So you want to grapple? And the gyms near the town you live in aren’t half bad. You start to improve. Then you hear about this gym...in a faraway country…
What then? How far are you willing to go, literally? What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to find the perfect roll?
After everyone has a light sweat and quick drink of water, Jerry calls everyone back to mat to drill some takedowns before teaching the techniques for today’s class. Jerry begins in closed guard and starts a chain of techniques that flow together.
You’ve been taken down, and you need to get back up; frame against the neck, open your guard and perform a technical stand up by shrimping your hips to create space.
“Now, what if the opponent tries to follow you and wrestle? Find the open elbow and flow into an omoplata. What if you’re the person wrestling for a position and you find yourself about to be caught in an omoplata? Roll with the omoplata’s flow to escape,” Jerry points out.
The students go one for one flowing into the omoplata and escaping. I notice as each student reps out an omoplata and escape, each movement gets smoother. Jerry adds a few more techniques to the flow drill: finding the triangle and how to finish your opponent in your triangle with options: choke, wrist lock, or shoulder lock. Again, I am fiending to join the class, but I have to stay focused and capture Jerry’s awesome instruction.
Not long after, Jerry calls for a water break and grabs the foam football again. He explains to me that training should not only be serious, but it should also be fun. I am intrigued to see what kind of fun his students are about to have.
He says to me that everyone is about to play a game that’s a mix of rugby and grappling. There will be two teams, and you score by placing the ball over the line. You are allowed to tackle the opposing player with the ball and grapple with the opposing team during the exchange. But before the game starts, two captains pick teams. With that, two students make their way to the middle of the mat and fight for a takedown. Winner picks first.
After a back and forth exchange, one of the students lands a takedown and the selection process begins. There’s one more fight for a takedown to see who gets possession of the ball first.
Jerry explains the rules and mentions that the losing team will have to do 100 sprawls, and he is dead serious.
With each team now in their end zone, the game is on. The Blue Team (I gave them my own team names) starts with the ball in the south endzone and advances towards (you guessed it) The Red Team.
Before I know it, an explosion of grappling starts!
Some players are attacking the grappler with the ball while others take advantage of an opposing team member sleeping with their back unprotected. The player instantly jumps on him and sinks in a choke.
The score is close, but the Red Team ultimately pulls out the win and avoids the 100 sprawls. Watching everyone play the game brings back more memories playing American football and I can’t wait to bring this game back to my own class.After the Blue Team finishes their sprawls, everyone grabs some water, takes a small break, and begins the sparring session.
The first thing I notice is that this gym loves leg locks. Safe to stay that’s thanks to Jakub Bilko.
“Rome, you must jump in and get some rolls in with everyone,” Jerry says to me with a hand on my shoulder.
With that, I change, warm up and ask Jerry’s son to help me with filming.