Featured Traveller: Josh Collins – BJJ Globetrotters

Josh Collins - BJJ Globetrotters

Age: 27

Belt: Blue (awarded in November)

Profession: Freelance photographer

How many years in BJJ: Two years in May

Other martial arts: None

Where do you live: Bristol, UK

Where are you from: Bristol, UK

Other fun or curious information you would like to share: I’m a freelance photographer, and most of what I photograph is live music, concerts and events. It’s really fun doing what I do, but I would love to widen my portfolio by photographing more subject matter such as BJJ. I follow Attack The Back on Instagram and get inspired by the photography that he captures at BJJ comps and events all over the world!

Aside from BJJ, I’m an avid cyclist. I live in a city, riding hard and fast on my fixed gear. Weaving through traffic and paying lots of attention to road laws, regulations and traffic lights… I used to skateboard a lot more, but then I broke my arm, had a metal plate inserted to fix it, lost confidence, and was never able to get back to the standard that I had and wanted. Cycling and BJJ felt more rewarding than falling over hundreds of times. I found them both to be more rewarding, as I feel like I have and still am progressing more.

Josh Collins – BJJ Globetrotters

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
Travelling is something I’ve always wanted to do. Luckily for me so does my partner, so it was a natural thing for us both to save up money and want to do it together. We both want to see the world, and for us there seemed like no better way than to do it together.

In terms of my whole life BJJ is still a relatively new thing for me, but it has become a huge part of my life very quickly. If I didn’t train while I was travelling, I feel like I would miss my gym, my fellow grapplers, and lose some of my ability as a grappler. In addition, through my gym back home I’ve met people that have travelled and trained. They recommended doing it because you can learn so much from different instructors, gyms, and sparring partners.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
For a while my partner and I have been saving to go travelling. Cambodia has always been a place we’ve wanted to go because we’re interested in the history and culture of the country. We are travelling through South East Asia. So far we’ve spent a month in Thailand and are currently in Laos. After that we’ll be making our way through Cambodia into the south of Vietnam and flying home from the north.

Josh Collins – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
While studying at university and for a few years afterwards I worked as a Chef. Through that I developed a love for food and lots of different cuisines. I enjoy trying new foods, then attempting to make them myself back in the UK and learning how to recreate them.

Experiencing new (to me) cultures is amazing, seeing how people live their lives on the other side of the world. Coming from the UK the routine is wake up, go to work for most of the day, go train, shower, eat, sleep and repeat. It’s great to break out of that and spend more time learning.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
I’ve met so many great people that have shared their knowledge with me. We might not speak the same language, but sharing the same love for grappling allows us to communicate regardless. Visiting different gyms has opened me up to new ways of training, learning, and even teaching. I didn’t know I was capable of teaching BJJ, as I still feel like a beginner. While travelling, I’ve been able to share the techniques I feel confident in and see the results when others execute them.

It’s a small world, you might meet someone that knows someone that you know.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
Discovering how much I am interested in history and how long I can spend in a museum, or talking to someone and finding out more about them. In Chiang Mai, whilst in a temple, I spoke with a monk for about 2 hours. We had a really organic conversation where we both enlightened one another and shared stories of each of our countries and cultures. Nop, the monk, asked me “If you could choose an animal to describe yourself what would you pick?” I said a heron, because I like the idea of flying and seeing things from a different perspective. Plus herons probably have the longest legs for a bird, so they’re most likely to ride a bike.

Also how friendly people are and can be, whether it’s the BJJ community or not. I was at a gym and when we were leaving someone I sparred with offered me a lift back to my hostel on the back of his moped. Thank you Harry if you read this!

Josh Collins – BJJ Globetrotters

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I’m definitely a budget traveller.

  1. Save up as much as you can within your means before you leave.
  2. Stay in hostels. You might meet more people this way too. I’ve stayed in a few cheap hotels too, and as long as you have a bed, a mosquito net, and running water you don’t really need anything else. Have a look around for options you can afford.
  3. Eat local and street food. Ask hotels and other travellers for recommendations.
  4. Use public transport and local travel agencies. When booking travel between cities/countries I found it best to go to the travel agents and book in person rather than online. I won’t name names, but I used a very popular online service and ended up never being picked up from my accommodation. I missed all my connections and in turn two days worth of accommodation to and from the Thai-Laos border.

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?

  1. First off I’d like to repeat the advice Professor Mario Saeed back at Trojan Free Fighters Bristol said to me before I left: Be open minded, and not just on the mats. Make the most of it and have a good time.
  2. Coach Mark McLelland (shout out and congrats on his recently awarded black belt), now professor, recommended the Globetrotters FB group to me and to make a post in the group about my travels to get up to date grappling and travel recommendations. I’d say the same.
  3. Don’t plan too far in advance. Plans can change or you might get delayed.
  4. Prepare for long uncomfortable journeys.
  5. Ask questions.
  6. Embrace the culture wherever you are.
  7. Respect people, respect the places you visit.
  8. Pack a super light gi and nogi gear if you have the space. I got the Globetrotters gi and it’s been great.

Thank you to Josh Collins – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview!