The Carlson Gracie school in San Antonio hosted 6th degree blackbelt Master Julio Cesar Pereira and reigning blackbelt Absolute World Champion Rodolfo Vieira for a three hour long seminar last night, and I was happy to make the 90 minute drive to attend and absorb.
Vieira is known for, among other things, his smashy top game (me likes!) and I knew Master Pereira from observing him referee at IBJJF tournaments. He's also a judo black belt. I came hoping to bring home details to make basic elements of jiu jitsu even more compelling. I wanted some "aha!" moments born out of that heartfelt appreciation for simplicity and elegance. While my blood fizzes for a nice flying armbar or any flippy spinny inverted sweepy thing, I know I probably won't see much grow in my garden from those seeds. I need seeds of solid basics-- the sunflowers of the jiu jitsu garden, instead of orchids.
Sadly (yes! I know! the music of doom and despair when you read a tournament review that has anything like "sadly" in it!)... I realized what a problem the language barrier can be for a baby grappler. So there were plenty of sunflowers, but I don't think I caught many seeds because I didn't understand as much as I would have liked.
I need to learn Portuguese, clearly. And if I had been a more experienced grappler, I would have had the educated eyes it takes to just see the little details, in action. Identification is the first step on the path to execution and incorporation. I know Rodolfo and Julio were talking up a storm, and observing their movements was definitely wonderful... but I just KNOW I missed a lot. And that makes me sad.
However, it was nice to see a big bunch of blackbelts on the mat, and several of them did their best to translate. (Had a few problems, like using the words "head" and "hand" interchangeably, but it wasn't impenetrable.) I liked finding out that in a general sense, I have seen a lot of the same things I am pretty sure Rodolfo was teaching. I think I would have had a much harder time following and executing if it was all new to me. I had some personal attention from Rodolfo, who did a technique on me and critiqued my execution when I did it to my partner-- it was like a 2 minute private. I had a great time with my drilling partner, a cool cat named Beau (sp?) from San Antonio, and it was nice to meet a blue belt gal from Brazil named Beatriz. I got to meet Ben A. and his baby daughter from Ethiopia face to face finally! and another nice guy named Andrew. Hung out with Tara for a bit. And I had a lot of help from blackbelts like Igor, Jean-Claude, and another dude whose name I didn't catch, so I definitely felt like I was moving in the right direction.
Here's basically what was taught:
* standing pass of open guard to knee on belly
* toreador pass of spider guard to KOB
* standing pass of sitting guard to half guard, then to side control
* two variations on a halfguard pass
* passing the halfguard where they have their knee in your hip (a Rafa Mendes pass I learned from Hillary Williams in a private, woot!)
* baseball bat choke from KOB
* butterfly guard offense- a sweep with wrist control, a back take, and transition to X guard sweep/takedown
* seoi nage and a foot sweep/trip
* and a couple thoughts on maximizing points in tournaments, thanks to an uncommon emphasis on understanding tournament rules and how points are accrued, which influences your strategy when in a sport jiu jitsu context. I LOVED this part, and I think this kind of information is invaluable for a competitor.
All in all a good time and worth the drive. Oh, and how sweet-- one of the gals from Carlson Gracie who didn't take the seminar made "American-style" acai bowls for us as we left! mmm... chocolate ice cream, granola, and nana slices...