Translate

Follow by Email

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Tirana, Albania: Training in Albania &...The Abu Dhabi Experience...

Greetings From Tirana, Albania (10-14 Sept 2017)

The bus ride to Tirana was a peaceful beautiful ride through the mountains, watching the sun shine down on the vast green fields and rocky landscapes. Leaving Ohrid and catching this bus was a bit sketchy at first. Men in plain clothes, who were apparently bus drivers and loading staff at the bus station, asked people where they were going and directed them to the according bus. Three men directed myself and an American to an unmarked and quite worn out white van which was going to be our ride to outside of town where we would catch the real bus. I knew this beforehand but I don’t think the American did as he was quite uneasy the entire time. The whole thing made me a bit uneasy and on guard as well but I’m glad I knew of this set up beforehand or I probably would have asked many questions and not been OK with it, just like the American.

After we switched to the main bus it was a scenic ride the rest of the way, in fact it was one of the most beautiful treks I’ve been on. Driving a bus through the mountains, especially an old beat up one, doesn’t sound too amazing but when you’re cresting the mountain ranges and see the sun shining down on the countryside it’s by far the best rides I’ve had. It’s even completely worth the scare of driving along a narrow road we could roll off down the mountain side with one bad turn just to see the view. The bus station in Tirana was only 10 minutes away from the hostel I was staying at so that was a bonus of not having to deal with taxis or transit there. In fact the whole time in Tirana I was able to walk around the city, although I hear there are some great sights to see outside the city limits.

Driving through Macedonia and Albania.

The Sights

As I was staying pretty central to Tirana all the big sights to see were quite close and easy to get to. I don’t remember if there was a walking tour or not but the path I created on Google maps to see everything could easy had been a 2 hour walking tour that covers the whole city.

The Pyramid of Tirana, once a museum to Enver Hoxha now graffiti covered landmark people love climbing to the top of to take pictures.


The former residence of Enver Hoxha, a leader that kept Albania as a separate country from Communist rule but also left Albania isolated economically as the poorest country in Europe. 

I passed a park with the strangest park equipment, spray painted domes raised just enough above the ground for kids to jump off of and crawl under. I was very perplexed by these so I took a closer look. It was just as I had thought, they weren’t park play toys at all, they were painted up concrete pill boxes from the wars of years past, maybe at far back as WWII. This playground was covered with kids and families having fun on a sunny day used to be a battlefield, filled with armies killing each other. Crazy to think of that.

This is actually a monument to political prisoners but throughout the park were painted pill boxes. 


There's also Skanderbeg Square, which is Tirana's main square surrounded by museums. There was a huge party there at night during my stay, but I was way too tired after training and went to bed instead of checking it out, party animal I am.





There's a huge parade square in front the Tirana Polytechnic University named after Saint Mother Theresa, after all her life's work to the area. I've read several articles about this from different stand points as it's quite the controversial subject. No matter where you stand on her sainthood or work it's easy to see the place has quickly caught up in the medical and technological fields in recent years.



Tirana MMA Center

The only BJJ gym that came up in Tirana was the Tirana MMA Center. There is another gym outside of town that I never saw anyone in the Globetrotter network review and I can’t remember if they just never replied to me or if I wasn’t able to make it out to class logistically but the Tirana MMA Center was the only gym I visited. I contacted the gym through e-mail to make sure I was welcome and once I made it into to town I figured out when in the schedule I could attend a class. While walking to class I was wondering how training there would be, talking to most people while traveling there’s always some sort of stereotype of Albanians being hardcore brutes. Then again I’ve heard the same thing for Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and pretty much all of eastern Europe and western Asia. As the saying goes, hard times forge hard men. In reality the gym was pretty welcoming and although I didn’t talk much with most the people no one seemed to have a grudge with having visitors at their gym.

The gym is easy enough to find off a main road, once you pass the front desk it opens up into a big square matted area with the changing rooms on the left. I changed and got on the mats to stretch and introduce myself to a few people around me. There was a general shyness, I’m guessing due to language barrier. There was an American visiting at the same time I and feel bad for completely forgetting his story, but we did talk about traveling before class. I also introduced myself to the coach, a brown belt, thinking he was the guy I was talking to online, as it happens the head instructor, a black belt, was who I talked to but he was running late. I didn’t talk with the head instructor much when he did show up other than welcoming me and wishing me to have a good time training at his gym. The brown belt ran us through a thorough warm up and I had to sit a few exercises out. It was quite the fitness class before training and I was still dealing with congested sinuses. That and my fitness sucks.

There was a Judo black belt at the gym as well and class started with working different Judo throws from takedown attempts for BJJ. As these throws and takedowns were a bit different for me I had several questions, mostly about leg or arm placement as I always seem to be landing on one of my limbs. In true classical Judo form the Judo black belt didn’t seem to understand my questions for moving the limbs out of the way or maybe placing them differently while the BJJ instructor understood and agreed I could get the same result. It’s no insult to the Judo instructor but I find a lot of classically trained Judo players only train each throw for the one grip or body placement with very little variation meanwhile the very thing that has propelled BJJ to succeed is the openness to variation and modification so that everyone can make the technique work. Then again it could be just that these movements were new to me and I was moving very clunky and stepping over myself. With more training perhaps I could get used to them and work these techniques just as the Judo instructor showed.

The students were quite keen for rolling when it became time, I remember having a few rolls, one with the American, and I forget who else, I think it was a higher belt (I really should have kept notes on this to give you better stories, something I’m doing now actually.) and I mostly just tried to survive the matches. One younger guy, a fellow blue belt I think I remember, who was quite athletic and energetic wanted to roll with me and I could see he wanted to really test himself against me. I had to decline as it was the end of the class and I was quite worn out already. I wouldn’t mind tapping to him, it was more the danger of being hurt while trying to defend against his youthful exuberance hunting for a submission. I did however enjoy watching him fight the higher belts and give them a hard time. I’m sure he’ll be making it somewhere in this sport if he keeps it up.

All and all it was a fun time training there, a few of the guys opened up to me after class as we were changing, a few even got pictures with me. Just another case of a gym being shy because of language barriers and Jiu-Jitsu closing that gap. To be honest I don’t know if they were more impressed by my stories of traveling and training all over the world or my tattoos all over my body, as I got equal amounts of questions for either. After all of this I ended up no pictures (I don't know what happened, I remember taking some, but they must've gotten deleted or corrupted or something. Anyways, no pictures of this training experience, sorry) to post with this story but I can mark Tirana MMA Center as another place I stopped off along this Odyssey and made new friends.

The Abu Dhabi Experience...(14-16 Sept 2017)

Before I knew it my time to leave had come and I was on to my next adventure. My next stop was Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and that was going to be a long flight to get to. I found if I stopped off along the way I could find cheaper tickets, even including hotel stay. So with that information I booked a one night stay over in Abu Dhabi, with intent on getting a class in at non other than the ADCC HQ itself. My plans were I would fly in, get a nap, get out and maybe see a bit of the city before training, have a nice rest and catch my flight the next evening on my way to Yangon. Plans did not work out like that. In any way. At all. I did not get any training in and it ended up costing me way more money…

My flight heading out of Tirana was in the evening, an overnight flight to Abu Dhabi. I got not near as much sleep as I wanted and was dead tired when I get into the airport. Luckily I booked a cheap room at the airport hotel, unluckily I arrived at 5am and I couldn’t check in until 11 and had to wait until 7 before I could even check and see if, at an extra fee, I could check in early. There was a coffee shop next to the hotel lobby so I used the free wifi and grabbed a tea and waited. Finally it was 7 and I was was allowed to check in early, it was not a cheap extra fee but I desperately needed rest or I wouldn’t be able to train later. I paid the fee, got to my room and passed out for a few hours.

Flying out of Tirana, on my way to another adventure.

As soon as I woke up I began looking for class schedules or contacts and couldn’t find either. The United Arab Eremites Jiu-Jitsu Federation, or UAEJJF site, the main and as far as I can tell only site for the gyms in Abu Dhabi, is great for latest news in the federation and has a list of all the clubs in Abu Dhabi. But they don’t have any address or class schedule information, with only a name and phone number at most. My friend Aaron from Tokyo was helping me out to find a class and set me up with a contact in Abu Dhabi, but as it happens I had the misfortune of showing up on a Friday, which is their religious rest day, a day of prayer, not training. All this planning and I made the misstep of not even thinking about the gyms not having classes on religious days. I actually can't believe I never thought to look into religious days of places I was visiting, especially a place like the UAE. After talking with the contact back and forth we found there was one gym open that day, but it was in Dubai, which is a 4 hr bus trip away that I would have to catch it in the next 20 mins. That was just not feasible. So I wrote and rested and although I was down that I would be missing training while in Abu Dhabi I at least got to relax in a nice hotel room for 24 hrs. I also had the joy of trying the McDonald’s chicken Big Mac, it was delicious and almost made up for everything. Almost.

The next morning I woke up rested and left the hotel ready to get going to Yangon. I went to check in for my flight and was stopped by the flight attendant. She asked me my final destination and e-mails for those tickets. Then she asked me for a Visa for my next connection. I was flying into Bombay and did not have a Visa for it. I wouldn’t need a Visa had I not had checked luggage but since I did and had to re-check in with a different airline there I would need a Visa to pick up my bag and check it in. This is something I did not account for as I had read different accounts that a transit Visa was available on arrival for making international connections without problem. The airline company did not have this information and could not let me board without a Visa. This was a big problem.

Flying into Istanbul for a quick connection.

The flight attendants made as many calls as they could to try and get me on the flight and even tried calling the flight company that booked my flights to see if they could help, but to no avail. I would like to say that Quantas, although in my opinion messed up on this and should have let me on my flight have great customer service for trying to help me out and making many calls to make sure they weren't making a mistake, although I really don't think anyone looked it up and just gave their opinions. kiwi.com on the other hand is a shit service whose only customer service is starting and ending every sentence with “it’s not our responsibility” without attempting to help in any way. I have had the unfortunate experience of booking 2 flights with Kiwi.com and after those experiences I will say it is the by far the worse company out there to get cheap tickets. It’s like they intentionally make it an unpleasant flight for you that will most likely end in your paying extra for things they missed. I personally will never use them again and hope no one reading this uses them either.

So I was stuck in Abu Dhabi airport with no other choice but to buy a new ticket that included not stopping in India or any place I needed a Visa and which costed me an additional $700. I was no longer saving $300 in this stop and with no Jiu-Jitsu or even any sight seeing this was a very upsetting and disappointing stopover. Later, when I was making plans to head back to Europe from Asia I thought of stopping in Dubai to get in some training and make up for this stop over, but decided I’m better off not bothering with this hassle again, my budget was stretched thin and I wouldn’t be able to afford another expensive surprise like this again. One day I will return and see the United Arab Eremites and it’s beautifully constructed cites and top notch BJJ gyms, but not during this Odyssey.

Happy to be in Abu Dhabi, little did I know what 'fun' awaited...

And after all the adventures of traveling through Adu Dhabi I was done visiting Europe, for now, and on my way to my first stop in Asia: Yangon, Myanmar.

Until next time,
see you on the mats!
OSSS!!

WAYS TO SUPPORT PANDA'S ODYSSEY!
Sign up to the Panda's Odyssey Patreon Account.
Buy Panda's Odyssey Patches at The Gi Hive.
Buy a shirt at Panda's Jiu-Jitsu Store.
Follow me and other traveling Jiu-Jitsueros at the BJJ Globetrotters blog section.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my full photo albums for each article at my Flickr account.
Add me and follow along on most social media @pandasodyssey

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Skopje & Ohrid Macedonia: Fortresses and Jiu-Jitsu

Greetings From Skopje and Ohrid Macedonia! (2-10 Sep 2017)

I left Bulgaria on a bus feeling fine but once I got to Skopje and had my first night’s rest at the hostel I woke up not feeling very well. I had a sinus cold starting, messing with my respiratory system, and the ear infection was still giving me grief. I ended up not training at Skopje, the post camp flu had finally caught up with me. Instead I tried working online to catch up on some writing as well as plan out the next part of the Odyssey. At this stage I was looking to make my way over to Myanmar and Thailand which gave me the opportunity to make a stopover and possible class along the way, I’ll tell you all about that adventure next article. Although I didn’t get to train in Skopje I did talk to Martin who runs a club there. We spoke a lot about me coming to visit and had planned out when would be best to come for class, when I ended up sick and just decided to rest he told me all the best places or sight seeing. Skopje is a really nice city with a mix of old historic sights with new modern monuments. I really like the statues to various leaders and generals throughout the city to remind everyone of the long history of Macedonia.

I also took a bus from Skopje to Ohrid and it was a very scenic and quiet route, the hillsides and valleys through Macedonia are really beautiful. There was nothing too eventful, I caught the bus at the station which was right next to the hostel I was staying at in Skopje and away we went through the country side to Ohrid. Ohrid is a small town, built in a valley along the shore of Lake Ohrid, which shares the other half of it's shore with Albania, and up the side of one of the hills where the fortress rests on top. The view is amazing coming in to town as we crested the hills and saw the beauty of the surrounding area. I was very happy to be traveling to see this place and meet Nenad and his gym and looked forward to exploring Ohrid more while I visited. 

Saw this copper roofed church while at a stop to Ohrid. The painter painting under the cloth in the gentle breeze seems to peaceful.

The Sights

As I said before Skopje has a cool mix of old historic landmarks with new ones and the best example of that is the town square. There is an old stone bridge linking the modern town square to the old town market. It's a historic sight, with statues and water fountains at each end and leading up the square that has a giant water fountain and Statue to Alexander the Great in the middle. The roads leading to the square have a series of old monuments and statues, like the arch 'Port Macedonia' that covers one of the streets to the square.

Skopje Square and the Alexander the Great statue.

Port Skopje Arch.



The market, or Old Bazaar, and the remains of old Skopje Fortress are also great examples of the history of Skopje and Macedonia. The market has a few main roads lined with stalls selling practically anything but the whole area is a series of catacomb alleys. I could see a growing part of the catacombs was becoming trendy stores and restaurants for tourists. The fortress is just outside of the catacombs on a hillside overlooking the city. From up there you can see the whole town stretch out in front of you with the town square right below. There’s nothing too special about the fortress grounds itself, it’s been knocked down over the years and other than the outer wall facing the city most of it is half crumbled brick walls, pits and piles of rock inside. The important thing isn’t what it is now but rather what is was before and the history it carries.

Arch to the Old Bazaar.

Skopje Fortress.


The view from the fortress wall.



Ohrid also has a mix of old culture and history with modern tourism. The downtown core has many shops and restaurants, a lot of them lining Lake Ohrid for scenic waterfront views. All this downtown is at the base of the hill that old Ohrid is built upon, walk up the winding roads and you see the houses get older in style and after a while they open up to the Ancient Theater, an old outdoor amphitheater on the hillside overlooking the lake. Tsar Samoil's Fortress sits up on top of the hill itself, overlooking all of the surrounding land. Again, like Skopje the Ohrid fortress was nothing more than a big brick outer wall, with the inside gutted, but the views but up on top were amazing. From up on the lookout there you could see all the surrounding valleys to the next peaks of the far off mountains. Anyone back in the day marching an army in, or rowing one in from the water front, would be seen from far off.

part of downtown Ohrid by the lake

Lake Ohrid.

Ancient theater.

Tsar Samoil's Fortress.



I also happened to walk by the old UN base in Ohrid. It's gated and boarded up now so I couldn't go inside but I managed to take a few pictures from the street. The people of Macedonia aren't happy with the UN from the events that happened during the split into their own country and the UN's exit from helping them so they don't like to talk about this base or that time. 




You can see my photos from this visit and all my other stops over on my Flickr Account.

Roots BJJ Ohrid

Nenad trains at the only gym in Ohrid, Roots BJJ Ohrid, a small group of very welcoming people who are genuinely happy to have visitors come to see their beautiful town. Nenad is a really fit guy, training at the gym at least once a day as well as doing Jiu-Jitsu 4 or 5 times a week, he even asked me to come out to the gym with him and although I wouldn’t mind being completely made a fool by someone who looks like they warm up with my max weight I was just getting over the cold and really didn’t want to push it too much. So instead we just met for Jiu-Jitsu. Although I was staying just down the road from the gym Nenad picked me up since it’s a bit tricky to find. The gym has some partitions for changing and a washroom around the corner, with the rest of the space tatami mats. The coach, whose name I forget, is a purple belt we spoke a little and he was very happy to have me come visit telling me I'm welcome any time. I got from the sense that they, being isolated from the bigger cities, are really grateful to have any visitors and take every opportunity to invite people in and make them feel at home with the gym.


The classes are started with a good warm up, which in my first class giving my rank standing at the end I was supposed to lead but I didn’t want to disturb their usual routine and held back for someone else to take the lead instead. Of the things I like to see when visiting different gyms their warm up routine is one of them. I’m not a fan of huge crossfit like exercise class long warm ups but I like to see the different movements that gyms do, often I find a new movement or chain of movements that I think would be great to remember for later. Just like submission techniques everyone has their own little differences in moving the body to warm it up before class. You can tell a lot about the gym and what style of Jiu-Jitsu they have by their warm ups most times as well. The next part of class was drilling takedowns, which Nenad and I worked different entries for Judo throws for gi class and arm drags into single legs and low singles for No-Gi. It was great drilling with Nenad, not just the takedowns but the whole class in general, because he doesn’t just quickly drill over and over, he’s like me where each rep gets dissected and analyzed and improved upon next rep. Together we worked to really get the moves we were drilling down. I’ve been to other gyms where sure we drill a lot but maybe I don’t feel like I got that technique down too well despite all the reps. Maybe Nenad and I just overthink or maybe other people under think and prefer quantity or quality, either way I enjoyed training with him.


Rolling with Nenad wasn’t as fun, his gym routine definitely made a difference when we rolled. Nenad had no problem controlling and submitting me at will. I guess I should’ve taken him up on those gym sessions after all. Seriously though he was a nice guy and even though he firmly controlled me he wasn’t crushing me like I know he could have. All the guys there were no joke in the physical department and could have easily run circles around me, not that they were looking to hurt or humiliate me, they were just a bunch of fit guys with strong Jiu-Jitsu, lucky for me they were also really nice and I was on their good sides. Nenad and Roots BJJ were great hosts I thoroughly enjoyed my time visiting, thanks for having me guys!

Thanks again for the great times Nenad.

I made a video of my time training with Roots BJJ Ohrid that you can watch below. If it doesn't load, or you want to watch my other videos, just head over to the Panda's Odyssey YouTube Channel and check them out there. Please show some love, like, share, comment or even subscribe, thanks!


My time in Orhid was way too fast and over before I knew it I was on another bus off for another adventure. This time I was bound for my last stop in Eastern Europe before heading for Asia: Tirana Albania.

Until next time,
see you on the mats!
OSSS!!

WAYS TO SUPPORT PANDA'S ODYSSEY!
Sign up to the Panda's Odyssey Patreon Account.
Buy Panda's Odyssey Patches at The Gi Hive.
Buy a shirt at Panda's Jiu-Jitsu Store.
Follow me and other traveling Jiu-Jitsueros at the BJJ Globetrotters blog section.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my full photo albums for each article at my Flickr account.
Add me and follow along on most social media @pandasodyssey

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria: Twisted and Mangled

Greetings From Sofia Bulgaria! (28 August - 2 September 2017)

After the amazing BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp I wish never ended I was on a plane back to Eastern Europe, with my next stop being Sofia Bulgaria. I was looking forward to Sofia because there are a few clubs there I had heard great things about, Twisted BJJ which it seems every Globetrotter that travels this part of the world ends up visiting, and Battle Club Bulgaria, a place my friend Matthew Kaiser connected me with to get an introduction into Submission Wrestling. With an uneventful flight from Frankfurt to Sofia and no problems using the trains or finding my hostel I was ready for some rest before checking out these gyms, the post camp blues and post camp flu is real after all so best not to push it too much in the first few days.

I was actually dealing with an incredibly painful ear infection that started at the camp, and I believe it was more due to some cartilage damage that I got at some point (I seriously believe grapplers break more ears than anything else) so I had to deal with this problem first. I tried some beeswax candles in case it was an impacted wax build up before figuring out I had some damaged cartilage. I really don’t know how those things work, the candle just created more of a mess than anything else in my case. Luckily I had picked some more tea tree oil while at the camp and with the care package I finally received from my Mom I was all set for dealing with the problem. After a few days of rest and checking out the city I was ready to start training again.

The Sights

Sofia is a deceptively big city that sprawls out with lots to see and some great museums, which sadly I did not visit. There is a long complicated history to the city and a few different walking tour companies offer a 2 hour tour to explain it all while checking out the historic sights and buildings. While I did go on a similar route to see the places I passed up on the tour, more interested in the architectural design than the history lesson. Here are some of my photos from walking around the city.







Of course you can see more of photos from this and all my other stops over on my Flickr Account.

Twisted BJJ

When searching the BJJ Globetrotters community for anything on Bulgaria there was a lot of great reviews for Twisted BJJ so it was on the list of gyms I must check out while traveling and as it happens another Globetrotter Nick would be in the area at the same time. I wish I had more time to chat with Nick and maybe do an interview together as he’s been living the dream of a BJJ Globetrotter for some time, having lucked in with a career in a field that allows him to constantly travel and see the world and train all while making a few dollars. In the short time we talked after class it seemed like Nick had a story for every continent and plans to keep going. I’m sure we will meet again one day and I look forward to hearing his stories.

Great meeting you Nick, until next time!

Nick and I both spoke to the club about coming in and agreed with each other when to meet up for a class together. I found the right streetcar to take and got to the club, which is outside of town, a bit early and found the club up above a grocery store easy enough and had already introduced myself and changed by the time Nick showed up. We jumped into no-gi class and moved around training with and meeting members of the club. The place is pretty simple, you walk and there's the front desk and change rooms on the right with a long mat space stretching far back in front of you. For class we worked a few different technique involving the X-guard, like stuffing it and passing or taking the opponent down for a leg drag to back take. Fun stuff, I've been going over some of these techniques again with other classes I've been in and it all makes way more sense, like having them sit and thought over for the past few months and now revisiting them puts them in a new light and gives me a new understanding of them. Anyways it was good class and rolling with everyone after was equality as good, but I never got a single chance to try anything from class, instead I was crushed by all the beasts there. Tough rolls with good guys, be sure to check them out if you're ever in Sofia. 

The Twisted gang.

Battle Club Bulgaria

Another club I checked out was the Battle Club Bulgaria, which isn't a Jiu-Jitsu club or a place that any Globetrotters recommended. No, this is a Submission Wrestling club that my friend, Combat Wrestling Canada Champion and World Combat Wrestling Team Canada Captain, Matthew Kaiser set me up with by putting me in contact with the head coach and Team Bulgaria Captain Kamen Georgiev. Combat Wrestling is very new, only a few years old, so I haven't much experience with it, or Submission Wrestling (other than no-gi BJJ classes) for that matter. Even though a lot of my no-gi techniques are wrestling based techniques I've hardly been in wrestling classes, in fact I would say the classes I've had the pleasure of attending on this journey around the world are the only real wrestling classes I've had. I was very intrigued and a bit intimidated so this seemed like a great chance for an adventure. An adventure in being mangled that is.


The gym is quite a bit out of town, way more than Twisted which is just on the outskirts. This place is way out down a street that only one streetcar goes down, and not terribly often, so if I missed it I would have to deal with taxis, which is not an option for me. It also took a bit to find as the place is back from the road with an old rusted gate out front, making it look more like a haunted house than a combat gym. All part of the deception to the unknowing masses. Once I found the gym and walked in the only person there was a guy sitting out front smoking, after explaining to him what I was there for he assured me there would be class and pointed where to get changed. The gym has a main entrance with all sorts of posters and news articles of the club's achievements in various sports. When you move into the gym area you see there's a MMA cage as well as a boxing ring in the back with mat space and bags to hit on the main floor. From the articles out front killers were created here.


Apparently even with all the problems finding the right streetcar and the gym itself I still got there early. I got changed and started stretching out, Kamen showed up and introduced himself to me. He's a big solid guy and I knew from the start I was going to get ragged-dolled that night. But in a good way. Kamen asked me about my experiences in grappling in different styles and told me some of his achievements, which are many. Once we were done stretching Kamen had me enter the cage (yes, class was held in the cage) with him and start some light rolling from different positions to see where I was at. Basically he chose a position like turtle or bottom side and had me attack him for about 20-30 seconds before effortlessly sweeping and submitting me. I was in awe of the pure gentle power this guy has.   


As we rolled more people showed up and class begun, working drills like pummeling, arm drags and neck ties. Kamen worked with me for for a bit showing me some take downs he figured would be good for my game, like the low single. I worked in with two other guys for the rest of class working different drills then working take downs. We would have a round of working for advantage and going for a take down on each other, once we got to the ground it was done and we'd switch out. I was gassed and my ear was killing me by the time the went for full rolls so I just stood out and watched. These guys were all beasts who could roll at top aggression, while maintaining total control, for what seemed like forever. I was dumbfounded by it and realized just how small I really am compared to some beasts out there (as the picture shows I was the smallest guy there). Thank you Kamen for having me and thanks to your club for the great wrestling session.

The beasts that threw me around, with Kamen in the middle. 

Combat Wrestling, you must be wondering what it is I was talking about earlier. It's a new sport that combines the point system of wrestling for take downs and pins with the submissions of Jiu-Jitsu and other submission grappling styles. I truly believe in the next 10 years it's going to catch on and end up in the Olympics. I really like the idea of it and because of my friend is involved in it so deeply I watch along with it growing and evolving. Maybe I'll try my hand in it when I get home. For more information on the specifics of the sport and who's in charge in your area check out the Combat Wrestling website.

On the road again.

After another stop of making new friends, seeing a new city and learning a new grappling art it was time to head off to the next stop for more adventures. I was off to Macedonia, another country with rich history and solid grappling skills.

Until next time,
see you on the mats!
OSSS!!

WAYS TO SUPPORT PANDA'S ODYSSEY!
Sign up to the Panda's Odyssey Patreon Account.
Buy Panda's Odyssey Patches at The Gi Hive.
Buy a shirt at Panda's Jiu-Jitsu Store.
Follow me and other traveling Jiu-Jitsueros at the BJJ Globetrotters blog section.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my full photo albums for each article at my Flickr account.
Add me and follow along on most social media @pandasodyssey