Aside from all the notes I took during the camp, I’d like to reflect a little on the overall experience I had.
Most common question by far: who was your favorite teacher / what is the most important thing you learned? Short answer is there were simply too many great things to pick just one. In no particular order:
Daniel Bertina did the morning classes and they were awesome. Every morning I felt like not attending his class because I was sleepy, sore, and still stuffed with my breakfast. Every morning his warm up was gentle enough to not make me puke all over the place, but complete enough to set me up for the day. He simply solved the helplessness problem I’ve had from early on with bottom side control. I remember his stuff fairly well which is, for me, the mark of a great teacher.
I only attended one of Daniel Marques’s classes, sadly. The lesson was ok, I thought. But I’m actually having relative success with his turtle defense now so it was probably better than just ok. Aside from his teaching, he is a super friendly person and I wish I had spent more time getting to know him. Rolling with him was a very interesting experience.
Oli Geddes has the preciseness of a surgeon and the down to earth attitude of a random guy in the gym when he teaches. He checked up every group and always had good answers to provide. Every single one of his classes was a blow. I think I’m using everything he taught us.
Again, I only did one of Christian Graugarts classes. We joked about how his lessons can be summarized in one simple sentence; easy things to take away, but with great results.
Kari Gunnarsson is a cool guy and really knows his shit, but it was a nogi lesson and I’m just less drawn to that. I remember what he taught us well but haven’t really used it yet.
Taking lessons from David George, a DLR black belt, was very funny in the sense that his moves were incredibly similar to those of David Pierre-Louis. Same cleaness, same spot on explanations but with a touch of british humor. His set of DLR attacks was interesting but his class on leg locks is what stuck with me most, as it was my first real lesson on the matter.
Ingthor Vladimarsson taught one BJJ class that I attended, but while interesting I wasn’t quite as blown away as with most other coaches. He however easily wins the Best Playlist Prize. I heard lots of great things about Eric Bydairk’s wrestling classes, but they were sequential and I was on the plane during the first one so I rested during his classes. I’ll learn wrestling next time.
Answering the initial question, I may actually have a favorite teacher. Aside from his smooth introductions to the day and very usefull techniques, it struck me how Daniel Bertina was always very realistic during his classes. He wasn’t selling snake oil; when something may not work, he’d point it out.
This will be a fight.
Your opponent is not asleep
Those were just some of the things he told us a couple of times.
Going into the camp, I was very curious to see if I enjoy jiu-jitsu enough to do it fulltime without getting bored. I’ve been on one skateboarding & one tennis holiday before and fell out of love with both sports during those.
I was at the Grøndal Center — a massive sports facility where the CSA.dk gym is located — from 9AM to 7PM most days, training five to six hours and hanging around the rest of the time. Even my previous sports vacations weren’t that immersive.
By the last class of the second day, I could already feel how my brain was overloading. Without a lot of focus, words went in one ear and straight out the other. On the third morning another problem started: I felt sore all over the place, my knees and elbows kindly warning me that I’d better take it easy.
And so I did. I dialed back the intensity during rolls quite a bit and started taking naps in between classes. To ease up my brain, I also avoided jiu-jitsu outside of classes. I didn’t spar, almost never attended a class as an observer, didn’t drill, didn’t even talk much BJJ. I’d either sleep, eat, read or play chess.
This worked out pretty well; the soreness increased from day to day but was still bearable at the end and while I did reach information overload on the last day of the camp I think I maintained enough focus to retain a lot of what I saw. More importantly, I did not fall out of love with bjj. When going home at night I caught myself once or twice thinking that I’d rather do something else now, which was fine since the day was over. Aside from that, some sort of routine kicked in during the middle of the week and it just felt natural to go out and train every day. Back home, I enjoyed a break for a couple of days but after the fourth day without training I was seriously missing it.
Of course it was extremely pleasant to be surounded by jiu-jitsu people. I basicaly had a new training partner each class, and (almost) each one was super friendly and great to work with. That being said…
If there was a little let down for me, it was the socializing part. I’ve learned the hard way — long hikes alone in the wilderness — that the best part of traveling is meeting people. And that comes from someone pretty introverted who enjoys the quiteness of solitude. On the other sports holiday I went, the training was maybe half of the time tops, leaving plenty of room to have drinks and chats with people, getting to know them and building some very awesome memories.
I admitedly missed the “speed dating” on the first day but I don’t believe it would have changed much. The schedule was so tightly packed that everyone was sore from day two; and then having people accomodated in a range of different locations made gatherings even harder. So while I had some nice chats on the mats or in the cafeteria it lacked the bonding experience that would have taken the rest of the trip to the next level. It’s even more of a bummer because, well, bjj people are usually awesome to hang out with.
That being said, we are all jiu-jitsu geeks who came to train and the high intensity focus that came from the way the camp was designed was very enjoyable. Like I said, the atmosphere was great, I’d just wish I had had more opportunities to get to know the people there.
The bonding opportunities came later in the week; we made one trip out in Christiana for the 43th birthday which was pretty nice, and there was the closing party. Now the party was a nightclub type of party: great avenue but very loud and bad music, shitty drinks and no escape. Especially no escape because it was really cold, so going outside wasn’t too much of an option. Again, I know lots of people enjoy this kind of parties and I can even tolerate having ice cubes in my beer (seriously?), but it wasn’t the way I like spending evenings. A quiter & warmer space for hipsters like myself — who just like to sit around and talk to people while sipping on a nice drink — would be perfect next time.
I did however really enjoy sharing a flat with Florian & Marie-Laure. Holiday with friends is usually (for me at least) when people either upgrade to “really good friends” or drop to “cool folks but keep some distance”. I’m happy to report that I didn’t want to kill anyone at the end of the week, and as far as I can tell the feeling was mutual. And chatting with friends in an appartment with gis hanged up to dry everywhere felt completely right.
Often times, the things you find on the journey are more enjoyable than the goal you set out for. As a result I try not to be blinded by my destination but be aware of the pleasures I might find on the way there. But this trip was different; I went to Copenhagen do train jiu-jitsu, and that’s exactly what I did. The things around were… well, things around.
Does it mean I enjoyed it more or less than other travels? I’m not sure. In a couple of years I may have only few memories of special moments from this trip left. But I was also quite affected when I went home. I already had a routine going after a week and stepping away from it, back into a not-so-great job, felt wrong.
Which may be the most interesting thing I’ve learned from this trip; I love jiu-jitsu enough to do it full time without getting bored. I’m still in the process of figuring out how much space exactly BJJ needs in my life and it seems like it may be more then what an unrelated full time job allows.