Greetings from Heidelberg & Mannheim Germany! (15-20 June 2017)
The train rode up to Heidelberg from Friedrichshafen was an enjoyable one, watching all the fields of hops and apples and pears pass by as we whizzed through the beautiful country side. Once I got to Heidelberg I had to take another train, only about 10-15 minutes long, to the next town over as I couldn’t find a place to stay in Heidelberg itself that was within my price range. In between Heidelberg and Mannheim there is a small town of mostly industrial areas called Friedrichsfeld, this is where i stayed in a cheap badly run motel. I had originally planned to stay in Heidelberg and had found the perfect Airbnb in town but a problem arose when I tried booking it. Apparently my account had been suspended.
I think this whole problem might have gone back to when my credit card had fraudulent charges on it when I was in Spain. Charges were made to Airbnb and Expedia and although those charges were ultimately reversed I think maybe Airbnb traced that card back to my account, even though it was other account the charges were made from, and suspended my account to be safe. This is all just my own personal theory as it took a week for Airbnb to get back to me and the only thing they said that it was suspended in error and I should now be able to use my account as normal. Of course by this time the perfect listing was gone and nothing showing was within my price range for the visit. This led to me looking at Mannheim for available places and given that there were other summer events going on during my visit there wasn’t much out there. That’s how I ended up in this small industrial town in a motel whose staff were only around for 4 hours a day and was full of loud party people who sat and drank and smoke directly outside my window until late every night.
To Airbnb’s credit I sent them an e-mail explaining that because of their actions, and failure to notify me of suspending my account so that this error could have been caught and fixed sooner, I now had to spend a lot more money on my visit. To which they replied with a coupon to make up for the extra spending, a small coupon at first but when I told them how much it was costing me in the end they actually went the extra mile and gave me a coupon that covers the full difference. That is far and beyond anything I would expect from any hotel or online booking company so I will gladly stay as a customer for them, thank you Airbnb for going this for me. I’ve held on the coupon and look to use it when I get to Australia or New Zealand, where the exchange rate for me is not so good and I could really use a free place to stay.
Wandering Around the Cities
Because I was staying outside of town, stuck in middle of either, I didn’t get out and wander too much but I did manage to take a few photos of both Mannheim and Heidelberg while I was out either using the free wifi at Starbucks in Mannheim or doing laundry at the one laundromat in Heidelberg.
As usual I have more photos of my visit that can see on my Flickr Account.
Training in Mannheim – SDS Academy
The first gym I was able to visit was in Mannheim at the Spiros Defense System or SDS Academy which has Kickboxing and Kung Fu and other martial arts styles as well as BJJ. Spiro himself is a tall lanky guy who is really fit and runs a tough class. He was happy to have me visit and welcomed me in and showed me around the place. The building has 2 floors and a basement, I only went up to the second floor to use the toilet and don’t remember what else is up there but the main floor was all mats and bags for kickboxing and other classes. The basement was also all mats and where the Jiu-Jitsu classes were held. The other classmates were pretty quiet and I didn’t talk too much with them until end of class when one of the guys passed me on the street and gave me a ride back to where I was staying and even showed me where was good to grab some food, but in class there wasn’t too much talking, we were too busy training.
Spiros had a very active warm up and drilling class sections for class. I can’t remember when the last time I did so many crunches and sit ups in one class, I would have to go back to basic training in the military. I got through it though and my De La Riva and X-Guard sweeps are better for it. I did over work my groin and hamstrings though and I could only roll once before I had to stop and just watch. Thanks for the hard class and tight techniques Spiros, until we meet again!
Training in Heidelberg – Team Choco
One person I talked to a lot about planning my visit to Heidelberg was fellow Globetrotter Ruadhán, an Irishman living in Germany who trains everyday at both clubs in Heidelberg. To say this guy is in shape in an understatement. The main club Ruadhán trains at is Team Choco BJJ Heidelberg which is primarily a no gi club. The club trains in a downstairs room inside a community center, or I think it was a community center, maybe it was a college building. I met Ruadhán at the main station and he brought me to the club, and given traffic we were in a rush so I just followed him downstairs to the class and honestly forget where exactly I was.
The guys were all welcoming of a new visitor, and although they were all young athletic students none of them went too hard running circles around me. We trained some chain movements and worked some take downs that night. I find take downs are covered a lot more in no gi than gi and for a lot of lower belts getting into gi competition that’s where they suffer because of the lack of training in them. I myself use a lot more no gi style take downs for my game simply because I have more experience training them. During rolling some worked from standing and tried the take downs we drilled in class live. I also went a round or two with Ruadhán purely just working grips and controlling techniques which fun to do and also a lot of work, Ruadhán is a fast mover and it was all I could to do to try and keep up. There was another class starting up after we were done, I believe it was a wrestling class, but I was too tired to keep up and participate in that so I called it a day. It was great meeting the club and finally getting to train with Ruadhán, thanks for the great training guys, and thanks for all the help Ruadhán!
Another club that I trained with, and actually hung out with the most, was BJJ Heidelberg. The head coach is Ben, a blue belt who’s far over due for his purple, through Ruadhán I met him as well as Mina and Jan and the rest of the club. Before ever making it out to training I spoke with Mina about meeting up in town and showing me around. As it happens, one of the many events seemingly going on at the exact time I was visiting was the big summer party at a fortress called the ‘Handschuhsheimer Kerwe’ involving food, mainly sausage, fries, salads, and lots of strawberries.There were all sorts of strawberry drinks, some alcoholic some not, and as we entered the place we were given free drinks of it and could pick up more at the night went on. I don’t what the party was in celebration of, it was mid summer so I don’t think it was for a good harvest, but no matter the reason it was a lot of fun to be a part of. There was a dance floor and music being played, once people got enough drinks into them it filled up and it was very amusing watching some people really get into the songs. I especially found the one shirtless air guitar guy who was oblivious to the girls wanting to dance with him as tried giving the most realistic air guitar performance he could a captivating show. After the first night out of meeting everyone at the party I now had new friends to look forward to training with.
Mina and Jan also hosted a BBQ over the weekend that I went to and met more of the club like Quentin, a huge American living in Germany who may be a white belt but his knowledge and experience in sports and as a sports trainer (check out Coach Q’s page!) give him the ability to soak up and process the techniques being taught and dissect them faster than anyone else I’ve trained with. Training with the group was fun, the club held classes in a community center that had a huge wrestling room so they had all the space they could want to train in. They were killers and I was kept on my toes playing defense with them all. The techniques we train were a fun chain, Ben was great at coaching and with Quentin as my training partner we were able to make everything work for us big, not so flexible Jiu-Jitsueros. There was a great energy with this club, both on and off the mats, that just fueled them to keep going, talking all night at the party, rolling all night at class. I had to stop at class during the rolling because I just couldn’t keep up with them. It was great training with them but they were machines and I was wore out. Maybe that was their plan all along, bring me out to a festival and over to their house and feed me full of wonderful German meats so I’m slow and unable to defend against them. That sounds like a good explanation and I’m sticking with it! Seriously thanks so much for everything guys, it’s always a pleasure training with you and I hope we see each other again soon! And thanks again for the tasty burgers Mina and Jan!
After having such a great time that while staying in a motel I really didn’t enjoy I still left wishing I could stay another week and hangout with everyone it was time to move on. At least I had the BJJ Globetrotters Fall Camp to look forward to as it was held in Heidelberg and I was able to see everyone again, but you’ve already read about how awesome an experience that was (read it again here). I packed my bag, jumped on the train and headed for Dusseldorf to meet up with a fellow Globetrotter, Daniel, to train with his club, but that’s another story.
Until next time,
see you on the mats!
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