I really can't think of a better title for this blog than "Super Saturday". It was an awesome day full of world class jiu jitsu instruction followed by UFC 124, St-Pierre vs Koscheck 2.
Friday morning, Jenn, Steve, Kevin & I hit the road and made our way to Montreal. Weather wasn't the greatest, but all in all, nothing to complain about. Our first stop was in Deep River at the Laurentian restaurant. (a great 50's style diner and ice cream joint). Our waitress was a bit of a character and when they cleaned our booth, she simply wiped the crumbs off the table and spread them on Kevin's lap. He enjoyed this. After filling up on blt's and some laughs, we jumped back in the van and pointed ourselves towards Ottawa. We made a quick stop at OAMA to say hello to the guys and again, were back on the road and headed to our final destination...the beautiful city of Montreal!
We got in after 8pm, I was pretty tired and opted to order some room service and get settled in while Steve, Jenn and Kevin went for a walk to grab a bite. We ended an early night and hit the sack shortly after midnight to prepare for what was going to be a busy day. Well...a great night's sleep wasn't in the cards as 4am rolled around, I was woken up by a brawl in the hallway just outside our room on the 8th floor at the Holiday Inn. I was half asleep and my curiosity wanted to pull me out of bed to watch the action, but my physical being was telling me I was too comfortable and should just listen in the hopes of hearing Rogan's play by play. (I was half asleep, so this seemed logical at the time). It didn't last very long, just a few minutes, but eventually, after what sounded like crashing into my room services dishes and doorframe, a door opened and slammed a few times and the volume levels dropped back to zero. (Apparently Jenn and Steve were also woken up in the next room and called the front desk. Steve watched through the peep hole of his room. He's such a badass!) haha! Kevin seemed to sleep through the commotion, but now I was faced with the task of falling back asleep while he snored like a bear at the beginning of winter.
Saturday morning rolls around, we gear up and head to Gracie Barra Montreal. The club is owned by Professor Bruno Fernandes. He's a black belt from Rio who moved to Canada years ago and is a research professor at McGill University. (a brilliant mind)
We found our way to the club on Peel St in an industrial area and walked in. We were greated by a loud cheer and the clapping hands of approximately 75 or so people. Brown belt instructor Marc Colangelo was quick to laugh and point out that the cheers weren't for us, but for special guest Frankie "The Answer" Edgar who was doing a sparring session demo. (ufc lightweight champion frankie edgar!)
We then got geared up for the Rolles Gracie nogi seminar that was starting at 12 noon. This was the best seminar I've ever attended. The warmup was lead by Marty Rooney, the strength and conditionning coach for Team Renzo Gracie NYC. (You can check him out online at www.trainingforwarriors.com). Rooney is a super motivating presence. I'm sure Steve will use what he did for warmups at the school, so I'll leave that for him. Let's just say it opened my eyes and the simplicity of the warmup was only surpassed by how much it kicked my ass. We got instruction from Rolles and Igor Gracie, Bruno Toastes (Matt Hammil's BJJ coach from New York), Bruno Fernandes. I won't go into the techniques themselves as this blog is already getting pretty detailed because again, Steve & Jenn will be brining these back to class at Sudbury BJJ...trust me, you'll love this stuff!! (alot of arm drag to controlling the back, variations to chokes, one move built off of the other and so on. Oh, and a pretty killer takedown from the back.) I can't wait to rep these out some more!!
Near the end of class, another guest showed up at the club to a round of applause. None other than Master Renzo Gracie who was in town to corner Ricardo Almeida & Rafael Natal.
The seminar ended at 2pm and we spent the next hour hanging out with the guys. We were the only ones from Team Renzo Gracie Ottawa in attendance so Rolles & Igor hung close by as they both know Steve & Jenn very well. I also had the luxury of talking to Renzo about the fights that night, travelling in from New Jersey...and so on. What can be said about Renzo that hasn't already been said a million times? This was the second time I met him and although I'm sure he didn't recognize me, he made me feel as though he did. This is the same for Rolles & Igor...just amazing people.
Everyone emptied out for 3pm and we then had a private class with Professor Bruno Fernandes. I can't even begin to tell you how valuable this lesson was. We basically sat on the mat and went into problem solving Q&A with one of the most detailed oriented jiu jitsu minds in Canada. This was great because Steve had given us the task of thinking of questions to ask Bruno that we wanted him to touch on. Mine seemed pretty simplistic (being ideas to improve escaping cross side position which is always my nemisis on the mat). Well, I can say I wasn't disappointed by the answers and tips. His answer was "It's very simple to explain, but difficult to master...let me show you a few details I teach my students." He then showed us a few tweaks that really opened my eyes. I looked over at Steve and could see him grinning from ear to ear. (it was basically a "holy shit" moment, why didn't we ever see that?) Well, the answer there lies in the fact that Bruno is a world class black belt and BJJ is all in the details.
So we all had our turn to ask some questions and Bruno delivered on all counts. If you're ever in Montreal, you owe it to yourself to visit his school and book a private with the man. He's a great guy and welcomed us with open arms to Gracie Barra Montreal. To paraphrase him he said: "You're with Renzo Gracie Ottawa and that means you're at home here at Gracie Barra. You are welcome to train at my school anytime!" What an amazing opportunity!
As we left the school somewhere around 430pm to head back to the hotel, Jenn asked me if when I was looking at joining Jiu Jitsu, did I ever think these would be part of the perks. (I've now trained in Los Angeles, Montreal, Ottawa, etc with some of the legends of Jiu Jitsu). The answer is no, I never thought I'd get this close to the top people in the sport and martial art that I've come to love. Did I mention this was the second time I'd met Renzo Gracie? Imagine being a kid studying Kung Fu and being able to say you've learned and had social interaction with Bruce Lee...it's crazy...that's all I can say. Crazy! Vida Loca!!
Pretty awesome Saturday so far eh?? Well...it wasn't done just yet. ;)
We head back to the hotel and prepare to eat and head down to the Bell Centre for UFC 124, St-Pierre vs Koscheck 2. I'm sure everyone reading this blog knows how the night went down, so I don't need to go over a play by play. This was Jenn and Kevin's first live event so watching their excitement was also a big part of the fun.
What can I say about the main event? The building nearly exploded everytime GSP or Kos would end up on the big screen prior to the main event. When they made their way to the octagon, the electricity in the air was so strong, I nearly pee'd my pants. (ok, not to that extent, but it was a rush for sure) GSP dominated all 5 rounds and as expected, he beat up the bully and made Koscheck humble. "AND STILL, UFC WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! GEORGES, RUSH ST-PIERRE!!"
So that ended Super Saturday...yesterday, after checkout, we dropped in at my sister's house on our way out of town. After a quick lunch, we got on the road at around 1pm and drove through one of the worst storms of the year. We took our time, had some good conversation about BJJ, good friends, family and life in general. We got home after midnight and now here I sit in decompress mode.
Ok...that took me nearly 20 minutes to write and I've actually got some work to do, so I best sign off. Kevin took some really great pictures from the seminar on Saturday and once he's got a chance to upload them, I'll post some to the blog so everyone can check them out.
Have a great week my friends...I'll see you on the mat!