I’m sitting in Gdansk airport waiting on my flight home from the Drysdale BJJ camp 2011 here in Poland. I’m tired, sore, but very sad to be missing the last 2 and a half days of what’s been an amazing week of jiu jitsu. I’m also enjoying a beautiful Polish amber beer which I like to think I’ve worked hard for. The guys have notes of what we did and I have video of the techniques we covered. But for me this wasn’t about technique (though new stuff is always welcome) it was about coming over and getting some high quality rolling and instruction while I wasn’t in “coach mode”. I’ve got just that. So here’s a quick synopsis of what we did over the week. I’ll get to the real meat and bones in a more substantial post some other time.
We had no morning session on day 1. Initially I was a bit disappointed at this but on reflection, it was probably a good thing for he Irish folk. We’d travelled the day before and got in quite late and it would have been a real shock to the system to have to roll on Monday morning. Instead we moved that shock to the system back to 7pm in the gi that night. After an intense warm up, Robert showed some butterfly guard sweeps and some excellent switches from a double belt or triceps grip, followed by an omoplata from the same position and a method of flattening your opponent out to finish. Interesting stuff. Then we rolled from the butterfly position. Well, I was going to say the less said the better, but I won’t. I got smashed, repeatedly.
Morning nogi. Well, we were pretty tired on Tuesday. Pretty darn tired. A little part of me thought that my modest ego couldn’t take a lot of the hiding I got on Monday night, but things were about to get worse. The club in Gydnia is mainly a nogi club, and we’re mainly a gi club. You can see where this is going. My main reflection on this experience is when rolling nogi, don’t let anyone touch you. You can touch them first, but if they get there first prepare for a long day. For this session the focus was on nogi butterfly passing, and it was great material.
Tuesday evening: we napped, or at least we tried to nap, and we ate a bit, then we headed off to training again. This session was all about passing the half guard. I can sum this up by saying that I am going to use this a lot, but it sucks to be the guy on bottom. We went off into our groups again and began to roll. Okay, tonight was a little better. I still got rolled through by most guys but I got some sweeps and retained guard much better. I’d give myself 3 out of 10 for this session. You can make your own mind up about what I’d rate the previous 2 sessions.
Morning nogi. 50/50. Has ever an equation so divided a sporting community? This was my first formal instruction on the 50/50 guard and it confirmed for me that I hate it. But, like everyone in BJJ, I have to know it. A famous BJJ player and head of an international jiu jitsu team whose camp I very recently attended (I won’t mention who it is to protect his identity) told me he also hates it, but understands the necessity of having to train it since so many people use it. His opinion is the same as mine, and it was good to hear it from someone more experienced; it’s a position that only works within the narrow confines of BJJ competition, which for me is just moving us towards the realms of points kickboxing or something equally withdrawn from reality. Nonetheless, I admire those who look to finish from this position like Rodrigo Cavaca, and that’s what this class was all about- the finish- namely the heel hook and a really cool footlock/cutter. Rolling was once again extremely hard but I caught a couple of sweeps and a brabo choke. 5/10 Barry. Good boy.
Evening gi. Something clicked on Wednesday night. Perhaps it took a few sessions to come up to speed, but the session here was much better for me. Technique tonight focussed on some grip breaking followed by Q&A. I asked a question on twist passing for half guard (ie how to stop a twist pass) and I was treated to absolute gold. Likewise another question was asked on the “butt-flop” pass and the answer was brilliant. I swear there was almost a cheer when Robert showed the sweep from here. What makes this guy special is you know when he shows it it’s been tested on some big names. Rolling tonight, well I don’t want to talk myself up, I got a hard time from some but gave a hard time to others. 7/10. Still really hard but when time was called I was disappointed that it was over so soon. Pretty much all of the Irish guys said the same.
I enjoyed this morning’s session despite feeling like a truck had run over me when I woke up. A quick brekkie and some coffee did no good but thankfully I felt much better after the warm up. We worked from turtle position thus morning, reversing our opponent using the cartwheel and the hip roll. Both of these Robert had shown at our seminar, but he added a nice single leg variation I hadn’t seen before. Once again rolling was hard, I can’t emphasise enough how awesome some of these guy’s nogi skills are. If they grip first, you’re done. It’s a long road back to a neutral position. At this stage, we all knew this, so we all fought harder for everything. As a result, I think we all felt this was our best nogi day so far. I guillotined a couple of guys and generally threatened better than I had in nogi before. But let’s get something clear- mostly, my opponent won! Still, another 7/10 for me.
The guys have another full day and a half of the camp ahead, and one of my guys is going for his blue belt on Saturday. I’m sure he’ll get it, he’s around a long time!
For me though it’s back to Ireland and then off to the sun almost immediately with my family. One of the guys asked me which I’d prefer, to go home and on holiday or to stay with the camp.(cruel question!) The answer is I’d prefer not to make the choice! But I’m going to miss the training in Poland and their fantastic steaks. But I think after closing a business, starting a new one and all of the training I’ve been doing, I need some time with my wife and boys without any distractions. I’m looking forward to switching off.
On a vaguely similar note, I’m taking a break from mma coaching for reasons best left unsaid. I’ve one fighter committed to Rumble in Rush in September which I’ll fulfil and then, for the time being at least, I’m done. I love the MMA game but for a combination of reasons I’m stepping away. I’ll still commentate, judge and promote, but for the time being at least, I won’t be coaching any MMA fighters. BJJ is keeping me busy enough for now in any case. Maybe one day, if someone gets me drunk, I’ll tell them why, but for now I’ll just step back and let others step in.
See you on the mat in a week or so! I’m going to start adding some video each week or so (note the conditional “or so” I never commit to a date!) and some suggestions on what people would like to see on the blog are