I'm too poor to go travelling. If I did have the time and money, I would travel the world seeking BJJ academies in places where you wouldn't think such dojos exist. But then I thought, why travel the world when I can let the world come to me! So allow me to introduce my new project: Around The World In 80 BJJ Dojos!
Oooh, look what came in today! A postcard from Iceland...shall we see what it says?
Hi everybody, my name is Björn Jónsson and I am 27 years old. I am a blue belt in BJJ from Iceland and have been training for just over a year, since september 2009. I first heard about BJJ a few years ago, but never thought it was something I would like to do until a friend started training and asked me to try it. I got hooked pretty much immediately. What I love the most about BJJ is probably the mental aspect, and you don‘t need to be super athletic or strong as long as your technique is good.
Brazilan Jiu Jitsu started in Iceland about 7 years ago in 2003 when a few guys with various martial arts backgrounds got together to train some grappling. They had some connection with Matt Thornton from SBGi and he came here to Iceland to teach. Eventually a few guys went to train with Matt at the SBGi HQ in Portland and the BJJ/MMA club Mjölnir became an SBGi affiliate. In this group was my instructor, Arnar Freyr Vigfússon.
My academy is called Combat Gym. It is a pretty large gym with about 500 sqm of mat space. We have BJJ (Gi and No-Gi) classes every day, along with MMA striking and wrestling classes. There are also kettlebell and conditioning classes. My instructor is a brown belt under Gunnar Nelson, the first and (for now) only Icelandic BJJ black belt. There are only 5 BJJ academies in Iceland that I know of.
The BJJ scene here in Iceland is growing at a very rapid rate these days, largely due to the success of Gunnar Nelson in Mixed Martial Arts in the UK recently. The Icelandic BJJ Championships have been held since 2007 and a No-Gi tournament, Mjölnir Open, has been held since 2005. Over the years a few notable names in BJJ have visited Iceland and held seminars, Renzo Gracie, Pedro Sauer and SBGi‘s Matt Thornton, to name a few.
If you ever ever get a chance to visit Iceland (and you should... really!) then definitely pack a gi. The BJJ scene in Iceland is still fairly small and everyone is thrilled to get a chance to train with new people. We are all friends and the although I cannot speak for for other clubs than my own, I‘d say the atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly.
BJJ Academies in Iceland include: (websites in Icelandic):
Combat Gym – www.combat.is
Mjölnir – www.mjolnir.is
Icelandic Jiu Jitsu Academy - www.gracie.is
Hope to see you one day soon.
If you train BJJ in a country where the sport is still quite new - or maybe it is long established but not many people would expect to find it in your country, please send me a postcard (actually an email but we'll pretend you spent money on a stamp). I need abuot 300 words describing who you are, what your BJJ scene is like and how it all began. Cheers!