Jiu-Jitsu Immersion Camp Review /// By: Michelle Johnson
Jiu-Jitsu immersion camps have been gaining popularity over the last year or two. Whether it’s on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, in Ibiza, or in Bend, Oregon, there is no shortage of opportunities for BJJ practitioners around the world to come together and immerse themselves in seminars from high level, competitive black belts. While the price and time varies from each camp, there is definitely a price that can meet the needs of someone who is willing to make a vacation out of it.
I recently attended a Jiu-Jitsu Immersion Camp in Bend, Oregon. The event had five seminars over the weekend taught by the black belts: Rafael Lovato Jr., Tim Kennedy and Paulo Brandao. Training at a Lovato affiliate gym, I was excited to go. The facility was beautiful. The mat space was large with crisp white mats, gray accents and the staff was extremely friendly and accommodating.
The instructors were all incredibly different in their teaching styles but all had effective ways in conveying the techniques. The first session was hosted by Lovato on Friday night. As soon as Lovato stepped on the mat, there was a laser focus that washed over the group. The man commands a room when he walks in. During his three sessions, he had a seminar on guard, pressure passing and also provided a Q&A. When teaching techniques, Lovato would provide a deep methodologically reasoning behind each one, why it works and the exact positioning to make it work. He wanted us to not only understand the how, but also the why. This in turn made his techniques far more memorable.
Then there was Tim Kennedy’s session. What to say about Kennedy? First off, his seminar was a blast. He was able to deftly weave humor in his self-defense portion of his teaching while still keeping the seriousness at forefront. He did have some “real” talk about Jiu-Jitsu and some of the realistic aspects of using it in a bar fight or on the street. Something he explained that really resonated with many of the students, is that if someone can touch your face during your Jiu-Jitsu, it’s not applicable in a real life situation. Being the first UFC fighter I have met, I did not know what to expect. I pleasantly surprised to find he was very humorous and personable. If it wasn’t for time restraints, I guarantee he would have rolled with every single student on the mat.
The third black belt was Brandao. To me, he was the most memorable and my favorite instructor at the camp. The reason I say this is because he was the only black belt to ask me roll. And in my book, that sends you straight to the top. During our grapple, he controlled the entire roll with ease by just using a simple sleeve grip. It was both amazing and frustrating to experience. He also greeted every student at the door and personally introduced himself. With his years of experience and knowledge, he made it rain with techniques. Our cup overflowed with self-defense, takedowns, passes and sweeps. He gave every student personal attention and was able to dissect minor details to make the techniques more effective.
My only complaint about the immersion camp was that Saturday was jammed packed with seminars. Three, two hour seminars in one day are not for the faint of heart. By the time the Saturday night seminar rolled around, everyone was a little burnt out. The attendance was low and barely anyone rolled afterward. Which was a shame because as students, we couldn’t provide the instructor with the 100% energy he deserved.
Overall I highly recommend if you get the chance to do an immersion camp, I would take that opportunity. Not only do you learn some great techniques, you meet a ton of new people, and get to learn from some of your BJJ idols!