I looked at the route I needed to travel via google maps before leaving the hostel, and had it up on my phone so that if I took the wrong bus I would be able to still navigate back to the club. It was about a 10 minute walk down to the bus stop that I needed. I caught the correct bus at the correct time. However, I was noticing that the bus seemed to be following its own route through the city. About 3/4 of the way through the ride I decided that I wasn’t sure if the bus would infect stop at the correct place or not, so I jumped off about a kilometer from the club. It was an uneventful, but scenic walk and I forgot to take pictures along the way. Finding the club was by luck as there was a younger guy about 100 meters in front of me carrying a gym bag. So I just kind of followed him. The academy was a bit of a way from the street, and didn’t look like an academy from a distance.
When I walked into the building there were a handful of guys in the entrance area, which was decently large. I scanned around, looking at ears. Cauliflower, cauliflower, cauliflower, yep…I’m in the right spot. I heard no english being spoken, and I wasn’t about to out myself so I stayed quiet and pretended to surf the internet on my no signal having phone. Pretty soon someone else came in and opened up the doors to the training area. I would soon learn that it was Wim, the person who ran the club, and the resident black belt.
I asked were the locker room was, and was told there wasn’t one. I went back to where the restrooms were, in order to change out. At my home club, you get yelled at for having only a bare chest anywhere other than in a restroom. As I walked back into the training area I noticed random guys just dropping their pants and changing out right there. Well, I guess it’s cool for later.
Sam had told me that the afternoon class was pretty relaxed. Come in around 1300 and do your own warmup. Around 1320 or so they would start rolling and continue to do so until 1500. I wasn’t sure if my lungs would bear the brunt of such a lengthy sparring session, as I am still having issues with my sinus’ and as of yesterday I started coughing crap out of my lungs.
Sitting on the edge of the mat stretching out, which is enough warmup for me, Sam came over to welcome me to the club and introduce himself in person. He asked if I would like to roll the next round, the first round started between the brown black belts while I was still stretching. I said sure, and he ran off to grab the rest of his gi. He came back over, and we slapped hands and got underway.
Sam is pretty close to my size, he’s tall and lanky and has a leaner build than I. He’s also a bit younger than me, but I’m not entirely sure by how much because he is a pretty mature guy. Even though he is a purple belt, I figured it would be a good match but one with me playing a lot of defense. And, that’s exactly what ended up happening. I’d later find out that Sam wasn’t feel very good, he was a bit sick to his stomach and ended up training only about half the class or so. I think if he was feeling a little better, the match would have gone a lot differently. And by differently I mean him subbing me at some point during out 8 minute round.
Next I was asked by Wim if I would like to roll. Wim is the resident black belt and leader of the team here in Leuven. I will always roll with anyone, regardless of rank, size, sex, age, etc. I know I’m not too much of a threat to a black belt, so my goals are pretty simple. Irritate them until they start launching attacks on me and see how long I can last. And that’s exactly what I did, and that’s what happened. Wim didn’t beat me up too bad, but he tapped me probably 3-4 times during our match. I feel like he could have done a lot more had he decided not to play so relaxed. Either way, it was a nice experience for me.
My next round was with a brown belt of the same size. We slapped hands and things took off pretty quickly. I tried numerous times to get the advantage and stay on top, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was a pretty fierce battle, with me usually ending up in side control, fighting to stay off my back the entire time. I was able to throw the “lockdown” half guard onto my opponent, which only frustrated him more. Over all I feel like I trusted the hell out of him with my defense. I used to feel pretty inept about having a pretty reactionary, or defensive game. It wasn’t until I was at the Gracie academy and was talking with Rener and some of the folks training there about it. They all pretty much agreed that was Helio’s game. Play good defense, tire out the opponent, and when they can barely move anymore take the offensive and submit them. You’re talking about a fight going on for 20+ minutes though in order to achieve this outcome. In an IBJJF match, I’ve got five, maybe six minutes to come out ahead either by points or a submission.
The net round I went with a guy who had only a gi top on. Rolling with him felt like a pretty seasoned white or a brand new blue belt. He had his spastic moments and was launching submission attempts left and right, but never able to get them. A few times when I had him in side control, he was flexible enough to swing his hips and legs back and attempt some kind of weird inverted triangle. I was able to fend these off pretty easily every time be it with throwing the outside arm back in between his legs and my throat, or timing things just right and pulling back from the triangle. I had a few successful submissions on him. When we were done I asked him if he was a blue belt and he informed me that he was only a white belt. I asked how long he had been training, he told me about two years. That put him right around the time most schools would be promoting him into a blue belt. I thanks him for the roll and told him that he was moving good and wished him luck.
My final roll of the even was against a slightly larger built blue belt. I was decently tired and decided to move pretty slowly to see how this blue would react. Surprisingly he matched my intensity almost perfectly. I think he may have been a bit tired also, and thus welcomed a slow roll. In any case I missed some sort of a guard transition I was attempting and ended up having to go into half guard. We ended up playing cat and mouse with him trying to get out of my half, and me trying to retain it. Same story, I missed another transition and ended up giving him control and eventually full mount. I was successful in fending off all the attacks he was throwing at me. I felt like he had a lot of the same game that I do, smash from the top and play a war of attrition. Sadly for him, I’m used to that game from my home gym. I’ll take a ton of pressure and punishment, rarely giving anyone what they want.
After class Sam offered to give me a ride back to the Leuven Station since he was headed that way. We talked about different tournaments, how IBJJF was run in Munich very precisely. Germans were running it, so no surprise there. He was telling me about a Superfight he had the previous weekend against a brown belt, which he had tapped out but let go without realizing the ref didn’t have a definitive view of the tap. The brown belt got up and stated that he in fact didn’t tap, which is pretty horrible. Nobody likes to lose, but don’t let your ego take the drivers seat. Own up to it! Sam ended up winning the match by an advantage at the end, so in the end karma came back to bite the brown belt in the ass.
There is a technique class this evening I’m going to try to make it to. Hopefully I can keep my head on straight and take some better note this time around.