Traveling has always been one of my favourite things to do, but I believe we all suffer from the same problem of saving money specifically for traveling.
I work 40 hours a week and train about 2-4 times a week and compete whenever I can. This past summer, I wanted some changes in my life so I decided to go back to my native Taiwan to be with my family and travel in my home country, since I haven’t been back for a few years now.
As a jiu-jitsu practitioner, I looked up the gyms around my place of stay, and in the main city of Taipei before I even went back. I got in touch with the right people to get my training sessions setup before I even arrived in Taiwan.
Once I arrived in Taiwan, I quickly set everything up and made sure that my gi’s and rash guards were clean and ready to be used. After 1-2 weeks of settling in with my family, I decided to start getting my BJJ training sessions in whenever I can.
While traveling, it’s hard to set up your transportation if you don’t have a working phone and data plan to navigate yourself to the gym. My suggestion for fellow BJJ globetrotters would be to make sure you have an unlocked phone and go purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card and get your phone set up. This comes in handy when you need to call the gym for directions, and calling the gym to set up training sessions, and also for navigating yourself to the gym.
In Taiwan, the cheapest way to travel from one city to another was by taking the bus and MRT (Taiwan’s subway system), and with the help of Google Maps you can travel anywhere by yourself!
The first gym I visited was in 新竹 Hsinchu (Hsinchu (also romanized as Xinzhu), officially known as Hsinchu City, is a city in northern Taiwan. Hsinchu is popularly nicknamed “The Windy City” for its windy climate). Hsinchu BJJ gym was owned by BJJ black belt and fellow Dynasty Family brother Jeff Liu. Having trained for a number of years in California, he speaks both Mandarin and English which made it easy for me and other foreigners visiting the gym. The gym was very clean, has one shower, smells nice and has very friendly members as well.
I enjoyed training at 新竹 Hsinchu BJJ and met some of the most supportive and amazing group of guys and girls. Before I had to return to Taipei, Amity (a blue belt in BJJ) was awesome enough to set up an all girl’s BJJ camp and a SUP (stand up paddle boarding) adventure for the girls. Jeff taught some techniques and let us roll with each other, which was great for all the girls to roll together to experience our different styles, body types and sizes.
The other gym I visited was called 高雄 Kaohsiung BJJ (also known as Gaoxiong, the chief port of Taiwan, on the southwestern coast) and it was owned by BJJ brown belt Dan Reid. The gym had a lot of mat spaces and 3 showers, which was great since everyone should shower after hard training sessions.
Everyone at Kaohsiung BJJ was extremely friendly and I think I even made some friendships that I believe will last for a long time. The gym focuses more on No-Gi than Gi BJJ and it was great since I needed to work on my No-Gi skills. The one big difference I saw in my game after training there was my mount and pressure game. Everyone welcomed me and I had an awesome time hanging out with every single person I met at Kaohsiung BJJ.
My trip back to Taiwan was supposed to be a soul searching adventure for myself, but for some reason it always seems to involve visiting jiu-jitsu gyms. I did the same in Taiwan and the same when I traveled to California. Traveling is great, but sometimes it’s hard to pin point the exact location you’d like to travel to.
My suggestion for all jiu-jitsu lovers is to pack a gi and rash guards whenever you travel, because you may just run into that gym you’ve always wanted to train at. Training while traveling allows you to meet many different people that comes from different places, but shares the same passion for BJJ!