • Mike lewis says:

    Great insight on your skill set figuring out your own strengths and weaknesses is a hard first step. Good luck in LA. I’m glad you are seeing this a learning experience and sharing it with us your journal was a true gift to us.
    Thank you

  • Lisa Sosa says:

    Your motivation is inspiring! Spiritual and mental endurance is the first step to success in whatever you endeavor! I think that this was a great learning experience in that, now you know what areas you need to focus on. Surround yourself with experienced fighters and learn from their advice. Humility is the best teacher, its when people think they know it all that causes them to hit the ground hard. I’ve seen it time and time again where some arrogant fool goes into the ring acting like a big shot and even though he wins a few when the day arrives that he is taken down, that is the day he either realizes that he isn’t as tough as he thought and has more to learn or stays stubborn and is eventually phased out…Keep up the good fight! Your reaction to this experience has encouraged me to push through under any circumstance.

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