Up until this moment we’ve put about 60,000 km or 37,000 mi on our small RV. We’ve been travelling in it for two years now and don’t particularly see an end in sight. Last year we weren’t able to explore Texas as much as we would’ve liked to, so this time we made sure to set aside more than enough time to do so.
Entering the state from the West side, a Jiu Jitsu gym was in our sights as our first destination. The academy I decided to first visit was Rodrigo Pinheiro BJJ located in San Antonio. They were extremely welcoming and said of course I could train with them. I don’t get excited often but being in a new gym for the first time is one of the few things that always does it for me.
You won’t often see me write about specific training that happens within academies because a) I don’t think it morally right to be speaking about the specifics of an academies’ training regimen and b) I do not wish for my training throughout my travels to be viewed as any sort of review system of academies. I simply love both the art and traveling, and respectfully enjoy learning and sharing it with others. White belt mentality always. That said, I very much enjoyed the classes here and was surprised to be shown a couple of chokes that I have never seen before. I met a lot of really cool people here. One of which being a black belt, Tony Erard, and a brown belt Jeremy Abates. *Side note* Jeremy’s son is a young phenom who trains full time and has won a ton of tournaments. His name is Cole Abate, he’s a great kid and you should go like his page on Facebook. Both of these men made me aware that the Gordon Ryan vs. Joao Rocha Super Series Kasai Pro event was happening the upcoming weekend, just a few hours North of us, and that there was also a huge open mat the next day at the grand opening of the VA Academy in Wylie TX.
Well in my mind I didn’t really have much an option. No way I could return to Canada knowing I was only a few hours away from one of the largest grappling events being done this year and I didn’t see it. I informed Sarah that we absolutely MUST travel a few hours North to Dallas so that I could attend both of these events. Lucky for me, Sarah is incredibly understanding and supportive and she said lets go!
Kasai was being held in a neighborhood called Deep Ellum, located in East Dallas. Its known for beautiful street murals, art galleries and entertainment venues. It’s a very unique place with a ton of character and an interesting history.
The last minute ticket I picked up for the show turned out to be a great spot, although I don’t think there was a bad seat in the house. I was on the balcony with a seat, table, and could clearly see the stage and large projector screen. There were plenty of exciting matches, pyrotechnics, and everything seemed to run smoothly and without a hitch. Absolutely the best grappling event I’ve ever attended. After the event Sarah and I walked around the area and explored the streets and shops, ate some food and grabbed a couple beers at a restaurant at night.
The next morning we drove 15 minutes to Wylie TX so I could get some rolling in at the VA Academy/Soul Fighters grand opening. I was elated because a lot of the competitors from the event were there along with the recent pals, Jeremy and Tony, I’d met in San Antonio. Sure enough the place was packed with more than 15 black belts and all other lower ranks. I rolled until exhaustion like usual, as I LOVE the grind, and did about 12–15 rounds. Great time.
Our plan while heading East was to ride the southern coast to visit beaches along the way to Florida. So from the Dallas area we had to head back down Southeast a few hours to Houston. I am a Gracie Barra member, so I usually try to look for an affiliate where we are, however that’s not always possible. In this case when we arrived in Houston I found Gracie Barra Westchase. Now although I do not review any gyms that I visit, I have to say that this was one of the best gyms I’ve ever been to. Amazing facility, coaches, and training. Porrada everyday. Head Instructor and Owner, Ulpiano Malachias treated me like family and welcomed me into his academy. He’s got some amazing competitors there that were a privilege to train with. I plan to spend a lot more time here next year upon return.