I thought I would kick off my once-in-a-while BJJ Academy tour with an easy one - RGA Vie is part of the Roger Gracie family and many of the Mill Hill crew go down there to train so I felt at home the moment I opened the Roger Gracie logo'ed door. The gym is located in the basement of the Vie Health Club and is permanently matted wall to wall. The training area is partitioned into two by a couple of large pillars, but these don't seem to get in the way too much. I would say it is a small mat area, but big enough to cope with perhaps 15-20 students. The walls have cool 'Vie' graffitti spray art.

Class today was taught by Cesar Lima, a brown belt. But as it was Friday, most of the time was open mat sparring so I didn't really drill any techniques.

I rolled with couple of white belts and a female purple belt. As there was no time limit set, we just rolled and rolled until a natural break occurred. I would say each roll was about ten minutes long. The guys and girl were very friendly and I struck up a nice rapport with the crew. As it is a fairly new academy, most of the gang were white belts with a few blues. Amora, the purple belt female, had earned her belt from another association.

One interesting piece of equipment was a thick rope suspended parallel to the ceiling so that one could monkey climb along it upside down. At the end of the rope was a horizontal bar for chin ups. I was so zonked from sparring, it being in an airless cellar, I did not attempt the rope. It looked a bit formidable but I have no doubt it is awesome for tough upper body and grip training.

Finally, the big benefit of training here I would say is the top notch health club facilities. You get proper showers, lockers, huge changing area, drinks machine, towels, leather armchairs in reception - everything you expect from a proper gym. The cost to me was £14 drop-in fee. RGA members pay £8 so I'm going to ask if my Mill Hill RGA membership counts for the discount next time I attend. I doubt it, but it's always worth asking.

RGA Vie is located on 122 Clerkenwell Road, London. Buses 55 from Oxford Street or Farringdon tube is nearest. Classes Monday - Saturday all day. See website for further details.

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