By Guillaume Huni
I had been planning my trip to Ireland for a long time. It wasn’t for the weekend’s UFC Dublin event but for my best friend’s wedding in Dundalk (a town 1 hour away north of Dublin). I was to be the best man and that meant that I had big responsibilities especially since Philippe had been my best friend since we were three years old! So anyway, I was able to squeeze in a day of shopping and training in Dublin on Friday. The plan was to train in the morning at Darragh O Conaill’s East Coast BJJ academy, then go for Lunch at a Brazilian restaurant with Jorge Santos, do some shopping for my wife and and daughter then go for the 6pm training at Jorge Santos academy. After all of that I had to hop on a bus back to Dundalk.
Like very often, things didn’t go exactly as planned as my friends and I went out drinking in Dundalk on Thursday night to celebrate the imminent wedding. We even bumped into a bunch of Croatians and Serbians and they joined us in a crazy drinking fest. I was back at the hotel at 4am and was quite tipsy to say the least. I texted Darragh to tell him that I’d have to bail on the morning training as I was hungover. I feel really bad about that but the trip wasn’t about Jiu-Jitsu but about the wedding.
So I got to Dublin and met up with BJJ black belt Jorge Santos (read his interview) and his student Leandro for lunch at a Brazilian restaurant. It was so cool talking to him. We were like BJJ nerds talking about all BJJ related subjects for 2 hours straight. My non-BJJ friend Frank was with us and he was bored out of mind! We enjoyed a nice Picanha some Guarana Antartica and an Acai for desert! After lunch I went shopping and then made my way to his academy for the 6pm training. I drank loads of water to get rid of the last remnants of the hangover.
Jorge Santos Academy is located in central Dublin right next to the famous O Connell street. It was an open mat session. I was looking forward to roll with Jorge and his students. The academy is beautiful. The front window has a big sign with ‘Jorge Santos Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’ . The entrance has a front desk, a couch for visitors, a small shop selling T Shirts and Gis, changing rooms, showers and some weights too. The mat space was large maybe around 150 m2. As we were changing I said hello to all the students and was surprised to see that many of them followed BJJEE.com and even knew who I was! There also were a few Eastern Europeans which was cool. I went to the mats and shook everybody’s hands, introducing myself. Jorge started off the class in a formation and welcomed me to the training. There were 3 black belts (myself included) a brown belt, and an army of purple, blues and whites belts. Everybody was quiet and disciplined as we did the warm ups which consisted of running, break-falls and stretching. I felt a bit winded from the hangover but after the warm up felt way better.
Since this was an open mat, we went straight to rolling. Jorge teamed up all the pairs and I was to face him for the first roll. It was an honor for me. All the rolls started standing which is how I think it should always be. I’m a good 20 kilos heavier than Jorge. We exchanged grips in the beginning, I tried a sweeping collar drag but he stuffed it. Jorge pulled guard and I worked right away in his butterfly guard. I was trying to see what intensity Jorge would put in the roll. Since I was a visitor, I wanted to match his intensity as I didn’t want to seem disrespectful by going hard if he was going light. From what I felt, he was rolling more relaxed. We had never rolled together before. Most of the roll was spent with me on top trying to pass and Jorge trying to sweep. At one moment I was in top half guard and Jorge had a good lockdown position blocking my leg. It was actually a modified lockdown which was putting a lot of pressure on the knee. I had never seen that before. Nice technique! The roll was over and we hugged Jorge was very technical and I felt in danger at all times.
Next up was the roll with Jorge’s purple belt student Leandro. Everybody was telling me that Leandro loved berimbolos and going inverted. He actually looks like a handsomer Version of a Miyao :). I was way heavier than Leandro (I currently weigh 100 kilos) and Leandro must be around 70 kilos. We started standing and I took Leandro down with a single leg. I was now in his half guard and he was free to start his berimbolo game. I didn’t want to have to deal with that so I went straight for a pressure over under pass. Leandro defended very well for at least a whole minute, pushing my head down and throwing over his leg. This was my bread and butter pass and I didn’t want to give him any space to work his inverted guard game. I eventually got the pass and spent the rest of the fight trying to catch him with either a choke or a kimura from side control, but Leandro was tough and defended perfectly. Time was over.
I rested the next round and then went with a tough Brazilian brown belt called Osni. It was a fun roll and we exchanged positions. I felt that he wanted to attack my legs a few times. I was again much heavier than him. There was also a black belt there called Fabio but he was recovering from a knee surgery so we didn’t roll. Next up I went with Philou, a fellow Frenchman and we had a fun roll. I also rolled with Dan a tough Romanian blue belt who kept going forward. My last roll was with John, a blue belt and then I had nothing more left in me.
Jorge rounded up the class and we bowed. I gave them a thank you speech and told them that I was impressed by the discipline and atmosphere in the training. It was very rare to see that in Europe. Jorge was obvioosly an excellent teacher and was very respected by all his students. It was my first time training there but I really felt welcome and felt like I had trained with them before. Great family atmosphere.
If you are ever in Dublin, you should really check out Jorge Santos BJJ academy!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jorge-Santos/260759404038363