Monthly Archives: October 2015

Raleigh, NC

I didn’t leave Richmond til around 3 a.m. and only made it an hour down the road to tiny Emporia, VA. I pulled into a gas station and was little surprised to find the University of Florida fencing team crowded inside, eating donuts.
I slept in the parking lot and continued on in the morning, taking secondary highways down to Raleigh, NC.
I googled a bbq place and went there first. I had a half rack of Carolina style ribs. They were good but not great. An hour later I walked up the street to Gracie Raleigh to their Friday night open mat.
I met a brown belt named Jason who gave me a waiver and introduced me to two white belts, two blues and a purple. I got to roll with everyone- Jason had a good spider/lasso guard, the purple belt Chris also had good spider sweeps, and one of the blue belts was a former ECU wrestler. I tried my new rdlr out against everyone and had mixed results. It worked when my opponents pushed into me, but Jason, and Chris shut it down with long step passes.
We finished up after an hour and the guys invited me to the bar below the gym for a beer. They were cool, intelligent people and we had a good conversation about bjj. They confirmed what I’d heard about the amiability and frequent cross training among local gyms- even coordinating their open mats so as not to overlap.
After one pint I excused myself to go take care of laundry.
On Saturday morning I went to Forged Fitness for their open mat. The front desk was unmanned so I wandered back to the mats and waited for a guy to finish a round so I could invite myself to practice. There were around 10 people already training and they were just as hospitable as the other gym. I got to rolling right away, first with a green belt (teen) who was almost as big as me. My next partner’s belt was indigo. I thought it would be rude to ask if he was blue or purple so I tried to figure it out during our round. He would have been a purple where I come from- good scrambling and continuous attacks mad him a fun opponent.
I did two more rounds with a purple belt from Team Lloyd Irvin. He had a quick and tight competition style game- opting to always play from the bottom. He was good, but I managed two passes over 7 minutes. I felt like I was fighting as well as I ever have and it made me really happy. He did a nice arm drag from half guard to my back in round two, but I was quick negate his hooks and eventually escaped to the top, where I got one more pass.

After the workout concluded, I showed the van to a couple guys out in the parking lot. They liked it, but said the Tar Heel blue paint job was hideous.

Two gyms- two good experiences. Both teams had positive things to say about each other and other schools in the area.
This is a great area to train in. I have one more open mat planned for tomorrow back at Gracie Raleigh- looking forward to it.

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Upstream BJJ

This week I trained at Upstream BJJ in downtown Richmond. Upstream* is a relatively new school, founded by 50/50 black belt and Richmond native Seph Smith. (Photos of the space here.)
I got to meet Seph prior to my visit when he led a class at 50/50. He was very well liked by everyone and had a great sense of humor. We rolled twice and he had no trouble with me despite giving up 25 pounds. Afterward I mentioned that I was hoping to train at his gym next and he was all for it.

I took my first class there Monday night- beginners’  no gi, with about 8 other students including two good wrestlers, a scrappy mma fighter, two females, and three other guys who I guessed were blue belts. We bowed in and went through a warmup like the ones done at 50/50.
The music here was a welcome change of pace. Almost every gym I’ve been to that does play music sticks to the same genres- reggae, radio rock, and mainstream rap. I understand it’s a democratic choice, but it’s uncreative and never inspiring. It’s just filler.
Seph played Ghostface, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, Fugazi, Prince, Ten Years After, and all kinds of other stuff I couldn’t identify. It added another layer to the enjoyment of training.

The technique was excellent. Seph started by breaking down a simple mount escape into it’s essential parts. We drilled the mount escape for a while, then he showed how to sit up into butterfly guard. After some reps on that, we began to scoot out to a side. Finally, we did a tilt sweep. With the addition of the sweep, we’d made a cyclical series that had us escaping mount, sweeping, mounting, losing position, getting swept to mount, then escaping again. The last fifteen minutes of the hour were spent sparring- starting in the night’s practiced position, with one free roll at the end.

We lined up and bowed out at 7:30. The advanced class started about two minutes later and I was impressed to see that everyone stayed.
The advanced technique was the reverse de la Riva sweep. I wondered if it was just my good luck to get another week to learn it, or if it was from asking Seph questions about it last Friday. Maybe his curriculum coincided with 50/50’s.
We drilled the roll underneath, then worked on taking the back. After a thorough explanation and some drilling, the move began to feel pretty easy. We did more sparring at the end, where I got to go with Seph and the two wrestlers.
At the end of the class, everyone sat around and talked for minute. The group felt close, like they genuinely got along.

Tuesday night was gi. All of the same people showed up, plus two more guys. During the first hour, we worked on escaping the mount again. We did more sparring this time starting from the mount, then continuing when the position changed. One of the wrestlers was a brown belt and the other was a purple. They were both good in the gi and we had fun going hard without going crazy. A third purple was there too and he was solid.
During free rolling, I got two more rounds with Seph. He trashed me again, but I felt like my defense was a little better.
I had a round with the mma guy that was pretty intense. He was going 110% and although he wasn’t very technical, he was a handful. I got a mean choke from the back at the end of the round and felt like maybe I was a little malicious, but the guy was delighted afterward and gave me a hug.

I figured out that there were day classes on Tuesday night, so I showed up at 11:30 on Wednesday morning. It was just Seph and I and I ended up getting a free private lesson. He agreed to work on anything I wanted, so I drilled rdlr with him and got some more pointers. He showed me this cool shit and also answered every question I asked. We rolled four or five rounds and called it good. I felt like it was one of the best hours of trip and thanked him profusely. He thanked me for coming and gave me an Upstream shirt (first shirt!).

Wednesday night’s first hour was a wrestling class taught by the brown belt wrestler- Story, was his (last) name. He showed an inside low single and a counter to the sprawl that I’ve known of as the ‘Iranian’. Story also showed how to spin out of the attack when someone tries it on you.
Seph took over for the second class and showed two ways to transition from side control to the back. He also went through a few different ways to beat the opponent’s hand fighting and finish the choke.
Again, everyone stayed and trained for two hours, which impressed me.
More good sparring concluded the class.

My last day was Thursday. I stayed up late the previous night and slept through the day class, so I only made it to the night session.
Seph showed the back taking sequences from the previous night and had us drill them a lot. When we sparred, he had us start from that same spot and the bottom guy had to try to escape by rolling up to his knees so we could attempt the back take. He altered it later to where the opponent could do whatever they wanted, which made us work hard to keep them on their side.
The advanced began with hand fighting form our feet. Due to space, we limited the takedowns to foot sweeps. I tried to use some of the judo I’d learned recently and I felt like I was doing better with it. I went with Seph for minute and felt like I was actually moving like a judoka, but he tripped me cleanly a few times.
The technique was pulling guard. He had us get low and take a step forward with our lead leg, planting our rear hand on the mat. We grabbed a lapel with our lead hand and swung hard into guard.
This felt like the most realistic guard pull I’d learned. It was quick and powerful and went forward, and was designed to work even if the opponent was in a deep crouch.
After we drilled the basic pull, we pulled into rdlr and went for the sweep immediately.
I sparred with some other students and Seph one last time, then it was time to say goodbye to Upstream.

I enjoyed this stop a lot. Classes were small, but everyone there was a serious student and had good training habits. The instruction was top notch and very accessible with the small classes. The atmosphere was great and the tunes were awesome. I even liked the city of Richmond.

Upstream was one of my favorite stops. I might move here.

* that’s a rad logo in my opinion- totally unique for bjj.

50th Post- 40th School

My knees were a little sore from my first tries at RDLR, my ankle was almost better after being fallen upon on Tuesday, and my left ring finger was stiff from jamming it on an ankle pick. I could have trained on Saturday, but I opted for a rest and went to the National Gallery instead. I like paintings and this place had an incredible collection, including some from one of my favorites, Johannes Vermeer.*
After the gallery, it was time to drive down to Richmond. It was about 6pm and the traffic was pretty bad.**
But eventually, I reached Richmond and found a McDonald’s to park at for the night. I googled some local gyms to see if I could go to an open mat on Sunday. Revolution BJJ had one at 1pm so I made a plan to go check it out when I woke up.
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Revolution BJJ is a Julio Fernandez affiliate as the name suggests. The facility consists of two large matted rooms, changing stalls, two or three bathrooms and two showers. It was bright and clean and they had some sort of 80’s pop station on the stereo.
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I paid a very reasonable $5 fee for the open mat and began to train. I warmed up with a white belt, then rolled with two blue belts who had nice clean technique. A black belt came over to me next- his name was Andrew and he looked to be a little bigger than me and around the same age. Andrew rolled hard, but put me at ease when he gently finished an arm bar. I liked his style- it felt like he’d maybe wrestled (later confirmed, D1). He scrambled a lot and went for several foot locks. He subbed me twice more in our round with nice kimura transitions when I tried hitchhike-type escapes. Andrew picked me out twice more during the day, stating that he may as well roll with me as much as possible since I was a new face.
Other rounds included several blue belts, one around 300lbs. and two slick purples. They all had similar styles, but they they were good at it and felt challenged by everyone I trained with.
I got another round with a black belt named Vince who was really friendly and dug my van. Vince is older, but that meant experience, and we had a very chess-like round.
Vince happens to be a damn good musician too- check him out.
I showered off after one more round with a blue belt and went off to find some food.
I’m glad I made the effort to train here- it’s a good school with a good atmosphere.

So, this was the 40th school I’ve visited on the trip. (62 lifetime)
I figure I’ll make 50 by the time I hit Florida. After I go to Miami- because I’m not turning around at Orlando again- I’ll have to access my money and desire to continue.
Living in the van is fine. I’m surprised that I haven’t had to make many adjustments and I’m thankful for my continued luck in a precarious situation.
The training has met my expectations. I’ve confirmed my beliefs about the value of drilling, mental composure, and a positive gym atmosphere.
I’ve also confirmed my suspicion that we’re a little behind in Montana. We are a few grapplers separated by hundreds of miles. The schools need to be getting together more to compete and exchange ideas and the best way to do that is through tournaments.
I’ve met a bunch of instructors and by watching them, can surmise that I was pretty much doing it right when I taught back home. But one thing I need is more knowledge. I only have a few positions I need to develop, but I should have a deeper understanding of bjj in general. My fundamentals suck and my strategy is too vague.
I’ve lost plenty lately and I am beginning to see how far I have to go to reach my goals, but I don’t feel any less motivated. However, what I thought was hard work in jiu jitsu, wasn’t. I have to study seriously and I have to drill my ass off. I even need to clean my life up more. I don’t party like I used to, but my diet and sleep patterns are bad and it’s getting even more important to take care of myself as I age.
This blog could be better too. It’s hard for me to ask for interviews and videos but that’s the only way to get them. I can barely run this laptop- maybe I could improve my tech game.
I need to take the blog as seriously as I want it to be taken. Selling it short and keeping the production value low aren’t helping it progress. And so what if there are a million bjj blogs alreay? I have a unique perspective and I care about quality.

Thanks to everyone who follows the Rally! Keep following and maybe someday you can say you’ve been a fan since the early days.

* I don’t know much about art, I just know that I like this guy’s work.
** According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard compiled by traffic information and driver services provider INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, motorists in our nation’s capitol lead the U.S. in traffic congestion, with an annual average of 82 hours of delay wasted per commuter last year – Forbes Magazine

Fifty/50

Fifty/50 is a gym I’ve been looking forward to as much as any other. Ryan Hall is one of my favorite grapplers and I really like his teaching in his dvd’s.
My first class at 50/50 was no gi on Monday night. Black belt Jen Flannery led the “Fundamentals 2” class at 6:30.
We worked on open guard principles and I picked up some excellent info. (This is why I go to basics classes.) Jen talked about the importance of keeping our knees against our chest. The urge to reach out with our feet to engage a standing opponent makes us vulnerable to knee cut passes, x passes, and leg drags. With that in mind, we practiced waiting until the opponent was close enough for us to safely set up a guard. Jen had us drill going inverted, keeping or hips off the ground and using our hands to pull us around.
This hour changed the way I think about my open guard and helped me understand why it’s been ineffective lately.
We did a couple rounds of situational sparring at the end of class. I kept my knees close and felt the difference immediately.
Hour two was advanced no gi, led by Ryan. He was bigger than I expected. We started with five minutes moving around in a wrestling stance doing shots and steps and sprawls. Then we drilled an underhook to knee tap takedown and a trip variation (couldn’t find video).
Our next move was this mount, building off the takedown. We got to do a lot of reps, with Ryan throwing in little details every 5 to 10 minutes. After drilling, we got to spar. Ryan bowed out and left to catch a flight to Ireland and Jen watched over our rounds.
My first round was with my drilling partner, who had been kind of spastic and uncoopertive. I worked from open guard and continued to keep my knees close to my body, which gave me a few chances to get into x guard and go for his back. When I went behind him, he had a nice transition into 50/50 guard where he immediately went after foot locks. I don’t know a lot about the position, so I stood up and kept weight on my exposed foot then tucked it behind me. It worked well enough and we continued to other positions. I tried to keep the guy off of my feet for the rest of the match because he felt like he would pull hard and fast if he did catch one.
Round two was with a smaller guy who had a dynamic guard with lots of inversion and reverse de la Riva. He had good control and we scrambled for most of the round. It was a lot fun.
Round three was with German Sallas, a world champion at purple belt. He had a soft style and never used much pressure or force. I managed a couple of sweeps, but he wasn’t trying too hard.
My last partner was a good wrestler who whizzer-ed hard against my underhooks. I usually got my feet behind his knees and made it up to his back, where I secured one choke.

I slept in on Tuesday morning and missed class at 11:30. The evening class was gi- taught by Jen.
The fundamentals hour was a continuation of the previous lesson- distance management in open guard and inversion. She added a triangle choke from inverted too (not an inverted triangle).
After some sparring, Jen led the advanced class. This time we worked on reverse de la Riva and how to roll underneath to get to the back. I was only vaguely familiar with RDLR but was able to pick it up easily through clear concise coaching. This roll is a direction of movement I’ve been missing from my bottom half guard and I was happy to get to work on it.
The sparring was good. I went with a couple smaller blue belts who had good mobility and the wrestler from the previous night, who was a purple belt. I also got a round with a white belt who apparently had six months’ experience since that was a requirement for participation. He was good too.
I also had one more round with German, who beat me with leg drags but never fully took my back. Again, he felt like he was rolling at half speed which I tried to match.

Wednesday was back to no gi. German taught some more RDLR in the morning class. I had some hard sparring with a purple belt afterward and it only kind of worked for me. I tried it with my other partners too and had about the same results. My slow entry allowed my opponents to get low and close off the space for me to roll under. German had showed how to lift their foot to complete the roll anyway, but I couldn’t remember it well enough to make it work.

After class I got the vans radiator flushed. The fluid was looking dingy and a Jiffy Lube was right across the street, so it seemed like as good a time as any. I also put some more oil in since since I’m always leaking.
The van seems strong and healthy. I’m thankful for its dependability and grow to love it more each day. I think I’ll be driving it for a while and probly living it occasionally to save money.
I haven’t washed it yet- should do that.

The night sessions were good. An older brown belt taught basic spider guard and spider/lasso for fundamentals. He had a good detail about gripping the sleeves in line with the opponents thumbs so they couldn’t circle their hands around as easily.
The second hour was called ‘competition prep’. We got with a partner, then Jen set the timer to five minute rounds with one minute breaks. During the break, we explained the move we wanted to drill to our partner and how we wanted them to respond. Then we drilled it for 5min. The next break was for our partner to lay out what he wanted to work on, then he drilled for five minutes. We did that for four sets- an open guard sweep, a pass, a takedown and an escape. I really liked the structure and I liked the more serious attitude too. Jen barked at people a few times for taking too much, not drilling the same move for a whole round, and drilling sloppily.
After the four rotations, we rolled. I had the same purple belt from earlier, one of the same blue belts, a larger blue belt, a 270lb blue belt, and a different purple who was my size. They all had the same strong mobility from the bottom and a good pace- hard, but controlled and not at all rough.

After this class, I went over to a Vietnamese strip mall that had several restaurants and  bakeries and a big grocery store. I got some spicy chicken and red bean bun at an end-of-day discount.
A lady in the parking lot tried to speak Vietnamese to me. I shook my head and said I didn’t understand and she grew more agitated and talked louder. I still didn’t understand and she seemed to get kind of pissed off, almost yelling at me. I put my hands up and looked around, trying to figure out what I’d dropped or stepped on, but she gave up and hobbled away.

Thursday (today)- back in the gi. Jen showed us move for when the knee cut has gone a little too far. We extended our entangled leg and nudged the opponent over the top, then rolled up to our knees behind them, driving their hips to the mat with our shoulder.
The class had around twenty people, mostly lower belts. I worked on my RDLR during sparring, but was missing something.
Afterward, German helped me out with it.

The night fundamental hour was led by a young brown belt who taught a tight armbar from mount. He was very thorough.
The next class was another competition prep- same as the last one. Again it was time well spent and again Jen cracked the whip on some people.
I had good sparring with the aforementioned bigger blue belt and another one who was his size. I also rolled with another blue belt from New Orleans who looked like a body builder in bulking. Dude was big.
My las two rounds were with blue belts smaller than me who I’d rolled with before. They were smooth and tricky and I felt like I got a lot out the rounds.

I haven’t decided if I’ll train tomorrow. I need to go to some branches of the Smithsonian and I want to avoid the weekend crowd. A guy told me they’ll do ten 5min. rounds tomorrow night though, and I want to participate. We’ll see how I feel and when I wake up tomorrow.
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Grapplethon

I got out of Philly in a hurry so I could go to a 12 hour grapplethon at BETA Acaemy in Washington, DC. I made it to the city in time for an Ethiopian dinner. (DC is known for it’s African, Jamaican and soul food and I wanted to try all of it.)
A grapplethon is an event where you keep a mat continuously occupied with people sparring for a set amount of time. Usually there’s a mat fee that goes to a charity. Sometimes grapplers get sponsored to complete a set amount of rounds.
This grapplethon was organized to sponsor the Network for Victim Recovery for DC. I made a donation and got on the mat at about 10 a.m.
There were around 30 people training. The timer was set for five minute rounds. A live DJ was setup in the corner. (A real dj actually mixing.)
I rolled from 10 until 1 p.m.- that’s roughly 36 rounds. I only missed a couple rounds to use the bathroom and fill up my water so figure I did over 30 for sure. Most of my partners were blue and purple belts. I handled almost all of them easily with just one or two slight challenges. But at 12:45 I went back to back with two talented purple belts and then a good brown. Those last three got me fatigued. I was hungry and beginning to cramp  so I took a break at 1 p.m.
I showered and dropped my used gi off at the van. I planned to recover and grapple more from 7 to 9 that night so while I ate and chugged water I rode my bike down to the National Mall. I snapped some photos IMG_0416IMG_0418IMG_0423IMG_0421IMG_0426IMG_0427IMG_0429IMG_0431IMG_0432

It was worth seeing, but having seen it all so many times in photos and on tv diminished the experience. The crowds were bad too; the line to tour the White House was 6 blocks or more.
I took my photos and then found a warm Starbucks to sit in for a while.

I went back in to BETA a little before 7. There were fewer people now, but I recognized some of them from earlier in the day.
I met a guy who had done every round of the day. He was now flow rolling, just trying to stay moving for the last stretch.
I did a few rounds with a monstrous purple belt that were fun and competitive. I met a good purple and got two good rolls with him. I trained with several white belts. I even did a few rounds with the marathon man, trying to match his pace and keep him going.
At about 8, Ryan Hall came by and chatted with people on the mat.
The event ended at 9. The marathon man did every single round and won a gi. $15,000 was raised. 27 gyms were represented.

It was a good experience and I’ll definitely do another one if I get the opportunity.

Balance Studios and an attempt at an interview

Philadelphia looked nice as I drove into the middle of the city. It had some cool bridges and neat architecture. It reminded me of Boston (little ass streets).
I had heard of Balance Studios and made that my target. I’d also been wanting to interview people for a while so I decided to give it a try here. A contacted a Balance black belt named Josh Vogel who is active on reddit and he agreed to talk with me.

So at noon on Friday I biked to the gym for a no gi class.
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Unknown [small gym packed with talent]

I was late and I missed the first part of class. I went over to the office and met Josh, who introduced me to the instructor, Rick Migliarese. Rick was immediately welcoming and took a minute to go over the technique he’d just showed with me.
The move was a variation of this. The opponent turns his hips towards your feet to finish his pass. You hook his arm the same way, but you throw your leg all the way over his head and sweep him instead.

We drilled the move and worked on a few different ways to finish it before getting into rolling.
I did my first round with my partner who was a novice, but a good athlete.
Rick came over to me for the second round, which was very cool of him. He beat my half guard with kimura grips. He applied a lot of torque, but never twisted my arm too far.
I always appreciate the guys who can roll hard without causing injury; it’s a mark of real skill and knowledge.
I rolled next with a huge guy with brown ranked shorts. My quickness gave me the upper hand and arms were more protected thanks to Rick.
My next two rounds were with good wrestlers. They were fun rolls and forced me to try some different strategies to keep up.
In Round 5 I got invited to roll with UFC vet and Lock Haven wrestler Charlie Brenneman. Charlie dominated our scrambles with constant head control. My neck was always in danger and even when I managed a sweep, he re-rolled me instantly using a chinstrap.
Charlie was friendly so I asked him about his methods after the round and gladly showed me some of his techniques.
My last round was with Josh. He spent most of the match practicing his leg lock positions, setting up the leg knot again and again.

When everyone had cleared out, I sat down with Josh to ask him three questions I’d come up with.
I fist asked him to talk about leg attacks. Here are my notes on his thoughts.

  1. Leg lock philosophies
    First thing you should do when rolling is ask your partner if they’re ok with leg locks. Always be clear on that.
    Leg locks do pose a higher risk of injury than submissions on the neck, shoulders and elbows- mostly because of our lower familiarity with how our knees and ankles function. What does the average person do with their legs? The stand up, sit down, walk around- that’s about it. But what do you do with your arms? You pick stuff up, write, throw, scratch your back, reach for things- all kinds of movements. Your brain’s understanding of these joints and what they can and can’t do is far greater than that of your knees and ankles. It’s easier to know when your shoulder is is in danger of injury than your ankle.
    Also consider the strength and conditioning accumulated around the arm joints from a lifetime of usage in their full range of movement- the legs don’t necessarily have this strength or conditioning.
    One more thing to consider. When you see elite grapplers’ knees and ankles bend in seemingly impossible ways, it has a lot to do with their years of grappling. They have a higher sensitivity about how those joints move and greater strength around them too.
    But, with enough practice and understanding, we all can and should learn the leg game.
  2. Being a good coach
    Organization is key to a good curriculum. Don’t just show random moves from random positions. Teach your students how to think about jiu jitsu. Help them understand basic concepts, strategies and tactics. Learning these helps the student chain moves together and create their own sequences.
    Personalize bjj for each student. We most often teach in a class setting, but as you go around the room, identify what works best for each student’s body type and abilities. ‘Maybe triangles aren’t your thing, but this triangle setup can get you an arm bar too.’
    Learn from your losses. Whether it’s at the gym or at a tournament, make note of the things that went wrong and make that a focus of your future learning.
  3. We rolled- what can I do better?
    Scott- you seem to have a good under hook game and you’re good in the half guard. But even in those positions, there were times when I negated a certain move of yours and you failed to have a response and allowed me to make another move. When I stop something, it’s important to have another direction to immediately go in. Think of a race- you’re in the lead when you take a position, but I catch up by negating it. You must do something to regain the lead, not just continue at that pace. You need to continue moving to keep the lead you’ve established.

    I thought it went well for my first try. Josh was very patient and had good answers.
    He’s a pretty smart guy too. He has his own Blog, and also runs an excellent bjj newsletter called The Sloth Report. Here’s the Sloth Report Facebook.

    I only had 24hrs to spend in Philly. Lame, I know, but I needed to be in DC on Saturday. I managed to eat a cheesesteak at Pat’s and eat some Tasty Kake products. I had cheese ice cream for the first time.
    It was a good 24 hours. I can always make another visit and include Pittsburgh, MD, and DE.

    Once more, Balance Studios is great. Top level instruction, hard training and a warm vibe. They have a new space in the works too. If you’re in Philly, definitely check them out.

Ardon Sweet Science

My mom mailed a bank card and some insurance papers to my friend John’s house in Brooklyn. It took longer than expected- 13 days counting Columbus Day. When it finally came, I headed out to Brooklyn to retrieve it. John trains- he’s grappling at a place called Ardon Sweet Science and invited me to check it out when I got the mail.

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Ardon is mainly a boxing and may thai gym (the guys on the bags looked gnarly), but they have a matted cage and that’s where the jiu jitsu class took place. The instructor was a guy named Rich who had trained all over NYC off and on since 2000. It was John, Rich, me, and three other guys- all fairly new.
Rich led us through some warmups, pummeling, and headlock escapes. Then we went into technique.
Rich showed a position he called the rat guard. Nobody had showed me this before, but Rich made it easy to figure out. We did the shoulder lock then went into a scissor sweep to mount. From mount we did a straight arm bar, and when the opponent escaped that, went to a head and arm choke position, gift wrap, then worked our way to the back. From the back, Rich had a slick hand exchange that gave us the choke. We rolled at the end of class and although most of the guys were beginners, they had strong fundamentals and didn’t make many mistakes. Rich was clearly doing a good job.

After I showered, John had me over to his place for dinner. This was the first home I’d been in for almost 3 months and I loved it. It was quiet and comfortable and there were two cats.
I had a great meal and got to meet his lady.
John also gave me a book called The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. Waitzkin is a world champion in chess and tai chi- he’s also a Marcelo Garcia black belt.

New York was a great time but it was also pretty intense. Spending the last night relaxing with friends at a house did a lot for me.

John- can’t thank you enough man. I’m really happy for the life you’ve made in NYC and hope to see you again some time. Good luck at the tournament on 12/6!

That night I left towards Philadelphia. The route was complex as I tried to avoid tolls. I only missed one exit which was easily corrected. From what I could tell in the dark, it was city all the way.
A made it to Philly at about 2 in the morning, and took another half hour to find a parking space near the gym I wanted to visit. I fell asleep around 3.
When I woke up at 10 I had a parking ticket. The space was free for two hours starting at 8 a.m. and my ticket said 9:40. I ain’t paying that shit.

I found another spot and then biked to Balance Studios for a noon class.