Hi everyone! My name is Colin Leigh and I am a Canadian living abroad in Riga, Latvia now. I am a two striped white belt under Vladislavs Čerņavskis, training at LEWC- Giudici BJJ in Riga. I have been training since the 1st of September, 2015, train at least 5 times a week and I’m 47 years old!
I travel all the time with work and find myself in many different cities around the world. When I travel now, I take my kit bag with me and find an academy to train at in the city I am visiting. It has become a bit of a ritual now and I have met so many wonderful people!! The BJJ community is one of the most open and friendly groups I have ever experienced!
What I plan to do in this article is write about my experiences with the academies I visit, the profs and instructors and to help create an awareness of the BJJ community as a whole. It is also nice to get the word out there about the academies for anyone that decides to visit the cities that I write about in this blog. I hope you enjoy what I write and any feedback is always welcome.
A little while ago, I had the pleasure to travel to Bergen, Norway on business. As it was with Haugesund, I had to travel a day early due to the trip being 2 flights…and to also get my BJJ on! Bergen ended up being one of the prettiest cities I have ever seen. Located on the southwest coast of Norway, it is surrounded by mountains and was simply amazing…oh and all it did was rain the whole time I was there!! Apparently, this is normal.
Before I left I checked out the academies in Bergen and found a few of them. The one that had the most convenient schedule for me was Bergen Grappling (http://www.sentrumjujitsu.no/ ) so I sent a letter to them asking permission to join them that evening for training.
I got a response back quite fast from Knut Roald Skitskjegg Wake, a purple belt, with a resounding YES! He even invited me to join their yoga class on the same day. My body does not bend well enough for that so I opted for the BJJ class instead. I was also sent a photo of the street and front of the building to help me find my way. Excellent touch in my opinion and I already felt good about them!
I stayed at the Scandic as usual and it was only 1 km or so away from the academy. The class was starting at 1930 so I headed out from my hotel around 1800 just to make sure I got there on time. I found the place easily enough and proceeded upstairs. I found out the hard way that there are two entrances and I took the wrong one, of course! I met Knut when I got up there and was escorted to the change rooms. The hall itself was a good size and well equipped.
The class started off with the usual greetings and introductions then on to the warmups. It was a pretty intense warmup and to be fair, I had no idea one could shrimp up and down the hall in so many different ways! We also did warmups relevant to the butterfly position and sadly I was not coordinated enough yet to do them properly and ended up looking like a turtle on its back!
Once we had built up a good sweat, we went into drills. This was my first experience with the butterfly guard and it was really cool! Knut was the instructor on duty that evening and his method of instruction was easy to understand and visually broken down into simple steps. Before I knew it I was sweeping like a pro from the butterfly and really enjoyed this movement.
As most of you know, when you are an early white belt, we are all trying to figure out first of all, what it is we are even doing, but also the techniques that interest us the most. I found that I took to the butterfly right away and it is one of the techniques that I try to employ in my ground game today.
After about a half an hour of working on various sweeps and positions we were finished with the drills. We took a small break and jumped into rolling. (my favorite part of the night!) I had a chance to roll with everyone that night, holding a variety of belt colors. Everyone was super friendly, very helpful and well skilled. I got my butt kicked each time but by now I was well used to it and it didn’t make curl into a ball in the corner and cry! ☺
At the end of the session, I stayed back and talked to Knut and some of the others for another hour. I noticed they had some patches and stickers for sale and asked them about them. That is when they introduced me to the BJJ Globetrotters, their philosophy and the amazing community around it. I later looked into the BJJ Globetrotters and have since signed up for their Summer Camp in Belgium in June. I will of course write all about that when I go there!
I would really recommend you check them out if you are ever in Bergen, Norway. I feel I made very good friends that night, and I will definitely visit them again when I am there.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I write about my trip to Team Agua BJJ Academy in Amsterdam! Oussss!