"It is always a great idea to rent a van with some friends and travel around doing something you all enjoy while filming the process. If you can do it, then do it."
At Shuraba, the head coach, Eliot Corley II, taught a very useful class on takedowns that I have already incorporated into my own stand-up classes. Eliot’s style is very conceptual, focusing more on the ideas surrounding a takedown than a specific move. During the class we listened to the classical stylings of Vivaldi (another thing which I will incorporate into my classes), and afterward he gave us a target shooting demonstration with his recurve bow-by far the most unique gym experience on our trip. The gym is clean, simple and conveniently located in Banqiao, right off the MRT (Taiwan’s subway system).
Early the next morning, we dropped TK off at the train station in Taizhong so that he could take the HSR (high-speed rail, turning a five-hour drive into a 60-minute train ride) back to Kaohsiung to get his cast removed (savage!). From there, we continued on to the newly-opened Bear’s Den, which offers classes in BJJ and MMA. The gym, run by Demitri Telfair, is well equipped with an awesome mat space on the second floor and an array of fitness equipment, making it a great place to train or just get swole in general.
In the early afternoon, Rome and I showed up to take one of Demitri’s BJJ classes while Eric worked his magic behind the lens, trying desperately to make us look cool. After all, this video was to be an homage to the surf and skate videos we had all grown up on, right?
The class was structured similar to ours in that it started with drilling a core technique, working up to positional and then full sparring from that technique; takedown to guard pass to submission. Despite the volume of information, however, it all fit together and flowed nicely by the end of the class.
After some Vietnamese food, a long nap, lots of hot sake, and then more sleep, we were back on the road again looking for a waterfall to enjoy. Spoiler: we did not find the waterfall. Still, the ride was pleasant through the Taiwanese countryside. It is always nice to get away from the smog of the city and see the sun-painted mountains of the island. The road up was terrifying at times, of course, and with Eric behind the wheel, I really wished we had the seat belts. That being said, any trip you walk away from is a good one, and I doubt any of those badass skaters from Sorry would have cared about seat belts, so nevermind!
My takeaway from the trip is this: It is always a great idea to rent a van with some friends and travel around doing something you all enjoy while filming the process. If you can do it, then do it. The result will be fantastic. Also, back-up all of your footage on the cloud, and duplicate that onto two hard drives, something we promise to do going forward!
Taiwan is a phenomenal country to travel around. If you can rent a van, take a bus, ride a train, or even bicycle around this beautiful island, then I thoroughly recommend doing so. The cities are fun, the people are friendly, the food is delicious and the country is gorgeous. Lastly, the jiu jitsu scene here is fantastic and our instructors are world-class. We are lucky to have such a close-knit and talented community on a small island where the sport is so relatively new! The great news is that we didn’t even get to visit all of the gyms on the island, and traveling around southeast Asia is affordable, so we’ll be sure to hit you all up with a bigger and better sequel the next time!