You may have been lead to believe from my previous entry that the last three months involved completely ass sucking experiences, this isn’t the case. Upon my return from Rio, I was able to get myself a cheeky little sponsorship. Sub Only Kimonos, a new Irish start-up brand that are producing that super fresh Jiu-Jitsu gear were kind enough to hook a dude up. Obviously free shit is the best but it was a huge personal compliment for my Jiu-Jitsu to be acknowledged in this way and it has been sweet repping their brand whilst taking gold in high profiles comps such as the IBJJF Madrid and Munich Opens. This confidence to contact companies looking for sponsorship was given to me by my homeslice and creator of BJJ Hacks dopeness, Hywel Teague. I had never even considered this as an option prior to conversations over acai and agua de coco and then being fortunate enough to get the hook up with the pre-release version of ‘The Ultimate Guide to Getting Sponsored in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu‘. This bad-boy was invaluable and one hundred per cent dumb ass proof with step by step guidance of how to go about the whole process.
At the back end of January, I undertook a long ass round trip from Huddersfield to Southampton to Cardiff back to Southampton before heading home to the HUD. I was given an opportunity to meet, train with and pick the brain of another of my heroes, the legendary Andre Galvao, at Terere’s UK affiliate Phoenix MMA. This was two days of grappling based awesomeness which included a two seminars, in addition to a trip to Wales to watch the debut show of Jiu-Jitsu super fight promotion Polaris. The seminars themselves were attended by many luminaries of the UK Jiu-Jitsu scene and were as delicious as one would imagine. Day one focused on a system of passing the lasso, whilst day two we explored guard positions in particular using the lapel, an anally retentive set of notes is available if anyone is in dire need of this knowledge. In general, I’m not a huge proponent of the seminar structure, three hours of being exposed to a plethora of new techniques of which I retain about two, within an hour I’m cold and day-dreaming about creme eggs. Nevertheless I picked up some serious techniques and details here which was worth the ninety beans.
The real highlight of the weekend came in the coach journeys to and from Cardiff. On the way to Polaris, I was fortunate enough to be sitting across from Galvao and was able to pick his swede for the entirety of the three-hour trip (minus a little nap) on pretty much everything I’d ever wanted to know about Jiu-Jitsu. Like the super eager kid hoping to impress, I was quick to explain to him that I had trained and lived alongside Terere for a year and attempted to deliver my best Portuguese. There was never a lull in conversation as dude can most definitely talk and it was interesting to get his perspective on that huge organisation that runs the Jiu-Jitsu world (misguided), why old-school cats hate on the modern game (lack of understanding), his biggest achievements (ADCC 2011) and the scariest dude on the mats (Jacare). Following the show what should have been a relaxed, sleepy journey back was accosted by a manically jet lagged black belt world champion. Galvao took the bus driver’s microphone and proceeded to bust out a freestyled stand up show. Whilst it’s safe to say dude was no Bill Hicks, the surreal nature of the situation made it funny as hell. I learnt that due to the multi-ethnic heritage of Brazilians it was perfectly acceptable to be racist as shit. Following the impromptu comedy, he proceeded to give mock interviews with sleep deprived and wholly unwilling volunteers which were hilarious in their awkwardness. I always thought from videos and his general online persona that he was a serious, reserved and God-fearing individual but honesty this does not reflect his personality at all, the dude is charismatic, fun-loving and crazy in equal measures.
Upon arriving back to the academy that evening Galvao was scouring the place for an iPhone charger. I had made the fatal mistake of being pro-active with my charging. I desperately needed this bad-boy myself due to the long journey home the following day, plus spending a year in Brazil I was under no false illusions that I would ever see it again. But saying that, how could you say ‘no’ to a legendary world champ like Galvao. Upon his arrival the next day, I asked for the return of this valued possession, the big smile that ascended across his face alerted to the fact that my charger was in-fact lost to the sands of time. Whilst this did suck to a certain extent, I can say that I now belong to a (somewhat) elite club of dudes that have had Andre Galvao steal their phone charger. When it came time to do a spot of rolling, I was given opportunity to roll with him which I assume was based solely on the fact he had jacked my shit! Rolling felt like I was grappling with an aggressive feather. The beating he put on me was magical, he would let me play a little bit before seemingly defying gravity to make my Jiu-Jitsu feel like it was still in its infancy. Many thanks to my man Jimmy Johnson who made this memorable weekend possible, again after a year of living amongst Brazilians, organising something of this magnitude would not have been the easiest thing do.
At the beginning of March I competed Gi and No-Gi at the IBJJF Munich Open and my three month stint of sucking a great deal of ass came to a head. I was fortunate enough to meet a great many splendid individuals during my time in Rio particularly the six months I spent living at the Connection Rio gaff. I was able to hit up one such dude Zivan, who is currently doing some amazing work raising money for Terere’s Kids Project supporting the youth of Rio’s Cantagalo favela. My friend lives just outside of Munich and very kindly facilitated my stay in Germany. Upon arriving at the venue that morning I weighed myself for the No-Gi, only to find that I was half a kilo overweight. I had never missed weight before and immediately had that horrible sinking feeling that only comes when you know you have messed up. So I had to borrow a pair of kicks from my homeboy, obviously two sizes too big, I threw two hoodies on along with my coat and ran out into the German countryside. As fate would have it, it began to snow as soon as I got outside – it felt like ‘hearts on fire’ should burst full blast through the clouds as I did my best Balboa impression. Never having done this before, I was unsure how long to run for, so I figured 45 minutes seems about right. After getting back to the spot & taking a cheeky toilet break, I came back to the scales to discover I’d lost, just shy of a kilo and a half. With the luxury of hindsight, I should have just nipped for a poop first!
Fortunately this didn’t have any impact on my performance in the No-Gi. I was able to catch the first dude with a straight foot-lock. Whilst the second dude was more tricky but I was still able to win via a sole advantage. The highlight of the match came at the death when dude shoot up a last second arm-bar, he was straining so much that he let out the most almighty exploder boff. ‘Suco de bunda’ is an occupational hazard whilst partaking in this grappling based tomfoolery but I had never been the recipient of an exploder farted during the heat of battle! I then competed in the open weight which ended up being a big mistake, I was taken down and spent five minutes fighting all out for a sweep which never came. A 5:30AM get up, running about three miles and doing a spot of Jiu-Jitsu had caught up with me by the afternoon, I felt like a whole load of aching ass. I was still able to put it together to capture gold in the Gi with a points win in the semi finals. Then a hard-fought encounter against a fellow countryman where I was able to capture a super late foot-lock to clinch gold, to round-up a rather satisfying day.
The day before leaving Germany I had the opportunity to go and visit the small village of Blaubeuren. The houses looked just like Hansel and Gretel’s neglectful parents had just sent their two innocent young offspring off into the arms of a psychopathic elderly lady with a penchant for young children and a house made from gingerbread, it really was a thing of beauty. Besides the odd motorised vehicles that could be found meandering around, you literally could have lost track of what century you were in. Of the things that I enjoy about Germany, I particularly savour just how vehemently Germans embrace their national stereotypes, cats just love their efficiency in addition to drinking beer and eating sausages. In the airport about to make my return trip, I spotted staff riding on bicycles, dudes are so efficient that they ride around on bikes to get their shit done quicker!
Chiggidy check the dope shit: