Osaka, Japan – Tri-Force Jiu-Jitsu Academy Osaka is the first gym I visited since I started traveling. As I don’t speak Japanese, it has been challenging to find information about training schedules and visitor fees. However, Google Chrome’s translate feature has been tremendously helpful. I’ve even asked hostels’ front desks to call gyms and translate my questions if I can’t find the answers online. Hopefully, by reading this, you don’t have to experience the bumps in the road I went through while training around the world!
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Osaka is a city located in the west of Tokyo and the closest airport is Kansai Airport (KIX). The city is known for its cuisines, shopping malls and historical sites including Osaka Castle and Shitennō-ji Temple. The city itself is easily accessible via subway systems. However, please be cautious that not all subway lines are owned by the same company which means you might have to buy another subway ticket in order to transfer. Also, note that taxis are extremely pricey in Japan (Initial fee = ~$6 USD).
Tri-Force Osaka had a welcoming atmosphere to foreigners. A few students and one instructor spoke fluent English, but the majority of students did not. But, because this is a fitness class, I could understand instructions by observing and following other students’ leads.
Tri-Force Osaka offers only gi classes. However, I was invited to an open mat and 4–5 students were rolling no-gi. The class structure consisted of regular BJJ warm-ups followed by 3 to 4 related techniques of the day. Instructors demonstrated approximately 4 to 5 times and you then drilled with your partners for 5 minutes per technique. Warm-ups and techniques took about an hour, followed by a rolling session for 30 minutes.
The fascinating aspect of Japan’s BJJ culture is that you might be surprised by how formal certain aspects of classes could be. For example, Tri-Force Osaka always starts and ends classes with a 20 second meditation before warm-ups and they always start drills with partners and rolling with saying “Onegaishimasu (pronounced Oh-Ne-Gai-Shi-Masu)” and shaking hands with both hands, a sign of respect to your partner.
I firmly believe that this gym has highly skilled instructors and students who are dedicated to learning BJJ. However, as the gym itself was established not long ago, there aren’t many higher belts at Tri-Force Osaka. Regardless, I would recommend dropping by Tri-Force Osaka if you are in town, though it might make sense to train for more than one day to make the higher visitor fees worth it.
As a side note, I became friends with Naoki and Brodie who are blue belts at Tri-Force Osaka. They invited me to dinner and drinks at a Japanese bar (Yakidori) after training and showed me around Osaka. As a solo traveler, I am amazed by how close the BJJ community is wherever you go.
Tri-Force Osaka is conveniently located near the Honmachi subway station which is accessible via Chuo Line, Midosuji Line and Yotsubashi Line. From the station, you can easily walk to the gym. However, the gym is not visible from the street and is located on the 5th floor so you need to look inside the building for the sign which is somewhat inconvenient. (Google Map: Link)
Tri-Force Osaka’s facility can be described with one word: spotless. The gym has a locker room and two showers equipped with shampoo and body soap.
Tri-Force Osaka has a schedule posted online which shows training sessions day by day. (Schedule: Link). Tri-Force Osaka is closed on Mondays and it offers lunch classes (11:00) on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Only evening classes are offered on other days.
Given that Japan has a higher cost of living, drop-in fees are quiet pricey as well. You can either pay in cash in person or pay in advance via Paypal. Please see the link for the online payment: Online Payment
<<Tri-Force Osaka’s Head Instructor, Hideyuki Kawamoto>>
Tri-Force BJJ has an English website which you might find helpful: Link
Things to Do around the Gym
- Shitennō-ji Temple — The oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan which was constructed about 1400 years ago.
- Osaka Castle — One of the most famous landmarks built in 1597.
- Dōtonbori — If you enjoy shopping and nightlife, this district is filled with restaurants/bars and duty-free shops. One of the main tourist destinations in Osaka.
<<The famous Glico Man in Dotonbori>>
- Takoyaki — A Japanese ball-shaped street snack made with a flavored batter filed with octopus.
- Okonomiyaki — Osaka is known for this savory pancake. It uses a similar batter as Takoyaki, but it is a pancake shape and can be filled with different toppings (pork belly, shrimp, green onions, vegetables, etc.)
- Sushi — Self-explanatory. You are in Japan. Get some high quality sushi.