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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

05 November 2006

02/11/2006 - BJJ (too ill to train, so watched)

Since the intro class with Oli Geddes on Thursday night, I’ve spent most of my time in bed, not capable of doing much else except sleeping. Still, I did manage to get the following typed up on the train before the Lemsip wore off, finishing it up on Friday after yet more medication fun:

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Too ill to train so watched the class, London, UK – 02/11/2006

I woke up and still felt fairly shitty, but as I’d managed to make the ZSK class on Tuesday, I thought I’d still be ok two days later.

I was wrong.

Despite noshing on four fruit juices, three bananas, two nut bars, a 200mg helping of Vitamin C from a tablet, then a crapload of paracetamol and various other chemicals in increasingly stronger varieties of flu remedies, I still felt like I was about to be sick at work. The last extra-strong Lemsip did help, so my stomach was at least under control, but as merely walking around the Tube made me feel queasy, I decided that an hour of BJJ was a distinctly bad idea. I realised just how bad when the Lemsip wore off, the flu rushing back into my head and stomach. Feeling terrible, I stumbled off the train to get my lift home, then collapsed into bed: I’m off work today. So, I can at least recommend Lemsip Max (the extra-strong version with 1000mg of paracetamol: only available in a pharmacy, according to the blurb) – definitely makes you feel better!

So, with the help of all that medicine, I wanted to go get that £150 offer (including the £90 for the first month, £50 annual membership and what I presume is a good quality gi, apparently worth £90), which ran out after today. I also wanted to at least watch a class if I couldn’t participate physically, and in addition it meant I got the chance to meet a fellow Bullshido poster, Mungkorn Dam. Olly also remembered me from last time, and made the effort to come over and greet me. Rather nice of him, particularly as I was mumbling even more than usual, doped up on Lemsip.

To first go through the financial side of things (on the off-chance anyone reading this is interested in joining up), you initially pay the £150 I mentioned (or alternately, I presume you could just pay £140 for annual membership and the first month, but a good quality gi is surely well worth it for a mere extra £10). That has to be paid in either cash or cheque; always fun to walk round London at night with a tempting wad of notes in your pocket. The £90 a month is direct debit, so you need to have your bank details with you, but its not for a set period. There is the option to pause/cancel, as long as you give a month’s notice, which is perfect if like me you’ve got a longish holiday planned next year. If you suddenly fell ill or an injury turned out to be worse than you first thought, could be more problematic, but its not exactly dodgy for the club to expect a bit of prior warning (from what the secretary, Pippa, told me, its further exacerbated by bureaucracy, as the payment goes through a third party, meaning an inevitable delay).

The beginner class started behind me as I was finishing off the direct debit form, so I didn’t quite see the warm-up, but from what I remember of seeing last Thursday a bit earlier, it was probably running round doing breakfalls etc with various exercises. Once I’d signed everything off, I took a seat and watched the class unfold.

There is a wide range of sizes, ages (going all the way up to 86, impressively: clearly a very fit gentleman for his years, although as you’d expect he had to take it a little easier than the rest of them), skill levels and to a far lesser extent, gender (there were two girls IIRC, out of a fairly large class). People divided off into pairs of roughly the same height and weight, which they pretty much kept to until rolling at the end of the session. The class was taught by a black belt, Felipe Souza (I think), with help from Olly, the blue belt I mentioned earlier (albeit he mainly worked with the 86 year old). It all appeared fairly relaxed, a feeling probably augmented by Felipe’s laidback Brazilian accent, with most people chatting amiably as they drilled, with one or two pairs even taking a break. However, there was still a certain degree of discipline, such as when Felipe announced that three people had forgotten to sign in, which meant 50 punishment press-ups.

Class began with a basic takedown (which looked vaguely familiar from my brief brush with judo), which no doubt has a funky Japanese name: swinging the leg past the other guy then swinging it back and taking out his foot, while grabbing the arm for extra leverage. This was then modified slightly (I couldn’t quite see what Felipe was demonstrating, so I’m not sure exactly how), after which the class then moved on to an armbar from mount. Again, that was then modified – something to do with the guy on the bottom defending more carefully with his arm.

This was followed by what I think Ben (Mungkorn Dam) was referring to in this post as ‘specific sparring’; in this case, one person attempting to maintain mount. After a fair bit of squirming, the class moved on to what I think was free sparring, but I’m not sure if there were in fact restrictions. This took up the last 15 minutes or so, and is the main reason I’m especially glad I decided to watch rather than take part: rolling is knackering enough in good health (from my very limited experience in MMA). On a less selfish note, given the multiple changes of partner and overall close proximity involved in rolling, I would almost certainly have infected half the class with flu.

Felipe finished off by cooling down with some stretches, after which there was a quick bow, applause, and then everyone shook everyone elses hand. After a quick chat with Ben and Olly, I headed off back home – I did say I wouldn’t write much, but meh, I’m ill and don’t have anything else to do. Hopefully I’ll be sufficiently recovered by Wednesday next week. I’ve missed one session due to no lift, now a second due to illness, so it would be really bloody irritating to miss a third and fourth!

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