Training with Escorrega and Urban Destruction - a top class blend of BJJ and Vale Tudo.
Escorrega seminar this Sunday at Bolton Wrestling Club
Whenever I'm at competitions or seminars and chatting to friends, I always ask them of their latest training escapades and at which academies they've been to; many are experiencing BJJ camps in Brazil, some training with the Vieira brothers and others at Gracie Barra. When talking about Barra, one instructor stands out from all the rest when these guys make their top choice of teacher Carlos Lemos Jr aka Escurrega. It's a tough choice to make when you have so many rated instructors to choose from in such an academy, yet his name cropped up again and again in my conversations and I was by now intrigued and wanted to learn more.
I'd had the pleasure of having one of his black belts teach at my academy in January, the mighty Lagarto, six feet six of submission power and as usual was expecting a like minded tap out machine and as ever, I was wrong - Carlos weighs in at a lithe 65 kilo and is of the same build as Braulio Estima's teacher, Ze Radiola.
Carlos is now in the UK, based in Gloucester, dividing his teaching time with the Trojan Gym in Cheltenham, home to Pride veteran, James â€˜The Colossus' Thompson and establishing the now thriving Gracie Barra Bristol academy. I took up the offer of his kind invitation to join him for a training weekend April 8-10th and as luck would have it, Trojan Gym instructor and MMA promoter Charlie Joseph was hosting the Urban Destruction event in Bristol, with Bristolian James Thompson headlining the bill.
I arrived in Gloucester on the Friday after a surprisingly jam free trip down the M5 and finally met Carlos face to face; once settled in we caught up with the usual training gossip and we made our way the forty miles to Bristol to train; being a Friday night the session well attended with over fifteen students, a mixture of whites and blues, many from Bristol and a few from South Wales thrown in for good measure. Carlos took the class through some very nifty takedowns, with quite an unusual tie up with the gi, something I'd never seen before and after a number of variations, it was time for sparring and after five 7 minute rounds, we managed to pick ourselves up and head for the showers.
Saturday was a chill out day and as the local rugby ground was on his doorstep, I took in the Heineken Cup match between Gloucester and Leeds Tykes and relived a sport of my youth, witnessing some great punch ups and crunching head butts, thankfully all on the pitch.
After a night on the tiles, we made our way down to Bristol once again to attend the Urban Destruction event, as Carlos was cornering a number of the Trojan fighters and I'd agreed to come out of MMA reporting retirement and cover the event for Charlie. It had been over two years since I attended a show and was anxious to see if the crowds were still there - I was not be disappointed, as I saw the biggest crowd ever, over 3000 people snaking their way round the leisure centre and I was extremely grateful of the VIP pass.
My usual plan of attack at these shows is to get in the way of the fighters as they prepare and try and get some back stage pix; however, just as I was warming up, I bumped into Combat editor and fight commentator Malcolm Martin and after a quick chat, I was cajoled into doing what I thought would be a one match commentary as a favour for him. I'd never done this before and was very nervous and overcoming a nasty flu virus so my dulcet Northern tones weren't exactly top notch.
Cometh the hour cometh the commentator. Malcolm guided me through the first fight which saw Trojan fighter Matt Sellars win with a first round guillotine and after that I was hooked and ended up commentating the rest of the matches, save the Thai fights with Pele Reid on mike and one fight Marc Woodard did the honours with. This was a night for the guillotine with no less than four matches ended up with the submission and only two matches going to the second and third rounds respectively.
As soon as you get the mike in your hand you think you know it all and I'm off name dropping and coming out with predictions on tough fighters and, yep, they all came out wrong and all ended in the first round! Gideon Ackermanns, a Remco Pardoel student tapped to a guillotine and Paul Sutherland sadly bowed out to a knee injury and Gary Howe tapped to the technique of the night. So when you buy the DVD and you hear some snot nosed Northern monkey making all the wrong predictions - c'est moi.
The Colossus came out with a posse of Trojan warriors in full combat gear and proceeded to make mincemeat of his opponent in the first round by G+P from the mount that sent the home crowd into frenzy and brought the curtain down on a night of fast finishes and quite a few surprises. Full marks for Charlie Joseph in filling the Bristol arena with a record crowd and the usual back stage crew of helpers that made the event run as smooth as possible.
All that remained was to head back to Gloucester, pick up my car and speed on back up the empty motorways back to the centre of Everything, Bolton and get my head down for a well earned sleep and rest the old vocal cords. Quite a weekend with all the best ingredients - BJJ, beer, more BJJ, Rugby fisticuffs, MMA mayhem and guillotines.
See you on the mats.
Jason Cutbill bt Wilco Odinot points (Thai)
Shelley Wilson bt Cherie Buck points (Thai)
Kenny Baker bt Neil Rennicks guillotine rd 1
Matt Sellars bt Steve Cunningham guillotine rd 1
Trevor Smandych v Murthel Groenhart majority draw
Ronni Mann bt Gary Howe guillotine rd 1
Kharim Stavron bt Clive Moore guillotine rd 2
Scott Clark bt Damon Hood unanimous decision (Thai)
Roodi Troost bt Mike Clifton rear choke rd 1
Dave van Gasse bt Gideon Ackermans guillotine rd 1
Sergai Kirieliug bt Paul Sutherland injured opponent
Paul Jenkins bt Sami Berik rear choke rd 1
Paul Taylor bt Zelg ref stoppage rd 3
James Thompson bt Nikolajus Cilkinas G+P from mount rd 1