Lagarto in the UK

Gracie Barra UK continues its mission of providing the UK with some of the top BJJ names from Brazil and the latest sensation, Lagarto, paid his first trip to the UK in January 2005Lagarto in the UK seminar overviews from the Fighting Photographer.

Gracie Barra UK continues its mission of providing the UK with some of the top BJJ names from Brazil and the latest sensation, Lagarto, paid his first trip to the UK in January 2005; after taking gold in the Europeans in Portugal, Lagarto flew into the UK to conduct a number of seminars and meet up with his Brazilian team mates Roger Gracie and Braulio Estima.

Lagarto kicked things off with a number of classes and seminars at Stockton with Chris Crossan and since his arrival my phone’s been in overdrive, being told just how good this guy actually is and since then I’ve been itching to get to a seminar to see for myself.

Sunday 6th February was my chance to meet and train with Lagarto, over at Paul Murphy’s club in Doncaster; all the usual suspects were there including Neils Owen and White, Stainy, Chris Brown, Mel Leathley, Tengiz T, Lee Needham and others, many of whom were meeting Lagarto for the first time.

After a thorough warm up from Neil Owen, Lagarto took over and took the class through a half guard sweep, originating from side control; the move was broken down into minute detail and the technique became much easier to remember. From, this technique, a number of ‘what if’ scenarios were given the Brazilian treatment, culminating in some wicked sweeps from the half guard that drew gasps from the majority of the students.

After a short break, Lagarto went onto to demonstrate attacks from the mount and how to break down a guy’s defence, giving a number of submission options, depending on which hand was on the top position at the time. The seminar ended with a neat tie up from side control, where the arm was wrapped in the gi; from this controlling position, full mount with a twist came next and Lagarto showed off a number of match winning chokes and arm bars, all of which were new to me and the rest of the students.

Three weeks later on Sunday 27th February, I was to meet up with The Lizard once more, as a seminar was organised at GB Manchester, to help celebrate the club’s first year in operation; after picking up a freezing cold Lagarto from the snow covered services near Bradford, I hit the heaters to full blast in a bid to thaw him out on the way back to a slightly warmer Bolton.

After a brief stop at my house to drop bags off and get kit sorted, we headed off to Paul Hartley’s Impact Academy in Longridge, just outside Preston, for a mini seminar with Paul’s students. Lagarto’s teaching style is quite different to the current GB black belts, inasmuch as they are more of a question/answer construct. After a warm up we were all asked to come up with a question for him about any particular query/problem we had with our training and after the initial five minutes of dumb silence, we managed to string together a couple of questions and the class began. The beauty of this type of teaching is that when you ask your question, you’re guaranteed it’s going to help the other students and it also gets you thinking about your game plan. What began as a simple arm bar query from one of the students ended up in a master class of arm bars from every angle you could think of, and then some. Guard retrievals, sweeps and open guard queries soon followed and the session ended up with rolling, as Lagarto watched at the side of the mats, giving tips and criticism along the way.

The session ended too fast for my liking and it was back home for full roast dinner in a bid to refuel the giant Brazilian, who was by now having trouble with the top of the door frames in the house – this guy is tall! Feeding over, it was time to take Lagarto out onto the streets of Bolton and sample the delights of the local hostelries and the classy ladies of the town; rest assured by the end of the night Lagarto was surrounded by a gaggle of young ladies, all trying to impress him with their knowledge of Spanish sex phrases (even though he speaks Portuguese) and such like and UK/Brazilian cultural relations were now firmly cemented.

The day of the seminar arrived and big shout out to all my students who turned up and helped support the event, together with Bram and his crew, Ben Pops, John Goldson and company from Sheffield and Chris ‘the squid’ Brown who all travelled to the seminar. The session began with the guard retrieval drills from the day before and after a couple of questions, Lagarto taught a number of neat sweeps from various positions, some tasty guard passes, together with a number of combinations and counters for each move. Sweeps from the sitting up in guard position kicked off the second section of the seminar and from there another half dozen moves were shown in succession; ten minutes before the end of the seminar, Lagarto gathered all the guys round the edge of the mat and gave everyone a demo of his favourite moves to the students and completely dazzled everyone there with his freaky moves. Sweeps from the De La Riva ending up in crazy subs, arm bars through the legs, triangles from out of nowhere came thick and fast and I have to say I couldn’t remember a single move out of the whole lot – this guy has bags of talent and a style of fighting all his own.

The session ended with much applause and I was happy to announce that Lagarto will be staying on in the UK til July, training at Roger’s academy, so I dare say a return trip to Bolton will be on the cards in the near future; Lagarto’s instructor, Escorrega is now in the UK, training in Bristol and Cheltenham and will also be making a visit to the academy soon.

GBUK is now spoilt for choice for black belt instructors – in the same week I had Lagarto, the half guard master, Gordo was in town accompanying the mighty Babalu, who was fighting at Cage Rage 10, and he gave a number of seminars, namely at Mick Shore’s and Dave Carnell’s academies – this now means that more of the Northern based clubs can have access to top level tuition and help them expand and progress. Lagarto has proved to be a great hit amongst the guys he’s taught in the short time he’s been here and I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more from him in the near future.

Until next time, see you on the mats!

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Carl Fisher