“How can you afford your BJJ trips?!” Is one of the most common questions I get asked, right after “did you train with any big names out there?” and “when and where are you going next?”
The reason these questions stuck in my mind and why I am sharing this is because it used to be me asking the questions. Like many Jiujitsu practitioners I used to enviously listen to or read about Jiujitsu vagabonding stories and wonder how the person made it happen, often dismissing it as an anomaly or at least something that I thought was beyond my control: “they have more money / time / connections / luck than I do”.
And who knows. Maybe I was right. Maybe I needed the post Social Media era to finally realise my (fairly modest) travel plans and dreams. All I know is that when I ask my friends about their Jiujitsu travel dreams, they all sound so...achievable.
To start off, let me outline the major obstacles to just picking up your gi or rash guard & shorts and just hitting the proverbial road and then offer a few suggestions as to how you can work around them.
After that I’ll give you my modest advice for travelling for Jiujitsu and I’ll finish with a breakdown of my most recent trip to the Gracie Academy HQ in Torrance, LA (aka Gracie University or Jiujitsu Heaven.)
Flights: £450 - £800 (cheaper if you don't mind stopping along the way, flying midweek (I did that) or unsociable hours (did that too)
Training: 1 week training will vary but usually one week of unlimited will be the same as the locals pay for 1 month. Example: When I trained at the University of Jiujitsu (Ribeiro association HQ) I paid $120 (£90) for unlimited training which turned out to be the monthly fee there too. Most places I've been to charged a drop in fee or $20-$25 (£15-19). If you're like me (trains like a madman when on holiday!) these weekly costs turn out to be very economical!
Accomodation: £0-£30 per night. I have stayed with jiujitsu hosts through BJJ Globetrotters Matsurfing programme and made a ton of friends that way (check my trip to Sicily last year!) but when I didn't have that option, I chose a cheap hostel and spent the spare money on travelling to and from training, rather than booking an expensive hostel just because it's closed to my training location of choice. This meant, in Los Angeles, that my down-time or rest was at a cheap hostel RIGHT by the ocean! I often had coffee and peanut butter toast on the beach for breakfast!
Taxi / Travel: £0 - £10 per day. I used public transport every now and again (super cheap but slow and infrequent), used Uber and Lyft cab sharing a lot but more than once I'd simply get lifts into town, half way or all the way back to the hostel from people I'd struck up a connection in training.
*Bonus: In warm cities with gorgeous views such as the South Bay of LA, I strongly recommend walking or renting a bike. Most hostels cut you a great deal ($10 per day)
Food: Check what's already included. My hostel in LA for example (Surf City) provided coffee, tea, toast, peanut butter, jam (jelly) and different kinds of cereal and fruit for breakfast (all included in the £30/night!). Otherwise, I used my time there to explore the supermarkets! I love seeing what foreign supermarkets have to offer. I live in London and I am always surrounded by great food. When on a jiujitsu holiday, I'm curious than picky! I'd say I spent £9-£20 / day on food.
Supplements: With this amount of training and restrictions on food, supplements play a major role. I spent approximately £15-20 for the week on vit-c, zinc, protein bars and fish oil and wouldn't have it any other way.
There you have it (kinda!).
You can have a one week intensive jiujitsu holiday in LA (for example) for £180-£440 (+flights)
At the lower end of the scale, that's under £700 pounds all in all. You could save up for that in under 1 year, I reckon.
Well, I know I did.
|Catching up on in-flight entertainment.|
|Tell the crew the purpose of your journey. A stewardess may have a son who |
does jiujitsu and suddenly you have business class champagne!
Gracie University:The facilities themselves are very impressive. Spa-like. But I wasn't here for R & R. I was here learn jiujitsu and learn I did. The level of instruction is so high and detailed. I was making detailed notes on technique, delivery, class structure, on- and off-mat routines and culture and much more.
|The ever smiling Mr Sam Fernandez|
|The lounging area at Gracie University|
|Just how cool is this poster!|
|Surf City Hostel|
|Welcome to Bunk Wandi|
|My Breakfast View|
|Mr Guido Jenninges. Uber Technical instructor|
with the heart of a lion
|Jordan Collins and I were trying to have a "Regular Height" |
moment when Ryron decided to crash the party
|Mr Alex Stuart. His instruction on the body-fold|
take-down changed my perspective completely
|Great technical tips from Mr Reylan Gracie|
|Master Rorion Gracie's first student in the |
US and passionate martial artist, Mr Richard Bresler
|Me, Richard and Mr Jay Wong. This poster behind us is |
made of thousands of images taken at the academy!
|A typical session at GU had 65-75 students on the mat|
|The ever-smiling Rener Gracie|
No training on Sundays at Gracie University?
No problem. I'll just rent a bike from the hostel and go train at Chris & Melissa Haueter's garage.
Chris's a legend in his own right and I really looked forward to learning from and training with him. What I didn't realise was how awesome Melissa and her approach to jiujitsu is. Melissa was the instructor for the session proper and she taught a great session on attacks from the closed guard, followed by rounds of sparring. Sparring with her and with Chris was a very humbling experience, to say the least. Chris' details on Rigan's side-control pressure echoed what I felt from Roger when visited his academy a while back.
|At the famous Combat Base garage with Mr Chris Haueter|
|Finally, Mr Jack Taufer and I meet up face to face.|
More details on that in a (near) future post!
|Saturday Morning session at the garage!|
|My teacher for the day, the amazing Melissa Haueter|
More awesomeness (am I overusing this term? I don't care!)
After I had booked my trip, I found out that my own jiujitsu teacher, Mr Eddie Kone, was also flying to LA with our mutual friend and Eddie's business partner Armando. I was convinced that Eddie said he'd be flying to LA on the day AFTER I leave LA and fly back to London.
Suddenly, Ryron comes over to me with his phone in hand:
Ryron: "I thought you said Eddie's not coming till next Thursday?"
Ryron: "Well he just texted saying see yo tomorrow"
Stars aligned. Plans changed. Eddie's and my visit to LA overlapped!
|I cannot describe how great it is to travel with your teacher! Mr Eddie Kone|
|Eddie, Rener, myself and Armando at the academy on my last training day.|
At that point, I had done 21 training hours in total.
|Squinting at Hermosa Beach. I will be back. Soon!|
ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!
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