The Academy & Team 1 Portland, ME

Portland is a lot like the town I live in- Missoula, MT. It’s mostly about craft beer and outdoor recreation. There’s some hippies and rednecks and professors and everybody gets along. 

I did a noon class at The Academy.

The gym is big and open and mostly white with lots of natural light- very nice.

Class was led by a pair of brown belts. They taught closed guard techniques- cross collar, then armbar, to triangle, to omoplata. They both talked and demonstrated and worked really well together. They also swore a ton, but it was creative and entertaining.

It was me, two blues and two whites. We drilled and then began to roll. The guys were mostly bigger than me (big people in N.E.) and we rolled hard. It was fun. 

Towards the end, a black belt and a little brown belt strolled onto the mat. The black belt was Rodrigo Ranieri. His buddy was a Brazilian guy called Rogeny. They’d just finished a day’s work lobstering. 

Rodrigo was friendly and we rolled after he warmed up. He felt like he was going easy, but he moved a lot and was a lot fun.

I did two rounds with Rogeny, who I was told is a serious competitor. I had like 40 pounds on him, but his grips were unbreakable and he played a smart, conservative half guard. We were pretty even but again, he was a lot smaller.  

I made small talk with everyone after practice and got some tips on where to eat some lobster. 

On a tip, I had a lobster roll at a place called Eventide. It was a total hipster joint but that lobster roll was damn good- and I don’t really care for lobster.

After that I stopped by a famous donut shop called Holy Donut. This place uses potatoes in their dough. I had a coffee flavor and a mojito flavor. In my opinion, this place kicks the shit out of Voodoo Donuts in Portland, OR. 

After a walk around the docks, I stopped by Team 1 BJJ downtown. The bay door was open and I walked up and introduced myself to Alexy Cruz. 

I watched the last few minutes of a kids class in which Alexy torched a bunch of children in a game of mat soccer. He was really good and put some nasty moves on those kids.

Adult class began at 6. I was with a huge brown belt (big people) two purples, two blues and one white belt. Alexy showed us a stack pass to side control and an entry to the back when they rolled all the way over into turtle. He was an easy going guy; his students called him by first name and he teased them constantly.

When we rolled, the brown belt and I talked more than we grappled, but it was fine with me. I got two rounds afterwards with the blues, who were ferocious. I used the stack pass I’d just learned once or twice and got a few chokes from the back.

It was another good practice and I agreed to make it to another one tomorrow.


Ok, that’s 26 gyms so far. I’m learning a lot about bjj of course, but I’m also learning about blogging and writing about the art. One thing I’ve been realizing is that writing can only convey so much about jiu jitsu. It’s ok, but it doesn’t really compare to video. I’ve shot some technique videos, but I want to do more. I want to do some interviews with instructors and students and film some live rounds and do facility tours.

I have no videography experience but I’m going to give it a try anyway. Tarantino never went to film school. The first thing I need to do is invest in the right equipment. And the second is plan in advance for these videos. I need to give the I instructors and myself time to prepare.

As I hook south, look for this blog to change- hopefully for the better.

Stage 2 coming up..


3 thoughts on “The Academy & Team 1 Portland, ME

  1. Marc Studebaker

    First, I really enjoy your blog. I wish I was able to do this traveling jiu jitsu journey. Absolutely amazing. So jealous. But, how am I reading about your September 18 th entry on September 17 th? Lol are you losing days out there?

    Seriously tho, keep up the great work.



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