Greeting From Rome Italy!
I made it to Rome on a quick bus trip from Naples, an uneventful ride but full of beautiful open country views. As busy as Rome is the transit is easy to read and the train routes, even being a simple system, hits all the necessary places. I picked up a week pass, which I highly recommend if you go to Rome, it’s quite the discount from paying single fares and comes in very handy if you want to see all the sights. I made it to hostel easy enough, settled in and was off to get a start on seeing some of the many, many sights and get my legs moving again after sitting in a bus all day.
I love seeing new cities, training at new clubs and meeting new Jiu-Jitsueros as I travel the world. Each city is an opportunity for new adventures and making new friends. However I didn’t know how many new friends I would be making in Rome, not from the gyms but from staying at the hostel. Usually when I stay at a hostel everyone is busy with their own itinerary, but I had the luck of being in a hostel where everyone seemed very open to hanging out and making plans to see all the sights. With so many places to see it gets quite overwhelming making a plan to see everything on your own, so why not talk with a fellow hosteler, make a plan and go together, right? Quite a few people came and stayed for a day or two and left for another destination during the week I stayed in Rome and pretty much every day or night I would venture out to see some of the sights with someone. There are so many sights in Rome, and most you can see any time day or night, making for lots of opportunities for hostelers to make plans and explore the city. It’s great to walk around in the evening either to stretch out after training or just get in more walking around the city and tire myself out for the day. Rome has tons of places to walk around and the sights all look different in the evening with the light on them, almost like seeing all whole new city in the evening. I’ve stayed in touch with some of the friends I made in Rome and I’ve enjoyed watching their journeys as I travel on my own, hopefully our paths will cross again.
The Sights, The Many, Many Sights!
There are many, many sights to see in Rome and I took many, many pictures of them all, well all the sights I got to see, which was a lot. I tried to limit the pictures I posted here and let you head over to my Flickr Account to see them all.
Flow Jiu-Jitsu Academy
I will admit that I did more sight seeing than training in Rome but I did manage to make it out to some gyms. The the first was Flow Jiu-Jitsu Academy, which is inside a gym with a pool and tennis court. I actually thought it may be some sort of country club and that I had gone to the wrong place, since everything was closed when I showed up and I couldn’t see any signs for the club. Luckily I met someone else who was there for Jiu-Jitsu sitting at a table enjoying the sun “You here for Jiu-Jitsu?” he asked and gestured to pull up a chair. We chatted a bit about about me visiting Rome while more people showed up and finally someone with a key arrived and let us all in. Everyone was friendly and happy to have a visitor, but there wasn’t much time for talking as everyone was quite eager to get to training. We did a warm up, which killed me way more than it should have but the heat was getting to me. After warm up we worked some techniques, the class wasn’t set up as a traditional class but instead it was more of open mat time to work on whatever technique you want. My partner asked if there was anything I wanted to go over and I realized with traveling around so much I really haven’t been focusing on anything specific. He proposed open guard, I agreed and we spent the next half hour going over some open guard passes, helping each other fine tune our techniques.
After the technique drilling session it was time for rolling and these guys were more than ready to get their fix. I rolled with a few of them and I was on the defense, or just tapping, the whole time. The guys weren’t malicious in any way but their games are very aggressive and whether I was travel worn or dried up from the sun or not I was not prepared to deal with these guys. As they say some days you’re the hammer and other days you’re the nail and I was the nail that day. I sat out for a few rounds and watched the class roll, there were some guys who were on fire, one in particular was just having his way with everyone, working on takedowns and guard passing and then seeming to reset. I eventually rolled with this guy, who’s name I forget, to see how my game would be to defend his takedowns and try some of my own, it did not go so well. I remember at one point I got tripped and tried to work open guard with him and went to set up a sickle sweep, but he was so tall I couldn’t get a foot on his hip and go for the sweep, his stance was so wide I was also missing sweeping the leg by a mile. I realized this sweep was never going to happen and just started laughing. “You’re too tall, I can’t even post off your hips!” We both stopped and laughed, agreed I had lost that one and reset. I wish there was more time to hang out and get to know the club more but the head coach, who I had been talking to online, was away and I struggled to find an ice breaker with the class. It was still an enjoyable time and I would drop by again if I was in Rome in the future. Thanks for class guys!
Another gym I made my way to visit was Aeterna Jiu-Jitsu, which is in the south end of Rome and inside a sports hall on top a hill, it’s a bit of walking from the nearest train station but I found it without too much problem. Aeterna was my 75th gym visiting during this Odyssey so I was happy to hit the milestone and wish I could have set up a time to do an interview with the coach there, but they were also away when I visited. If I remember right there was a big tournament that had just happened so a lot of the black belts from the surrounding clubs were away for that. Anyways, I showed up to the front desk and asked where the Jiu-Jitsu was, after filling out a waiver the woman gave me some quick instructions I found the club and the change room. The gym hall is pretty big, with a series of rooms and hallways, I walked by the open weights area and navigated my way through the rooms as the front desk woman described and found the club. I’m not too sure what else what going on in the gym hall but it sounded like the place was busy with all kinds of tings going on. Aeterna itself is a big club, there were probably 30 people on the mats that night, and everyone seemed to be close to each other, chatting, joking, helping with techniques, like a close knit club should. I always love seeing everyone looking out for each other, it’s a sure sign of the club being a positive environment.
After a good warm up we got in to drill techniques, which was more open guard just as I had been working on at Flow but now adding attacking some submissions as well. A few students asked about my BJJ Globetrotters gi and what I was doing in Rome but it was a pretty quiet class, there wasn’t much chatting going with the new guy. When it came to rolling I started to not feel so well after the first roll so I took some time to rest and use the bathroom. My stomach apparently was deciding that this day would not be a good day to roll. I spent the rest of time just sitting on the sidelines watching everyone spar, feeling dejected that I’m spending my milestone 75th visited club on the bench. I felt like this visit was a dud, no good rolling, no interview, no good chatting and friend making. Not that any of this had anything to do with the club, everyone that I talked to and train with was great and I would love to visit the club again, it was just a bad day training for me. As I was leaving one of the club members saw me walking and asked where I was going, being a long walk to the train station he gave me a ride and we talked about my journey on the way. We chatted about a few things like his training and experience in Jiu-Jitsu so far, he was a white belt and hoping for his blue soon. It was a good note to end on, making a connection with a member of the club, making me feel better about the whole night being a less than desired night of training. Another club visited, another club I wished I had more time for and hope to visit again one day!
After a busy week of sight seeing and experiencing Rome, and getting a little Jiu-Jitsu in, it was time to head out, I had a plane to catch to fly to the land of my ancestors, Switzerland!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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