I've never been this sore in my entire life.
It's almost been a week since I started my BJJ journey. Since last thursday, I've taken 4 classes - 3 Gi and 1 No-Gi. All 4 of them have been amazing, and I've learned so much that I have to write this Fanpost or I'll end up forgetting what I learned. In short, I know way more defense then I do offense (which is normal from what I'm told) and I've been humbled by two and three stripe white belts in every single class. I love it! It seems like the two major BJJ instructors at OAMA are Matt "The Hammer" Hache, a 2 stripe brown belt and highly decorated BJJ practitioner who has defeated the likes of Miguel Torres and Ryan Hall. Hammer is also 1-0 in MMA with a 35 second submission win. The other instructor is Mark Holst (who I mentioned in my other post). Mark is a purple belt in BJJ, and trains wrestling with GSP andhis crew in Montreal quite often. I should note that Pat Cooligan is the head BJJ guys at OAMA (He's a black belt) but I'm pretty sure he doesn't teach the lower level classes.
Friday night was my first No Gi class which was taught by Mark Holst. I had no idea what to expect as it was my first No Gi class, but I was pumped. Mark showed us some wrestling tricks that GSP taught him including how to secure a single leg TD and transition into a double leg if the single wasn't working. I've never wrestled before so that whole lesson was totally new to me. The takedowns we learned were all about change of direction to keep your opponent off balance. I also learned the proper way to escape side control that night, which came in handy during the live drilling, which went much better then my first class. I was able to hold mount, learned how to flatten my opponent out and how to control his legs with mine. That one technique made my life much easier.
I took the weekend off to let my body get some much need rest, but man did I miss training! I practiced shrimping in my apartment all weekend, and I successfully tricked my cat into thinking that a new animal had moved in. I must have been doing it right because she kept trying to "cat-box" with me everytime I did a shrimp. What I didn't take into account was the amount of rug burn I was going to get from practicing that way, but oh well. What's another bruise when you already have 40 of them, am I right?
Monday night saw me in my 2nd Gi class, but my first wearing an actual gi. Holy crap those things are hot! Seriously, whoever invented a gi never took into account that a BJJ room is basically a sauna by the end of the class. On monday we were being taught by Hammer, who showed us some cool tricks about how to secure a triangle. The first trick was to open your hips on the opposite side, baiting the guy on top to try and pass. When he goes for that, you resist with the outside leg, pull him in close, lock up the scissor/triangle, re-adjust to get the angle and secure the choke and voila. What if the guy on top sees you trying to bait him and just grabs your leg to pass? Post your leg, shrimp out to the opposite side to create space, kick his arm off your knee, pull him close and repeat the steps from above. It sounds confusing writing it out, but it works well. That night I was drilling with a 3 stripe white belt, and I actually held my own. After class he asked me how long I'd been training, which I replied "3 days". His reaction? "Whoa". I guess that means I'm progressing.
Last night was my 3rd Gi class and we were being taught by Mark Holst. He showed us some standing underhook drills (I managed to get double underhooks and keep them! Big confidence boost there). He also showed us a great move that he was taught by Reylson Gracie. Basically if you are in full mount top and your opponent is hugging you to stop punches or whatever, you post your leg on the opposite side that your opponent's head is on. It opens him up for a straight armbar, which if he denies by bending his arm you can transition very easily into a deadly kimura. If you happen to get bucked off, you can acutally hold the kimura, clear your other leg and roll into another kimura/armbar from side control. Very slick and very cool move. In my drilling last night, I was paired up with the guy I trained with in my first ever class. He went 100% on me, and it showed. When I was in mount top he swept me like a broom. When I was side control top, he was getting back into his guard at will. Mount bottom I faired a bit better, I managed to get him into my side control where I just hung on for dear life. Side control bottom was a different story. He kept putting me into a Kesa-Gatame and I had no idea how to get out of it. Not only had I never been taught how to escape, but I was exhausted by this point in the class. It was frustrating, but as Hammer said to me after class "you're gonna have night like this". I asked Mark to show me the escape from the Kesa-Gatame after class and he happily obliged. Now I know what I was doing wrong, and I'll be prepared for my next encounter with the ever annoying Kesa-Gatame.
My overall impressions after week 1 is that BJJ and OAMA are amazing. They easily have the best instructors in the city, and they are always willing to show you things after class, before class, during class, whenever. I already feel like I'm part of the OAMA family, and I'm loving every second of my training. I won't be able to attend another class until Monday (work gets in the way of fun) but I'm looking forward to it. The only downside? My shoulder/upper arms are no longer white, but a nice shade of purple and yellow.
So if you are reading this and wondering if you should start BJJ, the answer is yes x100. I'm been through some crazy workouts in my life for basketball clubs across Canada, the US and Europe, but none of them hold a candle to the workout I get from BJJ. That alone is worth the price of admission. Until next time, keep shrimping!