Fellow Pluma fighter Vishal and I travelled from London up to Braulio's GB academy today to attend a seminar by GB black belt Otavio Sousa. It was a great day out and some head spinning BJJ to ponder on...
Otavio is a hugely respected fighter, having medalled numerous times at the Worlds and the Pan Ams. Vishal said he would be good to learn from because although Otavio is very muscley, he is also very short and adapts his techniques accordingly, which suits us small guys.
Otavio spent many years teaching in the UK several years back when Gracie Barra network was just beginning to take place here. He's been back in Brazil for a while, so for many, it was a welcome return to our shores.
The thing that struck me was how incredibly detailed each grip, hip position, posture and movement had to be to make the techniques work. The variations also built on several 'what ifs', ie what if your opponent sat up as you were passing his guard etc. The point I'm getting at is that the seminar seemed to me to be pretty advanced in its level. Not so much the nuts and bolts of the techniques, but the overall concepts and detailing. I wonder what the white belts, for there were many, thought of the seminar. Some of it was a little too much for me to grasp all within the time frame of a five minute drill. So lots of food for thought to be practised next sparring session at class.
After the instructional section of the seminar, we were split up into rough weight groups and sparred from set DLR position. Then after that free sparring. In previous seminars, I've always missed out on rolling with the instructor. But this time, I jumped the queue to sample what Otavio could offer. I needn't had bothered. He literally moved, maybe one millimetre of his body and I was tossed in the air like a Caesar salad. To be fair though, he did that to everyone he sparred with.
The seminar also gave me a chance to check out the GB Brum gym. Located at the back end of a high street, the gym is actually called Stevie B's Gym. The BJJ gym is the ground floor and they advertise Thai Boxing and other classes as well as usual gym equipment.
The training area is a very large 'L' shaped room with wall to wall mats covered in a one-piece tarpaulin. It was very well lit and with adequate changin rooms and toilet facilities. There were also lots of places to sit and watch.
But the thing that makes GB Brum special is Braulio. Throughout the session, he would add his own comments to Otavio's teachings, mainly so that an important point was emphasised, but also to add a lot of humour to the occasion with his comedy grimaces, grunts, quips and general larking around. The end of session photo call was especially hilarious. Braulio is clearly someone who loves a big photocall!
Overall I loved coming up to see this place. Otavio is a cool guy, still very young and a huge talent. I got to savour the Braulio atmopshere and met a lot of great BJJ people. Hopefully somewhere among all this, I have saved a few techniques and pointers to help my game too.
Next week I compete at the Grappler's Showdown London Open Gi Challenge. Quite a mouthful. My match will probably last shorter than the time it took you to read the tournament title. As in, I'm not feeling too confident as this week my sparring has been absolutely diabolical. But hey, I'm doing this for the learning experience, so we'll see.
Tomorrow, the new Mill Hill Academy beckons...
Braulio Estima, me, Otavio Sousa
The whole seminar centred around passing the De la Riva (DLR) guard. Otavio showed about half a dozen increasingly technical variations on this and my head was spinning after the second one.