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

Archive for May, 2011

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

Missed the bus and training on the beach at the same time :,(

I was going to take the bus back to San Jose tonight, sleep there and have lots of time to get to the airport in the morning. The last bus was supposed to leave at 5:00 pm, which was right when we had time to lay the mats out on the beach and roll. That meant, that I couldn’t join the training because I had to catch the bus. This bus just never came. I waited at the bus stop for 75 minutes with no luck. This means, that I have to get the bus at 6 am tomorrow morning in order to make it to the airport in time.

It totally sucked to wait that long for nothing and miss the training, but I could do nothing but trying to make the most of it. It meant that I got to go with the guys to a bar to watch UFC, so it wasn’t all bad.

Tomorrow afternoon, I am flying to Oakland in California to visit my friend Søren and his wife for a few days. He is an old friend of mine from back home and I haven’t seen him for a long time, so it will be good to catch up.

Vamos a la Playa!

Surfing today was GREAT. I had one of the best sessions of my (short) career, feeling really confident out there and catching lots of amazing waves. What a great day in the water!

No-gi sparring at Athletic Advance last night

I felt pretty overtrained yesterday. Every muscle in my body was sore and I had a sling fever. Nevertheless, I decided to go and roll a little bit with the guys at AA. Before I went to Costa Rica, I few people independently of eachother told me, that this gym had a very high level. I didn’t really think much about it before I came here and saw it myself. Really high level, technical and tough guys there, I highly recommend training with them if you have the chance.

I got tapped a few hundred times and felt great afterwards. It was nice to warm up my body a little bit after being so tired all day.

San Jose afternoon walk

Photographing cities always posses quite a challenge in finding the interesting details between a constant bombardment of impressions. There is no beautiful landscape presenting itself with a panoramic sky and lots of interesting colors and details, ready to be captured in the first attempt – a city demands ones concentration and patience. It usually also involves a good amount of footwork to find the right shots, why I normally like to do city photography on a bicycle. Today, I had to do with my sandals.

I have been feeling slightly overtrained today, so I decided to skip afternoon training and just relax instead. I went for a walk around town this afternoon and caught a few shots.

Tonight is a no-gi class and directly after that, I jump in the car with some of the guys from the gym and drive to the beach for the weekend, where we will train on the beach and go surfing.

Location:Avenida 4,San Pedro,Costa Rica

This must be one of the coolest iPhone apps ever

Location:Calle Central,San Pedro,Costa Rica

The amazing around-the-world burger project: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

This burger had all the nice gear. It looked great in it’s fancy gi with all the cool patches. I had good game too, but there was just something about it that rubbed me the wrong way. I rated it blue belt four stripes.

Made it to Costa Rica, trained + finally got pockets!

It was a tough trip to Costa Rica, since I had to get up ridiculously early to catch my flight at 6:00 am. I only had about three hours of sleep plus a little bit in the plane. I got a nap when I got here, but combined with the hard training last night and traveling in general, I have been really low on energy today.

I went to Athletic Advance tonight to train and it was great. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you kind of know the drill. Knew noone on beforehand, it was awesome, cool guys, good training, nice place, etc. etc. etc. It almost feels stupid how easy it has become for me to travel random places and find experiences like this using BJJ as engine. I caught myself laughing a little bit at it, as I walked home in the rain after training tonight. Anything seems possible at this point.

I enjoy Latin America a lot. It is cool to see something different and I am listening to “learn spanish” podcast every day to catch up with daily communication. Like surfing, it is cool to try and learn a new skill from bottom up and language is always a great basic tool to have in your gameplan, I think. For the last 10-11 years, I have basically only tried to learn BJJ and nothing else, so I am excited about learning something new :D

On another note, something really great has happened for my trip. I finally got shorts with pockets. After traveling over three months in fightshorts with no pockets, these new bad boys are like sent from heaven. Who invented this genius device? There seems to be no limit to what they can hold! I am psyched about pockets apparently.

(P.S.: I was too zombie to take any interesting photos today + it was raining, but I promise to do some good ones soon ;))

Location:Avenida 4,San Pedro,Costa Rica

Goodbye, Dominican Republic!

The way I ended here in DR was, that I was looking at google maps, trying to figure out, what places were close to where Mike and Rebecca’s boat would be. I checked the surrounding islands and saw that DR was close. I googled for BJJ and the rest is history.

I know I am beating the same drum, but how amazing is it, that I can point at any spot on a map, buy a ticket, go there all alone and end up in this situation, where I am sad to leave, because I made so many good friends in just four days. Dominican Republic turned out to be a place of beautiful people, beautiful places and beautiful Jiu Jitsu.

I have stayed two nights in Santo Domingo, the capital, to where we took the bus for five hours. Abraham, a huge brown belt, offered me to stay in his house and we had a great time. I am looking forward to meet him again next week in L.A. and see him compete.

We went training tonight and I had some very tough and great rolls with a bunch of brown and black belts. Really good night of training.

Now, I will get three hours of sleep before heading to the airport and flying to Costa Rica, to see what awaits me there! (another place, I found by looking at a map)

Just registered for the Worlds

I decided to stay in middle weight, even though I will probably be outpowered by most competitors in that division at this time. Cutting weight while traveling is very difficult, so I’ll just relax, review a lot of burgers and compete at my current weight.

I am of course pretty terribly prepared for this competition, but it is important to me to at least step on the mat and give myself the challenge of competing at the (second-)highest level in the world.

Hope to meet a lot of my friends from the trip there too!

Finally went surfing again

My neighbor Glen drove to me Playa Encuentro this morning on his super awesome old school moped. The waves were surprisingly good and we had a great time in the water, catching many waves. To finish it off in style, the last wave I decided to go for, took me all the way to the beach, it was perfect :)

Great training with tough white belts last night

I joined the class at the gym last night. It was Papo, the brown belt instructor who I rolled with earlier in the day, and a big group of local boys, all white belts. They were very physically strong from kitesurfing, fishing and working in the fields and their body mechanics were impressive. They gave me a serious run for my money, not often I experience that with beginners. This place has unlimited potential, I am looking forward to follow these guys in the years to come.

Location:5,Cabarete,Dominican Republic

World Championships next week… To cut or not to cut?

I just weighed myself this evening. 172 pounds without the gi. Should I try to cut down to middleweight or just don’t worry about it and compete in middle?

I couldn’t decide wether or not to spend all that money on competing in the Worlds next week, but BJJ Legends magazine generously offered to sponsor me so it would be possible. I am looking at flight tickets today and will sign up as soon as I make a decision on the weight class. Maybe I will weigh myself tomorrow morning and see what it says.

On one hand, I would prefer to compete in lightweight because I haven’t done much physical training on the trip and I know everyone is cutting. On the other hand, my preparations have been terrible in terms of trying to perform well at the tournament (amazing in terms of having fun and traveling though ;)) so maybe the weight class is of less importance.

Morning roll then surf fail.

I had a great training session with Papo and Joe this morning in the skate ramp gym. Very technical guys, who give me some seriously good sparring sessions. We trained for an hour or so before getting some lunch.

After, I took a motorbike to Encuentro beach, where all the surfing is. Unfortunately, there were no waves today, so I had to drop that project. I am finding myself getting restless because I haven’t been surfing since Hawaii. I really miss it, so hope there will be some waves tomorrow morning. I could kitesurf, but there is so much to learn and so much equipment. I have fallen in love with the simplicity of just having a board and nothing else. Tomorrow it is!

Now, I will try and find some flight tickets for next destination (still to be determined), then roll again tonight.

Judgment Day yesterday was REAL!

I was honestly a little sceptic, that yesterday would be Judgment Day where all the true believers would be zapped to heaven, but it turned out to be true.

I came to Cabarete late last night in the dark and arrived directly at a big afterparty for a BJJ tournament. Don’t remember much that happened, but I think I met Jesus in a bar on the beach later, and when I woke up this morning and saw this place in daylight, I realized that all the religious ramblings were true and I had actually gone to heaven!

I don’t believe in God, but I guess he believes in me, because he designed heaven just as I imagined it. Outdoor BJJ gym with great guys on a perfect surf beach with a bar. And wifi. See you guys here if you are not going to hell or something.

24 hours in Puerto Rico

Thanks Fred for a great time here, next stop Dominican Republic!

So long, pirates!

After three days on the Zero to Cruising catamaran, it is time for me to leave and get back to land. We are currently anchored by Beef Island, from where I will soon fly to Puerto Rico. I am staying there for one night, before moving on to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic.

I don’t know anyone in Puerto Rico, don’t know where to go or sleep, but I assume it will all work out by itself when I land, like it always does.

Big thanks to Mike and Rebecca for inviting me to stay on their boat, it has been a great experience to see how it is to live on one. I didn’t get to train much, other than Mike tapping me out with a flying triangle on the beachbar dancefloor the first night, but nevertheless, I have really enjoyed my time at sea.


The amazing around-the-world burger project: Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.

This burger trained in a really cool gym. It was not the average gym with nothing on the walls but a photo of Helio, no this was decorated with all sorts of sweet pirate stuff.

Despite being a bit of a rebel (one might even call it a sort of pirate), it had a seriously good game. It caught me by surprise by pulling out a so far unseen “Chili con carne topgame”, that worked surprisingly well and was difficult to escape once ended there. It managed to pin me for several minutes, before I finally reversed position and submitted it.

I ranked it purple belt with two stripes – a very serious contender in the amazing around-the-world burger project!

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.

On a boat! (preparing for the BJJ World Championships)

Mike and Rebecca are old BJJ friends of mine. I visited them in Canada in 2005 to train, and we have kept in touch since. One day, they decided to sell everything they owned, including their gym, buy a boat and go sailing. From having zero knowledge or experience with sailing, they learned everything from bottom up and have sailed almost a year now, all the way from Canada to the Caribbean.

It was really difficult to catch them on the way, because they never really know where they are going to be at any given time. Fortunately, I timed it just right and managed to get a flight to a nearby island of where they were located.

I arrived yesterday evening and with only three hours of sleep and no food since lunch, we decided to go out to a full moon party on a beach. The rum seemed to be extra effective with no sleep or food, which resulted in massive hangover today. I basically had to lay down inside the boat for a good four hours, while sailing in hard wind and waves, without being able to move. It was horrible, some of the worst hangovers I have had in a long time.

Spent today chilling on the boat, chilling in the water and chilling on the beach. Me and Rebecca did a workout with their TRX on the trampoline. I was pretty amazed that I managed to finish that in my condition.

Right now it is nine in the evening and I am lying outside on the trampoline, listening to the sounds of the jungle on the island we are anchored at, and looking at the stars. I must be that competitor at the Worlds in two weeks, that has had the number one coolest preparations for that tournament lol

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!