We have now travelled down from Sydney to Melbourne. A very cool city with a nice, laid back vibe….and even more importantly, it seems to have a lot of BJJ gyms to visit :-)
Before the 12 hour train journey down I had sent a scattering of emails to a lot of the local gyms for the planned week-long stay. The first person to respond is Andrew Lai, a BJJ brown belt who is the instructor at Docklands BJJ. Andrew invites me down to the BJJ class on Friday and also offers an invite to the Kudo sessions that are run on Tuesdays.
Kudo (I’ve since found out) is a martial art which combines the techniques of BJJ together with Kickboxing and Judo. I’d never heard of it before and, unfortunately, I already had another BJJ class lined up for the Tuesday, but it sounded really interesting and Andrew and the school were obviously proud to have incorporated it into their timetable.
“We’re the first official Kudo group in Melbourne”, Andrew tells me, smiling. “We started it up and it’s been really popular and it’s slightly addictive”.
“Thanks, but I’ve already got another BJJ class penciled in for Tuesday. Besides, I kind of made a promise to myself to try to not be punched in the face during this trip!”
I arrive at the address. Docklands BJJ is aptly named as it really is a stone’s throw away from Victoria Harbour. I have the address on my phone and am walking up and down the street – continually passing the point that Google is (patiently) telling me should be the location. After 3 or 4 attempts in finding the building I look across the street to the park opposite and spot the following quirky little building nestled behind the trees.
I walk over and spot Andrew and another guy (Igor) opening up and so I make my way across the street. Andrew enters the building and Igor politely holds the door open for me to pass through next and I follow in behind Andrew.
“You’re more than welcome to join in the class and train today”, Andrew says, facing away from me, talking into the empty room without turning around.
Wow!, I’m thinking. This guy really does have some Mr Miagi like powers! – He has just sensed my presense – that I’ve arrived without even turning around to see me yet!
Andrew turns around a bit startled and laughs when he sees me. “Sorry, I was talking to Igor! I didn’t hear you come in”.
By coincidence, I wasn’t the only drop in to the class that day. Igor, a blue belt, originally from Brazil, had recently moved to Melbourne and was looking for a BJJ class to join :-)
The little cube building has a main area and a small kitchen, toilet and storage room at the back. One of the walls is made up of windows so there is a lot of natural light and it looks out to the park. A great view to look at whilst being arm-barred and probably some good advertising at the same time.
A few other members arrive and we take the rolled up mats from one of the storage rooms and start creating the dojo :-)
The class begins with a series of warm ups before Andrew takes us through the technique for the day – A sweep from X Guard.
“Remember”, Andrew tells the class, “If this was a street fight, don’t think about going for this……You’ll just get smashed! This is BJJ only!”.
Andrew later tells me that this is the first lesson on X-Guard for the class.
“We have just spent a month in side-control”, Andrew tells me. “I like to really take a long time in going through options in the same position. Really lets everyone get the feel of a single position before moving on.”
The class finishes up and we then have the mat space to roll. Very laid back – people could just roll until they had enough, or Andrew had to kick them out to lock up! :-)
I had a roll with Andrew. Just beforehand we were discussing the Rickson Gracie concept of ‘invisible jiu jitsu’. To take a quote from mybjj.com on this:
“Many know the basic ideas of Jiu-Jitsu, but don’t know the details of why they work. It is amazing to see how moving a part of your body just 2 inches changes the dynamics of the entire technique. This is why Rickson’s Jiu-Jitsu is called invisible Jiu-Jitsu: because the details can be so small you don’t notice them, but you can really feel it.”
…..and I did feel it! Andrew’s pressure from side control and Knee on belly was hard to deal with :-)
I had some good rolls with Igor who kindly spent some time with me talking about places (and gyms) to visit if I make it to Brazil. I managed to catch an arm in guillotine after around 9 minutes of back and forth scrambling. Followed by Igor catching me in a wrist lock for the second roll.
And finally, I had a few rolls with Rodney – the Kudo instructor and BJJ purple belt. It was really fun but Rodney was one step ahead throughout and caught me a bunch of times. By the time we finished up we were the only 2 people left on the mat and it was pitch black outside. We called it a day after the final tap to a mounted guillotine and with Andrew patiently waiting to lock up after us :-)
Was a great start to my Melbourne BJJ adventure. A very cool little community centre for local BJJers. Thanks guys for inviting me down and making me welcome. Next time I’m around I’ll drop in for a Kudo session – I’m already thinking about buying the domain ‘www.kudobeginnerabroad.com’!