Abe Ani Combat Club (AACC)

Tonight I will be training at an academy that is very familiar to me. This is the third time I have visited Tokyo and on all previous occasions I have mainly trained at the Abe Ani Combat Club (AACC), headed by well known Japanese MMA personality Hiroyuki Abe Sensei. The first time I had the opportunity to visit AACC was in 2010 when I had my first experience in Japan with my good friend, and coach, Justin “Juggs” Dee and Australian MMA fighter Guy “Saber-tooth” Belgrove (Yoshimitsu). I remember how amazed I was at the fluid movement of Abe Sensei as he taught technique. This guy could move. I looked around the academy at that time and saw some very talented wrestlers, many of them much younger than I. Training in the room was the then world number one female MMA fighter Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii. I watched her shadow box for a round or two and felt myself hypnotized by how well she moved. Then I realised that I may be looking a bit creepy staring at a woman shadow boxing intensely for so long. “Act casual man act casual.” I looked away as fast as I could, trying not to appear self conscious of my actions. I would look back between her and Abe Sensei as they trained. I wanted to move like them. “This was a great gym” I thought. By the skill and movement of the student here, the coach must be a great teacher and inspiration to them. The fist visit to AACC was a great memory for me. The class was great, the students were awesome and so nice. Also, Jon Tuck, a bad ass Jiu Jitsu fighter from Guam, was also visiting with a team he brought from his school in his home town. Training along side Jon, Megumi San and Abe Sensei was a real eye opener to me at this point in time, one of the major ignition points of my love for Jiu Jitsu. That time I visited I was a white belt. The second time I visited, Christmas 2011, I was a blue belt. Now, June 2012, is my third time at AACC and I am a purple belt. I’m sure every one I had ever trained with at AACC would have grown just as much, if not more, than I had. I was excited to find out.

I headed to the train station at Kamata and boarded the train going to Omori station, where AACC is located. As I traveled on the train I remembered the conversation I had with Abe Sensei the night before. We had discussed the recent seminar the famous Jeff Glover had conducted at Full Metal Jiu Jitsu on the Gold Coast. We spoke about some of the techniques Jeff had taught from deep half guard. I was very excited as I described them. Abe Sensei became intrigued by these techniques and asked me if I could show them to him the next night at the gym. It was great being able to talk to someone you really admire, as friends, about a topic you both have a great passion for. I agreed I would show the techniques to Abe Sensei. Now, on the train I was visualising the techniques as I subtly acted them out, the hand positions and the shifting of hips. I did not care, at this point, if people on the train were staring at me. It would be far less embarrassing for my fellow train line passengers to see me air-Jits than it would be to fail at these techniques when I was showing Abe Sensei. Arriving at AACC I was very happy to see so many familiar faces. Abe Sensei was there, so too Megumi Fujii San. My friends Yuma San, Billy San, Ryoto Sawada San and many others. “Tonight’s going to rock!” NoGi grappling was on the cards tonight. There were about sixteen to twenty people in the class. We warmed up with various drills up and down the mat. Some individually and some with a partner. I was introduced to some new students, well new to me anyway, and I was welcomed by them in the way I had been accustomed to at AACC. Next Yuma San should a nice NoGi guard pass followed by a counter to this pass, which ended in a nifty triangle. Next Abe San asked if I would teach the techniques we had spoke about the night before… To the class. “Oh wow” I thought. I was surprised. Not that I had to teach the class, that I was cool with. I was surprised that I, Cristiano fall over the stairs-io lock’s his keys in the car-io, was asked to show technique at AACC. I was very happy. The techniques I taught that night were received well by the students. As they were Jeff Glover’s moves they were very spectacular to watch. Showing them made me happy not solely because they looked so darn cool, but because they actually worked. To me that is the art in martial arts. Jeff Glover created moves like an artist paints a masterpiece. Now I could pass this on to people who had taught me so much in the past. After technique we began sparring. I came to Japan with the sole purpose to learn as much as I could and practice my short comings within my game. Namely my guard. Tonight was probably not the place to practice my guard. Though, I had great times rolling and had some success with my guard, one slip up in a place like AACC and you will pay for it. It’s like that line the 50 Cent song “I got heel hooked 9 times now I walk with a limp.” I’m pretty sure that’s how the lyrics go…maybe? After sparring we finished class with some conditioning and some tom foolery. If you’re not having fun in Jiu Jitsu your not training Jiu Jitsu. Sitting on the sides of the mat I was surprised and very happy when Megumi Fujii San came to me and thanked me for my (Jeff’s) techniques. This was like a small time actor getting a compliment form Al Pacino in my book. I was very happy. Abe Sensei had succeeded again in providing a great night of training at his academy. He was a great coach and has created a great culture and atmosphere within his academy.

A side note. Abe Sensei has become my best friend in Japan. He always makes the greatest effort to see that I have a great time inside and outside of the gym. He has fed me, helped me around Tokyo and made every visit a joy. He is a great person to be around and I am very grateful that I have such a friend. He is my Japanese brother… or maybe uncle. OSSS

Article by: Cristiano Del Giacco

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