Did you know that Israel has a national Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team? Neither did I until I had the opportunity to train with their national team which trains out of MMA Israel in Netanya flying the Soul Fighters flag.
Back in April I was traveling with my family to Netanya, a city about a half hour drive north of Tel Aviv. Given that I don’t like to go more than a day or two without training, and was at the time preparing for a title shot on the Fight 2 Win Pro stage I wanted to get the best and most frequent training possible and I found that closest jiu-jitsu academy, about 10 minutes away from where I was staying, was MMA Israel.
I reached out to the head instructor there, Amir Boaron, who is a successful black belt competitor, and mentioned that I would be in town “No problem brother, you come, we train, it will be wonderful!” Amir has a very casual demeanor, and I didn’t realize just how serious and intense training with his team would be!
A few hours after arriving in Netanya I made my way over to Amir’s academy, and found that like many fitness facilities that I would go to it wasn’t well marked on the map. The academy was actually a block away from where google maps led me, and after a bit of back and forth through messages Amir sent out a couple of his students to find me, once they found me we made our way up to the headquarters of the Israeli national team…
The team trains three times a day, and there is no chill/relaxed rolling, at least not that I saw. I was initially paired with a very strong specimen named Avi Ibragimov for drilling, and I immediately felt that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. After the hard drill session for warm up, a third person, Saar Shemesh was added to our group and they took turns beating me up. I was still jet lagged so this was an interesting experience…
Over the next week I spent as much time as I could while still enjoying the country and doing the family stuff. During that time there I had an opportunity to roll with Unity standouts Sebastian Rodriguez, Jeferson Guaresi (both of whom visited the team during my stay) as well as the insanely tough and hungry members of the national team.
During my time training I learned a lot about how the team has been built. They use regional tournaments to draw competitors from gyms around the country and the winners of those tournaments are offered spots on the team. The result is that only the best and the brightest get to represent the country. Because the IBJJF is seen as the most legitimate organization, all local training and competition preparation is done with IBJJF in mind so my entire time training I was not allowed to do any of my dirty non-IBJJF legal techniques.
The second day after arriving I felt compelled to sit down with Amir and learn a bit more about his team and what he has done to foster such a lively competitive atmosphere.
I also thought I would be remiss to not have Amir show some of his favorite technique. He chose to show me a special grip that he uses that he calls the “handcuff” and a sweep and armbar setup off of it. I noticed that some of his top competitors used this with great success.
Because their national tournament was the last day of my stay, toward the end of my stay Amir and his top guys weren’t rolling as hard, but I still wanted to roll with them a bit and get some footage of it. I recorded these flow rolls, first with Amir and then with one of his top competitors, Tomer Alroy.
For more information about MMA Israel/Soul Fighters Israel and the Israeli national team you can check out their website at http://mmaisrael.co.il/