Carlos Gracie UK seminar report

It was time for the UK to host the main man himself from Gracie Barra, Carlos Gracie Jr, for a week of seminars and teaching classes.Fresh after the success of the Europeans in Portugal, with yet another stellar performance by Gracie Barra stand outs Lucio ‘Lagarto’ Rodrigues and Braulio Estima, taking gold, silver and bronze medals between them, it was time for the UK to host the main man himself from Gracie Barra, Carlos Gracie Jr, for a week of seminars and teaching classes at his nephew’s, Roger Gracie’s academy in London.

In the previous years, Roger’s has been the only location for Carlos’s seminar and such has been the growth of BJJ in the UK, it was deemed necessary for another venue to be added to his schedule, otherwise, the streets of London themselves, together with Roger’s academy, would have been put to use to accommodate everyone.

Step forward Martin Cope of Eclipse Martial Arts Academy of Walsall, West Midlands, who provided Carlos with an ultra modern up to the minute academy to host the seminar; the seminar was attended by over 100 students representing Gracie Barra clubs from Birmingham, Swansea, Brierfield, Sheffield, Oldham, Milton Keynes, Derby, Oxford and even as far afield as Sweden.

For many, this was their first experience of teaching from as close to the Gracie source as possible, with not one but two genuine Gracie family members in the shape of Carlos and Roger and if that wasn’t enough, black belts Papa John, Braulio Estima, Ben Poppleton and Keiko were also on hand throughout the day to lend assistance throughout the afternoon. For others, the seminar was a chance to catch up with old friends and make a number of new ones come the end of the day.

After receiving a huge round of applause, Carlos thanked everyone for attending and gave a quick history of his father and how he came to carry the legacy on from his father and his vision for the growth of jiu jitsu in the UK and across the world; from then it was straight into techniques and starting with takedowns, Carlos demonstrated a number of neat takedowns on Braulio.

Splitting the white belts away from the blues, purples and browns, there was just enough room in both training rooms to train without ending up on top of the next pair of trainees and with blazing sun shine streaming into the dojo, the class soon warmed up with the techniques.

Once the takedowns were covered, guard passing was given the Carlos treatment, with Carlos going into minute detail on setting up the pass, which opened everyone’s eyes on one of the cornerstones of jiu jitsu; even after years of training amongst us, many on the course admitted that these little points would seriously improve their game and was worth the entrance price alone for such information.

After a short break it was back to matters on the mat and attacks from the guard rounded off the afternoon, working a number of submissions from this position, much to the pleasure of Braulio’s students, watching him suffer at the hands of his master, as opposed to the other way round for a change.

As ever, time was once again the enemy and all that was left was a group photo and individual and group photos with Carlos and all the other black belts and yet another momentous occasion on the Gracie Barra calendar had been and gone in the blink of an eye.

With the ever expanding growth of BJJ in the UK, across all associations that operate within the UK, things are getting to the stage that when a head of an Association comes to the UK, they are not just settling in London to take seminars, which often means many clubs are unable to attend, given the terrible travel infrastructure this country is saddled with; the fruits of instructors before them, who have travelled up and down the UK, planting the seeds of jiu jitsu, are beginning to flower and expand to the point that more than one venue is needed to satisfy the demands of the clubs and it is hoped that next year, the Gracie Barra seminar trail will head on up to the dizzying heights of the North, past Birmingham and into unchartered territories and give one roving reporter a break from travelling long distances for at least one weekend out of fifty two!

Until next time – see you on the mats!

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Carl Fisher