Budo academy (website) is located in the Georgetown “Heritage” area of Penang. In fact, I had booked my hotel (the 1926 Heritage) based on the fact that it was so close to Budo Academy! Budo Academy is , pretty much, the only GI focused BJJ school on the island. Everyone else is strictly no-gi and mma. That said, there are many guys who cross-train among the different schools in Penang in both gi and no-gi (via open mats, mainly).
I contacted the guys at Budo Academy via the “contact function” on their website (always follow those Five Rules, guys!). I got a reply from Nashriq within a day with an exuberant, “We would be honored to have you”.
I had planned on going in on the first night of classes (a Tuesday) but my friend Lim, from Kombative Fitness, got hold of me first and I ended up attending there on Tuesday instead. But, no worries, I knew I hadn’t committed to being at Budo on Tuesday due to traveling in late so I got them a message through Lim (who was better connected with Budo – via Facebook, of course – than I was, at the time) and let them know I would be there on Thursday.
It turns out that the BJJ community on Penang Island is pretty tight and everybody knows everybody, for the most part. There happen to be three schools in Georgetown but everyone seems to be fine with getting together for open mats, hanging out, etc.
That was great for me because all the schools on Penang island seem to have the same schedule of classes: BJJ on Tuesday and Thursday nights which meant I would have to choose where to go and, regardless of my choices, I would only get two classes in per week (with the open mats I ended up training a total of 6 times in ten days – not bad).
Anyway, I walked the twenty minutes from my hotel to Budo Academy on Thursday night and arrived about ten minutes early. I was greeted by Nashriq (The ranking Judo Black Belt at Budo) and Allen (the ranking BJJ Purple belt at Budo Academy). Both were super-friendly and welcoming and explained that whenever they have a visitor come to their BJJ class they ask if they will share some techniques with the class. That was no problem with me and I was honored that they would want my input on anything!
Budo academy is a part of team Tukaha, out of New Zealand and the space consists of a single, middle-sized mat space (about the same as at De La Riva’s Academy in Rio) around 5 meters wide by 12 meters long of rectangular mats (about two-three inches thick – as I would expect at a Judo academy 🙂 ). They are also a BJJ Gobetrotters affiliated gym. For those who do not know of the Globetrotters, It is worth a look to check them out here (Globetrotters). It is a good reference for finding people and gyms to train with / at while travelling. Back to the training…
Warm-ups consisted of the usual running around the space, shuffle-in, shuffle-out, etc. One interesting warm-up that I don’t see very often was the “grips” drill.
One person laid on their back while their partner stood over their chest, hands hanging down. The person on their back grabbed the sleeves with either a “pocket-grip” or a “Pistol-grip” and did twenty pull-ups. Then they switched to the other grip and did twenty more.
After the warm-ups it was time to teach a class. Looking around the room, I could see that there were about 6 white belts, four blue belts and Allen and I, the purple belts. Although one side of me wanted to show something really cool and “advanced”, the other side of me recognized that the room was dominated by newer students and so I ended up teaching the “scissor-sweep / hip-bump sweep” combo. It worked out well as the blue belts (who had it down already) could always use more reps and the white belts seemed to find it beneficiary.
After about half an hour of technique drills it was time to roll! I am getting used to the idea of not getting any rest during rolling time as I travel around to new gyms…especially those countries that are newer to BJJ or smaller and they don’t get a lot of visitors.
After half an hour of rolling it was time to close up and get the mats cleaned (which is something I really liked about Budo Academy, they keep those mats CLEAN!
How was the rolling? Well, honestly…it was tough! All the blue belts wanted to get a piece of me and I’ll be honest, there are some tough blue belts at Budo Academy! Victor and Kenneth are the highest ranking blues that I rolled with at the gym and while Kenneth was testing me big time playing his spider-guard, Victor was giving me hell playing worm-guard. Then, when Gary stepped over and said, “Hey, let’s roll” I was really in for it!
Gary is STRONG! I think he might be a personal trainer or something. Like all the other guys at Budo he had great cardio too! Alot of people think that being a westerner and travelling through Asia that I will always be the biggest guy in the room…not even close! They were all tough rolls in Budo Academy and, honestly, I was surprised by the technical nature of their style. I had kind of thought that, since they didn’t have an onsite black-belt that they would have more of a basic style (Like myself) but this was not at all the case. Spider-guard and Worm-guard?!?! It really threw me off, but I was glad that it kept me on my toes!
In the end, I trained with the guys at Budo academy two more times, an open mat that Saturday and another class the following Tuesday. All three times I trained with them they were outgoing, respectful, and super-welcoming. Honestly, the best thing about Budo Academy is that they are truly a Jiu-Jitsu family! And if you walk in and train with them, you will be family too! I have had a couple other experiences like that: at Triumph Jiu-Jitsu in Grand Rapids, MI and at Gracie Barra, in Cozumel, MX.
I love that feeling, knowing that (As Roberto “Cyborg” once told me…) “Wherever you go in this world, if you have the Jiu-Jitsu Kimono on, you will have the good friends and a family”. – One day, I’ll write about that seminar, it was awesome!
As for Budo academy, The next time I am in Malaysia, I will go out of my way to get to Penang to train with them and all the rest of the guys there!
Until next time, Oss and good training!