I’ve been to London many times in regarding to BJJ. But it has always been for competitions or specific seminars. The reality is that whilst I’ve travelled with my BJJ I’ve never been to another UK gym outside of Manchester just to train in a standard class. I figured that was something that should change especially considering I’ve met lots of fab people through BJJ. So after recruiting my friend Oyinda into being my partner in crime for this trip a post euros training treat was planned for London!
There are dozens of great BJJ gyms in London with a whole host of talented coaches and black belts. The challenge was which one to choose! I decided on New School BJJ. The logic behind the choice for me was very simple – the school has some great coaching but also is one of regular training sessions of my long time friend and initial BJJ coach Liam Wandi . Plus as a female grappler it is also the home of the very talented Leoni Munslow . I’ve loved training with Leoni when I’ve had the chance during her Northern visits and she has always told me I’d be welcome to visit. Although as with all best made plans my visit coincided with her trip to Budapest but she promised we’d be well looked after and she wasn’t wrong!
Our visit was planned to match their gym timetable so an early morning train and some crafty commuting across London meant I could make all three sessions in the day! New School BJJ are based in Battersea at the Youth Sports Centre. I was lucky enough to time my arrival with another student. Isn’t amazing that no matter where you are you can have a sixth sense about other BJJ practitioners. He wasn’t even wearing branded BJJ gear but can just tell there not going for another sport! Anyhow this did mean finding the dojo was even easier.
Being in a sports centre means that there are spacious separate ladies changing rooms and toilets – no changing in toilets cubicles or cupboards if you’re a lady grappler here! The dojo its self is very easy to find and is a lovely clean matted space. I was pleased that I hadn’t brought my spats or long sleeved rash guards as this gym is also lovely and toasty even in February. Although this might be due to being used to colder northern climates! Either way I appreciate a warm gym!
The lunchtime session was taught by Nick and was a mixed class. Like in most gyms the day class was a smaller class with about ten people attending from white to black belt and every colour in between. We did a really nice session on turtle transitions and back takes. I’ve always been reasonably comfortable attacking the turtle particularly with more judo style approaches but I picked up some great technical takeaways that I’m definitely going to try. I was also very grateful to have a fabulous co-operative training partner in the form of Liam! After the technical element it was time for some open mat style rolling. Unfortunately I am notoriously rubbish with names but I met a lot of lovely grapplers on the mat who were all absolute gentlemen, great rolls and didn’t hesitate to generally pretzel me in a lovely friendly manner! There was a lot of BJJ skills, mojo and a great vibe on the mat lol!
Oyinda joined me for the evening classes which naturally were much busier and both had full mats. The fundamentals class was taught by Stuart and was all about the triangle. This was quite nicely timed for me as I had only been covering it a couple of week earlier at home. The session was full of some great fundamental instruction, lots of drilling and a couple more cheekily advanced set-ups to try. I instantly clicked with Stuart as an instructor and his wicked sense of humour!
However it was the evenings advanced class that was a real treat. I was lucky enough (unknowing) to time our visit with a guest class by José Leão Teixeira (Zé Beleza). The class covered the butterfly guard and a number of sweep options but I am not going to share any of the details of it. A minion needs every technical advantage she can get! It goes without saying that his technical knowledge was off the scale and was full of details that I’m not at a skill level yet to fully appreciate! However I was fortunate enough to be able to have a conversation with him (whilst resting out a round) about his experiences in BJJ. He was genuinely interested in my experiences so far and my reasons for visiting and was simply very warm and generous with his time. If you can catch one his UK seminar then I would really recommend it!
Obviously as I mentioned at the start of this blog the visit wasn’t just about BJJ but also catching up with friends on and off the mat. So after saying our goodbyes at the gym it was was time for catch ups and mischief. Needless to say it was great having a local guide for the evening in London even if did result in feeling a little worse for wear for our journey home the next day!
I had a fantastic flying visit to London which has lead to the downside of wanting to do it again (plans are already being made!). Other than over five hours quality training and some great technical BJJ there are two other things I’ve learnt and would pass on to readers from my experience – One if you’re looking for somewhere to train in London then don’t hesitate to try New School BJJ and secondly when friends you meet through your BJJ adventures suggest visiting them sometime – take them up on it!