I had such a great vacation. I now have a plan:

  • Summer in Brazil in 2013. Train BJJ as much as possible.
  • Summer in Ukraine in 2014. Train sambo as much as possible. Also do BJJ, but focus on Sambo.

No no no, this is sambA, not sambO!

What I saw of sambo was very cool. I’ll admit I only saw a taste of it, but from what I saw it was pretty awesome and would definitely help anyone’s BJJ game. It started from standup and people did take-down drills. They allow leg locks and ankle locks but no chokes. The woman who taught the class is a world champion! The really cool thing: she said she saw a lot of potential in me 🙂 BUT, I have no desire to totally switch gears. The sambo thing would be to help me with my BJJ game. Plus, did I mention that the sambo classes are less than $6 per month? Yeah. BARGAIN!

Now THIS is sambo

Now THIS is sambo

Lena’s classes are very rigorous–even by Soviet standards :). While I was there she gave me very individual attention as the rest of the class went through their drills and I was looking very boggle eyed o_O wondering what they were doing. She spoke Ukrainian, so I didn’t understand anything she said, but thankfully body language counts for a lot in a class like this. She had me paired with a young guy who had been doing Sambo for around a year. He couldn’t do any floor grappling, so we just did take down work.  I’d only ever trained with one take down, so it was like learning Spanish for three months and then going to a Portuguese class.

There were a few things I noticed that BJJ helped me with: first, I look for what he’s trying to do and then not let him do that :). If he’s trying to grab my arm I don’t want him to take it. If he’s trying to pull me up, sit my weight further down. I went into a default almost-horse position, with my full 92 kilos weighted into my butt/legs. Because of that he had a harder time pulling me off balance. It’s always nice when being heavy can work in your favor. I was able to directly pull him into guard once, and once I even was able to get an impromptu throw! It would be really exciting to be able to use some of this in my BJJ game down the road. My school almost strictly trains from the ground, only practicing standing techniques before a tournament. Learning good take-down techniques is something I will definitely want to focus on in the future.

BJJ is often compared to a chess game. Right now I’m collecting pieces and trying to remember that the bishop moves diagonally and that the rooks move straight, and I’m starting to see when someone is moving in a position to checkmate me :). Having a summer to work on my opening moves is an awesome plan–after I figure out what all these pieces do. So there you have it: my game plan.

Oooh…I just found out there is sambo in Korea! No no no, not changing my focus from BJJ to sambo, I promise!