Greetings From Melbourne Australia (8-14 Nov 2017)!
Moving from Geelong to Melbourne was the fastest and easiest travel between two stops on the Odyssey, it was literally just an hour or so train ride to downtown Melbourne, Geelong is really just next to Melbourne after all. This stop was my first time staying in a hostel in Australia, which I can say looking back I’m not a fan of them overall, but I’ll get into that shortly. I made my to the hostel, checked in and found my room without any problem after getting used to the transit system and finding my bearings. I had to quickly find my way around downtown and the area surrounding the hostel as when I checked in my one and only pair of shorts I’ve had since Paris decided to blowout and ripped practically in two. I bent over to pick up my bags after checking in and, in front of a packed lobby, my shorts ripped open showing off my ass to everyone, good thing I was wearing underwear that day. Finding my bed I dropped my bags off and changed into something that didn’t leave my ass hanging out and headed out to find a clothing store. While searching for a new pair of shorts, which I found easy enough, I was able scout out various interesting places to eat and stores of interest. This ended up actually being a really good turn of events since I later realized there was no way of being able to use the kitchen during my stay if I wanted to also make the class times.
As I mentioned before I did enjoy staying at the hostels in Australia. This stop was one of only two places I stayed at a hostel in Australia but I have heard that what I experienced is similar all or most of the hostels there. I had no problem with the bed or the room itself at this place, I was quite comfortable sleeping there, my problem is more with the kitchen. Not only could I never use the kitchen to cook but there was no space in the fridges to keep any food either. The reason for this is that in Australia getting temporary work visa is apparently easy, or a lot of work places seem to be lax for paperwork. I overheard people talking about spending a weekend to pick up a white card to work general labour but nothing about getting a work visa, in fact a few even said it wasn’t needed. So the hostels are packed with people all working, mostly illegally, living and eating in packs together taking over the entire kitchen space as if it’s their own place. I was unable to cook or keep food in either hostel and I don’t think anyone staying there for a short stay was either. I was forced to eat out the whole time and I went really over budget because of this. At least Australia is beautiful and has awesome Jiu-Jitsu.
I got shown a lot of Melbourne outside the downtown area one night when I met up with Ian, a purple belt I met on the Globetrotters Facebook group and kept in contact for my visit to Melbourne. We met up to train a few times during my stay and both times Ian told me about the history of Melbourne and the area. My favourite thing about Australia, besides the amazing beaches, is the Australian Football League (AFL) and Melbourne is a big AFL city. Each district of Melbourne has it’s own team and they’re huge fans, it changes the feeling of each area, especially when one of them won the Championships recently. Think of being in New York and walking through Yankees territory who just won and crossing the street into Mets territory who just lost, and there’s six teams in this same city. Driving around with Ian explaining all this to me was awesome, I wish I had pictures of the different team banners and signs in restaurants and bar windows.
Other than checking out another big botanical garden again I did some walking around to some of the different monuments and historical buildings. Here are some pictures of Melbourne and a video I made. Check out the video over on Panda’s Odyssey Youtube Channel. You can also check out all my pictures of this and all my other stops over on my Flickr Account.
During my stay in Melbourne Remembrance Day occurred, I almost forgot as there wasn’t much posted for it in the city, not like back in Canada where we sell poppies everywhere and have posters for the various services in the cities. In Australia Remembrance Day seems a smaller affair with Anzac Day being the bigger occasion. As it happens the day I was out sight seeing and filming was Remembrance Day, as you saw above I caught a bit of the service at the Shrine of Remembrance which is greatest monument honouring their fallen I’ve seen so far in my travels.
Clifton Hill BJJ
Melbourne is the Jiu-Jitsu central of Australia, there are many great gyms in the big city and I tried visiting as many as possible. Ian trains at Clifton Hill BJJ which is held in the Collingwood sports center, which closer to the Carlton Football team than Collingwood’s but who am I argue names. I arrived by train and with Ian’s directions I found the center without problems. I was a bit early so I was confused where the classes were held as there was no signs for it and when I looked inside there were no mats. One by one people showed up, greeted me and then started pulling puzzle mats out of the storage room. In no time the hardwood gym floor was matted and the class was warming up. By the time Ian showed up I had already meet Chris, the black belt and head instructor, who introduced me to everyone else.
I think we trained for 2 hours that night, I know we had a full hour of drilling before rolling and we rolled for a while. The gym really made me feel welcome, they’re not a big club but they’re all very kind and open people and most of them travel a lot themselves so we had all sorts of stories to share. Chris especially had a lot of stories. I can’t remember what exactly we drilled in class but I do remember sharing some little details with Chris who showed me an awesome quick shoulder lock from mount that surprised the hell out of me when he suddenly threw it on. It was great, however brief, meeting the Clifton Hill gym and training with them. Thanks for making me feel welcome, the fun chats and the cool sneaky move you taught me Chris!
Melbourne Budo Academy/Jean Jacques Machado BJJ Melbourne
I’m glad I was able to meet up with Ian, who not only brought me out to this gym and showed me around but to also brought me another place for open mat, Jean Jacques BJJ Melbourne. The gym is in a dojo, the Melbourne Budo Academy, which holds other classes. The dojo is a big open square space with tatami mats and classical dojo tapestries and weapon racks on the walls. I got dressed and started warming up as Ian introduced me to everyone, they seemed welcoming enough, if a bit quiet, I figured maybe it was the traditional martial arts influence creeping into the Jiu-Jitsu culture. Either way we had fun rolling with each other.
It was a small group that showed up but everyone was there to drill and roll. The head instructor Jon wasn’t at the open mat but Ben was, a very skilled purple belt who I believe recently received his brown belt, and he totally destroyed me. I’m glad he has his brown belt now, I’m sure it won’t be long before his black belt either. Ian and I had a good 10-15 minute roll of just flowing back and forth and working on moving and defending, trying new things and seeing where it went. It was lots of fun, Ian isn’t just a great host showing me around and bringing me out to the gyms but also a great partner to train with. Thanks Ian for everything, you really made this stop a blast!
Academy BJJ was a last minute addition to this visit. A friend from the UK, Can (Jon) contacted me connected me to a former student of his that is now living and training in Melbourne, small world! I wasn’t able to meet up with the student as our schedules didn’t match up but I did make it out to class to meet and train with the gym. The gym is was easy to find with it being on the ground floor and big signage, as soon as I walked into the gym I met Prof. Dan the head instructor who greeted me openly and welcomed me into his club. I showed up early so while the white belt class was running I watched and spoke with Prof. Dan about the Odyssey between his teaching points to the class. The night I came out to class isn’t a big night for senior belts so most of the class were white belts, which was actually good for me because not only was I tired from the hectic schedule but that meant I can just follow along and work on refining fundamentals without the fear of being tested and crushed by senior belts. In all seriousness it was nice training at Academy BJJ with Prof. Dan’s students, we worked guard passing and retention concepts for different open guards I worked with some senior white and blue belts on their game for passing, I think there was a competition coming up. I felt welcomed and comfortable and would love to visit them again one day.
De Been 100% Jiu-Jitsu
Another gym I checked out while I was in Melbourne was De Been 100% Jiu-Jitsu. I found them on the Free Rollers site list of affiliate gyms that welcome visitors. I was only able to make it out to the noon time class, I think it was the same day I went to the evening class at Academy BJJ, hitting five gyms in one visit while also sight seeing meant some busy days. The gym is in an upstairs space, with the mat area is a long rectangular room, separate from the rest of the gym. The space is really nice, it’s too bad I could only make it out to lunch time class where only a few people come out instead the busy evening classes, either way I had a fun time. As there were only four or five of us we just went over one technique, I believe it was working De La Riva guard, or spider guard, retaining and passing drills. After the drilling for a short while we got to rolling round robin, I’m pretty sure I rolled with everyone at least twice before we ended the session. I wish I could say more but I didn’t connect with anyone online before dropping by like usual and I have no pics from this visit so I’m pretty empty handed other than my memories of having fun training and chatting with the small group who showed up. I know it doesn’t make for a great story to share but it was a good time none the less.
The last gym I checked out on this visit I had already been to before, Absolute MMA St Kilda held a seminar the week before and I attended with guys from Geelong. It was an awesome experience and I’m glad I did it as that was the only time I was able to meet Craig Jones, Kit Dale and Lachlan Giles as none of them were around for the only class I attended. Well, Craig Jones was hanging out in class but he wasn’t teaching or training as he was taking off right after for his trip to USA to compete in EBI and hold some seminars. Instead another instructor named Lachlan, who is a celebrated competitor, was teaching the morning class. This class was the only one I was able to show up to, I had plans to return for the evening classes but ended up oversleeping on a badly planned afternoon nap. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and go with the flow and rest.
Anyways, I showed to Absolute MMA for the morning class, it’s an impressive space with two sizable mat spaces, one with heavy bags, and a weights area for conditioning. The BJJ classes are held in the larger back mat space. I got changed and, with permission of the instructor, set up my GoPro before class to capture the training session. During class we focused on guard breaking and passing then added more details and more moves to the sequence. After drilling we got into positional rolling in a ‘King of the Mat’ format. Pass or sweep, winner stays on the mat and loser goes back in line. A universal favourite drill among Jiu-Jitsu gyms. Of course positional rolling then turned to free rolling rounds that went pretty much until no one could roll anymore. It was a great time, I had some good matches and fun conversations along the sidelines. I wish I could have come back for more but there’s always next time.
Here’s a video of my time training at Absolute MMA, follow the link and you can see all my other videos as well at the Panda’s Odyssey YouTube channel, while you’re there please show some love, like, share, comment and subscribe!
After a really busy and way too short visit I was off to my next visit where I got to see more sun, beach and of course Jiu-Jitsu, Sydney!
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
WAYS TO SUPPORT PANDA’S ODYSSEY!
Buy Panda’s Odyssey Patches at The Gi Hive.
Buy a shirt at Panda’s Jiu-Jitsu Store.
Follow me and other traveling Jiu-Jitsueros at the BJJ Globetrotters blog section.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my full photo albums for each article at my Flickr account.
Add me and follow along on most social media @pandasodyssey