I stopped by Gustavo Machado's in Virginia Beach (3 hours and 45 minutes from my hometown not including beach or construction traffic, more on that later), then drove to Richmond about 2 hours from there with Andrew Smith at Revolution BJJ, and then finally another couple of hours to Silver Springs Maryland to train at the Rockville Yamasaki Academy location.
I ended up late for Gustavo Machado's noon class (which was mostly upper belts) due to traffic but Gustavo was super welcoming and we jumped into class and drilling. We drilled a half-guard pass, followed by several variations of an Ezekiel from top position whether the opponent defends with a whizzer or not.
I rolled with one of his blue belts then a 4 stripe brown belt for the duration of rolling. Gustavo paired each person up for rolling specifically. The brown belt in particular had some innovating guard passing and attacked from virtually every position. The mat space was clean, the waiting area was clean and pleasant as well, and everyone was very friendly. There is a $20 mat fee which covers you for the day. I picked up a tank top because you can always use another Jiu-Jitsu tank top.
Andrew Smith at Revolution BJJ. He is also one of the head people at US Grappling (my favorite tournament organization) and a Judo and Jiu-Jitsu black belt. I've competed against his guys before and all of them have solid Jiu-Jitsu. The class was a new structure for me as they rolled for an hour first, and then drilled for about 30 min's afterward. I rolled with I think 4 black belts, a brown belt, and 2 blue belts. The rounds were I believe 8 minutes long and by the end, I was smoked.
Andrew Smith had us drill an armbar from the back, followed by a wrist lock/grip break counter to when the opponent grabs his collar to defend the armbar, following the wrist lock they extend their arm and you finish with the armbar. Rolling and drilling after class was encouraged but I was done. Let me also say, Revolution BJJ was one of the cleanest gyms I've ever been in and trained. The gym smelled clean when you walked in, and at the close of class, virtually everyone pitched in to finish up. There are separate showers and changing rooms which prevents that inevitable backlog of using the bathroom to change or the shower or whatever.
We left, ate some good sushi nearby, then crashed at VCU and unbelievably found some decent "Princess" parking.
I've been out in Richmond before, specifically the VCU area and I was so tired from Revolution BJJ's class all I honestly felt like doing was laying down and relaxing. No nightlife was to be had just sleep.
Woke up, hit the road, and killed time at Tyson's Corner in DC. Ate terribly unhealthy Five Guys burgers (which is waaaaay more expensive than it already is in DC, btw, that cost of living thing is real). At any rate, made the way to Rockville Maryland to train at Yamasaki headquarters.
Hit up Yamasaki Academy in Rockville, Maryland and watched their kids class finishing up. Yamasaki has some serious kids/competitors in that class. There was a nice mix of throwing/takedown practice, positional sparring/rolling, and a lot of physical conditioning. At one point Yamasaki told them, "you should sleep good tonight" and by the end I have no doubt that was true.
Adult class consisted of about 20 minutes perhaps of warm-ups (reminded me of Gracie Barra in Pernambuco/Recife). We then drilled a butterfly guard pass extensively and then paired up for drilling. An interesting thing was there was no timer. Yamasaki would specifically pair up some while others were left to their own devices, but once rolling began, it went on and on and on. I think I must have rolled with my friend Jeff for at least about 20 minutes the first round. The second round I rolled with another purple belt for a solid 10-15 minutes. After that Yamasaki paired me up with one of his other purple belts and by then I admittedly had almost nothing left in the gas tank. Lastly, I rolled a solid 15 minutes or more with Fernando Yamasaki himself.
It was another awesome training session and by the end I was completely crushed.
Because I hadn't been out any of the nights on my road trip, and even though I had to be up early for an appointment, I headed out to Dupont Circle and took in some nightlife. I ate at Bistrot Du Coin, a French restaurant (had the steak). One plus side of a larger city is you can find pretty good food even late night hours on a Wednesday night. The nightlife other than some people in there and a few bars was completely dead and my assumptions about a bigger city having something to do every night of the week it turns out were largely unfounded and wildly incorrect.
At any rate, I hit the road later than planned then hit basically every bit of construction traffic and heavy rain and accident/onlooker slowdown humanly possible between Maryland and North Carolina. Roughly 10 hours later I was back home.
The drive back was brutal but I got in a ton of good training at the 3 places I visited and I highly recommend each of them if you're ever in their respective area or even remotely nearby.
This upcoming Friday, I get up bright and early and ride with some folks to US Grappling's Chicago event to referee and compete. Something like 10 hours in the van Friday, referee and compete Saturday, and 10 hours back on Sunday.
Been logging a lot of road time lately (road out to Virginia Beach something like 2 weeks ago to referee and compete) but I'll know more about Jiu-Jitsu and refereeing after the fact so being tired really doesn't mean anything. Sleep when you die.
I'll be making a return trip to likely Richmond and Maryland again in October and try to hit another academy or two along the way. There are also some Judo tournaments up north that month that I'm trying to squeeze in. I've done 5 Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and 1 Judo tournament in 8 months. Not bad, but I'd like to compete every month if possible, sometimes more.