Open Mat: Jacksonville Gracie Jiu-jitsu School

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Last Saturday I attended open-mat at Jacksoville Gracie Jiu-jitsu School, an academy operated by Luiz Palhares. I had a real good time. In all there were four of us. I asked their names a couple of times so I could remember, but I can only remember one now; Joe who was a purple belt and who also assisted Prof. Palhares during the seminar held where I train. The other two guys were striped blue belts, Professor Palhares’ son, a real nice guy and another who showed me a few special techniques I will discuss in a moment. (Sorry about forgetting your names.)

The guys were casual and laid back, which has always been the case when I have visited someone else’s academy and one of the reasons I appreciate BJJ as much as I do. The first thing that struck me is that they were very technical. They were working on a technique involving pulling your opponent’s arm past your head in guard which can lead to a sweep or an armbar. After that we started rolling.

Professor Palhares’ son (blue belt/one stripe) invited me to roll and before I knew it I was involved in a death match. We weren’t wild, but he had a style which involved standing up constantly, spinning around for position, knee on belly, etc. Since we had on the gi I also had to deal with the disorienting effect of someone constantly tugging on my collar or sleeves. One thing I have always remembered though  is that it is okay if a person establishes one grip but never two. So I kept spinning on my back and breaking his grips while trying to defend and mount some sort of offense. Since he played a standup and “slightly” acrobatic game I was able to get a few sweeps and takedowns from the bottom.  I would say I lasted for a good five minutes or so before being tapped.

Next I rolled with the other blue belt (two stripes), who was about 6’1and said he weighed 225 pounds(Correction: His name is Steve). Since he had a torn miniscus, we rolled light. He offered a lot of technical advice while we were rolling. He coached me through a sequence for escaping the mount that I hadn’t tried before. Although I knew the techniques, I have never used them in combination. He also took me to the side and showed me a defensive technique for “older guys.” He said it was designed for guys over 40. But since we were both 35 I guess he thought I was old enough. I am definitely adding it to my game. Since I am not a fan of Muscle Jiu-jitsu, this will surely come in handy.

It is always great to train with guys who have totally different games. I had quite a few epiphanies and had the distinct feeling that my level of play has risen. Here’s what I learned:

I can stand up when sparring (for guard passes, knee on belly, etc. ) It’s obvious, but I don’t do it.

I need to start using combinations.

I need to start using grips to my advantage since everyone else does (especially since I have taken Judo).

A defensive technique for older men (I didn’t give the name of the technique so older guys can keep whatever advantage they can:)

One thought on “Open Mat: Jacksonville Gracie Jiu-jitsu School

    Jonathan Stamey said:
    November 26, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Hey Bakari,

    I just read through some of your posts on and then on your own blog.

    I like it alot.

    I was wondering if you might be interested in contributing to a section of our blog entitled “College of Jiu Jitsu.”

    You can find us at our almost completed site

    I think it would be great cross promotion for your blog as well as some form of income for you in the near future.

    Take a look around and let me know your thoughts.


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