Featured affiliated academy: SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland

SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland

Where is the gym located?
St Mary’s, Orkney Islands.

How many people train there?
25-30 current active members.

Is the gym growing – if so by how many new members each month or year?
Yes, but slowly. Approximately one new member every month or two.

What are the highest and lowest belt grades training?
The lowest is white belt, and the highest are two purple belts, including the head coach (4-stripes purple).

When did the SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland open?
December 2022.

Some facts about you:

Name: Mick McDaid
Age: 49
Belt: Purple
Profession: Support Worker (Mental Health)
Years in BJJ: 9
Other martial arts: Muay Thai, MMA
Currently living in: Orkney
Originally from: Brighton, UK


Please tell us the story of how your gym came into existence
Mick moved to Orkney from the south coast of the UK with his partner for a quieter life and a more scenic location. Although he knew that there was no BJJ club, he was aware of other martial arts clubs, and was planning on getting involved with them for some training and the possibility of starting some BJJ classes. Fortunately, Mick met a few folk that did indeed end up getting together for some unofficial grappling. As Mick was a purple belt, he was able to register with the UKBJJA as an instructor and obtain instructor and club insurance. He managed to source a community hall who were willing to offer the storage of mats and provide some availability to get a schedule together. Also, on the mainland of Scotland close to Orkney, there are some quality SBG gyms, so for this and other reasons, Mick contacted and affiliated with SBG.

Tell us about the people that train in SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland – who are they?
Although there was already a small group with some grappling experience here, we ran some beginner courses and managed to gain and retain a good number of now-committed regulars. We recently held our first grading event and had SBG UK president and third-degree black belt Casey Jones visit us to oversee things and provide a weekend of seminars. We have a Judo brown belt, Thomas, who is now a BJJ blue belt and he teaches some of our classes. Scott has vast standup experience and teaches our standup classes. We also have another purple belt, Ryan, who recently relocated here and has now started teaching a few classes.

Why do they train?
The main reason people seem to be interested in joining is due to the popularity and effectiveness of BJJ in the UFC. We also now run a couple of striking classes, and some people come and start off with those and slowly get involved with the ground game. Others just seem to be looking for a new hobby, exercise, and social group to connect with.

What are some of the challenges of running a BJJ gym in general, and in your area specifically?
All of the people who are involved in the running of the club all work full-time, and some have families with young children. So keeping on top of the admin and finances whilst trying to continue the growth of the club can be challenging. This is obviously on top of preparing and running the classes, which can at times be time- and energy-consuming.

As we’re hiring community space, there are also numerous issues with this. We have to set our mats out and put them back away for each class, and at times we also have to cancel some of our classes due to other events taking place in the hall. We’re also restricted with the range of classes that we can offer due to availability. We are actively looking for our own exclusive premises so that we can install permanent equipment and offer a wider range of classes. However, it has been proving a challenge to find somewhere so far.


How do you see the future for BJJ in your area?
Some of our members have and/or are now looking at getting involved in competing. So we’re hoping to start getting a competition team together and attending some regular comps. Our current training space is also slightly out of town, so hopefully we’ll get our own venue in a more central part of the mainland here, which we would hope would attract and retain more members.

What’s the best thing about SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland
The comradeship and close community ties.

What would you recommend Globetrotters to see in your area apart from the inside of your gym?
Fantastic sandy beaches and clean, clear (and cold) waters. Plenty of wildlife and scenic walks. There are plenty of attractions, and neolithic and archaeological sites to visit. There is also a lot of First and Second World War heritage.


Thanks for sharing! If you’d like to visit SBG Orkney, BJJ Scotland you can contact them here.