After a few days in Adelaide I have taken a plane trip back to Sydney.
I have a really close friend, Mass, who I haven’t seen properly for over 2 years when he also went travelling (and didn’t return!). The first week I spent in Sydney just didn’t seem long enough before another 2 or 3 year period before we could catch up in person again!
In terms of Sydney itself and sightseeing, the entire week can be summed up like this:
The graveyard of broken umbrellas! Sydney and the surrounding areas were hit with weather described by some as ‘Storm of the Century’ (for that region). So much for me following the sun!
On the plus side, when I arrived back at the hostel, I had my first piece of mail waiting for me in over 3 months….exciting!
A few weeks earlier I had been on the BJJ forum on reddit.com to get some feedback on the BJJ section of the blog. One of the members who kindly got in touch was Christian Graugart, a BJJ black belt and founder of BJJGlobeTrotters.com.
In 2011 Christian, as a brown belt, travelled for 5 months and visited over 50 academies from around the world to teach and train BJJ. It resulted in a blog, a book (which I have since purchased and read – highly recommended :-) ) and upon returning, a new idea of how BJJ could be taught and shared – an alternative to the traditional ‘team based’ approach….and sometimes the politics that can come along with that. To take a quote from the BJJGlobettrotters.com site :
The stories about Jiu Jitsu politics I heard from people, haunted my mind for long, after I returned home. The feeling I had gotten from visiting all these academies of the world, finding friendships in each and every one of them, made them painful to listen to. One day, whilst riding my bicycle home from training, an idea popped up in my head. With my new-found position in the top of the make-believe, fantasy hierarchy of grownups that we call the belt system in BJJ, I realised that I was in a position to do things differently. I could create a team against teams. An alternative Jiu Jitsu affiliation, that poked the traditional notion of our tribalised culture and would advocate against the typical BJJ business model of making sure your customers are scared enough to keep eating in your restaurant out of “respect”.
There is no “us vs. them”, it’s an illusion, a stone age mechanism, hardwired into our brains to keep us safe by staying with and fighting for our own desert tribe. Anything else would’ve meant certain death 2.5 million years ago. The typical Jiu Jitsu business model builds on—and takes advantage of—this and channels it into a culture of “expected loyalty”, which is great for short term money-making, but very bad for long term karma. At the end of the day, we’re all just adults, who likes to grapple and no other adult should tell us, who we can and can not play with.
Christian kindly offered to sponsor me some training gear. As I’ve been travelling with a single bag, I had left all of my gi’s and training gear at home apart from a couple of rash guards and some training shorts – BJJ gis are heavy and take up a lot of precious bag space! As a training-whilst-traveling pro, Christian had the answer to my problem – a super light travel gi, which had been sent to me along with a bunch of other goodies in the BJJ care package I was now unwrapping….it felt like Xmas morning! :-)
Apart from being extremely thin and light (ideal for packing in my already overstuffed bag), the first word that came to mind was ‘beautiful’. This is a weird word to describe some material which can be used by someone to choke you out, I know, but the overall design, material, colour (I loved the grey/chrome, which is a nice change from the usual white/blue/black gis which are by far the majority!) and small details (birds and waves!) put into the material just looked stunning and felt like quality.
Other goodies in the box included, a rash guard (also a stunning design), t-shirt, key rings, stickers and patches…and finally a really kind message from Christian at the bottom of the box….thank you so much! I will definitely try to! :-)
While we were in touch I did a small interview for the BJJGlobetrotters monthly newsletter (which can be found by clicking here) and we spoke about getting a photo over once the gear had arrived for the sponsored athletes page – this could be one of the loosest uses of the word ‘athlete’ ever! :-) .
I asked Mass for his help on this:
“Do you know a place we can go to take a photo of me looking good in this stuff”
“Do you know of a place to take a photo of me in this cool stuff with a nice background?”
One final note on the gi. I took it for a test drive during the week and was kindly invited along by Feilpe Grez to drop by at BJJ Kingdom (post to follow). During one of the rolls, my partner sunk a collar grip and paused before trying to get the other hand in to finish the choke…..
“Hey……nice material man”
“Thanks bud” I said as it gave me just enough time to block the other hand….this gi could come in useful in more ways than one! :-)
The rest of the week was great too. Very nice and relaxed. Catching up, avoiding the weather, a bit of training, a movie, some stand up comedy (as the Comedy festival was making its way up to Sydney).
On one of the days we stopped by ‘Clock Locked’, an ‘Escape Room’. I’d never heard of these before, but they are quite popular in Oz. You get given a sheet of info with a back story and then placed into a themed room for a set amount of time (1 hour or 90 minutes depending on difficulty of the room)….set of clues, problems, tasks and padlock combinations to work out in the timeframe…..it was like being in the Crystal Maze! :-)
It was so good that we went back the following day to complete the other 2 rooms they had. We absolutely smashed one (The ‘Dexter Room’), but got beat by the buzzer on the final problem in the other 2.
Thanks for a fab week everyone! Has been fun even with zero-sun :-)