I'll update you on all the usual stuff and latest developments another time, but I need to get this down right now...
So, I hoped it may happen but so often these sorts of things don't come off, so I was over the moon tonight when, at training, we were joined by Antoni Hardonk (Rickson Gracie Blue Belt and UFC Fighter) and Henry Akins (check out this and believe the hype) - one of Rickson's Black Belts and one of the main Instructors at the Academy in LA.
Antoni is over in the UK to fight this coming weekend in UFC 85 at the O2 arena in London, assisted by Henry who has been helping with training and is taking Antoni's corner. Having trained with both Henry and Antoni in the past, Big Dean had offered to show the guys around and they both came along to our session, mainly to train a little for Antoni, just to keep things sharp, but also for Henry to give us some of his time to polish up some finer details for us.
Henry worked us through holding posture in guard, sensitivity to break down posture when holding guard, gradually progressing to standing up in guard, also off balancing opponents doing same, to breaking guard from standing and a nice little pass from in open guard. It all worked so nicely and I finally got the feeling I need to have to hold posture - the whole hip connection thing finally clicked. I was greatly helped by having Dean T as my training partner so he was able to point out little corections I needed to make and was the epitome of a helpful training partner.
After this it was kind of an open clinic where we were able to ask Henry about bits and pieces and he gave excellent coaching and advice. I saw a nice variation on escape from mount which I think will really work for me, a great little escape from half guard which at first was so fast and fluid I didn't have a clue what happened, but when broken down was just so simple, and Henry helped me with my worst position - cross side, nice frame using the Gi or across the face and a nice scoot and turn to the side - just great.
I saw Antoni in UFC 80 (his fight lasted all of 10 seconds as he TKOd his opponent with a wicked jab) and he was a really nice guy - huge, mind, but really nice and great to see him so relaxed and enjoying himself - I'd like to think we made him feel at home as part of the Rickson network.
Having Henry come see us was just great - I've heard and read so much about him and he's just a real nice guy with such extensive knowledge and makes everything look so easy that you just think "I can do that" - a great confidence boost to see Jiu Jistsu stripped right down.
Having him help us with such an impromptu session was just great. It can sometimes feel like the only connection we have with Rickson's Association is the badge we wear, but then stuff like this happens and you feel revived and I know that feeling will last a long while.
A big thanks to both Antoni and Henry for coming to see us and giving their valuable time here in the UK. Lesser people wouldn't have. And god only knows, it was given willingly and absolutely gratis - someone like Henry could command a tasty fee for what he gave us tonight - I'm just stoked! And of course, all the best to Antoni for his fight at the weekend.
I'm just so happy right now ....
(L-R) Simon "Super Kong Rubber Tube" Roberts, Antoni Hardonk, Dean T, "Little" Dean McKelvie, Henry Akins, Me, Ian "Monkey" Monkton. Behind the Camera: "Big" Dean Barthelemy - thanks mate ;)
Update 8 June 08 - Antoni won his fight in Round 2 with a sweet right hook - congratulations!!