Intro: You’re listening to the BJJ Globetrotters pirate radio podcast, brought to you from St Bart, West Indies. We talk Jiu Jitsu, travelling and people who do things differently in life. I am your host, Christian Graugart.
Christian: Welcome to episode 8 of the BJJ Globetrotters pirate radio podcast. For this episode I’m going to run an interview I did with a guy who came to visit me here in St Bart for training. His name is Raymond, he’s working on cruise ships, and has been doing that for 18 years. He’s been sailing all around the world and always bringing his Gi trying to find places to train. I think it was a really interesting story he had, and I brought my little microphone with me when I went to pick him up at the harbor and train with him during the day.
I often get questions from people about how can I afford to travel a lot and train and not have a job, you can do nothing but fly around the world and train Jiu Jitsu, and obviously there are solutions to this, some easier than others but one would be to find a job that includes traveling where traveling is part of the job, and working on a cruise ship is definitely one of these. I think it’s very interesting, I don’t know much about cruise ships myself. I had never actually been on one until a few weeks after Raymond was here. But I never thought about that option for travelling. So that’s an option if you’re looking to travel the world and train in a lot of different places.
But let’s run the interview and I’ll get back to you as soon as it’s over. Enjoy. Hello everyone, I’m on my way to town to pick up a guy who works on a cruise that has just docked here in St Bart. So I’m going to see if I can find him. Apparently he’s been working on cruise ships for a while, he was supposed to come here a few weeks ago but the waves were to high so they couldn’t get to shore so he’s here again and he wants to train Jiu Jitsu. I always think it’s nice to have visitors on the island because we don’t have a lot of people to train with here, so whenever someone who trains Jiu Jitsu is on the island, I always try to make time for them so it’s Wednesday 11 am, I actually said I’d pick him up at 10:45 but as always I’m a little bit late. I’m getting accustomed to the Caribbean time here.
So I’m just driving down the hill from where I live and picking him up by the ferry. It’s around 5 minutes from here. So I was kind of curious about this guy, I thought it would be interesting to bring my little microphone and have a chat with him and see if it was worth making a podcast of his story. So apparently he’s been sailing around for 18 years, been doing Jiu Jitsu for 6 years I think he told me, and always tries to find a place to train wherever he goes, and now he’s in St Bart and we don’t have a lot of sparring partners so I’m very glad to have someone on the mat, so I’ll be very happy to take him to the gym and go a few rounds.
Perhaps some of the local guys will show up, we’ll see. I am now entering the town of Gustavia, I can actually see a big cruise ship out there anchored so I assume that’s his. I just need to find some parking, it’s a beautiful day in February. I can’t believe it’s already 2 months into this year, there’s no seasons here or change of weather, time is just weird, 2 months feels like a few weeks because nothing changed. Ok I’m here by the ferry, I will find a place to park, I just need to find a guy with Gi.
There he is, I see him already. Alright this has got to be it, I’ll go see if this is him. Hey Ray. How’s it going man?
Ray: Hi nice to meet you. So you don’t mind hey? To train today.
Christian: No, not at all, get in the hurricane mobile. I’m always happy to have some guests here.
Ray: I think I have a few more times here and I think I have 1 overnight here.
Christian: Oh ok that’s nice. It would be nice if you could come visit during one of the evening classes with the locals because obviously everyone is working now. I think there might be 1 or 2 guys showing up today. It depends on the waves. If the waves are too good they’re not doing Jiu Jitsu.
Ray: Waves before BJJ.
Christian: Yeah exactly. That could be a good t-shirt actually. The podcast is kind of a new project, but I enjoy doing it. If nothing else, it at least gives me an excuse to ask people their story and stuff.
Ray: If I tell you my little story of what you did for me, you will not believe. Before I spoke to Matt a couple of weeks back, I was very unhappy and all that stuff, I wasn’t in the right place. Then after we met, I went online, after we spoke I went to your site. I was listening to you story and you were trying to hook up but I couldn’t hook up your side, and you said to me, go listen to my podcast, I have a podcast series.
I watched the one where you were an entrepreneur. Man you changed my life completely. Because I swear to you man when I listened that about if you want to be an entrepreneur, go get the books and study, so I said effort, I’m going to do it. I started to do it, I changed my ways, I listened to all your ideas. I’ve got like 6 books that I’m reading at the moment. I listen to entrepreneur podcast every day. You’re like a mentor to me because you do BJJ, you do all the cool stuff, you live a great life and you’re an entrepreneur so in fact you are everything in a person I was trying to look for in my life to find to drive or something to go towards. So I just want to thank you man. Although silently you didn’t know any of this.
Christian: The expectations are so high now, I might be a douche bag. We’ll be rolling in 10 minutes and I might be an absolute idiot, like knee on face. You know I just sit in my basement and record that stuff. I can see there has been quite a few listeners, it’s a new project and you kind of never really know. It’s nice to just meet someone random. It’s like when I wrote that book, I was just sitting at home writing it for myself pretty much, and then suddenly you meet someone who actually read it, and you’re like wait, wait did someone actually read that? So you must have been seeing a lot of the Caribbean? Is it like a week circle thing?
Ray: It depends, some of the cruises are normally 7 days, like they’ll pick up guest at Fort Lauderdale and go to saint Juan, and all the beautiful ports and then land up back at the same place and drop them off, do it again and again and again, during a couple of months, then after a while they’ll change the itinerary, which their embarkation port will be Barcelona, pick up a few people, maybe do a 10-day cruise.
It all varies ship to ship. It depends on the ships and the size of the ships. Some ships do the same place continuously the whole year round, like Disney, they just stay at 1 place and they do the same cruise always. So yeah I’ve done this for 18 years, I’ve been all over the world.
Christian: How old are you?
Ray: I’m 38, from South Africa, Cape Town. I started when I was 21 back in South Africa. I was getting naughty and needed to get away from all the trouble I was that I was doing, so I decided to work on the ships. Yeah I was doing bad things, so I had to escape, and the easiest way was to get out and get to sea, it was a great thing man.
Christian: Let’s hear more about that. Let’s get in the gym and see if we can get a few rolls in. this is Eric, he’s one of the locals. Alright so here we are. Where did I put the keys? No waves today?
Eric: Maybe this afternoon.
Christian: I need to get back out there. I’ve been so busy with work after camp. Usually it’s like this, we had 50 people here for the camp, so it was really nice, it was really busy. Alright let me put on some music. Roll first, talk later. So what’s your schedule today?
Ray: Me? I’m here until 15:30/16:00.
Christian: So you come here every 2 weeks?
Ray: It depends, I think we’re here a few more times, I’m not sure, I’ll send the itinerary to you.
Christian: How many people are on the ship?
Ray: The ship is small, we have 200 crew and like 250 guests, but I’ve worked on ships where there’s 4000 guests and 1200 crew, and it’s hectic. It’s like a huge moving hotel.
Christian: So here on the island we only go competition sparring with points, so I’ll be counting. Poor ray, we’re just taking turns on him here, he looks tired. This is boat cardio vs island cardio.
Ray: But I’m telling you man, when you travel, you’re training at all different clubs, it’s unbelievable because like from today I just learned from you that passing the guard technique and I’ll remember that forever. In St kits there was one move he taught me I’ll never forget. So every club that I go to I always find 1 move that that gym teaches and I always remember it because I think of that gym. It’s really amazing, some gyms do crazy things, some people are thinking out the box, like Brazil.
I nearly vomited when I went to Brazil, we had to stop, it’s just too much, it’s like the small dojo I went to, was smelly, sweaty and damp, just pick each other up, run across the room, drop each other, pick up weights, run there, do this, just drill, drill, drill.
Eric: Where was this?
Ray: Brazil. It depends on the club. The one I went to was just hard core.
Eric: I remember I was in Australia and I tried Jiu Jitsu. I tried 2 clubs, there was a Brazilian teacher, a lot of Brazilian and Lebanese guys, I think the first time they were joking around that they don’t want me here. They’re not nice, not even hi. I want to drink water, no I’m not allowed to drink, I said OK it’s cool, if I want to drink I’ll drink. It’s my first time here for me, I’m not going to die on the mat.
Christian: You can drink by the way but it’s going to be 100 dollars.
Eric: You know I found them quite rude. This is probably why It’s taken me so much time to get back to Jiu Jitsu, because if everyone is like this.
Ray: No I’ve been all over the world, 99% everybody is welcoming, it’s a family, they walk you in arms open, you know, you get the odd few, just ignore them. They’re just money mad.
Christian: Some people are attracted to that; they want to be submissive.
Ray: I had this one guy who wanted 100 dollars from me for 1 lesson and I said are you mad, it was a guy in Texas, so I said screw it.
Christian: I’ve been to a few academies like that where it’s like it must attract some people otherwise it can’t exist; some people are attracted to being put down. I guess it’s kind of like if you sign up for the army and they kind of just bully you and beat you and break you down.
Ray: I’ve trained many places, and they’ve been very nice, and I give the respect back to them, I always offer gyms and accommodation, everything in South Africa, because I want people to come there, it’s a beautiful country. We have good training sessions. We have Atos, we have Gracie’s.
Christian: You grew up in South Africa?
Ray: Yes, I grew up 36 years in Johannesburg, South Africa, then I moved to Cape Town 2 or 3 years ago. I’m half Lebanese half Jewish, what a mix hey. My mom and dad when they were young weren’t allowed to be together, they ran away from their families so they could be together because they were enemies I presume. So my mom and dad went to Israel to immigrate there, because it was a better benefit for them compared to South Africa’s pension.
So they went there, then I went there, met some guys and started doing Jiu Jitsu there, learned from there, that’s where I actually got into it, and from that day I loved it. In Israel I was training morning and evening, I was training with black belts, purple belts, brown belts, I was the only white belt. They would train with me in the morning but I was getting smashed but it was so fun. After that I went back to Johannesburg and trained at a club called tap out, got my blue belt there and from there went on the ships. When I’m home I’ll train at Atos, Andrew Degraal comes there to grade us but I always miss it. But I was there once and he was there and I rolled with him.
It was awesome, I rolled with him, I rolled with Roberto Cyborg, that’s about it, those 2. In Israel Roberto came there for a seminar, and I Israel I did like 4 tournaments, Brazil I did 1, in South Africa I’ve done like 6, but you learn from tournaments, it’s so different. You get in a tournament, the first 5 minutes and you’re dead, it’s nothing like rolling, and then you learn over time in tournaments. You got to get in there, just relax, let things flow, don’t even think about it. And I started to do that and I started winning. Then I started realizing it’s not just getting there, because your tense and excited, so that’s why I enjoy competitions, it teaches you how to control your stamina and strength.
Christian: How did you end up with your boat life? How did you make that decision?
Ray: I was one-day sitting with my mom and dad, they had a business, a cobbler shop in west gate shopping center in Johannesburg, and I was in a very bad environment, drugs, doing naughty things, I was 21 or 22. I sat there against the wall, I’ll never forget, reading this newspaper and this article was there, work on cruise ships, call this number and I was like I’ll give it a bash.
I called the number, I got an interview, got the job as an assistant waiter on royal Caribbean, went on board in 2001, I was an assistant waiter for 4 months, it was terrible work, then I got promoted to a waiter for 2 more months, and then it was time to go home, but instead of going home, I decided to change position to do broadcast so I had to stay an extra 2 months.
Christian: What’s broadcast? What’s that?
Ray: Broadcast is like a TV studio on the ship, I controlled the TV channels, do all the filming, all the editing, all the video, audio and satellites, I do everything with broadcast. And I just stayed there ever since. I worked there for 5 years on royal, then 5 years on region, 4 years on Disney, 3 years on princess and now on the silver seas It’s been nearly a year.
Christian: Where did you sail?
Ray: Everywhere, I’ve been everywhere, the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, Brazil, North America, you name it, only Antarctica I haven’t been and some inland places because ships don’t go there obviously, but yeah everywhere even Hong Kong.
Christian: Did you sail all the way to Hong Kong?
Ray: Yeah the ship normally does the crossing of 8 sea days, it’s hectic, 8 long sea days, from wherever it is, it depends, like from Africa you just cross the sea, it depends where the ship is sailing from or to. Sometimes you do the world cruise, which does it in a certain amount of days, it does this whole itinerary, and like sometimes you have overnights which is cool, overnight in Greece, overnight in Barcelona, overnight here, all over you have over nights, and that’s when I go look for Jits.
Christian: Do you manage to find something most places?
Ray: Always, most of the places I do, it’s the quiet small places I don’t. But like Colombia I had an overnight and I found, I went to some place there. Most of the places, even in St Martin.
Christian: Did you train with Melissa?
Ray: Melissa right? She’s the one that messages me, but every time I want to go it’s flipping kick boxing, so I’m like I don’t want to do kick boxing so I don’t do it.
Christian: How is living on a boat for 18 years?
Ray: It’s not fully 18 years, you go on for 4 months you’re off for 2, sometimes you work for 3 or 5 months, then you’re off for 2 or 3 months, it all depends on the schedule.
Christian: So when you’re off for those months do you do anything?
Ray: Yes, I go home and spend time with my daughter and I do Jiu Jitsu and hang around with friends, do some extra work, do my own little things at home, and when it’s time to go, I go back again.
Christian: So you have kids?
Ray: I have a 4-year-old daughter, her name’s Yazmin, I took her to Jiu Jitsu at the age of 4 and got her dressed in a little kimono and had her doing forward rolls, it’s so cute man.
Christian: How is it sailing away from your daughter?
Ray: It’s terrible man, it’s the worst feeling in the world, but it’s for a good cause, the money on the ships is amazing, I’d never make this back home. Whatever I’d make in my country, times 3 on the ship.
Christian: So when you’re off the boat you don’t have to work?
Ray: No, because if I’m saving the money, I have a lot of money.
Christian: Do you spend any money on the ship?
Ray: No you don’t need to, because you get food for free, accommodation for free, your laundry is free, and when you eat it’s a buffet, you get all the fruits, all the salads, all the meats, proteins, all the desserts, all the drinks, all the coffees. And they have to give it to you, and they have to give variety because some people are vegan and eat differently, so they have to take care of everyone. So the food is not an issue, your cabin gets cleaned if you’re an officer, you get benefits.
Certain officers can use certain lounges, eat in certain places, get coffee in certain places. But if you’re crew, it’s not so good, you can’t go anywhere and have to share a cabin with 2 to 4 people in a cabin. Can you imagine? 4 people in 1 little box like this, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom and you share 1 toilet. I walked in there and was like no way, it’s hectic. But they what they make, in their country it’s impossible to make that money. It’s Philippines and Indians because they’re the cheap labor, like if they get 10 dollars they can buy a house. I just exaggerated.
They make good money on the ships so that’s why they’re the easiest to hire. Us on the other hand they have to pay us more, we’ll do the higher jobs like human resources, hotel directors, cruise directors, all the high positions, and these are officers. We get our own little place to eat and some ships are different to others, Princess for example you go in and you get a menu, you can order off the menu, and you get served your dinner, you can order wine, you can have beer. Now I eat in the officer area, but we don’t get served, we dish up for ourselves in the buffet. But still a buffet is a buffet man.
Christian: So what ship are you on right now?
Ray: I’m on the silver seas, and the ships name is the wind, it’s the smallest and oldest of them all, and it looks like it’s falling apart.
Christian: I think I saw it out there today.
Eric: it’s the small one?
Ray: I’ve requested not to go back to it, because the small ships are not good for me because now I have to share a cabin, because there’s not enough room, and on the other bigger ships I don’t share. And here the ship is so old, it’s rusted and falling apart. The newer ships are decent, go well, everything’s good, nothings breaking, here everything is running on thread.
Christian: Do you ever get caught in really bad weather?
Ray: Yes, I’ve had many experiences, shaky seas, rough seas, things are falling and breaking everywhere, you’re walking and trying to go straight but you’re falling and hitting the wall on that side. I remember on one new year, it was 5 minutes to new year, we’re all in the crew bar, we’re all partying, everyone is drunk and we hear assessment party! Assessment party! Report to deck 5 aft zone 3, and we’re like what? Because that means that they’ve got to go assess because something’s going on, a fire or something, so the crew all continue to party and we hear the alarm go one long blast, so we all have to go to our crew stations, everyone is drunk, they’re carrying bottles of booze with them to their muster stations. We all get to our stations and everyone is pissed and we’re laughing, it’s serious though.
Someone was smoking and flicked a cigarette into the back where the propane tanks were and a fire started, 10 minutes later they fought the fire, they killed the fire, the drill was over. The next day we docked the ship and went to look at the back of the ship and it was just black and all burned. Luckily the propane tanks didn’t blow up otherwise we would have been at the bottom of the ocean. And sometimes they have a dry dock, where the ship goes into a dry dock where they have to fix the ship, there’s no AC, no toilets, it’s a dump, people sleep on the outer decks, there’s paper, dirt, dust, people drilling, it’s a dump. So I don’t recommend that for crew members.
Christian: So you have some mats on the ship?
Ray: Yeah, when I get on board, I’ll order online or I’ll order from amazon if I’m in a US port where they get delivered. I actually ordered those flexi mats that you have on my one ship, I bring them on board and hide them somewhere and I go around the ship looking for Brazilians because they all got name tags and I’m like do you do Jiu Jitsu?, I swear to you bro every single one, even if it’s a Japanese guy, hey do you do Jiu Jitsu? I look at their ears and their name badges and I’m like damn.
And some of them are like no I don’t do Jiu Jitsu, and I’m like but you’re from Brazil, what’s your problem? So eventually I found, I didn’t find any Brazilians, I found an Italian guy who just wanted to learn, and every night at 22:00 he would come up, we would set up the mats, do the normal drills, technique, technique and he would train everyday with me for months, and after 3 months he was so good, I actually had a problem rolling with him because he knew all my moves, everything I knew, so I couldn’t him, because he knew every counter for me, so it was good and then he left. Then I found a girl from Brazil, she rolled with me then she left, then I found another guy. And every time I’m rolling guests would walk past and would see me doing Jiu Jitsu and I had a Naggie guy come, and he would come every night for his 7-day cruise, he would just come and roll with me, him and his dad.
Then sometimes on another ship I would have a Gracie guy from another club, he saw me rolling, he rolled with me, he’d give me a shirt or something. So there’s always possibilities, you’ve just got to open up to let them see. And on this one, I bought 6 mats, big ones, carrying them in the street, got on board and people looking at me like what the hell is this guy doing? I got upstairs and hid them in the AC engine room, because there’s nowhere to train, underneath this engine room.
So when we train, we get the key, unlock this huge bolt door, pull it open, we get in and everything is green, there’s Ac and metal pipes everywhere, I set up the mats, we do little circle drills like run in little circles, we do knees, we do touch your bums, shrimps, all that in this little room. And then when the ship shakes it’s a bit rocky, a bit dangerous because you can hit into one of these metal pieces, but anyway we got the hang of it. And we roll there, and when we’re done we pack it away. And I take on board with me 3 or 4 kimonos, and when I find somebody then I just dish them out and let them keep them, and when they leave they give it back to me. Dedicated man, I love it too much.
Christian: So where are you sailing right now?
Ray: we’re currently just sailing the Caribbean, and our embarkation port is San Juan where we pick up and drop off, and we do that 1 or 2 more times, then we have 7 or 8 sea days and then we’re crossing over to Barcelona.
Christian: So there’s only one place where you embark?
Ray: Yes, there’s one place where they come on and off.
Christian: Because I was looking at, we were trying to find, we were thinking of going somewhere, and with little kids you don’t want like to fly, to have connecting flights and stuff, so like Miami, Florida is kind of the same as here just with bigger roads.
Ray: Yeah Florida have got like, I’m not lying to you, 10 to 20 cruise ships.
Christian: Yeah we found one from Guadeloupe, I was looking for something from St Martin but I couldn’t find anything.
Ray: No there won’t be, you’d have to fly to San Juan or Fort Lauderdale. But what you do is you go there for like a day, have a little holiday and then get on the ship, or you get straight on the ship and when you get back you holiday a little bit before you go back.
Christian: I’m thinking the timing is perfect, because the flight to Guadeloupe lands 5 hours before the boat departs.
Eric: And from the boat is it a round trip?
Christian: Yeah round trip, after 7 days you get back to Guadeloupe, and we fly here, it’s 45 minutes.
Ray: When you get on the ship, you’re going to go there and they’ll welcome you with all these smiles and happy look, but deep down it’s like ah another bloody, for them it’s like another repetition, another cruise.
Christian: And like you say, I’ll just walk right in and say I’m going to review you. I’m going to write reviews on google, I’m going to wear a t-shirt like yelp trip adviser senior reviewer.
Ray: I don’t know if I should tell you, but they send out emails on the ship, this guest is very complaint, so please be aware, so like they send out emails to people to be aware about these kind of things, but no, all you have to do is just get on. Just make sure you are very blunt about how you are with your things and everything will be fine, they’ll remember your name, they’ll give you the correct food you want, if you complain about the food they’ll make sure the food you get is correct. If you’re not happy with your cabin, complain, and they will try to accommodate.
Eric: Just be French.
Ray: Just be French, you’re 100% right, just be French.
Christian: I’m practicing here, I have a year and a half of practice in French. It’s a little bit of French arrogance.
Ray: You get room service, it’s good times bro it’s good. It’s fun.
Christian: Yeah, I just wanted to try something different, I actually haven’t been sailing ever. It’s not like I haven’t been on a boat but not something like this, so expand my horizon a little bit.
Ray: Yeah if you get sea sick they’ll give you these stickers that you put at the back of your ears, I don’t how, but it helps you balance. But if you get sea sick you get these things you put behind your ears or you get the ones you put on your wrists. Or just eat a green apple, it helps your metabolism or helps stabilize when you have sea sickness.
Eric: So on this big boat you have sea sickness?
Ray: Of course, rough seas, that ship. They have stabilizers, but it’s, it still rocks. It’s like you drunk but you don’t have to drink. That’s what it feels like. You’re walking, you’re looking straight ahead but your body is just going like this, swaying from side to side, you’re trying so hard to go straight, like sometimes you’ll aim for the door, you’re walking and all of a sudden you hit the wall. It’s dangerous sometimes but you get used to it, you know, sea legs.
Christian: How long are you going to keep doing this?
Ray: One more I think. I’ve got a plan because of you, you changed my whole life, your podcast, you know that moment, it happens in a split second, that’s what happened for me, it happened in a split second. When I heard your podcast it changed my whole perspective to life, I started to pursue entrepreneurship now.
Christian: Well if you’ve got 18 years of experience, there’s definitely a niche there.
Ray: So I’m going to do this crew thing. But I’m also doing many things, I’m also doing kimonos. I see you also do them, but I’m going to try import from Alibaba, and then do it in my country. So I’m trying to do multiple things because as you said, if you have one person who controls your life and your job and he just one day says cheers man you’re gone. That just opened up my eyes.
Christian: That’s not financial security.
Ray: Yeah you’re 100% right. Look I have no regret, but I just, i wish this happened to me many years ago, but it’s not too late, like you said there’s still plenty of time to plant your trees. I don’t know, then I started reading books. There’s all my books.
Christian: Ah nice, yeah Richard Branson.
Ray: I’m enjoying it but it’s a bit too much story.
Christian: Did you read the first one?
Ray: Content ink? Yeah, I’m half way into that.
Christian: No, this is the second one.
Ray: Oh I don’t know.
Christian: No that’s the first one, losing my virginity. Yeah that other one is funny, I love that first one.
Ray: Yeah, he’s telling stories about when he was a kid.
Christian: Yeah that’s a good book, I’ll recommend you some more. I got my book list here, I’ll send you some recommendations. So how many places do you think you’ve trained on the ship?
Ray: So many man, sometimes I just forget, so many, it’s like a no stop, I just search. So here’s the itinerary. we’re March, so I’ll be going to Spanish town, Grenada, bridge town, Maria, Guadeloupe, St John, all these places, Castrice, Charlestown, San Juan, St Peters.
Christian: So when will you be back here?
Ray: I’ll be back here on the 16th of March. And you’ll be gone on the 1st of April so I might miss you, and the next overnight is the 20th of March to 21, so you’ll be here.
Christian: You know I only surfed like a little bit on holidays, and here a little bit when I have time, but as you said, here I’m just a white belt training with like 20 year black belts in the water. I think I’m alright though, but I feel like an absolute f**king noob. Because these guys have been doing it all their lives. I only feel like I can surf, you know when you roll, and everybody is so good, you only feel like you know anything if you have new people coming in. then it’s like s**t I can suddenly pull this off, everyday training and you just can’t do anything, so that’s how I feel about surfing here. I did Jiu Jitsu for 20 years and surfed on holidays a little bit.
Ray: I live and do Jits until my knees pack out, I’ll never stop, if ever that happens.
Christian: You got think long term about your health for Jiu Jitsu, it’s super important, I’ve seen way too many people just ruin it because they’re people are just too eager, they have an unhealthy style.
Ray: Do you mean stretching or unhealthy food wise? Food wise I’m always trying to keep healthy, it’s just part of my regime, I always try to eat well. On odd occasions I have bad stuff, but that’s just life, but I cut down on all that.
Christian: I mean the approach to training and rolling. For me I had many years where I was constantly injured, I had everything, every joint, back neck, shoulder, elbows, fingers, knees, everything, because I trained, competed and was teaching full time for more than 10 years, like I did nothing else, that’s all I did, I didn’t have kids, no job, I was just doing Jiu Jitsu, nothing else. I mean we built up a pretty good gym, I had it for over 15 years. And with the guys I know really well I’ll train really hard, very competitive, but with people I just meet I do a completely different style, like counter boxing, I approach it more like surfing, there’s a wave coming and I’ll see if I can keep my balance and do a few tricks, I’m not going to fight the wave you know.
Ray: But it’s really nice sometimes.
Christian: Jiu Jitsu kind of came full circle for me in some weird sense, because in the beginning when I was 18, I wanted to learn how to fight, to fight someone, but then I realized I’m never going to fight anyone unless I look for a fight, which would be kind of stupid, so it became a sport, because then you can fight without being an idiot, and so there was like a sport Jiu Jitsu and MMA, and Muay Thai and all that. And then it became, it was a sport for many years and then it became more like a teaching thing where I was teaching Jiu Jitsu, and now it’s just fitness, it’s the only hobby or physical activity.
I know that can really keep me interested, and my approach is way off competition or anything, it’s more like an art now, it’s really a gentle art now, it’s cheesy to say but Jiu Jitsu has become a gentle art for me. Because it’s the art of using like, I try to make it look like Aikido sometimes, I try to be super relaxed and use as absolute minimum power, but still take people down or still not get swept or get submitted, or passing you know, and just be like absolute full on Steven Seagal, sometimes standing up and relax, and then it becomes an art form, if you can make people fall without like power double legging them, so that’s interesting for me now and it’s great fitness, but what was my point?, where did we come from with this?
Ray: You roll very strategically I noticed, you take it slow.
Christian: But I’ll go differently with people I know very well, like the purple or brown belts I know from home, we’ll go full on to the death sometimes. So what I was saying about thinking long term about Jiu Jitsu is, walking in sandals all year long f**ks up my feet, I was injured all the time, because I had these long periods of training really hard and competing, even if I’m not competing, people are training with me super hard for competitions, and then I realized I was injured for a year and a half, sitting on the mat every single day teaching, coaching, watching people roll and going to competitions but I couldn’t do anything myself, not even drilling or showing techniques, for a year and a half, and I thought to myself f**k this can’t be right.
I was like 30 or something, and you know they say when you turn 30 that’s when the injuries come, the weekend I turned 30 I got super injured and I was out for a year and a half. And I just thought this can’t be right. It was a slipped disc in my back, and then I looked back and realized every single injury I had was from pushing myself to the limit, like close to 100%. And I guess an injury by definition is your body reaching the limit and going above the limit and it saying ok stop this part of your body is going to be inflamed for a while so you don’t move it, that’s what your body tells you because you went too far. So I was like s**t every single major knee injury, back injury, neck injury, everything, shoulder was just because I pushed myself too far.
So I made a decision, everything I do is just 80%, never more than 80%, that’s the maximum. So if I can roll 100% intensity I’ll go 80%, usually I’ll go 30% or 40% with people I don’t know, or if I can go 5 days a week I’ll go 3, or if I can go 10 rounds I’ll go 8, if I can do 10 pull ups I’ll do 7, I’ll never go more. And you know what? Not a single injury since, this is since I was 30, so almost 4 years, I’ve not once had a single injury, nothing and before that I was struggling and constantly in physiotherapy and rehab, like non-stop rehab for years, I was always rehabbing.
I owned a cross fit gym for 6 years, I never did a single cross fit lesson, I just did rehab. I just did the rubber bands, that’s all I did, I put in so much money and time in building it, I had like 15 people working there, I just did like the rubber bands, that’s all I did, and like some balls. And then if I have energy for half an hour of rolling and half an hour of lifting weights, I’ll just roll for 25 minutes. I’ve stopped lifting weights because that’s by definition going to my limit, that’s what you do, you push your body close to the limit. And you know 4 years, not a single injury, I have a sprained finger at the moment, that’s it.
Nothing else hurts, it’s amazing, it’s the best thing I ever did for Jiu Jitsu. You know when you’re 22 you train every day for 4 or 5 hours, you don’t think about that. And you recover overnight, and that’s what I did, I’ve had no injuries since. And especially now I go to the camps every month, and every camp everyone wants to roll with me and I want to roll with everyone, so for a week long camp I’ll roll with a hundred people or more, and if I went hard, like competitive, I would die, even I can handle myself technically but pure physical exhaustion from rolling with so many people is just impossible, I’m going to push some part of my body way to hard. So at the camps I go like full Bruce Lee, be like water, Steven Seagal kind of see if I can defend myself with just a hand in the face. If I could wrestle them like an Aikido master, grab the elbow and they fall.
Even if it doesn’t work, I aim for it to look like grand master. In reality it’s just because I can’t possibly, if I went competitive, like I would do in my gym in Copenhagen, I would do 5 rounds and I’m done. 4 or 5 and I’d be coughing my lungs out, there would be nothing left, so I kind of developed like a, I think it started when I was travelling, I’m not sure if you have or will kind of experience the same, when I travelled and rolled in a new gym every 5 months, you have to kind of go easy and relax, and let them play, feel their game and you kind of try to keep your balance.
Ray: It’s hard sometimes, because when I travel and go to new gyms, they see a newcomer and you get the guys who see here’s a new guy, let’s see how good he is, let’s push him. And you get that one guy, you always get that one guy who comes along and uses all his power and all his tactics just to get you, and he uses so much strength on you that you have to use his game to get through.
Christian: I’ve met all of them. You start in Europe and go east and they’re there on that road. You know what the trick is, I just tap out to them, every 5 seconds I just tap, and when the round is over I say thank you and I grab someone else. I never fight back, because if I do then I can’t do 10 more rounds, I’d probably beat them, I don’t know, unless they’re really young and train a lot. But what does it matter if it costs me 5 or 10 extra rounds because I have no energy.
Ray: I just let them do their thing and get into a ball and then let them do their thing like what you were doing, and then if I get the opportunity I’ll go for it.
Christian: It’s an important skill for the traveller, a travelling Jiu Jitsu practitioner is different, it’s to kind of dodge. You’re in the water and the big wave comes, don’t try to ride it, you know survive.
Ray: Back at home, they know the same people, the same faces, they train with the same people, so they all know their rhythm.
Christian: Swim around it you know, wait for the next one, that’s easier.
Ray: I’ll remember that saying, wait for the wave.
Christian: Don’t take the biggest most evil wave, just ok it’s going to trash you around a little bit, just let it happen, get out the other side and wait for a nicer one that you can play on, instead of here’s the biggest one, I’m going to fight it. I think in the beginning I was different, when I was doing the world trip, I was fighting way harder, but it kind of developed, and I try to go as fluent as possible, so it becomes and art, a gentle art of violence. But at least it’s an interesting physical, because that is what Jiu Jitsu is, at the end of the day, at the essence, at the core, it’s trying to use as little energy as possible to control aggression.
So of course you need to get to a certain level of competence be you can actually try it, I spent a few years of trying to make it look like Aikido, I mean I can afford to take a few years off for that project. And you know it kept me off injuries, that’s the most important thing, I can train 3 times a week with the guys here, and I stay in good shape. And f**k if you train hard and get in good shape, but if you’re constantly injured for 1 or 2 months then you get out of shape again.
Ray: I don’t like to get injured, I rolled with a brown belt, he was like 95kg. and I don’t know what happened, and I was rolling and making him work for his money kind of thing, and he arm barred me and I turned and he stretched me out and broke my ribs, and I was so angry when I stood up and went for him. You can see there’s a lump here, it’s never gone away, you can see my ribs are out of proportion, forever damage, 8 weeks I was out, taking pills, couldn’t breathe. It’s not worth it. He got angry so he wanted to attack me and hurt me.
I had another guy also, I said to him I’m very hard to choke out, because I have a very strong neck, so I don’t give up my neck and I know how to control my neck, I don’t know how to say, I know my little system what I do, so this guy he thought so this guy wants to act like he can’t get tapped out by getting choked. So what does he do? We roll, he gets me, man he chokes me out, he choked me so hard he nearly broke my esophagus. So I had to go to the hospital to get it checked properly, I couldn’t talk, it was damaged for months. This guy was just an angry soul or maybe didn’t have any love at home or anything or he just got angry was just trying to prove a point.
Christian: Those are the guys you tap to and just take the next one, just take the more fun ride.
Ray: That’s a good point, let go of the wave, just catch the next one, it’s a very good saying.
Christian: Because that’s exactly why you get injured, you see you broke a rib and you had to go to hospital, just for 1 round. So you think just because you were trying to fight back, imagine how many rounds you lost, you can’t do, that’s a lot, that’s like hundreds, for a broken rib. There’s so many nice rolls you missed out on just for 1 guy where you wanted to prove a point, or he wanted to, or you both wanted to prove a point.
Ray: But I also notice when you fight bigger guys that’s where the injuries come, anybody who is heavier than you from 5 to 10 upwards that’s where the injuries start, because it’s the weight distribution, it really affects you, maybe I’m wrong but that’s what I notice when I fight bigger guys, you have to push harder, maybe at my level, but at your level you know how to handle the leverage, it’s a skill, but I’m not there yet. And when I fight bigger guys, it’s harder for me, and the weight plays a huge part for me, even though it’s Jiu Jitsu, the game or sport is leverage but I’m not at that level so I struggle with heavy guys, so from now that’s why I try to avoid heavy guys.
Christian: Just don’t fight so hard.
Ray: But they squash me, they’re on top of me and I’m dying and I can’t move.
Christian: Ok a big f**king wave is coming, you know it’s going to smash you, this is your time to practice to being calm under water. You’re going to be like this for 10 seconds under water, what are you going to do? You’re going to try to get up or find your happy place, just float and wait until you get up. It’s the same with the big guys, don’t try to push them off of you.
Ray: No, I take it all in.
Christian: What’s more important? You try to beat them but because they’re heavier than you and you get injured, and you lose out on 50 rounds of rolling with more fun rolls, or you practice finding your happy place under pressure, like under the pressure of gravity. So you know with big guys I’ll see how little energy I can spend on defending myself, on not dying, not drowning, can I just stay afloat. And then if I want to try my escapes, and my strong frames and my power passes, I’ll do that on someone else.
I have one guy here who is really big like 120kg probably, but I play a completely different game with him, I just see, can I keep him in my guard with minimum energy and if he’s passing, can I stay comfortable under all the pressure, because he’s going to squash me, he’s a beginner but if he puts all his pressure I’ll probably tap just from his weight, so he will provide me with the practice of just staying calm under pressure, because that’s a separate skill in Jiu Jitsu. You’re never going to be able to move always, it might not necessarily be a big guy but you might feel the same pressure from someone who is just as good technically on the top position, and then you better pull that skill out your pocket, being calm under pressure and not necessarily get out but you know, just survive.
So you have to see every person as, you sharpen a different tool every single person, depending on their game or their size or their mentality, some are aggressive douche bags, so what do you do? You try to survive and tap out a lot, that’s practice too, tapping out is very important practice, and then you have smaller guys, like with you, I’m physically bigger but you’re really strong and tight and move a lot, so I try to relax but I will still need a little burst of power to open you up, I can’t just heavy float and find the opening because there’s no opening unless I pull you a bit.
So that’s my practice with you, is relax, find an opening and use a short burst of energy to do something. You see like standing up, I try be almost like a sack of potatoes, and then find the moment when I can execute the perfectly crisp technique of a take down, because then if I can do that in another situation with someone who is bigger and better, then I put in all the attributes because then I’m fighting for my life, which I will never do, or in competition, then I know if I can do it with zero power then I can do it with full power. Alright, you have any plans for today?
Ray: No, nothing.
Christian: I’ve got to get in my basement and work.
Ray: I just need to, how far is this juice place? Toms Juice.
Christian: Oh it’s in town, I’ll show you. It’s not called Toms Juice bar anymore, because they sold it, it’s another owner.
Ray: It’s by the pier?
Christian: I’ll show you. We can go there now, let’s just lock this place up.
Ray: Thanks so much man.
Christian: My pleasure. My car is one of the most disgusting cars on the island.
Ray: Please man if I tell you my car, I don’t even have a car, I’ve got a 2001 fiat, it’s an olden day car, a hatch back.
Christian: We had that hurricane here 5 months ago and the cars took such a beating, but it’s still driving, it was full of broken glass and leaves for a few months but it got a little bit more character you know. I feel closer to my car now, and you know having 2 kids is equivalent to at least a category 4 or 3 hurricane. So I gave up on having a nice car, a nice clean car. Alright so you’re back on the boat at what did you say?
Ray: At 4 but I will go and have some fruit or whatever and hang around for 20 or 30 minutes, then I’ll head back and start to go back to my office and listen to my entrepreneur stuff, and continue with my website. Every day I now schedule myself to stuff, from 8 in the morning to 7 at night I follow my schedule.
Christian: How much do you work there?
Ray: Nothing, no my jobs too easy, I just push buttons, so I control all the TV’s and make sure everything is playing.
Christian: Do you have free access to the pay per view porn thing?
Ray: No you have to pay, we don’t have it on this ship, but some ships you do. We have that pay per view stuff but you have to pay.
Christian: I love those planes; I never get tired of seeing those planes. So did you get to check out this island at all?
Ray: No, only the shell beach, that’s all I’ve ever done here. Yeah I don’t know where anything is.
Christian: So next time you come I’ll take you around a bit more. Today I’ll get in the basement and get some work done. I’ve got to pick up my kid in 2 hours.
Ray: What do you do in your basement? Your web work?
Christian: I set up an office down there. I keep a few girls down there, I’ve got to feed them you know, I’ve got to feed them a little bit. It’s been a few days so I’ve got to get down there with some left overs. No, I set up a little office there and I’ve got to do some stuff. 10 camps a year don’t plan themselves. Is that your boat? That’s a small one hey? Embarrassing hey?
Ray: Yeah I know. Don’t go there.
Christian: Alright let’s see what we can find here. So here’s the juice bar, formerly known as Toms Juice bar. They use to have it at least, I’m not on the Asahi craze.
Ray: You don’t like it?
Christian: It’s just ice cream man.
Ray: I understand, but it’s the ingredients inside.
Christian: It’s sugar, the main ingredient is sugar.
Ray: But there’s anti bodies in there. But it’s good sugar or bad sugar.
Christian: It’s bad sugar, all sugar is bad sugar. Come on you’re just craving sugar, that’s it.
Ray: You just put such a downer on Acai.
Christian: Get it. Bonjour.
Ray: Do you have any Acai?
Christian: You know what my theory is of Acai on Jiu Jitsu? You know like a lot of green belts go to Brazil to train, I’m pretty sure there must be some guy in one of those tourist gyms that owned an Acai place, and they were like bro my friend you’ve got to try this, it’s so good for your gut. And I hate it because you know the Europeans, it’s almost the only food you can get. So you sit there for like 12 hours a day, you feel like s**t and the only food they sell is f**king ice cream with granola.
Ray: It was unbelievable, thank you so much man. Anything you need man, let me know, I’ll email you with all those details and the itinerary.
Christian: Yeah sure, I’ll be here so just let me know when you’re here next time.
Ray: Awesome my man, god bless.
Christian: Cool, enjoy the ice cream, see you man. Alright time to get home and have some lunch. That was the visitor of the day. We don’t get a lot of visitors; I mean there’s a lot of tourists on the island but I don’t get a lot of Jiu Jitsu visitors, so that was really nice. Good rolls, he had really good game, finally someone with really good wrestling, that’s not something you find often in the Jiu Jitsu world. I enjoyed that. Alright I’m going to check out from this episode, going home to get some lunch, get in the basement and do some work on the new globetrotter’s project and then go train again tonight and hopefully have some more visitors.
If you ever want to come visit me here in St Bart you’re most welcome. Obviously we have the camps but I welcome visitors all year round so if you’re in the area or if you just want to come over for training, or sightseeing or a holiday you’re most welcome, I mean it’s fairly easy to get here from the US or Europe, so any day just let me know. We don’t train a lot but we do train a few times a week, so you’re most welcome to come catch me for a roll here. I’m pretty much always here when there aren’t globetrotter’s camps. So that was Raymond visiting here in St Bart about a month ago.
If you want to know more about working on cruise ships, I recommend you check out his website. He’s actually setting up a community that’s pretty similar to what BJJ globetrotter’s is doing for Jiu Jitsu, but it’s just for people working on cruise ships. So you can take a look at [email protected] and there’s also a Facebook group for people who work on cruise ships and who want to work on cruise ships. I think it’s an interesting world that I knew nothing about until I met this guy, and I’ve been looking into it a little bit, and it’s definitely something interesting if you have time for it in your life. Anyways his website has all the tools to help you apply to cruise ships and figure out which ones are good and bad, and there’s a lot of good advice if that’s a career you think you could go for. So check out [email protected] for his website.
So for the question of the day from our Facebook group members of BJJ Globetrotter’s, the question I picked for today was “can you tell us about the process of moving to the Caribbean?”. Really quick, I grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark. I lived there all of my life, and recently about a year and a half ago, I managed to move to St Bart in the French West Indies, it’s a small island in the Caribbean that belongs to France. People ask me all the time, why did you choose that island?
I actually didn’t, I think, well I know that the island kind of chose me. I didn’t directly look for places to move, I didn’t research it, I didn’t look for places that I would like to live or anything like that, but what I did was I put a lot of effort into purposely kind of directing my life into a position where if any of these opportunities would present themselves I would be able to take them. So you could say I wasn’t looking for it but I prepared everything for it to come to me in one way or the other. Sometimes I feel like I was lucky, but on the other hand, I think there was zero luck involved getting here. When I look back, I can see every little decision I made, that eventually made this possible. I’m not sure how to exactly describe this but one thing that is important for things like this, at least that I found for my own life, in order for anything like this to happen, as I talk about entrepreneurship, it’s kind of the same thing, nothing happens from one day to the other, it’s a long process of a lot of little things being done over a long period that eventually leads to opportunities presenting themselves and you being ready to take them. I made a decision a several years ago that I was going to free myself from being kind of chained to one location.
I ran a gym, I started with an office job, then I kind of moved over to running an academy full time in Copenhagen for more than 15 years, and I don’t remember exactly when, but it was probably when I was around 30 or something, probably mid-life crisis there, I think that’s like 6 years ago, I made a decision to set myself up for something different and so I started to build a non-location income source that would eventually turn into something, that’s what I set my mind on. Trying to build an income that’s not depending on me being in one location, that turned out to be BJJ Globetrotters by a random chance. And also I tried to give up a lot of things, I put a lot of focus into buying less things, owning less things and not being owned by my things. I didn’t move to a bigger apartment even though I could probably afford it, I didn’t take loans for anything, didn’t buy a big car, I just lived a very simple life so I could leave it at any time. I didn’t have any obligations or anything I had to pay off. So if an opportunity presented itself I’d be ready to go. And one of the most difficult things to let go of was the academy I had in Denmark.
I started that in 2003 as a blue belt together with a friend of mine, we built it up from basically nothing. We were 5 guys training to having more than 700 members at some point. It was wildly successful, and over the years, I realized it kind of just became another job, I really enjoyed teaching all the time, but there was a lot of other things coming with running an academy. It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, was to let go of it and sell my part in it. But in the moment I made the decision, I realized that was absolutely the right thing to do. It was such a relief to not have that burden anymore, I just started showing up to teach just because I enjoyed it. There were no emails or accounting or any of that stuff to do. So letting go of the academy was really difficult, but I did it after 15 years and it was a huge relief.
I’m really happy to see it runs really well back in Denmark, I’m going to go visit in a month or so. So I let go of all these things and started to build an income source and save some money, and not chain myself to any big expenses or mortgages or anything like that. And parallel to that, I think of it as planting little seeds of karma everywhere I go, like every opportunity I get to do a little bit of good for something, provide value for something, for someone, I will take it always. Obviously the way to make money is to provide value for people and then they return it with money or something else. You don’t always need money; value can be something else.
I think a lot of value is karma, not like a spiritual something, it’s more like if you do a lot of little good things or a lot of favours or provide value all the time, over the course of many years, it can be anything like just saying something nice or just something unexpectedly nice for someone, help someone with something with demanding anything in return, like tiny little seeds of karma. Maybe you plant 10000, maybe 9990 will do nothing, but if just 1 of them grow into something big that could change your life or an opportunity that you could grab and change everything into a different direction. I always think of creating value for everyone, sometimes you get money but most of the times you don’t, you just get something else, and that accumulates over years and years, and eventually something will come back to you from that, I truly believe in that kind of butterfly effect of little good deeds done. So that’s what I did, I prepared everything in my life for the opportunity if or when it presented itself, and then I spent years and years of doing nice little things as much as I could, and it has to be genuine, it’s kind of practical karma and not spiritual karma. So I think that’s ow I moved to the Caribbean.
That’s it, there’s a lot of other things that happened from this kind of recipe, but that’s one of the things that came out of it, and I think it’s very clear that’s what I did. I didn’t sit down and look for apartments to rent or what to search for, so that’s the approach I took. So I’m going to stick with that for this question. In a few days I’ll be off to the US camp in Maine, it’s a place I’m always excited to go back to. Everybody always ask me why did I pick Maine of all the places, and again I didn’t really pick Maine. I thought if I was going to do anything in the US it was going to be different, I didn’t really want to do a city camp because it’s often the cities are kind of spread out, and the social aspect and travel aspect, and taking you out of your comfort zone is a very important experience, so I was just looking for a place in the middle of nowhere. And we found this great place in the forest in Maine.
We did it in New Hampshire for the first few years, then moved to a better facility in Maine. We upgraded a little bit this time, we’re going to have as much space as Belgium which is a huge camp. We’re going to be 165 people this year. I’m very excited about it, I’m going to bring my microphone to see if I can catch a few interviews which some of the interesting people there. And that’s it, that’s it for this episode 8 of the BJJ Globetrotter’s pirate radio podcast. If you want to listen to any other episodes just look it up on iTunes or whatever that app is called on your I phone or you can just go to BJJGlobetrotters.com/podcast, you can find all the download links and all the episodes there.
I hope you enjoyed this one and I will be looking forward to returning with episode 9 shortly, have a nice day and don’t get injured.