But prior to the seminar I again met up with Gazzy to complete our interview and I'm so glad I did. It was the most mind-blowing interview I have ever been involved in, I mean she really spilled the beans on a whole ton of stuff, and yes, that included all the really nasty stuff that have floated around on the internet for the past few years about her. I was literally shaking with awe at her revelations. Gazzy is nothing, if not brutally honest and open. I really hope I can do the article justice cos when people say wtf, reading what Gazzy has to say they will scream WTF!!!!
Ahem, anyway, moving on...something a little different for this review: also present at the seminar was top female BJJ blogger Meg Smitley. She and I decided it might be nice to collab on the write up of the seminar. So here is Meg's excellent piece, enjoy!
Gazzy Parman Seminar Review by Meg Smitley
Gazzy Parman is as direct, forthright and unapologetic as the force of nature that she is, yet her fierceness is tempered by a kind heart and sense of fairness. These qualities helped to make her seminar, held yesterday at the Roger Gracie Academy in London, a truly rewarding and enjoyable experience. A keen group of white to
brown belts were put through their paces on Sunday afternoon. We began with a rigorous warm-up and followed with a selection of techniques that Gazzy has developed and refined in her own game.
Backs straight, shoulders back
Gazzy has a wealth of experience training, competing and refereeing, but her focus is on teaching children. She explained to us that children's openness to learning, capacity for growth and willingness to work made teaching them especially rewarding. After a quick sit-down and chat with Gazzy, we kicked off with an intense warm-up - what Gazzy assured us was a quarter of what her kids endure - and, for me, this took me straight back to my own childhood experiences as a gymnast. Gazzy has those same unwavering high expectations for physical exertion as did my gymnastics coaches; we jogged, then ran, then tumbled, then round-offed, backward rolled into handstands, handstand-walked up the mat and along the walls and frog jumped around the room for 40 minutes. This was brilliant! I was dripping sweat, but felt utterly revitalised and wanting more; by the time I got home I was exhausted from the afternoon and my upper bod knows all about it this morning! While my love of rolling about on mats has changed over time from floor work in gymnastics to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, my essential love for a tough workout, one that pushes you to simply be and do, remains, and Gazzy's warm-up helped me to consciously reconnect with that.
The core of it
You may wonder what these acrobatics have in common with BJJ? As Gazzy explained in her introduction to the seminar, it is all about concepts. The concept most apparent to me was 'positioning', and the sister notion of the importance of core stability for positioning. I've often described BJJ to the uninitiated as 'Yoga with choking' or 'Pilates on crack' and to the extent that core-strength is key to allowing you to move between positions, I think these rather glib statements have some validity. Similarly, gymnastics and the acrobatics and wall drills that we worked on at the seminar were all about core stability, coordination, flexibility and smooth transition between positions across many planes (upside down, spinning, facing up, facing down, moving left and moving right). The importance of positioning was then reinforced in the techniques. For instance, in an armbar counter to butterfly guard, core stability was fundamental to the transition from within the opponent's butterfly guard to a knee ride-style position with the shin in the opponent's armpit to dropping with control to an armbar at a 45° angle toward the opponent's feet. Likewise, in the 'dope pass', core stability facilitated each transition, from tripoding up to drive the head into the opponent's chin to dropping the hips and moving to mount.
|Happy faces, cool seminar (note group photo came a bit late as others had left)|
All about the vibes, man
Seminars aren't just an opportunity to meet and learn from elite practitioners like Gazzy, they are also a chance to 'feel the love' with fellow BJJ-maniacs. Gazzy explained that she hoped a tough warm-up would help to bring us together, and I certainly felt a lot of positive energy and good feeling in that room. It is a testament to that feeling of shared joy that I didn't recognise the deep fatigue setting in until after I left that sweet, sweet haven of jits. Not only did I get to drill with two new guys, but benefited from some post-seminar sparring with the very skillful Dominique Vitry, a purple belt out of Mill Hill BJJ; it is a rare treat to roll with such a skilled woman of my size and I always learn a lot from the experience. Likewise, I had the great pleasure of a brief roll with your regular author. I even made the 'Kat look good by 'allowing' him to demonstrate the 'dope pass' we drilled in the seminar in a sparring situation; let's just say I'm looking forward to a rematch. Gazzy is currently touring in Scotland and will be running seminars in at Glasgow's Griphouse and Dundee Mixed Martial Arts in Dundee - check it!
|Meg and Meerkat modelling the latest in cutting edge BJJ fashion!|
Ed: My thanks to Meg for her contribution. I would like to thank Gazzy for revealing some of her favourite moves, a couple of which were her own innovations. I especially liked the Gazzinator! What's that? You say. Haha, you'll have to drop in to Gazzy's academy in San Diego (LVL5) or attend on of her upcoming seminars to find out. Rest assured it is as cool as they come and I reckon very useable in real sparring. Gazzy is genuinely one of the most amazing people I have met in BJJ and clearly a talented instructor with a great eye for the detail and forensic ability to dissect your technique and make it better or suggest an alternative solution to a problem.
Oh, and the bucket I mentioned right at the top of this post - Gazzy was keen to emphasise that her workout would have some of us puke up, she referred to the bucket many times and planted little seeds of self-doubt in our minds. It nearly worked, but it also made me resolve to fight that feeling and give it a bit more effort when she was making us flip around...which I think was her intention. Thankfully no one had to use the bucket in the end. Phew!
Next seminar...a man they call the 'Little Cobra'!!!!!