Rafael Mendes-Like Watching Poetry In Motion

Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes or Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – find more of his leg lock articles and resources at www.BJJLegLocks.com


There are very few Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players that are fluid and lethal as Rafael Mendes.  Watching Mendes in action is truly a treat for everyone that follows grappling sports.  It’s artful the way he graceful goes about dismantling the limbs of his opponent.

He floats as if he is a feather, however, he is as tenacious Pitbull!  It’s an amazing sight watching him grapple, and eventually win in his matches. In my previous article about Rafael Mendes over at Science of Skill -we talked about Rafaels tenacity against some of the highest level guys in the game….and we analyzed Rafaels success against the great Cobrinha.

One of the advantages that Rafael had against Cobrinha (and Cobrinha is most certainly a slick and fluid grappler but you will notice that Rafael’s movements are still more fluid and watching him transition is like watching poetry in motion.
There’s another article on BJJ Legends that breakdowns down the Rafael vs. Cobrinha match if youre interested….

Fluid Grappling Motions
The very first thing that sticks out to me when watching Rafael Mendes is how focused he seems to be while on the mat.  In this particular match I watched, where he faced off against Justin Radar, Mendes had outstanding focus on the arms of Radar.

Heres the Match

Early on, Justin found himself being the aggressor while obtaining the upper hand against Mendes.  Yet it didn’t take long for Rafael Mendes to strike and when he did, it was a sight to see!  It was very noticeable as to how heavy and assertive Mendes was in side control.
Making sure he was pinning the hips of Radar, Mendes wouldn’t allow Justin to get his hips in the picture, thus allowing Rafael to assert his dominance in the match.  When Rafael grabbed hold of the arm of Radar, it was all but over.
As fast as they come, Mendes was all over the place, treating Radar as if he were a jungle gym!  The constant that was on display in all of this was the fact that Mendes refused to let go of Radar’s arm; no matter if he was in bottom guard, top side control, or back mount.  The persistence of Mendes was outstanding.

Never Taking A Second To Rest
In any sport, it’s very easy to hit the pause button and take a quick breather.  In this match, it seems as if Rafael Mendes goes about it with just one single breath; it looked THAT easy!  Even when he was in a tough spot—bottom guard with Radar threatening to pass—Mendes kept active and used his legs to space his opponent, and ultimately used this to gain the advantageous position.
Later on in the match, when Mendes applied a triangle choke—which eventually won it for him—he was not about to enter coast mode despite having Radar in a jam.  Even while on his back, Mendes was active and made sure Radar was not going to slip out or do damage from the top.
It was a fantastic display of skill that Mendes put on for the crowd in this match at the Pan Am’s.  A young man in age, Mendes is wise beyond his years when it comes to his grappling prowess.  There is no such thing as a boring match when it comes to Rafael Mendes.
Dan Faggella

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