After the great session I had this morning (afternoon) at Monarchy MMA I thought I would head back in for another class tonight, before I head out on Saturday to Georgetown, Penang – an island (and state) off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
I was fairly tired from training at the 12:00 – 1:00 pm class (especially after getting my ass kicked by Professor Bruninho 🙂 ) but I had such a great time, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get on the mats.
I stumbled into Monarchy around 7:45 pm and was greeted by a big class of about 20 people or so. Fortunately, Monarchy has PLENTY of mat space so it didn’t seem crowded at all.
First things first, though: As I jumbled through my bag, pulling out my pants and kimono the sinking realization hit me as I failed to find my belt! “Awww, shit”! I thought. This is something that has happened to me (I should say “I’ve done”) about three times in the past six years or so. What can I say…I get absent-minded sometimes.
I changed into my kimono and headed straight to Professor Bruninho, who had just arrived and hadn’t changed yet.
“Professor, Boa Tarde – tudo bem?”, I said…completely unable to NOT speak Portuguese around a Brazilian.
“Tudo Bem” came the reply, “Como Vai”?…
“Professor”, I said…”I am very sorry…I have forgotten my belt”…
He laughed just briefly and smiled. “No problem, we have a couple extra belts over here”.
I was expecting him to pull out the PINK belt (as is the custom at my home school, The Ohio Combat Sports Academy – intended as a harmless little ribbing to help you remember your belt the next time 🙂 ), but Professor Bruninho just went over to a stack of tractor tires and produced a purple belt close enough to my size to work.
“Obrigado”, I said, feeling like I had just dodged a bullet…and I had, because the “punishment” he had in mind was coming up for all of us!
After Professor got changed it was line-up time for all of us. Professor went down the line and did something I had never seen before: He asked each student from white – all the way down the line – to hold out their hands for “fingernail inspection”. I was thankful that I had just clipped mine the day before (I just don’t like my nails long anyway). Only one person failed muster and was sent to the front desk to get the clippers and then report back for “ten push-ups”…counted in Portuguese! When the poor soul messed up the count, he had to start over. Professor gave him a break and helped the offender when he got to the forgotten number and then it was time to do warm-ups.
Side note – I really liked the “nail inspection” and will probably do the same should I ever get to the point of teaching again. It serves as a good reminder that, even though we all get busy from time-to-time, we should still respect those around us by keeping our nails clean and risk-free!
Anyway, back to the warm-up. Since it was such a large class, Professor opted to have us do all the running “in-place”. “Sweet” I thought, since I was still tired from the morning class. Then we hit the mats for in-place hip escapes. We had each done about 15 or 20 when Professor Bruninho stopped us all and said…”Okay, for one minute I want you all to do hip escapes as FAST AS YOU CAN! Ready? GO!
GO, GO, GO, he was yelling…FASTER, Faster, as we were shrimping our asses off!
After about 45 seconds he said…”Stop! Okay guys, what are you doing? This is weak! You will never be able to hip escape when a guy is trying to pass you left, right, left, right! My two year old son is faster than this” (we all laughed at that…or at least I did).
“Let’s go!” Professor said…”30 seconds as fast as you can”! GO!
For ten seconds I shrimped like never before, my technique was starting to fall off as my quads and abs built up with lactic acid. After ten seconds…
“Stop”, came the Professor’s voice. “C’mon guys. Listen, you HAVE to be able to hip-escape from any direction time after time to keep a good guard passer from passing your guard, okay? Now, just 30 seconds, as fast as you can! Okay”? GO!
I wanted a break pretty bad! I was thinking about my asthma and how, if I hit the tipping point, no amount of rest would reset my lungs. But I could hear Bruninho yelling encouragement, and for a split second, I felt like I would be letting him down, and myself down, and everyone else down if I slacked off…I didn’t want to be the guy that made us all do it again, so…to hell with finesse or style or technique! I started shrimping like a fish on the deck…I bet I looked like an apoplectic with a breathing disorder! flopping all over the place, huffing and puffing…left, right, left, right..it had to look hysterical…yet no one was laughing. Finally, the timer went off!
“Great job guys”! Bruninho let out. “Grab some water and we will get started”!
We all grabbed some water and headed back to circle up for technique time.
Professor Bruninho went over the same “corkscrew” armbar that we went over in the early class and I was excited to get some more time drilling it. Instead,what I got was a great opportunity to help someone else.
I raised my hand when it came time to do drills and ended up partnered with a new white belt named Chester. Chester was a younger guy, pretty new at BJJ but with a great attitude. He was struggling at first just to set-up the armbar from guard and then was really confused with the “corkscrew”.
“Don’t worry, man…this is NOT a BASIC armbar”! And that was the truth. I don’t think I learned this until I was a blue belt. Not that you can’t learn it anytime: that’s one of the great things about BJJ, you can learn and utilize any of a billion moves whenever it is that you happen to learn them.
We spent the next half hour or so working on Chester’s mechanics of the armbar and then spent another bit of time moving on to the corkscrew variation. Chester picked it up SOOO fast that we even added in a couple extra details for what-ifs! I was really impressed by Chester’s positive attitude and gumption. I believe that is the reason he picked it up so quickly. Despite feeling completely awkward and confused, Chester never got discouraged or upset, and he was awesome at listening to and implementing the advice I gave him.
Honestly, it says something about a person when they can be that dedicated, not to themselves or the protection of their ego, but to the art of BJJ. Hats off to Chester!!
Anyway, because it was a longer class, we still had time for some rolling before the end of class. I ended up rolling with about 4 or 5 guys and they were all good rolls!
I rolled with Chester and he even got a chance to practice the armbar from tonight’s session! Then I rolled with a 4-stripe white belt named Xavier. Xavier is long and tall and is my nemesis body type. I always have trouble with the lanky guys (Like Stephan from PTT or Will Chope at Combat 360X). Xavier proved to be no exception to that rule. We squared off and I immediately felt his strength. As he pushed towards me I went for my favorite butterfly sweep and took him over and onto his back (YES!). He immediately got one of his long legs in and recovered the half-guard. From there I decided to work on my “Half-guard berimbolo” technique that had worked for me once at a PTT no-gi session. Mistake! Xavier’s long arm reached up as I was turning and grabbed my lapel, just behind my head. Before I knew it, he was getting my back. I turned quickly and managed to fight my way to half-guard, but I was flattened out and didn’t have a great position. We ended up riding out the half-guard with Xavier exercising a LOT of pressure on my chest and neck. Great roll with Xavier!
I rolled with two or three more guys, including Alex – a British expat who was a striped up white belt like Xavier. This time I managed to play the top game and was able to work some spider guard passes as well. Another great roll!
Next up was JC. JC is a 4-stripe purple who had recognized me earlier from a Jorge Gurgel seminar. I have to say, it blew my mind that someone halfway around the world would recognize me from a seminar on the other side of the planet. That was pretty cool and reminded me of how close knit the BJJ community can be! We had a good roll with reverses and sweeps and I managed to pull off a Kimura from the reverse triangle position (something I have worked on before).
Now it is time to get ready for the next leg of the YoloBJJ Journey and fly out to Penang, Malaysia in two days. Tomorrow will be full of laundry and packing and then flying out of KLIA2 airport.
Still following my “five rules“I have already contacted and gotten two invites to train at a couple different gyms in Penang so the next week or two should be a lot of fun!
until then, OSS and good training!