The wife and I were talking about our summer holiday plans for this year. Greece was mentioned, Spain, Portugal etc. Basically anywhere cheap, hot, full board and kiddie friendly. Actually, that's what she was talking about, my mind was elsewhere...
Oh look, a round-the-world ticket, all expenses paid, free nanny for the kids and 5 star accomodation.
First stop: New York, Renzo Gracie Academy - Renzo is an utter legend, but so is his academy's main instructor John Danaher who, according to those that have trained there, is one of the most incredible BJJ instructors in the world. Here is one example of why - by black belt Dave Camarillo.
A flight over to the West side of America, Oregon to be precise, to visit the Roy Dean Academy, a man who I much admire and then it's down the coast for some sun, sea and mat time, San Diego style. According to The Fightworks Podcast, this city has the highest density of BJJ academies in one locale than anywhere else outside of Brazil. If I ever did visit, my problem would be which academy to choose? I think I would definitely pay homage at Saulo and Xande Ribeiro's University of Jiu-Jitsu. But there is also Throwdown Elite Center where Penny Thomas teaches.
Once I have gorged myself on as much top level BJJ in San Diego, where else other than to the honbu of BJJ itself - Rio de Janeiro! Again, I would be totally spoilt for choice, but at least, I can read the accounts of the many who have ventured before me here, here and here. Having read all the travelogues, I would be tempted to try my luck with the toughies at Ricardo Vieira's Fightzone Academy, Gordo's Academy and De la Riva's, simply because they seem to be visited a lot by us gringos and thus would perhaps be more accomodating, maybe.
I would probably never want to leave Rio, but my imaginary round-the-world ticket is burning a hole in my pocket so it's off to Japan. And here, I would have to visit the world famous Paraestra BJJ academy. I'm a big fan of the Yuki Sasa books and having seen Matt's video, I know I would love Japan.
Of course, being in the Far East, it would be rude not to visit the land of my parents, so it's off to China. Handily, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have a number of BJJ gyms. I get the impression that MMA is really taking off in China, so hopefully that will translate to the growth of BJJ.
Ooh and I musn't forget Thailand. I would train at Bangkok BJJ where BJJAsia blogger Luke hangs out and then it would be off to Phuket or other beachy place to train some more.
Hmmm, Australia is not too far from Thailand, okay let's hop on over and hang upside down at the excellent John Will's BJJ academy. John is the first Aussie to earn the rank of black belt and he also produces an amazing blog (currently with very moving pieces on how John's son, Ronin is recovering following his near fatal stabbing incident).
From Oz, it's a long flight back home to the UK, so I'll probably want to make a stop over in the Middle East. If I time it right, there might be some big gi or nogi ADCC tournament in Abu Dhabi to watch.
Finally back home to London, England, and the welcoming charms of my home academy, Mill Hill Roger Gracie, where I can bore everyone with my holiday snaps.
So where would you go with your all expenses paid imaginary round-the-world BJJ ticket?
[Top image: Aaron Koblin, New york photo: Flickr, Rio photo: Braziltravelpictures.net, Beijing photo: Wikipedia, Kangaroo photo:textually.org, Mill Hill photo by me ]
[Thanks to Liam, The Part Time Grappler, for inspiring me to write this post]