Monday, February 8, 2010

Braulio, Bad Weather and Backaches

(2/5/10 6:00pm) Braulio Estima Seminar at Gracie Barra Huntington Beach

We have all heard the stories. Insert grizzled old man here describing the treacherous trek back and forth to school every day; uphill, both ways, in the snow, without shoes. Point being, they had it so very bad so how dare you complain about your own little inconveniences in this rather comfortable age in which we live. Well buckle in youngsters, cause I got a whopper (no not from Burger King....mmmm burgers).

On Friday night I attended a seminar put on by Braulio Estima. In case you don’t know who that is; he is an awesome BJJ competitor and won the ADCC last year. But we’ll get to him and the seminar later. I need to talk about the drive down.

I live in Palmdale California and the seminar was in Huntington Beach. According to MapQuest, to get to GBHB its 97.95 miles one way, so I am going to round to 100. It’s my story, if I want to take liberty with 2.05 miles I will.

Not only was it 100miles, it was 100miles with more than half of it on the 405. Anyone familiar with LA traffic knows that the 405 is a special little slice of hell. I refer to it as the world’s longest parking lot.

So, not only was it 100miles, it was 100 miles with more than half on the 405, and it was a Friday afternoon, when everyone and their uncle is either escaping to or away from the city.

Did I mention that it was raining? It was. So it was 100 miles, down the 405, on a Friday afternoon, in the rain. Beat that gramps! Yeah, that’s what I thought. You got nothin! MapQuest tells me that it should take 1 hour and 46 minutes. That is optimistic without the weather being a factor. So let’s do math, I left at 2:30pm and I arrived at the academy at 5:45, just before the scheduled 6:00pm start time. I will subtract 15 minutes for the quick stop I made into Jiu-Jitsu Progear and that puts my total, one way time at 3 hours. Yes, not a typo, 3 hours.

What could be worth spending 3 hours sitting in LA traffic, on the 405, on a Friday afternoon, in the rain? That’s easy, Braulio Estima. Braulio is a Gracie Barra black belt with more accolades than I can mention. Perhaps the most significant, recent, feat of his was his winning the ADCC Absolute last year. Beyond that, he is such a nice guy.

I won’t go into specifics about what we covered because I think people need to go see Braulio when they can and learn from the source. His seminar dealt with working in the guard primarily. I am always looking to fortify my guard game so this was great for me. We took good notes while there so that we would be able to remember the techniques we learned as well as the overall strategies that he gave us. Braulio has a unique way of looking at positions and submissions that I have never thought of but it makes so much sense once you hear it.

His enthusiasm for teaching and sharing his knowledge is so apparent. He genuinely enjoys helping everyone in the class learn something new. We counted 51 people on the mats and though there was zero extra mat space, he made it feel like a small group of friends. Braulio made a point to personally check up on everyone and it felt like one big private lesson.

I have to give some thanks to Professor Filipe “Jerry” Oliveira. He made us feel welcome and at home in a strange academy. He treated those of us from different academies as long time friends and was so very helpful. In fact, everyone at his academy treated us very well, so a big thank you to them.

Ok, so now the dark lining on this big shiny silver cloud. Somewhere during drilling techniques I managed to hurt my lower back. I have no idea how it happened. I was working with Dr. Evil and all of a sudden there was a little pain. That pain began to escalate and by the time we left it was horrible. I made the drive home (two hours this time) and got home at 12:30am.

I tried to get some rest but I could not get comfortable. I managed to get myself out of bed and in agony I drove to the urgent care at 5:00am. The doc there gave me a shot in the muscles in my back and sent me home with a prescription for Flexeril. All day Saturday I wrestled with the pain and tried to rest it as much as I could. Sunday was just as bad, if not worse. There were times that I thought I had broken my back it hurt so bad. I went back to the urgent care, during the Superbowl. This time they took x-rays and luckily they were clean. The doc said it could be a minor burst or slipped disk. Hopefully it’s just a pinched nerve or something. As I write this, it’s Monday and I am still in a great deal of pain. I will keep up my meds and hopefully whip this thing into submission soon. I hate how much I have been off the mats already this year and I don’t need another setback. Fingers crossed it’s just a pinched nerve or something and I can get back on the mats soon.

Bottom Line, if Braulio comes to an academy near you, pay the fee, make the drive and enjoy a fantastic BJJ experience with one of the most talented and nicest guys out there. He is making his way around the states so be on the lookout.