Hi everyone! My name is Colin Leigh and I am a Canadian living abroad in Riga, Latvia. I am a two striped white belt under Vladislavs Čerņavskis, training at LEWC- Giudici BJJ in Riga. I have been training since the 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 Malmö, Sweden on business. Malmö is right across from Copenhagen, Denmark and accessible by an underwater tunnel…which is very cool to drive through! You can also get there on a fast train from the Copenhagen airport or fly right into Malmö airport.
I knew a few weeks ahead of time that I would be travelling there, so I had plenty of time to do my research. One of my coaches and friends, Iran Mascarenhas, gave me the name of Stephan Seidl, a friend of his at Fightzone/Checkmat Academy in Malmö. It sounded pretty good so I made contact with him through Facebook and was welcome very warmly.
As usual, I stayed at the closest Scandic hotel to the academy, which was only about 1 km away. The weather was pretty nice, so I decided to set out on foot for a bit of a warm up and a look around town on my way. Being a coastal town, Malmö was as pretty as advertised. Lovely architecture, excellent views of the water and very clean.
After about 30 minutes of wandering around I came to the location, according to Google Maps. It was a brown brick building with the letters KFUM on the outside…I wasn’t sure I had the right place but there beside the door was the sign for Fightzone Academy! (Only later on did I learn that the letters KFUM were Swedish for YMCA!)
I was met at reception by Stephan and escorted into their café to wait for the space to open. I met a few of the other guys while we waited and had an excellent conversation! Everyone is just so damn friendly in the BJJ community! The building itself was lovely. Really large area and the café was a great touch.
It was time to go and get changed and get ready to rumble!! I was led to the main hall where we were going to train and I have to say, it is easily the largest hall I have ever seen. It is massive! Somewhere near a high school gymnasium in size. The class was very large and everyone was really open and friendly to the new guy. They started up some great training music and we jumped into warmups.
In earlier articles I mention that the warmups usually kill me but in fairness, I have been improving a lot and can handle them quite easily now…until they happen in a space this huge!!! Try shrimping, tumbling, crab walking, bear crawling etc, for 50 meters at a time! It was quite the challenge and I was proud I lived to tell the tale, let alone to train afterwards. ☺
We partnered up after warmups and started to do techniques. I am not sure if it was because Stephan knew Iran’s style, but he taught us a really cool standing, rolling kimura attack that would be very effective against his seated attack. I LOVED it!! When your opponent butt scoots towards you, you bait them with your leg between their feet. Once they go to grab your leg, you take their wrist, throw your other hand over their shoulder, roll over them and land in the kimura. Stephan showed us how to do it step by step, practicing each stage before moving on to the next one. In the end, I had it down and felt really comfortable with the technique.
Class was 1 ½ hours, so we were not rushed in any way. We moved to light rolling after the training, in order to practice this new move as well as to have a bit of fun. I started out with my training partner who was a little higher level than I was. I did not get any subs in but I defended all attempts myself, so I walked away feeling a great sense of accomplishment. I moved around to a few other guys, mostly higher belts and at no time did I feel uncomfortable with any of them. They were open to questions and all of them showed me the mistakes I was making in technique.
After the class, we met up near the café again and had a really good chat before I left satisfied with my evening training session. Since then, Stephan and I keep in touch via Facebook and when I visit Malmö again, I will definitely head back there for another session! Stephan has a very large group of students, some of them world champions in their age and weight brackets and they are a very close and active academy.
I would really recommend you check them out if you are ever in Malmö. You can get in touch with them here https://www.facebook.com/KFUMFightzone/?fref=ts
Stay tuned for my next blog where I write about my trip to Gym Ila Academy in Oslo, Norway! Oussss!