I was looking for another place to hit up in L.A. and noticed an interesting name that sounded familiar, but couldn't figure out why. I found the Caique Academy by searching for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Google Maps. Two things stood out immediately about Master Caique:
1. In 1982, Elias became one of only eight non-Gracies ever to receive his black belt directly from Helio Gracie.
2. In March 2009, he was awarded a 7th degree red-and-black belt by Rickson Gracie.
I was pretty convinced that since Master Caique was awarded his red and black belt from Rickson that he knew my instructor, Rodrigo Vaghi. I called out to the Academy explaining that I was in town for work and was from Rodrigo's school. I was invited out to train with the Caique team. I came out to the smaller (than the Gracie Academy" Academy located in Lomita, greeted by one of the brown belts who I found out to be one of the sons (Thomaz) of Master Caique. On the mat conducting instruction was Master Caiques other son, Pedro. Both of the sons are extremely nice people, very open, welcoming, and warm.
After filling out the normal waivers and information and paying the drop in fee, Thomaz shows me the locker room and lets me know I need to wear one of their academy uniforms and that he's going to run out and get one for me. Abour 5 minutes pass, I wonder out into the lobby/mat area, only to run into an older Brazilian man who sees me and approaches me. "Hello, I'm Master Caique". Wow, that was not expected. I introduce myself, the Master asks where I train and I inform him that I am a Rodrigo faixa azul. The Masters eyes light up "Rodrigo! He's a very good friend of mine, I've known him since he was a child! You are welcome here anytime, and you can wear Rodrigo's uniforms as long as they are in white." Very welcoming.
Master Caique was also going to be teaching class this night. Much like the Gracie Academy, Master Caique is big on the self defence aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Warmups consisted of light/medium stretching, then jumping right into different drills ranging from standing punch blocks, keeping an attacker at a distance with a hip kick (kicking the knee on the street), being rushed and getting the clinch for a take down, and take down drills. Master Caique and his sons are always watching your technique, if you're doing it wrong they are there to correct you. Even knowing that I was only going to be there for the week (Master Caique requested that I train with his academy for the week, who's going to say no to that?) they paid a lot of attention to me, like I was one of their students. Again, I don't have my notes from the class in front of me, so I won't really be talking about any technique in this post.
Not only were Master Caique and his sons very welcoming, their academy as a whole was. People kept asking me who I was, where I trained, etc. It was nice of them to get to know the new person. This is something that we have been working on at my home academy, making people feel more welcome no matter how long they are there for or how long they have trained.
Sparring was like any other sparring session. Although, if I remember correctly, the Caique academy split the classes up with 30 minutes of warmups/self defense, 30 minutes of technique (again, nothing flashy), and then 30 minutes of sparring. I had some battles with a couple of their students, one guy looked to be on the verge of a purple belt by the looks of his very worn 4 stripe blue belt, another guy was a large 325 pound two stripe blue belt. The larger blue belt looked to spar with me anytime he could, and I rather enjoy taking on the "titans". My philosophy with large opponents is that if I can handle them putting their weight on me, and smashing me, then I can handle any pressure from anyone else. Another thing I like to think about is if I can get out from under a large heavy pressure opponent, then the average sized person isn't going to be a problem for me.
I also had a chance to spar with Master Caique's eldest son, Pedro, who I believe is a three stripe black belt. I have a bit of weight on Pedro, and we started off doing situational sparring from the mount position. I let my ego get the best of me thinking I knew a thing or two and outweighed Pedro, and that I should be able to hold him down no problem. Nope. Pedro had me reversed in about 10 seconds of the match starting. No strength at all. I couldn't even FEEL the man moving. I got another shot after a few minutes, same story. I don't recall going against Pedro from a neutral position, but I'm pretty positive it would have ended just as quickly for me.