In an effort to make more posts to my blog, I’m going to try to make small updates here and there that aren’t the size of a college term paper. I’m going to be ramping up a big project as I mentioned for grad school so I want to make sure I’m splitting time and not just putting off writing, as that’s a big part of my life now. For this “quick update”, I want to concentrate on my training.

I have to say that after those couple days missed last week, I’m really working hard to make the most of my time here in Rio de Janeiro. I’m doing two classes at least every other day, and I’ve now goaled myself at 8-10 classes per week. It will somewhat depend on when we have afternoon classes, for example this week it is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I can always try to wake up for the 8am class as well.

I did two classes last Friday, and something happened that hasn’t in quite awhile. I was just dead on the mat. It was my second roll of the evening class, and I literally had nothing left about 3 minutes into the roll. I’m not a cardio machine, but I seem to be holding up pretty well. I’m definitely not shredded like a lot of people, but I think my functional muscle works well and I’m doing a much better job of conserving energy and trying to pick my spots. I still falter to my “bull” mentality once in awhile, but I’m really trying to leave the strength out of the equation. Anyway, I’m definitely not trying to brag about not having felt this way yet here, as it really just means I should be pushing myself harder. It was a wake up though, and I’m going to pick up the pace.

I’ve started attending the afternoon classes that Dennis Asche teaches during the week, and I have to say I love them. When I first got here, I had heard that a lot of people didn’t go to them because they were pretty cardio intensive. They definitely work you pretty hard, but when I say that I don’t mean it in a bad way. It’s not just working you to work you. It’s a lot of drilling, which I really think I’ve missed out on in the past few years. Drilling sequences of moves that lead into each other really helps me understand jiu jitsu a lot better than one single move from a single position.

That’s not to say that I don’t get a ton out of that type of instruction too, because the evening classes are great here. Rommel who teaches the evening class gives the techniques in Portuguese, but also has great English and explains every move and the concepts behind it as well. Many of the people in class also speak English and everyone has been great about helping me. Just tonight one of the purple belts saw some extra room on the mat during rolling when someone came off and asked me over to roll with him. He then proceeded to walk me through a half guard pass and some great details on some little things like freeing my arm in a certain position. It’s also pretty amazing to have 11 black belts on the mat at once like we did tonight, if anything just to be able to watch them roll and see what they do.

Back to drilling though, again it’s something that I just haven’t done a lot of. I’ve heard great things about Andre Galvao’s book “Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” and will definitely pick that up and integrate it into my training when I do return to the states. We’ve been working this side control to kimura series that I really have been trying to implement every time I get to side control. I lost a little bit of the technique since last week but started picking it up again today and doing pretty well with it. Of course the question is why did I lose it? Well, because I haven’t drilled it enough. I’m going to try to do some drills at least every other day but hopefully every day from now on.

One other thing that I’ve been really working on is getting out of bad positions. Mainly I’m focusing on the bottom when stuck under someone in side control. I got worked pretty handily last week from that position, and because everything I was doing wasn’t working I would really just have to wait until they moved to another position or try to give something up and work from there or get submitted. Today one of the guys at the house here Manny (brown belt) helped me out with this after drilling class. I have to say he’s been a huge help to me in training here, and I definitely owe him for that little mini class he gave me today. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll have some technique videos up with him and some other people in the house that I’m going to help him film.

The story about Manny helping me out is actually the setup (I pretty much think of everything in jiu jitsu terms now) to the big (blog) finish. Tonight the first person I rolled with was none other than Gordo Jiu Jitsu’s resident UFC fighter, Rafael dos Anjos. He was one of the 11 black belts in attendance tonight that I mentioned. This isn’t going to be some heroic story of a white belt submitting a black belt; in fact the only person tapping was me (7 times in 6 minutes, I counted).

My proud moment came in between one of those series of taps when Rafael had me in side control. I used the technique Manny showed me earlier, and remembered what he said “just believe in yourself and commit to it, or it isn’t going to work”. Well, I got out from under him when I saw a little opening and actually got to my knees. Of course he immediately took my back and applied a choke for the tap. In all likelihood, he probably gave me the opening just to let me work something, but that’s not the point.

The point is I executed what I had learned, and it produced some results. I went for broke on it, and actually got out from under him, something I’ve been having a horrible time with even when I roll with some of the other white belts. I’m not ashamed to say that I executed a move that promptly got me choked, even if it was given to me, because I’ve realized that when you’re learning this art, especially in the beginning, it’s the little wins that count. I got my little win tonight, and hopefully they keep coming.

Well, this little update turned out to be pretty long so I’m going to wrap it up. I’m visiting the gym of a friend I made here in Rio and should have an update on that along with pictures and a possible interview later this week. The Real Rio Show is going to start filming soon too and I can’t wait to get that out here for everyone to see. I also posted some photos below of afternoon training from last week (thanks to Dennis for those). It’s time to get back to homework here at 3am in Rio, but check back later this week for another update!


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