Jul 06 2012

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: My Renzo Gracie Academy trip 2012 (part 4)

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/renzo4/

[Click HERE for part 1] [Click HERE for part 2] [Click HERE for part 3]

Day 2: Evening no-gi class

After my early afternoon schooling by Silver Fox, it’s time to do laundry. Unlike last year, we don’t have a washer and dryer in our building, but there’s a self-service laundromat on the corner about 50 yards from our place, so we head over for the first of MANY trips there.

We all brought at least 2 gis, since we want to spare our training partners the experience of having to roll with strangers from Charlotte sporting smelly, sweaty gis. We hope to bring a team back next year, after all!

But since the laundromat is small and pretty hot with all the machines running, there’s no need for all of us to be there, so once everyone gets their gear loaded, I volunteer to stick around and watch their things while they go eat/shower/rest. I find a table near the front window and finish the Ryan Gracie portrait I plan on giving Renzo when I see him next time.

The guys get back and we put everything but our gi tops in the dryers. While we’re waiting, Derek becomes fascinated by the cartwheel abilities of a stuffed bunny in the dryer next to ours. So fascinated, in fact, that he decides it needs to be captured on video…

As I’m taking a picture of him taking a video of a toy bunny in a dryer, I hear an angry voice from the back of the room:

“No picture!!” says the guy who I presume is the owner, while glaring at me.

“Relax, man. We’re just here on vacation having fun,” I say, as I put my phone away.

But I have to wonder, why is he so insistent on me not taking a picture? How much shady stuff goes on in this laundromat? Is this a recurring problem? Has Consumer Reports been doing inside stings on the inner workings of the laundry? Are there body parts tumbling around in one of the dryers down the row??

I’ll probably never know the answers to such things. But oh well, it’s time to train again!

We grab our gear and head out for the 7pm submission grappling class. Some on the team opted to do the 6pm white belt class, and others will do the 8pm one. That’s the nice thing about having people of different ranks on the team this year. We get to experience a number of different classes and different instructors and then share what all we we learned with each other when we’re finished.

Derek, Mike and I head over to the main mats while Brooke, Michael, Dave and Nick are taking the beginner class with UFC fighter Rafael “Sapo” Natal. It’s pretty flippin’ sweet when your white belt class it taught by a guy who fights in the UFC, I must say!


I think Brooke was especially appreciative of Sapo! Haha…the grin on her face whenever his named was mentioned or he walked in the room during the rest of the trip was a dead giveaway! ;)


Our class is taught by Max McGarr…another ridiculously handsome dude (Hey, I’m secure enough to admit it!) whose biceps are the size of my head! He’s a great instructor and–you guessed it–incredibly nice and helpful. Hopefully readers have noticed this trend among RGA instructors by now!

During the drilling portion of the class, we have an odd number. So Mike and I make a team of three with another visiting student named Josh.

Josh is a big solid blue belt who also happens to be a southern boy. In fact, he’s a student of my friend Paul Creighton in Atlanta. Paul is one of Renzo’s black belts who I met at a seminar in VA last year. He’s an awesome guy who also has really good taste in MMA artwork…  ;)


So when I find out that Josh is one of Paul’s students, I know I’ll enjoy training with him…even if doing takedowns with him is like doing takedowns with the A-Team van!

Max shows a few takedowns from armdrag and then after that it’s more 6min rounds of grappling to finish up class.

This time I do MUCH better than in my previous two classes. I roll with a guy who goes for a footlock on me–which is great because it’s the green light for me to hunt for footlocks in return!

If you don’t know much about BJJ/grappling, footlocks are an interesting thing. Some schools do not teach them because they believe they are too dangerous, especially at the lower ranks when students don’t have good control. In fact, under IBJJF competition rules, most of them aren’t allowed at all, even in the higher ranks. I’ve even heard some top level instructors say that they think footlocks are for people who can’t pass guard. :)

Other schools believe that like anything dangerous, they can be taught to beginners, but must be done with an emphasis on partner safety and executing them responsibly. It’s an ongoing argument, and both sides make good points. But our school, LMA, is definitely the latter type. Our instructor Derek’s footlock game is black belt level and we’ve learned to defend heel hooks, toe-holds and calf-slicers from day one…even in the gi!

So once my partner goes for a footlock, I’m in familiar territory. I counter with a straight ankle lock and get the tap. Then a few minutes later I hit a kneebar. It feels good to finally get a tap from an opponent!  But he’s no slouch and it’s a good round of grappling.

I also get to roll with Josh, and to no one’s surprise I spend most of the round on the bottom! However, with less than a minute left I hit a sweep and end up in an armbar position. I know I can’t break his grip given the size of his guns, so I actually use a move that Paul taught at the seminar where I met him and transition to a head-scissors with my legs. It’s tight and I see Josh’s hand about to tap my leg, but at the last second, he manages to shift his head and I know that I’m not gonna get it. So I transition back up to a kimura and as I’m about to go for it, the round ends!  Arrrgghhh! So close!!  Haha!

My marathon day of classes at RGA has come to a close and I am a sweaty pile of exhausted ginger mess. I know that no matter what, I’m gonna sleep great tonight (despite the karaoke jam in the Chinese restaurant beneath us!) And tomorrow, I plan on skipping the early class and just doing lunch and evening classes so my body can rest a little.

It’s been a good day.

But tomorrow it gets even better!

[Continue reading Part 5]

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