Academy Hunting Homework #1: Gracie Humaitá Austin

After spending a summer sitting on and off the sidelines, I decided I was going to go crazy unless I returned to training. Since I'd been out for a minute and I knew I had a lot of rust to scrape off, I decided to ease back into an environment that had familiar elements.

The first academy I visited was Gracie Humaitá Austin-Gracie Legacy, which is perhaps one of  the newest academies to the Austin area. Although Gracie Humaitá Austin is only a few months old, the head instructor, owner, and black belt Donald Park, who is under David Adiv & Royler Gracie, is not a newcomer to the Jiu-Jitsu community or Texas for that matter.  With over fifteen years experience in  Jiu-Jitsu and eight years as an instructor, Donald is among one of the most qualified instructors in Austin. He has been teaching in the  Austin area for close to three years and I felt privileged to have taken his competition classes previously at Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. It has been a few months since the formation of Gracie Humaitá Austin and I was excited to see what has been brewing.

Gracie Humaitá Austin is so new that they don't even have a permanent location to call home yet.  They currently train on the University of Texas Austin campus. Gracie Humaitá Austin is composed of ten students with a steady flow of visitors for each class.  Gracie Humaitá Austin is not currently taking any students until January 2012.   However, Gracie Humaitá Austin does host a once a month Open Door Seminar and all members of the Jiu-Jitsu community are invited to take a class two times a month with the  permission of their instructor.

Last month, I decided to take advantage of my opportunity to start training at Gracie Humaitá Austin.  I was also fortunate to have attended the open door seminar which had an overwhelming response of 90 requests to attend and only 40 slots available. After attending the seminar, it was apparent as to why attendance for this event was in such high demand. 

The open door seminar was full of information. Over three hours of instruction had my head spinning with amazing Jiu-Jitsu.  The seminar was composed of some very basic fundamentals and principles of Jiu-Jitsu. Donald's instructional  technique was very detailed and incredibly effective.  I enjoyed how the smallest details were emphasized and how he provided explanations on why the move worked and the principles behind  it.  

The seminar was very laid back and moved at a relaxed pace, which was not the pace I had been accustomed to in Donald's competition classes.  I'll admit, I can have lazy jiu-jitsu sometimes and I loved his other classes because they were very no nonsense, fast and at an intense pace which pushed me to my limits,as a competition class should do.  Now I was curious about  the regular classes at Gracie Humaitá Austin.

Due to my knee I've not been able to attend a class with rolling involved. Therefore all the classes I've taken at Gracie Humaitá Austin have been strictly instructional. Even though I was among the smallest on the mats and the only female at most classes, I felt right at home and was 100% comfortable.  Classes are 5-6  times a week for one-two hours in the evening which works perfect with my schedule.

The class began with a  typical bjj warm up. However, I was introduced to a new variation of shrimping that I found to be very effective.  After the warm-up we did a variation of drills to loosen up the muscles we would use in the instructional portion that followed.  Once again just as in the seminar, the instruction was extremely detail oriented, well structured and moved a comfortable pace. There was adequate time to drill the moves after each demonstration.  Donald was attentive and helpful in providing positive feedback, constructive criticism and encouragement during our practice. 

 In most classes the instructional portion begins with a take down of some variety followed by the mechanics of a position to a sweep or transition of some nature.  If time permits a submission is incorporated as well.  Due to my schedule with work and school, I have not been able to attend back to back classes, so I was unable to gain an understanding of the flow from one class to another.  However, I do find the structure of the class to be compatible with my learning style, making it easy to focus and retain information.  These classes and the seminar have given me insight to some of the principles of Jiu-Jitsu that I wasn't aware of before.  I was never taught principles as principles.  It's been an eye opening experience on many levels.

The students at Gracie Humaitá Austin are among some of the most talented and hard working individuals in the community that I've come across.  In only the few months of training at Gracie Humaitá Austin, I can recognize the tremendous impact this training has had on their game as evidenced at the Grapple America last month when they earned more medals than the number of competitors that entered.  Students range in various sizes and skill levels from white belts on up to brown belts.  Everyone seems content with their new home and I've heard nothing but positive feedback from Donald's students.

Although portions of Gracie Humaitá Austin are in the process of being solidified and remain uncertain, there is no question that the training is top notch and I'll be back for more!

To learn more about Gracie Humaitá Austin check out their website, follow their tweets on Twittter and become a friend on Facebook.


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