Since reading the BJJ Globetrotter, my goal has been to travel and train as much as possible. Some would say I’m living the BJJ dream. To most, that dream has to be attained one vacation at a time. Unfortunately, 90% of practitioners are unable to give up the daily grind to train three times a day in between eating acai and relaxing on the beach.
But recently I had the pleasure of doing just that for the first time in three years. Ten days of my life were solely dedicated to jiu-jitsu and living the lifestyle. Myself and five other BJJ enthusiasts from Perth, Western Australia, traveled to San Diego, where we fully immersed ourselves in the culture that is the San Diego jiu-jitsu scene. We woke up early, we trained, we had breakfast, we relaxed, we trained at lunch time, we ate, we relaxed, we returned to the academy again for the evening class, then we slept, and we repeated. We had no other responsibilities other than trying to keep each other accountable and making each class, which was done for the best part of the trip barring a couple of small injuries.
When we were planning the trip we had one particular academy in mind. However, without prior knowledge of the scene in its entirety, we were surprised by how welcoming everyone in San Diego was when they heard our accents and that we had come out specifically to train. The invites came thick and fast to attend classes and open mats across the city, most of which we managed to get too.
So what happened when the vacation came to an end? What happened when we returned to reality? What happened when we had to go back to the daily grind with no beaches, consistent training, or acai bowls?
I can only speak for myself in this situation, but I was happy to be home with my wife and with my two children. However, I woke up the day after returning and realised I wasn’t going to get to train two or three times that day or even that week unless it was fighting for the double-unders when hugging my wife or sizing up a Ko soto-gari on my eldest daughter. The closest thing I was going to get that matched my freshly made acai bowl from the Pacific beaches was drinking a smoothie while looking at photos and telling stories of my trip. The only accents I would hear would be my own while recreating a scene to my children of one of the Brazilian professors telling me what I was doing wrong in my technique. (The sounds of their laughter at my stupidity were well worth the poor attempt at the accent).
For the first time I truly understood what it meant to have an addiction to BJJ. I started to get frustrated and angry with little things that would not normally bother me. It wasn’t until a week after I returned that I realised it was because I was literally coming down from a ten-day BJJ binge. I was high on a drug and then it stopped cold turkey. I couldn’t believe the effect that trip had on me during and after.
Does this mean I would not do the trip again? Absolutely not! I actually plan on arranging more of these trips in the future and encourage anyone with a passion for both jiu-jitsu and travelling to do the same. The experiences and the lessons I picked up in those 10 days are etched into my memory forever. The skills I learnt on the mat are sure to improve my jiu-jitsu game tenfold and getting to train with so many different people and learn through many different styles of instruction has opened my eyes to the wider world of the jiu-jitsu community, a community that I cannot wait to explore further. If you ask me if you should travel specifically for training, my answer is simple: yes, but beware! It may take some time to return to reality of normality.