venerdì 25 agosto 2017

Report Bjj Globetrotter Summer Camp 2017

As for any other camp organised by the BJJ Globetrotters, even this last summer camp was an unbelievable and unreachable BJJ experience, far away from the level of the Italian’s camps.

270 athletes attending, 21 professors and coaches, and the incredible SportOase multi-purpose facility, including swimming pools, gyms, wall climbing, didactic rooms, skate park, sauna, bar and restaurant.

Workshops and recreational activities of all kinds, including beer pubs tours by night, local dinners and professional photo shooting on the mat. Private single of group classes and 'free' daily open mat (at noon and in the evening) counting 100/150 people fighting simultaneously.

Wanting to follow all classes, considered the super busy schedule, leads to the edge of your psycho-physical exhaustion, but with a little experience from previous camps and healthily pacing ourselves we managed to survive until the end, sad for it to be over but intact… and filled with new ideas, skills and inspiration. 

Certainly, the distinctive feature of this camp has been the growing and expansive tendency not only to follow the BJJ promoted by IBJJF, but to look at Jiu-Jitsu in its most complete sense, from the sub-only (in its various versions), to the personal defence, but also the MMA-oriented with constant references to the influence of modern wrestling (not surprisingly this year there were many MMA wrestlers and Luta Livre eager to try it).

We add to this the true value of these experiences: meeting new and old friends, practitioners and professors of different nationalities, from all over the world. We were, as it happened in most other camps, the only Italians. After many experiences with the BJJ Globetrotters, we believe that these environments can only enrich and broaden human and jiu- jitsu horizons in the widest sense of the term, therefore we recommend anybody and more Italians to join the international group for the next camps! 

It would be too complicated and too long, to make a common report for all the instructors. I therefore thought of highlighting the lessons that surprised and/or more impressed me, excluding from the list the instructors I already knew well and reviewed in the past, dwelling more on the new acquired knowledge.

The first review of this camp is surely about Chris Haueter, the main reason for my choice on attending the Leuven camp and not others. I finally got to meet him and I had the privilege of training and sweating with 'HIM'! It was years I wanted to do so, to meet one of the 'dirty dozen'. Everyone recognises and admires his integrity, his thinking of 'out of the box', for his being eclectic and for his authentic brilliance.

During one of his lessons, as it is often shown in the available online videos, he moves from complex monologues (expressed in a state of fervour and sharp enthusiasm fit for a satyr), in which BJJ's history and evolution blend with principles of Eastern philosophy, Western concreteness and hilarious jokes. Then he swiftly shifts to techniques demonstrations with dozens of absurd variants, all perfectly performed and in a quick succession (the present enthusiasts can only hope that the mobile has recorded that moment).

Then he comes back to talk about why and how certain positions work or from where a certain way of fighting comes from and has evolved, meanwhile telling stories about the first vale tudo fights, challenges and the first gringos fighting in Brazil against some of their opponents and… above all against the referees! 

He was infinitely helpful and friendly with anyone (far from me to compare with other types of professors). Utterly open-minded, he gives great importance to combat in all its variants, ranging from the use of weapons, striking, grappling, with a great emphasis on Wrestling.

His motto will resound for a long time in my head, ''Think Street | Train Sport | Practice Art''. I won’t go any further, but I could keep writing pages about him: the web is still full of biographies about him, reviews and videos. Surely, this was one of the few times that I really felt blessed for being able to meet and get to know with a man of his kind. Dammit, thinking back at all the bullshits that I was told when I started BJJ.

Wim Deputter: I had heard a lot about him from the past camps. I had seen many of his MMA videos (former Pride wrestler with score 18-4-0) and some of his BJJ / grappling videos (awarding so many medals in various federations). I had read articles about him and / or written by him. In fact, I can confirm that doing a couple of his classes - and some technical talk - with Wim Peputter was enlightening. A details’ knowledge that goes beyond any imagination, coupled with concepts of fight mechanics that I will try to develop and always carry with me. The sparring… he’s simply on another level.

And then in the middle of the camp, Wim went away ... he went to Poland with the Belgian national team at the World Games .... in which he was both coach and competitor... and got 2nd place. Nothing to add, just a legend!

Among the list of unique experiences, there’s meeting Stephen O'keefe. The BJJ black belt and MMA pro fighter taught us its leg lock strategies especially for MMA (really interesting), that illustrated by a ‘not so young anymore’ who keeps winning get even sweeter! Then, real news for the GT camps, he had a wonderful WORKSHOP in the classroom on coaching in combat sports disciplines, with a very scientific focus (SportOase had classrooms prepared and used by various team managers; even on this point Italy seems way behind).

Stephen is, in fact, graduated and with a PhD and master degree in such disciplines, collaborated with Olympic teams and works as a performance coach. I obviously joined the workshop thinking about my team and about offering the best to the GPT members. Stephen is somebody who can talk about 'theory and practice' ... and that, in addition to all the things I wrote above (and being a family man) is also the coordinator of Fight for Peace, an international network that deals with saving teens in trouble through martial arts and combat sports.

In short, I’d say he’s not the kind of person you can easily meet on a daily basis... but certainly somebody you cannot meet in Italy, where we are still so far away especially for our mindset... I'm excited to have met someone like him, a role model for many and definitely for me.

Aaron Milam, directly from the school of Renzo Gracie and John Danaher. We were all waiting to know leg lock’s modern system from the death squad. Aaron spoke about the circular leg lock theory. In addition to this, he taught a fantastic class on the butterfly set up that opens the game to the leg lock game or to take the back.

He is the humility personified. He’s an exceptional man of great human sensibility able to transmit positive vibes to everyone ... and above all capable of teaching and discussing about a wide variety of topics (not only about sport nor BJJ).

One of the few professors who didn’t miss any of the classes ... those taught by other instructors! And always participating with great curiosity. Infinitely helpful to anyone during free time (called Q&A). Thus, this was another important encounter that really made me think so much about the approach that you should have with this great discipline and with who practices it.

I wanted to meet Alan Shebaro since the time I started BJJ in 2010 and the professors Marco Galzenati and Cristian De Maio told me the story of this American guy entering the academy and humbly asking to train with them (who of course ended up teaching the classes once they understood what kind of hero he was). He was after C. Haueter the second reason for me to attend the Leuven Camp.

He used to be a member of the Special Forces in the hot zone for years, he really fought in war as a soldier whose actions will perhaps never be revealed ... and he embodies the modern fighter par excellence. He trained and was trained with the Elite, with the best, Navy Seal, Ranger, TACP, FBIs .... Dismissed the uniform he devoted himself to BJJ (but also a wrestling, judo and striking), to train MMA wrestlers, to weightlifting (he holds the record of clean and jerk).

In the last years he won the most important titles in North America in master category. In addition, he’s involved with the rehab of veterans with PTSD through BJJ thanks to his We DEFY Foundation'. I would like him to meet one of the many fake teachers selling imaginary military/self-defense courses (and similar) who are around ... I'm sure I would have sooo much fun!

His lessons from the stand-up game to finalizations by applying grip, locks, common and interchangeable strategies were very interesting. Despite the size that allows him a very physical JJ, he always explained fine details useful to everyone. Even in his case, he made references to the JJ in its essence as a defense tool and / or an integral part of the MMAs are incessant, under to the motto – either in life and on the mat- Engage, Endure, Evolve.

On the mat, Alan is one of the politest gentlemen I've ever met ... and at the same time the one who has set the new record in my personal list of "unbelievable pressure" suffered in sparring: Alan is in the top place now... followed by Bruno Matias who was also present at this camp but I already knew from previous camps.

Prof. B. Matias along with Robson Barbosa enchanted the audience with their Favela (Cantagalo) JJ, fast, effective, explosive, with technical sparring at the end of the lesson to develop the work just shown. What amazes me and continues to amaze me is above all their inexhaustible will to fight. Tireless, they were making the tour of the tatami in search of new sparring adapting their rhythm according to their opponents from time to time ... And both professors were also incredibly nice and friendly!

Alexander Neufang. No one should be amazed to see a 'brown' belt among the instructors (it would not be the first time). In the Globetrotter camps are always the skills of the instructors that matter. Winner of many NAGAs and competitions around Europe he delighted us with his unorthodox and incredibly effective submissions and submissions. Lapel choke-oriented classes, really from every location! One of the most flexible and agile super weights I’ve ever seen.

He’s a person such as Renato Laranja, contrary to the labels and the rigidity of certain environments / regulations, but with the mind of a warrior always ready to learn (and he also has basically a self-taught BJJ). Particular and envied by everyone are his patches collected from friends and / or made by himself, stitched on kimonos with various unthinkable colors, as well as for his NOGI gear which look like POP artworks or comics. If he had a sponsor to be able to travel and compete more than things would get really bumpy (as well as for so many hidden talents in Brazil or Poland etc). Playful, humble and helpful as few, he was immediately reconfirmed for the next camp, and invited to teach classes all over Europe. I hope I can host him soon in Sicily.

Priit Mihkelson, or in other words the genius you do not expect. They spoke me about him calling him a Northern European John Danaher. I was skeptical. Then his lessons raised the curtain between expectations and reality. All, including the professors, were there to follow and listen to his classes. He wasn’t teaching purely a technique, nor a defense, nor a finalization: just positions, concepts, systems, 'click mechanics', an innovative way to look at the top control positions (half and mount) and back defenses and from the turtle in active and passive version... and while we were all with our mouths open he says' Do not trust me, just challenge me! Who's first? "... and from there, as those who were challenging were also inexorably failing, many of our certainties were systematically questioned.

Little did it take, because literally, to the furor of the people, an additional class was asked and authorized in which the mat was completely packed. Black belt under Matt Thornton, Priit practiced martial arts for 23 years of which 16 in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling and MMA. Today he is the head coach of the 3D Treening / SBG Tallinn, the largest school in Estonia.

His approach could best be described as Functional Minimalism and is based on fundamental postures which, according to him, all MMA grapplers (GI / NOGI) and wrestlers should know, then to develop their own way of fighting. Technically flawless, at 360 degrees: stand-up fighting, striking, ground fighting. He’s constantly trying to apply 'wrestling mechanics' in the fight on the ground and I think he really managed to refine something that has not been seen around yet. In one word: INNOVATIVE, especially on teaching methods. A man of formidable culture with a distinct sense of 'Estonian humor' , he has left us all a lot about importance of teaching as an art in itself.

Look for him on the internet, watch the SBG official videos ... but above all if you find yourself travelling around Estonia and/or you know of one of his seminar close to you DO NOT hesitate. You can invite for a seminar the largest multiple champion, famous for the latest De La Worm Spider Lasso Inverted who teaches you five techniques and goes away ... OR INVITING A REAL TEACHER - possibly with less IBJJF titles - which may change the way you fight at 360 degrees (also allowing you to do it for longer!). In the latter case, do not have any doubt calling him!

As written at the beginning, it is impossible to go through all the camp instructors, each one has given us a pear. Christian Graugart, about whom I have written a lot - personally one of my idols - as always left everyone astonished, removing the veil on his new 'conceptual system' for defence from every position. Fran Vanderstukken - another pearl of Brasa Belgium- with his way of working from above with bigger opponents .... and then the very effective Kenny Polmans, with his work of passing and swips, Melissa Hauter with his ‘women only class', the super friendly Lorenzo Fraquelli (if you are in London, a jumping to his academy is a must), the Sicilian-American Joey Carta with his many little details to close triangles, Gareth’s judo techniques, the impetuous David George Mocegao, once again black beast on tatami for almost us all...

Do you see that? Here I am again! In the ferment of wanting to describe everything, it is likely not to give enough space for the work of some professors, ending with under describing their abilities. The truth is that, within a few weeks, I am still under the effect of a cognitive K.O., a sort of coma from jits-substance abuse. 

I took part to many camps in Italy (one just a few days away from Leuven), organized by several teams present in our country, held by professors of which I have the greatest appreciation and from whom I have learned a lot and that they have nothing to envy from most of their colleagues ... ... but when I’m asked for a comparative judgment, with the utmost respect I say none of these is comparable to one of the Globetrotters. 
Certainly, the numbers in Northern Europe allow you to handle similar events in a sustainable way, but I sincerely believe that, apart from the differences in terms of the instructors, the teams, the technical level, the approach you have, our country lacks the mentality necessary to overcome certain barriers. It would be nice if Italian instructors / competitors / colored belts would experience this all attending at least one of the GTT camp. 

From my point of view, the emotions that this experience left me are many, in each camp you make new friends, you live amazing experiences, in a holiday atmosphere, and it takes a few weeks to overcome the so-called 'post camp blues'.
I personally learned to handle it only through the thought that what I lived has surely made me rounder as a person… and above all because just coming back from a camp, I already book the next one: The available places are already sold out from the year before!

Reportage by Enrico Di Luise 
(Ground Pressure Team Messina)

Traslate by Gloria Coccoli 
(BJJ Globetrotters) 
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