I quit the dojo I was a part of for the last three years, and went on a search to find a new home. I wanted to take my jiu jitsu more seriously, and needed something different. There were politics involved (when aren't there?), but at the core, I wanted to learn a more modern style of jiu jitsu. De La Riva, Berimbolo, 50/50 etc...
Leaving my old dojo was an emotional process. It feels very much like turning your back on the brothers (and sisters). You sweat, bleed, laugh, cry, share, win and lose together, and now effectively I am telling them they are no good, and (selfishly) pursuing a different path. I can see this hurting friendships.
BJJ is such a small subgroup that it would be great if we didn't have team/dojo alliances, or were able to avoid "us vs them" mentality. It would be great to bond together under a common love, but that is not reality...
I am afraid that possibly the next time I get to roll with some of my old teammates.. it will be under tournament conditions... that makes me sad.
Before leaving, I spread myself out far and wide. I wanted to try out a few other clubs around the Toronto area. I had a list of criteria (in rough order of importance)
- distance from home,
- skill set,
- class size,
- instructor lineage,
- less "formal" or "traditional"
I tried a few different places, some good, some bad. Some where I was instantly the most experienced, others where I was smashed and hurt by the end of the night... It was an eye opening experience. Overall I never felt like I was "drowning" at my belt level.. but most places I had to swim pretty fast(In retrospect, I probably couldn't keep that pace for long)
I finally settled on Dan Hale at Breaking Point Martial Arts.
Dan is a purple belt under Cobrinha. He is extremely technical, runs a great place, and fields an active competitive team. After a couple of class it became apparent that Dan's students are friendly, welcoming, and most importantly to me.. extremely skilled and technical. I can not get away with any mistakes or "lazy jiu jitsu" all of the blue belts WILL capitalize on my mistake. There are skilled people here and "iron forges iron" I think I have made the right choice.
I like Dan's approach to rolling as well, he mandates 10 minute rounds in his classes.. this quickly separates the strong from the technical. Very few strong guys can keep up that pace for ten minutes.. it forces you to address energy conservation.
Great instructor, great place, great choice