I did another road trip like this a few years ago. I made it as far as Orlando before low funds and an impatient girlfriend forced me to turn around and bee line back to Montana.
I found myself back in Orlando on Saturday- no girl and just a little more money. I spent Saturday night at a video game bar, drinking and playing old arcade games and laid low on Sunday to save money.
On Monday morning I located Orlando BJJ and went in to take the 11 a.m. fundamentals class. Maria, the receptionist was really sweet and signed me in before bringing me back to the training area to introduce me to Bruno Malfacine.
This gym was huge- maybe the biggest I’ve ever been in.
We drilled mount escapes for all of that first hour.
The second hour was advanced class and a few purple and brown belts joined in. Bruno showed a way to pass the de la Riva guard by diving over the hooking leg and back hipping. It was tricky and flashy and I liked it.
Bruno is known for his mobility and athleticism and this felt like something straight from his game.
He showed a similar movement used to pass to the other side, then we took a break before sparring.
I went with my drilling partner first- a hulking white belt. He rag dolled me around but didn’t really achieve any positions. I mostly tried to conserve energy and not get hurt.
My second round was with a brown belt. He spoke Portuguese so I figured he was going to be pretty good.
He stood up to start and I went into RDLR, fully prepared to abandon it for a single leg. Sure enough, my first strategy began to unravel so I turned towards the single leg. He pivoted around me and tried to set up a crucifix, but I laid flat and went to deep half. He responded with a cool trap where he allowed me to begin to come up to my knees but then slid his free leg hard under me and pulled me back into a crucifix. I thought I was screwed, but I tried to defend anyway. He threatened a choke and arm bar simultaneously but I stayed alive.
I get caught in crucifixes a lot, but this time I did something different and pushed my arm further into the arm bar which took the pressure off my elbow. I was able to turn my hand the way I wanted managed to escape completely and come up to the top. I was so surprised by my escape that I stopped moving to think about how it had worked and was immediately put in another bad spot.
The round ended with him on my back, but I was too happy about the escape to care.
The next round was with a 4 stripe purple who used his length to play a good spider guard. I tried all kinds of things to break the position but he reestablished it every time I freed myself. We went back and forth like this for the whole round. It’s hard to remember if we even got into a scoring position.
My last round was with a young blue belt. He jumped up to his feet to start and baited me with a single leg. I knew right away he was going to try the 180 degree hop to my back and dumped him off me when he tried. He went into a technical standup and tried it again but I caught him again. We played most of the round with him trying to pass from his feet and getting stifled, then trying the jump again. He backed away one time then stuck his leg out again fro me to grab. I tapped that leg then shot past it for a low single on his other leg, riding it heavily and climbing up to his back.
It may have been a power move on a teenager, but he was trying to put me on his highlight reel so I had to check him.
Class concluded after this round and I hit the shower.
I ate a little and napped until the evening advanced class started. There were two black belts, two browns, four purples and some blue belts at this one.
Bruno reviewed the passes we had worked earlier. We drilled for 30 minutes, then started rolling.
Round one was with a blue belt with an injured knee. We kept it slow and controlled.
Round two was with Bruno! I was expecting this and got it. He was all over the place. He hit one flying arm bar and one flying triangle off of my collar grips as well as a wrist lock and a couple chokes from the back.
Round three was with a black belt with the exact opposite style. This guy tried to bulldoze me and negate any movement I made. He insisted on constant cross faces and didn’t attempt any submissions. It was a good challenge and took me quite while to get out from the bottom. Time expired just as I was about to finally go on offense.
Round four was with a brown belt called Francisco. We had a good hard round. He took my back twice from a lasso grip, but I escaped and passed guard once. We fought hard and evenly and with no submissions. I felt really good about my improved timing and better decision making. I played a simpler and cleaner game and it worked well for me.
My final round was with Bruno again. He did some crazy passes and caught three or four arm bars from side control and the back.
His tiny frame lends itself to that style. He has an amazing strength to weight ratio, fits into every hole and moves twice as fast us large people. He’s like Darren Sproles or Nate Robinson or Lionel Messi.
It was time to leave Orlando after that. I’m low on cash so I have to save as much as I can for Miami.
I’ll probly need to find a job there.
Here’s one of the best matches of 2015- Bruno vs Joao Miyao.