Greetings from London England!
I made it! I’m actually in London England! Although I just spent the last 4 months traveling across Canada I really feel like my journey has only now just begun. In a way it has, this is first time being in Europe where I have no old friends or family members to meet up with. This is the land with each city full of history and sights equal to that of all of Canada. This is the start of the European Odyssey!
I took some time to see some of the sights in London, seeing Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were an obvious must but I really didn’t know what else I would see.
After my first night to class I met a fellow jiiu-jitsuero, Steve, who happens to work security at the Tower of London and he offered me a pass in to see the sight and get on one of the tours with a Beefeater telling us of the history of the place. I couldn’t pass it up! I made my way to the tower after class one day and got there just in time to jump in on a tour.
After the tour I walked around and took a bunch of pictures and even got to see the Crown Jewels. I would have loved to take pictures of the vault that they are stored in, because the eight inch thick doors you pass through are both impressive and intimidating, but I doubted that would have looked very good on the security tapes, someone walking around taking pictures of the security measures.
Granted there’s still a lot of sights for me to see in London but the Tower of London is top my of list of places you have to go to when you visit!
During this stay in London I was only able to make it out to Wave BJJ, I say ‘only’ because I was hoping to make it out to Roger Gracie’s Academy but the weekend schedule didn’t match up with what else what going on. There are a large number of BJJ clubs in London and no matter how many I make it out it will still be saying I ‘only’ made it to these clubs. Anyways, my first night out was to the Wave BJJ’s east location at the Elephant & Castle club. It’s a smaller spot, with them renting out an art exhibit room and throwing down puzzle mats for the class. The whole location has a art vibe, with the building around them being a number of sea containers stacked together and turned into shops. The room they rent out is all windows and being in the location there is a lot of foot traffic, as one of the students said, you feel like you are art of an art display. It’s actually a nice spot and cool little place.
I showed up and introduced myself, asking if Lorenzo, the head coach, was around. I was told he was not but knowing him was good enough to be allowed into to class, I would have to wait for the weekend to meet Lorenzo. In fact none of the people I had talked to online were at this class, which was kind of disappointing as I wanted to meet everyone, but I had a great time all the same and met a wonderful new group of friends. I was feeling a bit rough from the flight over so I skipped on rolling that night. I did not, however, skip on joining the class to the pub afterwards. I grabbed myself a Coke and joined in with the conversations, talking about all things from Jiu-Jitsu and traveling to current politics. It was a great first night out to a club in London!
The next day I would be going to Wave BJJ’s home location, the HQ, in Chiswick. It’s a easy club to miss if you don’t know exactly where it is. You come out of the train station and directly beside the station is a small narrow path that follows along beside the train tracks. I missed this path at first but thanks to Google maps on my phone was able to see that and back track and find it. Then while walking down this path you see different stores under the arches of the train tracks, Wave BJJ doesn’t have a sign in the window, not when I visited them anyways, but I was able to see the mats through the bare windows and someone in a rashguard and gi pants, I correctly guessed this must be the place.
It’s actually a really cool setup Wave BJJ has. Other than being under the train tracks there are stairs that go up a floor that overlooks the mats and makes for some cool group pictures, it’s also where the guys change. The main floor has a wall that is completely mirrored, as it used to the a dance academy. It’s an open rectangular space that is well suited for the classes they conduct. After warm up we got into drilling some techniques that dealt with using some different grips from what I’m used to that made the technique almost completely new to me again. After drilling we got into some positional rolling, starting in guard and either passing or sweeping. The students were all good people, they were friendly and fun to train with, lots of fun was had. I returned again for an open mat and rolled with all sorts of people. Apparently they get students from all over come in, as I found out after I was schooled by a 10th Planet student “white belt”. I even got invited out to a few gyms, which I’ve have to look up when I’m in London again. The open mat was a of of fun and I could plainly see the philosophy of club: everyone is welcome.
Prof. Lorenzo Fraquelli
After open mat Prof. Lorenzo and I sat down and did an interview. This is first interview of a black belt who actively is a part of BJJ Globetrotters so I wanted to talk to him about how that influenced his club as well as his own philosophy. We had a fun chat about his Jiu-Jitsu journey and running the club and what BJJ means to him. You can watch the video over on the Panda’s Odyssey YouTube Channel and watch it there. Don’t forget to show some love and like, comment, share and subscribe!
That’s it for London for now. I only spent a few days in the city this time around but when I return I’ll be there for a week and hope to get out and check out a lot of more clubs. in the mean time the rest of the UK and Ireland await!
OSSS!!Until next time, see you on the mats!
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