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Ash Force Adventures: Taiwan, Pt. 3

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"My only fear was that one of Taiwan’s famous Level-5 earthquakes would shake the building down and leave us trapped in the gym forever."

Some time went by, and we began to feel like a burden to our friend’s parents, whom we were staying with. We rented a hotel for a few nights close to the gym that overlooked the city from the 31st floor. It was beautiful.

Money started to add up, and next thing we knew, the Jiu Jitsu brotherhood had come through once again. We stayed with our local friend Tunng Liu, whom we met at day class, and were even able to camp out on the mats for a bit. Life was simple and happy during this time.

My only fear was that one of Taiwan’s famous Level-5 earthquakes would shake the building down and leave us trapped in the gym forever. There were no alarm clocks to be set, only the noise from the city and the jingling of keys as the doors opened for noon class. Some mornings we would wake up on the mats, put a gi on and start the day with a leisurely roll. Other days it was slow moving, and the cheapest platters of eggs and bacon we may ever know followed spontaneous scooter rides along the coast.

Our friends at Kaohsiung BJJ smoked cigarettes at night and drank whenever they pleased. It seemed like tomorrow would never come. And if it did, we had no plans for it. A lifestyle I had forgotten after I turned twenty-one had now returned in a different light. Either way, most days would start and end with Jiu Jistu.

One week we were able to travel up the east side of Taiwan to explore the mountains. We scooted through Taiwan’s magnificent Taroko Gorge. As the sun was going down, we got lost. We cut through some dirt roads, and just kept riding.

Zach wanted to turn back to regain our bearings, but I insisted that we see the ocean before the day was over. A few uncertain turns later there it was. Like magic, there was a great opening through sheer trees and vegetation. A perfect natural walkway that led to a black sand beach presented itself. We parked the scooter and walked out onto the sand. Then I ran out into the ocean, noticing the huge, green mountains behind Zach as I turned to look back at him.

It was the exact scene I had been waiting for. This was the first and last time my years of Google Imaging came to life. It was even better than Google. I will never forget that day.

That’s always when something memorable happens-when you are just about to turn back, but you decide to push just a little further.


During our time at Danimal’s gym, Zach’s leg locks and overall Jiu Jitsu game had improved. Dan basically revolutionized his ankle locks. I still wasn't the most confident in my own abilities, but I was feeling a new level of comfort that wasn’t there before.

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This was maybe the most memorable and impressionable point in our Jiu Jitsu game. Zach and I both agree that this was a more relaxed period of our training. With no one to belt us, the pressure was lifted. We trained for us, and only us. We knew that this Jiu Jitsu vacation would mean no promotions during this time. Our coaches were at home and had no way of monitoring our progress.

This was a time to throw caution to the wind and try out new things, develop new styles and just be creative with the art. My rolls were so much fun, I got tapped, I laughed, I got a tap, I smiled and moved on. Not to say I don't practice that way now, but there was just something different about that time that I can’t quite put into words. We both developed our own unique games during that time. That is why, to this day, I refer to purple belt as my favorite.

Watch Ashleigh and Zach's Trip to Danimal BJJ

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