This past weekend, Fourth of July weekend I was visiting an old friend from my professional wrestling days, and on my agenda was definitely training at one of the nations best schools, Rickson Gracie 4th degree black belt Rodrigo Vaghi http://www.submissionjiujitsu.com I had to pick up some equipment for Underground up in North St. Louis Friday afternoon, so that evening I drove to the industrial park where Vaghi’s academy is hidden. Rodrigo Vaghi has such a great reputation, and he has very strong family ties with the Gracies. It was an honor to meet and talk to Vaghi himself, a man who learned firsthand from Grandmaster Helio Gracie and his sons, Rickson, Royler, Royce, and Rolker in the original academy in Rio de Janeiro for thirteen years. Rodrigo has been in St. Louis for around fifteen years, ending up there, having been invited by another Brazilian and some police officers to stay all those years ago.
Talking to him i found him to be very friendly, and he was disappointed to tell me he wouldn’t be partaking that night due to a nagging injury that was bothering him. I ended up drilling, teaching, and trading technique to some guys, there was only a handful of us and we got a nice lower key workout in. It was Friday night of a holiday weekend after all.
With the turnout of Friday evening, I was leery of Saturday’s noon session, July 3rd. I was not disappointed, however, as there was probably an upwards of twenty guys there, mainly blue belts, a few purple, brown and a Vaghi black belt, good friend to my instructor Ethan Day, Mike Rethmeyer, or “Brazilian Mike” as he’s called. Everyone was super nice, and the caliber of course, as expected, was high. I always heard good things about Vaghi’s, saying how they hold to very high standards, very old school, very tough guys. That’s correct, and I couldn’t have been happier. We rolled for an hour plus, six minute rounds nonstop, with no break in between switching partners. It was my kind of training, just a good old fashioned sparring session Saturday with top level guys.
I rolled well, and really pushed the tempo, had a few wars and shook hands and said thanks afterwards. It was great to be an out of town foreigner from a competing Midwest city and be welcomed in and treated so well at Vaghi’s with their tough reputation. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed visiting the school and can’t wait to visit again real soon. As an outsider you hear about how loyal Vaghi’s guys are, and how much pride they have for their leader; likewise how much Vaghi loves to teach, how his greatest and most rewarding challenge is making champions, wanting his students to succeed. It shows too, as Team Vaghi seemingly always makes it at or near the top in team points standings at tournaments. I definitely felt that vibe, and it was an incredible atmosphere to be a part of, if only momentarily. I feel I made some great connections and networked with some great new training partners. Thank you everyone at Vaghi’s! See you soon
If you are ever in the St. Louis area be sure to stop in and check these guys out! http://www.submissionjiujitsu.com