Day 3 Lima, Peru 

Day 3 The walk there was the adventure. It became less and less populated the further I walked away from my hostel. The streets got darker and dirtier. I became more and more worried about my safety. This is why I came. To step out of the complacency. My family is filipino so I have been to the Philippines a few times, but never have I walked alone in the rough parts. I always had local family members or taxi drivers to chauffeur me around.

Then I come into a mat space 20×20 with a pillar in the middle. No tatami mats here just old school puzzle mats. It gets the jobs done. The training was very detailed and specific. I we went over anaconda, darce and a choke I didn’t know the name of. All from turtle. We drilled these moves then we did several rounds of 3 minutes. It was a good first gym in Lima.

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Enrico and I rolling.

Enrico was a very knowledgable teacher. His understanding of the techniques he was teaching us was very detailed and concise. I appreciated how he broke stuff down in English for me, especially the details. I has a brown belt in jiu jitsu, for reasons I couldn’t decipher in Spanish/Castellano.

The walk home was fine.  I was soaking with sweat still, I sweat a lot. I got some street food for 7 soles. I have no idea what the meat was but it was tasty.  I felt like a local after jiu jitsu class walking home.  It was a good end of the night.

I wanted to travel and do jiu jitsu since I was a white belt.  I’m glad I’m a purple belt traveling.  I think you can travel as any belt but they all have some pros and cons. If you’re a white belt, you are so new that you may not understand the techniques or positions. I think blue and purple belt is a good belt to travel with. I’m not brown or black but my assumption is that you have to prove your belt where ever you train. More than likely you will outrank the majority  in the gyms you encounter.

If you are able to travel around the world and take your hobby with you. Do it. There’s a special feeling where you get to share what you love with strangers. You may not speak the same tongue but you do have a common language.

Books: I have to finish Lolita.
Google maps: you can download maps and use them without being connected to wifi. Useful when you’re walking around foreign countries looking for Jiu Jitsu gyms.

Thanks to BJJ Musashi Ronin Club in Lima, Peru. and BJJ Globetrotters for my travel gi.

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One World Jiu Jitsu

 

One World Jiu Jitsu. Newark, CA

Good place. good people.  It’s always weird when I roll up to a new gym.  I think I always feel a little stand offish. Probably because I know not all gym environments are a good place.  As far as One World Jiu Jitsu in Newark, CA. It is a great gym to be apart of.

Why do I feel stand off-like when I train in new gyms?  Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport.  I think you naturally size people up by looking at your training partners. How tall are they? Muscle mass? Belt Rank? How seasoned is their belt? Cauliflower ear? Hands? You can tell a lot about someone by looking at their hands.

After awhile it turns into your gym.  Which is a really good feeling.  It becomes your second home.  You don’t feel like a stranger to it anymore. For someone that traveled around a lot, that feeling of home is something you always want to come back to. Something you are always searching for. 

2 more days till Peru.

Open mat Sunday Nights. Newark, Ca

 

My prospective itinerary for 2017.

Subject to change.

Lima, Peru

Valparaíso, Chile

Seoul, Korea

Vienna, Austria

Bratislava, Slovakia-Polyglot Gathering 31 May- 4 Jun 

Prague, Czech Republic

Dresden, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Copenhagen, Denmark. BJJ Globertrotter Jiu Jitsu Camp. 26 Jun- 1 Jul

Porto, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

UK

Scotland

Ireland

 

Reykjavik, Iceland- Polyglot Conference. 27 Oct-29 Oct

 

Bay Area, CA

Auckland, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand

Rio De Janiero, Brazil

Thats a year of travel in less than a hundred words.  Just looking at the names seem daunting because of the size of the task.  I’m excited for the challenge and the adventure.  This is just a prospective itinerary. More than likely it will change.

What I originally planned to do was to hit up these countries with no plan, expectations or mission.  I’m 32 years old.  I know that I’m not an average traveler.  I have specific interests and habits that I do.  I go to the movies of the country I’m visiting, especially if I don’t understand the language.  I eat the food and I try to learn a little bit of the language.  I’m not much of club guy.  Not really my scene.  I can party if I feel like it but I rather enjoy a good conversation with friends around food and alcohol. Extreme sports. I can be peer pressured into that stuff but I don’t go out of my way to do it.  Sightseeing. Yes but it’s not a deal breaker.  Most importantly I do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I’ve been training in jiu jitsu for roughly seven years.  I’m going to try to train in every country I visit.  This type of journey has been done and documented by Christian Graugert in his book and blog, The BJJ GLOBETROTTER. I feel more active as traveler with this goal in mind.

What makes a place memorable when you visit?  Is it the food? Sure. Is it the language?  Maybe. Attractions?  Meh. Weather? 75%.  I think what makes a place memorable is the people. I’ve moved a lot in my twenties and in the Navy.  The friends I’ve made where I’ve lived, whether they were locals or not, made those years unforgettable.  What is the best way to bond with the locals.  With a passion we both share, jiu jitsu.  We don’t even need to speak the same language.  I will blog about this subject extensively for the next year. So look out.

My former blog was a language blog.  It was about my journey for a lingua franca, A bridge language.  I am still learning Spanish.  I think I can understand 60-70 percent of news and audiobooks I listen to, if slow.  I can read fairly well in Spanish.  I had Skype classes on italki weekly since I left the Navy.  There’s still a lot more to learn.  Rewind five years ago.  I would not have thought I would be able to communicate or make friends in this language but I have.  I hit that point in my language learning where I realized that I can communicate and I am able to use it.  It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling, almost a drug-like high.  I’m addicted too.  I want to learn more!  I plan to attend two polyglot events, Slovakia and Iceland.  What better way to learn more languages than get advice from the world’s best.

That’s it.

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 1st Stop Maven Jiu Jitsu inSpring, TX.(Kevin,Me, James)

Why do Jiu Jitsu anymore?

Why do Jiu Jitsu anymore?  This question is posed to those who have been doing Jiu Jitsu for a long time, especially for those blue or purple belts.  I received my purple belt about three months ago after training on Guam for three years as a blue belt.  I came off a physical therapy from an ACL reconstructed surgery.  I tore my ACL from a failed throw by my training partner.  It was a big blow to stop, receive surgery and recover from it then keep going with the potential to injure it again.  I would contemplate the “what ifs” scenarios.  I was gun shy at getting back on the mats.

“I don’t want to not live, because of my fear of what could happen.”

-Riding Giants, Laird Hamilton

Top 5 reason to keep going

5. Its a perishable skill.  If you have ever taken a break from Jiu-Jitsu, say a month or two, you notice that you skills, timing, flexibility, muscle memory is slightly off.  Though at my level now to get back to my ability now I think it just takes 2-3 weeks of consistent practice to attain my level of where I left off. The important concept of growing as a person is keeping consistent. I’ve been taking extended breaks for most of my jiu jitsu journey.  What if I kept consistent with it? Instead of taking a break for a month or two. Go once a week. It would keep your skills better than not going at all.

“We are all growing or dying, there’s no in-between.” -Tony Robbins

4. It keeps you humble.  That feeling of being exhausted from trying to defend yourself competently from the relentless attacks from your partners. Sometimes you will get tapped. Sometimes a lower belt will submit you.  Sometimes you don’t have enough strength to defend anymore.  That feeling of defeat is a sobering one.  It stays with you.  It is not a good feeling.  It is only a good feeling when you return from it. Redeem yourself and go back on the mats and train.

3.  The ability to express yourself.  Self expression is an immensely powerful tool for rehabilitation, meditation, and therapy.  It is an art form though some people may not see it as such but Jiu Jitsu has the potential to be a vehicle of expression of your emotion and state of mind. If you are stressed out or concerned about life, rest assured that you can be submitted many times until you cannot think about what ails you. You can also work through it and be in place of meditation and focus that all the things the weigh you down are outside and not on the mats.

“In combative form the art of expressing the human body…to me, ultimately martial arts means honestly expressing yourself. Now it is very difficult to do.” -Bruce Lee

2. Make it Fun.  Honestly if it turns into an activity you dread to go to then there is no point to do it anymore.  There are ways to entertain yourself.  Make a game out of it.  In Jiu Jistu University, Saulo advised to try playing someone else’s guard style.  That’s like doing an impression of someone.  Impressions are funny when they’re dead on, they’re even awful when done bad. But still it’s fun. Play another person’s game other than your own, someone unorthodox like Nino Schembri, Eddie Bravo, or Eduardo Telles.  The list can go on.  There are many different styles and I don’t think enough is written about the subject.

“Sometimes I even tell my students, “Today you are going to be Pe de Pano, you are going to be Shaolin, and you are going to be Marcelo Garcia-play like that.”

-Jiu Jitsu University

1.  Grind. It is a term I really learned on Guam.  It means to keep going despite all things.  Come to class as often as you can and put your gi on. Train hard and you will feel it in you muscle and bones. You will be tired and exhausted from training and your life.  I can remember times when I was driving home and just felt at one with my body and soul.   You may not see the change or feel it but when you put that kind of time and effort into something over a long period it will show results physically, mentally and spiritually.

 

 

Jiu Jitsu on Guam

 

I was stationed on Guam from March 2012 to July 2015.  I did not know much about Guam.  I knew it was an island in the Pacific but other than that I was completely ignorant about Guam.  I received orders from Guam a month after I failed out of dive school in Chicago.  I put so much energy and time into preparing for that school. When I failed out it became it a dark time in my life.  Imagine gambling 2 years worth of savings and losing it all in one hand of pitch and toss.  It was a sobering feeling that I felt for much of my time on that island.

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

Guam is a tropical island in the western Pacific Ocean.  It is 10 hours plus greenwich mean time, which means it is roughly a day ahead of American Stateside time.  It is an American territory and the official languages are English and Chamorro.  The island has a rich history of colonization and war.  It has beautiful beaches that can rival the any.  It has an average temperature of mid 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit with a mid 70s to low 80s humidity level.  Typhoons are a common occurrence that came at least twice a year.  It was an interesting place to spend my late 20s.

Well I arrived on Guam very depressed and disheartened because of the unforeseen detour in my career.  When you get to a new place it takes awhile to adjust.  The quicker you are at adjusting the better you are at handling time away from your family. You do so by creating routine, make new friends, learn new hobbies or continue old ones.  I joined Carlson Gracie Guam because it was recommended by a friend who grew up in Guam and his former instructor ran that school.  There were many Jiu Jitsu schools on Guam it was highlighted on an episode of Rolled Up, which I watched before I arrived there.

I was a blue belt at the time from my former school, Oceanside Jiu Jitsu.  I worked hard by training 4 times a week and competing as often as I could.  I took a break from Jiu jistu soon after I got my blue belt and I had to concentrate and preparing for dive school. Guam’s Jiu Jitsu rep preceded itself from the up and coming Jiu jitsu fighters born there like Mike Carbulido, John Meno and Mike Fowler visiting and teaching there for a stint.  I knew Jiu jitsu training would be hard, but I really didn’t know how hard.  In fact I was afraid of my blue belt actually being taken away. Which I have seen at my previous school when a black belt was given a purple belt. Being away from my family and starting a new job I started training jiu jitsu again as a way to combat my other feelings inside.

Jiu jitsu training on Guam is Monday through Thursday 6pm to roughly 730pm.  Normal warm ups consisted of shrimps, arm drags, wrestling shots, and assorted calisthenics.  Head coach, Gabe Baker, ran his gym like a military platoon preparing for war especially months before a tournament.  Specific guard passing drills would continue in numerous repetitions before ending warm up and a water break.  After warm up we would learn two or three moves, drill and practice them. At the end of class we would do specific position drills or continue with the moves we learned that day.  More often than not there was no time during class for free rolling.  If you wanted to free roll you had to do that after class.  There were several people that stayed after for one or two rolls.  Fairly normal when compared to most schools. I earned four stripes there. 1465123_10151928795717900_931260398_n

The leadership was one the main characteristic that made this experience so intense. Gabe Baker’s main job was running that Jiu Jitsu school.  He put his heart and soul into running it and making the best Jiu Jitsu fighters as he possibly could.  His students are an excellent product of his exceptional coaching.  Many other instructors on the island still did it as a hobby and they were pursuing different careers, who can blame them Jiu Jitsu is a difficult field to do professionally. Some schools instruction wasn’t as consistent than Carlson Gracie Guam.  Gabe also was an excellent coach that listened to your problems not just on the mat but off.  There were many times I confided in him with the issues going on in my life.  During my tenure he expanded the kid’s program and knocked down the walls and doubled the school size. As tough as he was on me I will never forget my time at Carlson Gracie Guam.

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Gabe Baker and I the last week on Guam.

My take away from the Jiu Jitsu experience. I’m now a Purple belt though I was not promoted by Gabe but I know he mentored me to get that level. Now  I’m not afraid of getting my belt taken from me anymore because I’ve gone through so much pain, suffering, injury and cauliflower.  I have this idea that if you took away your belt, muscle memory, and move inventory and all you have left is your white belt and experience from your jiu jitsu time.  It would only be a matter of time until you get back you original rank.  In fact I bet it would take a shorter time to reach the target belt rank.  Why do I believe this to be so?  I know what it took to get through those belt ranks.  I have the basic knowledge of the moves and system Jiu Jitsu uses.  My experience has shown me that it is possible and that I have attained it once before.  Therefore I can do it again.

And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

The island was an incredible place to find yourself.  Although I am not an advocate of doing Jiu Jitsu all day everyday.  There were other things in my life that suffered when I did that.  I believe one needs balance but I know Jiu Jitsu will always be there.  Despite all the heartache and frustration I had in other areas in my life when I left Jiu Jitsu whenever I came back to the gym everyone was always very welcoming. I wish to return one day.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

There was a time on Guam when I memorized the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. To this day it still gives me hope.  That stoic hope one needs to get through tough times. It was this poem and my experience on Guam that gives me hope and strength for another day.