It’s 10 minutes before class. I’m in the middle of a street in Beijing city, with a spa owner woman on my right and a guy operating a pizza stall to my left. Both of which are talking in chinese between them in an effort to get me to class on time :-)
The drop in class today is at The Beijing Jiu Jitsu Academy. I’ve taken a few wrong turns (or more accurately, incorrect google map locations :-) ) in finding a couple of gyms in the past but I was just so confident making my way here. Even the website had a super helpful map, how difficult could it be?
Well, it turns out a bit more difficult than I thought. After a walk back and forth along the street I ask for some help at the spa which is located as close as possible to the point on the map. The spa owner takes my phone, talks to a colleague, checks her phone, shakes her head and then grabs my arm and leads me out of the building. She’s a star, I know she doesn’t know where this place is either but isn’t ready to turn me away just yet.
After my friend has tried a couple of times, the pizza guy across the road overhears and comes over to discuss. She leaves and, in a tag-team of helpfulness, he takes my arm. Leads my down a side street and points.
“There’s no way this is the place”, I think, but thank him anyway and give it a punt before admitting defeat and heading back home.
Down the alley, past the bike, through the corridor, and there is is……a rack of Gi’s drying in the Beijing evening air :-)
The class starts…..all the familiarities are in place. Warm ups, technique lesson in steps (we did some old-school Gracie stand up work…..keeping distance and body fold takedowns), drills, and then a bit of rolling for those who wanted to stick around. The only difference n this class compared to all the others I’d encountered on this trip….none of it was in English :-) The class was taught 100% in Chinese, and surprisingly it wasn’t a problem at all.
It helped that I’d seen/drilled this technique before, and also that the sport is a physical one so the majority of the details can be observed…but I got an idea of what was trying to be explained during the class……I’d heard BJJ described as its own ‘physical language’ in the past, and after this class I think there definitely may be something to it :-)
Thanks guys for having me down! It was nice to get my second gym session while travelling through this massive and beautiful country :-)