Yesterday, Darren, chuck (another Team Evolution student) and yours truly took a bit of a road trip to our State Capital, Columbus Ohio. The Relson Gracie, Columbus, OH Chapter is located in down-town Columbus and his headed up by Relson Gracie black belt, Jeff Hudson. Every Friday afternoon, Mr. Hudson and some of his guys hold an “open mat” training session for those who wish to hone their grappling skills in a fairly intensive, yet chilled-out environment. So, I played a bit of “hooky” yesterday and went down to their Academy to check it out.
I feel pretty good this week, and was really looking forward to rolling hard with some fresh bodies down there, and the guys there did not disappoint. We arrived, and warmed up a bit, and then it was pretty much “full go” as much or as little as you wanted. They have a timer running six minute intervals throughout the training session which I discovered part way into the training. The first blue belt I was rolling with abruptly quit rolling at the sound of the first six minute buzzer, and I was slightly pissed about this since I had passed his guard and was working my top game. But Darren explained to me that some of these guys want fresh partners every six minutes, so “it’s all good”, for sure.
I got about seven or eight hard rolls in over about a 90 minute time period and some of the rolls didn’t adhere to the six minute timer. I did fairly decent against the blue belts, but really got “owned” by a couple of the Relson “brown belts”. Darren reminded me that at this stage of my journey, it’s natural for this to happen to me, but the redneck part of me really felt like a BITCH getting mounted and dominated so handily. There’s this one guy who’s name is Tommy Fister, and he really brings the pressure when he rolls—he’s only about 185 lbs—about 10 pounds lighter than me, but feels like he weighs over 3 bills. We started and he had me start in side control—we rolled around a bit some until he recovered guard, swept me, and mounted me. He really stuck to me, and bumping and elbow escaping were such a chore! I think I got to half guard once or twice, but basically, my Jiu Jitsu was defensive, survival mode Jiu Jitsu against this guy. He’s a really nice guy and I appreciated getting to roll with him.
On a more positive note, I had a number of arm-bar finishes, and my guard was pretty solid against guys more in line with my skill level. I’ve also been working on my posture within the guard, and my passing felt pretty good. I scored a couple of sweeps from the half-guard and saw the back a few times (so to speak) and took it once from this position. These guys play a lot of open, butterfly guard, and I need to work on my pressure when grabbing the inner portions of their Gi pants to work the butterfly pass.
Everybody was pretty cool about the blind thing, as they are in most academies where I visit. Another brown belt, when I asked him where he wanted to start, tip-toed away and jumped on my back, which was actually pretty funny and got some laughs—LOL!
All in all, it was time well spent. Mat fees for this open mat are $20 per session, and there’s a few brown and black belts who are there to answer questions and give advice if you roll with them. So, while it’s not like a private lesson or formal class, many questions are answered, and many opportunities exist for those who participate to hone their skills.
The LTrain does have to work for a living, and can’t get down there every Friday, but my goal is to try to go down maybe once a month and bring along my laptop on days when I need to get some work done on the 280 mile round trip drive. I’d like to thank Mr. Hudson and his crew for having us, and for giving us the work-out that we were after, and recommend that those of you who have the time, and who are interested in getting in some quality mat time, to check out this open mat that starts around 12:30 p.m. every Friday.
Larry, the LTrain