Featured affiliated academy: BJJ North, Iceland

BJJ North, Iceland

Where is the gym located?
Húsavík, Iceland. It’s a small town with a population of 2500 people. The closest big town/city is Akureyri.

How many people train there?
Around 25 people, which makes 1% of the population of Húsavík.

Is the gym growing – if so by how many new members each month or year?
It has grown on average by 5-10 people a year. During the summer we see an increase in members, as well as some people who move into town just for the season.

What are the highest and lowest belt grades training?
The practitioners are white-purple. The coaches are both brown belts.

When did BJJ North, Iceland open?
Early 2021, just in time for Covid closures.

Some facts about you:

Name: Andri Dan Traustason
Age: 32
Belt: Brown
Profession: CFO
Years in BJJ: 15 (with a few years’ break)
Other martial arts: Dabbled in kickboxing years ago
Currently living in: Húsavík
Originally from: Húsavík

Name: Kristján Gunnar Óskarsson
Age: 35
Belt: Brown
Profession: Psychologist
Years in BJJ: Almost 9
Other martial arts: No
Currently living in: Húsavík
Originally from: Húsavík

Please tell us the story of how your gym came into existence
Both of us moved back to Húsavík a few years ago, after living elsewhere for several years to pursue higher education and work. After moving back to town, we wanted to start a club both to introduce other people to the sport, and frankly for an opportunity to train ourselves.

Within a few months, a decent amount of mats had been bought, a room in the town’s gymnasium was booked, and the first beginner’s course was advertised. From that point onwards, the club has kept growing. We have now moved the club to a new space, built a subframe under the mats, and grown the overall mat area.

Tell us about the people that train in the gym – who are they?
It is a diverse group of people, aged 16-48, from several nationalities and backgrounds. Most are hobbyists, but there are a few competitive practitioners that have gotten podium finishes in tournaments, most recently in the last Icelandic National Championship.

Why do they train in BJJ North, Iceland?
Aside from their passion for BJJ and interest in improving their skills, they train for their health, wellbeing, and entertainment.

What are some of the challenges of running a BJJ gym in general, and in your area specifically?
Since the club is run on a volunteer basis, the classical issues of funding etc. are less important for us than many other clubs. In our case, the issues are usually related to the specific circumstances of the club. For instance, the diversity of the practitioners is of immense value for the club, but it also brings certain challenges. Since we have a relatively small group but a large spread in technical capacity (white to purple), it can be challenging to set up classes in a way that benefits everyone.

How do you see the future for BJJ in your area?
The number of practitioners has grown a lot since the club was founded, but the growth has tapered off now as the group has become more established. We currently only have classes for adults, but this is likely to change soon. Later this year, the club will start offering classes for children and teenagers, which will boost our numbers again.

Having said that, we are happy with the reach of the club. A large percentage of the adult population of the town (≈2-4%) either currently trains with the club or has given a beginner’s course a try, so we are happy with how the sport has spread within the town in just a few years. Assuming we manage to maintain some growth, BJJ will become one of the biggest sports in the area soon.

What’s the best thing about BJJ North, Iceland?
How personal and close-nit it is. Everyone is welcome so long as they treat others with respect.

What would you recommend Globetrotters to see in your area apart from the inside of your gym?
Húsavík is very well placed as a hub for sightseeing in the area. The town is located on the shore of Skjálfandi Bay, which is world renowned for its whale population and whale watching. So much so that it was recently named a Hope Spot by Mission Blue. Additionally, the town is within a short driving distance of many amazing nature spots, including Dettifoss (UNESCO site and Europe’s most powerful waterfall), Mývatn, and geothermal hot spots.


Thanks for sharing! If you’d like to visit BJJ North, Iceland you can contact them here.