Hi everyone! My name is Colin Leigh and I am a Canadian living abroad in Riga, Latvia. I am a two striped white belt under Vladislavs Čerņavskis, training at LEWC- Giudici BJJ in Riga. I have been training since the 1st of September, 2015, train at least 5 times a week and I’m 47 years old!
I travel all the time with work and find myself in many different cities around the world. When I travel now, I take my kit bag with me and find an academy to train at in the city I am visiting. It has become a bit of a ritual now and I have met so many wonderful people!! The BJJ community is one of the most open and friendly groups I have ever experienced!
What I plan to do in this article is write about my experiences with the academies I visit, the profs and instructors and to help create an awareness of the BJJ community as a whole. It is also nice to get the word out there about the academies for anyone that decides to visit the cities that I write about in this blog. I hope you enjoy what I write and any feedback is always welcome.
A little while ago, I had the pleasure to travel to Amsterdam on business. I wasn’t planning on training during that trip due to a busy schedule, but I brought my training bag with me just in case! I had not been to Amsterdam for many years, so it was just like my first time all over again and it did not disappoint. What a beautiful city!
I arrived to my hotel on a Saturday and once I got settled in I found that I had most of the day off which was great! I immediately started to look for a local academy to train at. (lucky for me I brought my gear!) It did not take me long to find one that suited my schedule and was relatively close to my hotel (www.teamagua.com)
I made contact with them in Facebook, as I find that this seems to be the fastest route, and asked for permission to train with them. I got a pretty quick reply from Prof. Andy Siebert telling me that I was more than welcome!
I had a bit of time on my hands, so I decided to try and do the 7 km trip via public transport. I got instructions from the hotel receptionist and started off. I can say one thing…in all of my travels, I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to go anywhere…so I eventually jumped into a taxi!
The gym is located in a small industrial estate and to be fair, it was hard for us to locate it at first. You will find it in the brown buildings on the left, just as you come into the estate. Use Google street view to make it even easier!
I went into the front door and as soon as you walk in, you can see the training hall straight ahead of you and WOW, what a first impression! The first thing I saw was a row of heavy bags that reached across the back of the hall. There was a nogi class going on at the time so I quietly peeked in and saw that it was definitely one of the nicest academies I have had the honor to visit so far!
I was early, so I just chilled out and watched the class until Prof Andy showed up. I was directed upstairs where the change rooms and showers were and I changed and came back down to warm up. It seemed that I showed up to open mat day and that was great! I love rolling with different people…it allows me to benchmark myself without going into tournaments.
I did my own little warmup and when everyone had arrived, we did some easy drills to get loosened up. Prof left the drills up to us, whatever we wanted to work on. I picked another white belt to drill with and we got started. As usual, I ended up picking the white belt with the 500 years of Judo behind him, but in fairness, this time I learned some really cool new arm locks without getting thrown around like a ragdoll! I also had a chance to teach him some of the De la Riva moves I had been training while also doing the usual arm bar and triangle drills.
All throughout the warmup drills, the advanced belts were walking around giving the lower belts feedback and adjustments to our techniques. It ended up being really hands-on and I loved the approach.
Shortly after, we started the open mat rolling with the partners we chose to warm up with. Of course, this is where I got thrown around like a ragdoll by the Judo guy, but loved it! I got to roll with mostly everyone that day, including the 2 black belts and received so much feedback and help, it was hard to digest it all. I wish I had more time to spend with them as I learned so much in just that short session due to the interactive way that they teach.
Afterwards, I stuck around and had a great chat with a few of the guys and gals about a range of topics and walked away feeling like I had made even more lifelong friends. Man I love the BJJ community!
Prof Andy and his easy and open personality really made my experience special. His teaching methods are very interactive and easy to understand and his team seem to really respect him. Everyone was so nice and friendly and that is what it is all about!
I would really recommend you check them out if you are ever in Amsterdam. You can get in touch with them here https://www.facebook.com/TABJJAMS/?fref=ts
Stay tuned for my next blog where I write about my trip to Fightzone Academy in Malmö, Sweden! Oussss!