BJJ Black Belt
CGJJ Stories from Abroad
This was a Blog i wrote originally on the EFN forum Last Year.Many of you may have read it,but i'm reprinting it here for those that didn't.
As any of you who have known me a while know i have to travel a lot for work.
I am currently working in Spain.
I always try to train in new academies while away,and teach my workmates BJJ.
I normally travel with enough mats to teach 6 people and for one pair to roll unresricted by space.
I thought it would be interesting for you guys to read about my travels and teaching.
Arrived at my Hotel and went to check out the 'gym'.It is on the top floor of the hotel and overlooks the ocean.
It has an outdoor pool on a terrace,an indoor jacuzzi,steamroom and sauna.
The 'gym' part of it consists of a cheap running machine,old excersise bike and an elyptical walker.
The gym is really a 'spar'.I have decided not to ask the hotel about putting mats in there-i am just going to do it-
and if they say anything i will complain that their gym is not sufficient and my mats are for my daily yoga regime.
My assistants carry the mats into the hotel on their shoulders followed by me humping a suitcase containing some press up
bars,2x10kg dumbells and a single 30kg dumbell.We must look a little strange.I smile at the receptionist who looks slightly
confused and offer up a friendly "Buenos Dias!".We get in the lift before she can reply and hit the button for the 5th floor.
We are in the hotel off season so there is nobody in the spar-no staff and no guests.I set up the mats,then do
a 'weights' workout-
3xsets of press ups to failure using the press up bars that allow full range of movement a little like a bench press.
3x sets of one arm,bent over dumbell rows with the 30kg dumbell.
3x sets of lateral raises for side delts with the 10kg dumbells.
p.s. My weights routines on this blog do not represent how i train in London-they are a 'needs-must' way with minimal equipment
while travelling to maintain strength.
My first Jiu Jitsu workout in my new 'dojo'.The surroundings being slightly more upmarket than the Carlson Gracie London 'BoilerRoom'!
There have been no complaints from the hotel about the new mats and weights that have mysteriously appeared in their 'spar'.
My first new student is Paul.A 34 year old guy i am working with.He has no martial arts experience but does a physical job and is a good snowboarder.
We are,of course,going to be training 'No Gi'.This is because none of my workmates are experienced and will want to buy kimono's.They wouldn't understand
or want to wear a gi.They want me to teach them some 'gracie shit' like in the 'ufc'.
I do a really thorough warm up with Paul-including Carlson Gracie Neck crunches-anyone who has trained with Wilson,Me or Dickie will wince at
the thought of these!
We then do about 15 minutes of stretching which is a bastardisation of my old Taekwondo stretch routine (have you seen tkd high kicks.....?) and
I then show Paul what 'Guard,side control,knee on chest and mount' look like and explain the hierachy of positional dominance in BJJ.
I then teach him the basic 'knee in bum,elbows in quads,trap his leg under your leg' guard pass.
Then its onto side control and an americana submission-showing the secret details.................
We then spar from kneeling.I tell him he can go as crazy as he likes as long as he doesn't put his fingers in my eyes.
I jump guard and after 2 minutes rolling around he is gassed and can't continue.
I was careful not to submit him-because in my experience if you submit people on their 1st session their ego can't take it and they may
not return.I need Paul.I am away until April and i only have him to train with...............
We manage to sneak out of the spar without any questions from the Hotel Staff.Paul persuades me to dismantle the matts and leave them in a
pile in the corner of the spar so they are less conspicuous.It only takes 3 minutes-He's right.
To Be Continued.
Before i left England i had googled "BJJ Los Alazares" and got nothing-same with Judo,which is always my second google
if BJJ doesn't show anything up.
I then looked for the nearest city to 'Los Alcazares' and found it is Murcia.
I then googled 'BJJ Murcia' and found a small advertisement on a local sport forum advetising 'Rafael Santos-Jiu Jitsu Brasiliero Professor'.
I sent him an email saying i would like to come and train and he sent me an email back in spanish saying i would be welcome and not regret it!
I then googled his name and found a you tube video of 'Rafael Santos vs another guy'.They both looked like monsters-over 90kg and at a high level-
i would say Brown or Black Belt (the fight was No Gi).I was going to have my work cut out.
When i arrived at work i asked some of the spanish crew how far it was to Murcia.They told me about 40km's and about 40 euro's each way in a cab.
Phew.This was going to be an expensive excercise.
After work i ordered a cab for 6.30pm at the hotel (the class started at 7.30) and got in the cab with an address written on a scrap of paper.
The cab driver didn't speak any english and i don't speak any spanish apart from
"Donde estas SPACE por favor" from my Ibiza days of the past..............
I had been in the Cab about 50 minutes and the fare had gone to about 55 euro's before i started getting concerned.
We were in the Northern Outskirts of a strange city,and maybe it was my arsehole going-because travelling to a new club in
a new country is always a little 'challenging' on the old bottle (a bit like going to a competition),the surroundings were looking
a little industrial and rough.
The cab driver stopped and asked a couple of people if they knew where the gym was.They didn't.He eventually found a policeman who
immediately knew the gym-he said it was new.I managed to understand that.
We eventually arrived at the gym at 7.35- i was 5 minutes late and had been in the cab for over an hour.
The journey cost me 70 euro's (about £50.)
The gym had a glass front and looked like a very high quality Body Building gym-and it was packed with monsters.
I scoped it from the outside and saw a first floor with glass walls overlooking the ground floor weights room.
There were two first floor rooms-one with an aerobics class going on and another with 4 guys wearing Gi's standing and talking.
The way the Dojo had a glass wall and overlooked the main gym reminded me of 'The Third Space' in London's Soho.
I made my way into the gym,and stopped at the desk where there was a turnstile.
I smiled at the female bodybuilder there and just said "Jiu Jitsu",hoping she wouldn't
tell me i had to be a member,pay insurance or do an induction.
She clicked the turnstile and in i walked.I carried on through all the steroid heads
training over to the stairs in the corner.Up the stairs and into the dojo,taking my shoes off and bowing
at the door.There was a 35 year old Purple Belt who was about 6ft 2in and about 85kgs.
I knew immediately he would have a guard game specialising in triangles.
Its funny how after all these years you know by looking at someone what their BJJ will consist of
after 2 seconds.
He was with a small young Blue Belt and 2 big white belts who were in their Thirties.
The Purple belt walked over to me and i asked "Professor?" he said "Si" and i said "Simon Hayes-Email!"
He said "Porra" and i realised
1.He was not the Rafael Santos from You Tube (phew)
2.He spoke NO english.
3.I spoke a few words of Spanish and a few words of Portuguese-like 'Porra' 'Puta Kipario' 'passe le guard' 'Valeo' 'porra' 'PORRA!!' and 'poooorrrrraaaaa'.
This was going to be interesting.
One of the white belts came over-and his english was about as good as my french-he could understand many single words but got lost on sentences.
I tried to explain that i was sorry i was late,and that i came 'muito kilometres' and that i would like to train and none of them understood a word i said.
I then just said 'OK.Me-kimono' and pointed downstairs to the changing room.They all looked happy and then the Instructor asked the White Belt something
in spanish.The white belt asked me 'You-what belt'.I said Brown and he looked shocked.He said something in spanish to the instructor and the instructors
smile left his face.He said to me 'Faixa Marom?' and i said "Si".
I then turned and left the dojo to go and get changed.
I got into my plain white Mizuno Judo Gi.Wearing a plain judo gi when you are at other peoples academy is a mark of respect to them.
It is disrespectful to turn up with Bulldogs all over your Gi,and can change a nice welcoming reception into resentment and
competitiveness very quickly.
I know how i feel when someone turns up with another teams patch at Carlsons.Much as i try to be mature about it,it bothers me-i am being honest here.
Its like turning up to train at Chelsea with an Arsenal Kit.
I also use a Judo Gi so if i can't find a Jiu Jitsu Club i can go and train at a Judo Club without being immediately labelled a 'BJJ guy'.
BJJ Black Belt
walked back into the Dojo and i knew one of two things would happen-
either he would say to his guys that i was a visiting Brown Belt and invite me to show them some positions
or he would treat me like any other student.
With him being Brazilian and me being English it was the latter-which was fine for me-i
wanted to train,not be scrutinised.
He started the warm up-just the normal running round in circles routine,then he went into stretches which were
quite complex Yoga movements-i liked it.We then started some positional jiu jitsu excercises and i got partnered
with a big white belt.
At this point a Blue Belt walked into the dojo-ripped to shreds about 25 years old and 80kg.The weird thing was
he looked EXACTLY like 'Lagatixia' who used to train at Carlsons and was from the North of Brazil.He has such a distinctive look
i knew he was Brazilian.
The Instructor then started showing some positions.
He showed a very technical Half guard sweep that uses the 'escape out the back and underneath' method that
is very popular in Brazil lately.It was a position very similar to something Roberto Atalla had showed me this year
and Roberto had said it was brand new-so i sensed that this Purple Belt Instructor Rafael Santos was technical and
experienced.He then showed a sweep to counter what i call the "Carlson Guard Pass".It was a nice sweep but it wouldn't
work on me i don't think unless someone with very long legs who was very strong was doing it.
After we had been training these 2 positions for 30 minutes Rafael said something in Spanish and i looked at the clock.
There was 30 minutes of the class left.The white belt who knew some english came over and said "Fight!"
Rafael comes over and kneels in front of me and i know we will be sparring.
He then matches the other 6 students up and tells one guy 'cinqo minuto'-5 minutes.
He starts by shuffling forward using combat base (one knee up so if i jump to guard i
won't be able to close it).I get hold of his kimono still kneeling.I am very gentle at first.
I will let him dictate the pace.He has a soft 'roll with flow' kind of grip on me (the opposite of what i
am used to from carlsons).He sits back into a relaxed open guard and i kind of hold his knee's in a relaxed
"roll with flow" kind of way,i stand up and let him play around trying a few sweeps and stuff.
I then got a little bored and decided to pass.i slammed his feet on the ground in a decidedly unrolling with flow fashion
and still holding his knees i buried my shoulder into his solar plexus.I held side control for 30 seconds.He wasn't rolling
with flow anymore.He was trying to escape full bore by pushing me and trying to escape his hips.
I started feeling a little guilty as i was the one to start training full power first,so i got the advantage of side position when he was
still 'rolling with flow'.
*we don't really do 'rolling with flow' at Carlsons so i am not sure how hard to go,what is considered sporting etc.Its much easier to just train full power
then everyone knows whats up IMO*
I allowed him to retain guard because i didn't want him to think i had cheated.Now with his guard closed,the real fight could begin.
We then proceeded to have a very tough fight.At one point i looked up and EVERY student in the academy
was sitting cross legged watching.LOL.
At Carlsons when someone interesting and new turns up,at least the students will 'pretend' to spar-i.e.
they will sit in each others guards sneekily watching.......Well this lot just stopped sparring and sat watching their
instructor having it with the new guy.
The end of the 5 minutes was up-we shook hands and he beckoned over the handy looking Brazilian Blue Belt.
I know i said before he was in shape.But again-this fella looked a handful.
So it was time to roll with the Instructors best student.As we began
i saw that the instructor wasn't rolling with anyone-he was sitting watching me and
his Blue Belt spar.The Blue Belt was a decent level and very fit.I thought "shall i hold my style
back so the instructor doesn't see it,or shall i just show him and not care if he knows my stuff"
Well-i just showed everything and thought to hell with it.I had a good aggressive fight with the
young blue belt and he was very good.I played guard and tried to sweep and submit from there.
If i swept to top position i played my game.At the end of the 5 minutes i asked him how long had
he been training because he felt better than a Blue Belt to me-i thought maybe he was also a Judo
Black Belt as he had excellent posture.Well he held up 5 fingers and said "cinqo anos"-
O.K. a five year brazilian Blue Belt,that made sense.
The instructor immediately came over having watched the whole fight and motioned that i would be
with him again for the next round.Because i had just had a tattoo done i was wearing a rash guard under
my Gi to stop any rubbing,and it was damn hot in Spain-like an English summerday.I was gassed and feeling
the heat and he'd just had a 5 minute rest,but i said 'ok' and off we went.This time there was no rolling with
flow.It was just like Carlsons with me playing top and him playing bottom.We had another very good fight
with every student watching.At the end we shook hands.I then had another round with a little Brazilian Blue Belt-a kid really who was about 65kg.
His name was 'Mosquito' for obvious reasons.He was very fast but not as technical as the other Blue.He will be one day-but i could tell he
had like 18 months training and not 5 years like the other guy.
Rafael then asked the class to line up.
At the end we all bowed and he said "Muito Obrigado Simon" and that was it.
I then went to the changing room with them and it was the same area all the bodybuilders used
so i said to everyone in the changing room 'does anyone speak english'.Well they all looked at me like
i was a piece of shit and carried on changing.I think the spanish bodybuilders probably didn't like the tough brazilian guys doing
jiu jitsu at the best of times,but seeing them with an englishman had just made their rep hit an all time low.LOL.
Rafael then asked in sign langauge if i would be back tommorrow and i told him 'No-i can never come here again-it is too expensive and far in the cab"
He didn't understand me and told me his wife spoke english and call her tommorrow at 1pm so we could talk on the phone with her translating.
I also tried to give Rafael 10 euro's for the class but he wouldn't take any money.Very generous of him.
The next day i called and explained that because the cab ride had cost 140 euro's (£100) i couldn't afford to come training anymore with him.
I told him about the tatame (mats) i had at the hotel and said i get saturday and sunday off-could he come and do personal training with me
on both days every week.He is a Jiu Jitsu instructor and i am at work earning money-even though he is a purple and i am a brown i am happy
to pay him if i get to have a scrap twice a week with someone who is a decent level.So we agreed a very fair price and i told him i would see him next saturday.
I was pleased-i now had my little dojo set up in the hotel-with pool and a jacuzzi.I had my weights,a view of the ocean and a Brazilian Purple Belt
to train with every weekend in the Gi.I also had my Jiu Jitsu class to teach with my work mates every night without the Gi-with guys who didn't know anything
and would not react like jiu jitsu fighters-this can be very good for our reactions-i like fighting 'spaz's' i don't know why the americans complain about 'noob's spazzing out'-
i think that is just as important for your development as fighting seasoned jiu jitsu guys.Anyway,i now had both Gi,and No Gi covered.
Everything was going to be fine.
(Next instalment - what happened with the 140kg Bulgarian.)
Today we had a new guy to the class,so it was me,Paul and the new guy.His name is Tim and he is a very good cyclist.He takes everything
very seriously and he is known to his friends (apparently) as 'Tim-Tim I've got to win'.
I didn't know this until afterwards and decided to teach double leg take downs.Well Tim was very good at them and before long he
hit Paul fairly hard with the enthusiasm of a high school wrestler on steroids.He launched Paul and landed with his shoulder in Pauls solar plexus.
I asked Paul if he was ok and he said yeah.
The class continued until sparring and i put the boys together.Within 30 seconds Paul said he couldn't carry on and i asked whats up and he said his ribs were
hurting from earlier.I told him to rest and get some nurofen on the way home.
I went with Tim and he went absolutely mental.He was very athletic and twisted and bucked and generally went mad with me going from mount,to back and
rolling around gently without subbing him.He seemed to get a little perturbed he couldn't remove me and eventually gave up gassed.
I ended the class.
The next morning the nurse at work came up to me and said she had 2 cases of suspected broken ribs.............
Tim had broken Pauls and i had (apparently) broken Tims-well i know i never broke them-what happened was he went so mental
trying to 'sit up' out of mount he has completely pulled every intercostal muscle he has-but he still reckons i broke his ribs.............
Back to the drawing board.
Next-Will there be any more students? And if so will there be any more broken ribs???
What happened with the 140kg Bulgarian powerlifter who has been watching eddie bravo instructionals for 2 years?
BJJ Black Belt
The characters that will be coming up in future editions-
John the Japanese Ju Jitsu Black Belt
Marcus the Hollywood stunt director who has a TKD Black Belt
The strange spanish male nurse who is a 'Five Animals Shaolin Gung Fu Black Belt' who likes to do his kata's after class with very loud sound effects-2 foot in front of me
while i am getting changed.
The 140kg Bulgarian who is the biggest guy i have trained with who has been studying Jiu Jitsu via the internet for 2 years.He
owns a bodybuilding gym and has a mat space there where he is considered the teacher.He trains in Judo and Boxing and looks like
he has a very interesting 'supplement' regime.
His stroppy 95kilo mate who hates getting tapped and keeps showing the counters in class to each move i teach.
Jim the 40 year old Hollywood exec who gets so excited when he trains he thinks its the UFC and punches me in the face while giggling and spazzing out.
Roy the quiet 45 year old cockney who has the most talent i have ever seen-you show a complex move once and he knows it and can teach everyone else-
and he's only done 4 classes.
The U.S. Marines who are about to start training.
I'll back track 3 years to Budapest.
I was working there for 3 months.I have known Mihaly from Budapest since he first came to The BoilerRoom in London with MMA fighter
Gerald Strebendt.Mihaly instantly got on very well with everyone and became firm friends with my instructor Wilson Junior.Wilson would go to Hungary
regularly,and Mihaly's team became Carlson Gracie Hungary,now Carlson Gracie/BJJ Revolution Team Hungary with a very strong link to the London Team.
A few years later and i get a job in Budapest on a Movie and i think-excellent i get to train with my Hungarian Brothers every day.
Budapest is a great place and i had the run of the city there.I was provided a car (Black Range Rover!) and a flat by a senior member of the team,and i had a great hotel
room as well.I was working on a movie with a lot of American crew and they wondered how i was so well connected and why i wasn't in the bar with them each night.
I told them i was training Jiu Jitsu,and one guy kept saying how he wrestled in high school and Jiu Jitsu wouldn't work on him.He wasn't being flash,
he just honestly believed that.
Now most of the Hungarian Team are over 90kg and they are tough.I was a Purple Belt at the time and wasn't submitting the Blue Belts there.
They really were cast from iron.Mihaly-the instructor was also Purple.Anyway i trained every day,forging a relationship with Mihaly that has become a Brotherhood now-
i have his team bulldog inked on my arm.Towards the end of the movie i went training one lunch time-i only had an hour and the guy who was a wrestler wanted to come with me.
This guy was Black with long dread locks (like one of those milli vanilli blokes).In Budapest there are very few black people and rather than being racist the Hungarians
were just intrigued to have a Black Fella at the gym.They called him "Predator" in Hungarian.We practised a few positions and this bloke being a good wrestler kept
powering out of the positions we were practising.It came to sparring and i decided not to go with him because i would have hurt his ego and made our
working relationship too hard.
I asked Mihaly to go with him and i sparred with someone else.This guy keeps standing and picking Mihaly up from guard and slamming him again and again.Mihaly has the triangle from hell,and 1 minute into the round i heard Mihaly say 'he's sleeping'
I looked around to see this guy asleep and snoring loudly on the floor.He hadn't tapped for the triangle and he was asleep for ages.I was shouting 'wake up,wake up"-
i always panic when people go to sleep.......Mihaly was saying "Relax brother,it may be a while- i didn't realise he went to sleep until he started snoring,
he will wake soon" Mihaly was as calm as a coma!
When the guy came round he was so embarrased he left the gym without any of his clothes and went and sat in the car in his shorts.We took his clothes out to the car and returned him to work,
but he was slurring his words all afternoon.At about 5pm Mihaly turned up at my work with his socks and jacket.One of the Hungarian Film Security guards came up to me and said
"There is a very heavy guy at the security cordon looking for 'the predator'!".
The wrestler never came to Jiu Jitsu again!
The spanish saga continues tommorrow.
BJJ Black Belt
Back to whats been going on in Spain for the last couple of weeks.
The Brazilian Purple Belt living in Spain-Rafael Santos,turned up for the last 2 weekends at my Hotel and we trained together.He also brought his tough Brazilian Blue Belt with him.
We exchanged a lot of techniques and he had some stuff i hadn't seen before.I also taught them some Judo for BJJ which they loved.
We did a lot of sparring and it wasn't 'Rolling with flow'.
I have struck up quite a good friendship with them in the 4 times we have trained together considering they speak absolutely no english and i speak only a few words of
both Portuguese and Spanish.
The film i have been working on is about the Iraq war.There have been a couple of scenes that have involved extra's who are supposed to look like Saddam's
bodyguards.There is a group of 3 of the biggest looking Muslim fella's i have ever seen.Well the biggest one came up to me and pointed at my Carlson t shirt and said
"Jiu Jitsu-I like!" i struck up a conversation with him and in pigeon spanish and english i learned that he owns a local powerlifting gym that also has mats.
He has been studying Jiu Jitsu via instructionals and the internet for 2 years and also trains in Judo.At his gym he runs a jiu jitsu/MMA class and is considered the teacher.
This bloke is HUGE.I have always trained around big steroid abusing bodybuilders-i have been lifting in a tough gym for 15 years.This fella is one of the biggest specimens i have seen.He is as tall as Roger Gracie or Wilson Junior but has a body like a Powerlifter.He is definately between 130kg and 140kg.I invited him to come and train at the hotel.
He turned up the next evening with one of his students.A 95 kilo fella who was 6ft 2inches.
I was running a class for all my beginners (there are now about 6 of them).Well these fella's turned up and were immediately asking questions about the techniques i was teaching.
Because it is better to demonstrate techniques on people that are experienced,i used the 95kilo guy to demonstrate a guard pass and he would'nt allow me to open his guard.I had to
use absolutely full power to demonstrate the technique.
Then everything i showed,the big one said 'but look' and showed the counter.I explained to the beginners that BJJ is like a game of chess,and for every move there is a counter
and a sub counter,and,infact the person who normally won a fight was the person who had more options to each position.
But i was beginning to feel like these blokes had come to test me,and themselves.
They are both technically white belts in BJJ,and tapping a Brown Belt would certainly be a happy event for them both.
It was time for sparring and i decided i'd better go with the big one first.I immediately managed to enter his guard and spent ages trying to pass.It was a nightmare.
He was strong as fuck.I ended up having to stand and force my knee right into his arse to break his guard open.I eventually did,but could not retain side control
as he would just literally pick me up and put me back into guard.As i was fighting i looked at his neck and it was thicker than my quad,i looked at his biceps and it they were thicker
than my quad.I knew i had to tap him in front of all these people but i didn't know how i was going to do it.
BJJ Black Belt
Everytime I managed to open the big guys leg and try to pass he picked me up
Bench press style and replaced me into his guard.Each time I opened his guard
It took an enormous effort and I was quickly running out of energy.He was
130 odd kilo’s of Bulgarian Powerlifter and even if I had have locked side control
I was wondering how on earth I would have armbarred him or choked him.
It was a pretty tall order.I started thinking while I was fighting about where his weakness
Might be and I couldn’t think of one and I certainly couldn’t see one.I also knew if he was able to reverse me I would be in trouble because even a poorly executed choke
By this monster would be hard to break out of.It was like sparring with a Polar Bear.
So there I was trying to think of a weakness and as I went for a stack pass he blocked
My pass with his knee,dangling his foot in front of my face.Before I even knew what
Was going on I knew the answer-An ankle does not get stronger from Powerlifting-
ATTACK THE FOOT-ATTACK THE FOOT! As he escaped the submission attempt
‘Time’ shouted the timekeeper and that was it.
The time was up and the Big guy left the mat.His friend with the 95 kilo’s and strange
Accent came onto the mat,and I knew there would be no rest.As we started I thai clinched him from kneeling and dragged his head down into a guillotine,my favourite No Gi weapon.As I jumped to guard with the choke locked he immediately jumped over my guard before I could close it.I kept hold of the Guillotine and rolled with him.I
Now had side control and a fully sunk guillotine,but you know how hard it is to finish the guillotine from there.If I didn’t do something fast he was going to escape.Still holding the choke I took mount and leg vined him.I have only had this position a few times and I knew it was a very bad position for him because with the leg vine the guillotine is not only a choke,but by extending the leg vines it turns into quite a nasty cervical lock.
I extended my legs and squeezed as hard as I could and he didn’t tap.I held it for so long
That I almost let it go.I was trying to remember everything about this technique that Mihaly from Budapest had ever taught me (this is the sort of technique that Mihaly is
Expert on.A sort of Hungarian Bas Rutten….).I decided the choke must be on and I just had to hold on.’Time’ –The familiar shout came again.
I finshed the class with a 15 minute stretch and invited the 2 Big guys to train with us the next night.
As I walked into the gym at the allotted time the next evening a few of my pupils were there and the big guys sat waiting with them.I have to admit I was nervous
As I knew these guys were always going to be a test.They were strong,powerful and skilful but in a different way to BJJ Guys.We went throught the class,and again as I was teaching the beginners techniques they had a lot of “What If…..” questions,while showing counters and reversals to the moves I was showing.
We got to the end of the class and I said sparring and they asked whether they could spar with me wearing their Gi’s.I said “Of course” and got my Gi out of my bag.
Well, I fought them both,twice and couldn’t get anywhere with either of them.I couldn’t open the big guys guard and I couldn’t submit the other guy from side control.
I finished the class and went back to my room questioning my ability and wondering
If I was losing my technique already.Jesus,I had only left Carlsons in London 2 weeks
BJJ Black Belt
Ago,and already I was losing the ability to finish.
I found out the next day that I had to put my mats on a Lorry bound for Morocco,our next
Work place.I realised that the personal training I had booked with Rafael Santos for the weekend was going to be impossible so phoned him to cancel it.
I then started thinking about what I could do at the weekend.The hotel had a lovely spar
And a massage service.Perhaps I could go for a nice jog and eat some delicious Spanish cuisine.The little voice in my head wasn’;t having it though.”You a chicken-you’ve got those guys phone numbers-they’ve got a dojo-call them and see if they want to fight”.
Why was it whenever my conscience called me a chicken it did it in Leo Negao’s accent?
It would have been easy to ignore the voice.In a few days time I would be in a new country with just my beginners to train with-A nice comfort zone.
I knew I had to call the big guys.It could be my last tough training session for a while and I had unfinished business.I called the smaller 95 kilo guy who said “Of course I will be outside your hotel at midday on Saturday”.
The next day came and I tentatively walked outside the Hotel at 12 o’clock.I’m not going to lie.i kind of hoped no –one would be there,but there he was..I got into his car and he said “We go to gym”.On the radio there was the kind of screaming Eastern European Thrash Metal that Mihaly the Hungarian likes.I am sure the singer is shouting about ripping heads off and eating peoples lung’s for tea in whatever language it was in.He turned the stereo down and we drove in silence for a few minutes.We were leaving the comfortable surroundings of the town and were driving through an agricultural area
With big polythene green houses and fields of what looked like cabbages.
I said “You don’t really speak with a Spanish accent”
He replied “No I am Russian,Russian from 500 Kilometres North of Moscow.500 Kilometres!”.
Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.Maybe it was the fact I had made too many Guy Ritchie movies about people like “Boris the Bullet Dodging Russian Blade” but I was decidedly scared.I don’t know why.Here I was travelling through farmland in a strange country being driven in silence by a Russian who a few days before had taken a dislike to a cervical lock I had tried to put on him.I thought he was going to stop the car,shoot me and feed me to some pigs.What was it Hatchet Harry said “An Adult Pig could devour 7 Pounds of Flesh and bone every minute”. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going and I wouldn’t be missed until Monday morning.
Before I could get myself really worked up we arrived at a small town and parked out side a big new building that said ‘Municipal Swimming pool” in Spanish.We walked in and the girl behind the counter greeted the Russian.We walked down a corridor following signs for the Gymnasium.We walked into a huge weights gym.It was obviously the council run gym but was extremely well stocked.It had Gym 80 machinery
And a lot of free weights.On one side of it was a small matted area with a Heavy Bag hanging to the side of it,and a 130 Kilo Polar Bear limbering up on the mat with a huge friendly smile on his face “SIMON” he shouted,and I immediately felt at ease.
BJJ Black Belt
I asked them if they wanted to train Gi or No Gi and the big guy replyed that they wanted to get good at jiu jitsu,they wanted to train Gi.I then said “Do you want to just train,or do you want me teach you,or do you just want to fight?”.I didn’t want to assume they wanted me teach them-I was in their gym and it would have been disrespectful.
“We need teacher” said the big guy and started to tell me that they train in MMA,Boxing and Judo but wanted to learn BJJ.I asked why they didn’t train with the purple Belt Rafael,but they said he was too far away.The big guy told me they had been studying instructionals and working on them for 2 years.Their current favourites were Marcelo Garcia and Saulo Ribeiro.We started training and I had them do 1500 Carlson Gracie Neck crunches in the hope it might make choking them easier later.I then showed some
nice positions,and to be honest they showed me some nice stuff too from their instructionals.I showed them one thing they loved.It was the ‘Secret Choke” that Dickie
used to finish a fight in the Europeans.
It was time to spar and I rolled with both of them a few times.The really big guy
was very good and without a doubt at a high Blue Belt level.The 95 Kilo guy was good -a few holes in his game but was extremely strong and athletic.My strength didn’t work on him-I supposed he was used to training with the big guy.
We finished training on very good terms and I asked if we could do another session at the same time the next day.
The next day I met the Russian outside the Hotel at midday again and he told me the Big Guy was working security at a Night Club,and the session had turned into a big all dayer and he couldn’t leave.That’s Spain for you-Every club turns into ‘SPACE’ Ibiza style whenever they feel like it.
I was starting to like the Russian.I will call him “Two Times’ because he alwys said everything twice.Either because he wasn’t sure of his English or my hearing,but I think
because he punctuated anything he felt was important by saying it twice.It was funny.
He would say things like “You know big guy is very strong,very strong.But also technical,technical and he once he Bench Presses 230kg-230KILOGRAM!”
(BTW That weight is not an exaggeration).
The Russian and I trained together for 3 Hours and I asked him what he wanted.
He replied “I want many things to train when you are not here.Many Things.We need
Teacher,Yes we need teacher,we fight for a long time,a very long time,but we need teacher because some of our techniques use brute force.brute force”.
I taught him 3 Takedowns from Judo Jims grip (Those in the know will know what I am talking about) Really a bastardized Tani-O-Toshi,a bastardized Tai-o-Toshi and a Bastardized Sumi Gaeshi all working from Judo Jim Warrens wrestling grip.
I then taught him Dickie Martins Triangle Masterclass with all the secrets-I didn’t hold anything back.Then we finished off with a guard combination of Sweep set up,to arm bar,
To oma plata,to violin arm bar depending on how the opponent reacted to each attack.This combination was taught to me by a very important man responsible for a lot of my Jiu Jitsu development.
It was time to spar and we went at it for 40 minutes,stopping only to catch our breath and gulp water for a few seconds every time there was a natural break in proceedings.
At the end I asked ‘Two Times’ if he had any previous Martial Arts experience other than the 2 years self taught BJJ he had done with the Big Guy.”Yes many many years Russian Sambo,Sambo for many years’ was his reply. Things were becoming clear now
BJJ Black Belt
What about the big guy? “Big guy best friend is Mirko Cro Cop Wrestling Teacher-they have many years together.Very Strong Croation wrestler,very strong-even stronger than
Big Guy.They very strong men and make a lot of train together,many training.Croation Wrestler also working with Fabricio Werdum and show Big Guy many techniques,many techniques.”I was beginning to understand there was more to these two than some Marcelo Garcia instructionals…….
“And you-why did you leave Russia”
The answer was pure gold-
“I wanted to change my career-I was acrobat in Russian Circus”.
No Wonder I thought to myself…………..
I left Spain the next day.I am in Morocco now and I have emailed the
“INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF EXCELLENCE FOR AFRICAN JUDO”
To see if they will allow me to train with them-(they are in Rabat – the same city
as me).I introduced myself as Ray Steven’s student to try and open the door to
A middle aged non-african.I will post when I have some news……………..
I hope you enjoyed the story!
BJJ Black Belt
I am in Morocco now and my mats are on a Lorry on their way here from Spain.Staying in a nice Hotel in Rabat.The Gym
is only 2 meters wide.It contains some prehistoric cardio machines and some nice pink and orange plastic dumbells.The pink
ones are the heavyest-3kg.The good news is that there is a big rooftop terrace outside the Gym that no one seems
to use so i'm going to install the mats there.I need my dumbells.
Today i did what i like to do in a new city-I went jogging to check it out.I ran in the Medina which is like something from star wars.
Lots of tiny little alleys with strange smells everywhere with the alleys only being 2 shoulder widths wide,with me running through jumping over
rolled up rugs being sold out of doorways,and skipping over all sorts of other produce being sold off the alley floor.It was packed full of Local
people and i don't think they'd everseen a big English guy running through their Medina.I then got to the Souk which had an entrance up some steps on a Hill.
The hill was about 100 metres from the base to the Souk entrance with 3 steps (just enough to jump in one go) every 6 running paces.I got there after i had been
jogging 40 minutes and i sprinted up the Hill to the entrance, and walked down 5 times. i then jogged back to the to the Hotel and headed up to the roof top
terrace and managed 40 minutes of Yoga to cool down.
A good restday for my elbows and shoulders.
BJJ Black Belt
So going back to the last week in Spain,we had a nice little No Gi training squad going in the Hotel.
We had Rob who is about 65kilo's and hasn't done Martial Arts before.There was Gavin,a 90 kilo guy who had done a fair amount
of lifting but no fighting,who was as game as a train.Marcus the Stunt Co-ordinator on the Film had started training.He is a very high
level TKD Blackbelt who is pretty much a Professional Athlete because of his job,and has studied a fair bit of Kali,Boxing etc etc through
the need for fight scenes at work.Roy the Spark was still coming and you only have to show him something once and he knows it.
Although he is a little older than us i know he was once one of those kids that was a demon on the soccer pitch-you can just tell he is a proper sportsman.
Anyway everyone is getting on really well.One night Gavin (who is becoming a bit of a handful) missed the class.That evening i taught the Guillotine from kneeling
and jumping to guard.The next night when Gavin turned up i put him with Little Rob who immediately thai clinched him from kneeling,pulled his head down and locked
the Guillotine and jumped to Guard.Tap Tap Tap.It is moments like that,when a 65 Kilo guy who doesn't lift weights,taps out a 90kilo Weightlifter because he had 1 more
class of Jiu Jitsu.It just shows what you put in to this sport is exactly what you get out of it.Your time spent training is completely representative to your performance.
Anyway,i left them at it for another 5 minutes and Gavin managed to drag Rob up from side control using his farside arm onto his side and push his face down to the mat,kneeling across
his head,changing his arm for the Kimura and applying the Lock.We had done that a couple of days earlier.I wanted to shout CARLSON GRACIE!!! But made do with an OOOOSSSSS instead.
The boys are getting better and now they are tapping each other out they are getting addicted to the game.We are now calling Rob "The Guillotine" much to his amusement.
So its all going nicely until one day at work when one of the blokes at work came over and said "The Spanish Nurse does all the stuff you do,i've told him you two should meet up and do some sparring".Whenever someone says something like that what they really mean "Theres a another fella over there who thinks he's tough why don't you two try and beat the shit out of each other so we can all laugh at the loser".
So i said "I doubt we do similar stuff but i'll talk to him later" meaning to avoid the fella at all costs.
Anyway the Nurse bloke came up to me a day later and said "I am student of Martial Arts,i study Shaolin Five Animals Gung Fu,but i am only a Black Belt" and looked all pleased with himself.
I told him i did Jiu Jitsu and was teaching at the Hotel and that he could drop by anytime he liked.He then said "Ahh yes,Jiu Jitsu,In have studied some Wing Chun Anti-Grappling".
Now i have a lot of respect for Wing Chun,in my TKD days i sparred with a Wing Chun guy who i couldn't kick,it is a great close range art,and if you are lucky enough to train it with someone like Master Kevin Chan then it is the real deal.But unfortunately,like so many martial arts,over the years there have been political splits,off shoots with the name spelt differently and all sorts of
stuff happening that has been detrimental to the true art.One of the things i have found particularly distasteful is a group of Doughnuts teaching 'Win Chun Anti-Grappling' which was a knee jerk reaction to Royce winning the UFC.After he won, the real Martial Artist's of our generation started cross training in BJJ,Wrestling and Judo,but the narrow minded traditionalist's started talking about their art having grappling techniques hidden deep within the Kata's and Anti Grappling and all sorts of other bollocks,but i digress................................
I knew this bloke was a doughnut,and i was a little dissapointed when he turned up to class.He had none of the natural athletic ability of Marcus the Stunt man or Roy the footballer,and i had to slow the class down for him to keep up.When it came to sparring i got a funny feeling (anyone who has been in this game long enough has had people like him turn up to the dojo thinking they're pressure point dim mak moves will submit you.......)So i clearly told him these rules-
1.You must not put your fingers in your opponents eyes
2.You must not attack his fingers,only his whole hands.
When i teach Jiu Jitsu my main aim and infact mantra is "Pass the Guard".I explained and showed that you cannot submit anyone with a choke when you are in their guard.Especially without a Kimono.So i put Kung Fu Doughnut (We shall call him 'Tigerclaw' from now on) with little Rob,whose guillotine exploits had impressed me so much i wanted to see him tap the 3rd dan Kung Fu man (Another fishy subject - He told me he was 3rd Dan-there are no 'Dan's' in Chinese Martial Arts-Dan's are Japanese.......) to show Rob,hopefully that 2 weeks Jiu Jitsu would enable him to submit a lifelong martial artist.Well it didn't work.Rob jumped guard after trying to Guillotine Tiger Claw and Tiger Claw spent 5 minutes trying to choke Rob from within his guard.
So next fight after i have done a round,i put him with Gavin the Lump as Gav is a bit lively and after a couple of weeks training can look after himself.Gav passes immediately to side control and gets old tiger claw's tigerclaw right in his eyes.It was well out of order.I told Tigerclaw to stop as Gav was tapping.I finished the class early before somone got hurt.
As we got changed Tiger Claw decided to do an impromptu display of his 5 Animals forms complete with very life like animal sound effects.It was quite awe inspiring.I looked at the ground and tried so hard not to laugh my shoulders were shuddering.
Tommorow-What happened to Tiger Claw the next night.
P.S. Tonight the mats hadn't arrived so me and Marcus the stunt man did standing clinch work.I taught him pummelling,double underhooks to Kosoto,Thai Clinch to take the back (Leo Negao),
Arm drag to take the back,Thai clinch 180 degree step and drag to knee in the open floating Ribs (Attila the Hungarian Style),Thai Clinch to standing Guillotine,Standing Guillotine Defence Ala
Gracie self defence.Arm Drag to Judo Jim Warren's wrestling grip and control. It was a good stand-up grappling class.It's nice sometimes to get forced into a whole class of No Gi stand up!
*FOR ANYONE SERIOUS ABOUT BEING ABLE TO TRANSITION INTO JIU JITSU FOR SELF DEFENCE-WATCH THIS................http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WC8Lh8k-Ic