Featured Traveller: Tomás Barry – BJJ Globetrotters

Tomás Barry BJJ

Age: 29

Belt: Blue

Profession: Software Engineer

How many years in BJJ: I had my first class in September 2017

Other martial arts: I have had very short stints trying boxing and Muay Thai. I have vague memories of doing karate as a kid too. But with the time that I have, I chose to focus on BJJ. Originally it was a way to keep active and meet people when I moved countries.

Where do you live: London, England. I moved here in July 2017.

Where are you from: Dublin, Ireland

Other fun or curious information you would like to share: I have a lot of metal in my body – 18 screws and a pair of rods through most of my spine. I had scoliosis etc. as a kid, so at 16 I had a pretty major operation (two actually) to get it corrected. A bonus was that I became three inches taller overnight! It doesn’t really affect me day-to-day or in BJJ. I know my limits and there are certain movements that are troublesome (my berimbolos are not a pretty sight) but I have found a way to train around it.

I also really enjoy running. It took quite a while for me to actively enjoy it but I have found it to be one of the best things for my BJJ cardio without taxing the body as much as just doing more rounds and now I have it as a core part of my weekly activity.

One day I would like to get into teaching BJJ. If I wasn’t a software engineer I probably would be a teacher. Right now, I’m just focused on collecting as much knowledge as I can from people in the BJJ community.

Tomás Barry – BJJ Globetrotters

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
I tend to travel quite a bit throughout the year. Whether that’s going back to Ireland or somewhere further afield, I wanted to find a way to keep training while I was gone. The first gym I ever went to was CVA JiuJitsu in Edinburgh, and Ben Fletcher who runs it was extremely welcoming. From that experience I realised that I could learn a broad range of styles of BJJ by dropping into gyms when I’m on the road. So far I’ve been to about 35 academies across 23 countries.

I’m not a competitor, but what I’ve found is that by training in a new gym your “game” is put to the test in a similar way (without the pressure of a competition). You will naturally build a game and instincts around, and for, people at your own gym but when you train in a new gym this all goes out the window and you can really see how effective your BJJ is.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
I’ve travelled quite a bit in December and January. I spent some of December in Colombia. After the new year I came back to London as I then had to hop over to the west of Ireland where I was the best man at a wedding followed immediately by a trip out to the Caribbean camp. I’m looking forward to a more settled February (although I do have to travel back to Ireland one more time).

I have two other camps booked for 2024 already – Maine and Camp 100. On top of that I’ll be visiting a friend in Rome and I would really like to do some interrailing around a bit of Europe. You’ll see me posting on the Globetrotters Facebook page looking for suggestions on where to train.

Tomás Barry – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
It’s a bit cliche, but I love to meet new people and learn about the history of a place. It really opens your eyes to what the world has to offer. We also have such a strange community that is both incredibly niche but simultaneously spans the entire globe – you can always find somewhere to train.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
If it wasn’t for Globetrotters I don’t think I would ever have visited the Faroe Islands. That was such a surreal trip and I am very glad that I did it.

One of my favourite memories actually is from Estonia when I posted into the Globetrotters group to see if any other early arrivals wanted to meet me in the local Irish pub (I’m yet to find somewhere that does not have an Irish pub) to watch the All-Ireland Hurling final. I counted 6 different nationalities coming to watch a sport that they’d never seen before. It was really fun to share that experience with others.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
We’re not all that different from one another – we all want to live happy and fulfilling lives and although that may be an obvious statement, until you see the diversity that this world has to offer and the breadth of people that inhabit it you won’t truly appreciate how special it is to be able to connect with people from all corners of the globe.

When it comes to training, I have found it amazing that there is such a wide variety of people and styles. I can’t think of any other sport where you can do one round with a brand new white belt and the next with a top level professional competitor. It’s pretty wild.

Tomás Barry – BJJ Globetrotters

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I’m not a budget traveller but I am conscious of my spending. Ideally everything would be cheap but some things are worth opening your budget on and balancing elsewhere – if I have to spend a bit more on accommodation but I’ll save time and money on daily commuting it can work out as a net positive. I’m also more willing to bite the bullet on a ticket/expense while travelling if it’s going to be a now or never type thing. Saying that, you need to find what works for you and what is important to you. Fancy restaurants aren’t my jam but I have had really good experiences with guided tours. If I’m going somewhere more remote where the apartment is essentially just the bed then I will go cheaper.

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
Be open. Even if you visit somewhere that you ultimately don’t like, you will have had an experience. Use the Globetrotter community! A few of the gyms that I have visited have come as a result of me asking in the Facebook group or people that I’ve met at camps. Word of mouth is still the best way to get a recommendation. Try not to spend your time sleeping in – you can do that at home.

Thank you to Tomás Barry – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview!