When I got off the train in Warsaw, I ran a quick route through Google maps to see how far I was from the Academy. Maps said it was only about 30 minutes walking, I figured I would give it a shot and that it would wake me up. Unfortunately the route only took me about halfway, the application messed up. Rerunning the route again showed me to be about another 30 minutes from the academy. My bag was feeling really heavy on my shoulders and I was tiring more and more.
I arrived in the general vicinity of the academy, but couldn’t seem to find it. I tried to ask a couple of people on the street if they knew where it was, but I was met with confusion. I finally went into the building I thought it was in and ran into a gentleman who spoke English, he thought the academy was in the next building over and offered to walk me over there. On entering the building there was a sign on the stairway for the academy, I thanked the guy and went on down.
I was greeted in the reception area by a young Polish girl who didn’t speak any English at all. I looked up Marcin’s conversation from Facebook and showed her his name, she smiled and brought me out to the mats. Marcin looked up at me like “who in the hell are you?” I just waved and went to change out, it wasn’t until I had my uniform on that he finally recognized me and apologized for the confusion.
The morning class was sparring only. Me being as tired as I was, can’t recall a lot of it. There were only a handful of people present and I had an opportunity to roll with all of them. For the most part it was me playing defense and otherwise just playing around with different positions. It was a good little workout that actually gave me a nice second wind to keep going for the day.
After class Marcin and one of his teammates who worked for the Warsaw Police wanted to take me out to eat at a nice little “hipster” place off the main street in Warsaw. With a couple of coffees, a full breakfast, and Polish style pancakes I think I paid maybe $4-5. I was a bit surprised by that. Such a nice modern city and it was cheap!
Marcin wanted to meet up with the guy who was going to host me from his academy, Przemyslaw. Przemyslaw was a karate guy and a current Muay Thai guy. He had trained a class of BJJ before, but it wasn’t something that he seemed to be totally into. He liked the striking aspect of things much more. He was a nice guy, wanting to take me around and show me the history of the city, making sure I was fed, and otherwise having a good time in Warsaw.
After meeting up with Przemyslaw, Marcin and I went around looking at different historical stuff around town. I knew that Poland had a pretty horrible time during WWII, but I didn’t realize the extent of the damage caused by the German and Soviet occupations. There isn’t really a nice way to put it other than Poland got fucked up, especially Warsaw. The people put up a valiant effort during the occupations to continue fighting their occupiers, even winning some big altercations during the time. Every other street corner seemed to have a monument on it proclaiming some atrocity of Nazis or Soviets killing a certain amount of people on a certain date during the war in that area. The polish did a great job of keeping a written history of a lot of the things going on in their cities and country.
I think Marcin and Przemyslaw were pleasantly surprised that an American took a lot of interest in the history of their city and their country. But, I tend to like a lot of old military history, especially that of World War II. They asked me why I was so interested in the history, and I used a quote from Santayana that is well known “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
We headed back towards my hosts place so that I could get some rest before the evening class, which was going to be much needed. Marcin offered to pick me up and bring me out to the academy, and I took him up on it.
When I finally woke up, I had about 30 minutes to be to the Academy, and thankfully I checked my Facebook beforehand. There was a message on there from Marcin saying that something had come up and he was going to be unable to pick me up. He had sent it a couple of hours before hand. I packed up my stuff and headed out, arriving at the academy only a couple of minutes late.
The evening class had a very light warmup, consisting of the normal movements a lot of academies have circling around the mats. From there we did some positional drilling consisting of escaping from bottom half guard and coming up to the knees. A half guard drill where we would take the back, move to half guard on the other side, take the back again, and back to half guard on the starting side. The last drill we did consisted of a combo of movements that I’ve never encountered before, but really enjoyed doing. The movement was going for the armbar from guard only to have uke escape the attacked arm, from there you would omoplata the arm that was left behind, then move into a triangle, and back into an armbar again.
I really enjoyed the last combo movement. It’s something that I hope to bring back to the academy back home and have drilled on a weekly basis. I suffer from not setting up multiple attacks at a time, I don’t think that far ahead, I suppose that’s why my game is so reaction and defensive based. There was nothing flashy to the movement, they were just there.
The moves that Marcin ended up showing for the class were a half guard sweep from top and then the reversal for the bottom person. Here’s the breakdown:
Halfguard sweep from top. This reminds me of Joe Rogans nogi half guard sweep, which if done incorrectly, can lead to you getting your back taken, but correctly done means you take ukes back. Here’s the Rogan version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGNSktn1kks
Marcin’s version went a bit more like this, You take your far side arm and cross face uke. You want your far side leg to come over the top to what was the far side, still with me? Now you take the arm which is currently cross facing uke and move it to block ukes hips on the far side. You then want to drive to the far side, the same side that you’re blocking the hips on, with your head facing ukes feet. It’s important to make sure that you’re grabbing ukes hips at either the pants or belt as you’re rolling through and with the free hand you’re grabbing for (and hopefully getting) ukes back.
Now, the reversal is going to be a bit more tricky for me to describe, as I seemed to have left off on my notes for it about a sentence in. I must have fell asleep. Anyways, as uke is making his move from the top via close side to far side, you want to release your legs from the half guard. Now, if I recall correctly, you want to use your bottom leg in the half guard to raise ukes left leg up, with you coming up to your knees, grabbing ukes leg, and moving into side control.
We ended up doing some sparring from here, and I got some good matches in with people. Some of the white belts were bringing it to me in an attempt to impress the teachers, I would assume. I handle it like I would any other time. Just roll and see what happens. I don’t mind tapping to white belts if they catch me. The blues and purples that I rolled with were a bit more cautious, exploring my game to see what I would do.
At the end of the night, Marcin told me about a competition going on over the weekend about 2.5 hours outside of Warsaw. I told him I would look at travel options to see if I could afford to change things up and skip over Lithuania. My goal was to get more competition time in overall, as I felt overall pretty good in Rome, I wanted to see if I could mirror that and be a bit more aggressive with things.