When I got back, I messaged Sam the bad news and inquired if there would be training this morning. He told me to find Wim on Facebook and send him a message. Finding Wim wasn't a difficult thing to do, and I sent him said message. He replied back rather promptly and told me to come in at the normal training time for the day (1030). Despite being woken up repeatedly during the night by my drunken Chinese and Belgian hostel mates, I was up early enough in the morning to catch breakfast and do some reading.
Around 0930 I decided to trek out to the bus stop. I wanted to give enough time to catch a cab to the gym if Google Maps decided to fail me again. Surprisingly enough the bus dropped me off almost right in front of the gym.
I made my way up to the community center in the cold and rain. It was a bit colder and wetter than it had been over the past few days here in Leuven. I pulled up my hoodie and threw my hands into my pockets. Within a few minutes I was at my destination. I made sure to take my hoodie down within about 100 meters, as there was a school across the way and I didn't want to make anyone uneasy. As I walked into the community center I noticed the training area was dark, and there was nobody in the lobby.
Adjacent to the martial arts area, there is a dance studio of sorts. I walked into the reception area and I noticed there were a group of older people practicing Tai Chi. I've heard that Tai Chi is great for older people in terms of exercise and meditation, and I would periodically glance up and watch them. I didn't want them to feel self conscious about what they were doing, so I would only watch for a minute or so, and then divert my gaze back to my laptop (which had no wifi).
At about 1045 I started to get a bit anxious. Nobody had shown up yet, and I was still trying to get wifi via different hotspots so that I could be somewhat productive. Maybe get a blog post out there or maybe get my already late expense report done for my company that I wasn't able to do before I left the country.
Around 1100 Sam came into the front door. I didn't expect to see him, as he was pretty sick the day before. We greeted each other and went into the training area. He asked where everyone was, and I stated that I figured he would know. He wasn't sure either, as Wim had sent out a message earlier the previous day about training. Sam also asked if I had seen Wim, I laughed and said no. Sam thought Wim might be in his car sleeping, so he went out to check.
A few minutes later, Sam returned with Wim. Wim laughed as he came in, and explained that he had been sleeping in his car. He said that it was normal for him to sleep in his car before a class, and that students would wake him on their way in. I told him had I known that I would have woken him, but I didn't know there would be a random black belt sleeping in their car in the parking lot. We were all changing out into our uniforms during the conversations. I knew it was going to be a rough day, a healthier purple belt and a black belt...and then me. I wasn't going to pass at the chance to roll with either of them, regardless of the beat downs that I knew were coming my way.
Wim asked what time limit we wanted for rounds, I stated whatever the time limit was for the IBJJF masters division would be good with me. Sam and I were already on the mat, and decided we would go ahead and handle business. I could immediately tell that Sam was feeling much better this morning. His reaction time was a hell of a lot better, much better than mine today. The only advantage that I was going to have was that of my game still being somewhat new to him. The option of surprise. I'd like to report that it worked to my advantage, but in reality it did not. Even a half health Sam was still light years ahead of me. I attempted to pass his guard numerous times and was met with numerous wrist locks during our roll.
Next I faced off with the resident black belt, and head of the Brasa Belgium team Wim. We started off standing, which I felt pretty confident in. I grew up wrestling in the midwest and I've been training Judo just about as long as I've been doing BJJ. My Judo isn't the best, but it's typically better than the average BJJ fighter. Wim immediately pulled guard and off we went with me attempting to pass. "ANKLES, KNEES, HIPS!" echoed in my head. Previous statements from my coaches AC and Ed. These words of advice, these tactics, seemed to mean nothing to Wim. I tried switching sides, and every time I was fighting off triangle attempts from the Brasa black belt.
The only thing saving me each time was luck and getting my free arm lodged between my face and Wim's legs. At some point Wim caught me with a wrist lock, again. "What in the hell am I doing that is leaving my wrists open?" I thought. The second time I tapped ended up coming from a triangle attempt on Wim's part that I defended well, but yet fell into his trap of leaving my arm behind by a second or two. I tried to fight off the arm bar that he was going after, very slowly on his part. After about 2-3 seconds I realized I was fighting off the inevitable. I knew I should just go ahead and tap, he had it and there was no reason to defend my pride. This man was light years ahead of me, he could have broken my arm if he wanted to.
We reset, and I decided to stupidly place half guard. Well, I tried to play full guard and was passed so I ended up in half guard. So, I introduced Wim to the "lockdown". I'm sure it wasn't the first time he had seen it, but I was adamant to make sure he remembered it. I ended up stalling out the round for the last couple of minutes because I couldn't put Wim into position to sweep him or attempt submission. Not a victory by any means.
Sam and I met again, as there were only three of us. More and more taps on my end, Sam was starting to feel much more better. In fact, he was starting to feel like a strong purple or a new brown belt to me. I got sick of his guard game and backed off, attempting a cartwheel to pass his guard. I got about halfway though, only due to the fact that he flinched during my initial motion. Wim was laughing a bit from the sideline, I assume it was from my gorilla ass trying to be agile as opposed to Sam flinching...although it could have been the opposite. The cartwheel pass seemed to yield some results, I might be onto something with breaking down Sam's guard. At the end of the round I wrapped up some stupid toe hold, but Sam informed me in an IBJJF tournament I would have been disqualified for "reaping the knee". My far leg was over his hip, but it wouldn't matter to an IBJJF referee. They would have called it, and in my opinion the rule is a bit open ended.
Wim and I rolled the next round. The only time I remotely came out ahead was when Wim would try to single or double leg me. My wrestling from junior and senior high came back to vindicate me. Granted, I don't think Wim was going 100%, but it was still a victory in my own personal world. Stuffing a black belts takedowns, hell yeah! I attempted to do a drop Seoi Nage and hit the ground without Wim. I realized about halfway through I no longer had any grips on Wim. A triangle here, an arm bar there...I feel like a 6th month old puppy trying to run with the big dogs.
Sam again, there are only three of us. The heat is pumping into the room. I think Wim pumped the heat up for the training, it's like the old school wrestling hotboxes that I remember from my younger days. Sam accidentally hits me with a knee and I end up seeing stars, weird colors, and patterns for the next minute or two. He realizes what happens and apologizes, I try to play it off but he knows. We end up in a bit of a wrestling match at the end of the round and I feel like I have the advantage, but I end up losing it. (Note: my 5th and 6th round notes run together, Sam's knee to my face affects me more than I thought and the next 12 minutes blend together. The wrestling was actually with Wim).
We (Wim and I at this point, when I can think clearly) end up in a scramble. More taps on my end during both rounds.
I end the training with watching Wim and Sam fight it out. Win is working on passing Sam's spider guard, from my vantage passing Sam's spider guard is difficult even for Wim. But not impossible. I notice that Wim always had both hands inside, with his elbows and knees connected. Eventually Wim elects for an under the leg pass and ends up in side control on Sam and fluidly hitting mount. Sam hip bumps a lot, trying to get Wim high up on his chest, which I assume he's going for a escape out the back. The bell rings.
Sam, me, and Wim