Friday, 16 September 2011

Stranded in NYC

So this "hurricane" caused my mini holiday in NYC into just over a week in NYC. I was there with my friend Nebby, just to hang out and do touristy stuff for 3 days before I flew home. But he fucked off to see his family in the US so I was left, with my flight delayed for 4 days in the big apple.

Well, I'd done all the touristy stuff, so I figured I'd visit some top gyms whilst I was there. My friend Jemssix (who used to train at Fightsports before he moved to New York) invited me to come and train where he trains- at Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiros gym.

Jem, Shaolin and me
 Shaolins academy is situated right the the heart of times square. It's on the 6th (?) floor (maybe..) and has AMAZING panoramic views of the city. It was a super friendly club with super welcoming people. They had 4 or 5 tough girls there (one of whom offered me a place to stay if I had to stay here any longer afeter being introduced to me 5 minutes earlier). Most of the guys introduced themselves to me and made me feel very welcome indeed.

Anyway- to the class. Shaolin himself took the class. He had a great sense of humour and the club had a relaxed but focused atmosphere. There was plenty of talk about the Boston Open that had happened the weekend before, so people were driven to identify flaws and improve their game for the next competition. He showed us a good strong guard pass (avoiding  the omoplata sweep from opponent) and a few variations of a butterfly sweeps before the class ended with 7 or 8 rounds of hard sparring. I'd say there were 20 or so people at the club that night, but it had a real family feel to it. I'd definitely recommend a visit if anyone's ever in the Big Apple!

Jem and me- gangsta

On to day 2..

I managed to get my flight moved forwards 2 days, so I had one full day left to train. After lots of negociation (with myself- I'm stranded alone, remember..) I had to decide between training at Marcelo's, Royler's, or Alliance. Marcelo's wasn't far from where I was staying plus, he's AWESOME, so it wasn't a hard choice. I had training in my gi and washed it after training at Shaolins, so decided I'd go to a nogi session at Marcelos.

So, I make my way to his gym, which involves me walking right down Broadway and through Times Square. It was, without a doubt, THE most amazing walk to and from training I have ever done. Pictures don't do this place justice.. I took this on my walk there:

 So, I finally stumble across the gym (it wasn't as easy to find as I had anticipated). I manage to see somebody on the door (and thus avoid having to navigate another frickin' intercom system to open the door) and follow them up to the gym.
It was most peculiar, as soon as the lift door opened, you step out and onto the mat. And there you see those recognisable grey and black mats. It's a really loooong gym. It's literally 4 times as long as it is wide. I arrived midway through a beginners gi class and went and satat the end of the gym with some others who looked ready to train nogi. There was a beginners class first, followed by an advanced class. So there must have been about 20 of us at the beginners class. Beginners class was basically a few beginners and then a load of no so beginners. Marcelo didn't take the beginners class (and I was yet to meet the man) but one of his black belts, Paul, took an amazing class. Very knowledgable and helpful- he showed us a guillotine from opponent turtling, as well as lots of grip work from the same position. Time went really fast and before I knew it, it was time for the advanced class.

So, doing the casual BJJ warm up, running around the mat, couple of side steps here, some skipping stuff and that thing where you pull with your arms and skip (and I don't get that thing, someone explain it's purpose to me..?) and another girl walking across the mat catched me eye (I had noticed that I was the only girl there for the beginngers class). "Jesus Christ, she's big" I thought as I skipped around. She was plastered in Keiko gear, and looked 7ft tall. It dawned on me. It was Gabi Garcia. Holy fuck. What a giant woman. A little bit in awe I preceeded to skip and sidestep around the room. Running around the gym in this beginners class, I lost count of the number of times I tried to count the number of people on the mat. I lost count at 42. It was CRAZY. I later realise that Gabi was there with a heap of other guys from Alliance, who had come to Marcelos to train for ADCC.

Advanced NOGI at Marcelos

Marcelo taught some great grip fighting from open guard, followed by a number of butterfly sweeps. The emphasis was really on transitioning to different sweeps depending on the grip available. It was a really technical session which was really enjoyable. Onto some rolling..

Now, with 42 (odd) people in the room, we were grouped into 3's with 2 people sparring and their lives were wuite literally in the hands of the third guy, who was trying to prevent numerous fatal crashed from occuring. I get moved from sparring with some tiny little guys after Tatiana Garcia decided I was too strong for them, (?!) and get I put with a couple of solid looking purple belts. Both guys were super friendly, and humoured me with my attempts of passing/ sweeping either of them. Now, when it came to my turn to watch them 2 roll, it became very apparent that we were right in the centre of the gym, with Gabi sparring super hard behind me. The 2 purple beltswere fiesty little bastards, so preventing them from crashing into other people was fairly exhausting. It was quite stressful making sure they didn't crash into anyone, whilst fearing for my own life that Gabi was going to accidently crash into me and crush me whilst I had my back to her.

After that ordeal, I got a chance to spar with one of a few other girls that had turned up. She was called Dominyka. She asked me if I wanted to roll and followed up with asking what belt I was, whilst smiling. She looked young. I knew she was young. I had a horrible feeling I was about to have my ass handed to me. I was right. She was a purple belt. A 16yr old purple belt. Marcelo gave it to her as she turned 16. I know most young people tend to get their blue when they turn 16, but her Dad told me that this girl entered the adult womens blue belt division at the Mundials last year. She won, when she was a freakin' green belt. People get a lot of shit if they sandbag students, but this girl technically entered a division above belt, yet smashed her opponents. Can't argue with that. Fully deservant of her purple. Her legs were about 6ft long, and she smashed the shit out me with ease. Excellent stuff. Lovely girl, and lookm out for her name. Purple at 16. She's going to be one to look out for.. Man I wish I started when I was younger.

Anyway, the session had ended. I plucked up courage to ask Gabi for a picture. She looks terrifying in person. A very serious looking face. But I asked very nicely and smiled lots, and she replied "sure!" with a massive grin.

 She was super lovely. She gets a lot of shit, but she came across very introvert and shy. She doesn't deserve the comments she gets and she trains like an absolute beast. I told her I was going to be at ADCC and that I'd cheer her on. She smiled and nodded (not sure if she understood a word I said) and then I grabbed Marcelo for a picture too. Lovely guy, always smiling...

I stumbled back to the hotel, on the best walk ever. I could do that walk everyday I reckon! 

To conclude, getting stranded in New York wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.

 I need to write a blog to end my time at Fightsports really, but I need to upload the remaining pics from my camera. All in time..