The land of milk maids and windmills....uh, or is that somewhere else? Hell if I know. I was only there for 3 weeks. Despite the cold weather, I loved it. Great training, killer clubs, diverse food choices, and nice people. Did I mention that prostitutioin is legal as well as smoking ganja. Not that anyone would be interested in any of that.
Although, my experience was limited to Belgium, Holland, and France, I look forward to returning to do an investigation of all of Europe, later this year...so stay tuned! Like all my trips, I did much more training than I did sight seeing or partying. However, I did check out some good clubs and find some hot girls. Sorry, though, I didn't go to any whore houses or pot houses...only training. Don't worry though these establishments aren't hard to find.
Overall the Netherlands is cool. You can interpret that quite literally. It rains a lot and is typically cold. If you are like me and hate the cold I suggest going between June and August. I know, my mind is narrow, but I judge a place on how good the training to partying ratio is. My personal favorite has to be Rio de Janeiro. There is just nowhere else like it. Holland is much different from the Brazil. I'll try to give all the info I can, in case you happen to be planning a trip to this part of the world.
There are many jiu-jitsu academies popping up all throughout Europe. The majority are being run by blue belts and purple belts, but there are a lot of good black belts. You just have to look a little. Robin Gracie is in Spain. The Vicirca brothers in Switerland. An Alliance blackbelt is in England, I think, it's Robert Brooking. I hear that France has a few blackbelts and Italy too. You have to find out more about these guys on your own. I don't know too much about them.
I had the priviledge of living and training with my good friend Kazeka Muniz. He is a Barra Gracie Blackbelt who fights for the Golden Glory Team, in Brada, Holland. He was a very good host and a very good teacher.
He runs a good academy in Antwerp, Belgium. There's not a lot of people, but everyone there is serious. The class starts at 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. With the exception of Kazeka, everyone there is a blue belt or white belt. Don't worry, though, Kazeka makes the training session really hard. He has a great wrestling background and has many champion wrestlers, from the former Soviet Sports Program, training with him. Every class there is at least one or two world-class wrestlers training, which makes great no-gi training. One of his student's, Murad, is an absolute terror, although, he's only been training for a few months.
If you are interested in really hard training. I suggest you try to check out the Golden Glory. It's a private gym, in Brada, Holland. If you want to go, you have to get an invite or do a tryout. I suggest hanging out with Kazeka and Murad a bit. That was my way in. The training wasn't at it's best, when I went their. Only because the whole team was traveling or resting their injuries. I did, however, get to witness the one-and-only, Cors Hemmers, teach. He is not only one of the world's best coaches, but also an incredibly nice guy. The Golden Glory is stacked with talent Kazeka, Murad, Heath Herring, Gilbert Yvel, Valentien Overeem, Allistar Overeem, Ramon Dekkers, and many more. If you have interests in fighting NHB, I suggest training with the Golden Glory. Not only is the training great, but they look out for their fighters.
I didn't go to too many other schools, but the stand-up training in Holland
and is some of the world's best. Also, Belgium has some of the world's best
Judokas. The wrestlers I met, have some of the sickest skills I've ever
seen. The overall level of BJJ is basic to intermediate. If you are coming
from an A-class academy, you won't be amazed by the gi training. With all
the other skills (no-gi, wrestling, Judo, Muay Thai) to train, though, you
won't be disappointed. The guys are all very nice and the training is hard.
You can contact Kazeka at firstname.lastname@example.org, he is a super-cool guy.
There are plenty of competitions throughout Europe to keep you busy. I only competed once on this trip, but easily could have did more. You can easily compete every weekend. I don't know about every tournament, but from what people told me the one I competed in was typical.
I competed in Brussels, Belgium. They do weight classes, but make the divisions open belts. If not, I don't think they could make brackets. You might fight white belt or a blackbelt. My division had 2 bluebelts (one Brazilian) and two purple belts. The matches were all 6 minutes in length. They ran, one division, on one mat at a time. The Absolute was done after all weight divisions. Although some of the judging was a little sckechy. It was overall a well run tounament.
If you are looking to compete in other combat sports, you shouldn't have a problem. There are regular competitions for Judo, Muay Thai, and NHB. Look around and talk to some people, and I'm sure you can find what you are looking for without a problem.
Sorry guys, I didn't do a good job here. I only went out two times. Both nights were a blast. Kazeka has the hook-up over there. One night we partied real hard in Downtown Antwerp. Their is a large selection of bars and clubs all around. We spent most of our night at a club that played all Latin Music. It was a lot of fun. There was, suprisingly, a lot of Brazilian girls at this club. For my life, I can't remember the name.
The next night we went to Carre. This club is absolutely insane. It is owned by a good friend of the Golden Glory. Without a doubt, one of the coolest clubs I've been to. The crowd is beautiful and the door control is excellent. I actually felt a little out of place. When we pulled up the whole parking lot was filled with Ferraris, Poresches, Mercedes, and the like. Luckily my friend had a Beamer. The crowd was a little too upscale for me, but we had a blast. I saw a lot of super hot girls!
Don't think the party seen there, is in anyway limited to my small experience. I'm sure if you are looking to have a good time, you could do a much better job than me. All you party animals will love the fact that the clubs stay rocking till the sun comes up. Go explore, I'm sure you will find more than me.
Exchange Rates & Travel
There dollar isn't strong there like some places you might travel. They use the Euro. The exchange rate is approximately 1 dollar = 1.12 euros. I'm sure this could fluctuate. Get current exchange rates here.
I got my plane ticket to Paris, which made flight cheaper. I was fortunate to have one of Kazeka's students pick me up. Travel around Europe is no problem, though, because of their train system. It's Awesome, you hope a train that travels about 300 miles per hour. You can go anywhere in Europe really quick and doesn't cost much. A ticket from Antwerp to Paris cost me about 25 Euros.
I think travelling by train would be a really good way to see Europe. Actually that is a future trip idea I've been thinking about. Me and some friends travelling city to city throughout Europe training and partying. You could do this no problem, if you were so inclined.
I also think it good to note, a car isn't necessary. At least not in the major cities. The bus and metro systems work excellent. Taxies are easy to access, as well. If you want to spend your money, get a car, but it isn't necessary in the big cities.
I personally wish I could of went to other parts of Europe. Especially the south (Spain,Italy, Ibiza, Greece), which has more appeal to me. The north really wasn't my environment. We all have different tastes. I personally love hot weather and people who are a little crazy (I guess that is why I love Rio so much). My next training mission is taking me to Thailand. I'll be checking out the jiu-jitsu scene...if one exists, and living at a Muay Thai camp for three months. I'll have a full report about everything there.
Train hard, Fight hard, Party hard.-REO