Note: This post was written when I visited Crete, Greece in September 2021.
Have you ever been to a BJJ gym where there’s a drum set?
I’m currently in Chania on the Crete island of Greece and training at Studio Flow/Renzo Gracie Crete.
For whatever reason, there’s a drum set inside this gym… just next to the mat space. I heard it belongs to one of the co-founders of the gym.
I have been to various BJJ gyms in various locations, but this is the first time I have visited a BJJ gym with a drum set.
It got me thinking about what other unique features other gyms I visited before had.
The most recent example would be Morto BJJ, which is also located on the Crete island, but in another city, Heraklion. You enter through the backdoor of a building, and it looks like a construction site. You go downstairs… and there’s a basement that’s converted into a gym space.
When I visited Evolution Fitness & Combat Sports Academy in Mumbai in 2015, they were just about to build their gym. So we literally trained in a construction site, though we did have mats on the ground. They now have one of the most active MMA/BJJ teams in India, if I’m not mistaken.
In my early BJJ traveling days (around 2012), I trained with a group of BJJ enthusiasts who used some generic room in a community sports center in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In Myanmar, there was yet another group of BJJ enthusiasts who were about to open proper gym space, and that space wasn’t quite ready yet, but we wanted to have an extra session or something, so we trained in an apartment room.
In Tbilisi, Georgia, there was no active BJJ gym when I visited there in 2015. I contacted a local MMA team, and they were holding sessions in a local sports hall, which used to belong to a prestigious wrestling club that produced high-level Georgian wrestlers.
I know a BJJ black belt in Sarajevo who converted his house’s loft into a gym space and conducts his training sessions there.
I think one of the most spacious gyms I have been to is Copacabana in Warsaw, Poland. It’s like a warehouse converted into a gym space.
And then you have BJJ gyms in Japan that are tiny as your shoebox. Redips, my home base gym back in Japan, is big enough for 4 pairs to roll comfortably at once.
If I remember correctly, Terere’s gym in Rio was just like that, too. (Terere wasn’t there when I visited his gym, unfortunately!)
Yuki Nakai’s Paraestra Tokyo is not that different from Redips in terms of the size, but at its peak season (a week or two before All Japan Championships), something like 10-15 pairs would try to roll in a given round.
People practice BJJ in all sorts of places. Many of them do so in conventional BJJ gyms, and there are quite a large number of folks in not-so-conventional locations, too.
But we all want to train and have fun with jiu-jitsu no matter what…