When I first start checking around for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in Malta, all I could find were mainly Kung-Fu, Karate or other traditional martial arts schools. When talking to people, I realized that the common knowledge about BJJ is in Malta comparable with what we experienced some years ago in Belgium. Most of older people thinks that fighting sports are about karate while younger believe that the toughest martial arts are kick- or Thai boxing.
Somehow it seems that the whole mixed martial arts revolution still didn't kick in. I started surfing the net looking for some BJJ schools in Malta. Soon I found the club of Keith Darmanin. He comes from a classical jiu-jitsu and being into judo for some time, decided to open his own BJJ school in Malta. Furthermore, he and his students joined the European Championships for some years and did really well.
Time for me to go over and train there a bit. As usual BJJ served as an instant friends glue. People with different backgrounds and different ages all train together in a nice atmosphere. Not long ago I wrote about how many schools neglect the basics of BJJ, which is not the case here. Good basic on guard retention and rolling. A pattern is emerging. It seems that small schools have a tendency to "grow" their students simultaneously and emphases the basics much more than in big schools, where the higher belts spend their time mainly with the higher belts and neglect the beginners and sometimes even the intermediate students.
Somehow Keith reminded me so much about myself. I have been there, starting a school from scratch, with almost no publicity or knowledge of the general population about it. Having to be there every single class to keep people motivated. It can be hard sometimes, but it is also very rewarding. Every time I am in Belgium walking in the school I built, I am truly impressed. Not only the mat is full of people training jiu-jitsu, but many of them became really good at it. Every of my old students has his own style and some of them became better competitors than I used to be. Amazing.
Here you can find more about BJJ in Malta : bjjmalta.com