(*Note- to see previous blogs, including nearly 2 years worth of stories from training and living in Brazil, check out the “Moving to Brazil” thread on the Sherdog.com grappling forum)
The last two months have been a blur. As many of you know I’ve been in the process of opening my own school, and to say that it has been a lot of work would be an understatement. It has seriously enveloped my life, and I mean that in the best way possible.
The school is doing great. More and more students are signing up and it’s doing better than even I would have imagined. Some of our classes are starting to grow big enough that I’m considering expanding and it’s only been 7 weeks. By my best guess, if we continue the way that we are, by the 6 month mark we will HAVE to expand. It’s kind of a scary thought, but a good one none the less.
Our grand opening was a huge success. This was a big event that I could not have accomplished alone. My family, my friends and of course my fiance all worked for free in making sure that everything was ready. Fresh paint, new mats, hot dogs, hamburgers, it all made for an amazing time.
Here is a photo of our ribbon cutting:
The ribbon cutting was done just before the grand opening so we did not have many people for the photo, but by the end of the day we had close to 200 people come to the academy. People ate hot dogs and hamburgers and watched people roll for a few hours. There were a lot of people at my ribbon cutting that did not have any idea what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu consisted of, or looked like. The idea was to provide a glimpse into what we do so that maybe they would become interested or at least talk to some of their friends about it.
There was one big problem: I cant roll for two hours and I didn’t have enough students that can roll either (considering it was our grand opening and all). Thankfully the BJJ community came through on this and we had between 20-25 guys that came and rolled for the whole two hours. One guy in particular really went above and beyond to help me be successful in my grand opening, and that guy was Steve Hall. For those of you who dont know, Steve Hall is a black belt under Royce Gracie, and runs a school on the north side of Charlotte. Without Steve coming to the grand opening and bringing a group of his guys to grapple, I would have been in a tough spot.
Here is a photo of Steve and I after a round of grappling.
Although I did get in some great grappling rounds, I had the ability to walk around, shake hands and introduce myself to the people from the Chamber of Commerce. Everyone really came together on this day and for me to thank individual people would surely get me in trouble, as there is no way I can possibly remember to thank every person, but I hope they realize how much I appreciate it. I realize there is no possible way that I could have gotten it done on my own.
Here is a photo of my starting group of students taken for my website.
The website is another topic all together. If you have not had the opportunity to check it please take the time to go, click through the site, and tell me what you think. Apparently this is a type of site that I can edit the content on my own so…hypothetically if you tell me about a grammatical error I should be able to correct it. We had place holder pictures up when the site first launched and I held back from marketing it until we got all of the correct content in place. So please help me out by proof reading it and telling me what you think!
Now, let’s talk about my life outside of BJJ and the academy. Ok, that was quick. Now back to BJJ.
This weekend I had the opportunity to hang out with Eddie Bravo and then attend one of his seminars. One of my affiliate schools is also a 10th Planet school and the head instructor over there invited me out for a night of fun with the man himself, Eddie Bravo.
We talked about the Half Guard, the Darce, and some of the newer techniques that we’ve both been working on. We talked about grappling philosophies, which included everything from leg locks to submission defense. It was a cool opportunity to talk to Eddie and I must say, he’s a very open minded individual when it comes to grappling.
After spending a couple of hours chatting, Eddie wanted to grab a beer and something to eat so I took him to Charlotte and introduced him to sweet potato tater tots. Throughout the evening we talked about a variety of different topics, had some great laughs, and enjoyed some good food.
Throughout the evening we continued to hear this banging sound. I knew what it was and ignored it but every time Eddie would hear the thud immediately followed by a BANG his face would contort. I kind of got a chuckle out of it wondering how long it was going to take him to figure it out. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and asked “what the fuck is that?”
Apparently Eddie, and some of my other friends, still have never seen these bar room modern marvels. The thud/BANG was coming from one of those boxing games where you put in your dollar and a speed bag lowers down. You then punch the speed bag as hard as you can and it rates how hard you punch.
Eddie was instantly intrigued. He quickly killed his beer and the whole group moved over to the boxing game. Eddie approached the game like child at Christmas. He slowly circled the machine, eyeing it from top to bottom with a look of giddiness on his face. Then he reached in his pocket and produced a fist full of dollars and quickly fed them into the machine. We all stood around in a semi circle, leaning on pool tables, sipping on refreshments and preparing for the entertainment to commence…and commence it did.
Eddie first choose the hammer fist technique. He started lightly bouncing on his feet, moving back and forth and eyeing the speed bag. In all honesty it really looked like one of the initial fight scenes from Enter the Dragon. He skipped forward on his approach, lightly leaned to the outside and gave a back hand hammer fist…the score was 751 and ranked as “super human”
Megan (my fiance) stepped up next. She crammed the dollar in the machine like a blue collar worker stamping their time card. The bag comes down, she plants her feet, rotates her body and gives it a straight cross boxer style and immediately the crowed (our group of people plus the others that gathered to watch this spectacle) knew that it was a heavy punch. We all cheered as the the machine tallied up the results and when it posted the score of 802 the cheer that went up was hilarious. I immediately broke into a fit of laughter that I thought I was going to have to lay on the floor to recover from.
Here is a photo of Eddie pointing to Megan’s score and as you can see Megan is consoling him that it was indeed ok to lose to a girl.
I must include in this story that Eddie fed the machine another dollar and threw a real boxing punch to rank in somewhere around 850 and regained his man card. We all fed that machine money over the next 45 minutes and Eddie even took down the number of the company that manufactures the machine. He has vowed to get one for the school. So if you train with Eddie regularly make sure that you punch higher than an 850 when he installs the machine at the school!
Just as a disclaimer, Megan has taken up boxing and trains regularly. When she came to Brazil she was training for the NC State Championships and she can hit like a truck. Once a day for an hour I would hold pads for her (in addition to her taking the boxing classes at Gordo BJJ) and even with the chest protector on her body hook could buckle my knees. Of course I never informed Eddie of this. The look on his face was absolutely priceless.
After leaving the bar the group stopped at Waffle House and Eddie purchased us some waffles. Yes, you read that correctly. Eddie and I enjoyed some waffles at Waffle House and for all you non-believers out there here is a picture of the event.
My life is complete. It can only go down from here. Waffle House with Eddie Bravo, owning my own academy, great students, great training and an awesome fiance. What is left for me to accomplish?
Next weekend I’m going to a Shaolin seminar on Sunday. I guess I could try and convince him to go to Waffle House but sadly I don’t think the conversation would be nearly as good and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t pay for them. I guess my quest continues to see how I can top this weekend.
Thanks for reading,