The story of my trip around the world to train, teach and compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and other grappling arts.


The amazing around-the-world burger project: California, USA.

Before I started rolling with this burger, I could tell, that it was something unique. It’s charisma, posture and aura was different from any other burger I have trained with around the world. We slapped hands and as soon as it grabbed my wrist, I could tell, that this was a very, very skilled burger. I tried for 15 minutes, but I simply couldn’t break it’s grip. I was amazed.

It’s base consisted of a unique one-pound bison meat foundation. Every single technique it possessed in it’s arsenal was solid, fundamental and drilled to death for years and years. It was a world class competitor who made the audience cheer at it’s entrance to the mat. I worked hard to submit it, but with it’s very experienced Parmesan fries coach on the sideline gave it great instructions and made it very difficult for me to even just score an advantage.

I have kept my belt standards high, maybe too high some would say, but I have all the time known that I would recognize a black belt the day I saw it. And here it was. The first black belt burger on the trip.

Bow to your sensei.

Training in Chris’ garage

For some reason, I decided to roll a bit at Chris’ garage last night when we got back from the worlds. I was crazy tired, but really wanted to roll with Chris and when the music was playing, I found a little energy to go some rounds before showering and crashing in my sleeping bag in the corner of the mats.

Chris pimped my gi pants with a stencil he has designed, awesome!

Videos of my matches yesterday

1-1 at the Worlds today

I got up at about 8 am to go to Long Beach for the Worlds. I slept really well, didn’t really think much about the competition when I went to bed. Felt good in the morning, despite still being pretty tired in my body from all the traveling and overtraining lately.

My division was about an hour late, which ruined the timing of my warm up a bit, but I was ok when I was called to the mat. Absolutely no signs of nervousness or anxiety, it really just felt like walking into a new gym to roll with an unknown guy.

Since my cardio and muscle endurance sucks at this time, I knew my only chance of winning anything today, would be to play a slow, tactical chess match in the guard. I would need to relax there for eight minutes, defending the pass and taking my time working for sweeps and submissions. No way I would last a whole match, fighting high pace for takedown and top positions.

First match was against a guy from Ralph Gracie, who was very physically strong. I was seeded one round, so he had already won a match when I got him. Judging from his name, I think he was Mongolian. I really wanted to go to Mongolia on this trip to wrestle with people in the mountains, so I kind of got a taste of it today. He must have had some kind of wrestling or Judo background, because there was no way his back would ever touch the mat it seemed. I pulled guard right away and felt very comfortable in defending the pass. I have worked a lot on my guard defense on the trip, so it is a position where I often can relax for a long time without feeling really threatened. He felt really strong, but as long as my muscles were working, I felt like I could defend his pass really well with my butterfly guard. I had some attempts at sweeping him and didn’t manage to get the top position, but got the advantage points. In the very last moment, I was getting really tired and he got half a pass. I scrambled to my knees and went for a backtake roll I have been working a lot on the trip. Unfortunately, he powered his way into a kind of double leg / leg trip and took me down. I had heard that the time was running out though, so it was too late for him and I won on points. A few more seconds of that match and the result could have been different, but I guess I was the lucky one today.

I think I had less than ten minutes before the second match. I was ridiculously tired in my muscles, but was ready to try the same tactic. Unfortunately, my opponent was strong and fast and that defined his game. The only way for me to beat him would be to match his pace, which I just didn’t have the energy to do. Every muscle in my body was working at 50% and he felt really strong and fresh. His game was exactly the opposite of what I was trying to play, so I failed badly. Anyways, he ended up taking my back and tapping me out with my own favorite gi choke, so at least I know it works now LOL

Competing today was a very good experience. It was ofcourse nice to see that I could hang at the brown belt level (at least with one of the guys haha). Maybe if I cut the little weight down to -76 (I weighed in at 80.8 kilos with lots of food and no cutting) and actually did some physical preparations, I might have a chance to win some more matches. But I didn’t do that, so it really doesn’t matter, and I am just satisfied to have stepped on the mat and done my best I could on the day.

I had no nerves what so ever, before, under or after the matches, which I find kind of strange, but also pretty nice. I know it is not normal to feel like that, so in some way, I am glad. I can focus on just playing my game instead of focusing on what is going on in my head, which I guess is pretty practical.

I met quite a few people who were reading my blog and came to say hi, which I think was very cool. My friend Søren from Denmark, who lives in Oakland, came down to see me compete and we hooked up with Jonathan from Kauai Kimonos. I met tons of people, who I know from gyms I have visited on the trip. It was kind of like a social event for me actually :)

Thanks again to BJJ Legends Magazine for sponsoring my participation fee at this tournament, it was a really big help and I might not have competed today without their support.

Full circle in Los Angeles garage gym

Around 1999-2000, I bought my first ever Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructional tapes. They were a bunch of big, bulky VHS tapes, that I clearly remember came with the mail one afternoon when I got home from school. I was extremely excited to watch the tapes and see what this BJJ was all the about, so I could go to my Jeet Kune Do gym and practice it.

Chris Haueter was the guy teaching on the tapes, and I swallowed every bit of information on them. Today, more than ten years later, I am staying in his house for a round the world BJJ trip. I some way, I have come full circle. It is fun to think about how I ordered those tapes and that decision somehow shaped my life into what I am doing today and how I ended up sitting in his house right now.

Being a true BJJ Globetrotter, I have actually been a little disappointed, that I haven’t slept in a gym yet. So sleeping in Chris’ garage gym is really cool and very, very authentic. Chris has a very different and interesting approach to Jiu Jitsu than most others, and it shows in this garage. Tomorrow, I will be competing at the worlds and after that I will roll here with Chris and maybe go to Cobrinha’s school, depending on when I get a ticket to out of here.

I have spent the day relaxing. John from Kauai Kimonos and Søren, my friend from San Francisco are coming here to stay too.

The house is very close to Redondo Beach so I took a bicycle ride by the beach at a very slow pace, and I think that’s about all I want to spend my energy on today, while trying to rest my sore body before stepping on the mat tomorrow :)

Goodbye, Vegas.

Vegas was another short, but interesting destination on my trip. It was cool to stay with Martin Kampmann and his wife and get a glimpse of the life of a full time professional fighter.

I know that many people dream of standing in the cage in front of thousands of people, but not many have an idea of just how much time, work, sweat, blood, pain and dedication it takes to get there. I had one MMA fight back in 2003 and quickly admitted to myself, that I don’t have what it takes to do it. I highly respect those few who manage to keep up that lifestyle and Martin is one of them. He is in my eyes one of the most intelligent and technical fighters in the UFC at this moment. The last two fights have ended in close decision losses, leaving him with losses on the record but a lot of new fans.

Watch out for him against John Howard on June 26th!

Early training at Xtreme Couture today

I felt really tired this morning, when I woke up. Have definitely been a little too hard on my body lately, but I decided to go train a little bit in Xtreme Couture nevertheless.

It was just me, Martin and Kyle and we did lots of situation sparring for a couple of hours. Rolling with guys like this who are in really good shape, I can really feel how my strength has declined on the trip, not having done any physical training for more than three months. It was really good training though and when I first got warm and up in gear, I felt pretty good.

I will rest now before the competition on Saturday. I will be interesting to see how I feel, if this is enough time to recover. I probably should have stopped training a few days ago, but I didn’t want to miss out on training with Martin in the gyms here in Vegas. A good, solid warmup and I will be fine hopefully :D

Made it to Vegas, trained at Drysdale’s first thing.

I left San Francisco early this morning after two good days there. It was a short flight to Vegas, where my friend Martin picked me up and we drove directly from the airport to Drysdale’s gym for a few hours of high intensity no-gi training. Robert was teaching a class on the guillotine which is something I have been working a lot on on this trip, so it was very cool to get some input there from one of the best in the world.

I had some good rounds of sparring. I feel a little tired and also didn’t want to go too hard at this time, but it was still very good. Lots of high level guys there.

Now we are resting a little bit before going to Xtreme Couture for evening training. I may or may not skip it, since I don’t want to risk training too hard only three days before competing at the Worlds in LA. I’ll see when I get there.

Made lasagna then trained with stranger from airplane.

I had the pleasure of not having to fly or go anywhere today, so I had a good night of sleep then just relaxed a little bit. I spent the afternoon making lasagna before it was time for training.

I had a lot of options for where to train during my short visit here, but one of them was more interesting than the others. I got an email from Tom, who had apparently been sitting next to me in the flight from Atlanta to San Francisco the other day, and noticed that I was looking at my blog on my iPad. He seemed to remember reading something about BJJ globetrotter at some point and looked it up. He trains near by where I was staying and invited me to come train, so that’s what I did tonight. Proof that BJJ is everywhere, even next to me in the airplanes :)

The gym was One World Jiu Jitsu Academy in Union City, CA. It was a small class with a handful of good guys with who I went some nice, relaxed rounds of sparring with. Very friendly people and a nice looking gym too. Lots of room!

Thanks to Tom for stalking me in the airplane, then inviting me to come by for training, that was awesome! :)

Location:Kingston Ave,Oakland,United States

Rest day in San Francisco

Have had a relaxed day in San Francisco today, checking out the place a little bit. Since New York, I have travelled at a very high pace, trained a lot and in general pushed myself a little too much. So resting today and doing nothing was really nice and needed. I am competing at the Worlds on Saturday and don’t want to be too hard to myself before that.

I am staying with my friend from Denmark, Søren, and his wife Kristin. The trip here yesterday was horrible. I catched the bus at 6:00 in the morning from Playa Hermosa to the airport. A few hours later, I found out that it didn’t go to the airport, but to some random city in Costa Rica’s middle of nowhere. I managed to find another bus there to the airport, totaling my bus time that morning to a good five hours. The first flight to Atlanta was ok, but the flight from there to San Francisco was tough. My seat didn’t recline, but the one in front of me sure did. There was no room for me to sleep in a comfortable position and the herniated disc in my back hurt really bad. It was five hours of pain all the way to SF :-/

Hope to find some training here tomorrow. Wednesday morning, I am flying to Las Vegas to stay and train with Martin Kampmann for a few days before going to Los Angeles for the worlds, kindly sponsored by BJJ Legends Magazine. Yet another week of high pace, hardcore travelling :)

Location:Kingston Ave,Oakland,United States

In San Francisco, looking for training tomorrow?

Arrived in Oakland, California last night, visiting my old friend from Denmark, Søren. Today, I probably need to rest, but if I can find a place to train tomorrow, I’ll go. Recommendations are appreciated, let me know! :)

Location:Kingston Ave,Oakland,United States

The amazing around-the-world burger project: Florida, USA.

This burger had a solid, solid base. Impressive fundamentals and a lot of competition experience, coming from a country with a long tradition of burger-jitsu.

I really enjoyed rolling with it, and it gave me a hard time, but it had one thing in it’s game I didn’t like. The slice of inverted ham guard. Kind of a cocky move to pull off and it was it was showing off with it. High level player, but the overconfident cockiness of playing ham-guard kept it from being promoted to more than a purple belt.

The amazing around-the-world burger project: Virginia, USA.

Having learned from no instructors but only trained with a few friends with same lack of experience, this burger had some holes in it’s game. Physically pretty strong, but lack of fundamentals and a very unpolished technical repertoire, could only get it a white belt with three stripes.

A day and a half in Orlando, Florida.

I got an email from Derek a looong time ago when I first launched this blog and was looking for places to go. When I got to Richmond and was looking for a way to get down to the Caribbean, I saw that flights through Orlando was a good deal compared to go directly. Despite a super tight schedule this week, I managed to fly in sunday evening and visit for just about a day and a half. There were many other places and people in Florida I would have liked to have visited, but unfortunately it was not possible this time :-/

Derek has taken great, great care of me here during my short visit. I have slept in a fantastic bed (I have slept on a lot of couches and floors on the trip :D) and had a great time. In this one short day, I have slept till noon, answered tons of emails, driven a bicycle around the area, seen an alligator, eaten an alligator, trained in Gracie Barra Orlando, eaten a huge burger and then worked out in Derek’s awesome garage gym.

The training today was really good, I felt MUCH better than in Arlington, no wonder LOL Many good rolls with good guys and everyone were really friendly.

Now it is time for five hours of sleep before I head down to St. John to visit Mike and Rebecca on their boat!

Location:Crystal Oak Dr,DeLand,United States

The amazing around-the-world burger project: New York City, New York.

I got this burger recommended by a reader of my blog. It was training in a secret spot hidden inside the Parker Meridien hotel on Manhattan. A fancy hotel with an expensive looking lobby, hiding behind a curtain and secret entrance a sleazy, noisy and dirty burger gym.

The burger was selling itself well. It had a great story about how it fought it’s way out of poverty in the burger favelas and now ran a gym in a fancy hotel in New York. unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to the hype in my eyes. It was like going to a seminar with a big shot world champion and only learning self defense techniques against rape choke and grab-my-wrist attacks.

It had a great base and good balance. It only had a few techniques though and they were not really impressive. The mat fee was also really high, $8 for a single roll. And I had to stand in line for 30 minutes while trying to warm up.

A good opponent for me, but not world class as it pretended to be.

Blue belt three stripes!

Southern style camping in Virginia.

Coming almost directly from the busy streets of Manhattan, I suddenly found myself in an interesting change of scene yesterday, as I took the bus to Richmond, Virginia and met up with Robert and Amanda. Robert took me around Romania, Moldova and Transnistria, when I was in Eastern Europe, so when I had the opportunity to meet up with them here in the US, I didn’t want to miss that.

We drove a good hour out of town to a little campsite by the river, where I met the whole family. It was an authentic camping experience with tons of seafood (for dinner, breakfast and lunch), beers, hamburger barbecue, country music, bonfire, marshmallows, sleeping in tents, driving pocket rocket motorbike and playing dominoes.

I wish I could stay with them longer, but I have to keep moving on. Camping in Virginia was very a short but very cool experience to have in my trip. Thanks to the family for inviting me – probably don’t need food for the next few days with all the stuff they fed me there :D

Elyse and Scramble

I stayed with Elyse in Arlington. She was very kind to pick me up by the bus, take me to training and let me sleep on her couch. All she wanted in return was a photo of her in her Scramble hoodie, a project she had failed to complete for months since she got it. The conditions and preparation taken into consideration, I think it turned out pretty good.

Training with Ryan Hall & hangover. Bad idea.

The bus ride to Washington DC was a good five hours. There was supposed to be wifi in the bus, but it didn’t work, so I basically looked out the window for five hours, just waiting for the hangovers from hell bustrip to end.

Right off the bus, I went to Ryan Hall’s 50/50 gym. The bus was 45 minutes late, so I didn’t get to do much of the technique part of the class. It was looking very interesting though, Ryan had lots of details on taking the back from a scramble position, super interesting.

With only four hours of sleep, a hangover, five hours sitting in a bus and a body that probably has been pushed a little too much recently, sparring was horrible today. I felt the worst I have felt in a very long time. I rolled first round with Ryan and he would normally make me feel like a white belt, but today he made me feel like I had never even heard of BJJ in my life. It was pure survival on my side, struggling to breathe and stay in the game.

Showing up to class in a shape like today, I can only blame myself that it would be tough. I wanted to get on the mat regardless, and I was happy I did. It was a healthy reminder from my body, that I should not expect any love from it, if I treat it like shit.

Tomorrow, I am leaving for Richmond, Virginia to meet up with Robert and Amanda, who I visited in Romania. There is training at noon which I will try to make, but might be a little difficult when I am also trying to make it to Richmond in time.

Goodbye, New York.

Today, I left New York with the bus to Washington DC. Last night, I met up with Daniel, the scottish guy I went roadtripping with for a week in Taiwan. I originally planned to leave the city thursday, but since he came, I stayed for another day to meet up.

It was good to visit New York again. I have been there six or seven times before, so there wasn’t many new experiences for me, but just meeting up with old friends was cool. My girlfriend came to visit me too for the week, which was really nice.

I have decided, that New York should be the last spot, where I am lazy with my pace of travel. I have spent almost a week in each of the last five or so places I have been to, and I miss the high pace traveling I did the first month and a half of the trip. My plan for the upcoming weeks is pretty ambitious, but I think I can pull it off. Planning to buy lots of tickets soon, check back soon for update on my crazy itinerary ;)

Training with Marcelo Garcia

I originally decided to skip Marcelo’s gym because it was a little over my budget. However, several people offered to help me out with the mat fee, including the academy itself. They emailed me and said I was welcome to stop by, which was really awesome of them.

I have been studying Marcelo’s game for many, many years. I don’t often watch or follow BJJ competitions, but I always seem to study Marcelo’s match to try and figure out what he is doing.

The result of this was an interesting experience at the gym the other night. It was like grappling with clones of myself, they did exactly what I had been working on for years, just much better haha. All my signature moves were being pulled off on me, it was really weird. Sometimes I stopped in the middle of a roll, laughing because I knew exactly what happened but still couldn’t defend it :)

I also got to roll a round with Marcelo, which of course was quite an experience. Writing about it in the book, too much for here :)

Nice gym, cool people, very clean and world class instruction and sparring. Highly recommended!

Location:W 23rd St,,United States

I am doing a fundraiser seminar thursday in NYC!

If you have been following my blog, you might have read about my experience with the kids in the village of Burlacu, the official middle of nowhere in Moldova.

Read the blogpost about my experiences in Moldova here

They only have a few old gi’s and a non-heated sports hall with some old mats. They do have a passion for grappling though, and we are going to help them continue to do this sport. Some helpful people from Romania are going to go there to teach and set up a small tournament for them. They will also build a shelter for their equipment.

For that, we need a little bit of money, less than $150, but more will also help of course.

I am doing a fundraiser seminar in Ronin Athletics on thursday at 8:00 pm. It will be with the gi, but no-gi can participate too. Price is $5 or whatever you want to donate for the kids. All the money will go directly to the project in Moldova.

If you are in New York and want to support the kids, please show up on thursday. Everyone is welcome and all help is appreciated!!

Visit to Ronin Athletics

Straight after training at Renzo’s, I went to see my old friends in Ronin Athletics. It was the first gym I visited in New York back in 2004 when I got here first time, and I have come back to train with the guys many times since. Last time was 2008 though, so it’s been a little while. It was great to see my friend Christian Montes again, he has done such a good job of building up the gym. When I came first, they were only four people there.

I rolled a bit with the guys, then taught a short class on sweeps before I had to go.

Training at Renzo Gracie’s academy today

A while back, I got an email from Jeff Knight, who trains at Renzo’s place. It is a gym I’ve always wanted to visit, but it was a little over my budget for this trip. Fortunately, the guys there were super nice to invite me as a guest during my stay here in New York, so I went there for an afternoon class with John Danaher. The gym is beautiful and three floors, it is huge!

A friday afternoon class at 1pm would probably draw a handful of guys in my own gym at home. This one had so many, I couldn’t even count it, it was amazing. Tons of good guys and lots of black belts there. The only downside to being so many was, that it was difficult to find room to roll, and people were bumping into eachother all the time.

I happened to be there for a black belt promotion, which is something very special and rare in this sport.

I hope I can find time to go back there for more training, but with my super tight schedule it might be difficult :,(

P.S.: I am still working on, what facial expression says “call me” most. Didn’t quite get it with Renzo this time.

Location:E 23rd St,,United States

Open mat training at Clockwork BJJ sunday

I was looking for a new gym to visit sunday, but my plans didn’t really work out, so I went to Clockwork again for an open mat session. A handful of guys were there, my host Kyle included, and we had some good rolls for an hour or so. Nice gym, I like it! :)