Day 100. Brno, Czech Republic

 

A Farmers market around Parnas Fountain.

My rundown of Brno, Czech Republic. It was my first Matsurfing experience. The overall level in Brno is young but promising. The hospitality of Jan “Honza” Stach amazes me. I took a private lesson for leg locks. I will like to return some day to train for a longer period. The feeling of a new city every week has itself turned into a routine, still a good routine.  By the end of the week I gain new friends that were strangers at the beginning of the week. This has been a really memorable part of my journey.

 

 

 

If any one knows about long term travel from experience knows that it isn’t cheap, everything costs money.  Europe is no exception. BJJ Globetrotters started a site called Matsurfing.org. It is like couchsurfing but with Jiu-Jitsu contacts. I booked Vienna and Bratislava months ago. Now I don’t have that much money. So I decided to give mat surfing a shot.  An aspect of travel is pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. So I sent a few emails near my itinerary and Brno was the first to reply back. I plan to use it as much as I can for the rest of my journey. It was a great first experience with the site.

img_1481-1
Jungle BJJ Brno

The overall level of Jiu-Jitsu in Brno is blooming.  A very young scene in Brno at the current moment of 2017.  A lot of white belts and a few higher belts instructing.  That doesn’t mean to count them out of anything though.  I met Michal, the instructor of Jungle BJJ Brno.  He has beautiful school with a lot of hungry students.  A very friendly guy, who took me to lunch after a training session.  Although in general Brno Jiu-Jitsu level is low, Jan Stach at Fight Club Brno is doing tremendous things in the No-Gi realm.  His beginning students have adapted his leg lock attacking style. They may not have heel hook or attempted a knee bar on me but their straight ankles are just as lethal. I’m eager to fast forward to see what five years will look like.

 

I slept in a backroom with a couch. I woke to this every morning though.

I arrived on a Monday and I needed a night to myself in a comfortable environment to write.  I met up with Jan on Tuesday, training wasn’t scheduled for that day, but he introduced me to Jirka, a white belt who cross trains in different gyms, who took me to Jungle BJJ Brno.  I trained five times that week.  Jan told the other instructors about me, so they knew I would be sleeping in the gym.  Jan was very helpful and available if I had any questions.  There was a couch in the back room of the gym with blankets. There was also showers and toilette.  A draw back was no Wifi. The gym was located right next a tram line that goes direct to the city center running every 5-10 minutes.  There were 3-4 really good guys at Jan’s gym.  I was schooled by the different approaches to Jiu-Jitsu.

“Teaching Jiu-Jitsu is like being a lighthouse keeper.  It is a lonely job but you still have to go up there and turn on the light and be beacon for others to guide off of.” – Jan Stach, paraphrased

The No- Gi game at Fight Club Brno humbled me and my defensive skills.  I normally can relax when someone gets my back but Jan and his students had implemented an arm trap system to secure the back. It’s a sequence that I haven’t seen before. Afterwards I asked Petr, a hulk of a Czech with gnarly Cauliflower ears, to teach me.  I’m eager to also implement it into my game.  I learned so many new techniques that opened my mind to the possibilities of Jiu-Jitsu even more.  It think because of the school being primarily No-Gi. I asked for a private lesson in leg locks and Jan was happy to give it that Friday.  I learned one version of his entries to his leg locking system.  It is through circumstance and opportunity that I was able to train in Brno. I’m so grateful for passing through this city.

img_1501
A No Gi Competition near Trencin, Slovakia. 

On my last day I traveled with Fight Club Brno to a competition in Slovakia.  Jan, Michael, and Petr competed.  I watched and recorded video.  I didn’t want to compete because I didn’t want to risk getting injured, especially because my travel insurance doesn’t cover competition.  Michael won two and lost in the Finals to an armbar from Jan. Petr took first place in his advanced division. Jan swept the division with submission victories. Afterwards I told him he needs better competition. Jan has only been training 4 years and competes almost every weekend. It is a testament to his teaching and his grappling style that he and his students placed in the competition.

(Kubo, Michael, Me, Jan, and Petr)

Would I Matsurf again? Yes.  I was able to meet with people and train more because I slept where I trained.  The generosity of Jan and his love for Jiu-Jitsu is contagious. The only thing I can do is pay it forward.  I’m excited for this pivotal time in Jan’s career and Jiu jitsu in Brno.  It will be interesting to see after the scene in Brno when I return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(​I caught the last two minutes of the final. Jan’s transition were impressive.)

How to get to Brno: FlixBus from Bratislava or Vienna.

Gym Count: 13 visited in 2017

“Most travel, and certainly the rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don’t know and trusting them with your life.” ― Paul Theroux

Day 90. Vienna, Austria

My time in Vienna

 

 

Orlando Neto and I

A summary of a week in Austria. I shaved my beard and started growing it again.  I met some cool young travelers at my hostel. I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna. I met some cool Globetrotters that shared stories of the Globetrotter Camps.  I ate some Schnitzel, drank some beer and attempted speaking German.

 

 

Walking back from the gym to my lodging is one of my favorite parts about traveling.

I trained at Roger Gracie Vienna with Orlando Neto.  I trained six times there. We went over some techniques from sleeve grip from butterfly/sitting guard to a couple combinations. i.e arm bar, turnover. On another day we drilled a Fireman’s carry take down. Then open mat the last three sessions.  The people there were really friendly, like most gyms. I enjoyed the diverse culture of the city, it showed very much in the gyms demographic.  There were Germans, Italians, Brazilians, Croatians, South Africans, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and I probably left out a few. Most classes that were taught by Orlando were in English. I had a really good vibe from the gym.

 

Me, Tina and Eda on a ferris wheel in Prater.

I stayed at the Meininger hotel on Rembrandt street. It was a clean, modern hostel with wifi everywhere in the hotel. As a normal European hostel experience you meet many young travelers solo or in pairs. You exchange info and back stories. Solo travelers tend to flock together and go out together. That’s one of the best parts about traveling solo in Europe, there’s always people to go out with.  There was Tina, a German on holiday, Chase, a Canadian doing Erasmus in France, Elie, a Frenchman traveling around Europe, Michelle, a Penn college student coming back from birthright from Israel and many more people.  My life seems to gravitate towards being around a motley crew people.  Or do I gravitate towards being around several different types of people that have distinct backgrounds than my own?

 

img_1346
It’s customary to take pictures in your Globetrotter Gis. (Not sure if that’s true.)

 

Repping hard at the Dinner table.

 

 

I met Ähn and Karla, German BJJ Globetrotter veterans, at the open mat at the gym. They showed me around parts of Vienna.  We had several conversations about Jiu Jitsu. I rarely have these types of conversations outside of training, it was very enjoyable.  They shared stories of all the camps they attended and funny stories that happened during the camps.  I’ve never been to a Globetrotter camp. After meeting these two it gives me a great impression of the camp’s attendees.  I hope the rest of the globetrotters I meet love to have fun, eat, and train. I can’t wait until the Copenhagen Camp.

A good part of being in the military that was easy was not really worrying how you style your hair. There were  hair regulations and dress codes.  It was easy to adhere to those rules. I’m out of the Navy now, traveling the world, unemployed with no hair regulations. I’ve had the same hair cut for the last four years and I was not allowed to grow a beard except when I was on Leave.  I grew it for two and half months. No one would really understand this unless you were a male in the American Military.  I decided to start over and cut it all off again.  I’m searching for a balance.

 

Prater in Vienna, Austria

 

 

Day 73. Guam, USA

Somewhere between Peru and Chile I decided to take a detour and visit my old home, Guam.  I lived on Guam for 3 years when I was in the Navy.  I look back on my time on Guam as my transformation into Adulthood.  It was the first time I really was away from home.  I lived by myself without room mates.  I paid rent, utilities, cleaned my home, cooked my food, and solved my life problems on my own.  There were many ups and downs that came with the experience which is why it feels like a home.

Guam is a small island in the Pacific Ocean.  It is a United States Territory, like Puerto Rico. Citizens on Guam cannot vote during federal elections but they do have a delegate in the House of Representatives.  The US military is the islands #1 employer.  The bases cover 27% of the islands land mass. Most of the income comes from tourists that visit from Asian countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. Here is a video by Wendover productions for an overview.

It is very expensive to fly to Guam from the United States. The average round trip ticket is around $1000 USD.  I was initially going to spend three weeks in South Korea.  My thought process was that I can take a cheaper flight to visit Guam now than when I return to the States. So I took a detour and made some arrangements with some friends that were still on the island.

 

Jordan, Emily and I in front of Naval Hospital Guam

My friend, Jordan, and his wife, Emily, were hosting me during my stay.  They live in Mangilao, Guam.  They gave me my own room and bathroom.  It was a luxury that I rarely had during my trip.  Both of them were working during my stay but we caught up at night.  Jordan even let me borrow his car while he was at work.  Jordan worked during the day and Emily at night but she comes home at 8 to 9ish. At that time we would eat dinner and have catch up on life.

 

I visited my duty station, Naval Hospital Guam.  I was a Hospital Corpsman at NH Guam for 3 years.  One of the most frustrating jobs of my entire life.  Though it helped shape the person I am today because of my experiences there.  I ran into some old peers that were still there.  It felt great to catch up but it didn’t feel good to listen to the consensus of low morale.  It was a good reminder of why I left the Navy to travel the world.  I know where their dissatisfaction comes from because I lived it.  I hope they find their peace with the Navy.  I compare the hospital visit felt like going back to your old high school, if your high school took care of sick and dying patients.

Hiro(Japanese Tourist), Jordan, me and Tyler. We went sailing on Lasers. It one of my favorite past times while on Guam.

My friend told me it would be a good morale boost to be on American soil and be around friends.  I didn’t realize until I left how true that statement was.  The ability to speak English freely without thinking if the other person understood me was comfortable.  I used to live on Guam, so when Jordan let me use his car, it felt like driving around my home town.  I revisited my favorite restaurants McKrauts, Gabriels, Cafe Tu’re, Asu Smokehouse, and Pikas Cafe.  I cooked risotto for Emily and Jordan as a kind of payment for hosting me.  I’m so thankful to have friends on the other side of the world.

 

Cooking risotto while drinking. 

I trained Jiu Jitsu twice.  I went to Vida once. It wasn’t too far from where I was staying. It had a good core of students.  Some are MMA fighters on Guam.  Every night was competition training for them.  It was a good push. They waived the mat fee too. Then I trained at Spike 22 at Steel Athletics.  I had to pay a $15 mat fee for that day.  Only two people showed up for lunch open mat.  Rohin was training for a MMA fight in July and Mike was there training with him.  It was good training with heavy weights that just used technique, especially Rohin.  Rohin could have crushed me, he looked over 250 lbs.  It was a chill rolling session.  Despite the $15 mat fee and the few people it was a good experience.

 

 

Vida BJJ in Mangilao, Guam.

I went to see Gabe Baker, my coach when I trained at Carlson Gracie Guam.  We had lunch at a Thai place next to the academy.  It was getting renovated, new mats, so I couldn’t train at my old gym. Getting a one on one with my old coach was what I needed. It felt at times that I was stumbling through the dark with what I needed to work on.  He gave me some guidance that was worth more than the two training sessions I had on the island.  He had an interesting philosophy on the belt system.  I’m grateful for the training I received on Guam and I thanked him for all that he taught me.  I will visit Guam and Carlson Gracie Guam again some day.

 

Gabe Baker in Carlson Gracie. Work in Progress.

“Purple belt is the longest belt, and is the belt most people quit at.  A brown belt is just waiting for his black belt. “

Jiu Jitsu in Chile

Jiu Jitsu in Chile

 

Cohab  Jiu Jitsu Vina Del Mar- Chile

Cohab Equipo in Vina Del Mar.

I spent most of my time here.  A exciting group of competition players.  The higher colored belts put me through the ringer as soon as I first stepped on the mat the first night.  Andres Perez is the head Black Belt and coach of Cohab.  He spoke English to me and was very welcoming.  I enjoyed the training environment and schedule. On average there are 3 classes a day with open mat sessions on Saturday and Sunday.  I was able to train everyday when I wasn’t working at my hostel.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Valparaiso, Chile

Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Valparaiso, Chile. This gym was about two blocks from my hostel.  So it was very convenient.  It was the first gym I visited when I recovered from my cold.  The blonde haired purple belt, Nico, really put it on me when I was there.  He was also preparing for competition the next day in Santiago. Samir was the Black Belt there.  A friendly fellow and waived my mat fee.  I would have trained more if their schedule was than three times a week.

Raul Valencia- Cicero Costha- Vina Del Mar

Raul Valencia Cicero Costha- in Vina Del Mar.

There is a good training here. I trained here twice.  It’s one of those places where the white belts get taught to bypass the opponents guards fast rather than play into it.  I was x passed many times by white belts.  I like to go easy on white belts until they start using strength. They train hard here, an hour of training after drilling.  I enjoy that kind of training.  I didn’t train that long at any other gym in Chile.  Raul Valencia was the head instructor there, Brown Belt.  Big Ups to Francisca Floras for showing me around my last  day.

Cohab- Reneca- Reneca, Chile

Cohab- Reneca.

Andres Perez has a brother, that’s also a Black Belt, Fernando Perez.  I went to visit him but he was out that day.  I met Guillermo, purple belt, instructor. It was a small group with all white belts except Guillermo and I.  Only white belts, but they were strong and quick.  I had a white belt really tried to tap me with strength.  He had good submissions on me but kept using his grip to pull, rather than adjusting position or abandon and try something else. Other than that it was a good time.

 

 

Here’s a good discussion questions. How do you roll when you travel? Hard or smooth? Do you give up position to lower belts?

I learned that I still don’t know anything about Jiu Jitsu. What I know is few drops in a water bucket.  It’s never ending.

Day 41. Valparaiso

One of my favorite parts of my stay.  Eating together with my Hostel. 


I finished Christian Graugart’s book this week while working reception at my hostel. One take away from the book is that it’s easy for me to be self conscious of my skills and compare myself to other purple belts around the world. By the end of my trip I will roll with over hundred different strangers from countries all over the world. It’s ridiculous to compare each other. We walk our own Camino, our on path.

Cerro Concepcion.  Looking down.


I have to enjoy to process, the journey.  With the example of the Camino.  The most enjoyable part was the day of walking.  The getting up early and packing your bag.  The walk by yourself or with people.  The evening meals with other pilgrims. Those are my favorite memories.  When I got to Santiago, the final destination. I got this meh feeling.  That’s it. I was just sad that it was over.

“If you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back,”- Yvon Chounard.

I spend most mornings going for a walk and exploring the city. I sit at a cafe and I write in my journal.  It’s very meditative.  I enjoy this slow pace of travel.  I’m reading a lot more. I have time to really immerse myself here.

 I trained last Friday at Gracie Jiu Jitsu on Pedro Montt.  Which is the picture above. Samir was the Black Belt. He is very welcoming.  First time back since my URI(Upper Respiratory Infection). I rolled mainly with Nico, a purple belt who is competing in a tournament the next day in Santiago. He submitted me many times, with many different submissions.

Currently reading: The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

I will try to blog every week.

Jiu Jitsu Terms in Spanish

Compiled from Reddit and my own research. Please correct where you see necessary.

As I come to the end of my South American part of my trip until Brazil.  Here are some of my research while I had some time to think.

Body- Cuerpo

Head- Cabeza

Face- Cara

Throat- Cuello

Shoulder- Hombro

Chest- Pecho

Stomach- Estomago

Arm- Abrazo

Hand- Mano

Hips- Cadera

Fingers- Dedos

Legs- Piernas

Knees- Rodillas

Feet- Pies

Positions- Posiciones

Closed Guard- Guardia Cerrado

Half Guard- Guardia Medio

Side Control- Pecho a Pecho/ Cien Kilos

North South- Norte Sur

Knee on belly- Rodilla en el estomago

Mount- La montada

Back- Espalda

Turtle- La Tortuga

50/50- Cincuenta Cincuenta

X Guard- Guardia X

Single X- Solo X/ Simple X

Deep Half- Profunda media

Inverted Guard- Guardia invertida

De La Riva Guard- Guardia De La Riva

Moves – Movimientos 

Ankle lock- Llave de Tobillo

Knee Bar- Llave de Rodillo

Triangle- Triangulo

Armbar- Llave de abrazo

Choke- Choke/ Estrangulacion

Sweep- raspado

To Shrimp- Hacer la Gamba

Guard Pass- El pasaje de Guardia

Passing the Guard- Paseando la guardia

Useful Words- Palabras Util

Grip- Agarre

Loose- Libre

Tight- Estrecho

Space- Espacio

Heavy- pesado

Light- Ligero

Weight- Peso

Post- pata

Timing- Ritmo

Floor- Suelo

2 on 1- Dos en uno

to pull- tirar (infinitive)

to push- empujar (infinitive)

Good Training- Buen entrenamiento

Questions- Unas preguntas?

What is  your name? – Como se llama?

I am (your name)- Soy ( tu nombre)

Nice to meet you- Mucho Gusto

For Example. Por Ejemplo

Can you show me? –  Usted puede mostrarme?

Can I train here?- Puedo entrenar aqui?

How much does it cost?- Cuanto cuesta?

Thank you very much- Muchas Gracias

Oss- Oss

Travel Slow!

Day 27: Cuzco

It’s been five days having URI symptoms. I don’t feel like doing shit. I just want to stay in bed until I leave. I’ve been a connoisseur of tea and soup.  I really enjoy Cuzco though. It’s just a shame I can’t shake this cold.


I got back from Machu Picchu and I went searching for Bunker Cuzco.  I ran into Diego Yule. He runs Bunker with Nico Culrich.  It was good to exchange Jiu Jitsu stories and have a local show me around.  He showed me the Mercado de San Blas.  Little things like showing a traveler a local market means a lot.


I trained three times. I’m proud of myself for training but feeling of being sick when I’m not training isn’t good.  Some techniques Nico and Diego went over were an omoplata from spider and half guard/ knee shield. When I went to open mat we exchanged GI and NO GI. Diego was preparing for a No Gi tournament in May. We discussed how leg locks is now a system everybody needs to study. If not you will be behind the curve, especially as purple belts.


I met a Helene at the Open Mat on Saturday, a fellow BJJ Globetrotter. You can follow her blog. She has over 400 days on the road. She gave me some advice on traveling. She is truly an inspiration.

@helenebjj. Follow her on instagram @helenebjj and her blog 

 

As a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman, I self diagnosed myself with acute URI (upper respiratory infection). (Note: self diagnosing yourself is a running joke in the medical field. Why? Nearly all patients google their symptoms and think they know what they have.)  I have decided its viral and that I will just ride out the symptoms.

I fly to Lima then to Cuzco in a few hours. I hope the weather will be better for my symptoms.