I didn’t know anything of brunswick before I got there. I arrived in the dark and found a random parking lot to spend the night in.
I researched some things to do in the morning, but didn’t find anything that piqued my interest.
I roamed the internet, organized the van, and read the rest of Art of Learning.
The class at Devine BJJ started at 7pm. I found a large room with wrestling mats in the back of a boxing gym.
Scott Devine was there taking attendance. He was aware that I would be visiting and gave me a warm welcome.
I joined about 35 people on the mats. There were two other black belts, three browns, a handful of purples and a handful of blues.
Prof. Devine began class by showing us two mount escapes. I found a drilling partner who was brand new and we worked our way through the moves. After a few minutes, Devine called us back in and showed a couple more escapes. He broke us off for more drilling, then brought is back in for some other options against different types of mounts. We ended up seeing and drilling about 8 different mount escapes. Many of them were closely related, so it was more like variations of a few different escapes. It was really usual and laid back and everyone was having a good time.
We went into some sparring rounds after about 45 minutes of drilling. I went with a white belt first and went back and forth with him for about 8 minutes.
There was no timer and we were free to find our own pairings, so I did my usual waiting for someone to ask me to roll. (It feels like the polite and nonaggressive way). A blue belt came finally came over. It seemed nobody wanted to roll with this poor guy- he was maybe 400 pounds and about 5’10”. He looked like a powerlifter- “built like a brick shit house” as my father says.
We started sitting and I immediately went out to one side to avoid the bottom position. I worked my way around to his back, but couldn’t find a neck to choke. He let me try for a minute, then grabbed hold of my gi and drug me underneath him. I figured I was done for, but he was considerate about his size advantage and tried not to kill me. He passed my half guard and went for and went for a key lock but I squeezed out behind him and went to his back again. I feigned some an attack, then fell off to one side and plowed into him as hard as I could. I don’t know if he went over willingly or not, but he did and I pinned his wrist against my chest caught him in a gooseneck.
We shook hands and laughed a little about my dirty sub. I acknowledged his merciful technique and then we went off to find other partners.*
I met an older brown belt and we rolled. I started sitting, but couldn’t get him to come forward off his knees into any sort of guard. The only thing he would do is go for front headlocks and an arm in guillotine from half guard. When I withstood his choke attempt, he’d disengage and wait for another front headlock. I tried a couple times to push him backwards and take the top, but he would back out and stand up. I elected to stay on the ground and we repeated the sequence a few more times until he was gassed. I was frustrated, but I also understood that I failed to impose my game in him. It was a draw at best.
I did pretty well against my next partner, a purple belt of similar size. I was quicker and stronger was able to get to his back a lot.
I had the same success against another purple belt after that.
I was getting a little tired- it was hot in the room and I was out of sweat- but one more purple belt asked for a round. I agreed, figuring I could handle it.
This guy was cagey though. He avoided most of my sweep attempts until worked hard and finally got one. I ended up in side control and tried for some submissions, but he opted for staunch defense over escapes. Eventually I got reckless and he recovered half guard. My sloppiness continued as I tried to improvise some kind of berimbolo, but it failed and I found myself in a reverse triangle and beginning to fatigue.
The guy was patient and inched his way into the triangle choke. I knew I could deny the choke by risking my trapped arm or else what for the choke to get too tight. I opted to give up my arm and maybe scramble out, but he was ready and scooped it up into an easy shoulder lock.
Excellent patience and strategy from this guy. I wanted to take some time to try to get a second wind and go with him again, but class wrapped up and it was time to go.
I was impressed by the size of the student body and the population of upper belts in a town I’d never heard of. Everyone was friendly and tough and I left feeling glad I’d stopped Brunswick.**
*So bjj loves to tout itself as the best way to beat a bigger opponent. That may be true, but this guy was freaking huge and a blue belt and I honestly don’t think I stood a chance of out-grappling him. If I had to fight him for real, I would have tried the Marco Ruas strategy (It’s Marco, not Marcos.)
**Read into the Devine team. They have several gymsin the area, even ones in Seattle and NYC. Scott Devine is a 3rd degree under Relson and has turned out several good black belts.
After my shower I set out in the dark for Jacksonville, just 54 miles south.