When you look at the building from the parking lot, you see nothing.
It’s a white box with no sign indicating what is happening inside.
Once you go in, things change.
When you open the second door coming from the street, you have to take your shoes off.
The ground is already matted and there’s puddles of sweat all around.
You are in the training grounds of the Calvary Chapel High School, in Costa Mesa, California.
There, you meet a loud fella, arms that look like jack hammers, a thick black beard, but always a smile on his face.
His name is Jacob Harman, 38 years old, and he is referred simply as “Coach”.
Around him, you can see frames on the wall from past glories, exercise equipment and, on the mats, young men and women in pain.
It’s the wrestling training that is going on.
And for the three months prior to the 2013 ADCC, a group of high level grapplers decided to improve their standing game with Coach Harman.
The team included Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, João Assis, Romulo Barral, Otavio Sousa, AJ Agazarm, among others.
At least two times a week, they would go through two and half hours of one of the most grueling practice there is.
Just to make things more clear, every session would end with chin-ups hanging from a balcony with heavy chains wrapped on the athletes’ backs.
Sets of 10 and if you couldn’t do all ten and dropped, you would complete the countdown with squats.
And then, off to the ice bath.
Ten minutes in 33oF water to recover the muscles.
The result was proportional to the recipe of mixing highly skilled grapplers with top level wrestling.
The “Church Boyz” brought three gold medals from Beijing (Buchecha: +99kg, João Assis: -99kg, Barral: -88kg) and two silver medals (Otávio Sousa: -77kg, Buchecha: Open Class).
“It’s unbelievable!” said Coach Harman during the speech he gave this Wednesday.
He talked how all started: “I met Renato “Babalu” Sobral one day and he asked me if I coached wrestling. I said i did, but in a high school. Even so he came and then came the others.”
João Assis was one of the first ones to come: “Three years ago he came to the school and there was a black cloud over him. The first time we met we drove for hours and only talked. Soon after I told him he was going to be a world champion and now he is!,” celebrated Harman.
After the speech, the prayer (after all they are Church Boyz) and the pictures, they all went to a local Brazilian Churrascaria.
“They deserve!” said the Coach. “But next week I want to see them back in training!”
And he already had pointers to give to the athletes: “I noticed that you had a lot of power when you shot for your opponent’s legs, but you were not pursuing it all the way. You have to chase it until you get it,”he said to Buchecha.
Asked about the secret of success, Harman gave all the credit to the athletes: “They put their egos on the side and just trained!”
Here’s a photo gallery of the reunion