In his gi and standing there, with his glasses and clean shaven head, Dustin doesn’t look that physically imposing. From reading about him, I expected a ten foot colossus. But from the moment he uttered his first words, he had the academy in hysterics. There is just something about his delivery that you can’t tell if Dustin is intentionally being funny or not, regardless we were laughing. But our laughter soon stopped when Dustin had us drilling the technique he showed. It was a triangle choke from guard. Nothing fancy, but loaded with tiny powerhouse details the way Dustin likes to do his triangles.
Dustin laid out the ground rules. We were to partner up and drill the triangle with the same person until he said change over. We drilled. And we drilled and we drilled…for hours. Dustin walked around the mat, meticulously correcting and adjusting each pair, not satisfied until the person executing the triangle met his standard. This took a long time. A very long time. And while one pair was being corrected, the rest of us continued drilling. As we did, Dustin barked out his infamous catchphrases; “what are you doing with that hand, signing autographs?” “are you a pansy?” “this stuff works, I promise, I have a bag of bodies and chest full of gold to prove it” “you got ballet feet or jiu jitsu feet? Come on, let me see those jiu jitsu feet!!!” On paper the catchphrases seem mild, in person however, each one was responded to with the fear that we were not doing things properly. Again, that unique delivery – half army drill sergeant, half stern uncle. We were laughing in our pain. But the constant drilling continued. Until finally, he yelled at us to change over.
Relief quickly turned to regret as us bottom guys now had to endure hours of being the person suffering inside the triangle. Again Dustin rotated around the mat correcting each and every pair with the kind of single handed attention usually only reserved to private students. No way anyone was walking away tonight with a half arsed triangle choke! Again the catchphrases – this time urging the top guys to put more into each rep as if it was their last triangle – how the person on the bottom didn’t give a damn when it was their turn so now it was payback time!
Finally Dustin called time and we all sat around for some q&a. For some reason, the brutal repping previously hadn’t quite killed me off and I eagerly volunteered a number of questions. Dustin had me out in front to demonstrate each of my queries on my partner. I must say he offered some amazing tips to me and my team mates that will burn into my memory. More than that, Dustin offered an insight into his jiu jitsu career – a life of full time training, teaching and competing that few of us will ever experience.
There is something to be said about the regimented approach to training jiu jitsu techniques. Dustin could have laid out a beautifully crafted lesson plan with a dozen or more techniques and guided us on a jiu jitsu journey of discovery…most of which would be quickly forgotten within a week. But Dustin wanted us to walk away with just one thing and one thing only – a killer triangle choke that he has used a million times. After close to four hours of drilling this single technique, I think he may have achieved this aim. Though to be honest I can’t tell as I’m still in recovery, but in the next few regular classes, I’m looking to pull off the triangle and see if his seminar has helped.
Thanks to the enigmatic Dustin ‘Chop’ Denes for a killer seminar and to my instructor Nick Brooks for hosting the event. When Dustin next appears on our shores, I will be first in line to sign up!