Week 3, and I’m in the town of Hamilton for a couple of days on route down to the South island. I’m heading over to the Southern Tribes (Waikato) gym to take part in a class.
I’d emailed Craig Nicolls, a BJJ purple belt and one of the instructors who had responded almost immediately and in the most super-friendly way possible!
What you’re doing sounds awesome, of course you’re welcome to come train with us.
You’re welcome to take photos. Videoing if they guys have no problem being filmed then sweet as.
Our next training session is Friday 27th Feb, it’s no-gi due to the weather.
Kids start at 5:30pm and then
Adult beginners 6:30pm,
Adult fundamentals at 7pm.
Don’t worry about fees, we love to meet new people passing through and look forward to meeting you, I hope :)
If there is anything else you need to know or I can help with, let me know. You can also contact me on xxx xxx xxxx.
I’ll say it again….I love the BJJ community!
The weather is absolutely scorching and as I’m walking down I am feeling really grateful that today is a no-gi day – if I’m grappling, I’d rather be doing it in shorts and T-Shirt!
I arrive a bit early, with the plan to say ‘Hello’ to a few people before the class begins. The gym is packed, both on the mat and in the waiting area. Craig is in the middle of teaching the kids class and there must be about 35-40 (!) children on the mat and at least as many parents waiting for them on the side.
The atmosphere is brilliant. Craig has a really good way with the class. It was all very light-hearted, fun, and easy going, but all at the same time, he possesses the skill to keep the full class of 35 kids’ attention…no easy feat!
In addition to this, the content of the class seems to be really clever. Craig wasn’t teaching the class techniques…..instead they were playing games. But games designed which incorporated BJJ movement!
As a wrap up to the class, Craig had a discussion on bullying and what to do if you, or a friend was being bullied. It was fully wholesome and fun….brilliant.
While the kid’s class was being wrapped up, I joined in the beginner’s class on the side of the mat. The class was being run by Greg. We did a full warm up (it had been a while since I’d done a full relaxed 15 minute one) and then we started working the mount position.
There were only around 6 or 7 guys in the beginner’s slot, but I was blown away by how much enjoyment everyone seemed to get out of learning here. Each time Greg showed a detail of a position or technique I could just see a bunch of faces light up when they seemed to get the point of the move and a smattering of comments of appreciation………“Man…..True!!…..that really works, huh!…..Sweet as Bro!” :-)
After around 30 minutes for the beginner’s class, the main class begins and the majority of us stick around. Craig takes the class and shows us a variation on a hip throw (Ogoshi). I pair up with a guy called Mark. “Where about in the UK are you from?”, Mark asks me. At this point I normally say ‘Liverpool’ to people who have asked me while I’ve been travelling – Even in the UK, not too many know where Wirral is either), but Mark’s accent is so familiar that I tell him, “Originally, Prenton in the Wirral”.
“No way! I’m from Moreton!”, Mark tells me…Turns out we used to live about 5 miles apart back in the UK. I think we both started to talk a bit more scouse (Liverpool accent) from that point onwards! :-)
After drilling the hip throw, Craig took us through some escapes from the turtle position. This is one of the few times I think my drop in sessions will complement each other – it was almost an extension of my last class back in Tauranga :-)
After taking us through some of the details of the position, Craig asks the class if anyone would to recap. “One for the Queen, lads?”, he asks as he looks at me and Mark :-)
We finish up and do a couple of quick rolls. Again, everyone is completely supportive, up for a photo, kindly giving advice for where else would be good for me to train on the journey.
As I was packing up and changing, Mark was waiting at the door and kindly offered a lift back into town. “When you leaving bud? I’m off tomorrow I could show you some of the good places around here”. I was dissapointed that I already had my ferry set for the next day to the South island otherwise I would have definately took him up on his amazingly kind offer.
And then just to top it off, as we were leaving the car park, Craig came out and flagged the car down….“Something for your trip”, as he handed me a Southern Tribes T-Shirt.
I’ll even say it a 2nd time in the same post – BJJ people are the best :-)
Here are the 2 roll vids from the class (Craig and Greg) . As always, I’m really appreciative of any constructive feedback or advice (If I can get the world to teach me more BJJ via the internet, I will! :-) ) Please feel free to get in touch via my contact page.