Hollywood BJJ was recommended to me by my good friend James Clingerman. It’s one of his favorite places to train in California. It’s home to head instructor Rodrigo Antunes and to Sean Patrick Flannery. I tried to call in advance but couldn’t get through to anyone so decided to show up on a random Friday night to get some nogi training in. The gym had just moved to a brand new location and was clean, pretty, and waiting for people to push themselves to the limit.
The new gym was in a packed arcade. The parking said something like 30 or 60 minutes but we parked for the duration of class without issue. A very friendly young Brazilian woman was at the front desk and greeted us. I think she’s related to Rodrigo and had just come up from Brazil but am forgetting her name. She explained the schedule and gave us a tour of the gym. Sean and Rodrigo weren’t in but they had a brown belt student teach nogi.
As the name implies the gym is in Hollywood where real estate is not cheap. The space was larger than I expected with a bench area in the front and mirrors lining one side of the mat. Everything was freshly painted and looked brand new. It came equipped with male and female changing rooms, storage racks for personal items, and a shower for after training.
What to Expect:
Nogi training focused heavily on wrestling drills and takedowns. We did countless laps around the mat in various wrestling stances practicing sprawls and shucks. There was no way to avoid working hard. The technique of the day was single leg entry and finish followed by a guard pass leading straight to mount. The drilling was fast paced and non-stop. My back was already sore half way through the class and my lungs got a great workout. After all the wrestling we did open rolling for several rounds. By the end of class everyone was spent.
The team had a strong takedown and top game. There were several former wrestlers in the class and I didn’t see many people pulling guard. People pushed the pace and went hard the entire time. I appreciated that the team maintained good technique while going all out and there wasn’t anyone there who was malicious in any way.
I believe it is important to train both gi and nogi. Gi forces you to refine and perfect your technique because you can’t slip or muscle your way out of things as much. Nogi builds cardio, helps you transitions, and forces you to be tighter to control your opponent. Here are a few key details in nogi that help to control the match.
- Find a grip in guard: Without collars or sleeves, it can dangerous to play guard as you increase your chances of being footlocked. If you find yourself playing open guard, try cupping the ankle to slow your opponents movement and start to set up your hooks and guard game.
- Head position: Since you can’t grip, you need to find ways to use every part of your body to control your opponent. Don’t forget to use your head to take away space and force your opponent to look in the opposite direction of your pass. This will increase control and make them uncomfortable.
- Keep moving: Transitions are the key to success in nogi. When you feel you are losing a position or your opponent is setting up an attack, it’s time to move.
I really enjoyed the friendly vibe of the gym and the tough workout. It’s a great space with good people on the mat. It’s also very well connected. For their opening they had Mario Sperry do a seminar and Frangina has visited several times as well. I am looking forward to going back to visit and getting to do a class with Rodrigo or Sean. On a fun note, it got really hot in the gym and was cooler outside so we all looked like super sayans. One of the guys was making fun of the steam coming off me so I did my best power up and got the pic below.