Featured Traveller: J.P. Maechler – BJJ Globetrotters

J.P. Maechler - BJJ Globetrotters

J.P. Maechler – BJJ Globetrotters

Age: 37

Belt: Purple for a long time :-)

Profession: Mechanical Engineer

How many years in BJJ: Around ten

Other martial arts: I did five years of Muay Thai before starting BJJ and two years of Judo when I was young. (Shouldn’t have stopped Judo… would help me now for BJJ)

Where do you live: Zürich, Switzerland

Where are you from: Zürich

Other fun or curious information you would like to share: I look grumpy but if you get to know me I’m a nice person ;-) I also blog about my travels at www.bjjtravelblog.com

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
I love to travel. In my early twenties I started to explore Europe, and soon I made it to the US. For me it was clear that I needed to see more of the world. So I told myself that I would take every opportunity to travel for as long as possible. Shortly after I started BJJ I went to a bachelor party in Vegas, and right afterwards I went to LA and Miami. A teammate told me I should train while I’m in the US, because especially those places are hosting some of the best in the world. For me it was the first time in another gym, since the club I trained in at that time didn’t allow us to train in other gyms. From that time on it was clear that I would include training to my travels.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
I just came back from a 6.5-week trip through Southeast Asia. I visited Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, and in total I managed to train in 12 academies during that time.

The next thing planned is a trip to Florida and the Bahamas.

J.P. Maechler – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
It’s easier to get in touch with local people while training. I love to learn about new cultures, the history of the countries, and of course I always try local food.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
At the end of 2022 I went to Central and South America. I planned my trip as far as Mexico, where I met a friend I made once at a BJJ camp, and during my time there (in Guadalajara) I planned how to continue.

I had the phone number of a black belt in Medellin from Christian, so I messaged him and told him I’ll be there in around 2 weeks. He said that I was welcome to train when I’m there, and asked me where I will go before coming to Medellin. I told him Panama, and a second later I had the number of a black belt in Panama City. I then contacted that guy and went to PC for training.

While I was there he also asked me about my plans and I said maybe Bocas del Toro. “Amazing, a student of mine has a gym there and another one has a guest house!” He gave me the number and I was ready for Bocas. In Bocas the trainer gave me a number of a guy in Quito, and in Medellin I got another number for Riobamba. More or less my entire trip took form thanks to the BJJ community. Every place I went, I had someone I knew who showed me the local stuff.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
In Manaus I trained at the gym of my friend’s sister. Even though we couldn’t really communicate they were super friendly, and after training they asked me to go for an açaí. We drove somewhere where I wouldn’t go on my own. We stopped in front of a garage and I saw a sign I recognized from somewhere. We entered and it was her father. For me it was the first time in my life seeing a Coral Belt. We took some pictures and he invited me for wrestling training the day after. Then we all went for an açaí and the sister also invited me to a party the gym was throwing the next day.

J.P. Maechler – BJJ Globetrotters

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I try to do something in between. I like to save money and find affordable accommodation, but I can’t stay for too long in a shared dorm. Also I try to avoid long bus rides – for journeys like that I normally end up in an airplane.

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
Always check if you need a visa with your passport, or if there are any other restrictions for entering a country. More than once I had trouble entering. Look in advance for places to train and ask the community for information. Be open-minded and good things will happen.

Thank you to J.P. Maechler – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview!