Tuesday. I finally found my Hurricanes shirt at a Sports Authority in South Miami. I got it for $4.50 because it had a little hole in it. Score.
Afterwards I went to a famous restaurant called Versailles in Little Havana to have a Cuban sandwich and some espresso. This was the second Cubano I tried and it was much better than the first. The espresso had sugar in it- it was good, but I wasn’t expecting the sugar.
After that I checked out a fight shop downtown. You don’t see many mma/bjj based stores around, so I try to visit them when I can.
I decided to make my next gym Vagner Rocha Martial Arts, up in Pembroke Pines. The traffic headed north was ridiculous. There were two big wrecks on the freeway and there were lots of us trying to use local roads instead. It took me forty five minutes to go 13 miles, but I got a nice long tour through some rough neighborhoods in and around Hialeah.
I arrived at the gym 15 minutes late, but they were ok with it. I wasn’t even the last guy to join class.
The first hour was no gi. Vagner had us warm up by practicing lifting our partners up with our butterfly hooks and blended that into the evening’s technique. The opponent would put his feet on the mat when we elevated them and we transitioned to single leg X guard (pic). We used that position to stand up and come to the top, like this.
My partner was good about getting lots of reps, which I appreciated.
After drilling, rolls.
I went with my partner first. I struggled to pass, as I usually do without the gi, but I kept good position and eventually squirmed through into side control. He turned into me and I dove over the top for a guillotine, then scrambled to mount. He escaped mount and went for a leg attack, but I escaped that. I spent the rest of the round trying to secure another pass.
Vagner set me up with a guy named Dan next. He stayed on his side as I tried to pass guard and threatened with scissor sweeps and triangle setups. I avoided them but wasn’t making any positional progress, so I decided to take a risk and bait him into moving a certain way. He took the bait, too well. I ended up in a triangle, but I managed to break it by using a combination of posts and posture that John Crouch had showed me back in Phoenix.
I turned my escape into a misdirection pass and spent the rest of the round on top and then on Dan’s back. He escaped back control at the very end.
Round three was with Vagner. I started out passing, but was quickly swept onto my butt. I went into a single leg, which Vagner turned into a kimura trap. I fought off the choke, but he finished the shoulder lock. I pulled half guard on the reset and made a good transition to my favorite deep half sweep. But as I came up, Vagner sat up and reached to my far arm for another kimura trap and another shoulder lock.
We ended up there a third time somehow and time expired.
Vagner told me after the round that I moved really well, but everything I did felt loose and gave him space to counter.
I’ve heard this before and recognize it as my style, for better or worse. I like to leave space for my opponents to try things so I can predict their movement beat them in scrambles. When it works, it’s slick, but it can fail big time against high level guys. I could maybe perfect this approach, but it might be easier to tighten up and force the positions I want.
Vagner put me with a burly guy next. He felt like a wrestler and we battled in that style with lots of front headlocks and throw by’s. I made it behind him at one point, but couldn’t maintain. It was a fun and fast-paced round that ended as kind of a draw.
The next guy I went with was a beast. He was like 280lbs and jacked. I couldn’t have him at all, and the entire round was me attempting arm drags from my butt and him trying to force me down on my back.
My last round was with a young skinny guy they called The Bird. We had sill styles and exchanged a bunch of positions. I managed to get two triangles, but I had a significant size advantage.
Most of the guys left after the no gi hour, but I stuck around for a second hour of gi training. I drilled a basic arm bar with an older blue belt, then rolled against him, and then a brown belt my size, who I feel I got the better of.
I liked the casual atmosphere and friendly trash talking of VRMA. The students were pretty friendly with me and rolled well. Vagner was relaxed and approachable.
It seemed like they had a lot of serious MMA guys but maintained a mellow vibe.
This was a fun practice. I’d recommend this gym to anyone in the area.
I also got a cool sticker too.