Johnny Ramirez (instructor at New Breed Academy in LA) came to do a seminar at Richmond BJJ on Saturday (4/11/09). I always look forward to training with Johnny because the game he plays is really similar to my game, but he's been doing it for longer, so he has a little fun with me when we roll. His movements are generally a little better than mine on the basic movements, and I seldom do anything that really surprises him when we roll.
Johnny's stuff was very slick. Most of the seminar brushed up on a few basic techniques and some different details (for me, anyway). Some of the deep floating half guard stuff was catered to the upper belts there. We rolled him for something like 25 minutes. It was great - I did a few of the moves he showed us, and so did he (he did them better). Really fun, and I feel like I learn a lot. Most of all, I see that I can be at Johnny's level (very good black belt) in a few years. I like that.
Tuesday brought training at Fifty/50 with Ryan Hall and Seph Smith, two of my contemporaries/training partners/friends. This was the third week in a row I got to train with these guys, and it continued to be really rewarding training- challenging rolling, but not overly competitive. The mats were full of purple, brown, and black belts. I got to train with head Yamasaki Richmond instuctor Mike Crawford, a really cool guy. Mike is tough as nails, but we have a lot of fun when we roll, each flowing through techniques and seeing what the other guy is going to do.
Klint Radwani, the other main instructor at Yamasaki RVA, is another old training partner of mine. Klint has developed at the same pace as me over the years and is now quite good. Although our styles are different, we always have very good, even rolling sessions. Neither of us is "trying to win" every time, which is always annoying in a training partner.
I was able to train with Ryan (who won the IBJJF Mundial at purple belt last year, and who has taken time off for two consecutive surgeries on the same arm) for about half an hour. Ryan's game has completely changed since he's had some time off. He's really thinking about jiu jitsu all the time, even when (maybe especially when) he's not doing jiu jitsu. I see Ryan doing very, very well at brown belt in the upcoming few months back in competition, and I'm excited to see how he does.
Seph Smith and I have been friends and training partners for at least seven years now. For a long time, I beat up Seph when we trained, and then a few years ago, Seph started really challenging me. Now I tap him some of the time, he taps me some of the time, and every time I feel like we both walk away with a fresh perspective. Seph does some things very differently from the way I do them, even more different than Klint. Seph is getting ready for this weekend's IBJJF New York Open, along with Ryan.
It's important to note that these guys are from different teams from me. My team is BJJ Revolution, a Carlson Gracie team started by Rodrigo Medeiros and Julio "Foca" Fernandez. I am absolutely loyal to my team and to my lineage, but I am equally loyal to my friends. It's important to me to continue to train with my friends and to help them get better. I'll root for my friends when they're competing (as long as they're not competing against one of my students or teammates, of course), and I'll be happy to help coach them as well. They'd do the same for me. It's a really good thing to have, especially since I would often be the only representative from my team at tournaments back when I was on the road to compete every weekend. Now I know I can count on the same kind of support for my students as well.
My students are getting ready for a string of three tournaments in a row U.S. Grappling is involved with running. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they perform with the stuff we've been working on!
OK, enough preaching here. Time to get ready to train again!