Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I bought a new blue belt and why I'm not wearing it.

* Don't worry, more stuff from Brazil to come.

My blue belt and I have a complicated relationship. When you are a white belt, you want it like nothing else in the world. Don't deny it. But now that I have it, I'ma little dissatisfied with the actual piece of equipment. This is in part because I am a gear snob, and n part because I am never satisfied with anything. But now I have another reason

My belt is a Sirius A3. It never stays tied and it is a dark, dark shade of blue.

A lot of people would say you just stick with the belt your instructor gave you and that is that. I have an escape clause on this point. My instructor didn't give it to me. When I got the blue, there wasn't one handy, so Jorge just told another student to take off his. Since I cannot have Ryan McKenna's blue A2 Koral, I figure I can have whatever I want.

I never liked the dark shade of blue. In Brazil I was definitely the only one with a blue belt like that. I also had some vague idea that it wasn't 'old school,' whatever that means. Well, now I know. Royce Gracie has recently begun wearing a blue belt in tribute to his late father Helio. In this interview, Royce explains the original GJJ belt system and that there were only three belts; white, light blue and dark blue. Dark blue was designated for instructors only. Since I am clearly just a student, I wanted the light blue belt.

As it turns out, the Atama I got wasn't quite right either. It is thinner, so it stays tied. But is also a weird purply shade of blue. a couple brown belts thought it was a purple (please note, they didn't think I was a purple.) So I have retired it. R$30 down the drain.

I'm not sure I will buy another or just stick it out with the Sirius. I fell into the superstitious trap of not washing my Sirius (I actually think this is stupid and sort of gross, but haven't brought myself to washing it for some reason.) Maybe I'll try it to see if lightens up. Maybe I should lighten up.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Catching up - Last Days in Brazil and back to winter

I've been home for nearly a week now - but this is the first chance I've really had to catch up on things. It'll be a few days to get everything caught up.

Thursday Night:

After class at Gracie Floripa, we had lunch in an open-air market downtown and finished off our souvenir shopping. Florianopolis is a beautiful city. It doesn’t feel too small, but it still has the hustle, bustle, pulse and pace of a real city.

That night, Russ and I had made plans to join Glenio at his academy for a group class. A lot of his students are still on vacation, but he said he was expecting a better turnout than last time.

Russ was pretty excited, because tonight he was picking up his new gi – a brand-new blue Atama Mundial 9. It’s a sweet gi. I’ve always been a little leery of Atamas. Because I’d heard bad things about their pants. But the new Atama have ripstop pants. The gi just looks great overall and should last Russ a long time. Investing in a decent gi is also a pretty good indicator of his commitment at this point. He is traveling the world. He only has two pairs of shorts, one pair of pants, three T-shirts and two gis.

I also bought an Atama blue belt, for reasons I will discuss later.

At the beginning of class, there’s just Glenio, me, Russ, Gustavo the blue belt and Eduardo the white belt. I insist on no soccer this time.

As we’re warming up another student arrives. His name is Victor. He’s forgot his gi, but he’s a brown belt. He’s in shorts and a T-shirt so Glenio insists he stay and roll.

Another brown belt shows up. His name is Philipe. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Glenio wants to know if there's anything I want to learn. For three weeks, he's been choking me with the same lapel choke from the top of half guard. It's taken me this long just to figure out it's the same technique. I wanna know how to do it. I'm not going to labour any readers with anymore awkward technical descriptions. But to describe it n brief, it is a one-armed arm triangle with the lapel - how's that for non-descriptive and awkward?

Onto rolling. I'm pretty exhausted already. If you add it up, there's been a lot of running and rolling in the past few days. I had six six-minute rolls at Gracie Floripa already today. First I roll with Philipe. He's a big guy, maybe about 215lbs, in very good shape and very technical. I really don't have much to offer him. As usual, I played a lot of guard. But whatever I started to get going, he shut right down. I remember clearly working some De La Rive, but not getting much off.

Next was Victor. This is effectively no-gi, since Victor doesn't have one. What I remember most about this roll is that I worked a bit of high guard, got frustrated and let it go. Victor chastised me for it and told me to be more patient. I had a decent half guard sweep in this roll, but as you would expect, he pretty much toyed with me, then made me tap over and over.

On to Gustavo. This time, Gustavo showed me a lot more than he had before. We had rolled pretty chill the first time, but it was obviously on tonight. Nobody tapped anyone. And it was even tricky to say who dominated. It probably wasn't pretty to watch. But it was a very spirited roll. And for a long time, Gustavo had my collar and was not going to release it no matter what psotion we wound up in. It was a helluva roll.

Lastly, I rolled with Glenio. Glenio doesn't a few mind dirty tricks. He tried the ol' "hey what's that..." at the beginning of the roll. This roll was just fun. There was a lot of joking around and we both knew it was the last time we'd be on the mats together. He still whooped me like nobody's business, but it was a good time.

At the end of class, Glenio invited Russ and I out to dinner with his wife. How can you turn the guy down? We all headed out to a sushi buffet. It's hard to explain, but the language gap was pretty insignificant for Glenio and I. We had a full discussion about what BJJ players we admired the most (we both admire Kron and Roger because they are finishers.) We talked about the history of Ataque Duplo and well-know fighters Glenio has trained with. So long as the conversation stayed around BJJ we were speaking the same language.

Glenio and his wife invited us to a BBQ at their house the next night!

*I'll keep catching this up this week.