LFF

Training report: London Fight Factory (England)

 After a long but exciting journey in Asia and Australia, my euro trip began in the UK. Thanks to BJJ Globetrotters’ Matsurfing, I got in touch with my host, Joe. Before moving forward with the post, I would like to thank Joe for being an amazing host and becoming a new friend. Despite his busy work schedule, Joe made sure I had a memorable stay. Compared to staying in hostels or Couchsurfing, Matsurfing opened up a unique experience of traveling with the perk of connecting with other local BJJ practitioners. Unfortunately, Joe was not able to train due to his injury, but he directed me to his home ground, London Fight Factory.

london fight factory

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City
The capital of the United Kingdom is often considered a leading global hub for business, politics, culture, and art. It is one of the world’s oldest and greatest cities with a rich history. Combined with tourist attractions such as the iconic Big Ben tower, the London Eye, and the Palace of Westminster, it is obvious why it is one of the world’s leading destinations for tourism.

Overview
My visit to London Fight Factory was immediately after a 7-hour flight from Toronto. I met my Matsurfing host, Joe, at his office and went straight to the gym for a lunchtime session. Hidden behind the busy neighborhood of Shoreditch, it was rather difficult to spot the entrance at first glance. The entrance led to the basement of a building, and I could finally see the spacious training ground.

The club offers a variety of combat sports classes including Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Its Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program is headed by Luiz Ribeiro “Manxinha” who is a black belt under Ricardo Vieira of the Checkmat academy. After moving to London, Professor Ribeiro established London Fight Factory and became one of the pioneers to shape the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the country. It makes sense that it is considered of the top academies in London

After a long wait at border control, I was jetlagged, tired, and grumpy. It might sound crazy, but all I really wanted to do before exploring the city, was to train. When I walked into class, Professor Luiz Ribeiro and the other students gave me a warm welcome to London and its BJJ community. Despite being a lunchtime, there were about 15 students in the BJJ class while another 10 were in a kickboxing class in the adjacent training area. I can only imagine that the evening classes would be even more crowded.

One thing I noticed about London Fight Factory was its training intensity. The class led by Professor Ribeiro was filled with continuous drilling with little breaks and high-intensity rolling. Rather than being egotistical or aggressive, the training was simply tough but rewarding. I initially suspected that the professor would be strict, but, on the contrary, he warmly welcomed me to the academy and thanked me for joining.

London Fight Factory is a well-established academy and you should consider visiting the academy if you are in town looking for some excellent training. Again, thank you, Joe and everyone at the academy for the hospitality. I hope to return the favor in the future!

Location & Facility
The gym located in a basement hidden behind tall buildings in central London. The academy is easily accessible — within 5-minutes from a tube station, Old Street (Northern Underground Line). The facility includes two spacious matted areas with a weight training section on the side. (Google Map: Link)

Schedule
London Fight Factory offers a variety of classes from MMA to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. With its classes in the mornings, afternoons and evenings from Monday to Saturday, you will have no excuse not to train there.

Visitor Pass
The drop-in fee is £15 (~$ 19 USD) per class.
<<Exchange Rate: £10 =~$13 USD as of January 6th, 2019>>

Miscellaneous
— London Fight Factory’s Website

Things to do

  • Tower of London — The Tower of London is a historic royal fortress located on the north bank of the River Thames. Its buildings and ground historically served different purposes such as a royal palace, a fortress, and a prison. Seeing its priceless Crown Jewels and Beefeaters will complete your visit to London.
  • Tower Bridge — Adjacent to the Tower of London is Tower Bridge. The bridge is an iconic symbol of London along with the Tower of London, and the bridge is a truly unique and memorable spectacle.
  • London Eye — The London Eye is another iconic tourist attraction located on the South Bank of the River Thames. It is Europe’s tallest observation wheel rotating over the river presenting 360-degree views of London.
  • Big Ben — Commonly referred to as Big Ben, the Elizabeth Tower is among London’s cultural icons recognized all over the world. The clock tower presents a spectacular scene at night when the four clock faces are illuminated.
  • Buckingham Palace — Located in the City of Westminster, the Buckingham Palace served as the official London residence and administrative headquarters of the British monarch since 1837. The building is one of only a few working royal palaces in the world.

Source
Big Ben

Thanks to everyone from London Fight Factory

Winter Camp 2019: Mother of all stack passes with Priit Mihkelson

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team

10 year challenge revised.

This “10 year challenge” had me rubbing my hands at all the glorious memes online, laughing away as people took it both very seriously and very much tongue in cheek. I saw a post that a friend had made and I was in the photo as well, it made me realize that my first grappling event I had ever been in was actually 10 years ago! It also confirmed for me that I was old (and already had a receding hairline back then).
BJJ has come a long way in 10 years, both globally and locally. Now there are a tonne of people doing it and also a lot of the pioneers or people that tagged into it when it first started gaining traction are still there, a bit older, slower and maybe grey-er but they are still there, passing on knowledge and grinding out those mat hours to this day.
I started to look back at a few of the videos that I could find from 2008/2009. I had some from the original All Styles Grappling Competitions (ASGC events) in 2008, some from 2009 but I also saw a few on YouTube. There were the classic grappling match ups with judo players against the jiu jitsu players, the second event we saw a lot of the Olympic wrestlers come into the foray and really fire in some huge take downs and very impressive intensity.
These were the first competitions I had been involved in for grappling, and it really fueled my fire for watching, competing and just training.
The 10 year challenge I think is to really look back at photos, videos or any other media that you choose and just see who is still around from those days and really appreciating anybody who inspired us back in that time to make us who we are today. , All of the coaches I have had the pleasure of meeting and forging a friendship with are all still involved. There is Hayden Wilson, Geoff Aitken, Karl Webber, Dean Brewer, Heydan Bucknell, Roney Da Silva, Marcelo Lopes, Stuart Marks and Graeme Spinks to name only a few. We even had the pleasure of Johnny Gui at the original comps in Christchurch, dazzling us with his extremely fast submission wins by flying armbars! These coaches have all since brought up many people through the training ranks who have opened their own clubs but I would be here all day naming them!

Competition is an important part of jiu jitsu and grappling. This is the time when it is not frowned upon to “roll to win”. I was so pumped up for my first competition, I went hard training, I put in a lot of work on and off the mats so I would the best I could be at under 70kg and it paid off. I won all my fights and took home a gold medal for both gi and nogi. I felt pretty elated at the time. I went back to training and the people who I had competed with and against were all there, back on the mats working on the greater journey. Martial arts is a marathon, not a sprint race. We are all on the same journey but take different paths. These paths cross over at times and these are the times we share. I lost all my fights in my second tournament the following year but we all still went back to training together the next day, nobody is anybody from winning and none of us are nobody from losing.
In every tournament, half of the competitors will be eliminated after their first fight/match/draw or whatever you want to call it. It is just another day and a chance to test your training against others on that day. I beat people I have never beaten before that day and then the next year, I lost to people who I hadn’t yet lost to previously.
What matters is that you learn from mistakes or successes and we all make new friends out there on the mats. Medals fade and new champions get crowned every year but friendships last the test of time and the more we roll together, the stronger the bonds and the more stories we have to share when we next meet!

I have the upmost respect for all those people who compete and win, I also have the same respect for those who compete and do not win. It is hard to walk out on the mats against someone who has defeated you in training many times before, this is the mental battle that grappling teaches us. I wish I was the person out on the mats winning every competition, even the person at the gym who dominates every roll! The reality is that we all have different paths like I said before, I train as often as I can to learn as much as I can to then pass on the knowledge through teaching. I will not be a World Champion in any division but I want to say I was the best I could be and I helped connect many people to jiu jitsu to become the best they can be.

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“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn

pitman

the pitman cup.

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon, wait, that’s something else! It was actually a crisp Saturday afternoon in Riccarton, November 22, 2014. Jason Koster, the man behind the amazing Survivor Series event that I wrote about a while back, had put together a submission only, open weight grappling event that was to raise money and awareness for Lifeline and named after our brother and fallen comrade, Jonny Pitman. There were 32 people entered in this, both male and female, ages varied from teenagers to “mature” adults. There were people from the judo community, jiu jitsu community and also the mma and wrestling families had representation. As it was a crossover event, Jason decided to run it without any leglocks so there would be limited injuries, the fights would however start from the feet. It was billed as the below.
“The tournament will be a 32 Man, open weight, submission only grappling event. It will operate on a double repecharge system so everyone is guaranteed more than one fight.”

We had some questions from “takedown challenged” few so Jason decided best to demonstrate what was legal and what was not. I was quickly “volunteered” to be the uke or throwing dummy here and I was fine with that, I mean it was only a demo? Well, queue me letting him set up and then WU-TANG! Jase executed a massive uchi mata (hip throw) which sent me flying into the tatami’s at a great rate of knots and also fused my spine into my sternum and somehow swallowed my testicles into the mix like and internal Voltron. I stood up though, like nothing had happened only because everyone was watching and I honestly probably bounced! We then went on to do a few more throws which were standard wrestling shots and I was now aware that we were demonstrating with prison rules, I was now ready to breakfall although I am pretty sure I went and cried in the car afterwards! At least now everyone knew what the score was!

With two mats set up, we had a really good system running through. The draw was randomly generated by a computer program so as not to incur any bias from any people. There were great styles matched up, we had referees from Groundworx BJJ namely Hayden Wilson, Jason Branks and myself. The list of entrants I could find are below although there were more I believe, Moira Koster was in this as well and did amazing!

Thorben CAN AM JU
Elliott CAN AM JU
Callum CAN AM JU
Mark CAN AM JU
Tane CAN AM JU
David Foley CAN AM JU (UNCONFIRMED)
Benji Kney EASTSIDE GROUND N POUND
Eugene FUJI RYU JU JITSU
Mitch Davison AXIS
Alex Nicholas AXIS
Sam White AXIS
Sam Belkin AXIS
Isaac Snell AXIS
Cam Steer AXIS
Riki Paea AXIS
Te GROUNDWORX
Philly GROUNDWORX
Sam GROUNDWORX
Stefan GROUNDWORX
Shannon Dillion STRIKEFORCE
Chris Sage STRIKEFORCE
Fran P STRIKEFORCE
Phillip Blair STRIKEFORCE
Madison P STRIKEFORCE
Will STRIKEFORCE
Janine Geard STRIKEFORCE
Kim STRIKEFORCE
James Bishop STRIKEFORCE

The first big thing I noticed in my matches was the confidence the judo players had in standing, I know this is stating the obvious but knowing this part of the game so well is a huge advantage in grappling, even with no points on offer for a takedown, it is a good thing if you wind up on the ground on top position and/or in control of the manner in which the fight goes from standing to ground. Sam Belkin is a master of this. He is a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist for wrestling and on top of this, he was also a purple belt in bjj at this time and he also weighed on the lieu side of 100kg so he is a force to be reckoned with! In saying this, he is an absolute gentleman when taking an opponent down, in full control of their flight. The only time there was a hard fall was when he was up against Thorben – another +100kg fighter and a judo black belt and in the takedown, they take up a large area of floor space and unfortunately Thorben hit the wooden floor on the way down injuring his shoulder. I have placed a link at the very end of this article to some videos which show a few of these matches and this takedown in particular!

Submission only can also have drawbacks. I am not a big fan of the kimura armlock for a submission. I use it all the time to control and sweep but I find it so fast and painful when it is applied and it is so tough to tell if it is actually “on” to the point where the arm can break. I had a match on my mats with a blue belt from Axis and a blue belt from Strikeforce. They were similar weights and it was a very good solid match with advantages going back and forth before the Axis player got his opponent in a deep kimura. When the pressure was applied, the other player moved but not enough and could not escape, nor would he tap! I let the match continue but the concern on the face of the Axis player who was applying the lock, showed me it was as deep as it looked. I warned both players that if he did not escape or submit in the next few seconds I would call the match in the Axis players favor. I was so concerned that I called the match. Holy moly, it was not well received by the spectators! I broke the cardinal rule of refereeing and spoke with the crowd, never a good thing as there will only always be one happy team! After talking to the coaches from each team and the players, they agreed to carry on the match from the same position. In the end I think we got about another 80 seconds of action before the Axis player submitted him. I spoke to the coaches again at the end and they were both happy with how it was handled and agreed that I stopped the match at a good time! Since this time though, I learnt that you make a decision at the time and stick to it. I have stopped matches since then and am very clear about what I am doing and why. We are there to ensure fighters safety, not explain our actions after every call.

I did miss a lot of the matches as I was running one mat the whole time but the semi final between Moira and Cam Steer was a great one. Cam showed immense respect for Moira’s take down game by sitting into guard, we can all laugh that he did it but we all knew very well that she was going to put him onto the mats anyway, this version saved Cam any pain and aerial antics!
We had white belts up to purple belts in bjj and black belts in judo and traditional jiu jitsu on the mats and everyone was taking it all out there, even the ladies vs the men showed the true heart of the ladies. Being open weight means the smaller person is always going to get squashed at some point but there was no quitting here, only when the submission was truly applied (except once lol) did we have people tapping. I was in awe of the skill of the lower grades and the higher grades, it is great to see the playing field level out like this these days!
All of the matches were amazing, it was this event when I first started to see how fast jiu jitsu and grappling was evolving in Christchurch, just the speed now that people are learning, I think as coaches we have changed a lot in the way we teach in that the concepts are shown as a part of the techniques and learnt in conjunction with them, the game is forever getting better and so are the students!

I actually started writing this piece a while back but something happened which made this much harder to write. We are all amazing at helping each other, I cannot honestly say I have been in another team environment such as jiu jitsu/grappling where everyone wants to beat each other so badly but we are all there to help each out with anything. What I think is the real issue is we are not always helping ourselves get what we need in the best way. It’s great to help other people but we need to concentrate on the positive aspects of our own games, in grappling or in life. There are always ups and downs but the ground is always there to catch us if we fall, we know there are so many people willing to help us get back up but we need to be the ones reaching out our hands.

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The footage link is here. Please note, once again I have linked in videos from Graeme Spinks’ Pro Judo channel, all I did was save them to a playlist! I highly recommend following his page and checking out all the footage saved in there, an actual goldmine for the grappling community!

– Pitman Cup Grappling Footage

Believe in yourself, believe in the power you have to accomplish great things. We are all human, we are all the same, and we all have the potential for greatness. – Evan Tanner

Winter Camp 2019: Choke theory, finish more chokes with Charles Harriott

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Winter Camp 2019: Back attacks from different concepts with Mariusz Grzywinski

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Winter Camp 2019: Upside down armbar concepts with Mariusz Grzywinski

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Winter Camp 2019: Anaconda Choke: Setup & finishing details with Mario Hudelist

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Winter Camp 2019: Lorenzo’s passing the half guard principles with Lorenzo Fraquelli

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Winter Camp 2019: Lorenzo’s guide to getting to the back because mount is too much effort with Lorenzo Fraquelli

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Training report: Toronto BJJ (Toronto, Canada)

Toronto BJJ, Canada

Before moving to Europe from Asia, I decided to take a quick detour to Canada. Although I lived in New York City for a while, I never visited Canada, and this was my chance. With Toronto’s perfect weather in early June, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to visit the city. I stayed with my friends who I met in Laos, and luckily their apartment was only a 10-minute walk from the club.

Please don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for recent updates: @jwwseo

City
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is a major Canadian city known for its skyscrapers and signature landmark, the CN Tower. With its strategic location on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, it’s is the financial and commercial center of Canada. Renowned for green spaces throughout this urban jungle, the city becomes lively when the weather is fine; you’ll find great restaurants and eclectic activities all around the city and waterfront. In addition, its large population of immigrants from all over the world has made it one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

Toronto BJJ

Overview
When you walk down the Bloor street in Toronto near Christie Pits Park, it is hard to miss a bright blue and gold brick building. It appears to be small, but don’t be deceived. Opening its doors in 2006, Toronto BJJ has over 600 students who train in one central location in town. The club is one of Canada’s largest and finest Jiu Jitsu academies. It features a spacious 4,000 sqft mat space and its Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program is headed by Jorge Britto, a 3rd-degree black belt under Saulo Ribeiro and Vini Aieta. He is also a highly decorated competitor as an IBJJF NoGI champion and ADCC European Champion.

At Toronto BJJ, the mat fee was waived as a visitor and an easy option to rent a gi from the academy was available. As a BJJ Globetrotter, I could not be more appreciative of the hospitality at there. Being located in a large international city, the academy seemed very experienced in welcoming and hosting travelers from all over the world. Initially, I was worried about the possibility of losing personal touches during training since this is one of the largest gyms I have ever visited. However, my experience was different from my expectation. Students at the academy went out of their ways to make me feel welcomed and instructors did a phenomenal job of creating a cohesive gym atmosphere.

During my training there, I had the opportunities to attend both beginners’ classes and advanced classes. The beginner’s classes mainly consisted of extensive and repetitive drilling of fundamentals while the advanced classes were focused on cardio and detailed techniques. Despite having a large number of students in a class, the instructors made sure to focus on individuals and provide meaningful feedback. Further, by separating beginner’s classes and advanced classes on different floors and running them simultaneously, the club provided students with options and flexibilities to choose classes that suit their skill sets and conditions without concerning their schedules.

I believe that Toronto BJJ is a well-established academy that can help accelerate your game, and its BJJ Globetrotter friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal academy to visit if you are in town. Also, the facility is attached to a cute café serving healthy snacks, and I was happy to pick up an acai bowl to fill my empty stomach after training. If you happen to be in town, I would highly recommend dropping by for a session. Thank you to everyone there (Especially, David and Nathan)!

Location & Facility
Located in approximately a 5-min walking distance from two subway stations, Ossington and Christie (Subway line 2 — Bloor-Danforth), the club is easily accessible from anywhere in the city. The gym is split into two floors; The first floor is dedicated to the beginner classes, and the training area on the second floor included a large open mat space with a caged octagon for MMA and Jiu Jitsu classes. (Google Map: Link)

Schedule
The gym offers classes every day. The classes on the first floor are mainly geared towards beginners while ones on the second floor are for higher belts.

Visitor Pass
There is no charge to visitors. However, it is always courteous to reach out to the gym prior to your visit.

Miscellaneous
Toronto BJJ’s Website

Things to do

  • CN Tower / Downtown — Bounded by Bloor street and Lake Ontario, Downtown Toronto is the main central business district of Toronto. The area has the largest concentration of skyscrapers in Canada featuring its iconic CN Tower. Downtown Toronto is also ripe with fantastic dining options and urban shopping experience. You could get lost all day walking around here in Toronto.
  • Toronto Islands — If you are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, you can hop on a ferry to the Toronto Islands on Lake Ontario. The three islands, Centre, Ward’s and Algonquin, offer something unique in Toronto. You can hang out at the Islands’ famous beaches or you could rent bikes to enjoy scenic bike paths around the islands.
  • Kensington Market — This iconic district in Toronto is one of the most diverse and unique areas in the city. The bohemian neighborhood is filled with vintage boutiques and indie shops that draw artists and tourists.
  • Parks in Toronto — From Trinity Bellwoods to High Park, Toronto provides green oases from its urban madness to everyone. More than 1500+ parks in Toronto feature beaches, playgrounds, biking trails, and artwork.

BJJ Globetrotters Winter Camp 2019 Instagram Story

  • BJJ Globetrotters Winter Camp in Austria
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    Training report: 10th Planet Koh Tao (Thailand)

    Koh Tao, Thailand — After spending two weeks in Phuket, I hopped on a ferry to explore the islands off the coast of southern Thailand. I started with Koh Phangan, which is infamous for its Full Moon and Half-Moon parties. Then, I eventually made my way to the island. I initially planned to focus on Scuba diving until I reconnected with Javier who I met in Bangkok. Coincidentally, he was attending 10th Planet’s camp with Nathan Orchard in KT and invited me to drop by for training. Although the visit was not in my plan, I was happy to join Javier and others for an amazing seminar on this tropical island at 10th Planet Koh Tao.

    Please don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for recent updates: @jwwseo

    Island
    Koh Tao (Turtle Island), a tiny island in Thailand, creates an island trio along with Koh Phangan and Koh Samui. The island is the smallest in size but this serene and magical island is gaining in popularity as Koh Tao’s turquoise waters and white sandy beaches basically remain untouched compared to the other two islands. Koh Tao is almost exclusively known in the world for scuba diving due to its warm and clear water with diverse marine life.

    Overview
    Next to Sairee Beach, 10th Planet Koh Tao is located within Monsoon Gym & Fight Club. 10PKT is the only 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu affiliate in Southeast Asia. With its affiliation, it focuses on strictly no-gi Jiu-Jitsu and hosts various seminars from 10th Planet black belts including Marvin Castelle and Nathan Orchard. I have heard about the franchise name and its fame, but it was my first time visiting a 10th Planet gym. As you can see from the photos, Koh Tao’s hot and humid weather made the training session extremely challenging, and not having to wear a gi was a bliss.

    Nathan Orchard is a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Eddie Bravo, who has been testing himself in various martial arts disciplines for years. Nathan’s teaching was rather unconventional. With his wrestling and MMA background, he had a unique way of combining his background into Jiu-Jitsu. The class began with wrestling takedowns followed by a variation of back mount escapes and transitioned to various submissions. Traveling along with another 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Phill Schwartz, the class itself was quite dynamic and comprehensive. I was happy to add a different perspective to my BJJ game.

    As Koh Tao’s economy is centered on tourism, it is normal to see visitors from all over the world. With the academy’s a week-long Jiu-Jitsu camp in Koh Tao, there were about 15 students from the United States to Australia. Though the backgrounds of students were different, they stayed focused with one goal of learning Jiu-Jitsu at this camp. Besides special 10th Planet camps, 10th Planet Koh Tao offers the opportunities every day to train BJJ on the island. Combining its beautiful nature and scuba diving, Koh Tao remains one of the ideal holiday destinations. I will be back for more diving and training. See you soon, Koh Tao!

    Location & Facility
    10PKT is under the name of Monsoon Gym & Fight Club near Sairee Beach in Koh Tao. The outdoor area has punching bags and a boxing ring for Muay Thai training, while the indoor facility is fully matted for grappling. The gym is located near Sairee Beach, which is a fairly touristy area so you will not have a hard time reaching the facility (The island itself is already small to begin with). (Google Map: Link)

    10th planet koh tao

    Schedule
    Joined with Muay Thai and HIIT classes, the classes are offered every day. Note that BJJ is offered from Monday to Saturday at 6 pm.

    Visitor Pass
    The drop-in fee for one group session is ฿300(~$8USD). The academy also offers monthly packages with unlimited access.
    <<Exchange Rate: ฿100 =~$3 USD as of December 23rd, 2018>>

    Miscellaneous
    10th Planet Koh Tao’s Website

    Things to do

    • Scuba Diving — If you are in Koh Tao, chances are you probably are thinking of scuba diving. It is known for one of the cheapest diving sites in the world. With its warm water temperature, you won’t even need a wetsuit. I would highly recommend trying Scuba Diving.
    • Sunset View Point — Koh Tao is also known for its sunsets. Various viewpoints will charge a fee. I ended up going to an abandoned house near a radio tower with friends and had one of the memorable sunsets in my life. Do it for Insta!
    • Beaches in Koh Tao — Despite its size, there are countless options when it comes to choosing a beach in Koh Tao. Sairee is the island’s main and longest stretch of beach. At the same time, it could rather be crowded as there is the largest concentration of resorts, restaurants, and bars. If you prefer a peaceful atmosphere from Sairee’s hustle, June Juea, a small bay hidden on the west coast of the island, would be ideal.
    • Nightlife — After photogenic sunsets of Koh Tao, the island gears up for a vibrant nightlife scene. Bars and clubs by Sairee Beach line up to present live music, DJs and fire dancing shows til dawn. With each venue’s unique theme, the street along the coast makes Koh Tao an ideal place for a pub crawl. Don’t forget (or forget) to get a Sangsom bucket when you are in Koh Tao.

    Thanks to everyone at 10th Planet Koh Tao!

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    A Taste of Training in México City

    Hello! My name is Josephine and I train in Toronto, Ontario at Action Reaction MMA, under Team Gringo JJ/Cicero Costha Canada. I hope I got that right. I work in the media/communications/entertainment industry, so I have a lot of pent-up stress to relieve. And all I can say is, I definitely should’ve been documenting my BJJ Globetrotter adventures from the very start. 

    I flew to Mexico City over the winter break. It’s about a 5 hour plane ride from Toronto. I have my reasons to believe the pilot was probably speeding. If you’re interested in reading more about my actual trip, you can check it out on my website.

    Throughout my time in CDMX, I ended up dropping into two gyms – and yes, I consider this an achievement because this was the first time I’ve done that. I’m so used to staying in a city for a couple days and doing multi-destination backpacking trips crammed into a week or two, so I’ve only ever had time to drop into a gym for one class per city. I can now relate to people who take it slow. Or maybe it also comes with age. My aching back at 23 tells me it’s time to take it slow.

    The first gym I dropped into was Top Brother Mexico. They’re located in the Condesa neighborhood and right around the corner from my hostel, too. The coach, Angel, opened up the gym on the morning of the 26th and drilled with me for 1.5 hours just because I asked him about dropping by. This level of hospitality is still so shocking and foreign to me, even though I’ve been convinced time and time again that the BJJ community is one of the most supportive and kindest communities out there. We drilled some knee cut details and moves that’ll help me get past knee shields, drilled triangle set-ups and omoplatas from lasso, talked about the importance of head pressure and the purpose of the de la Riva guard. He told me that I need to incorporate drilling into my training schedule if I want to get better. I do want to get better, compete more and tighten up my technique this year. Nevertheless, this is on my 2019 New Year’s Resolution already.

    I also dropped in on the evening of the 27th and attended a class. I was told due to Mexico City’s high altitudes and thinner air, training becomes even more demanding for those who aren’t used to it (… Toronto is so flat). I definitely gassed out quicker even though I wasn’t giving it my all during the rolls… but I cannot 100% confirm whether or not it’s because of the difference in altitude. I could just be severely out of shape, given the holiday season and my incessant devouring of street tacos.

    Training @ Top Brother Mexico!

    ——

    The second gym I dropped into was Promahos BJJ & MMA. The gym is located in the Narvarte Poniente neighborhood, just south of the downtown core. I found them through word of mouth on the BJJ Globetrotters Facebook group. Everyone speaks highly of this gym. I totally understand why. I dropped in on the evening of the 26th and attended a 2-hour no-gi class with coach Itzel (also the first female black belt in Mexico). There’s something really empowering about watching a female coach teach guillotines to a group of predominantly guys. The drills and exercises were demanding (again, air thinness or excess taco weight?) but the details were eye-opening for me. My schedule doesn’t align with no-gi classes back home, but they are definitely the easiest classes to drop into while traveling. For the last hour, girls and guys were separated and we all rolled in rotation from different starting positions. I rolled repeatedly with this really good 15 year old girl and my training partner for the day, Natalia. I also dropped in for their Saturday lunch class/last class of the year. David from New Zealand taught that class, and we drilled some back takes and different control positions from there. Another thing about this gym- I wasn’t expecting so many girls here! There were about 6 or 7 other girls that showed up on Saturday. It was refreshing to see girls attending class and having female partners my size to roll with.

    Training @ Promahos BJJ & MMA!

    I was chatting with Itzel and Natalia after the first evening class, and Itzel told me they recently moved to this location- everyone was training at her house before that. That’s incredible dedication right there. She said she barely had any privacy before (again, I can only imagine).

    I am now back in Toronto, typing this on my bed. My next stops in the coming months should hopefully be New York in April & then eventually (fingers crossed) Turkey in May. I’ve also started tracking all the gyms I’ve visited since I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! Please check it out here- it’s just a Google Maps list. ‘Til next time!