This article is taken from Reap's Secret Shaka Digizine (go take a look) and is written by Rachael Hopkin who just spent a week in the sun - rolling, eating pizza and drinking at the wonderful BJJ SummerWeek - everything you can expect from a trip to beautiful Sardinia.
Between the 21st - 25th September BJJ Summerweek took over Cagliari in Sardinia. Since 2018 the camp boasts 5 days of seminars and events. This year sees instructors such as Ffion Davies, Josh Hinger, Lucas Leite, Felipe Pena and many others teaching. We also had the Polaris event on the Saturday featuring some of the instructors from the camp itself.
This is the first time I've been to an event like this so thought I would do a write up of my experience. There was a lot more on offer than just the seminars I made it to, so if you're the type of person who can do a full day of BJJ for days at a time with minimal sleep then fret not, this is camp is also for you. I'm just a hobbyist blue belt and need to take things at a slower place.
Awake at the obscenely early time of 3.30 to catch the 6.20 flight from Stansted. It swiftly becomes apparent that there are quite a number of people from the UK BJJ scene coming to the camp as you spot a few familiar faces amongst the hoards of people in BJJ t-shirts shuffling bleary eyed through the airport. The flight is on time and we land in sunny, warm Cagliari in one piece, making our way swiftly through passport control.
After some initial confusion about where we need to go, (luckily I had made notes and had the welcome pack bookmarked on my phone) we successfully comandeered our luggage and made our way onto the train into Cagliari itself and onwards to the hostel which was the Summercamp HQ for check-ins.
The check-in line is loooooong and it takes around 2 hours to sort everything out and get the medical, but people are in good humour and it's fun to chat to new people whilst waiting. The rest of the day is taken up with sorting out the accommodations, having a wander along the waterfront. Whilst eating some damn good pizza and gelato we take a look at the updated schedule and figure out exactly what we want to do this week.
First day! Fuelled by tiny coffees and a croissant the kicked off with an open mat. Happily no-one is going crazy and the mood is quite chilled. Josh Hinger was also in attendance at the open mat and it was fascinating to see him rolling with anyone who asked for round and just hanging out as if he wasn't just killing it at ADCC a few days prior.
First seminar of the day was Robson Moura, who was teaching defence and then counters from being stuck in side control, including a lovely armlock and reversal, coming up into a kimura. For me personally, this ended up being one of my favourite seminars of the whole week.
After a quick break for some food (gave the chips a swerve and had a tropical smoothie bowl instead, because lord knows I need to get some actual fruit inside me) next up was the first of the 3 Enyo women's only open mats. Enyo is a women's only invitational event run by Joanne Wellstead, the wonderful founder of the Rainha brand and coach at Phoenix MMA in Southampton. There's Michelle Nicolini, Tata Ribeiro and Luiza Monteiro mingling with a mixture of women of all rankings doing gi and no gi rounds and the atmosphere is very lively, with women prepping for the Polaris contenders event being put through their paces. It's also quite funny seeing various men wander in hesitate, realise the mats were full of women and then beat a speedy exit.
Last seminar of the day was Lucas Leite. I was particularly looking forward to this as Rich from WhiskyWolf said it was a favourite from the previous year and it didn't disappoint. Lots of half guard content including sweeps and back take options. Hopefully I can use this to develop a half guard that isn't just half way to getting mashed into the ground which tends to be the case at the moment. Positive thinking!
Once the seminar ended it was a quick dash back to the coach and hotels to get changed and back out again for the welcome buffet at a local restaurant, with music and socialising (drinking) until late into the night.
Slightly groggy, the first tiny coffee of the day sets me up nicely for the Michelle Nicolini seminar. One of the things I like about SummerWeek is the number of female instructors they have this year, with 5 in total thanks to the late additions of Luiza Monteiro and Joanna Ziobronowicz.
Michelle Nicolini is one of the more frequent instructors at the camp and ahead of her Polaris bout on Saturday her No-Gi 'Fly like a butterfly' seminar takes us through an all manner of sweeps, transitions and sub options. For someone whose butterfly guard generally consists of trying to stretch people out and flip them over, this is all very new to me but it's definitely fun and I can see it being useful.
Brief break in the days activities because a visit to the laundrette was needed before a return to the venue for the Tata Ribero seminar. Although not before I realised I hadn't packed my gi and got a short cardio workout legging it down the hill and up again to get it before making it back in time for the bus.
Unwanted cardio aside, it was totally worth it because Tata Ribero covered Spider and Lasso which is something I'm trying to incorporate into my game. Loads of good tips on retention, re-guarding, options including the pendulum sweep with some key tips on how to make it more effective. I was frantically scribbling down notes like my life depended on it once the seminar was over.
The evening saw an organised Pizza night at another local restaurant (The Grotto) near to the shuttle stop. Given the amount of SummerWeek lanyards and instagram posts I saw throughout the week these bars and a nearby gelato shop must have made a killing from weary bjj-ers seeking to refuel and re-hydrate.
It's worth mentioning today that in addition to the seminars the Polaris contenders event was also taking place with winners Danielle Tighe and Darina Goldin emerging victorious for the women’s bout and Sven Groten and Samuel Karas for the men. These will all face off at Polaris on Saturday. As someone who is probably mostly gelato and espresso at this point in the trip, I'm seriously impressed at their dedication.
Long day ahead and already feeling slightly weary (not to mention the mosquitos are having using me as an all you can eat buffet), I only do a few warm up rounds at the open mat this morning and stretching. The mats are impressively full, in spite of some people being a little worse for wear.
Today was the first of Ffion Davies' two seminars. Everyone and their cat knows by now that Ffion just won gold at ADCC, making her the first British champion. So it's a pretty big deal and this is evidenced by the fact that her seminar is packed with 250+ people in attendance.
We cover some options starting from half guard into a nasty armlock/kimura combination before moving onto a Tarikoplata and backtakes. Want to know how to protect your head? Pretend you have shadow swans for hands and you are using them to protect your very expensive eyelash extensions. It sounds bizarre but it works. Even my slightly fried brain manages to retain this bit of information.
Next up is the second of the Enyo open mats where I'm beaten up (but in a nice, constructive way) by lots of lovely women. The theme seems to be that I get kneebarred a lot in No-Gi rounds so I really need to learn to hide my legs.
Taking a break to sit in the sun and soak in the atmosphere, it's fun to people watch and chat. One person claims to have been drunk since Tuesday night. Judging by the amount of pints in front of him this doesn't seem like implausible.
Last seminar of the day was Josh Hinger who covered guillotines, anacondas and chokes from north south. Never have I felt more sorry for a uke, who suffered through the best part of 90 mins being strangled with a look of grim resignation, all for our benefit. I hope someone bought him a drink afterwards. I found most of this quite tricky (but still fun!) but the N/S option which also involves crushing your partners face with your ribs really speaks to my inner dickhead. I like it a lot.
There was another social event, but being slightly overtired by this point opt for a quiet dinner and drinks with friends. And more gelato.
Up bright and early for beach day! No seminars this morning, instead we were taken to the stunning Chia beach (I saw flamingos on the way, very exciting) for some relaxing. Diving (using the term loosely, a massive wave knocked me on my arse) into the warm water at 10am at one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen was one of the definite highlights of the whole trip.
After a few hours relaxing and splashing about it was off back to Cagliari to get ready for Polaris! For those who still needed their BJJ fix it was back to the sports center for seminars from Felipe Pena and Ffion Davies. But not wanting to miss the prelims it was off to the Cagliari Conservatorio di Musica.
Talking about the Polaris card could be an entire article in itself, but it was fantastic to see Summerweek instructors, Robson Moura, Josh Hinger, Michelle Nicolini and Luca Ancoreta in action and Polaris contenders Danielle Tighe and Samuel Karas get the win. I'm also still trying to process the magic that was the backtake Espen Mathiesen hit on Luca Ancoreta and Robson Moura using his feet to grip during his match with Tom Barlow. And people say Gi matches are boring.
The main event came to an abrupt end when Jed Hue submitted UFC light heavyweight Paul Craig in under 30 seconds. Maybe he wanted to make the most of his time in Sardinia? With that over, everyone spilled out into the streets to make their way down to the afterparty.
Last day of the camp. There were a number of seminars taking place this morning, including Felipe Pena teaching a seminar on back retention. However, I spent the morning sightseeing as I'd had very little chance to do so until this point. Then it was time for the final open mats, where I managed to use some of the things I'd learned.
Back on the shuttle bus one last time for the final dinner and farewell party it was fun to catch up with various people met throughout the week. Or it was until the power got turned off just before midnight because the police were on their way. Yep. Beating a hasty exit onto the shuttle bus it was off to a bar for cocktails and conservation that included a 15 minute debate on Basque cheesecake. A fitting end to a chaotic, intense and wonderful week.
Packing, re-packing (someone needs to show me a more efficient way of folding a gi) and slightly battered it was off to the airport for farewells and the journey back home.
As mentioned, Robson Moura's seminar was one of the best parts of the week for me. Not just because of what he taught, but also his advice approaching BJJ and treating it as something you do long term. To enjoy the other parts of SummerWeek and even if you just take one thing away from a seminar during the week that is useful to you and your game then that's great. Never having been to an event like this before I was apprehensive and unsure what to expect especially with so much on offer. Taking it at my own pace I loved going to the different seminars, bumping into people from the camp in the street, seeing friendship groups form between people who were strangers a few days previously and chatting over tiny coffees or an Ichnusa or two.
Same time next year, yeah?