TALK TUESDAY: A Saturday with a Gracie

Right before we headed out for a quick visit with friends in Maryland, the husband just had to attend a seminar at AllStar MMA Training Facility, his bjj home school.  He said he must attend because Gregor Gracie is teaching.  Now, being the dutiful wife, I immediately looked him up.  His last name is Gracie, so I already know he’s a very big deal.  The husband has Gracie in his Youtube history, AllStar is a Gracie school, and my brother-in-law’s gi has Gracie all over it.  So yeah, I know he’s a big deal.  I just needed to see how much.

So this was the top search result from BJJ Heroes:

Gregor Rangel, also known as Gregor “Gracie” is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie and a former world champion in the lower belt divisions who also successfully ventured into mixed martial arts (MMA). Gregor is not a member of the Gracie family by blood, but is the half brother of Rolles and Igor Gracie, both sons of the legendary Rolls Gracie. Gregor has also competed in freestyle wrestling with a notable win over Darryl Christian, a highly accomplished wrestler.

Wow.  It doesn’t end there.  This is a list of his main achievements:

World Champion (2004 & 2005 purple)
Pan American Champion (2006 brown)
Brazilian National Champion (2005 purple)
Brazilian National Teams Champion (2003 blue, 2004 purple)
Grapplers Quest Champion (4x)
World No-Gi Championship 2nd Place (2008)
World Master Championship 2nd Place (2016 Master 1)
ADCC 3rd Place (2009)
Pan American 2nd Place (2001 blue)

Thoroughly impressed with his resumé, I asked the school if I can come in and take some pictures of the seminar.  They were kind enough to let me in, and the seminar started at their neighbor mat Apex Wrestling School.  Starting the afternoon with men grappling on the floor was something new for me, and this one will be counted as a good learning experience.

Gregor Gracie and Professor Jamal Patterson of AllStar MMA

The seminar started with Gregor (I feel so close to him now that we are on first-name basis) showing a sweep from standing.  At least that’s what I heard.

He emphasized the importance of form.  One thing that I truly appreciate about jiu jitsu is the fact that each movement leverages on the response of your body without having to exert brute force.  With a thrust of the hip coming from bent knees and feet together, Gregor shows how easily a lift can be done.

Like a regular class, the group broke up in pairs to begin their drills.

Ever the observant teacher, Gregor walks the mat to observe each student.

I very rarely get the terms correct for this lifestyle.  So you can never imagine my joy when I correctly identified the spider guard!  Gregor exhibited a number of passes and sweeps from the spider guard.

Hi, husband. 😍

The seminar ran for almost two hours.  At the end, Gregor opened the floor for some more questions and clarifications on any other topic under the sun.

Someone asked what is the best advice Gregor can give for those starting to join the competition circuit.  His advice was very practical:  warm up correctly.  He pointed out that once you’ve loosened up and sweated out, you are just going to fall in the groove when competition starts.  It doesn’t make sense to be tired from a 5-minute round; you’ve rolled longer than that.  You’re tired because you didn’t warm up correctly and your body is tight, forcing its way to the roll.  If you warmed up correctly, say an hour or so before you compete, you go into the mat as a well-oiled machine.

Gregor also explained his perspective about competitions.  He said winning and losing are mere consequences.  What one should be concerned about is if he/she competed well.  Were you a good competitor?  Did you give your opponent a challenge?  Did you give your best?  If the answer is yes, then whatever the consequence may be — win or lose — you got what you came for in that competition.  You’ve competed and you did it well.

At the end of the class, Professor Jamal thanked Gregor for gracing his school.  Did I mention they go way back?  Like I said, in jiu jitsu, you gain a family FOR LIFE.

I wish more students took advantage of this opportunity, to learn from a seasoned fighter.  It’s not everyday you get to have a Gracie correct and complement your form, give you life advice and praise your performance.  Perhaps more schools should communicate with each other more, so that they are aware of every seminar and visit that can benefit them in more ways than you can count.

We probably wrapped up a little after 3 in the afternoon.  Looking at the GPS, it would take us 3.5 hours to get to Maryland, and we’ll probably arrive closer to 8pm.  Maybe we’ll be late for dinner, maybe we’ll hit traffic at Delaware.  It didn’t matter.  It was totally worth it.

 

TALK TUESDAY: Having an unplugged wedding

Did I mention that we had an unplugged wedding?  At the doors of the church, our coordinators and junior bridesmaids handed out these notice cards to our guests:

When I first pitched the idea to the husband, he was immediately all for it.  My mother, not so much.  She pointed out that it will be inevitable that people will whip out their phones and tablets and cameras and just take a snapshot of everything.  I know what she meant; I myself have a hard time putting my phone down.  But I was adamant.

Of course, our wedding is not my first wedding.  I have seen so many, and in the recent past, two of which were my close friends’.  Both were grand celebrations, and everyone seemed to be present.  They had hashtags and everything, so that anything posted on social media about weddings will be publicly curated.  I did this too, and it really was great seeing everyone else’s perspective of our special day.

Anyway, the guests were taking photos of everything — flowers, each other, selfies — and then the entourage started walking.  It was marvelous.  You know you’re about to see something special when each participant is a build up to something better.  Then the doors opened.  The bride’s silhouette made everyone gasp in awe.  It was just like in the story books.

But it completely SUCKED A** for the photographer and videographer.  Everyone had their own phones, cameras, Go Pros and what not blocking their line of sight.  I swear I even saw a couple of the crew visibly and verbally irritated.  Some of them even asked the guests to move out of the way so they can catch that moment, and the guests had the gall to be annoyed that they’re being asked to move!

At that moment, all I could think of was the money the couple paid for the professionals to take pictures and videos of their special day. True, in the end, they made it work, but honestly, not without extreme effort.  There was even a wedding I attended that there were so many phone up, the videographer couldn’t see the groom’s face when he first saw the bride.  He had to make do by capturing a tablet capturing the groom’s face.

It was such a distraction.  I felt so bad for the photographers and videographers.  It was at that point that I decided that for our wedding, we’ll have everyone turn off their devices, at least during the ceremony.  Right off the bat, our coordinator and my mother immediately said this will be difficult to pull off, especially at this day and age where it is just automatic for people to whip out their phones at any god given time.  But we made it work.  And thanks to completely cooperative guests, everything was pulled off perfectly.

Guests, please take note. Jaraaaan! #carlallanwed

A post shared by Marga Susi (@margoks) on

Not a single phone or tablet in sight. Our families and guests were amazing. They truly made our day special.

It was almost a special gift to our suppliers.  No distractions, no need for body contortions, because the space was open and free for them to take photos and videos of our special day.

I know how important it is to have your own memento of things and events that had happened in your life.  I know because I too am an enthusiast of taking photos.  You can check out my almost 3,000 photos on Instagram, and even on Snapchat.  I take a lot of photos and make sure that they’re properly framed so they’re deserving to be exhibited on my feed.  But us, the to-be-married couple, we’re right in front of you.  You can see us live and alive, exchanging our vows and very much in the moment.  Why would you settle for the small screen?

Our journey as a couple is filled with Facetime, selfies, chats, numerous text messages and email journals even.  For once, it was nice to not have those things in the way and just be present.  Believe us when we say real life is a million times better.

It did result in fewer public posts in our social media feed, but we didn’t care.  I’d like to believe (and as what most of our guests have shared after the festivities) that everyone was moved because everyone paid attention, and listened, and was completely present.  Now, that was truly a moment to remember.