Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Training in Las Vegas

(Note: Check out the photo of UFC fighters Matt Riddle, Mike Pile, and the LTrain horsing around after a no-gi work-out at “Throw Down MMA”!)

As some of you know, I’ve been in Vegas on business since last Tuesday. While the glits and glamour of Vegas isn’t my scene, it’s an awesome place to be if you enjoy training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, submission wrestling, or for that matter, any of the mixed martial arts. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve set up shop at “Throw Down MMA” where Gabriel Kitober, one of Ricardo Pires’ guys, another Aswaldo black belt runs the Jiu Jitsu and submission fighting program. I visited there back in January. Gabriel’s an awesome teacher, but I didn’t find the guys to really push me as much as they are doing now. Some of the guys have gotten better, and new guys have joined on. We’ve been experiencing 100+ temperatures for most of my stay here, and I have to tell you that this dry heat can really take a great deal out of you. The upside is that my diet here has been pretty good (aside from those awesome garlic fries last night!), and I’m feeling terrific! I trained very hard four times last week and am on pace to train another four times this week.

Gabriel has a really tight, mean game much like his instructor’s. He’s about my size—perhaps a bit leaner, and he’s been showing lots of basic ways to control via side mount as well as transitioning to the mount. He’s also tightened up my game as it relates to taking the arm-bar from side control, transitioning to the opposite arm for the arm-bar when the guy defends, and transitioning to the back when the arm is not a viable option.

We roll an average of four to five matches, and I’m enjoying rolling with the unfamiliar bodies in this gym. I’m faring pretty well, for the most part, but really got taken to the limit last night by a blue belt about my size who took the gold medal in the tournament sponsored by the UFC and Grapplers Quest (I believe) two weekends ago. He’s a tough guy, and an awesome training partner for the train. His name is Chance, and he’s becoming a friend as well.

Last Saturday, Gabriel went to California to take in the BJJ World Championships, so I used this opportunity to do something that I thought I would never have done a number of months ago. I went to visit Marc Laimon’s Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu. I was pretty turned off by Marc Laimon on the Ultimate Fighter season 4 TV show with all of the Gracie bashing, and really enjoyed Matt Serra talking him down in front of a room foul of fighters on one particular episode. However, as I’ve trained with more and more Jiu Jitsu players, I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to stay out of the politics of Jiu Jitsu and just focus on my own training. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Laimon’s school, and while he wasn’t there for this particular class, I had a great time training with his guys last Saturday. Some brown belt named Aqeel taught the class, and taught some really awesome back defense techniques. He showed us how to use our head to control the guy’s head who has our back by bridging back with our head under his chin. He also showed how to transition for the escape by placing our head on the mat next to our opponent’s head and turning into the guy. It was really helpful for me. He and a few of the purple belts made it clear when I arrived that they were pretty a tight-knit group and that I’d need to earn my props there. They really made me feel unwelcomed at first—it probably didn’t help that I went in there wearing Ricardo Pires gear, for Cobra Kai’s dislike for the Brazilians is well documented. But once we started training, they warmed up to me. All the guys were really tough and technical, and I really had a great time there. I may actually try to go back one more time, but really enjoy Gabriel’s teaching, so I’m a bit torn right now. But I would recommend Laimon’s school for anyone who doesn’t mind an old-school gym with a fairly rough group of guys who will push you to your limit. I must have made an OK impression there, for I was invited back at the end of class, and considering that they really gave me the cold shoulder at first, I feel pretty good about this invite.

Well, it’s a few more days here, and then back to Cleveland. I’ll jump back on this blog if anything else noteworthy happens this week. Until then, train hard and be safe.
With Much Respect,

Larry the LTrain

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