After a lengthy detour I'm back to telling my adventures of traveling the world once again. When I last left off, before the BJJ Globetrotters camp reviews, I had met up with the Free Rollers in San Diego for a week of training and shenanigans. I followed them back to Perth Australia and we all met up at the airport. The coincidental timing that everyone got in at was uncanny, Andy got in during the day and had enough time to get home and shower and rest up before coming back and picking up Luke and myself who got in at roughly the same time but on different flights. I was tired from the long flight over but excited to finally be here in 'The Land Down Under' and I was really looking forward to training at the home gym to all the guys I just hung with in San Diego.
|The guys from left to right, Zack, Reece, Charlie, Luke, Andy and myself. Xande in the middle of course.|
Originally I was supposed to stay with Luke, who runs Free Rollers and put together the whole trip to San Diego (Which he's doing it again next year in March!), but he suddenly got called into work while we were flying to Perth so I was left still trying to plan out where I'd be staying on the way there. Andy, being a stand up guy despite what all the others say, offered me a room to crash in at his place until he had to take off for work in a few days. That was awesome, a few days was all I needed to sort out things out. As it happens it ended up being a bit of bad time for everyone so I was only staying a night or two at each place. Andy's for a few, Reece and Sharaine's for a few, then Christy's, who I had just met, but more on that later. The important part is I was finally in Australia and ready to fight a kangaroo (Didn't happen and no kangaroos were harmed in the making of these adventures).
I got out to see a lot of Perth and the surrounding area, thanks Andy and Sharaine for the drives and pointing out different areas, I got no photos of these trips and actually I'm lacking pics for a lot of this visit. One thing I do have pics of is the food I ate. During my short stay with Reece and Sharaine it was decided that since Reece was out at work Sharaine was going to show me around and have me try all the quintessential 'Australian Things' or Australian foods anyways, I had already mastered the art of wearing no socks at any time and scandals, or 'pluggers', whenever I could so I was only a mullet short of being an honorary Perthian. During my time living in Toronto I played in an AFL league and so was introduced to the greatness that is Tim Tams and salted licorice, separate of course not together, but there's tons of other candies and foods in Australia that I had never heard of before and still I haven't tried even after this trip (Fairy Bread, seriously 'straya WTF?!').
With Sharaine's help I tried out whatever I could, I had the Rocky Road Bark and Australian Licorice Allsorts, which were quite big compared to what I was used to, and she introduced me to the Golden Gaytime, which was Ok but no ice cream sandwich in my opinion. One day I tried Vegemite, did not enjoy it one bit. I also went to Hungry Jacks, the Australian Burger King which was much better than that shit toast spread but just not as good as the original back home. The all time most Australian thing I did was get sausages, or snags as they call them, at Bunning's Warehouse where every weekend they sell their 'Bunning's Snags' for charity, called a Sausage Sizzle. All in all I'd say trying these foods was a cracka of a time! (did I say that right?)
|Call it what you want, I'm always down for BBQ!|
After training with the lads in San Diego for a week it was time to meet the rest of their club, and watch them try some of the techniques we picked up, and fail. As it happens all the real Alphas stayed back and waited for us at their home gym of Gemina MMA (inside joke from the trip). The gym, one of a few locations under the Gemina and Legion XIII banner, is in a warehouse space with room for a big matted space in red and black mats and a kickboxing ring in the front. First night of classes I showed up with Andy and met up with Charlie but Reece and Luke were away with work and Zack was apparently out injured from San Diego but still around to teach the kids. I can't remember the order the classes I attended while training there but one night I met both Aaron, who's the owner, BJJ black belt and Muay Thai coach, and Josephine, also a black belt and I believe the head BJJ instructor. They were both really friendly and helpful and happy to have me visiting, I felt very welcome there despite most the guys I knew not being there.
I remember having a gi class where we worked attacks from different positions. I had a smaller partner and I tried going really light with the attacks from top position and not crushing them but half the movements were new to me so it just ended up being kind of awkward for most the class. I also remember a no gi class where I just couldn't get the movement from guard pass to hip control down and Josephine was really patient trying to help me get the concept and technique working. To be honest after the week in San Diego and the long flight to Perth I was quite tired and jet lagged and learning just wasn't working for me that week. I'm thankful everyone was helpful as I fumbled through classes. At least the rolls were fun. I guess that's part of traveling, sometimes you just have off days. I know I've had many, in fact since being back home now there's been weeks where I just rest and don't bother training at all. I didn't really have that luxury moving around at the pace I was so I just had to try and work through it and get back into the swing of things on the mats. I think I did quite well all things considered.
There was a guy whose name I forget, a blue belt, who was an absolute beast. I watched him destroy everyone before having a roll with him. I met the same fate as everyone else but the funny part was afterwards when he was very humble and shy asking me, with my traveling experience seeing world class athletes, asking me how he did and if he were to compete in a larger platform like the Australian Open or Worlds how do I think he would do. I have never met such a humble person with so much gifted ability, I'l have to check in on him once in a while because I'm sure he'll go far. I had a blast training with everyone in both the gi and no gi classes, I'll definitely have to come back and next time do it while Luke is actually home to visit. Thanks again guys for having me!
Wilkes Martial Arts
Although I don't have much for notes for this visit I will say though that it was great getting out and training no-gi with another gym. With the exception of visiting 10th Planet it was all gi training in San Diego. I am more of a gi person for training and competing and was almost completely just gi when I first started traveling. In fact any time I hit a no-gi class while traveling across Canada I would usually get the comment of "you train mostly gi, right?" after a roll because of how I moved and reacted, and usually paused and thought 'no grips now what?' I wasn't horrible in no-gi but definitely wasn't very comfortable and actually probably wouldn't have agreed to coming to this class if this was two years ago, or at least feel very anxious about it. As the Odyssey has gone on I have trained more and more in no-gi and maybe even have trained more in no-gi overall, given all the other grappling styles I've tried don't wear a gi. Anyways, being able to roll with the killers that were at Wilkes and be able at least hold my own and defend or understand where I'm getting caught was a moment of clarity in seeing the progression I at times thought maybe I wasn't making while traveling. Progression while traveling, that is another topic to cover another time.
Australian Hospitality and a Small World
Luke has been one of if not the first person to reach out to me when I first started posting about my plans to travel the world. Since then we've pretty much become brothers online and had a great time hanging out together in San Diego. I was a real shame he suddenly got called into work and wasn't around while I visited. Of course with previous plans to stay at his place it now meant I needed to find a new place to stay during the visit. As mentioned before this ended up being a bit of trouble as it seemed to be bad timing for everyone all around. Most other places I would have ended up staying at a last minute and overpriced hostel or hotel and going way over my budget for it. That doesn't seem to be the Australian way to let that happen to a guest like me. Instead the guys who I had just met a week ago were there to help me out without any hesitation.
|Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of hanging out with the gym guys or the party at Chirsty's, so here more training pics.|
I met Christy while training at Gemina, a very deadly student and good friends with the guys from the San Diego trip. She was awesome to train with and I was pretty much on the defense most the time rolling with her. After class one night a few of us went out for food, Josephine and Christy joined us and Charlie, Andy and I told them all sorts of stories about San Diego, I had a few from my own travels as well. As I mentioned I could only stay at Andy's for two nights before he had to take off for work, and with Charlie already busy working and Luke away that left Reece and Sharaine who gracefully left me stay for another few days at their place. The problem was I had one more day I needed a place to stay at before my flight to Adelaide and I was running out of options. We had only just met a few nights before but when she overheard the problem Christy offered me her spare room no problem. Christy is a hell of a good person, it saved me from looking for a last minute, and really expensive, room downtown and also meant I would be at her birthday party.
The birthday party, I knew about it and was ready for it even though I had an early morning the next day to catch my flight off to the next destination, any chance to socialize is worth taking after all. I got to Christy's early before the party started and hung out while she put the final things into place and got ready for her guests. As the night went on more and more people showed up and I tried to talk with everyone to introduce myself and meet them. I found out that not only is Christy in the Navy but the majority of their guests were too, being former Navy myself that gave me a great ice breaker with everyone. As we were talking I noticed the popular drink with everyone was the Canadian Club and Ginger Ale pre-mixed drinks, as we call them 'C.C & Ginger' back home. That somehow moved the conversation of them talking about drinking these drinks with a Canadian Navy ship while it was in town, and not just any ship but my old ship, the HMCS Ottawa! Imagine my surprise learning these newly made friends had partied with my old shipmates, and my jealously when reminded that I missed that amazing sail because I was on course that summer. Such a small world, always running into people and connections where I least expect it. Anyways, it was an awesome last night in Perth, Christy threw a great party, had a wonderful birthday and I was off early the next morning. I totally owe her, and the rest of the guys, one for helping me out at such a last minute problem.
And while everyone slept off their hangovers or were away working I quietly left Perth and headed for the next destination in Australia: Adelaide, or as the locals in Perth say 'Why the hell are you going there?!'
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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