BJJ in South Africa: The Part Time Grappler visits the Renzo Gracie academy in Cape Town

As you all know, I recently visited Cape Town - South Africa with my wife and naturally while there, I was going to visit the local jiu jitsu schools and academies. I did some research and found two BJJ schools is Cape Town: Renzo Gracie Cape Town and the Gracie Academy Cape Town. I made arrangements to visit both and made my way to Renzo Gracie Cape Town on the Tuesday at 6pm for the advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu session (marked as Purple on their schedule here).

I was greeted at the academy by three people: a tall white belt named Rob, another white belt named Henric and none other than chief instructor Mr Kurdt George, brown belt under jiu jitsu legend Renzo Gracie and BJJ teacher extraordinaire John Danaher. As a matter of fact I tell a lie. The first thing that greeted me was a Renzo Gracie logo on a side door on Hout Street (just off Buitengraght Street - right above "Build It") and as I climbed the stairs I met a lovely South African flag next to the famous poster of Helio Gracie doing a flying kick at his brother Carlos Gracie. If that doesn't tell you you're in the right place then this will:

Friendliness. The more of Kurdt's students I met, the more I was wowed by how fantastically friendly everyone is! I tried to make an effort to go around and introduce myself to everyone but they wouldn't even let me...they were coming to me, shaking my hand and welcoming me to their club. It was very easy to see where all that was emanating from as Kurdt was Mr Nice himself, something I am sure he found in common with his teacher the charismatic Mr Renzo Gracie in New York. Everyone at the advanced BJJ session immediately learned my name and was using it as if they'd known me for years on end. During the post BJJ session stretching, Wesley, the purple belt who lead the warm-up and was my partner for the drills, rounded everyone up and told them who I am and a little about my blog. People were very curious about the visitor and this blog he writes and when I explained my suspicions were immediately confirmed: everywhere you go in the world to train Brazilian jiu jitsu and grappling we, the part time grapplers, are the majority and we need a voice. I doubt if Stefan, a very technical blue belt who trains at Renzo Gracie Cape Town with his 14 year old daughter, or Henric the white belt I mentioned earlier, a barrister by trade, has time or energy to train 2ce a day 6 days a week. But do they train as much as they can and leave their heart on the mat? You bet they do!

Technique: as I mentioned, Wesley lead a very thorough warm-up before head instructor Kurdt took over and I will definitely be incorporating some of his exercises in our own warm-ups down at the BJJ Labs when I get back. The advanced BJJ session was 90 minutes long (6-7.30 pm) and centred around the mounted positions. We alternated between drilling positions and attacks and working against resistance to escape, maintain and submit from mount (we at The BJJ Labs would refer to these as Introduction and Isolation drills) before finishing the session with a couple of rounds of sparring. The attitude on the BJJ mat at Renzo Gracie Cape Town was one of learning and while many BJJ academies claim that, this one was honest. When I asked my rolling partners where they wanted to start, some were comfortable (and focused) enough to have a plan while others said "you're the higher belt dude so you're the one who will be teaching me". That really left quite an impact on me. Head instructor Kurdt George's charisma is only matched by his teaching skills. He taught us an armbar switch from mount that I had learned a year ago from Brazilian Top Team black belt Italo Nunes but since Kurdt is a lighter BJJ player than Italo (and naturally has a better command of English) he taught us some very interesting details on how to stay really tight and heavy from mount top while switching armbars which I'm sure Martyn and gang will love. This was high caliber Gracie Jiu Jitsu where technical detail is king and strength and other attributes are used to fuel the techniques.

Facilities: Renzo Gracie must be very proud of the fantastic facilities that hold his name in Cape Town South Africa. The academy is huge and spacious. In fact, they have two separate mats, so the BJJ beginners' session started at 7 while our session was still running. Renzo Gracie Cape Town has toilets, a small office with a pro-shop, separate gents' and ladies' changing rooms with hot showers and the training area is covered with huge windows. In fact, even before the warm-up, the first thing Kurdt and the whole gang did was gather around and watch part of the sunset as Kurdt said: "Welcome to Brazilian jiu jitsu Cape Town style Liam."

I can't wait to visit them again. In the meantime, I will have to just follow them on Facebook :)

Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi ----Did You Like This Article?--- Click here to add The Part Time Grappler to your Favourites / Bookmarks


Heinrich said...

Hi Liam

It was great to have you at our academy and to have a few rolls.

Thanks for the nice words about our instructed and our academy. I think your summary is spot on about the feel and attitude at Renzo Gracie Cape Town.

I hope all is well and that you are training hard, albeit "part time".

Cheers from Cape Town.


The Part Time Grappler said...

Haha pleasure was all mine Heinrich!

I look forward to visiting again (this time I will train more at Renzo's) and I'm currently working on a project that will make Kurdt and the rest of you guys very happy :)

say hi to all from me (oh and do hook me up on FB is you're there!)