14 Apr 2010

Academy Tour - Roger Gracie Buckinghamshire (RGA bucks)

Last night I visited the High Wycombe branch of Kevin Capel's Roger Gracie Academy Buckinghamshire (more commonly referred to as RGA Bucks). I've been meaning to visit for a number of reasons, mainly because Kev is an instructor who I very much admire and aspire to be like (small, light and very technical) and to also hook up with fellow blogger Slidey, who trains there (although is due to leave for Birmingham next week). I had a blast at the academy and Kev has built up an ace place to train BJJ with a very relaxed and friendly environment. So here's the latest report in my occasional visits to nosey around at other BJJ academies in the UK...

Before rocking up to RGA bucks, I was wondering to myself in the car, as I was negotiating the billion traffic cones laid out on the M25, if two bloggers meet on the mat and roll, would something weird happen in a parallel universe and two anti-quarks implode or something? It must be weird rolling with someone knowing that they will write about you and the same in return. One could get a little self conscious, knowing full well that any mistake or bad technique might be picked up on and mentioned in passing on the blog. But I've nothing to worry about, Slidey's written a detailed account of how our session went here and here, and he's been too kind about my dodgy old man's jiu-jitsu.

And so onto my review of RGA Bucks:

Kevin Capel
Kevin Capel is a brown belt under Roger Gracie. Kev comes from a boxing background but was first introduced to BJJ by Rick Young over ten years ago. Back in 2000, pterodactyls still flew and BJJ was but a small baby. Since then however Kev, who has trained under Mauricio Gomes, Roger Brooking, Roger Gracie, Lagarto and many others, has grown to become a highly accomplished and technical BJJ exponent. Kev has won two silvers at the Europeans and I think the same at World Masters level. He has fought at Super feather but I think he now sticks to feather weight. I managed to grab a quick interview with Kev after the class and I will post the full interview at some point soon.

The High Wycombe branch of RGA bucks is based at the High Wycombe Amateur Boxing Club (HWABC). After negotiating a small backroad that has been thoughtfully bombed to resemble the cratered surface of the moon, the boxing club itself is a little combat oasis. It's spacious, well equipped with nice changing rooms, showers and a chill out lounge. About two-thirds of the floor space is covered with jigsaw mats and the other third is filled by a boxing ring. There's even a water fountain which is a nice touch and much needed.

Class Structure
Kev structures his classes into two parts; the 7pm beginners class, which includes Gracie Jiu-Jitsu style self defence techniques, and an 8:30pm advanced class.

Last night there were about 14-15 people on the mat, most were white belts, but there were a couple of blues too. The beginners class began with a self defence standing escape from a RNC from behind. Kev then taught a basic collar choke from the knee on belly, then showed the escape from knee on belly. Again, for a more detailed technique explanation, see Slidey's post here.

After some set position sparring, Kev moved on to the advanced class, I noticed that this portion of the evening contained only the blue belts and a couple of higher graded white belts, so it was much smaller and more informal. Kev taught the hooks-guard sweep (I called this the Sasa sweep based on my review of the Paraestra instructional), and the hooks guard transition into omoplata. These just happen to be two of my most favourite techniques of all time.

I noticed throughout the night that the class is conducted at a very laid back pace. Kev takes time to walk around and look at everyone, and if people (like me) bug him with lots of 'what if' questions, it can take a while before he moves on to the next technique. This is of course a good thing as you get plenty of time to drill the technique.

Sparring too was very 'non-aggressive' which is very much my preferred way of rolling. The guys are paired up by Kev or you just find your own partner and get on with experimenting and playing around with things. Mind you, I didn't roll with the very big guys who were on the mat, they looked too scary to approach so I stuck with guys I knew, like Slidey and Howard.

I remember Howard well. It was one of my first lessons at Eddie Kone's academy about 6 years ago. He was like a two or three stripe white belt which was very senior in the club at the time! He got an armbar on me then and apologised immediately after - how nice. Rolling with Slidey was good fun. I've read so many of his posts that it's like I've trained with him for years. He's got quick feet and despite my many, increasingly erratic and wild attempts to pass his guard, he retained his guard very well. So props to him and for his third stripe which Kev awarded last night.

RGA Bucks website: rgaa.co.uk
Locations: High Wycombe (HWABC), Aylesbury (Mcleod Academy) and Bletchley (Total Dojo)
When bloggers collide! Slidey (left) and Meerkatsu

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


slideyfoot said...

Heh - cool post, nice pics, and great to meet and train with you, after purely internet interaction up until now. ;)

I'll have the advanced class write up done later today.

slideyfoot said...

Oh, and just noticed something I forgot to mention: I don't think the advanced class is open to everyone, though Kev would be able to confirm.

I'm not sure he goes the RGA HQ route, where you need at least three stripes on your white belt, but presumably he uses his discretion to an extent (e.g., someone who clearly hasn't yet developed control isn't going to be allowed to do a class with free rolling).

That's probably even more true on Thursday, when the advanced class is all sparring. The beginners class is also 30 mins shorter on Thursday, as it doesn't include the Gracie Barra Fundamentals bit.

Advanced class write up here.

Meerkatsu said...

ah yes he did previously mention to me about how he structures classes for complete newbies - something along the lines of not allowing them to do sparring until they have done x-amount of time learning basics.
I'll amend that line.

A.D. McClish said...

That's awesome that you guys got to meet each other!

Meerkatsu said...

This is a Slidey test :D

slideyfoot said...

Ha - yep, I'm subscribed to the comments on this one too. ;p

If I've commented on it, then I'll normally be subscribed.


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