“I’ve shared great food, drinks, rolls, sweat and laughs with so many people the past near 3 months that make the long hours travelling and money spent worth it.”
Profession: I quit my job to travel! But I was a signwriter (designing and fitting signs)
How many years in BJJ: 2 and a half
Other martial arts: Karate for 2 weeks when I was 8 but got bored and quit.
Where do you live: Gosport, England. It’s a small town on the south coast.
Where are you originally from: I was born in Salisbury, England but moved to Gosport when I was a baby so to be honest I count Gosport as my hometown.
Other fun or curious information you would like to share: I train at a small gym in Gosport called Rogers Jiu Jitsu Academy, we have a handful of blue belts, plenty of white belts and a purple belt coach who is super high level and dedicated. It’s been fun coming from a small gym with a purple belt coach and being able to hang with students from the biggest gyms in America with black belt coaches.
Jake Walton BJJ
Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
I left school when I was 16 and went straight into full time work instead of education so I’ve been working non stop for the last 5 years and recently I decided it was now or never if I wanted to travel. All my older friends and training partners say the same thing “I wish I had travelled when I was your age!!”. So it was settled, I would travel. I train at least 4 times a week at home and my life revolves around BJJ so I knew that travelling and not training wasn’t possible, I had to figure out a way to incorporate them. A friend told me about the Globetrotter book and the moment I opened it I realised this was for me! For 7 months I saved every penny from work and spent hours planning my trip.
Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
I decided on the USA because of the language, level of jiu jitsu and variety of lifestyles available. You can literally feel in a different country from state to state! As an Englishman I can visit the states for 3 months with a VISA, which works out the perfect amount of time to travel on a budget. I started in Oakland, CA and went through California stopping at the major cities before flying from San Diego across to Dallas. Spent time in Austin before going up through the midwest to Chicago stopping off at numerous cities. I flew down from Chicago to Atlanta and then spent time in Tennessee and surrounding areas when I then moved onto North Carolina and slowly went up the East Coast ending up in New York. It’s been amazing, the level of jiu jitsu here is astounding and America is such an experience, it’s just so different to anything I’ve seen in the UK and Europe. My whole trip was also built around Matsurfing hosts with the Globetrotter group, I emailed everyone on there before coming out and planned my stay around them, hence the random cities!
Oakland – San Francisco – Long Beach – San Diego – Dallas – Austin – Oklahoma City – Wichita – Kansas City – St Louis – Chicago – Atlanta – Chattanooga – Nashville – Asheville – Raleigh – Philadelphia – New York – Boston – New York
Jake Walton – BJJ Globetrotters
What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
Every state is different to the last, the food, the lifestyle, the sports. It’s been so good for my jiu jitsu to train at different gyms where people want to test their abilities so you get no easy rolls! It’s the best way to see how your jiu jitsu is doing and what needs to be improved. As someone who deals with mental illness travelling for 3 months alone has been fantastic, it’s put me outside my comfort zone so many times that now that is my comfort zone. I have no worries about walking into a gym and chatting to people now. So many people know the benefits of Jiu Jitsu for mental health but travelling is equally as helpful, I hope more people have the courage to step up and travel alone.
Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth travelling and training?
There have been a few, getting the chance to train at the competition class with JT Torres at Essential BJJ was the best though. The nicest guy in the world and simultaneously the most intense guy to roll with, an opportunity I’ll be eternally grateful for as a blue belt in a class of black brown and purple belts (plus an 8 minute round with JT Torres!!). Another one was in St Louis when I messaged a gym asking to train but they were closed, however the coach invited me to a block party they were hosting and I spent the afternoon and evening drinking cold beers in the sun with great people in a random city miles away from home.
What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when travelling?
Despite what the media may convince you, there are still good people in the world! I’m constantly taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the Jiu Jitsu community. I’ve been to 16 different gyms with at least 15 people in every class and maybe 2 people have been rude, out of the minimum 240 people I’ve trained with. I’ve shared great food, drinks, rolls, sweat and laughs with so many people the past near 3 months that make the long hours travelling and money spent worth it, no doubt at all.
Jake Walton BJJ
Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I’m a budget traveller yeah, I saved up all the money I could for this trip from work and didn’t have to do anything crazy like sell my car etc. Use matsurfing for the best travel experience, you train and live with people who are just as passionate about bjj and travel, what more could you want? Couchsurfing has also been great, it’s a website that lets you stay on people’s sofas or spare beds etc for free and like matsurfing the best part is that you get the real experience of living in the area because the host is a local who knows the best places to go and what to avoid. If you are travelling the USA use the Greyhound or Megabus as much as possible. It’s not great, it’s not fun but it is so cheap! It costs usually around $20 instead of a $80 train or $120 flight. Just get some films to watch and some snacks and get on with it.
If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
On the flight out I watched the film Yes Man by accident. It’s basically about a guy who doesn’t ever go out and see things but one day he attends a seminar about saying yes to everything and it changes his life. I adopted this mentality for my trip and it really has made a difference. So many opportunities pop up when you just say yes to things and remember what’s the worst that will happen if you don’t like it? You just tick it off and don’t do it again. The other piece of advice would be don’t be nervous about going to other gyms, yes it is harder than training at home and yes you will be pushed but it makes you tough and at the end of the session everyone is friends and will ask 100000 questions about your trip!