Gym Review: Granite City Crossfit/Blitz BJJ (St. Cloud)
I was somewhere around Rogers on the edge of rush hour when the fear began to take hold.
I remember saying something like, "Where the **** am I going? What is this place called Granite City Crossfit? Who is Jeremy Lang?"
As I barrelled along in my cherry 2003 Monte Carlo these questions kept going through my head. I knew there was association with Blitz BJJ and Dave Camarillo black belt Brock Larson, but how? And doesn't Brock train in Brainerd?
So far, my gym tour has been confined to my nice, safe little bubble of the Twin Cities Metro Area. Then, about a month ago, when I was first setting up my gym tours I did what so many others have done before me and started to friend as many people as possible on facebook.
Of course, I wasn't looking for a date (probably), I kept my search to those that were wearing gis or sporting grappling medals in their profile pics. And their friends.
One recommendation I got was for Jeremy Lang.
I knew that name. I recognized it from the days when I foolishly dreamed of glory inside the cage. His name rang a bell from the WEC and Brutaal events. However, we had never spoken. At least not until I got this unsolicited message:
helloWho are you? When you coming to my place to roll?
(That's what the message looked like when I copied and pasted it from Facebook)
I was terrified, as, much like the rest of my internet brethren, I am a coward when away from my computer and out in the real world. I had never spoken with Jeremy, and this message reached out to me in a way that brings me to my bad place.
My mind wander to the trunk of my car, to my safety. There, in a brown bag were two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a while galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
Of course, there were two problems with this:
1) heavy narcotics use is usually frowned upon when practicing BJJ
2) that was all bulll****, blatantly plagiarized from Hunter S. Thompson's novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (so calm the **** down.)
However, I did have a dufflebag that contained by pretty blue Gameness Pearl Gi (free of affiliate patches), my trusty (and sometimes questioned) belt, a mouth guard, headgear and my testicles... so that was where my wife hid them! Score!
Anyway, by the time I made it into St. Cloud I started to question the trip. I had never spoken with Jeremy and haven't always had the best of luck rolling (or talking with) mixed martial arts fighters. The training can kick in at really bad times, and nothing ruins my night like being slammed while trying to lock a triangle choke.
Walking through the door of Granite City Crossfit/Blitz BJJ, I wasn't even entirely sure what Jeremy looked like, however, I did recognize the guy in the black gi with match black belt on the mat: Brock Larson (this year's Submission Hunt brown/black belt division champ).
I had never actually met Brock, however I did remember a great match he had against Mike Pyle. I really wanted to find a video of the fight, but I am lazy. Look it up yourself.
Stepping on the mats there felt different. Being at a different gym was nothing new, but I didn't recognize anyone there. Not only that, they all had the swagger of wrestlers. The "don't let the belt fool you" look that I would later experience first hand.
Then Brock started teaching. And joking around with everyone. I wasn't expecting that. The guy gets paid to punch people in the face, shouldn't he be a little more intense? Especially on a Friday night when people are tend to be the least motivated rolling (in my experience).
Nope. Brock taught that class like he was teaching a group of his closest friends. Making sure everyone in the room was nailing the technique down to the finest detail before moving on.
I got a chance to drill with Jeremy Lang, who is much larger than I expected a 185 pound fighter to be. But he too seemed completely open to having me there.
I started to believe they weren't going to kick my ass.
At least not via striking.
After class, when I got a chance to roll with Brock (in the short time between when I am fully ready and cramping like a menstruating... well, a menstruating anything) I found out quickly there could be no doubt to his new rank.
He was slow and methodical with a control one should come to expect from any black belt, let alone a Dave Camarillo black belt. At no moment did I feel like I could create the seperation I needed for passing or sweeps, while constantly away that his gorilla- or should I say Guerilla- like grip was somewhere on my gi.
After gi class, was no gi, which I did not have the oppontunity to take part in. Instead I got a chance to sit down with Jeremy and talk about his gym and upcoming fights.
Both Jeremy and Brock are fighting at the Target Center on July 23rd.
Brock Larson will be headlining against Eric Davila
Jeremy Lang will be fighting fellow Minnesotan Shane Dezee
(see end of article for more shameless plugs and how to get tickets)
As I left the gym, to start my long journey home, I could help but wonder, "Do I have it wrong about MMA fighters?" Are they really just misunderstood men (and women) that are only in a combat sport by which to channel feelings that they were never taught to more rationally express? Were they as sensitive and caring about there fellow man as Ghandi or Richard Simmons?
I need to stop drinking. That **** is just stupid.
Brock and Jeremy are really good guys with high level BJJ and wrestling. And anyone that gets a chance or is in the St. Cloud area should take the opportunity to step on the mats.
From what I understand, Brock doesn't charge nearly as much as he could/should for his lessons.
After rolling with him. I would have to agree.
Just remember to bring your gas tank. These guys have excellent skills and a lot of endurance. No simple little 5-minute rounds here. Be prepared to roll. And, unlike me, you might want to bring something besides chokes. I don't think some of these guys actually have to breath.
Please contact Jeremy Lang for tickets to the July 23rd CFX event at the Target Center. Tickets start as cheap as $23. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 320-241-9587. As many fighters know, this is how they get paid. So get in touch with Jeremy for tickets to what is stacking up to be a huge local card.
(Those of you that know me know that I would rather **** glass than fight in MMA, so even giving a plug for it on this review means something).
Next Up: Minnesota Kali Group- Minneapolis... maybe... a lot people seem to want my dumb ass to do reviews. So if you keep reading them, I'll keep writing them.