Over the last month or so, I have seen the divine light of Jiu-Jitsu, and forever cast aside my JJJ heresy. After concluding that the fact that I was shithousing brown belts in my old dojo wasn't because of my skill, but rather their lack thereof, I searched for better options, and happened upon Concrete BJJ by complete accident.
It should be noted, first and foremost, that the club also offers MMA classes that I have not personally attended (I have witnessed them in procession, since they typically start right after BJJ classes end, but not enough to offer much of an opinion); thus, I will be focusing on the BJJ instruction in this review.
First, the ratings:
It's BJJ, it's trained alive; this likely isn't news to anyone. While it is perfectly "full-contact" within the grappling ruleset, I placed it at an eight since we aren't, in fact, the UFC and/or actively trying to murder each other.
Do you have a Gi? Do you have another person? Great! You have all the equipment you need to start training (mats are optional)! In all seriousness, there is very little in the way of equipment requirements, so I scored it neutrally.
Gym Size: 6
The main mat is strangely oblong, probably around 30x110 feet in size. In an adjoining room, there is a smaller mat (about 35x35) that is used if the main mat gets too crowded. Either way, the mats are more than big enough for the purpose at hand; I was a little conservative in scoring this one, however, mostly because I'm not used to dealing in feet and I haven't actually measured the size of the mats and could be mistaken in my assessments.
There is an excellent sense of camaraderie in the club, everyone does their best to help newbies out and it's good times all around; even the muscle-bound blue belts that are twice my age are very approachable, I've yet to encounter That Guy in the club and it's just one big hippy love fest.
Striking Instruction: 1
It's BJJ. As previously stated, I can't comment on the MMA classes, but I know they largely incorporate and focus on striking.
Grappling Instruction: 8
From a shelf overlooking the mat hangs a collection of medals numbering in the dozens, collected from various national and international competitions by this club member or that. Among the collection are medals from Swedish Open, London Open, SGL (Swedish Grappling League) and several others I can't recall at the moment. With that in mind, I felt it fair to score the instruction as high as I did (if this decision is disputed, I wouldn't mind looking a bit deeper into exactly what medals were earned where, to clarify the situation).
Weapon Instruction: 1
The only weapon you need, my friends, is ZhooZheetzo.
The head instructor is one Peer Hasslund, a black belt under Alan do Nascimento (who, in turn, is under Ricardo and Leozinho Viera) who was Scandinavian champion in BJJ in 2006 and European champion in 2007 and 2008, and will be representing the fatherland in The European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Portugal later this very week. He also, according to the club's website, has an MMA record of 5-5-0.
While I am not in a position to truly evaluate the skills of people at black belt level, I have never been given reason to doubt any of Peer's credentials, and the (cursory) research I've done into these claims all check out. In person, the relationship Peer has with his students can best be likened to that of a stern but loving father; he often takes time to work with the newer members of the club (i.e. me) whenever they're struggling and is very supportive, but if anyone is causing too much of a ruckus or goofing off he won't think twice about telling them to shut the hell up and train. Firm, but fair.
The average class:
While I don't have any previous BJJ experience to lay claim to, I can't imagine the formula at this club deviates from the norm very much. For the curious, by the way, the club teaches about 100% Gi, because of the high competition focus (though rolling No-gi is common in the MMA classes, from what I can tell). The club offers 90-minute classes on most days (Tuesdays are for the kid's classes and Saturdays are unoccupied, otherwise there is training available every day).
A random blue or purple belt usually handles the warm-ups, which typically involve some jogging, breakfalls/tumbling and so on; the usual suspects. After this, the head instructor will demonstrate some technique, everyone pairs off and tries it out and he circles the room to make sure that everyone is doing well. After a while of this, the instructor calls time to either show a new technique or introduce the previous technique in an alive setting (for example, the technique shown might be a collar choke from half-guard, after which we'll roll for a few minutes starting from half-guard). The techniques usually follow a theme and tie into one another, making it fairly easy to remember what you've learnt.
When there's twenty or so minutes remaining in the class, it's time for free rolling, which persists until the class is over. After lining up and hearing whatever Peer has to say, be it information on upcoming events or just a "good job", everyone exchanges bro-hugs and the class is over.
The cost per term (6 months) depends on your age: 500 SEK (≈$77) for people between the ages 7-15, 1000 SEK (≈$154) for 16-19 and 2000 SEK (≈$308) for ages 20-100 (pricing for those over 100 years remains unclear; will investigate further). I'm unsure how this pricing compares to the rest of the BJJ/MA in general community, but for the potential to train 5 times a week, the price seems reasonable to me. What's important to note is that Concrete BJJ is a nonprofit organization; trainers, administrators, etc. all work without pay, and all training fees go directly to paying for the training location and other expenses.
In summary, this club has my whole-hearted recommendation. Being located in Tyreso, Sweden, of course, the vast majority of you will never have the opportunity to stop by; if any of you ever get the chance, however, make sure to bop in.
(If I omitted anything from this review, feel free to ask any questions you might have. This review is submitted by a committed member of the club in question and is, as such, inevitably biased. I have, however, done my utmost to be objective and hope that this review will be somewhat useful in gauging the quality of this club.)
By the way, this may not be strictly pertinent to this review, but I just wanted to announce the results of the IBJJF European Open last week; Peer Hasslund, competing at Featherweight and open weight in BB Master 4, came home earlier today with two bronze medals to his name. It may not be the highest honors, but I can't help but be proud that my teacher went to Portugal and threw down in the first place, let alone getting any medals; my confidence in this club grows on a daily basis.
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