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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Seminars and Camps!

Hitting up Seminars and Camps Everywhere!

I know I'm way behind on my blog keeping you updated on my adventures and travels through Europe (Rome was my last post and that was from end of May) but I Just got back from my first BJJ Globetrotters camp and decided I have to cover it now. I've also added the seminars I've attended recently since there's a few of those too. I have a pretty big and awesome camp coming up in a month that has me traveling to San Diego and meeting my friend (and maybe long lost brother) Luke and a few members from his club from Perth Australia. I want to write about the whole adventure, and the shenanigans we'll be sure to get into, separately so it's no better time to cover the other seminars and camp than now!

Keith Owen Seminar In London UK (2 June '17)

This is the first seminar I made it to while on this Odyssey. I changed my plans to make sure I could make it and even tried to show up as a surprise (I think it worked too!). Prof. Keith Owen, or Mr. Keith as we all call him, is our head black belt. He's a 3 degree black belt under Master Pedro Sauer, he's the coach of my coach Ari and I earned my blue belt from him so there's a lot respect I pay to him. I always love attending his seminars as there's always something I learn that I take with me, not just a technique but lessons in life. Mr Keith is always dropping knowledge bombs and helping you be a better person both on and off the mats.

The seminar was put on by Team Pedro Sauer UK and was held in a gymnasium in a small town about an hour east of London. I had been in talks with Robin, the coach of the club that lead putting together the seminar, about trying to show up undetected by Mr Keith and all the schematics about how to get to and from the seminar itself. I was looking forward to meeting Robin and the club, being fellow affiliates of the same Jiu-Jitsu lineage it's almost like you're meeting relatives for the first time. I was not disappointed. When I showed up Robin and his group, and of course Mr Keith, were all happy to welcome me and within minutes it was like I was always a part of the club.

During the seminar Mr Keith went over a few techniques from a favourite position of mine, 'S' mount. There was no fancy techniques or 'new moves' that Mr. Keith was teaching but the small details he showed for securing the position and locking in the arm bars were the key. I always say you could watch 100 people do an arm bar and learn something from each one and in this case you could learn a lot, with all the little details. There all kinds of little things that I have since written down in my head and keep bringing up when rolling.

It was a great seminar and also a great excuse to fly back to London, see Mr Keith (we've met in 3 countries now) and make new friends like Halldór, a fellow Keith Owen fan who came from Iceland. I also got to hangout with friends I made from my first time visiting London as I was staying at Ellie's (also maybe a long lost relative) and it was her birthday so she threw a huge party with a lot of the guys I had met from Wave BJJ attending. It was a quick but awesome 2 day trip and well worth it for the knowledge gained. I left back for Hamburg to finish my visit with Ana and Nexus Fighter Academy feeling motivated to continue to evolve my game, exhausted from the lack of sleep over the weekend but motivated all the same.            

Nicolas Gregoriades Seminar In Berlin Germany (8 June '17)

The next seminar was totally unexpected and also only a week or so after Mr Keith's. I made my way to Hilti BJJ in Berlin and met Frank, who's an awesome guy that everyone making a Germany trip must drop by and visit, when he dropped the surprise (to me) that Nic Gregoriades from the Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood would be doing a seminar the day after next. I haven't followed Nic very much but I had read some of his Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood posts and liked what I saw so I was really interested to meet him and see what sort of seminar he would be doing.

There was a good turnout and I met quite a few new people visiting for the seminar that I hadn't seen in class before, I made sure to train with a few different people, like I usually do when I attend seminars. This is something I think should be pushed as to meet more people and make new friends. It's great having your favourite training partner and going to seminars together but at the same time only sticking to each other is the Jiu-Jitsu equivalent of going to a party and only hanging out by snack table. Anyways, this seminar was a happy surprise, not only did I get to meet more of the club and Jiu-Jitsu scene in Berlin and meet Nic Gergoriades but also picked up some great mind blowing techniques.
I'm not going to give away what Nic taught us but I will say he started out his seminar by saying "If everyone knew these 3 things I'm about to show you then I would be done teaching Jiu-Jitsu" and after training those 3 things I must say he is correct! The key concepts we practiced I constantly keep in my mind when rolling and it's greatly improved my control and different positions on my opponents. Actually when paired with the concepts Mr. Keith showed us and applied to all the techniques I have learned and am learning as I travel completely changes my game and even makes learning new techniques easier.

Nicolas Gregoriades himself was a great guy to meet, really relaxed and approachable. Obviously I didn't have a lot of time to talk with him, but we did chat a bit while getting some pictures together. I told him about the Odyssey and my plan to head down to Australia and he offered to help point me in then right direction, which would be awesome. I hope I get to meet up with him again and attend some classes. I really like the conceptual training he teaches and would love to do more classes on it and really get to learn them more thoroughly. Also, one day I would love to see Nic and Mr Keith do a seminar together. I think the two of them would make a great seminar together!  

BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp In Heidelberg Germany (21-27 August '17)

Very early in the Odyssey I decided I needed to make it to a BJJ Globetrotters camp and finally meet all the awesome people I have been talking to online since the start of the this whole idea, almost 4 years ago now. The problem was finding the right one that wasn't too much out of the way to make it to and that I could afford on my budget. Up until now the second part has been more the problem as I don't mind flying across the world on adventures. Canada is horrible for flight prices so unless I wanted to spend three times the price of the camp itself just to get there and back I could never make it to a camp, but now that I'm in Europe it's a different story. I picked a camp to go to, bought the ticket and made plans so that I wouldn't be too far away before so flights would be cheap. When I left Canada it was one of the few things I knew I would be doing: visiting UK in March, Morocco in May, Russia in July and my first Globetrotters camp in August.

I was really looking forward to seeing old friends I had made on the road (especially all my friends I made in Heidelberg when I was there a month earlier) and finally meeting those I've only ever talked to online. One thing I haven't really thought about was the people who came up to introduce themselves and tell me they've been following my blog. I mean obviously I have people reading it and wish I had more but up until I walked into the gym and had the first person come up and say "Hey, you're Robert Barker right? You're traveling and write the Odyssey blog right?" I was purely looking at the camp as big milestone to check off, giddy to finally attend one. I was really quite excited to walk in and see the huge Globetrotters Fall Camp banner, about 100 people on the mats and Christian Graugart himself running things behind the desk.

The Globetrotters camp has got to be the best Jiu-Jitsu camp to go be part of, to my knowledge. Not only is it a camp so full of training that if you make it through all the classes you are such a certifiable beast there is a patch for it, but also the socializing and social activities going on make it impossible to attend everything. 10-12 hrs of classes and open mat sessions a day, sight seeing activities in the morning and partying in the evening until the wee hours of the morning. This goes on every day and every night, some people are morning people and start the day off with yoga and the morning classes, some wait until after noon to jump into classes, others are just socializing and are there for partying and the evening open mat. Basically there's social groups for everyone there.

I knew there would be a lot of classes and also a lot of socializing and I'd have to make sure to be a part of it as much as possible to really get the full effect out of this camp, but I would really have to pace myself. Luckily I've quit my partying ways or I (and my bank account) would never be able to make it out alive by the end of the week. I remember thinking 'what am I going to do when I'm sitting out of classes? I'll be so bored not training' which is laughable because in actual fact is was more 'oh it's time for that class already? Shit I'm still really tired!' between hanging out with all my new friends and making trips into town with people my days basically started at 8am and didn't stop until at least 10pm. An easy relaxing night was sitting in the lobby, I was staying at the sports hall dorm with a bunch of other campers, and having all sorts of great conversations with everyone until midnight. And the camp final party, well let's just say I didn't sleep until I got to my hotel in Hamburg the next day. I can easily say I've never have so much fun doing Jiu-Jitsu and never have I made so many friends all at once.

The camp isn't all partying, let's not let the evening fun overshadow the daytime fun. Between the various open mat sessions and all the classes throughout the day there was more than enough time to not only learn all sorts of great techniques for your game but also practice them with willing people. I lost count of how many times people I rolled with attempting, some succeeding others not, techniques we just studied that day, or earlier that week. Also, with about 2 dozen different instructors each teaching their own styles different from each other, you could pick which classes would be better for you to attend and when would be a good time to rest. No matter what your skill level was or what your game style was there was definitely something for everyone each day. There are a few gems I took with me from the camp, and new instructors I now want to visit and learn more from.

After the camp a lot of people posted to the Facebook group about the 'post camp blues' which I thought was great. It's actually something I have a problem with a lot, accepting the good times are over (for now). I quietly left the party on the last night without any big good-byes because I really hated having to say good-bye to all the awesome people I met and admit the best camp I've been to was over. I had this same problem with my sails in the Navy, even if the deployment was shit it was still more fun being on ship with friends than going back to an empty apartment while everyone else got to see their families. So I know all too well about the post event blues and seeing that I was not alone in this feeling just cemented more how I've found my place in life and am in good company. It also shows you how deeply these camps that Christian puts on touch everyone that attends them. Of course now I'm hooked and have to figure out how I can go back to another!

Interview With Christian Graugart! 

One of the many joys and highlights of the BJJ Globetrotter camp was getting to sit down with Chirstian Graugart and do an interview with him. Christian has been a role model to me ever since I was referred to his book by a teammate. For those who don't know Christian's story (you can read his book here) he traveled around the world training Jiu-Jitsu like 10 years ago, before Facebook, Reddit or the huge awesome community that now exists or even social media. In fact the community that I mainly use to plan out the Odyssey and that hundreds of people use daily to plan out their own trips and vacations was created by Christian and the trip he did, working off of sports chat sites. From this trip he created the Globetrotters banner for people without affiliations to use to be able to compete in IBJJF competitions and of course the camps. Without giving too much more away here's our conversation we finally had after working around the busy camp schedule to find time.

It's crazy to think how all this came together without any grand plan and just going with the flow, it was definitely meant to be! Christian is a great guy and so humble, I swear stress just doesn't exist with him and talking to him and being around him and his camp you can see there's no room for stress for any of the other campers either!

I hope my experiences at these seminars and the BJJ Globetrotter camp inspire you to make it out to more seminars or take the plunge and attend your first camp!
I promise I'll get back on track with my travel blog shortly, with the next article being on my visit to Switzerland.

Until next time,
see you on the mats!

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