The excellent Jiu-Jitsu of Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao

Share it
WPJJC, WPJJ, Abu Dhabi, Jiu-Jitsu, Professional, Gentle art, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, 2013 WPJJC, Paulo Miyao, Keenan Cornelius, Breno Sivak, Luca Atalla

The moment of the double DQ in Abu Dhabi

The fan side of almost all of us applauded the attitude of the referee to disqualify the two finalists of the brown belt adult absolute in Abu Dhabi, during the WPJJC 2013.

This is because, deep down, we all wanted to watch an electrifying fight, with comings and goings of these two great Jiu-Jitsu athletes.

It turns out that combats between two great fighters not always translate into big fights.

Does anyone remember the moments before the fight between B.J. Penn and Matt Serra in September 2002? Most of us awaited the greatest ground combat in UFC history! And what we saw was a battle fought standing up. I bet neither of these two champions consider that episode in the list of their best moments.

This is just one example. Fabio Gurgel and Amaury Bitetti fought countless times in the 1990s, and their contests were rarely decided by more than two points. The most interesting thing is that most people harshly criticized the technique of the winner (usually Amaury), but the reason for the restrained fight was the highest level techniques of both were equal, not by a lack of technique like it was suggested.

Even one of the greatest submitters of the late 1990s, Nino Schembri, found himself holding the fight during a match in which he opened five points ahead of another submitting monster, Fernando Margarida, in a fight held in São Paulo.

And even someone who is possibly the greatest submitter in the history of Jiu-Jitsu competition, Roger Gracie, spent a good amount of time “resting” in Marcus Buchecha’s closed guard during the confrontation of the two in Metamoris, simply because it was the most prudent thing to do at that moment.

We need to distinguish bravery from intelligence and strategy, not encouraging an immoderate courage, bordering suicide.

Again, our frustration as fans watching Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao not coming to kill and die is easier to reflect a perverse side of celebrating the disqualification of both. 

But whether you agree or not with the attitude of the referee, it is not fair to judge the Jiu-Jitsu of these two athletes by the fight against one another, and use it to deconstruct the technical qualities of both.

Leveled and monotonous fights are not a privilege of the current generation; they always existed and will always exist. But if you want to analyze the techniques and momentum of two of the best brown belts today, it makes more sense to observe their fights against other opponents.

You will then notice that Paulo Miyao impresses, taming monsters far beyond his 61kg since he was a blue belt, and that the percentage of submissions performed by Keenan Cornelius is as high as his notable predecessors as “kings” of brown belt, such as Ronaldo Jacare, Marcio Pe de Pano and Fernando Margarida.

I don’t even know Keenan and Paulo personally. But I admire the Jiu-Jitsu they present far beyond what is perceived in the confrontation between them.

Ler matéria completa Read more
There are 44 comments for this article
  1. Kemail Verhoeven at 9:23 pm

    The essence of Jiu-Jitsu is that every move that you make should lead to a submission…that is the true power of Jiu-Jitsu and that's what makes it a powerful weapon. Sitting on your but and do nothing is a disgrace to Carlos Gracie…

    • Luca Atalla at 9:39 pm

      Fabiano Scherner, what's the part I'm criticizing the organization? I missed this part in the article, can you point out?

      I'm simply defending the Jiu-Jitsu of both competitors and affirming these are two of the most technical Jiu-Jitsu athletes at present, not owing anything to any brownbelt since I started following Jiu-Jitsu in 1992.

    • Fabiano Scherner at 9:57 pm

      No offense Luca , but to use past bouts as an example where the rules were different i think does not apply here as an example , i am not against their technique or the way they do play in the mat , the rule is there and the competitors have to adapt to it and not the opposite , and the part i say about criticizing the organization , let me rephrase it , the article sounded in that way to me , maybe it is not , is just me !As an media professional you do not expect to make every one to accept your opinion , don't you ? In all these years this is the first time i disagree with you ,it does not change what i think about you or your job . you still one of the best professionals on it in my opinion if it matters to you !

    • Luca Atalla at 10:44 pm

      Sure, Fabiano Scherner no offense taken at all, I am just clarifying my point even further. I definitely do not expect everybody to agree with me, I just try to make everybody to understand my point. Again, if my stance was not clear, it is my fault, not yours. Thanks for participating. Osss

  2. Adam Stacey at 12:10 am

    Either competitor would destroy me. However, I would not say their technique was equal I would say their game plan was equal. Or their guard was…50/50 (pun intended). Nonetheless, the referee gave them numerous chances to change the pace of the fight. They ignored him. He yelled "FIGHT" and yet I did not see an OBVIOUS guard pass attempt outside of their comfort zones. I would think that when you are at that level and you know your opponent is an excellent guard player… don't sit there and allow him to play guard; especially if the ref is giving you penalty points. I've seen some of Keenan's other fights and he destroyed people's guards. So their gameplan sucked that's for sure. Again, I totally agree that their technique should not be a question based off one fight…however…their style may need to adapt to better suit the nature of A COMBAT SPORT.

  3. Chest Landers at 12:36 am

    You should be ashamed for supporting this de-evolution in our Martial Art. GrandMasters Helio and Carlos did not envision the future of JiuJitsu to be two men playing footsties worrying about advantages and points

    • Luca Atalla at 12:56 am

      Did you talk to them? I had the honor to not only speak a lot with GM Helio but also to be taught by him, and he never ever told me anything that suggested that someone had to attack the opponent anyhow. For him, Jiu-Jitsu was good as long as you don't expose yourself, had great defense, and be ready to submit WHEN and only the opportunity arrives. Of couse, I may have misunderstood all he told me. If so, I apologize in advance.

    • Victor Pereira at 1:25 pm

      but Luca Atalla, you must agree, that for Helio the whole IBJJF championship and system wasn't gracie jiu jitsu. I spoke with him, back in SP, while he was wearing a bluebelt as protest. his opinion about the whole BJJ thing was way different than what we see today.

    • Luca Atalla at 7:09 pm

      Victor Pereira Yes, although it was him who created all these rules. But, anyways, for that exact reason I am against evoking his name to prove a point of what a BJJ sport athlete should do. He's not here to defend his point.

    • Victor Pereira at 10:06 pm

      Luca Atalla I've got your point and you are right.Totally off-topic but I would say that who created the vast majority of all these rules was Carlos Gracie. However I don't know any timeline a about rules evolution.
      greets from Germany

  4. Jonathan Naranjo at 2:55 am

    For all the people saying the Gracies would be ashamed of this evolution of BJJ.. So if I follow this logic.. and watch Ryron Gracie vs Andre Galvao, shouldn't I witness Ryron being on the attack and looking for submissions? I'm pretty sure I saw the opposite.

  5. Tim Davis at 6:41 am

    "But if you want to analyze the techniques and momentum of two of the best brown belts today, it makes more sense to observe their fights against other opponents."

    But they're not being criticized, nor were they disqualified, in their fights against other opponents. The point of contention is THIS fight. I don't understand how that point is relevant.

    No one denies the greatness of either fighter. And as I today understand jiu jitsu, the approach that the utmost priority is to protect yourself from damage and attack only when the opportunity presents itself, is the "correct" mindset.

    But that most directly applies to being in a real combat situation – being attacked on the street, or in a bar, or fighting an aggressive opponent, etc.

    I guess my question is, if both fighters refuse to attack even when opportunities were available, if the ONLY priority is to avoid damage, why even have the match? There was no need to defend or even have an active guard – no attack was forthcoming. Jiu Jitsu was practically unnecessary in this case because from what did the fighters need to protect themselves? No attack is imminent.

    If you sit down to play chess, of course you don't have to move all your pieces forward in a suicidal manner, but if both players refuse to move their first pawn to open the game, you eventually just step away from the board and say, "I guess we're not playing chess, after all."

  6. Kevin Scott at 7:07 am

    Can't say the roger and buchecha match can be put anywhere in the same category. That was a 20 minute match with a pretty good amount of movement and much better sub attempts. This dq shows reform is needed. It makes absolutely no sense to allow two athletes to play guard at the same time. It makes for a very boring match and takes away any sense of a usable martial art. It is exploiting a problem in the rules. I can't blame the athletes since they are just playing the game according to the rules they are given but it shows we need rule reform.

    • Luca Atalla at 6:41 pm

      It's definitely not in the same category. Have you seen Nino vs Margarida I mentioned? Also a crazy match. I picked a highly entertaining match exactly to exaggerate my point that even in these great matches, and considering proven aggressive athletes the concept of "attack all the time" is not real.

    • Kevin Scott at 11:49 pm

      I agree Luca. In this situation though there was virtually no attack at any time. Neither pushed to be an aggressor at any point. I know there is stalling in many matches and nobody can attack all the time if your opponent is of a similar skill level. That being said I still usually see opponents making some type of attempt to score more points or submit. The concept of both laying there and doing nothing is still something I do not personally agree with. Competition should be about testing yourself and seeing where your bjj techniques/knowledge stands compared to your opponents. If both play a super safe game without trying to improve position or really score with the hope of just winning on an advantage than neither player will grow in there style or learn. Everytime you compete, train, or even watch jiu jitsu you should be looking to get something out of it. The goal should always be constant growth and learning! I believe this type of match hampers growth of the sport instead of encouraging people to really try to have a true exchange of techniques to see who's jiu jitsu is better. Also if we truly want to see bjj become an olympic sport we can't have matches like this. People will not want to watch this and in the end the olympics is a business and will drop sports that don't have enough viewers interested. They are already dropping wrestling because the general public doesn't understand it and thinks it's a boring sport.

  7. Jordan Burton at 2:28 pm

    "Again, our frustration as fans watching Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao not coming to kill and die is easier to reflect a perverse side of celebrating the disqualification of both.

    But whether you agree or not with the attitude of the referee, it is not fair to judge the Jiu-Jitsu of these two athletes by the fight against one another, and use it to deconstruct the technical qualities of both."

    Good point.

  8. Tom Callos at 5:09 pm

    Well, as the father of one of these two very dedicated athletes and a fairly experienced martial arts competitor, I have my own opinions about the fight, Keen's strategy and intent, and what a ref should and/or should not do. First, I think the ref acted inappropriately, although he may have been "within the margins" for the sport. In my opinion, the ref is there to keep the match safe, to look out for both competitors, to make sure the audience is connected to what's going on, and to keep the contest fair and square. To take two of the highest level of competitors in the world and to inhibit their strategy, which was not and never has been "playing footsie," was a disservice to the art and the skill of the competitors. Keen's pulled off some remarkable moves from 50/50 –and that Paulo can hold his own, for so long, over Keenan from this position, the player who's going to take advantage of any opportunity you give him, is remarkable. In addition, Keenan doesn't play this game with all of his opponents, but in his opinion, at this time and place in his career, he feels that this is the way he wants to take on Paulo —and I say, let the athlete play out his strategy, especially when he's pulling off these arm bars and such that just come out of nowhere, or that is, come out from the 50/50 position.

    I've had my fill of referee's who act as if they're there to oppose or command, instead of facilitate and serve the athletes, the audience, and the sport. To let these two young men get all the way to the finals, to know there's a half-a-years income for these underpaid professionals on the table, and to yell "FIGHT" when the two are playing a sophisticated, albeit not a crowd-pleasing strategy, then DQ them like they deserve to be penalized for giving this sport 100's of hours and matches full of awe-inpsiring technique —well, I'd say it was a very bad call, unfair to the competitors, and indicative of a poor point-of-view from the judge's perspective.

    If these were two athletes who stretched the rules time and time again, who were IN ANY WAY disrespectful to other participants or the judges, or who risked the health and well being of other athletes thru any kind of questionable behavior, well maybe then we (judges, in general) might stand in guard over them waiting for them to pull some of that crap on our "mat." But that's not the case. Keenan and Paulo or like ambassadors to the sport, they play hard and they play fair; they're not on-the-edge athletes who need to be ruled with an iron hand.

    Perhaps a new fight strategy is needed…and if the judges don't like something the competitors are doing, it should be addressed, in advance –and especially when we all know what's going to happen in a Keenan vs. Paulo match. But two of our sports best players, who live and breath their art, who travel all over the world to compete, who live from the work they do, who live on a shoestring most of the time, and who have no ill intend in ANY match they participate in, they should not pay the price of this kind of unnecessary and gruff "rule" enforcement.

    If I were training judges, I'd show this match and say, "Don't you EVER treat our athletes this way. If they're doing something potentially injurious or that flagrantly breaks our rules, then step in and be heard. But in all cases, you give these players clear, compassionate instructions, and help them to enjoy the experience of your fair, intelligent, helpful, but firm rule of your ring."

    • Walker Brad at 5:21 pm

      I read some commentary on this and I can see both sides. You're right though, if they want to change the nature of the sport to make it more appealing to spectators then they need to do it in advance in stead of in the middle of a match. That way strategies can be adjusted. IMHO

  9. Kathleen Harris-Callos at 5:09 pm

    I believe what you've written here addresses the challenges faced by both Keenan and Paula – when competing against each other – pragmatically rather than ideologically which is so nice to read after so much of the later.

  10. Frank Curreri at 5:17 am

    Paulo and Keenan are both exceptional players and I respect both of their games. The criticism some of us wage is not against them, but rather, against a system of rules that tolerates such ugly and boring BJJ. Emulate collegiate wrestling and its aggressive Zero Tolerance toward stalling and quickly restarting Stalemates. This will make the sport more entertaining and watchable for the non-BJJ diehard, and will also promote and produce better (more practical and realistic) self-defense skills among BJJ players (which should be the purpose of practicing BJJ to begin with, if you ask me). I love BJJ but have better things to do with my time than watch 10 minute matches where 9 minutes are two guys battling shins. Come on. We can do better as a sport. We must do better. The NFL, NBA, etc.. are always looking for ways to make the sport more exciting for fans. We need to do the same with BJJ. It's common sense. It's not Paulo or Keenan's fault. They're both good guys and were simply playing by the rules and protocols that have been allowed. It's a problem with the rules that needs to be fixed.

    • Luca Atalla at 6:27 pm

      Frank, there are different types of criticism, and my article is directed to those that (in my opinion, always in my opinion, as I don't own the truth) crossed the border and started to judge the quality of Jiu-Jitsu of these two great technicists. I also disagree of those who use the name of GM Helio to say these two should attack no matter what, because this is not what GMH defended.

      Yes, under the entertainment point of view, rules can be changed, but it must be done super carefully because sometimes the Jiu-Jitsu athlete needs to be patient to not lose ground. I like to use Roger Gracie as a sample, as he's the one who submitted more people in the last 10 years. Pick his match against Terere in 2004. He was losing but still did not rush and took all the time he needed to pass Terere's guard and win the match. Depending of the Zero Tolerance attitude you are praying, we may see him losing the position and the fight.

      So it's not that simple like using a pen and changing a rule or concept. It needs to be debated and tested thoroughly.

      ALSO, my experience teaches me that these knots (like double guard pulling) are temporary, as the athletes always evolve and find a way to deal with that, not necessarily needing a rule change to do so. We are underestimating the technical creativity of our practitioners. And they tend to be very creative with their own solutions.

    • Frank Curreri at 11:13 pm

      Luca, thanks for taking the time to respond, my friend! Appreciate and respect your viewpoint, especially since I am an avid reader of Gracie Mag. And I most definitely agree with you that it is not fair to criticize or single out Keenan and Paulo. You were right to defend them and their jiu-jitsu. I understand where you are coming from — the grey areas of BJJ and the rules; obviously, if good and elite players just go blitzkrieg all the time from the opening seconds it could be costly and potentially produce mistakes that leads to defeat in some instances. So we can all understand some degree of caution in big matches. They can't all be barnburners, that's for sure, and an athlete doesn't always have a responsibility to produce entertaining matches for the fans. Winning is obviously the paramount consideration, and sometimes strategy and caution are the best path to winning a certain match. But from my vantage point, somewhere along the way we have to draw a line in the sand where we are saying, 'Ok, that's just another form of stalling.' Same as a guy running from an opponent's guard the whole match, or someone laying and praying for much of the match. Ours is a wonderful sport on so many levels. Like you, I just want our sport's skyrocketing growth to continue. I want for BJJ to be widely recognized for the lifechanging art that it is. And for us to reach the highest level, in my opinion, we should seek out rules that make our great sport even more spectator-friendly. This is essential, in my mind. I say that respectfully and humbly, for BJJ is not MY art. It is the world's art now. And I'm grateful to those like Helio Gracie (whom I had the good fortune to meet a few years back), Carlos Gracie and so many others who have shared this art with us. I'm just one voice recommending a path that I believe would take our sport even higher. Doesn't make me right … If people more powerful and influential than me in the sport agree then perhaps some changes will be in order. If not, well, we're still part of the same fraternity and still bonded by the art we all love. I still respect the other side and am still grateful to be part of the BJJ community. Anyway, have a great weekend Luca. See you on the next post and thanks for a thought-provoking column.

  11. Pingback: personal fan
  12. Pingback: 3d printer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.