I recently spent a couple of weeks back in Texas for work. I’m not a big fan these days of travel for work, but occasionally it does occur. The only benefit that I can get from work-related travel is the opportunity to train at different BJJ schools. Being on active duty and in the military has given me plenty of opportunity to travel and train over the years. This has mostly been detrimental in my training and progress over the years within BJJ; there’s no fun in having to pick up, move and then find a new school that is in line with your perspective of jiu jitsu. Those moves over the last nine years have caused some significant gaps in my training time. However, I’ve found that there is some benefit to gaining different perspectives on this art albeit once I’m finally settled and into a normal routine again.
I do consider myself rather spoiled based upon where I started training (The Gracie Academy). The academy, Rorion Gracie, and his sons, Ryron and Rener are known for their teaching ability and talents at conveying the art to others in a digestible and organized manner. This has continued to be the case in the current line-up of instructors teaching there (to include Alex Stuart). The training and travel that I have done as a part of my military career has exposed me to many other lineages and teaching methodologies. Sometimes these are less methodical and less organized than what I am use to, but the perspective that I have gained from training during those opportunities have proven to be just as valuable in shaping me and my jiu jitsu.
For this most recent trip to San Antonio, I was referred to Brazil 021 San Antonio and Professor Saad Al-Aziz. My training there DID NOT disappoint. The school is brand new and conducting its grand opening on November 13th. I spent 2 to 3 of my nights each of the two weeks at his school and training with his students. The atmosphere of the school is non-competitive and family-friendly. Those are two of the most distinguishing qualities that I search for when finding a place to train. The current trend in schools tend to cater to the MMA / cage fighter want-a-be types or those that would like to focus only on sport jiu jitsu (thus, very competitive and every roll is treated as if it was for a gold medal). Now there’s nothing wrong with those business approaches to jiu jitsu or running an academy, but that is just not how I like to train. Some of my preference is due to my age, injuries, and my original focus for what drove me to jiu jitsu (self-defense). The instruction at Brazil 021 San Antonio was ‘on point’ with an organized curriculum-focused approach and positive-reinforcement-style to teaching that caused me to adjust the remainder of my training plans while in town. His students and assistant instructors were friendly and welcoming from the first moment I stepped into the school and onto the mat. Professor Saad was an enthusiastic, attentive, and knowledgeable instructor for his students. I should also mention that he is a 30-year veteran of the US Navy, and therefore, fully understands some of the difficulties in making progress and realizing goals due a career that doesn’t always cooperate with your individual or family plans.
Brazil 021 was only one place that I had planned to train. However, after meeting Professor Saad and training at his school on the first night, I decided to continue training there at his invitation for the remainder of my stay. I highly recommend training and visiting Professor Saad if you are ever in the San Antonio area! It will be time well spent.