Learning and training with Roger Gracie at RGA HQ, London.

I recently had the pleasure of training at Roger Gracie Academy HQ here in London. While this isn't the first time I've been there or trained there, it was the first time I'd had the honour and pleasure to receive instruction directly from Professor Roger and the first time I'd had a chance to "roll" with him and I use the term "roll" very loosely!

There ar no easy rounds at RGA HQ

While I've always taken pride in my defensive abilities and tactics in Jiujitsu, I still had a realistic expectation of what a roll with a champion would feel like. I knew he'd pull me apart like a cooked chicken. I had no doubt that he would. I just wanted to learn from the experience and learn, I did plenty. Roger's pressure is insane and I have a funny anecdote to share later but I knew that already about him. I knew he'd have insane pressure so I wasn't even surprised by that. What really impresses me was his positioning. He was ALWAYS at the right place and time. In fact, on a couple of occasions I found him in a position that felt so excruciatingly disadvantageous for me though I didn't even realise it would be disadvantageous for me until he got there!

Right. Back to the pressure: I was under Roger's side mount, naturally, and I was busy trying to use my arms to prevent him from crossfacing or otherwise controlling my spine. Suddenly, I felt that he'd snuck his knee onto my belly. He hasn't postured up yet but the pressure was mounting up really fast and I almost had to tap if I hadn't adjusted my position slightly. It was at this point that realised he hadn't actually snuck his knee onto my belly at all. That pressure on my solar plexus wasn't his knee or shin. It was just his shoulder! I couldn't keep it inside and just started laughing as I explained why I was laughing to him. Now he's laughing too which only made the bouncy pressure on my solar plexus even more unbearable. Luckily, he soon decided to move on to mount and tapped me from there with his signature Cross choke. His mount and Cross choke was yet another study in perfect positioning and smooth transitions between attacks.

Roger is one of the nicest people in jiujitsu but when it's time to train, he has a laser sharp focus. What an honour.
If there's one thing to draw from this experience, and there are many, it is a rejuvenated excitement about the effectiveness and efficiency of the basics of Jiujitsu. I can't wait to get back on the mat to practice my side control pressure, mounting and Cross chokes.



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