Josephine GroundFighter Linz

I miss BJJ

I haven’t posted in ages, but I see neither have many others (for those reading in the far future, note: COVID-19). Many gyms around the world have closed temporarily, but I’m sure there are fight club arrangements going on somewhere. 

Just going to get to the point real quick. I’ve been back home in Toronto, Canada since mid-March. Over here, we’ve been in a state of emergency ever since. We’re supposed to ease restrictions mid-June if they don’t push it again. Yes, as the country slowly opens back up again (keyword: slowly), what have YOU learned over the last few months?

Because this was what learned.

  1. BJJ Deprivation is a real thing. I’ve been dreaming a lot about going to any gym, putting my gi on, squatting on the balls of my feet and grabbing thick cotton. Alas, just a dream. I’ve even worn my gi at the dinner table one evening.
  2. Don’t suppress. Release in another way. Okay, so it’s obvious that I’m going insane. Raise your hand if you are, too. I’ve begun doing yoga, attending live HIIT workouts on Zoom, joining stretching classes… find another way to release your stress that you’d usually release with a chokehold.
  3. …It’s okay to not porrada everyday. 2020 has been… it is the year no one wanted but perhaps, something everyone needed. I feel like as the years passed, people became busier and busier. But enter 2020, they just threw down a large sign that said, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE STOP FOR ONE MINUTE.” Society teaches us to ‘go hard’ in all aspects of our lives – at school, at work, do your best, or don’t even try at all, ‘go hard or go home’. Getting out of the mindset of having to porrada in every aspect of my life has been one of the most difficult things, but frankly, I think it is worth the effort discarding.
  4. You are not alone. It’s not like you’re the only one who’s held up at work for many evenings, preventing you from going to training. No, a majority of people are in the exact same boat. Unless you live in a BJJ family. Then maybe you can train together and actually dominate the gyms when they re-open.

So, I’ve been meaning to document my last few BJJGlobetrotter adventures – I remember my last day of any BJJ was March 10th in Stuttgart, Germany. Long story short, I had a job where I got to travel to create content. My first leg of travels started in Europe. As a result, I ended up dropping into numerous gyms, meeting so many new training partners and friends. Here’s a quick glimpse into my list:


First stop, Ireland! I started there in January. But I had visited not too long prior, back in August 2019. I knew which ones I wanted to drop into (hint: read this).


My next stop was Portugal, and I dropped into Five Elements JJ – Rato. What stood out to me was their inclusion of self-defense in their training sessions. It taught me that if I were ever equipped with a stick-like weapon in my hand, I would probably still lose any battle seeing that I don’t actually know how to strike properly.


It’s been a dream of mine to roll in London. I know there’s a bunch of great schools, and thankfully I was staying quite close to London Fight Factory, so I got to try out a couple of classes there. I couldn’t travel with my gi, only borrowing/renting as I went along and praying that no-gi classes would fit my schedule.

The Netherlands

Team Agua in Rotterdam was super welcoming, and also the first place I’ve been where it was a shared gym space where they were laying and packing up mats every class. I had good conversations with a few people who were about to compete in their first tournaments. Speaking of which, I wonder if they ever got to do that, or if timing was too tight and COVID canceled everything.


So the paid Google ads are working really well for Groundfighter Linz. They pop up on top when you google “BJJ in Linz.” I don’t think it was hard to rank for top keywords, since there’s not too many gyms in the area. But it was great to see so many people come out and train!


Of course, WOM (word of mouth) works. That’s how the BJJGlobetrotters community continues to thrive. The guys up top ^ told me to check out Science of Jiu-Jitsu. When I visited, it was their grand opening week!


Falcões-Top-Team gi and no-gi was my final drop-in. They also share gym space like Team Agua in Rotterdam, but the mats are permanently put in place. Of course, little did I know that when we took these photos that this would be one of the last BJJ photos I’d be taking for the time being. Thank you for being so welcoming, everyone!

Anyways, til next time. I’m excited to write future post-COVID-19 BJJ blog reflections. How will our new normal look like?


Heidelberg Summer Camp Days!

BJJ Globetrotters Summer Camp 2019 was the 4th BJJ Globetrotters camp I’d attended, and as I’ve come to expect was a truly exceptional and amazing experience! The week flew by in a whirlwind of rolls, classes, great conversations, laughter, catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones!

As usually ends up happening for me at these camps, I spent most of my time at the gym and didn’t actually get the chance to see much of the city beyond what was along my daily commuting route. It would have been smart to book an extra 2-3 nights before or after the camp to be a proper tourist… but, I guess I didn’t think of that in advance when I booked transportation and accommodations months earlier.

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg


Heidelberg is a medium sized beautiful old university town. It includes a handful of castles and churches, a river called the Neckar running through the middle, and is surrounded by lush green hills in the distance in every direction. The city was far prettier than I remembered from the time I previously attended Fall camp in 2017. Perhaps it’s because the seasons are different – summer now instead of autumn. Or, perhaps having spent the last 6 months in South East Asia, I was now able to see and appreciate Europe with fresh eyes in a way I couldn’t before.

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Bridger over the NeckarSummer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Small castle ruins


Being a full-time traveler, I had with me only 2 gis and 3.5 nogi outfits. I worried this wouldn’t be enough for the all-day week long camp training, but it ended up working out pretty well. I used 1 gi and 1 nogi outfit per day and did laundry at my AirBnB in the evenings every two days. Since it was summer and both of my gis are the superlight Globetrotters travel version, they dried quickly enough overnight.

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Laundry drying over railing


Public transportation in Heidelberg is extremely good. It consists of trams and buses, with the main train station close to center. Tram tickets can be purchased from machines at the train stops. The machines I used accepted coins only, but someone told me that other machines accept bills and cards too. You can also buy packs of tickets or a week long pass (which begins on Monday only) at the main station. You can pay for the bus in cash to the driver when you board.

Heidelberg is also an excellent city for commuting by bicycle, with many well developed bike paths throughout most of the city. Fellow globetrotter Rich, a local of Heidelberg who I’d met online some weeks before, was wonderful enough to lend me a bike to use for the duration of the camp! This greatly facilitated my week in Heidelberg, my AirBnB room was a bit far away from the gym and city center. Giant thanks Rich, much appreciated!

Heidelberg also has an app-based bike rental service called VRNnextbike which allows you to rent bikes throughout the city. I used it a couple years ago the previous camp, was quite happy with it. You can rent bikes for hours, weeks, or an entire month, picking them up and returning them to any of the many stations throughout the city. These bikes are simple single speed only, but great for commuting around the city.

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Bikes near city center

Summer Camp Days!

One of the things I love most about BJJ Globetrotter camps is the HUGE variety of activities that take place throughout the day. BJJ Globetrotters camps are very much a “choose your own adventure” format. The schedule is packed full of classes, open mats, presentations/workshops, yoga, group dinners at local restaurants, tourist outings, pub crawls, and dungeons and dragons games – just to name a few of the possibilities! Everyone has the freedom to attend as much or as little as they like. Below are a few of the activities I attended (besides lots of classes and open mats).

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Class in the Training Hall

Conference Presentations

In addition to BJJ training in the main hall, this camp included presentations/workshops on a variety of subjects loosely related to BJJ, fitness/health, and travel. I attended the following three. There were a handful of others I was very interested in attending as well, but unfortunately wasn’t very good at tracking time and somehow managed to miss all/part of those.

Create Something workshop by Christian Graugart
This was an inspiring presentation/slideshow about Christian’s methodology for generating ideas and creating things.

Break dancing lesson by Charles Harriott
This was a friendly introduction to the art of break-dancing, with music and practice of the fundamental basics to get started. It was a very beginner-friendly class easy to follow even for people who have no rhythm or dance background like me!

Physical Therapy talk by Mike Velotta
This was an informative overview of neuromuscular therapy, body maintenance, and how structural imbalances in the body can lead to all sorts of pain and problems.

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Mike Velotta's Physical Therapy talk


Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Duneontrotters patchesPossibly not something you’d expect to find at a BJJ camp but there’s actually a pretty big group of people who play Dungeons and Dragons at BJJ Globetrotters camps! Some are more experienced veteran players while others are total newbies playing for the first time. Can Sonmez (of Artemis BJJ in Bristol) is the unofficial organizer of these. I’d met Can at my first Globetrotters Camp in Leuven two years prior, never having played D&D before myself but interested to learn, and have been participating in the games a couple evenings every camp ever since! There are even two special patches available for players who participate in an in-person game at camps – one for regular players, and one for dungeon masters (the person in charge of the story and running the game)! For more info, check out the BJJDungeonTrotters Facebook group online.

This camp’s campaign was led by dungeon master Eva Gratze, a masterful storyteller who always takes things up a notch with beautiful costumes for extra game ambiance. We played on two different evenings with an pretty large group (7 players, whereas I’m used to 3-5). I unfortunately accidentally killed my character by the end of the second night (a first for me!), but as always had a wonderful time and lots of laughs!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Dungeons and Dragons game!

Evening with the BJJ Globetrotters Ladies

One evening of camp, some of the ladies got together for an evening of snacks, face masks, and nail polish to get to know one another. As a minority in the sport, it’s always a pleasure to meet and chat with other women who train!

Local Restaurant

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Lucky bridge monkeyI attended one of the organized Globetrotters local restaurant dinners at a brewery near the city center called Vetter’s Alt. The food and beer there were great and I had a fun time meeting and chatting with some people I’d not previously met, or had not seen much of during the earlier part of the camp. I would definitely have wanted to attend more of these dinners, but waited too long to RSVP and spots filled up quickly! 

Black Belt Rolls Mini Quest!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Training with Liz OlbertOn the second day of camp, I decided to go on a small quest to roll with as many black belts as possible for the remainder of the camp! I wasn’t sure how many there actually were in attendance. 23 were listed on the camp roster as instructors, but I’d also met a few additional black belts as guests, so there had to be at least 25 present. So, I attended as many of the open mats as I could and began actively seeking out black belts! This ended up being a little more challenging than I expected, since all black belts weren’t present at every open mat, were sometimes incognito in unranked rash guards, or were already busy rolling with others.

In the end, I managed to roll with 17 black belts! I learned something valuable from each and every one and actually feel like I improved my skills more on this mini quest than I normally would in 4 months of training. In the past, I was a little shy about asking higher belts to roll but see now there’s really no need for that, especially not at BJJ Globetrotters camp which specifically fosters an ambiance of inclusiveness and community. Everyone I asked responded quite positively and was very willing to roll. In the future, every chance I get, I won’t hesitate to ask the higher belts (including the black belts) for rolls!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Black belt rolls!Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Black belt rolls!

Irish Collar and Elbow Competition!

Ruadhán MacFadden had spent the previous year studying modern and ancient styles of grappling from around the world and compiling some really incredible map and documentation of these (check out The Hero with a Thousand Holds). On the last day of camp, he gave a class called “Magnificent Scuffling” about an extinct Irish grappling style which he’d reconstructed using ancient texts and images. Winning a round consisted of starting a match gripping collar and elbow, not releasing the grip until an opponent was on the ground, then pinning 4 points (shoulders and hips) to the ground for 3 seconds. Following the class was a series of 6 “superfights” following that ruleset, complete with medals for winners and participants! The last recorded round of this sport was the Collar and Elbow championship in Chicago (USA), so these were the first official matches since 1877!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Elbow and Collar competition

Crossface – First Ever BJJ Band!

The final day of camp at the gym ended with a giant 3 hour open mat and live band called “Crossface” made up of Globetrotter camp participants, with Christian himself on the drums! They’d been getting together to practice in the evenings a couple times during the previous week, and sounded amazing! Which was really quite impressive given how little time they’d actually had to practice together. The open mat was paused for one of songs so all the participants could take part in a mosh pit. Great fun!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Crossface, first ever BJJ band!

50th Camp Party!

This being the 50th Camp, the end-of-camp party was a little extra special this year, located at event venue Altes Hallenbad downtown with guests in mostly formal attire. There was stand up comedy, a breakdancing competition, and a bodybuilding competition, done by Globetrotter participants! There was also a professional photographer taking pictures all night. And of course, lots of dancing!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Final camp party!

Blue Belt Promotion!

Summer Camp 2019 in Heidelberg: Blue belt promotion!At the final camp party, the Council of Traveling Blackbelts gave me the immense honor of being presented with blue belt! It was the most perfect ending to an incredible week of training with very many extremely talented people from around the world. Needless to say, it was a very proud moment with a huge sense of accomplished after so many hours of training, rolls, taps, and repetitions over the last couple years. Receiving a blue belt also feels like just beginning, an acknowledgement that I’m committed to the sport and now have some basic understanding of the fundamental concepts. It feels like the tip of the iceberg, a framework onto which layers of detail, precision and refinement can start to be added. Now the real training begins!

Looking back at the last two years, I’d just like to take a moment to give a giant thanks everyone who’s welcomed me to train at their groups (53 gyms in 14 countries!), and to all my instructors and training partners who have shared their insight and knowledge with me along the way these last years. I didn’t imagine a sport would have such a big impact on my life, and am so grateful for the doors it’s opened and for all the amazing people I’ve met in connection to it. It’s been an incredible last couple years!


As always after a camp and participating in such an immersive experience, it’s a little hard to get back to normal life and I can’t help feeling a little sad that it’s over. The “post camp blues” are a very real thing! Fortunately, Arizona camp was coming up in just a couple months more. In the meantime, I was on my way to Belgium to visit my extended family who I hadn’t seen in over a year, then off to Spain for 6 weeks. So, the journey continues, with no end to fun things to look forward to!

Stopover in Nuremberg, Germany

I needed to get from Bangkok (Thailand) to Heidelberg (Germany) in time for BJJ Globetrotters Summercamp. As usual, I had some flexibility in the dates before camp and was looking for the absolute cheapest possible solution. The best I found was a flight to the nearby small town of Nuremberg about a week before camp, on budget airline called Eurowings. So, I decided to take this little detour and visit an extra city on my way to camp.

Nuremberg, Germany: Streets near city center

Getting There

The trip over was exhausting and long, taking over 26 hours from the time I left my studio in Bangkok to the time I arrived at my new place in Nuremberg. As expected from a budget airline, nothing except the actual flight was included in the price of the ticket. Baggage cost extra, food and drinks cost extra, movies and earphones cost extra. That was fine, I’d brought plenty of snacks and entertainment (ebooks). What I hadn’t accounted for was that blankets weren’t automatically provided for the 11.5 hour overnight flight, and that the flight was FREEZING even with my standard long pants and sweater which are normally adequate. After about an hour, I caved and paid 6.50€ for a blanket, which was barely large enough to cover me entirely (and I’m pretty small), and so thin that I was still borderline shivering and had trouble sleeping most of the flight. So, for anyone who’s a sucker for a cheap flight deal like me… you’ve been warned!

Except for the temperature and blanket situation, the flight was pretty good and uneventful. One positive thing about Eurowings – their seats were pretty comfortable, and included much better bendable side headrests than most other planes I’ve been on.

Public Transportation and SIM Card

Upon arrival, I needed a public transportation ticket and a SIM card. The first was easy – I was able to buy an unlimited rides 7-day MobiCard pass from a small store in the airport for about 25€. Little pricey but I used it extensively so well worthwhile! Nurember has an excellent public transportation system which consists of metros, trams, and busses. There are very well maintained bike paths throughout most of the city making cycling a great option for transportation as well.

Getting a SIM card was a little more challenging since the Nuremberg airport is pretty small didn’t include any SIM card vendors. I ended up taking the underground metro to the Nuremberg Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and was able to find a store which sold a couple different plans there. It cost 25€ for unlimited data including a phone number for a month, which was way more than this would have costed in SE Asia but still not too bad compared to standard American rates.

Back in Europe!

After so long of eating rice and noodle based meals, it was absolutely wonderful to have good European bread and cheese again! It seemed odd initially not to see any scooters on the roads, and to use crosswalks again instead of just walking across the streets anywhere whenever there was a gap between cars. Also, being back in Western Europe, everyone around me seemed HUGE, both in height and in weight. Whereas in Asia I was fairly average in height and much thicker than most people (I’m a size S shirt in America but size X-LG in Asia!) – here I suddenly felt very small. I also quickly noticed that everything was much more expensive that what I’d gotten accustomed to paying in SE Asia.

Nuremberg, Germany: Pretty little neighborhoods


Nuremberg, Germany: Tower at the Imperial Castle of NurembergMost of the short week in Nuremberg was spent in a combination of working, walking around downtown, and going for walks in parks and along the canal in my neighborhood. Nuremberg is a pretty small city so it didn’t take more than a couple days to feel pretty comfortable and familiar with the overall layout. It felt very peaceful, slow and calm after the dense hustle and bustle of the big Asian cities. It was wonderful to be surrounded by mostly silence instead of the constant background noise of cars, people, and the city which I’d grown accustomed to in Bangkok.

The Nuremberg city center is quite charming with many cute restaurants and pedestrian friendly cobblestone streets. A lot of the city was destroyed during the war so rebuilt with more modern architecture, but some of the old castles and churches remain as well. On Saturday, the little streets of the city center were full of people, with vendor stalls selling craft goods, fruits, food and beer, and small groups playing live music throughout. I don’t know if there was some kind of special festival going on or if this was just the normal weekend activity for Nuremberg.

I also spent some time clothes shopping near the city center after Christian announced the upcoming giant 50th camp party dress code recommendation was formal attire, which my current traveler’s assortment of clothing did not include. Fortunately, after not too much searching, I was able to find a classic black dress which was not too pricey and a perfect fit!

Nuremberg, Germany: Busy streets near city centerNuremberg, Germany: Pretty buildings at the Imperial Castle of NurembergNuremberg, Germany: Misc sculptures around the city center


After having been in dense tropical cities for the last 6 months, I really enjoyed staying in a place with more greenery and temperate forests, and living close enough to parks and canals to go for walks among trees every evening. I guess I hadn’t realized how much I missed that. In the future, I might choose destinations that are a little closer to or immersed in nature.

Nuremberg, Germany: Nature!


I did have the chance to stop by Alliance BJJ for some training! Class was taught by black belt Felipe who was originally from Brazil but had been teaching at Alliance for the last 2-3 years. Classes were given in English which most of the students spoke. It was a good class and friendly group of people. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures!