Although jiu jitsu is not an extremely popular sport in Colombia, it seems to be growing, and I had a great time training while I was visiting.
Jiu jitsu is a sport and martial art. At a high level, a match is won by applying a submission hold to your opponent that forces your opponent to “tap” thereby conceding defeat. Most jiu jitsu players know that it’s a really great hobby for travelers. In almost every major city around the world, and many much smaller cities, there is usually at least one gym where you can drop in and train with the local players. After spending an hour wrestling and trying to essentially kill one another, you more often than not leave with some new Facebook friends, if nothing more.
During our month in Colombia, I trained with two great groups that I can highly recommend to travelers. First, in Cartagena, I trained with the Jiu Jitsu Cartagena Colombia group. There is not much of the way of jiu jitsu gyms in Cartagena. So what these guys do is lay out some mats in a park in the Crespo neighborhood after dark and train together. Send a message to their Facebook group, and they will certainly invite you to train with them for free. The members, for the most part, all speak both English and Spanish. They are very welcoming and seem to love visitors who come through and share new techniques with them. Depending on the night, they may be training with the gi or without.
Second, I joined the MMA Colombia Gym in Medellin and trained there for about three weeks. MMA Colombia is a great gym for traveling martial arts enthusiasts. They offer classes in wrestling, boxing, kick boxing, gi jiu jitsu, and no gi jiu jitsu. If you are like me and train primarily or exclusively without the gi, MMA Colombia is the academy with the most no gi classes in Medellin. (If you want to train primarily in the gi, there are other schools in town that you will probably want to visit as well.) MMA Colombia also doesn’t require a monthly membership. Instead, you can train there by buying a certain number of admissions, which is great for people in town for a limited time. Although the front desk people did not speak English, most of the members and the instructors speak at least some English. The gym is a very large, two story warehouse. I primarily trained there with the assistant instructor, Felipe Alzate Yepes. While I technically have trained longer, have a higher rank, and outweigh him by at least 10 kilos, Felipe had his way with me every time we sparred. Most of our rolls, I was just surviving, while he jumped all over me. I had a lot of fun here, met some great guys, and would definitely return if I were in Medellin again.
Have you trained anywhere in Colombia? Let people know in the comments if you have any recommendations.