On 11/25/2017, the BJJ community in Idaho had a chance to learn from one of the best. My Coach, Shane Mount, hosted a seminar for his instructor at our gym: Professor Robson Moura. Yes, that Robson Moura. 4th Degree Black Belt, 8x World Champion Robson Moura… in Idaho. This is the first time a black belt of his caliber has ever come to our state, so I guess you could say it was, as the Ron Burgundy meme goes, “kind of a big deal”.
Our team had an opportunity to see Professor Moura in action on Friday 11/24 as we had a team only “open mat”. The gym was in full attendance and we paired up to get to work. I got a couple good rolls in with one of our green belts, and then was helping a buddy of mine who recently joined work breaking and passing the closed guard.
It’s funny, how the body/mind connection can have a “radar” of sorts go off internally when something isn’t “right” or something has changed in the environment. So, I’m there helping my buddy, explaining and coaching him through two different ways to pass guard and that radar goes off.
The message is “it’s too quiet in here…”.
I take my focus off my buddy who is in my closed guard and look to my right and there is our Coach rolling with Professor Moura, and pretty much everyone else is sitting in a large circle against the wall mats watching. I think the team sat back and watched for a good 15-20 minutes while Professor Moura rolled with Coach Shane and Karina, our purple belt.
It was really neat to see the difference in both of them rolling with him. We rarely get to see them deploy their game at such a high level because the majority of us are white and green belts. The gym itself is just over a year old. It was also really interesting to watch how Professor Robson, a 30+yr veteran of the Art and Sport of BJJ, deployed his game. I was most intrigued by his facial expression – it was 100% calm, it wasn’t bored or anything, but it gave me the impression of “I’ve been here before…” 30+ years in the art, countless tournaments and eight world victories: imagine the mileage and mat time.
He is a year older than I am.
And he is still learning, still growing.
Watching how he reacted to the individual styles that Shane and Karina brought with their game, while executing his own was very cool to watch. His rolls with Shane were a little slower, more methodical; chess-like, even. With Karina, even when she is flow rolling or going easy, she moves fast – and it was cool to see him immediately change his tempo to match her. He was still playing his game, but the tempo definitely changed, it was an observable difference.
It was also very eye-opening to see how the same “basic” foundational things that we are taught were deployed on a higher level, even with advanced moves. Regardless of rank and technique, if you are in the guard, you still have to pass it. If you are looking for a good submission, you still need a good position.
No, I did not roll with Professor Moura. I missed my opportunity, so I’ll look for that the next time he is here.
On Saturday we had the seminar, the gym was packed, barely enough room to work with your partner of choice. Every color belt from White to Black was in attendance. We even had a black belt and a brown belt from another school join us, as well as some RMNU (Professor Robson’s association) teammates from California.
Our minds were blown.
During a break, I was scribbling down as much as I could remember in my notepad so I could revisit it later. He started with a collar drag and then we learned a progression of techniques and options from there, all following a very logical, step by step strategy.
A coupe of mental/mindset take-aways that we all got from Professor Moura were:
- Looking for the “open windows” – the opportunities that your opponent presents and looking at which “closed windows” can be opened and which can’t at that given time.
- Continue moving – something Coach Shane has hit on before but a good reminder nonetheless.
- Don’t be afraid to try a new technique in class. Try it. It may work for you, it may not, but, like Coach Shane has said too, the gym is where you want to try out the new techniques and trouble-shoot them and make them work. Not on the mat on tournament day.
- Get your reps down. Practice, practice, practice. This is something I enjoy about training at 208. We have ample time to practice the techniques being taught, as well as stress test them in rolls. A couple of my training partners, Karina most especially, like to get as many reps of the technique as possible, something that I enjoy as well. So this was a good reminder and confirmation of what we already did.
I walked away in a mental overload state, but it was worth it. The following week, every class was reviewing what we went over in the seminar, the whole progression. Getting those reps in there in order to try and make it a part of our individual game. Good times.
If you ever get the opportunity to attend a seminar with Professor Moura, do it.
Last night, I received my fourth stripe!
I was very happy to have earned this marker of my progress in BJJ. After training, as has been my habit each time I’ve earn a stripe, I spoke with Coach Shane regarding my progress and what he was looking for in my development this time around. Like my third stripe, he said that it wasn’t something “big” like with my first and second stripes – this time he said it was all about how I’ve been progressing as a whole – is he trying new techniques, is he putting in the time, is he taking what he is learning and trying to implement it in his game during live rolls, is his game improving, etc. From here, he said, that’s basically what it is about: putting in the time, dedication and consistently improving your Jiu-Jitsu. Like I’ve said before, Coach Shane has a good 15+ years under his belt, the majority of that being under Professor Robson, so I think he knows what to look for.
Fellow white belts, I haven’t arrived or anything like that. I’ve got great days, and I’ve got shit days with my training – just like you do. I’m almost nine months into this journey and while I’ve learned a lot, I look at people like Coach Shane, Karina and Professor Moura and I see how far down this path I can go. Shane has said this before, and even Professor Moura said it at the seminar, if you stick to it, each of you reading this can and will earn your black belt. Having earned a 1st Degree once before after roughly nine years in a different art, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away… I can personally attest to the truth of that statement.
This is a lifetime thing.
Stick with it.
I’m not trying to shell out advice here with these posts, just giving my perspective on experiencing this journey as a white belt and beyond. Regardless of rank, I hope you are finding value in that.
If you live in the Boise area and are looking for an awesome experience learning BJJ and training with an excellent group of people contact Coach Shane at 208 Fight & Fitness.
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