|Chico Mendes (Head of Checkmat Europe), Leo Vieira, Ricardo and me at front|
This was probably the longest seminar I have ever attended: four hours in total, 2 nogi and 2 gi. Leo began the nogi portion with a sequence of takedowns from the clinch leading into a bunch of submissions or back-taking openings. Leo stressed that in nogi, his main priority was to look for the back and to make sure that whatever position he was in, that it was one where he had more options (to attack or defend) than his opponent. It was a very tactical approach to learning. Although I rarely train nogi, I enjoyed this session and took away a number of neat tricks and tips. Leo whizzed through the techniques at a pace though so we probably drilled each one about 6-8 times before moving on. No dilly dallying at a Vieira Brothers seminar!!
Leo announced before the start of this section that he would present us with a series of open guard options. I love open guard and learning it from one the legends of the game got me really excited! Leo showed us a sequence of options beginning with an open half guard. This soon developed into variations of deep half guard - which took me quite a few attempts to get my head round, but in the end, something went 'ding!' and now, I have to say, I am liking the deep half a lot!!
No, not me (although a couple rounds of sparring with my friend Pippa probably constitutes a beating in my case) - I'm talking about the belt whippings at the end of class. We don't really do belt whippings at my academy so to see a vast lineup of folk zealously whipping the newly promoted was funny, and wince inducing at the same time. Notable promotion mention should go to Aaron Naisbett from Dungeon BJJ in the North East. Aaron has been training 11 years and for a large part of those early days, had to rely on instructionals and a bunch of dedicated friends to supplement his trips to Brazil. It was genuinely nice to see the look of surprise on his face when Ricardo announced the black belt award.
Chico Mendes, head of Checkmat in Europe kindly invited me down to Cheltenham (very posh town in the West of the UK).
Leo Vieira - for being the perfect model and interviewee today (watch out for Leo interview in the next Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine).
Ricardo Vieira - for his helpful tips and, well, just being a legend (nine World titles!)
Pippa Granger - for being an ace training partner.
Good luck to Leo in next weekend's ADCC in Nottingham!!!