I love China!
I had no expectations coming here, but up until now I have nothing to complain about at all! Nice weather, beautiful views, mountains and lakes, friendly people, new friends, new experiences….the past 4 weeks have been a real pleasure……….however…………
Where is the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?! Where, I ask you!!?
After probably missing a good opportunity to find a gym in Guangzhou, the Chinese towns in Yunnan have been remarkably lacking in places I can get choked out! Now I’m back in the cities, I’m back on the hunt for a gym to drop into!
I send an email to Chengdu BJJ, and receive a quick reply from head instructor, Jerry.
I arrive on the Tuesday night after a day of Panda spotting. I follow the map and instructions in the email which takes me into what looks like a hotel lobby. I try asking at the reception if the class is based here but I’m not doing a good job…..back to the old tried and tested body-language as I put my fists up and do a few shadow boxing jabs. “Ahhh!”, the lady behind the reception desk smiles and also throws a couple of hooks into the air, “Floor 2!”
I make my way to floor 2, where a kid’s martial arts class is wrapping up.
“Craig?”, I hear a voice behind me, turn around and shake hands with Jerry ‘ Wu Tang’ Sonenarong. Black belt under Fabio Araujo, and head BJJ instructor at the gym.
We take a sit at the side of the mats while the class is finishing up and have a chat before class. Jerry is an American who moved out to China in 2011 to work and teach.
“We share the gym currently”, Jerry tells me and nods to the few remaining kids getting picked up by their parents, “but we may need our own place soon…we’re growing and have roughly 30-40 people per class”.
We chat for a few more minutes before the class is scheduled to begin, about my trip up to now and the different gyms I’d dropped by. Jerry had checked out my blog and was really complimentary about it. “I really like the blog man! If you do post on here please just be honest…..If you don’t like it you can just say so, I wont be offended!” Jerry tells me as we get up for the class to start.
“I’m sure I’ll like it”, I smile, and completely mean it. I’m already excited…..it’s been it feels like it’s been far too long already…..I almost tried wrestling with one of the Pandas at the research centre earlier in the day!
The gym may be shared, but the floorspace was not. The class start the session by setting up a full set of Mats on top of the mats which were already out.
“Just want to make sure everything is clean for our guys”, Jerry tells me. “There are a few different classes which use this gym and I can’t be sure how they keep their gear….it’s an extra few minutes, but at least I know our mats are in good condition and are always clean for our guys”
We start class. Jerry was right, at around 30 people for today’s class it was going to be a cosy matspace. Jerry takes us through some arm-drag to back take combonations.
The class lesson finishes up and we go for a few rounds of rolling. The class is so packed that each round some of the students kindly volunteer for watch duty – making sure pair of sparring partners weren’t clashing into each other. A few of the extra mat pieces go re-purposed as human shields!
Was a really good session and was so happy to get my BJJ fix again :-) Tough guys and hard, but fun, work.
Cheers Jerry and all the Guys at Chengdu BJJ for having me down and giving me my first gym session in China!