Overall it was a great experience. I enjoyed the chance to train in a friendly environment with a lot of high level grapplers that I haven’t trained with before. That’s probably a good thing to do for anyone looking to expand their game.
The Butterfly System
When I started jiu jitsu two years ago, I was put on the butterfly guard (and x-guard) path right off the bat. I took a liking to the butterfly guard not because I was good at it, but because I was terrible at it. It seemed that unlike the closed guard and half guard, holding on for dear life is not an option for butterfly, so I knew I would have to learn good technique to prevent my butterfly guard from being passed.
A lot of the fundamentals (as well as the advanced details later) about butterfly and x-guard I took from Marcelo’s instructional dvds and MGInAction (his online video library). Marcelo really believes in that system, and his students do as well. So it was a surreal experience for me, because I got to train with some great technical players that all had amazing butterfly guards and more importantly had good defenses for mine.
The hardest part for me was safely passing the butterfly in no-gi. I had to be very patient and not make any mistakes. Especially the higher ranks were very quick to take advantage of any opening.
Advice for Visitors
I did 4 classes (2 gi and 2 no-gi). I was sore going into it, which was frankly a mistake. There are a lot of good technical players there and in order to really appreciate the experience I think you need to be able to go toe-to-toe with them. That takes a lot of physical and mental energy. It’s almost similar to a tournament. So my recommendation is to get a good night’s sleep and make sure you’re well rested before the visit, especially if you are looking to do multiple classes.
If you live in Philadelphia like I do, take a bus there! BoltBus or MegaBus will take you from 30th St Station in Philly to within a couple of blocks away from Marcelo’s academy. The ride takes exactly two hours, and is comfortable, especially when you’re sleep deprived as I am and spend the whole ride there and back passed out (probably snoring and/or drooling on yourself).
Do laundry in the city! Marcelo’s academy is on 36th and 5th. There’s a cheap coin laundry place on 30th and 5th: L C Laundromat. So even if you want to do multiple classes, you can still bring just one gi and it’ll be nice and clean for both training sessions.
The last piece of advice I have falls into the category of common sense: don’t over eat. Did I follow this advice? No. There was a Subway footlong. There was pizza. There were lots of apples and coffee. It wasn’t too much food, but just enough to make training less fun than it otherwise would have been