In February, I left the United States to backpack around Asia with basically just a rash guard, six Dri-Fit shirts, three pairs of shorts, eight pairs of underwear, a pair of jeans, and eight pairs of socks stuffed into my carry-on backpack. I was sick of the daily 9-to-5 grind and wanted to escape for a while.
The nice part of going to Asia, particularly southeast Asia, is the affordability, but I was still traveling with just one kimono, a few shirts, and a tight travel budget.
Despite the tight budget, I was still able to train BJJ at various gyms around Asia, workout with walks in the cities, hike in the countryside, and learn BJJ online.
Here are some of my tips for practicing BJJ on a tight budget.
You don’t need the fancy gi and rash guards
When my friend Jon started training, he ordered two patchless, generic white kimonos off Amazon.com for $40 each. He relied on those gis for 18 months until he received his blue belt. The gi tops held together and the pants never ripped apart.
Nobody on the mats knew or cared about what Jon was wearing. The only thing people noticed was how quickly he progressed and how sneaky and dangerous his closed and x-guards were.
Although he would have looked cooler, he didn’t need a Shoyoroll or Lucky gi in order to get better at BJJ.
Training partners are gold
While most people dream of training with a world famous coach, having a solid group of trusted training partners is the key.
You can’t put a price tag on your friends; you build and earn your training partners by being mutually supportive, helpful, and trustworthy.
In most cases, you will be sharing and bouncing ideas off of them while drilling and live rolling. You will then bond over food and drinks after practice.
These are bonds that just require being a cool person on the mats.
You don’t need the fancy bell and whistles; just clean mats
After traveling around the United States and Asia, I have seen world-class country club gyms like Evolve MMA and Saigon Sports Club, as well as basic gyms with mats.
In the end, it’s the training partners and the mats that outweigh the bells and whistles. While the showers and towel service at Evolve were sweet, I got by on rolling on puzzle mats in small gyms around Asia. I learned a great deal and met amazing people.
Why subscribe to a pay channel when there is so much free content on Youtube?
Paid online resources are great, but you can still survive and learn off free videos on Youtube.
Chances are, if you have a question about a guard pass or the defense for the pass, there is a video out there to give you some guidance on the topic.
Additionally, there is a wealth of matches, seminar footage, and tips for free that will help your game.
Use bodyweight exercises
If you are already paying for a BJJ gym, your budget might not be able to bear another gym membership to lift weights or do CrossFit.
Why not go to the park for hikes and runs or use bodyweight exercises?
You don’t need fancy equipment to do squats, push-ups, or a great core workout. You can pull yoga workouts and stretches off of Youtube for free.