Training at Cesar Gracie Gym (Gracie Fighter Team), Pleasant Hill, CA,
Back over Easter, my family and I went to stay with my brother in law Jack and his wife Jen in Concord, CA (just inland of San Francisco). Last time we'd visited them, I trained in Oakland with Eduardo Rocha, which was great. Somehow though, I missed the fact that there was a gym in the Concord/Walnut Creek area and that the Gym was none other than the famous Gracie Fighter gym under Cesar Gracie, home of the Diaz brothers and JakeShields of UFC fame. Unfortunately, none of them, nor Cesar, were home when I was there.
My intention, scheduled around family time, time in San Fran and an awesome visit to Yosemite, was to train as much as possible, with this gym having a good schedule and being only a 5 min ride from where I was staying. However, on the flight over I picked up a cold, but worse, a nasty eye infection that took most of the first week to clear up. Gutted.
So, eventually, in week two of my stay, back in a semblance of health I went to the gym for an all grades session.
The Gym is situated in a small strip mall, and, bizarrely, next to a Fish 'n' Chip shop. Quick tip to anyone that visits - the front door slides open. Do not stand forever trying to push/pull it. It won't work and you will look dumb ; / Not that I'd know, of course!
It's a large and well equipped gym - plenty of mat space, lots of bags and a boxing ring. There's also a well equipped shop inside. To train there is $20 a pop, so not too bad.
I trained two days in a row at the 1100-1300 session. Both Sessions were led by Alessandro "Zoio" Ferreira and followed the same format: Warm up with fundamental movements, a single technique, well drilled with multiple
partners and then some positional training - in this case, passing guard from standing, or escape from cross-side. On the second day we also did some rolling in 5 min rounds.
The main thing that struck me in my time there was firstly, the number of very good black belts on the mat as a matter of course. All were very good and extremely helpful to me, in particular a female Black Belt by the name of Lana Stefanac, who showed me some nice finishes from cross-side. The
second thing was just how technical all of the guys there were. I guess, with the MMA link I thought Cesar's gyms would be hard fighting, hard drilling affairs. Actually, these guys were all very skilled and highly technical and the purple belts were especially sharp!
I didn't really have time to make great conversation, but everyone I met was friendly and welcoming. I'd highly recommend it as a place to train if you're in that area, and, given time there I'd definitely have been there more.