Billings- pop. 109,000. Montna’s largest city. It offers a couple oil refineries, the Yellowstone River, the Rimrocks, two NAIA colleges, the women’s prison, and I believe the state’s only Panda Express.
I left Bozeman on Friday night after a no gi practice and drove 140 miles east down I-90 to Billings. I passed the refineries in the way in, which look pretty cool all lit up at night. I cruised through downtown but it looked kind of quiet so I drove to the gym I was planning to train at in the morning and got some sleep.
I woke up late at 9:56. Class started at ten. I threw a gi in my bag and hustled across the parking lot to Billings BJJ. The session was an open mat. There was a purple belt, three whites, a blue and a teenage yellow. A brown belt, Greg Wheelon ran the timer since his shoulder was injured. The yellow belt kid called me out right away so we rolled for about fifteen minutes. He wasn’t small and he was pretty technical. He attempted a wide variety of moves, including some footlocks and a reverse triangle. Next I rolled with a huge white belt. He was only about 5’8″ but probly weighed 275. He looked like a power lifter. I climbed all over him but he hulked out of numerous armbars and chokes. I finally finished an armbar, but it took a lot of effort. We continued to roll and I continued to attack from the back. But once, he trapped right foot between his thighs and hugged my other leg, creating a heel hook. I had to tap. So the first guy to catch me on this trip was a white belt. Perfect.
I rolled with the purple belt next. He was just coming back to training after a few months away at college. His lungs weren’t back so we took it easy. I tried some berimbolo, but he had some really slick counters and defenses. The rest of the round was unmorable, but I do remember looking over and seeing that giant white belt ankle lock a blue belt who had his back (the feet crossed one). It made me feel better.
I rolled with that blue belt next. He was had that 40’s strength and some good pressure. I used a lot of omoplatas and had good success.
Then that kid came after me again. He pulled guard and worked at a furious pace. I gave up a few sweeps and worked on defending from the bottom, but he was hard to catch when I went on the offensive.
That was pretty much it, but Greg said Monday night would have a good turnout and I should try to make that class. I had nowhere to hurry to so I decided to hang around.
On Saturday night I cruised my bike around downtown to entertain myself. I saw a lot of drunks, and a lot of regular downtown stuff. I checked out the 1st Interstate building, tallest building in Montana.
Nothing interesting was happening so I got back in the van and found a side street to park on.
I woke up to some annoying sound. It was a roofing crew, right next to me, going to town with nail guns. I knew they weren’t going to stop so I got up. I staggered across the street to a gas station where I used the pisser and bought coffee. The rest of the day consisted of some biking, a few hours of podcasts, a phone call, and some internet.
Monday morning (this morning) was nice. It had cooled off some and it was overcast. I slept comfortably until about 11. I decided I should try to work on the blog so I set up with my (borrowed) laptop at Starbucks and tried to work. I worked on a few ideas- the history of BJJ in MT, the gym drama of Missoula, the time I lost my tooth at a seminar, but nothing turned into an article and I began to aimlessly surf the Internet.
Outside it started to rain. Then it started to rain really hard. Then the power went out and Starbucks had to close. I ended up running in flip flops about 8 blocks back to the van. I parked under an awning and changed clothes, then sat and listened to some insane right wing talk radio for until jiu jitsu at 7pm.
The 7pm class was taught by Greg. Greg is a BJJ brown belt and a judo black belt. Class started with a series of drills that all of Montana’s Paxiao schools do. We moved on to some grip fighting from the feet, a head and arm throw and osoto gari.
Then we worked on a half guard pass, and Greg had me show a pass. (Shoulda videoed these. I’m still learning how to do this blog.)
We rolled for the last half hour. I got a round with Greg where I think I may have wrenched on his hurt shoulder- sorry dude. I had another entertaining round with the purple and the blue from Saturday, another blue in a rare red Atama gi, and a few more rounds with white belts, one of which was an accomplished wrestler.
As a whole, Billings BJJ has great defense. Everyone was difficult to armbar and difficult to choke. Everybody was also really friendly.
If you ever find yourself in south central Montana, check this place out.
Billings BJJ website
Billings BJJ on Facebook–> lots of videos