Gym Review: Next Level Combat (Woodbury, MN)

 The guys at Next Level Combat (10th Planet JJ) on Tuesday, June 10th, 2011

In school, teachers and professors had a term for students like me. I don't mean to get to technical, but I believe the word is... oh man, what was it... oh, yeah:


Writing teachers, in particular, seemed to enjoy using this word around me.

It's not my fault that high school and college classes can't hold my attention. That s***t is boring.

However, had my astronomy (yes, I took astronomy) professor had taught a class about the "10th Planet" I would have been on the f***ing Dean's List.

My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.

Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto.

Don't laugh, that's how I learned the order of the planets in the solar system. But that makes nine. And now Plto isn't a planet anyway. How about this:

M V E M J S V N 10th

Most Vixens Enjoy My Jiu-Jitsu So Venture Now to 10th Planet.

Not bad. Could be better if I was sober, but I'm six deep into a case of High Life and just typing is a bit of a stretch at the moment.

As the first stop on my BJJ Gym Review Tour, I expected there to be some resistance from the people at Next Level Combat in Woodbury, Minnesota. After all, they are a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu affiliate (the only in Minnesota. In fact, the next closest is Omaha, Nebraska) and I have what the Minnesota Twins call "Bilateral Leg Weakness".

Or maybe my knees are just s***. Whatever.

As I often am, I was wrong. The guys at Next Level couldn't have been more welcoming.

The head instructors Tim Gillette and Nate Kleinfeld are both purple belts under Eddie Bravo. And neither could have been accommodating or more fun to roll with. They represents both ends of the style spectrum.

What do I mean by that? I think you are just going to have to check them out for yourself.

You think that's a cop-out? F*** off. I'm not here to make judgements.

Say what you will about camping, poker or Happy Hour. I truly believe that there is no greater bonding experience than when another man sweats in your mouth.

Usually I'm the one sweating. I think I have that problem Nixon had.

God, I love this game.

Anyway, the rest of the crew (which I swear includes both an Eddie Bravo and a Uriah Faber doppelganger. Guys get your picture with "Eddie Bravo" to impress your friends. Ladies, how can you pass up the chance to play with your own, personal Uriah Faber?) were a blast to roll with as well.

Rolling with these guys was like... well, like this:

At least, that's what my game felt like. A little twitching, then some scrambling, my wheels turning, but not getting anywhere. Then finally taking off just to run straight into the wall.

Rubber guard, half guard, deep half guard are all staples of Eddie Bravo and you will find them all at Next Level Combat.

The truly fascinating thing about 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu is the idea of their flowchart. With terminology like crackpipe, douchebag, the truck, monkey mount, sandbag (and on and on and on...) learning this particulary style is like learning another language.

And let's not forget the infamous Twister is all its setups, variations and overall backbreaking existence.

In itself, this can be intimidating, even with a lot of mat time, but there is a simplicity to it. If someone says "go to lockdown". You know what that is. There is an exact foot, hand and body position to it. No interpretation. Just do it. There is no, "no, move your leg... no the other leg, yeah, move that under, no over" kind of thing that you hear at tournaments.

In it's own complex way, it has simplified the game. Once you know the moves, it is just a matter of understanding the flowchart to the game.

No one can say Eddie Bravo isn't inventive.

So, the downside...

You know what, I revisit my previous statement. F*** off. I started doing this because I'm sick of people talking s*** about gyms they've never been to or people they've never rolled with. BJJ is a business, I get it, but I'm not here to smear anyone. I am here to roll because I love this game.

If you want to find if a gym is what you heard, go roll for yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you will be lucky enough to step into a gym like Next Level Combat.


Next Stop: McCune's Martial Arts in Brooklyn Park, MN

A huge thanks to all the guys that turned out at Next Level to show me the ropes. I greatly appreciate it and had a blast!

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