Featured Traveller: Michael Taekyu Choi – BJJ Globetrotters

Michael Taekyu Choi BJJ

Age: 32 (33 soon)

Belt: Purple


  • General Dentist for public health sector
  • Most highly educated farmhand for my friends who own farms
  • Occasional full-/part-time staff at camps to help Christian facilitate his crazy ideas
  • Official model for Faroe Islands Camp along with Tatu

How many years in BJJ: 12 total, but 6 years of rehab and crippled training due to ligament and nerve reconstruction on my left knee and a broken right ankle.

Other martial arts: Judo-Brown Belt (Sankyu), Taekkyon (Korean Traditional martial art focusing on kicking and take-downs)

Where do you live: -Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
-You’ll also find me on the waters, deep in the woods, or in underground caverns

Where are you from: Hardest question for me to answer. I was born in the USA, but grew up in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, and the USA. Spent my childhood in S. Korea, went to British Preparatory school in Singapore, and did high school, college, and dental school in the USA. I would say that I am an expat or a multicultural Korean-American dude with a strange mutt accent.

Other fun or curious information you would like to share:

  • AKA: Choi/Choibear/Bionic Man-Bear/BJJ Globetrotters’ Fish N’ Chips Shop Owner
  • Mostly human, part-plastic/metal/zombie. 1) Both of my eyes have artificial lenses after surgeries due to congenital cataracts. 2) I broke my right ankle when I fought against a teammate in a judo tournament, and had permanent metal screws placed. 3) A white belt jumped guard and did the scissor takedown wrong in a horizontal direction during regular class at my old gym. Half of my left knee ripped off where 3 ligaments and a nerve got severed. Almost needed an amputation, but now I have a mostly functional zombie left knee re-built with some dead guy parts.
  • I tried to immigrate to Norway before the pandemic, but I didn’t pass the Norwegian fluency exam then and got too settled into the USA during the pandemic. Thanks to all Norwegian globetrotters who let me practice my rusty Norwegian with them!
  • Outside of training hobbies such as BJJ/Judo, I love spending my time in nature as an outdoorsman. I try my best to remain connected to nature and understand where my food comes from, and do my part in conservation.
  • I mostly cook and eat wild game and fish at home that have been hunted with my compound bow/rifle/shotgun/muzzleloader or caught on my fishing rods. My freezer is currently stocked with wild turkey, venison, black bear, pheasant, duck, wild sockeye salmon, and various ocean fish. For fishing, I am mostly a fly fisherman going after trout and salmon, but I do plenty of regular fishing with bait for saltwater species. To do my part in conservation as a hunter/fisherman, I volunteer for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers non-profit organization for public land clean up and conservation projects, and help my friend with land management on his farmland for wildlife habitat improvement.
  • My backyard lawn was converted into an urban permaculture garden during the pandemic, and now I grow about 15 different varieties of berries, fruits, and edible mushrooms. I eat them fresh, make jams, and make berry-ade concentrate. I stopped doing vegetables due to the lack of space, but I am hoping that I can buy more land to start a small homestead in the future. I also love to go out for a hike foraging wild mushrooms and plants. Trying to make it to Zen Camp in the future to search for porcini and bolete mushrooms.
  • When I am out in nature not looking for food, I like to drive the tractor, chop wood, and lift stones at my friends’ farms, go exploring by paddling on my packraft, hiking, camping, and spelunking.

Michael Taekyu Choi – BJJ Globetrotters

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
Growing up in 5 different countries, traveling has always been part of my identity, but I never thought about training while traveling until I met a globetrotter who introduced me to BJJ Globetrotters. I read Christian’s book and lurked online following the community for a while. It took me about 3 years until I finally did my first camp at Greenland 2018, and I always travel with training gear now.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
Last year, I was in Alaska fly fishing for sockeye salmon among brown bears and went straight to the Faroe Islands camp fly fishing for brown trout and cod (also training). Managed to award Mike’s Fish N’ Chips achievement to several campers, so I was elated about that. Just came back from Maine Camp where I hunted turkeys, fished, trained, made a pro-wrestling debut, and performed stand-up comedy. It was probably the most action packed trip I’ve ever had in my life! I’ll be heading to Austria Summer camp in August to fly fish, visit family in S. Korea in October, and then head to Colorado to hunt mule deer. Trying to fit in a trip to Norway soon to meet my friend’s new baby too.

Michael Taekyu Choi – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
When I travel to a country, I learn the history of the land and its people. When I am on a fishing or hunting trip and bring back meat, I am reliving the memories of the trip whenever I cook and eat my meals. When I visit different gyms, I get different perspectives and styles of BJJ. When I meet new people, I get to listen to their stories and no story is ever alike. All these things are interesting to me and feed my soul.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
I am fluent in English and Korean, and can get by with Norwegian. However, training has been so far the best universal language to connect with people. Nothing like training together, grabbing food and drinks, and sharing stories. All my friends who are dear to my heart make training while traveling worth it.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
I befriended my Airbnb roommate during Iceland Camp 2019 and he invited me over to visit him in Gibraltar. I had no idea where Gibraltar was on the map at the time, but I visited him right before the world shut down for the pandemic in 2020. I had a grand time. I thought I was well traveled before that, but it was an eye opening experience for me as to how much of the globe I have yet to explore.

Michael Taekyu Choi – BJJ Globetrotters

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
In general, I won’t get the cheapest flights as I am always looking for the shortest travel time for comfort, and to get back to my dental clinic on time. However, I usually save money by staying in hostels, Airbnb with friends, or couch surfing at friends or family. I also save money by cooking my own meals. Saved quite a penny on food during Iceland Camp 2019 by catching cod and eating home-made fish and chips about half of the camp.

*Keep in mind that in certain countries, eating out at local street vendors may be cheaper than cooking your own meals!

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
I almost died four times so far, and lost a few friends. Tomorrow is never promised for you nor your loved ones. If you want to and can travel, NOW is the time to plan your trips to explore the world and visit your friends! Pack your training gear, and don’t forget to make new friends!


Thank you to Michael Taekyu Choi – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview