Friday, May 18, 2012

Training while visiting Las Vegas....

When I tell people I'm going to Vegas, they always get this knowing half-grin on their faces.  It's usually followed by quips about playing red or not staying out too late.  What they don't know is that my husband's parents, and an aunt/uncle, retired there some years ago so our kind of Vegas trip is quite different.  It's home cooking, lots of eating out, maybe a show or two, and family time.

And... training, of course.

Just came back from 10 days in Vegas and thought I'd share with you what I experienced when I trained at Drysdale's.  In another post I'll give you the scoop on Gracie Humaita Vegas.

Robert Drysdale's home academy is a really nice facility with classes at all hours, close to my inlaws' house, so it's a natural place for me to train when I'm visiting.  The Drysdale school is located in a lightly-traveled strip mall on Rainbow, one of the main drags in town but not near the Strip.  The enormous mat spaces are divided in two by a wall so you can have two classes running at once (and often do) without disturbing each other.  They have an enormous heavy bag rack, which you'd expect in a high-caliber MMA training facility like this, plus a weight-training area, mens' and womens' locker rooms, and even a ginormous tractor tire for flipping outdoors.  And if you have a significant other who wants to watch, there are seats on the side.

This photo, from a recent belt test, shows the smaller of the two mat areas (where the morning nogi class takes place.)  The other room is about 2-3x this size.

The schedule offers only about a billion classes, from gi and nogi to kali/escrima, judo, wrestling, muay thai, and boxing-- even kids' classes, strength & conditioning, cardio kickboxing, MMA sparring and BJJ drilling.  The BJJ classes are offered for beginners, all belts, intermediate and advanced levels and there's a competition class too (which I was welcome to attend even though I'm from another school.)  I usually train at the 9am gi class which has usually been taught by Sonny Nohara, a blackbelt on the smaller side (maybe 150lbs?) with great teaching skills.  One thing I particularly appreciated was his ability to create a focused drill on the fly if members of the group appear to be having trouble with a technique.  The morning classes are usually around 20-26 people in size, with a great range of belts (usually at least 2 black belts and 2-3 browns and a handful of purples as well as 10 or so blues/whites) and sizes.  Lots of friendly medal-chasers in the gi classes, and lots of pro fighters in the nogi ones.  (I watched Robert teaching Forrest Griffin and James McSweeney along with a bunch of other guys I didn't immediately recognize in the nogi class this past Tuesday for example.)

Last Christmas, I bought a class card that I think worked out to around $10/class, but it seems they're not too focused on punching your card.  I hesitate to say it because I don't want people taking advantage of their kindness, but that's what it is-- they're just a really nice bunch of guys who are more concerned with good training than nickel-and-diming a visitor.

Their warmups are more towards the S&C side of the spectrum, lasting about 45 minutes, using pliometrics and sprints and you'll definitely get a good sweat on.  (They do have A/C, but if it's not exorbitantly hot out, they roll up the garage doors and put on industrial fans so it's relatively comfortable.) As far as techniques go, I'd say I see a lot more inversion here than I do at home.  More inversion drills, and more of the people you roll with will invert.  People play a lot of open guard and the passing tends to be standing and light on the feet instead of a smash-pass kind of thing.  Classes I've taken have run the gamut, including takedowns (usually a wrestling-type versus a judo-type).  The mats are really nice and they have a digital round timer on the wall; you're encouraged to get water from the two water fountains whenever you need it.  When class is done, there's usually three or four 6-minute rounds, or some king-of-the-hill, and then people carry on with open mat. 

I consider this one of my homes away from home.  If you visit Vegas, definitely check out Drysdale's and tell them I said so!

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