Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sometimes the best-laid plans go wrong.


We started the day at the beach. This time we headed out to Mocambique, but went a little further down the beach hoping to find something a little more secluded. Russ brought his kitesurfing rig and was hoping for some wind and waves.

Liz and Aya set up under the umbrella. Russ hit the water and I decided to go out for a little jog. I’m not a great runner, but I love running on the beach. It’s easier on your feet and feels great with the surf hissing at your feet and the sun beating down on your face.

From where I began it looked like the beach curved around the bay to a point near a big, lush island. I figured I’d try to run out to the end of the point.

It was a beautiful run. The beach was more and more deserted the further I went. Past the kiteboarders; a woman gathering crabs; a few scattered naturists. Finally, it was just the surf and I. I startled a flock of gulls who hung in a cross breeze as I ran underneath them. After about 3 miles running, I could finally see I would never make it to the point. There was no point, no island. It was an isthmus. The mist from the pounding surf made it vanish from a distance. I was only a few hundred yards from the island when I decided to turn back – the run had gone a lot longer than I’d planned.

The way back seemed faster than the way there. But by the time I got back to the umbrella my legs were dead-tired, I was soaked in sweat and my eyes were burning from sunscreen running down into them. When I arrived everyone else was ready to pack it in.

One thing I’ve been dying to see is a big academy with a dozen or so black belts. I’ve never really trained at a place like that. Ataque Duplo has 30 black belts on the books, so I’m expecting to see quite a few tonight.

I check the website and plug the address into google maps. The classes are held at a modern health club in the university district of Trinidade. I’d actually gone looking for a class at this sports complex before and discovered the schedule had changed as of January 1. So tonight’s the night.

I arrive, muddle through some Portuguese at the front desk, sign a waiver and pay my R$10. The gym employee leads me up the gym – and it’s not at all what I was expecting. There are four people total. They’re just beginning their warmup The instructor is not wearing his gi top or belt. There is a blue belt in a full gi and another student without kimono or belt. But the only guy with a kimono had an Ataque Duplo patch – so this must be it, right?

The employee waves over the instructor. “Oi. Desculpa, eu nao falo Portuguese.” I start as usual. “Nao Falo ingles,” it’s the usual response. “Eu sou uma faixa azul de Jorge Gurgel do Canada.” There’s been a funny little thing happen every time I do this song and dance. My accent is atrocious and people must just hear Gurgel as the only clear word that sounds like anything they recognize. “Oh, Fabio Gurgel. Muyto bom…” “Nao, Jorge Gurgel. Lutador de UFC,” I pantomime some jabs and hooks. “Oh, sem probleme…” he points me to the change room. God only knows how much or little of that conversation was actually decipherable Portuguese.

So the class starts and it is just like every other BJJ class ever, with a few twists. The instructors stretching routine is a little unorthodox, but I like it. He really incorporates breathing and movement. “Como yoga,” I say. He smiles. Who knows if I am actually speaking Portuguese or not?

Then we do some shrimping and variations. This is another little joke I have learned to share with Brazilians. They call it “escaping the hips” (fugir de quadrils.) Most do not know we call it shrimping and once I explain it (“como um camarao”) they always laugh.

There are a few minutes to rest after shrimping and I turn to the instructor and say. “Eu sou uma discipulo de Glenio Weber a Lagoa de Conceicao. Eu fais sex ou sete classes particulare de Glenio.” I know for sure this Portuguese is mangled, but the meaning is pretty clear. The instructor looks at me sort of blankly and says “Glenio…nao…” I can’t remember the exact turn of phrase – but he doesn’t know Glenio. “Aqui e Ataque Duplo?” I ask. “Nao.”

This isn’t the class I was looking for. I’ve accidentally stumbled into another teams’ practice. Only in Brazil.

So here’s the story. The fitness club used to be host to Ataque Duplo’s classes. But at some point for whatever reason, Ataque Duplo stopped holding practices there. The fitness centre entered into a new agreement with Gracie CL.AN, a Gracie Barra academy. The instructor is Ibanor Reblato, a brown belt. What’s the deal with the blue belt with the Ataque Duplo patch? Oh, it’s his first day after switching teams.

At this point I’m 15 minutes into the class. And I don’t care much about affiliations anyways. This sees like a nice bunch of guys, so I’m more than happy to see the class through. It also turns out these guys do speak a bit of English. It’s a welcome relief after all the fumbling and stumbling I’ve been doing in Portuguese.

Today’s lesson – escaping the turtle. Great news for me. I need work in this position. We work on the basic roll from turtle to re-guard. The technique as taught by Ibador is this. Walk your hands to the outside a little to create an angle. Dive your inside arm between your legs. Roll over your inside shoulder. Stay connected with the inside leg. Don’t roll up and through, but stay on your back and pivot to reguard.

Ibador’s instructional technique is interesting. He makes us spend a long time drilling the roll without a partner; perfecting the movement on our own. Then we drill with a partner – a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if I got more than 50 reps of each technique. We drill the roll by rolling, reguarding, getting flipped as though to pass, then rolling and reguarding again. I once had a match with Steve Greencorn where he used this movement very well to keep me from getting control of his back.

Next is a reversal from turtle. This time the opponent reaches over. Grab the wrist. Drive it between your legs. Extend your far leg. Grab the pants and open your leg to help turn him. Move to sem kilos without pausing between positions. Again, we drilled this 50 or so times each.

With all the drilling, the class ended quickly. I found it strange that there was no rolling, but who am I to question their approach. Frankly I was a bit relieved to wrap it up. My legs still felt dead from the run on the beach.

I snapped a few pictures and promised to email them out to everyone involved.

It’s always intimidating to walk into a new school and introduce yourself – especially with a language gap. But it’s reassuring to see how these guys welcomed me, despite nothing making any sense: wrong language, wrong academy, right attitude. It’s easy to tell what’s important.

No comments:

Post a Comment