Featured Traveller: Matt McDonald – BJJ Globetrotters

Matt McDonald - BJJ Globetrotters

Age: 36.9

Belt: Purple

Profession: My background is in software engineering, and currently I’m working on a property maintenance company and rehabbing ugly houses.

How many years in BJJ: 4.5 years, with some time off for injuries.

Other martial arts: I wrestled in high school, where I won the superlative award for Best Catwoman Costume.

Where do you live: Sarasota, Florida, United States

Where are you from: I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but I’ve moved around a lot. Columbia, Missouri is mostly where I grew up. One day I’ll probably moving to another Columbia.

Other fun or curious information you would like to share:

  • I’ve started doing a kimura with my feet from side control. For now I’m calling it the Mattlock.
  • I have a cautionary tale about competing without understanding the side effects of your medication. I was taking antibiotics for the week leading up to my first tournament. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it did affect my stomach. Midway through my first match, I realized I was starting to have a downstairs mixup. We were in a scramble, and ended up way off the mats. I was confused at why we weren’t being reset, everyone was yelling, and I had to tap really early to an armbar so I could run to the bathroom before things went south. I’m just glad my opponent never got to knee mount.
  • I’m really into miniature wargaming, to the point that I go to several conventions. I have several armies and spend a ton of time hunched over painting my models.
  • I co-founded a startup that now employs around 3000 people and has branches in 36 states.
  • My wife is smart, beautiful, kind, and puts up with me for some reason. And she’s definitely not helping me write this.

Matt McDonald – BJJ Globetrotters Castle Camp

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
I found a post about BJJ Globetrotters on Reddit when I was a few months into BJJ. I went to the Heidelberg camp in 2019 and fell in love. I also sent a bunch of emails out to people on the Matsurfing website, and went to visit anywhere that someone answered from. I ended up training with people who didn’t speak much English and it was a really neat experience.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
I’m writing this from Asheville, North Carolina. Some of my training partners and I took a road trip up to spend the weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains for Camp Grappalachia – which I only learned about because I met several awesome people at Maine Camp a few years back and stayed in touch. Our next trip is to Poland for Zen Camp, with a stopover in London to visit a friend who has an addiction to wristlocks.

Matt McDonald – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
The bread! The US doesn’t have good bread, and I love finding the good stuff when I travel. More generally, I’m usually looking to try all of the local foods.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
Oh man, where to start? I dressed up as a Happy Meal for a wrestling match. Attended a dinner concert for an 80s Estonian pop star. Watched an underground scooter race. Participated in the most epic dodgeball upset. Jumped into Lake Michigan in February. Went to prom at camp. Grappled on a waterfall. Wrestled with a viking in Iceland. Took a helicopter tour in the Faroe Islands. Explored a black sand beach on an ATV. So many cool experiences, and they were all made so fun by the people that we were with. Some of my closest friends are people that I’ve met through traveling and training.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
Some of the people at Globetrotters camps are able to party so late and be on the mats so early. It will always be a mystery to me.

Matt McDonald – BJJ Globetrotters Beach Camp

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I have a budget, but I’m not a budget traveller. I like staying in fun places, and at a lot of camps I will organize sharing a large Airbnb. My best budget strategy is to play the reward points game, and my favorite tool is roame.travel which helps me find cheap award flights.

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
Take more photos. Many times I’ve been scrolling through my photos and been reminded of a fun event that I’d completely forgotten about. Without photos, those memories might have been forgotten.

I think it’s also important to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. Try something that you wouldn’t normally do – it can be good for you to be a little uncomfortable from time to time. It builds character or something.


Thank you to Matt McDonald – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview!