I’ve mentioned more than once that this year is very much about BJJ adventures rather than just competitions. So, when I had some spare annual leave left at the end of the year it made sense to pack my bags and take a short break to London with my hubby to enjoy Polaris and some mat time!New School BJJ
First stop on our tour was New School BJJ Now, I wrote about visiting New School a couple of years ago so I am not going to got too in-depth on the school again. But, yet again New School was a great gym to visit thanks to its mixture of location (Battersea), great facilities and top class teaching.
Unfortunately yet again I missed the opportunity to roll with the fabulous Leoni (but for the very good reason as she was on the Polaris card the next night!) but I did manage to catch the Thursday night class taught by my old coach (and Eddie Kone black belt) Liam Wandi.
The class was a fundamental session and followed Liam’s lovely teaching style of solid technical details through a progression of positions (in this case grip fighting into a takedown then breaking the closed guard before passing and securing the mount). The session ended with rolling and as always it was a pleasure to roll with both Liam and Stuart (Forrester) who I met during my last visit.
Friday was an open mat session which gave me an opportunity to catch up with my weekly drilling routine with my hubby as well as more rolls and technical tips with Stuart and a lovely masters black belt who’s name alluded me (and he isn’t on Facebook!)! In either case I had a great time during both of my sessions and I promise not to leave it so long between visits next time!
Carpe Diem BJJ
Saturday we took the opportunity to visit one of the newest gyms in London Carp Diem. The gym is literally round the corner from Borough tube stop and a short walk from the famous Borough Markets. It was still in its pre-opening phase and there was still lots of work being done on the venue when we popped in. However, it was instantly clear that this will be a high quality venue when fully open (full classes started this week). In terms of the space the most important part was finished – a beautifully clean and suitably cushioned black matted training space (what more does a minion need!). The changing rooms weren’t finished yet but they instantly found me an appropriate and separate space to change. It’s only a small detail but their reaction left me in no doubt that this will be a female friendly gym when fully functioning.
We attended Saturdays all belts class and had the pleasure of being taught by Tsuyoshi Tamaki, the class covered a lovely sweep and X guard set-up from your opponent being in combat base / threatening the knee slice. We only covered three techniques but there were multiple layers of technical detail. I took two pieces of gold simply from the basic setup that I’m going to try and utilise. This was followed by rolling and Tsuyoshi was more than generous with his time and ensured that both hubby and myself got the opportunity to roll with him at the end of the session. A genuine pleasure and opportunity that I hope I’ll be able to repeat in the future.
After a quick change and food it was time to head over to the O2 Arena for Polaris. By the time of publishing this blog you probably will know all the results but a few thoughts from an attendee (especially for anyone who hasn’t made the journey to the live event).
Other than being #teamleoni we were pretty neutural supporters. We got standard tickets online. If you are concerned about not being able to afford top-tier tickets to attend then really don’t worry. The seating was pretty good everywhere. The athletes walk through the crowd, the stage is raised and there are screens around the venue. Admittedly you may get a sore neck (and possibly a falling athlete) from watching right near the stage but there really isn’t any must avoid seats. Plus by being the O2 Indigo you have the location benefits of London and the O2 with quite a smallish venue so you don’t lose any atmosphere (and still can get a drink at the bar without major queues!).
The card as you will have seen had some great matches on it which obviously helps. Plus I do really like the Polaris rule set as there is always a winner (no draws) and the judging criteria does limit stalling or defensive tactics (even through technical 50/50 position battles!). The event overall had a great professional feeling and production. Watching the Facebook stream (which is still available) confirmed this. I would definitely make the effort to travel to a future event and recommend it to other grappling fans. Especially when AJ Agazam finally gets to fight Lloyd Cooper again (no-gi, all submission rules please)!
I returned home on Sunday a very tired minion after some great training, a bit of tourist time and after watching a great night of Jiu Jitsu. London is full of BJJ and I definitely want to return to New School and Carpe Diem. I’d recommend anyone looking for a weekend away to consider a trip to the capital for some jits, giggles and adventures or just to squeeze in a trip to any of the capitals gyms if you end up passing through!
Photo Credit – Attack the Back