So I started training BJJ and Muay Thai back in November. While I'm still a noob my TSD background, natural flexibility, years of watching MMA and dedication to reading every bit of technical striking and grappling analysis that two eyes can absorb over the past few years has given me something of a leg up in matters.
So much so that I managed to have just enough confidence to join an MMA gym while I'm on holiday for a month in the states. While I've been at the gym back home for a few months and they have plenty of legit pro's there (Got a real buzz out of reading the name of one of the guys I train with on BE about a month back), it's still a small town gym with plenty of people who are at a comparable level to me and I've always had the luxury of going with my brother so I could partner up without embarrassing myself or ruining someone else's session.
So being in the big city (Philly) and going to a totally alien Gym by myself was kind of a big deal and I was a little intimidated about the prospect. Mostly because I'm not a fighter. I love the sport, I love to train, I'm improving all the time and my physicality is slowly catching up to my skill sets, but deep down, at a fundamental level, I'm not a tough guy. I'm more of a comfy man, 21st century digital boy. At 5'7 and 160 lbs of muscular flab and with a long history of bone, joint, muscle and spinal injury, I was genuinely concerned that going into a real gym in a big city I might find myself totally out of place and possibly at risk of getting myself hurt.
And I would just like to say how awesome it's been to find my concerns totally unfounded. I couldn't have been surrounded by a nicer bunch of guys from the moment I walked in there. Two minutes after walking through the door I was joining in with a wrestling session (Never done any wrestling prior) having a great time grappling with a 6'2 mountain of muscle as we worked out the kinks in our single legs and joked around with the finer points keeping our balance as we hopped around on one leg.
Since then I've attended three BJJ classes, all of which have been great. The instruction has been exceptional (although the BJJ back home from a Braulio Brown belt is no joke) and the level of friendliness and accommodation from guys of all sizes, at all stages of progression has been a real joy to be around and has made me feel super welcome while in a totally unfamiliar environment.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my positive experiences of training while in the US. Just like back home, the lack of ego, the willingness to help and the instant camaraderie of the MMA gym has really blown me away and given me a great opportunity to enjoy my holiday in additional ways.