Editor’s Note: As part of our 2019 ADCC coverage, we are featuring blogs written by competitor Alec Baulding. This is the second in Alec’s series about his experiences in ADCC, focusing on his ADCC training camp.
For the 2018 trials I was living in Sweden. Before the 2019 ADCC world championship I decided to move back to the states, which coincided with my training camp for ADCC.
It’s been a long trip for me, which started in Stockholm over a month ago. I did this huge summer camp in Nacka, Stockholm with a team called Nacka Dojo/Dynamix. So I was there along with a great friend of mine, Jon Thomas of Valhalla Jiu Jitsu, and a very good black belt Eduardo Teta Rios from a very good team Frontline Academy out of Norway.
And so we did this huge camp of 250 students. Before then, I injured my knee during the gi worlds this year. Which I didn’t need to do, but I’m crazy like that. I just wanted to go out there and do it. I’ve competed in every worlds since I received my black belt in 2015.
After worlds, I took a month or two off training. No Jiu Jitsu rolling or anything. Only strength training. And so the camp in Stockholm was my starting point to begin my training all over again. Luckily, I was teaching no-gi predominantly, so I got to get back into flow there with some of the guys during the camp.
From Stockholm, I went back home to Gothenburg, where I lived in Sweden. And then I had like a few days there, and then I went to America.
Return to America
The first stop I had in the states was in Orlando. I was there, checking out one of the schools there, Orlando Bjj, as well as visiting my friend Pedro Torres of Knights Bjj. We had some really good guys coming to train in Orlando, so that was good for me to get acclimated back to the states. From there I went to New Jersey where I was training with Maximum Athletics with my good friend Dave Phimsipasom in North Plainfield, New Jersey. So I was there for maybe two weeks training no-gi and the great thing about my friend Dave’s School in New Jersey is that they have a lot of wrestlers. So I was getting a lot of rounds in and rebuilding my conditioning, my cardio training with all of the tough guys there.
And they were giving me a run for my money. I also got the train with Nelson and Hilary from Inverted Gear, so shout out to those guys for being awesome. From New Jersey, I did a quick trip to New York City to train with my friend Babs Olusanmokun. Where I taught a gi class at his academy. And then from there I went back to New Jersey to finish up my preparation before my ADCC camp with the big boys in North Carolina at Lucas Lepri HQ.
I wanted to scale myself because I hadn’t trained much Jiu Jitsu because of my injury and wanted to give my body the chance to repair itself. During my lay-off I went to the gym on average 3-4 times per week working on my strength and explosiveness.
So I did the summer camp in Stockholm, then I started picking up my training in New Jersey with the wrestlers, and then I did the majority of my camp in North Carolina with Lucas Lepri who needs no introduction.
If you guys follow Jiu Jitsu, you probably have heard of Lucas Lepri. One of the best lightweights ever and I can say the proof is in the pudding. I’ve got, you can’t see it, but my face has been beat up. It’s healed over now but I had cuts and scrapes everywhere.
For me it was such a pleasure and such an honor to be able to train with Lucas Lepri. He’s such a great athlete and it’s hard to put into words all the insane stuff he does in training. There were times when I was sitting on the side while Lucas was training and I would look over to one of the students and we’re like, man, I don’t know how he just did that. I can’t explain it, but it was amazing.
So I trained with Lucas for almost four very tough and intense weeks. We were training anywhere between two to three times a day and every training session would start with the gi class. We would do the regular class with everyone else. And then when it was time to train, we would go to the side, take our gi’s off, put the no gi gear on, and then go at it.
I had those thoughts running through my head sometimes, like: ‘man, I don’t know if I can make it through training. I’m worn out, I’m torn apart’
And we did a lot of hard training. I lost count of how many times I got my guard passed and how many times I got submitted. It was insane training with someone at that level. I could throw everything at a Lucas and his students. It was the best training ever! We also had some really great wrestling coaching from Ronny Huitt of Mat Masters Wrestling in North Carolina. He was there training with us and showing us a lot of little details that really strengthened our stand up ability. I can’t praise him enough. And luckily, he would bring some of his wrestlers.
We had one guy called “Pit Bull”, he would bring him down and then some of his high school wrestlers. It was so fun to really get to delve deeper into wrestling because you know, ADCC is a lot of wrestling and just to really work on those fine details like timing because that’s something I feel was very different between Jiu Jitsu and wrestling is the timing in wrestling. They’re just like, boom, boom, boom. Jiu Jitsu is a little bit more methodical and sometimes, you know, a little bit slower. I feel like sometimes we kind of wait a little bit longer. In wrestling, they just go.
I think it was at that point while we were running on fumes I started to believe in myself and I knew I have what it takes to win.
This camp had everything. Lot of conditioning training, lots of techniques, and mental preparation. The mental side of it was very important because there were times when I would be training and I’m thinking, “I’m getting crushed by a Lucas. And even by some of the purple belts and Brown belts, I’m getting crushed.”
So I had some doubts in myself. I’m like, “Am I’m ready for this? Am I going to be ready for ADCC? Are there people that are, you know, more qualified for ADCC? Should I just like, you know, step down?” And so I had those thoughts running through my head sometimes, like: “man, I don’t know if I can make it through training. I’m worn out, I’m torn apart”. And it wasn’t until like the end, like towards the very end of the camp with Lucas that I started to come into my own and really start to believe in myself.
I remember we did one really tough day. We did wrestling practice for an hour. We did the technique class – the gi technique class – for another hour. Then we did hard no-gi training rounds for an hour. And then we did almost 20 minutes of conditioning at the end of the class. And, I think it was at that point while we were running on fumes I started to believe in myself and I knew I have what it takes to win.
I think the mental aspect is where champions are made because I’ve seen so many guys who were physically gifted not make it in Jiu Jitsu. You have to be mentally tough to push through the pain and push through being tired, push through that grind. That’s what makes you a champion. And I saw that first hand following Lucas. Seeing him push himself made me want to push myself harder. I would be tired and I see Lucas get up. I’m like,”man, I gotta get up too, I can’t, can’t look like a little boy here. I have to be a man. Got to step up”. So that’s been my training so far. I’ve been all over the place over the last month – it’s been tough.
I can’t say that it’s been easy, but hard work does pay off. I can say that it doesn’t always pay off immediately. That’s where people get the saying mixed up. Hard work doesn’t always pay off immediately. But, over the course of time, you keep being diligent and keep training and keep pushing and it does pay off.
And so to go back through my story, back in 2007 and before, I always wanted to do ADCC. It never worked out. All those years I kept training, I kept accumulating experience and more techniques and more mental fortitude. It’s taken me this long journey just to get to the ADCC. Some guys did it faster than me, and some guys might not ever go to ADCC. I think everyone goes at their own pace.
If you can learn anything from me, it’s that if you want something bad enough, and you keep working towards that goal and you do everything to put yourself in the right position, you accomplish that goal. It’s only a matter of time.
Check out all of our ADCC coverage, including more from Alec Baulding and interviews with many of the other athletes. Stay tuned as we add more throughout the week.