Today was my last training day at Mjolnir, and Iceland. The schedule (only in Icelandic) showed a BJJ class at 1200 and open mat following. The plan was to attend the class, take notes of what was going on, and roll in the open mat portion of things if anyone was willing.
I showed up about 30-40 minutes early and changed into my go. I walked out of the locker room and up the stairs to the training area for BJJ. There are three training areas. I’m not sure entirely what the other two contain, but I know the BJJ area has a decent amount of mat space, some seating, and a MMA cage. It’s a pretty nice and spacious setup in my opinion.
I spent the extra time in the training area going over notes from prior classes at my home school, notes from seminars (mainly Robert Drysdale), and stretching. I was a bit sore from sparring the day before. Partially my problem for not training like I normally do before heading out to Europe, but more on that later.
As I said yesterday, the Mjolnir folks are pretty intense. I was one of the oldest people there, if not the oldest. Talking to the receptionist/trainer at the front desk, I was told that the majority of people at Mjolnir who train are below 30, and none really above 35. That’s a bit of a contrast compared to my home gym, were it seems the bulk of the regular students are in their 30’s or higher, and very few below 25. And now that I think of it, it seems like a lot of gyms I’m been to in the U.S. have been pretty heavily populated by a 30+ crowd. It will be interesting to see if the rest of Europe is similar to Iceland or the US.
Slowly people started to trickle in. At first I thought that maybe nobody would show up on a Saturday. The classes back home are usually pretty small on Saturdays, although they are in the morning and Mjolnirs are in the afternoon. I keep stretching.
After a few more minutes, a tall athletic guy with a shaved head walks onto the mat. He’s wearing board shorts and a rash guard. I know I didn’t misunderstand the uniform for the class, because all the folks around me have their go uniforms on also. The instructor/nogi guy says something I don’t understand and everyone gets up and assembles in a kind of semi-circle around him. Warm up drills. Some of which I had not seen before, but nothing exotic. All functional movements to stretch and warmup. Hip and ankle rolling, squats, jumping jacks, etc. Some other things are said, and younger blue belt looks at me and says something, I apologize and tell him I don’t understand. “Slow roll, yes?” Oh, yeah sure man!
We start the slow rolling, going back and forth. my definition of slow roll and his seem to be a bit different. A lot of the flow rolls I’ve seen in the U.S. are “you go, I go”. This was more like I went a step, he went three steps. I was constantly on my back in side control or knee on belly. No worries, it’s just a flow roll anyways. This went on for about 6-7 minutes. I noticed yesterday that their rounds are 7 minutes long, which makes for a tiring class, and an intense roll also.
After the round of flow rolling, we begin the actual sparing. I end up rolling with more of their blue belts, and a couple of their four stripe white belts. Overall I felt like i maintained a lot of positional dominance through the rolls. I had one pretty difficult roll with one of the striped up blues. I couldn’t keep the guy off me. I would pull guard, he would break and start to pass, I would hold him off and sit up only to have him attacking me from the other side and pushing me into side control. Then went on and on, with him finally taking my back. The hooks he was using and the angle he had me at made it very difficult for me to use my go to back escape, the Saulo Ribiero version from his book. I would go to move out and isolate a leg of his only to have him not only threatening a choke, but also moving into mount. I ended up fending the attacks off until the buzzer sounded. Had this been a points match, I would have lost. As we got up and shook hands, he tells me “you’re a very tough man”. I nod at him and tell him “You folks here at Mjolnir are all tough, and have been very good training partners”. He smiles and we move on.
I had a few more matches, nothing that really stands out until I ran into a tall lanky guy who wasn’t wearing a belt. As we start I ask him was color belt he is, and he tells me that he is a blue belt. I say “OK, just wanted to make sure that I was going to be mean to any white belts”. He laughs, we start. He’s pretty spastic and is technique wasn’t very quality due to him attempting to use his youth, speed, and perceived strength against me. After about 30 seconds I have him on his back into side control. I’m waiting, I shoot for mount, miss it and end up in his half guard. But not any half guard. I feel the vise tightening around my ankles, this guy is using the “lockdown”, a move I use against a lot of my heavier teammates back home. So I shoulder locked him. We reset, I butt sit and start experimenting, end up getting passed and thrown into side control but not to far away is my turn for the lockdown. I lock him down, tight. Stretching him with the lock and my undercooks on his upper body. He isn’t going anywhere, he hasn’t worked any of the escapes, I know this because he isn’t making any of the movements towards them. After a little while he is a bit tired from struggling, I whip him up and over, still maintaining the lockdown in top position. Eventually I let it go and move into side control. Then I move into knee on belly, not too much pressure, but enough to let him know he needs to stop playing around. He attempts to escape and I keep changing position, knee on belly, opposite knee on chest, then the buzzer rings.
All in all I was pretty damn tired by the end of class. Sucking down an entire liter of water. In the two days I’ve been in these classes it feels like the room, which is HUGE, gets ridiculously hot. I’m covered in sweat like I would be back home in the middle of summer. I feel a little sick to my stomach and decide I’d better go get something to eat rather than roll more. I also forgot to mention that the class was supposed to be a technique class, but instead we rolled. This was OK by me. I need to get into better shape before the IBJJF tournaments in Rome at the beginning of April. I’m probably not going to learn any new technique by then, but it would be nice to polish some technique up. I’m still weighing around 205# naked and about 208# with my gi on, which is fine for my go matches. I need to be below 201 for my nogi matches or I risk a DQ. $100 is a lot of money to risk to not get a chance at a medal for my division. I may end up having to shave my head and beard for a pound or two of weight savings.
I ended up running back to my accommodations and taking a shower and throwing some clothes in the washing machine. I needed to wash my dirty uniforms and the like before I leave in the morning. I get the first load out of the wash and into the dryer and start the second load before taking off for the night. I ended up leaving somewhere around 4pm to go checkout the rest of the town.
I walked and walked and walked throughout Reykjavik. I went to the well known Music Hall. Walked through that, got some pictures here and there of some artsy stuff. Took some pictures out into the harbor, and then decided to go into the “downtown” shopping district to see what was going on. It wasn’t too terrible, but it was reminiscent of what we would call a “tourist trap” back in the U.S. There were bars and places to eat. By the way, did I mention the Icelanders seem to have a hard-on for hamburgers and pizza? Restaurants like that were all over. I wanted to get some “real” Icelandic food, but wasn’t sure where to go. So I kept walking. I ended finding a couple of viking statues and nabbed some pictures of them. I found Iceland’s huge chapel thing on the hill, which was pretty neat from the outside. Sadly it was closed by the time I got there though, so I couldn’t check out the inside.
I was trying to hunt down a place that served “Lobster Soup” that had rave reviews on Yelp and on Google. I remember walking pasted it the day before, but couldn’t remember where in the hell it was. I finally stopped into a store for trinkets and asked the women where the place was. Turns out I was only a couple of blocks away. I find the place, I don’t recall the name but it has a sign that states it’s known for it’s lobster soup. I go inside and it’s packed. There isn’t anywhere to sit, and there is a group of older Germans in the middle who seem to think it’s OK to sit around being loud and obnoxious (and well done with their meals) while others are waiting to sit. I finally get to the counter and order a lobster soup, a potato kabob (Liene, I’m saving it for your sister!), and a beer. The girl behind the counter is looking for a place for me to sit, I tell her not to worry about it, I will go sit outside until something opens up. I grab my beer and go sit in the cold. I finish my beer (it was a tall one), and still don’t have my food. I look inside, there is a single seat! I go grab it and sit down. I have the waitress bring me another beer while I wait. Pretty soon the soup comes out with bread, but no kabob. No worries, I give it a few minutes before inquiring to its location when the server tells me that I “did not order one”. I chuckle, give her the price I paid for beer, soup, and kabob and she checks it out with the counter girl. After a bit I get my kabob. As I’m eating my soup, I notice there is ZERO lobster in it. I inquire to the folks around me if they had lobster, they all fish out multiple large chunks and ask why I don’t have any. I say I don’t know. I should have said something, but I wasn’t really in the mood. I finished up and head by to my accommodations.
I think I walked around for somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 hours. Being from the middle of the middle of the U.S., walking around for that much time isn’t normal unless your car has broken down. Mass transit doesn’t really exist outside of slow and unreliable buses, and everything you go to almost always has parking within 6-7 street blocks. Needless to say my shins and ankles were feeling some pain in the morning when I woke up. But, all in all it wasn’t too terrible.