Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Chiang Mai Thailand

It’s humid. I did zero research in to what season Thailand was in before I arrived, turns out It’s the one where it rains. The air’s thick and i’m sweaty, riding a newly rented scooter around a one way system that circles the fort walls of Chiang Mai’s old town. I’m looking down every alley trying to find a gym i’ve never seen before.

Luckily, this has become the norm. Grab a location, make contact with a gym, head over and train. Finding a jiu jitsu gym in a new location is like finding an oasis in a desert… IF what you’re thirsty for is like minded people you instantly bond with.

There’s a contrast between being in a completely new country, city, continent (take your pick) and then dropping in to a gym. When you land, everything is new. You have to grapple with a new language, new customs (do I tip or no?), often new transport (Tuk Tuk time), new food and pretty much everything that makes travelling both amazing and a huge challenge. However, dropping in to a brazilian jiu jitsu gym anywhere in the world is like going home, and the only thing you have to grapple with, is somebody trying to grab a limb or choke you. Different gyms all do things a bit differently but there’s always the same threads running through all of them: Great people, no ego and friendly faces who want to train and improve themselves in jiu jitsu.

Walking in to Chiang Mai BJJ was the same again, a very cool 3 storey building tucked just off one of the main roads outside the fort walls of Chiang Mai’s old town. So tucked away in fact that I could hear the birds chirping while we rolled. The gym is made up of a mix of a core squad who have moved to Thailand and then people who were just passing through. Guest instructors were there often as the main instructor was currently away.

Just incase I was getting too comfortable rolling my way thru the world, we lost power in one of the sessions and we had to adapt. We rolled in the light of everyone’s phone torches. I’m glad that everyone else was passionate enough about their training that they weren’t about to let a little thing like a blackout stop them from practicing techniques.

“Sometimes the only difference between a great training session, and leaving feeling like you’re progressing backwards (anyone who’s trained for anything longer than a few weeks knows this feeling) comes down to where you minds at”

The rolls were great and a nice break from the humidity of Bali. Don’t get me wrong, Chiang Mai is still humid, but just not quite as much as beachside mats of Bali.

In the rolls, i’ve been working on my guard defence and implementing my game a lot of quicker during rolls. I’m finding as you’re often only rolling with someone once, and that time might be the only time you get to roll with them, you have to focus on you, your own game and on implementing it quickly. If you get caught out by someone, you might be on the defensive for the rest of the round.

Practicing defence is good, but so is progressing your own game.

I actually discussed this topic with one of the instructors at Chiang Mai BJJ while a few of the other guys rolled. Sometimes the only difference between a great training session, and leaving feeling like you’re progressing backwards (anyone who’s trained for anything longer than a few weeks knows this feeling) comes down to where you minds at.

Where your focus as soon as you step on the mat to roll can change an entire training session. In theory, you have everything you need already tuned in to your muscle memory, but if you sit back and wait, you’re being reactive. If you wait, then you’re always on the back foot and it’s only a matter of time until you’ll be in a bad position. If there’s a big skill gap this may take longer, but it will happen eventually.

Skill beats strength, but sometimes your mindset beats both.

To walk on to the mats and be ‘on’ every time is difficult. Especially as training sessions come in-between stints of travel. Maybe you spent all of yesterday walking through temples or riding mountain roads and you’re a little tired. Perhaps you’re a little tired from an evening in the clubs (not me, never)

BUT it can also be the biggest game changer for your rolls, and over time your development in Jiu Jitsu.

Another thing you could talk about is that how you approach these training sessions and your rolls can be transferred to the rest of your life, but that’s a conversation for another time….

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