Roger Gracie Academy – Vienna, Austria

So, I had been in Vienna for about a week, and hadn’t trained a minute. I had broken my vow to stay on track to getting my core fitness back. But this time it didn’t have anything to do with over-eating, over-drinking or sight-seeing.14102154_772421539563983_7215110791907201657_n

I had switched my website over to a new server the day I got into Vienna and nothing had been right with it since. The entire back-end (the area where I can do work, check orders, write posts, etc…) had crashed and nobody in tech support could tell me why. When you run your own business and your entire income is web-based, and your software crashes, well, it’s like they say….”You had ONE-JOB”! So I spent the entire first week in Vienna learning what an FTP was, learning how to debug lines and lines of html code, etc…all so I could get the site back up, so that I could write more lovely stories for you guys!

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So, anyway…it was a Sunday and I had made a run to the grocery to get sweetener for tomorrow morning’s coffee. When I discovered the grocery closed, I decided to go around the block to get back to my apartment instead of doubling back. I turned the corner and headed toward my street and there it was…..a white sign hanging above a glass door… “Roger Gracie Academy – Orlando Neto – Vienna”…I leaned my head to the left and scrunched up my eyebrows….”huh”? I was thinking…I looked down at the door and saw a large poster in the window. It read: “Roger Gracie Academy – Orlando Neto – Vienna”.

“No way…” I thought…I looked back up at the sign…I was standing there like some kind of moron, dumbstruck at what I had just stumbled upon.

You see…I almost always do bunches of research to figure out where I am going to train before I get to a new city. I had done all the usual research for Vienna and this academy did not show up anywhere. I had no idea it was right around the corner from my apartment!

On the door, above the poster, was a small 8.5 x 11 print out of a schedule. It showed that there was a class Monday morning at 10:00 am.


I got back to the apartment and told my wife about the news. She looked like I was talking about the local price of tea (i.e… she really didn’t care), but I was so excited to find a BJJ Academy, literally, around the corner from our flat.

Even though I knew I would be violating my own “5 Rules” of visiting a school, I decided that I would just “show up” at the next morning’s training and see how it would go.

I got there a few minutes early and there were a few guys doing some light drills and a couple more just kind of hanging out on the mat. I just walked up to the first guy I saw an told him my story: I’m in town for another week and stumbled across the gym…any chance I could train?

His name was Michael and we ended up training a lot together the whole week (morning class). He told me that I was for sure welcome and that the “Instructor” would be there soon and  I could talk to him. So, I sat down on the bench and waited. It didn’t take long for Professor Neto to turn up and I introduced my self to him an asked if it would be possible to train.

He just smiled and said, “For sure, man.”

Me and Professor Neto. What a great guy!

Me and Professor Neto. What a great guy!

And just like that, some of the best times I have had this year got started! I was reminded right away how out of shape I was. Warm-ups were moderate: This is one of three schools I have found in the world that don’t run the mats as part of the warm-up. We did all the usual stuff, we just did it standing in place. Jumping jacks, knees up, feet up, windmill stretches, shoulder, hand and leg stretches, etc…

The place is plenty big at about 30′ x 40′ and the mats are the soft, cushy kind that I like 🙂 two inch, rectangle block style (but with that texture that gives your toes the ole’ mat-burn once in a while).

The class was about 12 – 15 people which is pretty decent for 10 am on a Monday (at least in my experience. Day class is always smaller than evening class, except maybe at Phuket Top Team where you can get 40 people in any given class!

Anyway, warm-ups went okay and technique portion focused on neutralizing your opponents efforts to sit-up in half-guard. It was a familiar technique for me and I was glad to get a chance to drill it a bit. Michael and I paired up and drilled technique for about 45 minutes until it was time to roll!

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This is when I was reminded of this very crucial point in Jiu-Jitsu: If you can’t breath, you can’t do Jiu-Jitsu! I swear to God, Michael kicked my ass all over the mat! When he was done, somebody else did! I was so out of it I don’t even remember who and how many people crushed me that first day at Roger Gracie – Vienna! My Jiu-Jitsu was just horrible! Purples, blues, whites…it really didn’t matter…I just felt like I could NOT do Jiu-Jitsu at all!

It seems bad, right? but, honestly, as I walked home after class (admittedly, bummed out) I started thinking about what must be wrong…what happened to my BJJ? A year ago or two I was a respectable purple belt, now, I couldn’t fend off the guard pass of a two stripe white belt!

The more I thought about each roll, and what it was that went wrong, the more I realized that it was ALL coming down to one very critical point: I wasn’t playing Jiu-Jitsu, because I wasn’t thinking Jiu-Jitsu, because I couldn’t breathe, and the only thing I could think of was breathing.

I couldn’t recall a single technique I had attempted, or what grips I had at any given time. It was tough to admit to myself, but this was all boiling down to time on the mat. I absolutely had to get more of it and improve my basic fitness to give my brain a chance to think Jiu-Jitsu again.

Fortunately, Roger Gracie – Vienna has plenty of classes! I checked the schedule and talked to Professor Neto about training more. He was extremely gracious and told me to come to every class!!

So, knowing that I will be getting my butt kicked for the rest of the week AND doing all the normal “sight-seeing” with my wife, I am hoping to be in pretty decent shape in the next week or so. We will see…

Until then,

Oss…and good training!

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