One thing, that I would really like to do on this trip, is to compete in the Mundials / Worlds. It is being held in the beginning of June i California, so I will try and make that the last thing I do in the US before I head towards South America. It might cost me an extra plane ticket since I plan on traveling west to east in USA, but I think it will be worth it. Maybe I will try find someone to sponsor the tournament for me, before I go there.
I don’t really expect to stand a chance in the brown belt division, but none the less it will be a great experience to compete there and do my best :) I have a LOT of invitations from gyms in L.A. so will see where I end up training for this tournament. I wish I had time to visit all of them!
I have been to New York for training six or seven times, and I have lots of great friends there, mostly from Ronin Athletics, where I really enjoy training. One of them is Ryan Mizuno, who moved (“back”) to Japan a couple of years ago. Since he moved, I have threatened him to come visit, and though one attempt a while back failed, I will not let it slip this time :)
Ryan lives with his wife in Okinawa, which is right in my travel path, so couldn’t be more perfect for me. There is not a lot of grappling there, but there should be some and I think I will get a lot of it in Tokyo anyways. Ryan is a skilled guy and I always enjoy training with him.
UPDATE: Ryan recently moved to Tokyo, so I’ll visit him there instead :)
Also make sure you check out his cool blog about life in Japan on www.RyanMizuno.com!
I have been looking for a way to plot a route on a map for this website, and found out that Google Maps have a feature called “My Maps” that allows me to do exactly that. So I made a really cool, new travel map on my itinerary page. Check it out!
I got an email from Eren in Turkey, who invited me to come stay at his place and train with their small BJJ group there. Ankara is east of Bucharest, so hopefully it will fit right into my travel plan if I can get the right deal on the transportation.
Eren is a firstmover with BJJ in his country, and I would love to help out with this project as much as I can. I plan to spend some time there to teach, train and eat a lot of kebab ;)
Check out their gym here: www.bjjankara.org
I was looking to find a new, lighter gi after coming home from a competition trip to London with my big, heavy old one, and I accidentally stumbled over a thread on MMA.tv forum about some super lightweight ripstop gi’s that people were raving about. I contacted Kauai Kimonos who produced them, and Jonathan turned out to be a long-time reader of my ShogunHQ blog. He immediately offered to sponsor me some of their gi for my trip, which I think was awesome. Especially because their lightweight one only weighs less than one pound, so it will be perfect having in my stuffed backpack. I am still waiting to receive it but it should be right around the corner. Only waiting for the last embroidery of the “BJJ Globetrotter” and “We Are All One” logos to be done :)
But anyways, I have gotten to talk a bit with Jonathan about this trip and he seems like having a very similar view on life as me. I will definitely drop by Bali on the way to check out the place, do some training and maybe work a bit at the gi factory, as they seem to be super busy.
Back in 2005, I visited my friends Mike and Rebecca in Kingston, Ontario. They owned a very nice gym there, where I trained for a while. I had a great time there, and have had the pleasure of meeting them several other times at training camps etc during my training trips in the US and Canada.
A while ago, they decided to do something most people only dream about. They sold their house, business, car and everything else they owned, and bought a boat instead. With no knowledge of sailing whatsoever, they learned everything from bottom up, and after years of preparation, they have finally set sail south and have now sailed for the first two weeks of their new adventure life at sea.
I have been following their sailing project for a long time now, and it would be awesome to be a little part of their adventure, so I have talked to Mike about visiting them during my trip and hopefully spend some time with them at sea. Even better, according to their schedule, they should be sailing around the Caribbean islands at the time I get there, so I might get a little genuine pirate experiences on my trip as well! Mike and Rebecca are both black belts, but I am not sure there is room on the boat for much grappling though :D
I think their project is very inspiring, and I would recommend anyone to follow their blog over at www.zerotocruising.com.
I made a post on the MMA.tv wrestling forum about where I could go and do some wrestling training during my trip. I only got one reply but I think it will do for now. Matt Smith invited me to come stay at his place in Colorado, where he trains both BJJ and wrestling. He just got his brown belt and seems like he competes a lot, so would be a great opportunity for me to get some high level training and exchange of ideas with an active competitor. And like me, all he seems to think about is training, so can only imagine I will have a great time there ;)
Wrestling is something that I would really like to spend some time on during this trip. We don’t really have much good wrestling here in Denmark, so if I can bring home some skills in that area, it would be of high value for me and my training partners.
I am planning on visiting Matt sometime in March/June when I am in the US.
One of my old training partners from my gym moved to southern France a while ago, and when I talked with him about my trip, he invited me to come down and stay with him for a while. He lives in Montpellier and I can take a train there from Paris, where I plan to start my trip, so I think this will be the first training destination for me.
Thomas trains in Arte Suave, which he tells me is a very good gym with great instructors and a relaxed but competitive environment. It sounds like a great place for me to start training and also, traveling around southern France for a bit to start things off doesn’t sound bad either. I might see if I can find other gyms around that area to visit while I am there.
I got an email from Carlos Mora who invited me to come and train in Panama. Another place I probably wouldn’t have thought of going to myself, but it sounds really good and I can’t wait to check it out.
The gym he is training at is Marcao Jiu Jitsu Academy. I am not sure if their website is down or what, but I did find a facebook page with information about the place.
I highly appreciate the hospitality of Carlos and his girlfriend. It will be an interesting experience to live and train there!
Note 1: Profile “Mateo” from Sherdog forums live and train in Panama.
Note 2: Got an email from Jaime who invited me to Gracie Barra HQ in Panama
I have concluded, that finding places and people to visit on this trip will NOT be a problem. More so do I think it will be a problem to decide where to go and where not to go. I haven’t even really gone public with this website, and already I have a handfull of very interesting invitations in my inbox from people all over the world, willing to share their passion for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with me. France, Romania, Moldova, Bali, Japan, Oregon, Los Angeles, Colorado, Georgia, Washington, Maine and Panama. These are the places I have invitation to already, so I am eagerly trying to plan how to make it to all of them during my trip.
One of the invitations I got was from Robert, who emailed me after hearing about my trip from a friend in the US training at Lloyd Irvin’s academy (thanks, Sharon :)). He is a US citizen living Romania and having set up a small BJJ group for kids in Moldava, basically out of nothing. It has existed for four years now, and he invited me to come and train with them. I think that is a very cool opportunity to see a part of the world, that not many tourists will ever see (none?), so I am definitely putting that one on my itinerary. It will probably be one of the first places I visit, since I plan to just head east from Europe.
Robert has a blog with his experiences in Romania and Moldova, that I will encourage anyone to check out: Vampires and Brown Bears. He also send me a story about his experiences with wrestling at a local festival at a small city in Moldova, that I think was very inspiring: Click here to download.
The BJJ community is so strong throughout the world, and I can’t wait to see where this will take me.
Note 1: Robert recommended contacting http://www.absoluto.ro/ for training in Bucharest.
Preparations for my trip is at a very basic stage at the moment. I am trying to think of what to do with my BJJ classes while I am gone and also trying to get my financial planning for the trip done. I’ve been trying to find some good apps for my iPad, that I can use along the way to keep track of my (pretty tight) budget.
I was talking to Jonathan from Kauai Kimonos on Skype, where he showed me the patches they have been making for my sponsor gi’s. They look really cool, and I can’t wait to receive the gi’s and check them out. Am especially excited about seeing the super light weight rip stop gi that weights only half a kilo and should dry really quickly. I think it will be really nice for traveling with a backpack, where I have to pack as little as possible for the long trip.
Speaking of packing, I think I will have to make a packing list for the trip. I am thinking about how many gadgets I will need to bring. On one hand, I want to travel light and live the simple life on the trip, but on the other hand I want to be able to update my blog (=bring my iPad) and also practice my life long hobby of photography (=bring my DSLR). Together with my phone, that is three items of “heavy” technology to bring for a backpacking trip where I try to pack as few socks and t-shirts as possible :)