BJJ Training Report: Dublin, Ireland With Darragh O Conaill.

BJJ Training Report: Dublin, Ireland With Darragh O Conaill.



Written by Raphael Levy for the excellent French BJJ website Jits.fr

Ireland, land of Leprechauns, pots of gold, four leaf clovers and Guinness beer. Although it may be difficult to come across a green leprechaun, a container full of coins or a plant with four leaves, dark beer flavored coffee can’t be missed. If you are in Ireland to train, you may have a hard time concentrating on trainin … The atmosphere here is festive and streets until 3 am every day of the week.

Visiting downtown Dublin for a few days, I went looking for a BJJ academy to train. First I looked around: SBG City Centre (SBG for “Straight Blast Gym) a few blocks from” Temple Bar “was the closest place. This will be my first step.

The entrance of the gym overlooks Exchecker Street. I discovered a small group of a dozen guys, who were preparing for a grappling competition. We sat on the wet mats stigma after the boxing training. I took my kimono off to integrate myself as best as possible. The teacher was a guy with a strong Eastern European, who strongly emphasized abs training during the warm up.

An hour and a half of training later and we were getting dressed. I realized pretty quickly, that none of my new friends were Irish. They came mostly from Eastern Europe, Poland, Estonia, Russia. This fact, I had already seen in Prague during my visit to Jungle BJJ ​​. The Eastern Europeans like BJJ, wherever they are from! Why weren’t the Irish more interested in BJJ? I was told that the Irish at the academy were rather into Thai boxing and MMA, and that the club has produced many champions.

I then decided to go to another BJJ club. My Google search pointed me to the East Coast Jiu Jitsu Academy , a half-hour hour away by public transport. The name of the chief instructor, my contact there, was strangely familiar: Darragh O’Connaill. A few seconds were enough to remember where I heard that name before: Darragh was part of the cast of the Lloyd Irvin BJJ Kumite, the same tournament that particpated Ilke Bulut .

A rugby player since the age of 8 years old (we expected no less of an Irishman!) Darragh hung up his boots at 19 and put on a rashguard turning to grappling. Three years later, he decides to put on the kimono. After four years of practice in kimono, he is now a brown belt and now runs his own club full time.

This young man seems to know a lot about our discipline and informs us about the history of Jiujitsu in Ireland: ” It all started 16 years ago. John Kavanagh, the first black belt in Ireland, was teaching a small group of motivated grapplers, including Andy Ryan, the second black belt of the country. This small group grew and gave birth to other clubs. After years of hard work, determination and love of Jiujitsu, the Irish scene has evolved into what it is today. “

There are today (to the knowledge of Darragh) seven black belts in Ireland. The sport is growing exponentially every year. The last Irish Open had over 300 fighters and even more are expected next year. Most academies are located in Dublin with more than a dozen clubs that offer the discipline. Interclub tournaments are held almost every month.

Darragh tells us how it came about: ” I manage East Coast Jiujitsu for the past three and a half years, when I took up the club from my coach who had decided to stop training. We did just no gi in the beginning. I then just started training in the gi and therefore wanted to add a gi class. I was passing through San Diego during the summer of 2010 and I trained with Saulo and Xande Ribeiro at University of Jiu Jitsu to prepare for the world. The atmoshere was like nothing I knew. I shared with Saulo my plans to open my own school. From that day on, he became my teacher and my Sensei. “

Darragh with Saulo Ribeiro

The class I attended was full and I could feel the influence of Sensei Saulo Ribeiro in the educational approach and friendly side. After each clustering around a technique, “One, two, three, * CLAP *” refocusing the minds of most distracted students and reminded us that we were not there to ‘just socialize’.The average age of participants was slightly below what I’m used to: a lot of 16 year olds, full of energy, blue belts and ready to fight with anyone.

Although he likes to take care of his club, Darragh is primarily a competitor. ” I love competition more than anything. I feel alive when I fight and it should be the same for everyone. Many people will try and say it is not for them. The truth is that with the right attitude and a good coach, no matter your age or level, everyone can enjoy and benefit from it. “

In 2012, Darragh participated in the BJJ Kumite. He tells us: “The Kumite BJJ ​​was one of the most rewarding things in my career for different reasons. I had the chance to train with Team Lloyd Irvin wich at this time, had in its ranks the competitors of the highest caliber: JT Torres, DJ Jackson, Keenan Cornelius, Jimmy Harbison, Jordan Shultz, Adnris Brunovskis , to name a few. I learned a lot just by talking me with them. The tournament structure had allowed me to take part in 22 fights in four days. I would have taken months to accumulate that experience. The best brown belts in the world fought for the title, so the level was extremely high. The match system was without time limit / ‘submission only’, which resulted in very tough fights that made ​​me much stronger mentally. I realized the level it should have to be world champion, and in any belt. “

As for the future, Darragh does not hide his ambitions: ” I have big goals for my club and myself. In the near future, I intend to win all the major tournaments in brown belt and qualify for ADCC in 2015. In the long run, get my black belt and test myself against the best in the world. “

Besides this topic, he adds: ” Of course I can not wait to get my black belt, who doesn’t want it? But for now, I focus on the worlds in no gi and the new competition season which begins in January. I will never stop jiujitsu, if I receive my black belt in a few months or a few years, itmakes no difference to me. “

A great place for lovers of Guinness and Jiujitsu.

Since our visit, Darragh O’Connaill won four medals at the Open IBJJF London, two gold in his class and two bronze absolute.

London Open 2013

Team Jits thank SBG East Coast and JJ for their hospitality and wish them a very good continuation.Cheers!