Mat rat-itude suits me
Living in the academy seems to agree with me. For the past two days, I have awakened, messed around on the computer a little bit, gone to lunch with John and Sean (Thai yesterday, Japanese today), then gone to train. Yesterday I trained with Wen, Eric (twerp), Brad (40oz) and Wen’s cousins Steven and Brandon at Eric’s school in Laguna Beach. I met up with Wen, Steven and Brandon at Wen’s office in Costa Mesa, and then we drove to Laguna Beach together.
What a gorgeous little town. Right on the water, plenty of money, plenty of attractive people. I got depressed thinking about how much the houses—and the liposuction—probably cost. The guys joked about how they play a game of counting the Mercedes and BMWs they pass on the street, and by the time they drive through the town, it’s not uncommon to have reached a hundred. Some of those houses, too; they are what my mother would call “starter castles.”
Eric’s school is in a spa/gym that overlooks the water. He is a personal trainer in addition to being a jiu jitsu instructor, and that means that he’s really smart about targeting drills and things to jiu jitsu in ways that work your entire body. One drill he had us do is this crazy wiggly thing where you lie on your back and use your hips and shoulders to shimmy yourself sideways down the mat. He made it look so easy, and when I tried it, it looked like I was being electrocuted. I can do it better in a circle, which is how Eric said to drill it.
We spent most of the time drilling and sparring rather than working technique, so I got to spar with most everybody, including Brandon, a brown belt; Wen, a brown belt; and Eric, a purple belt who should probably be a brown belt. Eric has a female white belt, Alex, training with him, and it was fun to talk to her because she’s very excited about BJJ. I gave her my contact information and instructions on how to access Team Estrogen, the online forum I post on with other women who train. We sparred too, and I just let her play and gave her some openings to see what she would do with them. She’s only been training for a month, and she’s getting things down! I hope she sticks with it.
Here are pics of Eric with all his students:
Top row: Alex, me, Eric, Joe, Wen, Brandon. Bottom row: Chad, Brad, Steven.
Eric also gave me a t-shirt from the academy in Hawaii run by his brother, Kendall Goo, who is a black belt under Renzo Gracie. According to him and Wen, this shirt makes me look like a Hawaiian redneck. Sweet! Now I just need to pick up some pidgin like “paka” and “faka” (No clue what those mean.) and I will TOTALLY pass as Hawaiian.
Today I had sushi with John and Sean (sensing a pattern here?). Then in the evening, true to form, I met up with Jimmy for training at Jean Jacques Machado’s in Tarzana and Eddie Bravo’s in Hollywood. JJM is one of 5 Machado brothers who are cousins of the Gracies, the family to whom you want to be able to trace your instructor’s and your own lineage when it comes to legitimate BJJ training. JJM is arguably the most technical of the brothers, who also include Roger, John, Rigan, and Carlos. They are friends with Chuck Norris, who is a student of theirs, and who has had them appear on episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger. They were also in a shoot-em-up kind of movie called The Boys from Brazil. Low production values, high entertainment values.
At JJM’s, I worked technique—a series of sweeps from the butterfly guard—with Jimmy, who is a tough purple belt. I also got to spar with Jeannette Portocarrerro, a brown belt. Hooray, another female brown belt! I held my own against her, I’m happy to say. And some of the other students I sparred with said my technique was solid. I’m always very glad to hear that!
Here is a picture of Jeannette, me, and Jean Jacques Machado, 4th degree (I believe) black belt under Carlos Gracie.
Then it was on to Eddie Bravo’s Legend’s academy in Hollywood. Eddie is a black belt under JJM’s brother John. He is a flamboyant guy, best known for tapping out Royler Gracie in a no-gi match. Until he did that, it was pretty much unheard of for a non-Gracie to tap out a Gracie. He only does no-gi these days, and has articulated his reasons extensively. (I don’t remember what they are. :) He is also known for his signature move, the Twister, which is a wrestling move he introduced into his game just to see if it would work. I got twistered while sparring. It was pretty sweet! One of Eddie’s students is Joe Rogan, who is the host of Fear Factor as well as a commentator for the UFC. But my favorite of his roles (and probably my sister and brother-in-law’s too), was Joe Gorelli on News Radio. Hilarious show.
I felt like a moron in Eddie’s class, first because they were on the last day of two weeks of working on a particular set of moves (so he was busting through them pretty quickly), and second because he has come up with his own names for the moves, most of which I had never heard before, and which include T-Rex, Jew Claw, Crackhead Control. I had heard that he has his own names for things, and that there are people who deride him for it, but all I cared about is that I felt awkward.
What was bad is that I sparred with a really young kid who spazzed on me and cranked my neck REALLY hard. It’s fine now, because Jimmy worked on it with some funky acupressure, but what I think happened is that I was giving the kid a harder time than he was expecting, so he went “aggro,” as the SoCal folks would say. He felt glad, and I have to say I’m glad about that, because maybe it will make him think twice before he does it again. My lesson is that BJJ is great and fun and obviously is rooted in self defense, but I got to see first hand some of my limits. Good reminder.
Anyway, here is a pic of me and Eddie.
Okay, I think I’m pretty much caught up with my blogging now!