Monday, 31 December 2012

Muscat Mixed Martial Arts Club - part 2

Once I was safely reunited with Taimur, we headed out for something to eat, before heading to the club to train.
The club is owned by Ali Fajwani, who teaches the Thai at the club and Taimur runs the grappling side and Tariq Kareem is the general manager and between the three of them, they keep the jiu jitsu flame alive out in Oman.  The club has been running for over eighteen months and the club now has its own premises, thanks to the hard of Ali and the team.  Although the club is still in early days, the guys have been competing in Abu Dhabi and have taken medals at the Asia Cup, so full credit to the all the team.
Club entrance
There is a full timetable at the club, offering ladies, kids and adult Thai classes and gi and no gi classes and when the class started there was a very good turnout; like all good jiu jitsu clubs, the session started with drills, then went onto specifics and finihsed with sparring and  before we knew it, three hours had passed in the blink of an eye.
Ali (left), Taimur, YT and Tarik
All that remained was a group photo, before heading for a much needed shower, it felt a lot warmer and humid out here; my gi was soaking wet, so it was left in the gym to dry out along with the rest of my training gear.  All clean and fresh, I was shown around a few sights before heading to Nandos for a much needed feast and then on to a bar for a quick drink before crashing out for the night.
Group photo
Up bright and early the next day, it was time for the long drive back home, with the sun blazing down, burning my arm and neck, a nice little souvenir; huge thanks to Ali, Taimur and Tarik for inviting me over to the club and checking out the club and meeting the students and sharing their passion for jiu jitsu. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Muscat Mixed Martial Arts Club - part 1

Before I start I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas back in the UK and hope you haven't all been flooded out! Well, it's 30 degrees outside and I don't mean Farenheit, it's tough out here, I can tell you.
I was at the Asian Cup last month and I met a few guys from Muscat Mixed Martial Arts Club (3Mac) and after chatting to them, I told them I was a reporter and would love to come and visit the club and do some training and reporting out in Oman.  The lads duly agreed and a few days ago, I filled the car up with essentials for a four hour drive, namely water, juice, Skittles and a memory stick filled with driving tunes and I was ready to go.
On the road to Muscat
I live five minutes drive from the Hili border point to Oman and there was little traffic as I went through the barriers and in less than a few minutes I was in the Sultanate of Oman;  Muscat lay four hours away and I was driving through some of the most breathtaking and rugged places on the planet.  It was bad enough driving in December, God only knows what it's like in summer when the temperature rises over 50C.
The mountains on each side of the road stuck up like jagged spikes and the road is literally just carved into the mountains; the first hour is driving through the desert before arriving at one of the Omani border points and I went inside to get my vistor's visa and was duly informed I hadn't been given an exit stamp from the UAE, so I had to drive back to another check point to get one, before I could progress further.
After a short drive back, I had my stamp and went back to get my visa and after a few stamps in the passport, I was ready to go again; I have to say I have never met a more friendly set of officials here in Oman, not like the jumped up little power trippers that disgrace the UK airports.  These guys welcomed me in to the country with a smile and a handshake and were really helpful explaining to me about the exit stamp and when I came back they even made me a cup of coffee.  We had a quick chat about my being there and another shaking of hands I was back on the road and a little bit closer to Muscat.
It's one long big road that takes you into Muscat, namely the Sohar-Buraimi Road and it wasn't long before I saw civilisation and like back in Al Ain, roundabouts; they really look after their roundabouts, the grass is trimmed to within an inch of its life and all bursting with colourful plants and clipped trees.  It really makes driving out here a pleasure, all along the dual carriage ways it's the same, all trimmed hedges and palm trees, no different to back here in Al Ain.
One of the many brightly coloured roundabouts
Back in Al Ain, cats and dogs are everywhere; in Oman, it's goats; many on the loose and many by the roadside, not quite so loose.  Obviously these animals don't know the Highway Code and come a cropper straying into the paths of HGV lorries, laden with steel rods and construction equipment, so not much of a match for the poor goat.
Driving into Muscat
There's a huge construction project going on in Oman, especially on the roads, with new roads being laid and bridges built, so some of the way there, the roads veered off, but even still, the drive was by no means stressful, one just had to keep an eye out for any goats on the run.  Driving through Sohar, the roads stretched out for miles in front of me and the miles were slowly reducing and before long I was starting to make my way into Muscat and to the Corniche Hotel, which I'd set in my sat nav; I'd stopped at a petrol station to buy some credit for my phone and was told they don't work here in Oman, so I was unable to contact my friends, so I thought they'd contact me instead.
Local Omani's playing a game called Hawalees
As I finally arrived into Muscat, there was still no call from the guys, so I popped into the Mina Hotel and asked the guy behind the desk if I could make a quick call to my friend; the guy was called Ashraf and couldn't have been more helpful and so contact was re established with Ali, who called me back and I was met by the grappling coach Taimur.  Turns out that they couldn't call my phone here in Oman, so next time I'm there an Omanian SMS will be purchased to save any hassles.
With Ashraf, my life saver
Taimur took me for a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant and we spoke about the history of the club and of course jiu jitsu;  by now the sun was setting a deep shade of red, so I enjoyed the scenery and food and it was time to go to the gym and meet the guys and gals, all of which will make up Part 2 of this report...................

Christmas Day on the mats!!

Just returned from another awesome session tonight with the guys and a great way to celebrate Christmas Day :)  As always the rolling was tough and I had some real wars, learning every session  and getting stronger.
Christmas Day grapplers
Thanks to all the guys for rolling with me tonight and pushing me forward every session. 
With my brother Rogerio; the same, but different :)

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

As ever, can't wish you all a Merry Christmas, without adding my favourite Yuletide photo :)

To all my students, have a great time and don't give any doormen in town any grief!  Thanks to The Proff for running the club in my absence and keeping the guys sharp!!

Thanks to you all for your continued support of Combat Base Bolton - OOOSSSS!!

BJJ pix - Grab and Pull!

One of my students, Mike Taylor, is a rather talented photographer and after taking shots at the few BJJ comps, supporting the lads, Mike has decided to conentrate on taking shots of BJJ events.

Here's a little album he's made for his site, which is under a revamp; make sure you take a visit and when you see him at a BJJ comp ask him to shoot you!!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Three stripes for Flavio!

Huge congrats to Flavio Serafin who became eligible for three stripes earlier this week; a huge achievement and best wishes from myself and all the coaching staff at Al Ain :)

Flavio on the left with fellow three stripers, Erik Cardoso (middle) and Eduardo Machado


Friday, 21 December 2012

Festive fun on the mats

All is well and still very much business as usual out here in the sunshine, which I'm sure will put your minds at ease back in Blighty :) Training hard every evening with the guys and gals and making good progress; all classes run with drilling for warm up, specifics and sparring. 
Reppin the Tatami brandwith Marcio and Higor
If there's anything left of me at the end, I attend the regular class, usually run by Erik or Leopoldo and get my share of techniques in that session, plus some extra sparring, having all the blues and purples after me, taking advantage of me being totally cream crackered.
With Eduardo Machado, my first black belt opponent in my BJJ comp the other month
The weather here is great for training, nice and warm in the afternoon and a lot cooler at night, having the burden of wearing a track suit jacket after training, but it's a cross I have to bear, my shoulders are broad.
On a road trip tomorrow, visiting friends in the lovely city of Muscat in Oman; they have a BJJ and MMA academy there, so it's a road trip out there to meet the guys, make some reports and enjoy some more jiu jitsu.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Double gold for Polyana!

Alliance black belt Polyana Lago flew the flag for the females at the Emirates Super Cup and won gold medal in her weight bracket and also in the Absolute.  Polyana works and trains in Al Ain and is always giving the guys a hard time, cracking jokes and putting the hours in on the mats.
Polyana and the bling
Congrats Polyana from myself and all your team mates here in Al Ain :)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Training pix

It's been business as usual out here in Al Ain, not been as busy on the Blog, due to one thing and the other; suffice to say the training keeps on getting better and better and tonight was no exeception.

A whopping thirty two black belts were on the mats for the Open Mat and after ten minutes of drilling with Rogerio, my brother from another mother, it was straight into rolling.  Six minutes on, two minutes rest and boy was it tough.  Just like every night.
Al Ain Massif
Each roll is never the same out here, so you can never prepare yourself for what's about to come your way from the black belts; all shapes and sizes, all kinds of guard passes, all manners of sweeps and a never ending supply of submissions, keep you well on your toes and as sharp as a new pin.  There's so many academies represented on the mats out here, it really is a unique place to learn jiu jitsu, probably the only place on the planet you'll find so many black belts from different academies, all training under one roof, week in, week out.
With Gilberto, after a WAR!
This for me is a truly humbling experience; to be part of such a great wealth of jiu jitsu talent and experience, I have to pinch myself at times to make sure I am not dreaming all of this. 
Another session ended and I pick myself up off the mats, dust myself down and wipe the sweat that's flowing freely down my face and into my eyes and head to the water cooler and have a well earned drink, with the rest of the guys; then I find myself a small space on the mats and stretch off and cool down and try and get my heart beat back to normal, as I can still feel the pounding in my chest, like a jackhammer on full power.
With 3 stripe Felipe, a real pocket rocket!
The weather here is ideal for training, nice and warm in the day, around 29/30 degrees C and drops down to a mild 18/19C in the evening; it's track suit jacket weather after class to avoid a chill, but the drive back home offers a welcome cooling breeze, so better make the most of this fine weather and carry on training hard. 
Iron sharpens iron.   Oooosss!


Monday, 10 December 2012

BJJ Demo Team!

Had the pleasure of being involved in a  BJJ demo at a local school in Al Ain this evening, that caters for students with special needs; a number of the black belts have taught jiu jitsu in the past at the school and they were warmly welcomed by the students, who were all involved in soccer matches, when we arrived at the school.

The BJJ demo team
Come half time and the mats were rolled out and myself and all the black belts from Al Ain stepped forward and gave a short demo of BJJ to the staff and students; starting off with basic rolls and break falls, a number of the black belts demonstrated BJJ techniques and some nifty Judo throws as well, before engaging in light sparring to round the demo off.
Team photo in the shape of the number 41, celebrating National Day
that was held last weekend; photo taken by Kaka Quintana

The demo area


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Jiddu's golden weekend!

HUGE congrats to Jiddu Bastos, one of the coaches here in Al Ain, who competed at the Emirates Super Cup competition at the weekend in Abu Dhabi and came away with four gold medals.  Jiddu entered the no gi comp on the Saturday and won his weight bracket (+92K) and took gold in the absolute and repeated the feat the next day in the gi event, bagging gold in the +92K bracket and gold again in the Absolute division.

Jiddu with the bling!

A magnificent achievement from Jiddu, who was over the moon at the end of the weekend and who wouldn't be with four gold medals in two days.  Jiddu has trained hard with the rest of the guys and has been duly rewarded for his efforts.

Massive thanks to Alexandre 'Baby' Carvalho for taking the time in preparing all the guys for the competition, with competition specific training for the last six weeks; everyone has benefitted from the training and all have improved from the hardcore sessions.

Next competition is in January 2013 - expect more gold!