Arriving back in San Diego was almost like coming home, as we had been here almost 5 months ago. I was very excited to be back as the last time we were here I was nursing a serious rib injury that prevented me from really training the way I wanted to here. The whole focus this time was definitely the Jiu-Jitsu, we had already done all the tourist stuff the last time.
We wasted no time in heading back to Gracie South Bay, this is Leticia Ribeiro’s Academy and was where Dee and the kids has spent most of their time training on our first visit. We were warmly welcomed back with hugs and questions on what has been happening while we have been travelling. We jumped straight back into training and Lilly and Kobe couldn’t have been happier! It was their favourite place so far on the trip. The kids program that Letica runs there is one of the best if not the best we have encountered on our journey. The next generation is something they put a lot of time into there and it shows with their results and the attitudes of the students.
They have such a strong female presence there that Dee also loved the place and took part in the boot camps and ladies classes. I was just happy to be able to finally get on the mats and have some great rolls there. We really felt at home and could of just spent all of our time there but we wanted to check out some of the other academies that San Diego has to offer.
We headed to the University of Jiu-Jitsu, Saulo and Xande Ribeiro’s Academy. Unfortunate they were both away with Xande in Brazil and Saulo recovering from Knee surgery. We took the NoGi lunch class with Casey Hellenberg which was great as we focused a lot on the stand-up positional wrestling and transitions which both Dee and I got a lot out of. We returned later that day where the kids took part in classes and we again trained another NoGi session that night with Victor Barreto. We really enjoyed getting on the mats there and did some great training with them. It was no surprise that intensity of the NoGi was increasing with the IBJJF NoGi world only a month away. It was good to get some hard rounds in with these guys!
The Weekends in San Diego are packed with training options as a lot of the academies run open mats. Saturday, we headed to Gracie South Bay for their open mat and got some fun rolls in and shared some techniques back and forth. Sunday, we headed to Barum Jiu-Jitsu for open mat, we had been told by a few people and multiple places that this is the place to be on a Sunday. The mat was full of people from different academies all over San Diego, we even ran into a few of the guys from University of Jiu-Jitsu that we had trained with earlier in the week. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and we has some cool, fun rolls with everyone.
Monday, we headed to THE ARENA, we wanted to see if we could get a class in with Baret Yoshida at lunch time. We headed over there and barely made it on the mats in time for class. Baret taught a cool arm/collar drag setup from seated guard that has some awesome little tweaks in it. Rolling with Baret was very cool experience, he is such a nice guy but moves like a monster, I found myself trapped at every turn…. In a good way of course.
We decided to make head up to Atos for the kids and Adults classes in the evening. To be honest I was a little intimidated heading in there, it’s known for being a high-level academy with a strong focus on competition. Walking in there we were greeted well and got the kids sorted for class, something to note if visiting is they have a strict dress code of white Gi’s with no affiliation patches and an all-black rash guard underneath. We managed to meet the code with the kids gear but Dee and I had to “Hire” rash guards. We didn’t really mind as we were well aware this would be the case before arriving.
They had a lot of kids on the mat and the classes split into two groups with Lilly and Kobe on separate mats, Lilly’s class was run by Josh Hinger which was cool to see. Dee got a chance to have a roll with Angelica Galvao which she was pretty stoked about!
We headed back to Gracie South Bay for the next couple of days, we were able to be present of their grading which was a very cool experience seeing some of our friend’s level up in their belts! We had planned to leave on Wednesday to head to Los Angeles, but we were having such a great time in San Diego and training that we decided to stay until Saturday.
Thanksgiving is something we don’t celebrate in Australia but it’s a very big and important holiday here. We spent the start of the day at an open mat at South Bay, that morning we had received a text message from Eric Bydairk inviting us around for thanksgiving. Eric is a fellow BJJ Globetrotter and was Lilly’s wrestling coach while at Letica’s at South bay. We spent the afternoon with Eric, his wife Lisa and his parents. We did a lot of eating and sharing stories, it really was an amazing experience and one of the kindest gestures from someone of our trip. He also gifted us some new flash “Takedown Nation” rash guards, which was great as all this training is starting to take its toll on our gear.
We said our goodbyes and left San Diego for a second time headed back up to Los Angeles. San Diego is without a doubt our favourite city and we will be back again in the future for another trip. (Lilly and Kobe made us promise that we will bring them back.)