Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Homecoming Of Sorts

Greetings, and sorry that things have gone quiet on the blog front. I’ve had a few technical writing projects on which I’ve been diligently working for a couple of clients, and between work and training along with the other humdrum responsibilities of life, I’ve been pretty negligent on the blogging front.

But here I am in the City of Angels, and I wanted to blog about last night’s training session at the Gracie Academy. I’m here in Los Angeles for the week, and it made sense to revisit the birthplace of Jiu Jitsu, the same place I visited a couple of years ago just six months into my GJJ Journey.
A great deal has changed for me and my developing GJJ game since my last visit. I’m now able to participate in the “advanced” classes as well as the “Gracie Combatives” classes which everyone may take.

So despite having a MOTHER of a sinus headache along with just finishing conducting a seven hour day-long workshop, I got my worn-out ass together last night and made the 25 minute trip over to Torrance.

The Academy had relocated since my last visit, and the new facility was quite decent, spacious, and appeared to be relatively clean. I paid my mat fee of $40—that’s right—the Gracies haven’t amassed their wealth by cutting blind guys breaks on mat fees, and I went to go get changed and warm up before class.

I my way back to the locker room, I met Ryron Gracie, Rener Gracie’s older brother, and Rorian Gracie’s eldest son. Ryron was on his way out to go teach somewhere in West LA, I think, but he took a few minutes to chill, and talk to me a bit. He’s a nice guy but seems kind of nervous. He walked with me back to the locker room and has an interesting way of offering sighted guide to blind people. In ordinary circumstances, his methods wouldn’t fly with me, for he pretty much grabbed me by the shoulder and neck and pushed me down the long corridor to the locker room. When I tried to correct this unorthodox way of guiding his response was something along the lines of: “I know how to do it right, bro, but I’m a terrible guide, and this is how I do it.” Well, how could I respond to that logic—it isn’t as if I was going to kick his ass or something!

There was a blind guy who was waiting for a ride there, who I guess trains there, although I couldn’t get any specifics out of him, and Ryron introduced me to some blind kid who’s training there with the kids class which was just wrapping up when I arrived, so it’s nice to see that this Academy has a few blind students. I was disappointed that I missed meeting Rorian Gracie by minutes for he was leaving the Academy as I was arriving.

Rener taught the advanced class last night. I reintroduced myself to him before class, and he actually remembered me. We spent a few minutes catching up, for he seems to have a great deal of regard for David Adiv and Royler Gracie—so he was happy to have me participate in the “advanced class”.

People pretty much warmed up on their own, and when Rener got on the mat, he just started class. We spent the class working on positions maintaining the “side mount”. Rener explained and demonstrated in great detail all of the aspects of shifting one’s hips and changing one’s hand and knee positions to adjust when someone tries to escape your side mount and either go to his knees or recover guard. The three scenarios were:
1. Guy tries to bridge into you and buck you off.
2. Guy tries to wedge his knee in front of your hip to recover guard, and
3. Guy turns into you completely to create space.

I learned from Rener that the best way to diffuse a guy taking the underhook while you’re on top is to neutralize the underhook by hooking his far leg. Conversely, when the guy turns into you, switch your hand positions, and underhook the leg closest to you as well as grabbing his shoulder and head as a handle to flatten him back out. He also showed, if the shoulder isn’t an option, how to cup the chin with your hand, almost like a guillotine to turn the person and make them flat.

He also offered some good defenses for avoiding triangles and arm-bars from when the guy tries to recover guard, but isn’t quite there yet. I really appreciated his details, and he really focuses on staying tight and bringing some serious pressure without being muscley at all.

The last part of class was devoted to “rolling”. I rolled with two of his blue-belts from the feet and did OK, although they kept up a pretty decent pace, to be sure. Both were shorter than me, and one was a bit lighter than me—probably by about 20 pounds. I finished one guy with an arm-bar, and then got caught in a really tight triangle choke from the second guy—we went again, and I caught him in a kimura from side mount. I did leave the Academy knowing that I’d been in a work-out—that’s for sure. Everybody there was pretty cool—even the one guy who I almost walked in on while taking a shower was a good sport about the interruption—LOL!

I have a pretty full “dance card” this week, and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get over to “10th Planet Jiu Jitsu” like I had hoped, but I do plan to go back to the Gracie Academy tomorrow, and possibly Thursday. I’ll post about tomorrow, probably some time tomorrow night.


Larry, the LTrain

1 comment: