I traveled to Canada a few weeks ago to train at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school there. It was a great experience. I could train for free and was even provided a place to stay. The school, Island Top Team, is part of a worldwide network encouraging BJJ practitioners to travel and train with other.
Where I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more of a club. There’s a teacher but he’s not there all of the time and there’s less than 15 students. So, there aren’t the taboos on training at other schools that are present at many traditional BJJ schools.
Anthropologists have observed that “nomadic foragers are universally and all but obsessively concerned with being free of the authority of others.” I think the same is true for those of us who’re no longer hunter-gathers.
There was a focus on “us vs. them” in tribal life. But that’s a ancient survival mechanism that kept us safe by staying with and fighting for our own tribe. Anything else would’ve meant death during most of our history because you wouldn’t be able to survive on your own. Nowadays in our industrialized world it’s not needed.
A typical Jiu Jitsu business model builds on and takes advantage of the “us vs them” idea by creating a culture of “expected loyalty” hampering exposure to different and possibly better moves. But we’re adults, and no other adult should tell us, who we can and can’t grapple with.
The BJJ Globetrotting idea came to a Danish BJJ Black belt who encountered some “us vs them” mentality on a worldwide trip to train BJJ. He said:
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. I realised that I was in a position (as a black belt with a school) to do things differently. I could create a team against teams. An alternative Jiu Jitsu affiliation, that poked the traditional notion of our tribalized 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.’
He wrote down a set of defined values to apply to the new globetrotter type student and academies.
We don’t pay each other any affiliation fees
We wear any patches we like on our gis
We are free to represent any (or no) team in competition
We encourage training with anyone regardless of affiliation
We are willing to promote anyone who deserves it—members or not
We arrange camps, seminars and visit each other for training and fun
We believe everyone is equal both on and off the mats
We strive to enjoy life, people and the world through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
True, honest friendships and positive memories are amongst the very few things really worth collecting in life.
Any person you meet could potentially change your life forever. Why limit yourself including who you choose to be friends with and train with and allow to influence your existence?
As far as I can tell his ideas are working.