Gym number 7 and the second within Sydney City Centre.
After my mild panic of receiving no responses for the first few days on arrival due to the Sydney Open, I received a lovely email from Amanda who works at Gracie Alexandria.
Thanks for getting in contact with us. Would be a pleasure to have you here to train with us. Come for the first class free of charge and we will lend you a GI. You are welcome to come on beginners and all levels classes. Please click the link below to check what class and time would suit you. It is also fine to take photos .
We will be looking forward to see you in the Academy.
Any other enquires please contact us.
I head down to take my first bus out of the central business district (CBD) area of Sydney. My bus pulls up and I try to board.
“Tickets Please”, the driver says as several people and myself step on.
“Can I buy one to Botany Road please?”
“Sorry, you can’t. All the buses around here are prepay only, you will need to get a ticket from the Seven Eleven around the corner”
I de-board the bus and run around the corner to purchase a ticket. Luckily for me the guy behind the counter notices the mild panic in my jiu jitsu starved eyes and lets me know a number of other buses I can get to the same destination :-)
I arrive and meet Amanda who shows me around the facility and introduces me to Owen, one of the instructors. I get handed a spare Gi and make my way to the changing rooms.
There are a lot of people waiting on the mats already and by the time I get into the changing room there is only 1 other person getting changed.
“First day?”, the guys asks as he smiles and comes over for a handshake.
“Yep, it is…”, I begin and I’m about to tell him that it is for this gym, but I’m training while I’m travelling. Before I could finish he jumps in, brimming with excitement…
“You will love it!”, he gives me a massive smile, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done! I started 6 months ago and now I’m here 6 days a week!”
I can’t help but smile, his enthusiasm is infectious………this is definitely a sign of a good club.
I finish getting changed and I notice that the belt is too small to wrap around my waist in the normal way. I try a few combinations but it’s either too long or too short. I don’t have much time anyway due to missing my first bus so I settle for a double knot at the front in order to get onto the mat.
I walk back outside to the mats, take off my sandals, and I give a small bow before stepping onto the mat where people are stretching out. This isn’t a compulsory action, but I’m aware that some gyms and instructors like to set that culture of tradition and respect. And as i’m a guest on my travels, I have been making sure to try and be aware and follow the culture of the gym.
I sit down and start stretching, and 2 minutes later another instructor has come over to sit beside me and is shaking my hand.
“I’m Alex”, he tells me, “…..and I’ve not seen you here before”
“It’s my first time here…..”, I begin.
“But this is not the first time you have done BJJ”, he stops me with a smile. “I can tell by the way you came onto the mat and the by way you are sitting now.”
Alex Prates is a former MMA fighter and 2nd degree black belt under Bruno Panno and Royler Gracie. We have a small chat about what I’m doing and where I’m from. Alex tells me that he’s always considered people from Brazil and the UK to have similar personalities. “Even though Brazil is a 3rd world country and England is more developed”, he says “I believe there are a lot of similarities. There is a lot of fighting in both pasts and it produces similar people. I’ve always found I get on with people from the UK. Hopefully this will be the case today”, he smiles. He has a really good and calm way about him, a very cool guy.
The class begins and Alex takes us through some options on defending collar chokes when caught in an opponent’s guard. Preventative measures to stop you getting into bad positions followed by last-ditch resorts if everything goes wrong.
“It’s a game, sometimes they beat you at the game”, Alex is telling the class. “And if they beat you, what you gonna do?” :-)
We finish up the class with some rolls. I was a bit gutted that I left my go-pro before coming down (sorry, no vids this time). The only issue I had was with my tiny belt which couldn’t keep my gi in place for the majority of the rolls.
I don’t know what it was or could put my finger on it exactly……maybe it was being the 2nd gym in 2 days and I’d shaken off a bit of the rust, or maybe it was just the excitement of having a lot of options in the city again….but the whole experience and class was just really, really fun!
I had a great time, so thanks guys for a great class and making me feel so welcome :-)
And just as a side note, when I was getting changed and finally managed to take off my tiny belt, I looked down to notice it had been written on in felt pen
It may have been tiny, but it seemed to have been signed by a legend! (Royce Gracie)……..Swings and roundabouts! :-)