Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ozaka Academy (somewhere outside of Strasbourg) 3-29-14

I misunderstood Yannick about where we were supposed to meet. He gave me the tram route and stated they would meet me “at the station”. I interpreted that as the main station, rather than the last stop which is what he meant. I made my way to the main station and looked around for a good wifi connection, finally I found one. I messaged Yannick and he said they were running a bit behind and would be at the station in a minute. After a bit I messaged him back, and told him where I was standing. It turns out he was at the last stop before the main station. But not to worry, they were on their way to pick me up and take me to their normal Saturday training location. 

I ended up seeing Yannick before he noticed me and walked out to meet him. We exchanged pleasantries while walking into the direction of our ride. I had originally thought that we were taking a train out, but one of the guys from the academy was going to drive us to the other academy. We were running behind schedule. We jumped into the Mini Cooper and started our journey. The guy in the backseat with me I had not meet the night before. He introduced himself and asked me a bit about my trip. He was originally from Finland and had moved down to Strasbourg with his wife. He wasn’t working at the present time, for whatever reason, and spent his free time training when he could and taking care of their child. He seemed like a pretty nice guy. 

We arrived at the academy after about 25-30 minutes of frantic driving on the French highway out of Strasbourg. The academy was situated in a smaller village. The guy who owned it wasn’t training that day but owned the house behind the academy and usually trained on Saturdays. From the outside it looked like a nice little place. The inside was equally pleasing. A decent sized entryway with mats and exercise equipment, good sized locker rooms with full sized showers, and a decent sized mat area for training both BJJ and kickboxing. I’d say the main area could accommodate around 20-30 students at a time, snuggly. 

The instructor for the day was a purple belt, who had been out at CREPS the night before. He was a bit smaller in stature, but pretty fierce on the mat. When I got dressed out into my gi, I headed out onto the mats where the drilling for the day had already started. 

The first exercise we worked on was creating space for the leg lasso/spider guard. The instructor showed, and insisted, that it was better to have the lasso hook in deep rather than shallow. He emphasized that it should be nearer to ukes butt rather than the chest or the arm. Doing so would give you better control of ukes hips, which is always a good thing. However, if all you can get is the arm or torso, it’ better than nothing. 

The next part of the progression was a sweep from the lasso/spider guard. You want to get cat claw grips on both arms of uke. Next you want to hip out (shrimp), then you extend uke to break down their posture and help to make space. You want to then apply your leg lasso. I shrimped to my left, so the left leg was the first lasso that I applied. As I said in the last paragraph, you want to get it as deep as possible, keeping your left side elbow as tight to your hip as possible. If you need to, crunch up to help get the elbow tight. Then you want to open up your hips and knees in the direction of your leg lasso. You should be able to push uke over just from this action alone. If by chance uke has a strong base, then you want to use your free leg (in my case my right leg) to kick through ukes arm and torso to force the sweep. The kicking motion should be high into the armpit and in the direction that you want to take them. 

The next movement was an arm bar from the lasso, although it should be noted that it’s from a failed omoplata set up (or a faked one). Your right hand will reach across for a crossed cat claw grip, while your left hand reaches for the gi pants. From here you start to sit up and reach your left hand to cross grip ukes free arm, again with a cat claw grip. Hip out to make some space, with your right leg coming up and over ukes same side arm (which would be his left arm, but on your right side). You need to go very deep with this, so deep that your place your foot as a hook below ukes butt. You keep your left hand with it’s cat claw grip, while scooting forward on your butt until your hamstring/thigh can hold ukes left arm by itself. I should note that when you have the opportunity that you should cat claw grip that arm you have trapped again with your left hand. Your right arm will come across ukes chest, reaching under his right arm through the armpit with your palm clutching the upper back or shoulder. You want to place your left foot on the ground close to ukes leg, also letting go of your left handed grip to place your hang onto the ground near you to help you with the rest of the movement. From here you push off with your left leg that is on the ground in the direction of your right shoulder. You’re going to backwards roll over your right shoulder to complete the movement. As your push off and your right shoulder starts to touch the ground, you want to kick up and through with your right leg (remember the hook you had here?). This will help you to keep your momentum while rolling through. You should end up in knee on belly, while trapping ukes left arm with you right arm (not as difficult as it sounds). From here you keep that arm tight against your body, moving your left leg over and over his head. This is a very tight position when executed properly, with minimal chance of escape for uke. 

We rolled for a time after the drilling session. My mind still wasn’t as clear as it should have been, probably due to the exhaustion of traveling. I need to start taking notes directly after training and rolling. There were some pretty good matches, with me throwing in some “lockdown” for good measure here and there. Funnily enough, right before the Metamoris match between Bravo and Gracie. My main focus throughout these rolls was to get to, and maintain a dominant top position and pressure. 

On the ride back to Strasbourg, Yannick mentioned he was having a Metamoris viewing party at his flat later that evening. He asked if I would like to attend. I said sure, but inquired as to the time. He said it didn’t start until 2300. I told him I wanted to make sure I made it to the train early in the morning, and that I also didn’t want to show up at my couch surfing hosts house at like 0200 or 0300 in the morning. Yannick said he would check and see if his roommate would be home, and if note that I could sleep on his couch. I said that would help me out a lot and I would wait to here back from him before canceling my hosting option with Troy. 

I got back to Troy’s place and we talked for a bit about the different things he was working on. Mainly that he was developing a business plan for “democracy engineering”. I’m not going to go into the details about it here, because it’s a very intricate subject that would be better explained by him. In short, I find it to be a pretty interesting idea but I have my reservations about it due to the amount of work and marketing that would need to be put into such a venture. However, more has been done with less in the past. Troy pointed out some cool local tourist like locations that I should check out in my free time. I took up his idea and told him I would be back in a few hours. I also notified him about the possible plans I had with Yannick, but that I was waiting to get a definite answer from him (Yannick). 

I roamed about the Orange Park, the Council of Europe, the European Court for Human Rights, and the European Union Parliament buildings. I like to take artsy pictures. Before I was laid off work 4-5 years ago I owned a pretty nice DSLR camera that I used to take a lot of good pictures with.  Sadly I had to sell it before becoming employed again just to pay bills. Before my trip to Europe, I picked up a basic run of the mill Nikon “point and shoot” camera. So far I’ve been very pleased with the pictures I’ve taken with it. 

I ended up between the European Court for Human Rights and the European Union Parliament building, realizing I had to use the restroom…and use it soon. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t in the United States anymore, where we have public toilets on just about every street corner. In Europe, toilets are hard to come by. My options raced through my head, could I find a grove of trees out of public view? What about those buildings on the other side of the road? The European Parliament building also looked like it could be a good private spot. Hell, what about that bridge there next to the Parliament building? No, no, no, and no. I noticed a sign up ahead for a tennis club and restaurant/bar. Surely I could fake my way in there and handle my business. And that’s just what I did. I’d like to report some sort of awesome story about it, but sadly I just walked in and took a piss. 

I heard from Yannick and I was going to be able to stay at his place that evening. I notified Troy when I got back to his flat, he seemed a bit let down that I wouldn’t be spending the night there to converse more with him. The feeling was mutual, he seemed like a pretty damn interesting person. However, I felt that it was only fair for me to give the rest of my time to the team that allowed me to train with them. 

I made my way over to Yannick’s, we were slated to meet most of the people who were going to watch the fights at his place for dinner at a “Chinese” place for dinner down the street at 2100. When we arrived at the Chinese place, I noticed a lot of familiar faces who were going to eat with us. I fielded a lot of the same questions over and over again through the night about my trip. I started to feel like a broken record, and probably became a bit annoyed about having to repeat myself again and again. So, if any of you are reading this, I apologize if I seemed a bit annoyed. My personality is such that I don’t like to repeat myself again and again, it’s very uninteresting for me. However, I didn’t want to seem entirely rude and ignore the questions, so I rolled with it. 

Metamoris ended up lasting a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would. It was interesting to be around a bunch of French people, speaking only French about 75% of the time. Every once and a while they would switch to English to bring me in on the jokes and into the conversations. Metamoris ended up being much like the last one, predictable and pretty boring overall. I really only wanted to watch the Bravo/Gracie fight, but was pleasantly surprised to see a Rickson Gracie black belt (Casey) step in for Vinny Maghalas (spelling is wrong) and fight Keenen Cornilias (spelling). We ended up wrapping up the night around 0430, and I needed to be up to catch my train to Zurich at 0730. Another day of sleep deprivation. 

Hopefully Rome will offer more chances for sleep due to being in one spot for a few more days than I have been and being around a bunch of guys that are competing. 

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