Mindset / News / Training Tips / Highlights / History / Lifestyle / Techniques / New to Jiu Jitsu / Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine


Picture: GoLive

Here’s a fun game. If you could embark on the ultimate prolonged trip travelling around the world – using jiu jitsu as a vehicle – where would you go?

For many enthusiasts, the idea of sharing the same mats as their grappling heroes in exotic locations across the globe, represents a dream that will never become reality. Sure, some people may muster up enough money to take an extended training trip here or there, but few of us will ever get a chance to travel freely wherever we like, for as long as we like, visiting the most iconic gyms and meeting the most prestigious figureheads in the sport.

Imagine you were given a six-month pass from your normal life, with no worries about work or family commitments (you’d be at the academy training every day, right?). But, let’s not stop there! Throw in unlimited financial clout, paired with open doors at every gym you could ever wish to visit (irrespective of team or affiliation) and you’re set for the craziest jiu jitsu pilgrimage you could ever have hoped for.

At JJS we discussed this subject heatedly over many coffee breaks before coming up with our own ‘around the world’ travel plan. Have a read, gain some inspiration and plan your own jiu jitsu pilgrimage.

Location: New York, USA

Academy: Renzo Gracie Team

Estimated stay: Two weeks

First stop on the list would be a visit to New York and the legendary Renzo Gracie Academy. Having become one of the most popular figureheads of jiu jitsu during a golden era of MMA in Japan, and gaining legendary status generally as an awesome guy, Renzo is someone you’d have to meet.

Another great perk of visiting the Renzo Gracie Academy would be the chance of joining in one of John Danaher’s classes. Danaher is famed for his expertise as an instructor, often leading to him being referred to as the ‘Nutty Professor’. The New Zealand-born black belt is also the choice of many champions, with UFC title-holder Georges St-Pierre employing him as his jiu jitsu coach.

To add a little icing on the cake, Renzo’s academy is one of the finest training facilities you will ever see, with multiple floors of mat space and more students to roll with than you can possibly imagine.

Location: New York, USA

Academy: Marcelo Garcia Team

Estimated stay: Two weeks

After training hard at Renzo’s for a few weeks, it would be just downright rude not to swing by Marcelo Garcia’s gym for a visit. Of course Marcelo needs little introduction, as his success in sport jiu jitsu elevates him to the status of one of the world’s best (if not the best).

Nogi training would be on the menu at the home of this Alliance stalwart, in an attempt to eke out as much knowledge as possible about crazy guillotine chokes, hook-sweeps and arm-drags.

Marcelo is known for his friendly approach to training and the fact that he teaches the vast majority of the classes is something that would always inspire you to train hard and give your best of every session. If you are really lucky, you may even get a roll with the master himself, who is not shy to take on all-comers who walk through the academy doors.

Location: California, USA

Academy: Art of Jiu Jitsu

Estimated stay: Four Weeks

After jumping on a plane from the east to the west coast, a visit to the Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy would be next on our list. This brand new facility is, of course, home to the Atos affiliated Mendes Brothers, two more athletes in their prime.

We scheduled in a solid month of training at the Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy, as the Mendes’ emphasis on drilling, repetition and intense sparring sessions would no doubt work wonders on anyone’s game.

The gym itself is a sight to behold, more suited as a location for a fancy art gallery than a rough and tumble grappling school. However, the immaculate white mats and surroundings, paired with the presence of two of the sport’s greats make this an awesome stop off on our trip. The gi laundering and complementary towel service wouldn’t go amiss either!

Location: California, USA

Academy: The Gracie Academy

Estimated stay: Two weeks

Coming off the back of a month’s hard training with the Mendes Bros, we would schedule in two weeks at The Gracie Academy in Torrance – just to keep it playful.

The Gracie Academy is the home of Rorion Gracie, the driving power behind the conception of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rorion’s sons Rener and Ryron run the academy, both of whom are known for their popular ‘Gracie Breakdown’ videos on the Internet.

Another of Rorion’s sons, Ralek Gracie, also instructs at the Gracie Academy. However, Ralek is perhaps better known in recent times for his exploits as a rapper, releasing his first single ‘G in a Gi’ earlier this year.

Location: California, USA

Academy: Galvao Jiu Jitsu Academy

Estimated stay: Two weeks

Our final stop in the jiu jitsu hotbed of California would be to train with the head of Atos, Andre Galvao. Physical conditioning and intense rolling seems to be the credos of the Atos team, so this would no doubt be another great opportunity to get smashed by a bunch of young, ambitious blue and purple belts.

This would also represent the opportunity to train with one of the nicest and most talented guys in the sport at the moment in Andre Galvao, who is gearing up for an ADCC superfight with Braulio Estima later in the year.

Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Academy: Alliance

Estimated stay: Four weeks

Our first stop in Brazil would be at Alliance’s Sao Paulo academy, which is run by the deep voiced ‘General’ of jiu jitsu – Fabio Gurgel. One thing you won’t struggle to find in Alliance’s Sao Paulo academy is world champions, with the likes of Michael Langhi, Gabrielle Garcia and Sergio Morais all training with the General.

And let’s not overlook the General himself. Fabio is known to be one of the best teachers and motivators in the sport, but he also has plenty of accolades from his own time as a competitor to back it all up. World titles and even an appearance on an early UFC are complemented by Fabio’s amazing record of winning the 2010 European championship adult division as a 40 year-old.

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Academy: de la Riva Academy

Estimated stay: Two weeks

Finally we make it to Rio, the home of BJJ! The first stop would see us drop in on Master de la Riva, the man responsible for developing the likely named open guard.

Training with a legend such as de la Riva would be a hugely rewarding experience, and the emphasis here would be on refining technique. We’d be looking to wind down on the sparring front here a little in order to attend as many classes as possible in our two week stay, making sure we absorb every single ounce of de la Riva wizardry we can.

Having made it to Rio, it would be rude not to take in some of the Brazilian culture too. This part of the trip would see plenty of Brazilian BBQ, surfing, relaxing at the beach and bowl after bowl of acai.

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Academy: Fight Zone Academy

Estimated stay: Two weeks

Coming off the back of a visit to de la Riva’s gym, it would be Ricardo Vieira’s Fight Zone academy next on the list. This would be a great opportunity to train at the home of the Checkmat family in Rio, with notable competitors such as Yuri Simoes residing on the mats.

Head instructor Ricardo is of course a legend in the sport, and there is always the potential that his brother, Leo, will turn up for training as well. The possibility of sharing the mat with both Vieira brothers would be too good to miss, so a solid two weeks of training would be allocated here.

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Academy: Paraestra

Estimated stay: Two weeks

Having to endure a long trip across the globe would be quickly forgotten when rocking up to the doors of Paraestra gym in Tokyo. Paraestra is the home of the legendary Yuki Nakai, the man who won many fight fans’ hearts in the Rickson Gracie documentary ‘Choke’. Nakai suffered a horribly gouged eye, which eventually rendered it useless. Despite losing sight in one eye, Nakai kept it secret for the sake of the growth of MMA, as he didn’t want people to associate the sport with such a brutal injury.

A trip to Japan would represent an opportunity for some technical training, as well as gaining perspective from a different style of fighter and approach to training.

Location: Victoria, Australia

Academy: Jon Will BJJ Academy

Estimated stay: Two weeks

The final leg of our trip before heading home would take us to Australia and John Will’s BJJ Academy. Jon is one of the first 12 non-Brazilians to ever be awarded the status of black belt in jiu jitsu – quite an achievement.

This stage of the trip would be reserved for more detailed training and picking the brains of another old master. It would also be a great opportunity to dig for interesting jiu jitsu tales and fables, with Jon having been exposed to pretty much every celebrity our sport has to offer over his illustrious career

November 28, 2018 — Jiu Jitsu Style