“What’s wrong?”, Rach asks me across the table at breakfast in our guesthouse in Hanoi.
“Erm…..I know this sounds horrible……but……….I really feel like I need to choke someone………..or get choked……..”
Rach looks a bit worried and slides her chair back an inch.
“No, no!……I’m missing BJJ!”
It’s true….I’m having Jiu Jitsu withdrawals! I just didn’t know how lucky I was in Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand. Once I got to South East Asia, the gyms are coming few and far between. I just wasn’t ready for the BJJ cold turkey which was the country of Laos……..vomiting, cold sweats, shivering, babies crawling on the ceiling, and a deep and lingering sadness once the sickness passed!
But now I’m in Hanoi, and there is a light! I can get my fix, as I’ve emailed Mr Long from Vietfighter who replied immediately with:
yes you are welcome to come join us. we have bjj classes on tuesday and thursday at 7pm. we also have open mat rolls on monday 7pm. we are at 44 au co street.
Due to my timings, I’m only going to be able to make the open mat roll opposed to a taught class……but at this point I would have settled for paying a tuk-tuk driver to have a quick wrestle, so the open mat sounds brilliant! :-)
I get on the back of a motorbike after a mandatory haggle and we set off from the Old Quarter to the gym. The bike ride is definitely going to be the most high risk thing I do tonight, I’m thinking. It’s scary just looking at the traffic in Hanoi, let alone being apart of it!
I get off at the end of the street that the gym is on according to my phone, so that the driver has an easier time turning around and getting back into town. I’m dropped off next to Hó Táy Lake (West Lake) at sunset…..nice :-)
Well…..nice for a while, until I realise I’ve made the same mistake for the 2nd time in trusting google maps opposed to double checking the website….or Mr Long’s email!
There is no gym here, and I’m wandering down the back alleys of Hanoi, around 15 minutes away from the correct address!
I finally make it to the address, however there is still no obvious gym sign that I can spot. It’s what looks like a small complex of a couple of businesses. I start to wander in but I’m stopped by a security guard.
“Sorry, sorry!”, he says as he runs in between my and the entrance.
“Hi, can you help? I’m looking for this gym”, I show him my phone. He shakes his head, not understanding.
“Mixed martial arts?, MMA? BJJ?”, I try, “Kickboxing?”
“Boxing?!”, he looks up, “Boxing?” his hands come up “Pow! Pow Pow!?” as he gives a left-right-left.
“Yes! Pow, Pow Pow!” and my hands come up also (not 100% sure why)
He laughs and literally takes me by the hand and guides me to the building 2-down from where we are. I’ve arrived! Finally!
I meet Mr Long, thank him for getting back to me email, and have a quick chat while he’s supervising the kickboxing class which is taking place.
The gym is split over 3 floors, with a reception and gym area on the ground floor, and the 2nd floor having the 2, matted outdoor training spaces, and a fully matted indoor 3rd floor.
“It’s normally quite quiet on the open mat nights.” Mr Long tells me, “But if you are around later in the week, feel free to drop by. You can just get changed through there.” and he points to the second training area which is an open-air space overseeing the road ….. Gotta love a bit of al-fresco grappling :-)
I meet Freddie, a British-Canadian blue belt, and Andrey from Russia. Both of whom were currently working and living in Hanoi. We have a quick chat about Hanoi life and then get to it, really fun and fully got my BJJ fix again. Thanks Mr Long and Vietfighter for having me down, sorry I couldn’t stay longer :-) Roll vids below.
After the rolls, and fully confident of my return destination I start walking back. It didn’t take long and a guys gets up from a table of 2 and offers a motorbike ride. Another small haggle and I get on the back. The first turn out and we cut up a car which brakes quickly enough to a stop a few inches behind me….Hanoi traffic is crazy, but that seemed a bit much!…..My mind plays back the last 5 minutes, and then the realisation comes in a bit late…..“Oh, I think this guy and his friend had around 10 open beer bottles on that little table!”…… It’s a good job the rest of this crazy traffic is used to swerving around things!