Wow what a weekend! This marks the first time that Team Yemaso competes on two different coasts , with the American Cup on the west coast and the IBJJF New York Open on the east! This is historic in that we are still a relatively small team but have extended our influence in the competitive arena to a nationwide level. Team Yemaso did not disappoint bringing back a number of medals from the American Cup & the IBJJF New York Open.
Coach and black belt Eliot Kelly also got in the mix and took home an impressive silver in his division and bronze in the absolute for his efforts. I have been to the American Cup and competed in Claudio Franças events and can say they are one, if not the best, run tournaments in the states. I know our guys worked hard and am very proud to see their work paying off! Now they are continuing their preparation for the IBJJF Vegas Open this weekend. Remember guys, I might not be there in person but I am always with you guys when you fight! I am very proud of you all and your dedication motivates me to keep working harder! Kick ass in Vegas!
On the east coast there was the 2013 IBJJF New York Open. This marked the first time I was able to compete in the Big Apple/ Empire State and I also was blessed with the opportunity to realize a dream in training with a man who’s credentials speak for themselves. I was initially reluctant to go considering a huge portion of the team was doing the American Cup on the west but under the guidance of Eliot Kelly I knew they were in qualified hands! This left the door open for me to go a couple days early to Marcelo Garcia’s academy in NY.
A good friend of mine and fellow black belt Paul Schreiner had been telling me for years, “hey man, come out and train, Marcelo is a beast!” And, he even opened his doors to host and let me stay with him in East Village. This was a SICK experience for me as I got to live the BJJ lifestyle as a New Yorker for a couple of days; walking the streets, hitting the subway ( an INCREDIBLE system for public transportation), training with beasts and eating delicious food – a definite MUST in NY as the culinary arts here are perfected!
After Paul schooled me on the subway system he let the reigns go and I was getting to Marcelo’s gym in under 20 min, probably much faster than a car or taxi ride too! Marcelo himself is an amazing person.
This sounds very cliché but it’s very important for me, especially in this time where our Jiu-Jitsu culture is experiencing some less that acceptable behavior, to see the character in a person of his stature that can be admired, respected, and even emulated.
Not only is Marcelo a perfect ambassador for the sport but he is also a person that, after getting to know personally over the last couple days, I feel I can consider a mentor.
His approach to Jiu-Jitsu is very similar to mine in presentation. He is very detail orientated and you can see the glare of a perfectionist when he assesses your technique. Sure, I had taken seminars and shared techniques with world champs, but I felt the desire and the enjoyment of being a student again. I had been looking forward to a roll with him for years and the only thing that disappointed me was that I heard the bell and felt like I wanted more time lol I needed more time to soak up more info, more time to pick his brain, more time to roll, more time….
After his beasting of my guard (lol) we went to eat and he spoke with me as if we knew each other for years.
No, “I am holier than thou” type of attitude I get from some other world champions that I respect as competitors but not people. He spoke openly about anything and held nothing back. It was, as in the case with Royler Gracie, so refreshing to confirm he was the Man both on and off the mats!
I was able to train with Marcelo, Paul, and Rafael Rosendo among others and we all talked a lot and shared great techniques. This is the stuff I live for!!
I love the feeling of going somewhere new and having the opportunity to share a bit of your trade with other experts in the field and I cherish this experience.
Recently, I had trained with Caio Terra and Leo Lo for the Pans and I also got to sit and chat, share ideas, and be surrounded by great human beings. I just feel so blessed at this point in my life to be surrounded by all of you!
Thank you guys, thank you for being who you are and for opening your hearts and minds and I pray to have provided some measure of influence as well.
*UPDATE* I have some FANTASTIC NEWS TO SHARE:
Now time for some beach, food, and Jits in Puerto Rico!!! I will be in the island for the next two weeks teaching and training the guys, many of whom look at me in the same light I look at individuals like Marcelo Garcia, Caio Terra, Leo Lo, Paul Schriener, Rafael Rosendo, Jared Weiner, Rafael Lovato, Ryan Hall, Mike Fowler, Royler Gracie, Eliot Kelly, Samir Chantre, Vicente Jr, Quexinho, and the tons more that influence me not only on but off the mats as well. The guys in PR show me a tremendous support being Puerto Rican and when I arrive the seminars/ classes get packed.