Buenos Aires, Argentina is the first city on my four-month South American itinerary; but, it also marks the final leg of my year’s trip.
I embraced laid-back culture permeating through the people in the hectic city, the beautiful weather and great/cheap malbecs all month long. It was also incredibly satisfying being able use my basic Spanish skills to understand almost half of what people were saying to me, especially after 8 months in Europe and Asia where I had no clue what anyone was saying.
However, beyond everything else, two things stood out the most this past month: Asado and new school Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Meat, Meat and More Meat… Then Add Some Wine
Asado (an Argentinian BBQ) quickly became my favorite tradition. I never went more than week between Asados. Whether it was at a fancy restaurant, a local pub after a few drinks or someone’s terrace, it was always a blast gathering friends around to feast every cut of steak, pork and chicken imaginable, all while passing around bottles of local wine and beer.
If you ever plan to going to Argentina, make sure you’re not on a diet. I gained a few pounds and got a little sluggish on the mat (not to mention meat sweats) but it’s completely worth it for all the mouth-watering meats. If you go to BA, hit me up for recommendations.
Learning Technical Moves and Trying to Keep up with New School Competitors
After a month of building my strength, stamina and basic techniques in Bulgaria, I was feeling great about training in South America. It was time to up the aggression in my rolls and hopefully get a little closer to my pre-travel form.
With the help of the BJJ Globetrotter community, I found United MMA Fight Center. This gym immediately felt like home when I walked in. It was filled with MMA fighters, Muay Thai shorty shorts and BJJ guys rolling in their gis. It was a beautiful mix of all the martial arts existing and mixing together.
It was apparent that these guys leaned heavy on the new school spectrum when the first class’ technique was reverse de la riva. As someone who relies heavily on the old school strategies, I was stoked and a little nervous to work on techniques that I barely use, let alone understand.
As I expected, lower belts made me look foolish all month with expertly executed berimbolos, worm guards and all kinds of other scramble-style passes. It didn’t help that it’s a competition school and a lot of the guys were in insane shape and training to become world champions. As the month progressed, I got a little faster and more aggressive. By the last few classes I was holding my own and even playing around with some fun spider guard setups.
Gyms like United MMA are the reason I was so excited to travel and train around the world for a year. There’s no way I could get these kind of roles and experience just by training at my home gym. I learned a few new tricks and walked away with a much better understanding of the concepts behind some new school techniques and strategies.