The trip to Rome from Phuket turned out to be one of the worst in the last two years. We had two flights with a stopover in New Delhi that lasted a total of 17 hours. Then, our cabbie dropped us of at the wrong spot and we had to drag our 70 kilos of luggage 2 kilometers, uphill, on a basalt stone street before finally arriving at our hostel.
Once there, we stood ringing the bell for what seemed forever until a couple girls in an upstairs room yelled down that the manager was on the phone. I spoke with him on the phone and it turned out that our reservation was for the following day. DOH!! Fortunately, they had a cancellation for two dorm beds so we were able to sneak in and crash for the night!
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had gotten seriously ill the last week in Phuket and was still suffering from it! Thank the Jiu-Jitsu Gods that I was finally feeling “stable” on Monday evening when it was time for some BJJ with the team at Gracie Barra Roma – Termini!
First note: The gym isn’t exactly where Google Maps says it is. It is close, but not quite. I walked over to the location – next door to the laundromat according to Google – but couldn’t quite seem to find the gym.
Fortunately, James (Lima – the head instructor at the gym) noticed my “YoloBJJ” fight shorts as he walked by and said “Are you here for Jiu-Jitsu”? It turns out that the gym is closer to the corner and is marked by a small “Red Shield” to the left of the doorway.
Some quick introductions and it was time for some Jiu-Jitsu!
The space is downstairs and consists of two rooms (although, for some reason we only used one) and the floors are matted with thick puzzle mats. It is a pretty cool space with arched stone ceilings…very “Ancient Rome” feeling. Probably the coolest space I have trained in, but also the new “smallest” space too (being smaller than the previous record holder at Deftac, Cebu City, PI)
Warm-ups were the standard I have become accustomed to worldwide: Jogging, knees up, feet up, shuffle, shrimp, etc… There was a brand new student in class that night and I noted that James took special care to help him with shrimping and shoulder rolls, etc… Kindness is something I value deeply and it was definitely there in how James treated his students!
After warm-ups we did some leg drag drills(I am always excited when a gym I am visiting drills leg drags because it is something I suck at and really want to get better at!) We drilled for about 40 minutes and it was time for some “situational sparring”. We layed “pass or sweep” for about half an hour and I was in a serious battle with my partner for the night, Richard. Richard is a small, Peruvian guy: super-light and super-fast! He also happens to be one of those BJJ Prodigies! He is a solid blue belt and when I asked him how long he had been training he said…”6 months”…I was like…”What? Do you mean a a blue belt”? James assured me later that, no…Richard had been training a grand total of about 6 months! So, after I have been training for over 6 years, I battled with Richard for 15 minutes to try and keep him from passing my guard. The guy was super tight, fast, and technical. What can I say…some guys got it!
More importantly, he was a very good training partner and a fun guy. He speaks fluent Spanish (of course) and so we were able to communicate in that language – which beats my Italian and his English, so it worked out!
After a short break James and I rolled and had a great time of it. James is a 4-stripe purple belt from Brazil and started the academy after he moved to Italy about a year ago! He has a great passion for Jiu-Jitsu and is building a great team here in Rome!
After about ten minutes of rolling, I finally made it passed his hips (granted – James was giving me a few tips to help out 🙂 )but he was able to turtle out of the guard pass and the timer went off. We talked a bit about the roll and then started talking about the academy here in Rome. I knew I had made a friend for life when James said…”You always have a home here in Rome, my friend.” He said it in Italian and I was like…wait, what? It was so sincere and of the cuff, I wasn’t sure I heard it right. Then he repeated it in Portuguese and I was like…”yeah, he really means it.”
What can I say…being a full-time traveler, it gets a little bit easy to start feeling like the constant outsider. Never really having a “home” or just always feeling a little bit like you don’t quite belong, so when James made me an “honorary” member of team GB Roma I was touched…shucks guys… 🙂
In the end, it was a great night of training and all the folks at GB Roma-Termini made me feel at home! I appreciate the rolls and the friendship. I am excited to come back to Rome in the future as it was a great place to visit as well as train BJJ! If you would like to stop by and meet James and the gang here is some contact info for ya!
Until next time: Oss and good training!
Head Instructor – James Lima, 4 grado Purple