It’s Easter weekend in Melbourne and I want to follow all of the traditional Easter customs which go along with it. This includes chocolate eggs, rabbits and………Leg Locks?
Fortunately for me, the holiday break didn’t affect a lot of the BJJ timetables for the Melbourne gyms. One of these gyms was Absolute MMA. I’ve been excited about the prospect of visiting this gym for a while as my friend, Mass, had recommended it – it was his BJJ gym of choice while living in Melbourne for 2 years.
I had reached out to Richard Lattemagi who had not only invited me down for the bank holiday Monday no-gi class, but also to drop in for the open mat on the Saturday morning as well.
I’m in-between hostels at the moment (as availability over the Easter weekend is pretty sparse) so I’m completely living up to a travelling image as I’m carrying everything that I have with me on my back as I arrive at the gym!
I arrive for the class and Richard shows me around. It’s a fully equipped, underground facility complete with 3 matted areas, a cage wall, gym areas, and a full sized boxing ring.
I start chatting to J.T. , A recently promoted brown belt and personal trainer who was waiting for a client. J.T. has a lot of experience in training whilst travelling so it was really interesting having a chat with him….he had been in Brazil for 6 months to do nothing but train BJJ 3 times a day.
“It’s interesting”, he tells me. “I love BJJ, but when you train 3 times a day you start to hate it! It’s train, eat, sleep, repeat……6 months!”
“Could you not just do 2 times a day?”
“The way I see it is that I came into this sport late.” J.T explains, “I can never get that time back on these guys who have been training since 14 or 15……but what I can do is outwork them!”
J.T kindly show me some recent stuff he’s been working on while we wait for his client to arrive – some concepts around testing an opponent’s open guard.
The open mat is very chilled out, around 9 or 10 people floating around (including a couple of black belts) ready for a bit of rolling….with the occasional break for someone to reset the round timer.
Was a really good and relaxed open mat session, and a great way to start the weekend. I made sure to turn up for class the following Monday and was not disappointed! People turned up in force for the Monday class, taught by Thiago Stefanutti. A lot of comments and laughs around how much had been eaten over the Easter weekend were circulating throughout the gym! The class was so full that we had to split over the 2 matted areas when it came to the rolls.
We start with the warms ups, there are a lot of wrestling based games in pairs of 2 with push up punishments! Get taken down – 10 push ups!, Someone pulls guard on you – 10 push ups!
….it’s a good thing I don’t mind doing push ups :-)
Thiago led the class for the day on a half guard with knee shield position. 2 Sweep variants depending on what the opponent does, followed by 45 minutes of rolling.
“We’re rolling for 45 minutes”, Thiago tells the class. “No exceptions. I don’t care about the open mat after this – 45 minutes of BJJ!” :-)
I didn’t manage to get a roll in with Thiago, but I did manage to get one in with Richard, who had a great fighting style. I’ve heard that when you reach a certain level and have a solid grasp of all the fundementals that your personality and own style comes out in your rolling at the higher levels.Richard had a really cool style whereby everything was slow and calm but his positioning felt perfect. I balanced myself slightly off, and was swept into side control. I mis-positioned my arm in a side control escape and suddenly it’s trapped by a knee. No heavy pressure, just an incremental limit of movement and options….it was like rolling with a boa constrictor :-)
In closing, I really enjoyed my 2 sessions at Absolute MMA – Fully lived up to the expectations I had going in. Thanks guys for having me down – twice!
Finally, after a class photo, I asked Thiago if he’d mind having a picture taken with me. We ‘pose’ in front of the camera and Thiago makes a ‘V’ sign with index and middle finger, with the hand facing outwards…..the gesture that William Churchill once used as a victory sign before being advised it may be misinterpreted by the public….
“Oh wait!”, Thiago says, before our cameraman hits the shutter, “You’re from the UK right?……I’m not going to do that”, he turns his hand into a ‘thumbs up’ sign….“…it means something else in the U.K…… I know!”
I wish I’d have gotten that picture! :-)