Coping without Jiu-Jitsu in Colombia and Ecuador

Seven weeks off the mats after my ribs did me the disservice of breaking, I was forced to find an alternative to jiu-jitsu, something that would counterbalance my insatiable desire to consume pizza without compounding the injury.

Unable to find a better option whilst traveling in South America, I ended up doing something I detest, I headed out onto the road, pounding the pavements in a painstakingly slow jog.

Running was hardly a fitting alternative to grappling; what I quickly realised during this most odious of exercises, is that running is actually the antithesis of jiu-jitsu. In the latter there is a motivating voice encouraging you to fight to the death, calmly reassuring you that you’re fine, just relax and don’t give up. The former elicits a voice that is constantly screaming “THIS FREAKING SUCKS, QUIT, DUDE YOU NEED TO QUIT RIGHT NOW!”.

Speaking with friends who run for pleasure, they assured me that you can attain the same flow state that is possible with jiu-jitsu. One friend advised me not to listen to music as it prevented access to a state of mindfulness.

I must be doing something wrong as I honestly don’t think I have ever ran without hatred in my heart for every single step and the constant feeling of wanting to quit.


I spent a lot of time in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. Cali was a city renowned for the prevalence of drug related violence due to its strategic location for the cartels. I didn’t see any such nefarious activities, what I did see was a whole lot of hills, hills that I begrudgingly forced myself to run up. There was just no way to escape them and I hated them all.

Running and jiu-jitsu do appear to share at least one similarity, they both really suck for your body. This fact was amplified due to running in a beat up pair of Converse. Painfully aware of the moronic nature of doing this, it was the end of my five months away and I was already in the red, so there was absolutely no funds for a pair of running kicks. I was stuck running up and down these obnoxious hills with a frivolous disregard for my own knees and shins.


Traveling around Ecuador, I felt like I was being tortured as I was reminded of jiu-jitsu at every turn; from my arrival in Quito, I was driven passed the Alliance and Predator academies on the way to the hostel. I also spotted Alliance stickers on a car in the port city of Guayaquil. A guard at the airport noticed the blue and purple belts on my ankle and we shared a ‘Osssss’ to acknowledge our brotherhood.


Running on the picturesque beach at Puerto Lopez provided some respite for my aching knees. While still causing mental anguish, it did give me the opportunity to see two vultures picking apart the bloated carcass of some poor creature; dopey and harmless like the guys in Disney’s Robin Hood they certainly were not.

JCVD was doing his thing real big in the picturesque town of Puerto Lopez

It would be fair to say that I detest this form of exercise, although, in fairness there can be no alternative to jiu-jitsu, injuries feel like a one-sided break-up with you playing the role of the heartbroken lover. I just hope our seven-week break will be long enough to placate her and she will agree to take me back unconditionally.






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