Monthly Archives: August 2015


My first week is over on Monday. It could be another week or two before I can train again.

Gym hopping is risky. I’ve been to a couple gyms where I was one of the last to leave and first to arrive between sessions and didn’t observe any mat cleaning. Someone may have come in and done it at some  point but it seems unlikely. I’ve also watched people mop poorly after a long night of training.

Ultimately there’s just an inherent risk of infection that needs to be acknowledged. Even when we clean our bodies and our gear and make sure the mats get taken care of, it’s impossible to avoid the funk forever.

I’m annoyed that I’ve lost around half of my time on this trip to infections. I wash my body my gi’s, and my gym bags. I alternate my bedding and wash that too. I disinfect my driver’s seat, door and steering wheel. I alternate my soaps too. I don’t know what else I can do.

The warm weather won’t last forever and I still want to train in Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, NYC, Boston, Philly, and DC. I figure I have until mid to late October to do it. It may come down to choosing the places I want to train at most. 

Nothing is going to stop me from visiting MGA, Renzo or 50/50. I guess we’ll see what happens.


I’ll make some posts in my downtime to continue working on my writing. If you have any questions you’d like answered please ask!

Here’s a mural I saw yesterday.



On Hold in Detroit

I trained at Ribeiro South Bend on Saturday morning. There was a white belt there who was pretty froggy and accidentally poked me in the eye during our roll. It didn’t hurt and we kept going. 

On Sunday I did some training there in the afternoon and got to roll with brown belt world champion and ADCC +99kg competitor Paul Ardila. It was myself, a blue belt and a white belt, and Paul was kind enough go two rounds with each of us. He kicked our asses, but he did it kindly and gently.

That night my eye felt itchy and gritty. The next morning it looked like hell so I went to a walk-in clinic and got it checked. The nurse gave me some pink eye ointment and told me not to touch it.

 I knew I’d be off the mats until my eye was better, so I chose to spend my down time in Detroit. 

I’ve wanted to visit Detroit for a while, and I’m not to sad that I’ll have to be here for a while. I’m excited to explore and excited to train at Detroit Jiu Jitsu. 

I hope the blog is getting better. Any critiques are welcomed and thanks for reading.

Ribeiro South Bend, IN

  Ribeiro S.B. was one of the first places I was invited to when I announced my trip on Reddit. I called the school and the man on the phone said they had a decent open may scheduled for that evening, so I took off from Chicago to make it. 

We don’t have toll roads back home. But they have them around here and I ended up paying $8.50 to get to South Bend. It seemed excessive.

I exited towards Mishawaka and found the gym easily. I thought I had an hour to kill, but realized I’d crossed into another time zone when I looked at my phone, so I went inside. 

 I met Gary, the owner, a four stripe brown belt. Gary has been affiliated with Ribeiro JJ since he first started training thirteen years ago.

Ten people were already rolling so I put my gi on and warmed up as quickly as possible.

My first partner was a huge purple belt named Jurrell. Jurrell was exponentially stronger than me, but he had great body control and did his best to use technique when he could have just crushed me. 

I rolled with a purple named Jack next. He played a slow and tight top game that was difficult for me to deal with. He sat heavily on my bottom leg in half guard and remained very upright. I couldn’t initiate X guard or an under hook and I was worried about his folding pass, so I abandoned the position and tried open guard instead. It took the entire round, but I managed one sweep to his half guard. 

I rolled with Gary next and we kept it light, exchanging a variety of positions. He used a lot of butterfly and single X and I tried folding passes and berimbolo stuff.

I had three rounds with white belts, then one more with Gary. 

After class, myself, Jack, Gary and a purple named Tyler walked across the street to a biker bar called Murphy’s. There were people wearing patches and smoking cigs inside- just one microbrew. I liked it. We drank a little and talked for a couple of hours about all things bjj. They were hilarious. They’ve trained together for years and have some unbelievable stories- some of reddit’s more notable ones actually.

We called it a night around 11 and I went for a short tour of the area. I didn’t see much, but Coast to Coast AM’s show about EMP’s was interesting so I drove for a while and listened. 

The next morning was another open mat. I got more rounds with purples Jack and Tyler and a round with a four stripe blue who must have only weighed 120lbs. I also got a roll with an aggro white belt who was pushing 300. It was challenging but fun and he asked a couple good questions after. 

I showered at Planet Fitness afterwards and saw Lorenzo Fertitta doing leg presses. I assume he was in town because his son is at Notre Dame. He was wearing Reeboks. (Notre Dame football was huge in Butte in the 90’s and I’ve hated them ever since.)

On both Friday and Saturday, people talked about a really good gym in Toledo. I hadn’t planned on going there, but it’s on the way to Detroit, so why not? I assume it’s a Ribeiro place.

Next stop Toledo.

1 for 3 RioJJ/Valko

I tracked down Pete the Greek’s gym and parked for the night nearby. I was up early and ready to train at noon. With 15 minutes before class, the gym was dark. At noon, nobody had showed up. 12:05, same. That shot any chance I had for a daytime class, so I went to the Field Museum.

I saw the Ancient Americans, Egypt, Mammals, Tibet and Africa.

I rode the Magnificent Mile back to the van and then drove over to Valko for an hour of no gi followed by an hour of gi.                                            The no gi class was good- all wrestling led by a huge guy who wrestled at Columbia. Eight of us worked arm drags and Russian ties and then sparred from the feet. I scored takedowns on all of my opponents except the Columbian who handled me. 

The instructor for the gi hour was late so about half off the people took off. He ended up never coming So I left too.

1 out 3 sessions- shitty. Tomorrow it’s either Brazil 021, Comprido, or both.

Team Redzovic (Lincoln Square)

Team Redzovic came highly recommended from people in Minneapolis, Madison, and here in Chicago. I’d even heard of them before leaving on the trip. R-Team has three locations in Chicago but I chose the headquarters in Lincoln Square.

It looked nice from the street, but it looked pretty small. Once I got inside though, I discovered a back room and a basement with an office and locker rooms.
The first class I attended was a Monday competition class at 4:45. Two rooms were busy with people sparring. It was only colored belts with about 6 black belts, two browns, and a ton of purples and blues.
I was allowed to jump in with a four stripe purple. Then I got a black belt. We were fairly even. As usual, I got out-techniqued but scrambled out of some bad spots and eventually latched onto a single leg. I almost passed, but he retained guard. I shucked and jived and came close to securing cross body, but never truly held it. Right at the end of the round I had my head really low while passing and he sat up and hit a slick loop choke. He hooked one of my legs and fell to his side, leaving my no escape. I should have had him tape it- oh well.
I got another black after that one, and it was pretty much the same story. But this guy was big and I think he took it easy on me when he was on top.
I had another purple belt. I honestly don’t remember much about that round, it was two days ago now.
My las round was with a short stocky brown belt. I did a tilt sweep early and worked from the half guard. He went to deep half, but I managed to avoid sweeps due to my experiences in MN and WI. I took the back and tried some chokes, then transitioned to an armbar. My opponent remained calm and defended these attacks easily. We went back to half guard with me on top and this time I tried hard to keep him flat and work a knee slice. He took a collar grip that seemed worthless. I went about my business and he went for a cross choke. I sunk down to consider my next move but then suddenly I was kind of stuck. He’d taken a lockdown and was really squeezing the choke. I thought I was still good, but then it just got tighter and tighter. I was too late to defend and got pretty close to abyss before I tapped.
We started over and again I swept to half guard and began working from the top. This time I tried a kneebar, a knee slice pass- which worked- a choke from cross body into an armbar, and then a successful back take. But my chokes failed, my armbar failed and I wound up in top half where he went for the cross choke again. I was aware this time, and defended early, but he just ratcheted and ratcheted and it got really tight. I lasted as long as I could, till my hearing went weird, butI had to tap a second time.
About ten minutes had passed and there didn’t seem to be a time limit anymore so I gave it one more try. This time I did everything I could to avoid any kind collar grip. We rolled around and at some point he went into deep half. I stood up and held him sitting up. I wriggled my trapped foot out and sat down, securing a triangle from the back. He struggled, but I scooped up one of his legs with both hands and folded him until he tapped.
It was a fun and memorable roll. I was really impressed with this guy’s patience and submission defense and we shot the breeze for a little while afterwards.
Class disbanded after that roll and I got a nice convenient shower downstairs.

The next morning wasn’t so typically hot, so I didn’t wake up until 11:30- halfway through morning class. So I screwed around online and went for a bike ride and did some laundry while I waited for the night session.
The night class had around 12. There were three purples, and some other people- some whites and blues. Class was led by a black belt who had just turned 60 and been with the team from the first day. He showed a peek out for when you get stuck in the front headlock on your knees. We did variations where you roll continuously to your own front headlock, where you take the back, and where the guy falls over and you work your way up to reverse kesa gatame.
It was a mellow class and I got a few nice technical rounds at the end. When class was ending, it began to rain monsoon style- like a violent sideways spray. I hauled ass to get back to the van and see how bad my back door had leaked. It wasn’t too bad to my surprise, and I backed under a tree for the night to avoid the rain.

Today, i went to Carlson Jr. at noon. (see Carlson post)
At 4:45 was another competition training- this time no gi. I started off with a small unassuming Asian guy who turned out to be pretty good. You just can’t tell sometimes.
I got a rematch with the loop choke black belt and squirmed more effectively without a gi. We rolled evenly, but I took the back at the end.
My next round was with monstrous guy. He had a smooth gentle style though and we exchanged a lot of positions. I climbed up to his back a few times, but he kept doing this shake off move that seemed like magic; shoulda filmed it.
I next rolled with a big guy who looked a burly Paul Rudd. I managed some back takes, but he had that same shake and I couldn’t figure it out.
My last round was another long one against Jon Tutaj. I did well establishing the situations I wanted, but he would get a chinstrap and just flip everything. He chin strapped over and over and ruined all of my scrambles. He hit a few painful D’Arce chokes and a rear naked. I did my best to address the chin strap and tried to adjust my game, but it was hard. I got caught in a triangle and an armbar and probly another D’Arce. Toward the end, I started escaping the straps and lasting longer between submissions, but not by much.
I really like Tutaj’s style. It hurts, and always threatens. He mentioned that he was competing in a Metamoris qualifier this fall- I think he might do well. He’s cool and humble too, so I’ll be rooting for him.

Tomorrow I’m going to try another gym- haven’t figured out where yet.

Check out this technique I did film today though –> Tech

Carlson Jr.

I’ve trained at Team Redzovic in Lincoln Square for the last two days and I’ll write about it after this afternoon’s training there.

Today I took a short drive south to the historic Carlson Gracie gym. I found it inside the basement of a big building that you have to get buzzed into. I met Prof. Andre Madiz who shook my hand and immediately invited me to train.  

The space was large and clean and there were about 20 of us there, including a black belt, another brown, a purple and two blue belts. 

  We ran through a traditional warmup lasting about 20 minutes. Then we did three 5 minute rounds of grip fighting with different partners. We finished with shots and sprawls.

The technique for the day was denying and passing half guards. We started by practicing stuffing the head and pulling our leg out when the opponent sits up into a single leg. Next we stepped out and passed to knee on belly when the opponent was laying back. Finally we flattened the opponent out and freed our leg to attain mount. Kind of like this.

The technique was simple and practical. Prof Madiz was an efficient teacher. I enjoyed his broken English grammar too- it just sounded cool.

We finished the class with three rounds of sparring. I got two white belts and a black belt. The black belt was a little older and a little less mobile than me. He shut down my guard pretty well, but I scrambled and swept and spent a minute or so in cross body.

Class wrapped up and we shook hands. I had been expecting a lot of formality and seriousness for some reason, but found this school to be mellow and friendly. I’m glad I went.

I chatted with some people after class and was again recommended ‘Pete the Greek’. I should check this guy out.

I’m off to Redzovic now to do their comp class, which was really good when I went on Monday.

Look for a post this evening..

Valko & Tutaj- Chi. Day 2, Sun.

Most schools don’t have open training on Sunday’s, but in Chicago I found 3 places with classes scheduled- Carlson Jr., Valko BJJ and Redzovic. I chose Valko because I’d already scoped out that neighborhood and found some free parking.
I woke up from the heat 15 minutes before class started. I stuffed a gi in my bag and chugged 16oz. of gas station coffee over the two blocks to the gym.

Valko BJJ exists inside of a private workout facility called Hifi. They have permanent mats installed in the rear next to the locker room. 

Today was an open mat and the two purple belts I met said that almost everybody was over at the Open (tournament). 

We worked some leg drag drills and then rolled. We kept it light but their ability was evident. I got rounds with the two purples, two blues and two whites. I was told that the week nights will be busy and I’ll enjoy training there. I hit the convenient shower and went on my way.

It was noon now and pretty hot- 94 outside and 106 in the van, with a little humidity. I put on some light clothes and went for a bike ride to get a breeze.

I rode about 40 minutes down Milwaukee Ave until I got to a Polish Buffer I’d heard about. I packed away about 7000 calories and had to walk it off for a bit afterward. 

One of the purples from Valko had talked about and open mat in the evening at a place called Tutaj BJJ. I looked it up and found they had one at 7pm. I killed and hour in a Starbucks and then went out to Forest Park in the suburbs to check it out.

Tutaj BJJ (two-tie) was out in a residential type area in the ground floor of a narrow three floor brick building.

I really liked how it looked inside. I changed in an empty office upstairs and then we got to it. I rolled with a tall blue belt, then Prof. Tutaj. His game was basic but dynamic. Like fancy Mac N Cheese. I really enjoyed rolling with him and he was gentle and smooth while still controlling my movement. 

I got a few more good rolls with a blue belt and a white belt. They were good athletes and very energetic. 

Tutaj and I talked a little afterwards and he said that Redzovic will be good training. I might even see him there this week.

So I got two sessions on a Sunday, pretty cool.