Visiting Rio Jiu Jitsu in Chicago

rio-jiu-jitsu-lex-visit-in-chicagoAs I wrote yesterday, I visited Chicago this weekend, and of course couldn’t help but bring my gi and get a little training in. There’s an academy a couple miles away from Matt’s place called Rio Jiu Jitsu (see my big ugly mug in the picture to the left). I didn’t know much about it, so I emailed them and got a quick response back from the head instructor (Pete “The Greek” Letsos). He was really welcoming, gave me the schedule, and said to come in any time.

I only had time on Sunday, so I decided to come in for the noon session. It was a memorial day weekend Sunday, so I was expecting no one to show up, but there was a good number of people. Pete wasn’t in, but a very good purple belt (whose name I forget because I’m horrible with names) was there to teach a few techniques and run the training. I really liked rolling with him. At about 140 lbs, he was in a tough position of having to face another purple belt visitor 40 lbs heavier than him whose game/personality/history he didn’t know at all. Given all that he moved very smoothly from technique to technique, letting me do stuff without any ego. The sheer number of techniques he did very cleanly was fun to watch: everything from calf-slicers to spider guard sweeps to side control escapes to rolling back takes to a number of creative kneebar entries.

It sucks that I just missed the head instructor Pete (who’s there most days) but I can tell he is a great teacher and coach by the way his students approach the game. There was a relaxed learning atmosphere and the drilling was very precise and grounded in good fundamentals. The purple belt had a great line about his approach to jiu jitsu that he just does it because he loves it and gets on the mat as often as possible. He related it to “Getting XP points in Skyrim” which I believe is the first time I heard anyone compare jiu jitsu to an RPG game, but it’s a very good analogy.

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I dragged my gi all the way from Philly to get a couple hours at this school. I’ll be sure to visit it again any time I’m in Chicago. If you live in the area, you should definitely get over there and try it out.

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