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.
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.
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!