Leaving Miami, we headed up the centre of Florida to Orlando, we opted to take the smaller back roads up around Lake Okeechobee to see more of the Florida countryside. We had only planned to visit Orlando for about 4 days to visit some friends and get a little bit of training in.
Upon arriving in the afternoon, we dropped our gear of at our Airbnb and headed to Disney Springs to meet up with the Elam family. They had just moved back to the USA from living in Australia for a number of years most recently in Newman where their children had trained Jiu-Jitsu with us. It was great to see familiar faces and the kids were so happy to see each other, telling stories and running around the different shops.
The next day we headed to Gatorland, a park filled with Alligators and other wildlife. We ended up spending a full day here as it was so much fun, you can get a bag full of hotdogs that you can feed to the Alligators. We all tried our hands at Alligator wrestling which was a lot easier that some of the rolls I’ve had on this trip, they pretty much just lay there and let you sit on them.
The following day we decided to get some training in, we headed to Orlando Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is where 9x World champion Bruno Malfacine trains and teaches. We all took classes and had an absolute blast, both Dee and I felt though we had learnt so much in just one class. Bruno has a very simple strategic way of teaching complex concepts. We were also both lucky enough to roll with Bruno, that in itself was an experience, we rolled for 10min and I think I only saw him twice. The rest of the time I just saw flashes of his Gi as he moved around me. That night we went home and decided we needed to extend our time here and we also wanted to catch up more with the Elam Family.
We spent the rest of the week training with the Alliance team at Orlando Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Both Lilly and Kobe loved it there, they were always playing around with Bruno and the guys. It was also great to see someone of Bruno’s calibre spending time teaching the kids classes. Jonathan Satava was also visiting from Marcelo’s in New York. Bruno had Jonathan teach one of the NoGi classes and he taught some north south choke gold! Some great details that I will be defiantly taking away from his class and adding into my game.
Saturday had come around and after training we were contemplating what to do on Sunday. At around midnight we made the decision that we would go to Universal world. We had already done Disney and as we only had a day Universal seemed the better option. The kids were already asleep so we set the alarms to wake us up in 5 hours. Now waking them in the morning felt like Christmas they had no idea beforehand that we were going to go, they were absolutely ecstatic.
We ended up spending 12hrs there between the two parks, we all had a great time walking around and riding all the rides. We managed to avoid all the big roller coasters as Lilly and Kobe were not that excited about them, pretty sure they were still having flashbacks from the Guardians of the Galaxy ride in Disney California. Overall we were very impressed with the parks. Kobe absolutely loved Jurassic park and Lilly the Harry Potter rides and areas. At about 4pm the Florida weather kicked in and the rain started bucketing down, this unfortunately closed a few of the rides but we continued to walk around and ride what we could. At the end of the day we were very wet and exhausted! we had walked a little over 20km, seen and done so much. It was a great day and the kids won’t stop talking about it.
As Monday rolled in we headed back to training, Lilly had also been doing the kids striking classes while we were there. Lilly can’t seem to get enough of training, I swear she would roll all day if we would let her. Kobe is also super keen to train all the time but when his class is over he is happy just to kick back and play on the side of the mat. The team at Orlando BJJ was great we had some of the best training there so far on the trip and were welcomed where we felt part of the team. After our last session at Orlando BJJ we headed off to Wekiwa Springs a natural spring one of the guys at the club had recommended. It was so good after training as the water was freezing as it bubbled out of the large crack in the spring.
From the spring we headed over to the Elam’s for dinner, the kids had a great time fishing in the pond that was straight out their backdoor. After a great dinner they introduced us to the messy art of pumpkin carving. Kobe lost interest in the first 5 minutes so I ended up finishing it for him, Lilly had a great time doing it. We worked out Dee was the best person and scraping out the insides of the pumpkin……It was probably more the fact that no one else wanted to do it so we just kept praising her so we didn’t have to hahaha.
Orlando was super cool, one of the perks of having an open itinerary for this trip is that we could extend our stay there and not miss these opportunities.