"The first stop on the trip was Bonsai Jiu Jitsu in Taoyuan. It has a unique set-up with red padding and mats everywhere, giving it the feeling of a champagne room in a high-end strip club down South."
The first skate video I ever saw was Sorry by Flip Skateboards. After that, I tried relentlessly to be as cool as the skaters in that video. I was exceptionally talented at partying like a skater, but was never any good at actually skating. My friends and I were much better at the Jackass-like antics and drug-use side of the culture, but we always wanted to recreate the magic we experienced watching that tape for the first time.
Years later, I have gotten a lot better at grappling than I ever was at skating, and finally got to live out my teenage dream of filming a video with my friends doing what I’ve come to love: jiu jitsu.
It was me, Rome and TK rolling, and Eric behind the lens. My cousin Kenzie and her friend Elana rounded out our motley crew, and we all packed into a musty rented van with no seatbelts in the back, but an inordinate amount of bungee cords to improvise with instead.
We didn’t run any shopping carts into bushes like in those old videos, and that time I got the toy car up my ass was a complete acciden--not for public entertainment. Nevertheless, we had a great time bumping around Taiwan in our shoddy, Alma-sponsored van (TK loved that van) and training with our friends throughout the country. The weather was perfect, and the music was great. When we weren’t training, we traveled to different landmarks, ate great food and met cool people...with the constant fear of a Smirnoff Ice lurking behind every turn.
The first stop on the trip was Bonsai Jiu Jitsu in Taoyuan. It has a unique set-up with red padding and mats everywhere, giving it the feeling of a champagne room in a high-end strip club down South. With the windows closed and no A/C (just like our gym, because A/C is for the weak), the whole gym quickly turned into a giant, steamed-up puddle. Andrei was a great host and took care of our guys, setting up the matches and rolling with everyone himself. His students mirrored his style: tough and extremely technical. After our rolls, and to get ready for the New Year of the Dog, we followed the Taiwanese tradition of giving the gym a deep cleaning. Our crew specializes in cleaning the fans, and Andrei knew how to get the most out our offer to help!
With Bonsai clean and ready to take on the New Year, it was on to the capital, Taipei. We spent the first part of the day driving around the country’s biggest city getting footage. At one point Rome, for the sake of getting a nice shot, climbed to the roof of the van as it was moving and sat legs-crossed with our gym’s patch held high for everyone around to see. Unfortunately, due to a corrupt file, this and many of our other amazing shots will not make their way into the “Roll Thru” video we put out, but trust me, it was exciting as hell avoiding cops and watching Rome sit up on that roof for a drive through the heart of Taiwan.
We got to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the country, and of course got some food and more footage (also corrupted). I had been on a dirty bulk for the previous couple weeks getting ready for competitions, so I couldn’t pass up all the delicious food we lack in Kaohsiung in my constant attempt to get fat and crush my opponents. They have a bunch of great bakeries in the food court of Taipei 101 and I destroyed as many baked goods as humanly possible without recreating a scene from an ancient Greek vomitorium. Alright, alright, a vomitorium has nothing to do with vomiting, but you get the point. After I had filled up on carbs, sugars, green tea, but mostly shame, it was on to Taiwan BJJ.
You can't wait for Part 2? Check out Roll Thru: Taiwan - Part 1