Open Mat during Ramadan in Istanbul

Hello Globetrotters!

The insanely creative title of this post is none other than what I walked into, word for word.

Potentially because of that, there were only two people at the weekly Sunday open mat at Balaban Solid Sports (Atos Jiu-Jitsu affiliate). PS – beautiful facilities, by the way!

Great, this will be short and sweet, I told myself.

Background context: my only goal was to get a roll in before my tattoo session the next day. Which, by the way, came out great and I highly recommend Pokey Poke Studios. And I only mention this because 1) I absolutely love it and 2) it’s BJJ related.

Finger Taping

But realistically, I had just spent over an hour and a half commuting from Sultanahmet (so I took a tram to the ferry, the ferry from the European to Asian side of Istanbul, and then a bus into the Ataşehir neighborhood), so it didn’t feel right to stay for less.

I met Yasar and Can, both of them relatively new to BJJ. Yasar told me he started in Spain, took a break, and decided to take it up again. Can just started recently. I rolled (no-gi) with both of them, and to be honest, I felt pretty out of shape (I blame it on the state of my vacation mode body) ((but if you read my last posts, I always blame it on the state of my vacation mode body)).

Unfortunately, I’m not a long term traveler. It’s really difficult to fit in gym drop-ins when you only have a couple of days in a place! I only have 10 vacation days (huge bummer as an emerging adult in the workforce in North America, I’m looking at you Europe) so strategizing how to use them is what I do on the daily. But no matter how challenging it is, it brings me great joy to be able to meet BJJ practitioners from all over the world. So naturally, drop-ins are ingrained as an important part of my travel process.