Sorry for the delay! I'm back from a week of holidays and ready to give you a recap of our trip to Los Angeles, California.
A while back, I'd found out that my old friend's band was getting back together for a reunion show at a club in Hollywood, CA. It had been ten years since they'd gone their seperate ways, so it was a show I really wanted to attend. It appeared I might be out of luck seeing as I had nobody to travel with. Flying across the continent alone for a rock show seemed a bit weird to me so I decided to turn it into an adventure with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I approached Jenn and Steve with the idea of flying out to Los Angeles for the rock show as well as an opportunity to train at Five Star Martial Arts, a team Renzo Gracie affiliate owned by Black Belt Shawn Williams. WWW.RENZOGRACIELOSANGELES.COM
Having just returned from the Renzo Gracie Invitational in Manhattan, NY followed by a Martial Arts expo in Las Vegas, it took some mild coaxing from Jenn and I, but once Steve was in...he was all in.
If you want to know about the show or the sightseeing we did, hit me up on facebook or ask when you see me, it was a great time and I could easily get comfortable in a place like Hollywood. (I was pleasantly surprised at how polite and courteous the drivers were as well as the random people I ran into on the street. Jenn had a marriage proposal from an elderly southern gentleman who appeared to have had a little bit too much to drink, which Steve and I enjoyed watching...but that's for another day).
As we were on route to Toronto, Steve got an email reply from Shawn Williams inviting us to train each day we'd be in LA at 3pm for private classes and also left the open invitation to join any class on the schedule. Day 1, Shawn taught takedowns for MMA with different variations depending on how your opponent reacts. He also taught takedowns off the ropes or fencing from the cage vs the center of the mat. We ended the first class just chatting on the mat. Shawn recently participated in the Ultimate Fighter as a BJJ coach for Georges St-Pierre's team. I tried to pick his brain on the taping, but all he could tell me was that it would be interesting. Apparently, Zuffa makes the coaches and participants sign a confidentiality agreement which if broken would result in a 10 million dollar lawsuit. So nothing about the show was mentionned, but I enjoyed trying! haha!
Day 2 was much of the same with some review on what he taught the previous day. We also focused on his techniques on taking the back when your opponent falls into a turtle position. Again, Shawn's college wrestling background mixed with his vast knowledge of BJJ made his concepts and techniques slightly different from what we're accustomed to training. (which was awesome!) I can't wait for Steve to show these in class so I can rep them out and add them to my own limited white belt arsenal.
The last class we attended was a BJJ class with the gi. I was one of only 3 white belts on the mat, the rest being purple and higher rank blue. Naturally, I got schooled, but each time I found myself in a bad position, I saw it coming, which was the only good thing I could take from it for myself. The guys I rolled with Armand, Josh, Taka among others were all very cool and made me feel welcome.
Before I forget, for anyone of my teamates at Sudbury BJJ who thinks they're getting awesome because they're doing well against other white belts, remember that we are still a very young school (which continues to get better everyday!), but the true test is rolling with guys from other schools to keep you humble. At Sudbury BJJ, under the guidance of Pat Cooligan at OAMA, we strive to be as good as anyone in the world at the same rank. It's not that I didn't know before, but rolling in LA certainly reminded me that I'm nowhere near an international blue belt rank yet.
With that said, today marks my 1st birthday in BJJ. I started 1 year ago today on this new journey and have fallen more in love with the sport as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. At this point, my rank means nothing to me I'm a young boy just learning how to walk. What I am certain of is that one day, I will start to run and hopefully, before I meet my maker, I will learn how to fly!