BJJ Tour of Texas-Remember the Alamo

There is a reason why they say "Remember the Alamo" and for me has nothing to do with the Texas Revolution or Pee-Wee Herman. It's Jiu-Jitsu! Every time I visit a new school, I am always learning more about the variations in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu styles, techniques, traditions, customs and class structure. Can we really say one style of BJJ is really the best? Aren't they all special in their own way? Or is it about finding what's right for us?

Day Three: August 8, 2011-On Monday I decided to dive head first into training. In the morning Lana and I woke up and we dragged ourselves out of bed to get to her circuit training class at 9:00 am. We did a variation of kettle bells, plyometrics, pull ups, dips, squats, etc. for an hour. It felt good getting a good sweat on. Immediately after class I rushed over to Rodrigo Pinheiro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the 10:30am-11:30am class followed by open mat 11:30am-12:30pm.

To this day, I still get butterflies in my belly on the first day when I am the "new kid" at an academy, but at the same time I absolutely love the experience of going to a new school. It also takes the edge off a bit when you have a friend that already trains at that academy. Instantly, I felt relaxed when Rodrigo Pinheiro and my friend Tara Talanco greeted me at the door. In all of the schools that I've trained, the most common denominator is that no matter where I've gone in the world, I am always greeted with a warm welcome as if I am already apart of the jiu-jitsu family. This was my first class at Rodrigo Pinheiro's school and I had no idea what I was in store for.

As I've been visiting more schools I've realized that there are some big differences in each one's customs and traditions. For instance, I am not used to the custom of giving respect by bowing. It's something my school Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Austin has never practiced. But as I visit more schools, I am learning more and more about these "foreign" customs.

At the beginning of class all the students line up on the mats before the warm up. It was kind of funny when I tried to duck back to the third row with the white belts so I could blend in and not be at the front of the class. I totally got called out and was told to go stand at the front of the class with the other purple belts. The class began with bowing to the instructors and then to Helio Gracie, followed by a 1/2 hour or so warm up of typical running laps, high knees, knees to butt, etc. The instructional portion began with a review of what had been taught last week. In watching the review, I got an inside look into how classes are structured and Rodrigo's teaching style. Instead of showing a whole series of transitions to various submissions in a class, the whole week was focused on all the details and doing drills that relate to the body movement used in the technique. By showing only a small piece of the puzzle, Rodrigo was able to focus on all of the small details that lead up to the final point.

This lesson began with a spider guard transition to a omoplata set up. I found that his teaching style and class structure was easy for me to understand and keep focused. This was one of the most enjoyable classes I've taken recently. I was especially grateful that I got to roll with Tara, Rodrigo and another white belt female. I am sorry I can't remember her name. Everyone at Rodrigo's was super cool, friendly and I felt right at home.

After rolling with Tara she made a comment that resonated with me. We were talking out our roll and she said to me that what I did was definitely a Relson pass. I found this interesting since we are able to identify who we train with based on how we roll. Which is another whole topic that I'll have to revisit. I have to say it did make me feel proud and grateful that I was able to represent my school, team and instructors to the point where it can be identified. I had such a great time at Rodrigo's, Tara was a perfect training partner, she's a monster! I'll definitely be back for more!

By 6:30 it was time to train again and I was ready to go! Lana and I headed over to her gym Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Monica Carrizal had also come to take the class with us. The class began similar to Rodrigo's in that they also give respect by bowing and lining up. This time I stood in front with the other purple belts. However, I was on the wrong end of the line and had to be pushed in the right direction. It seems as though I am always learning through trial and error. I think I finally got the swing of things and next time I'll be a pro.

Bruno taught the class which began with a typical warm up followed by pairing up into groups of three. Monica, Lana and I worked together on passing the open guard. The entire class consist of drilling. I was ecstatic to be drilling with such talented women. Then we did some positional sparring. Bruno was helpful and everyone at Carlson Gracie made me feel very welcome. I appreciate their hospitality and sharing their mats with me.

The only downside of this trip was while training, I re-injured my knee to the point where I will not be able to continue my tour of Texas. It has been two months since I injured it but I convinced myself that enough time had passed and it was healed. Obviously my brain lied to my body. These things happen and injuries just come with the turf. I'll have to postpone this tour for a bit, but as soon as I can I am hitting the road again!

Lana was an amazing host and I really enjoyed her company. We had a great time just hanging out and training. I can't wait to come back and train in San Antonio again. The training was top notch and I'd like to check out a few other schools that were recommended to me.

Thank you to Lana Hunter, Tara Talanco, Rodrigo Pinheiro Jiu-Jitsu, Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and everyone I met at both of these schools for making my experience a memorable one. I learned so much in such a short period of time. I was also reminded of how much I love BJJ! Training brings out the best in me and puts me in a great mood. The best part of this experience is that I have a renewed excitement for BJJ. I am eager to continue this tour, but in the meantime I'll have to just sit on the sidelines and focus on my photography while my knee heals. I saw great jiu-jitsu at both schools and have realized how important it is to find the academy, class structure, technical style and customs that best suit you. Everyone has different needs and some schools that are best for some are not right for someone else. To each their own. Until next time...


  1. Poo, I was enjoying that tour. Get well soon!

  2. Thanks! I can't wait to continue on this journey too! :)

  3. Yes I echo Slidey's comment. Get well soon coz we need to live thru you :)

  4. The Pee Wee pic brought me... but good stuff!

  5. Thanks Guys! I am going stir crazy not training...again! :) Be back at it ASAP! I love Pee Wee! One of my fav. tv shows and movies as a child. "The stars at night are big and bright...deep in the heart of Texas!"


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