When I traveled around the world in 2011, one of the many invitations that popped into my inbox was from a guy named Val in Taiwan. He was a real pioneer of our sport, working hard to build up the interest for MMA and BJJ in a place where no one had really heard about it before. I was hesitant but decided to jumped on the opportunity and never regretted it – the friendships and experiences I found in Taiwan still has a very special place in my heart.
Val Penin tragically passed away last night from a heart attack while teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the little, simple garage he was running his academy out of. It is a terrible loss for the community but even more for his family as he is leaving behind two young children.
I re-read the chapter of my book on my trip to Taiwan last night and I could hear his genuine, warm laughter again from when we talked about training and surfing in their top secret spots down the coast. I will miss that guy.
Any donations are highly appreciated and will go directly to his family.