In our commitment to provide perspective on jiu-jitsu training from different parts of the globe, we offer this article from one of our friends and fans from Michigan. If you have an experience, write us and include photos or video, you don’t have to be a professional writer – the best writing comes from those of experience for those who want it.
On October 1, 2008, seven martial artists from Michigan set out to South Carolina for the Machado Brothers Training camp. Our group
consisted of 2 blue belts, 3 purple belts and 2 black belts. Our group became known simply as “Michigan”. We were all eager to learn from some of the most accomplished BJJ legends in the sport as well as experience a part of the country that is very different from our own state.
We all stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Greenville. It had very spacious rooms; each room had two double beds, a separate living room area with a pull out sofa, free WIFI and refrigerator. The living room was large enough to grapple in. The hotel also had a heated pool which we were informed was not currently heated as it was “still summer”. The hotel also offered a free continental breakfast and friendly staff. We would not hesitate to stay here again. We would also recommend it to people looking for nice a room that also would accommodate grappling.
Greenville is a very nice town with a downtown area that is both trendy and quaint. Main Street is home to many restaurants of almost every ethnicity. The street is covered with large trees that provide shade and the sidewalks are adorned with many statues and inspirational inscriptions. Pedestrians can stroll along leisurely as horse drawn carriages and trolley cars pass by. Here you can shop, eat or have your soul saved by competing evangelicals.
One restaurant in particular that stood out was “Sticky Fingers Barbeque”. We had a very good meal. Not only was the food delicious, but also the management could not be beat. After talking to the manager, we realized that he and the cook are from Michigan. They were very attentive to our group and gave us free dessert! They talked with our group about common places and people that we knew. Other dining experiences were quite different…
The service from the curious wait staff was quite friendly and fast. Very fast! The waitress served our food promptly with a smile and our checks. No waiting to determine if we needed anything else or pressuring us into having dessert. She did return to ask if we liked everything. That was when we informed her that we could not leave without trying some of their tempting desserts. The smile on her face did not move a muscle as she reluctantly asked for our checks so that she could adjust them. We hated making her go through the effort of redoing them, but the chocolate brownie was certainly worth it.
The training was held at Ray Thompson’s Upstate Karate located 15 minutes away in Simpsonville. The owner Ray Thompson was very friendly and helpful. He is also the father-in-law to Carlos Machado. This is a very nice dojo. It was very clean and easily accommodated the approximate 50 people who attended the camp. The students were a very diverse group that varied in experience, personality and learning styles. The brothers were present at various times of the training. Their friend and student Marcos Santos also accompanied them. Marcos was very helpful. He served as their practice dummy but also walked around helping anyone in need. All of the brothers were easily approachable and willing to help anyone.
The first three days were very intense. Class went from 8am until 3 pm with a one-hour break. Each brother taught a segment in the morning or afternoon for the first five segments. This allowed all the participants to learn from each brother and observe the very different teaching styles of each one. On Saturday afternoon each brother lined the floor of the dojo and rolled with anyone willing to take on the challenge. John specifically called out “Michigan” and took us all on on-by-one.
The last day of the training was very different than the first three days. It was only four hours. Many people did not attend the last day and lost out on a very valuable session. The brothers split the groups up according to rank and took turns rotating and teaching each group. This allowed everyone to learn at the appropriate pace. After a very exhausting workout (especially from Rigan) the brothers sat us all down to talk about themselves. They offered very personal experiences and discussed how they became as successful as they are. They told stories of their childhood and how each brother was different. It is clear that the Machados are dedicated martial artists and instructors, but they are most importantly brothers. The value they place on family overrides any other ambition they may have. They have enormous respect for one another and easily talk about the others accomplishment while remaining humble about themselves. This unique experience was a fascinating look into how a family of BJJ legends is formed.
This training camp was by far the best training experience anyone in the Michigan group ever experienced. Another camp is being planned for 2009. Attending the camp would be a very worthwhile experience for any martial artist wishing to learn from some of the best in the sport.
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