If you are headed out to the Pan-Ams and Worlds this year you probably want to take home some hardware and have a blast while youre out here.
There are really only two areas of California: Orange County and Los Angeles, which happen to be where the tournaments are located.
San Diego has breakfast food and the Gas Lamp, and thats pretty much all you need to know. Boring.
San Francisco is not even California. San Francisco is Seattle despite what anyone tells you. It is no place for a savage.
What is a savage?
A savage is one part Jiu-Jitsu, one part alpha.
from Bro Science.
Now, if you feel you meet the criteria here is the BJJ Savages Guide for Traveling to and Having Fun in California.
Being a BJJ savage isnt all sunshine and rainbows. You are headed to California to win gold. You are going to stand on top of the podium like Rafiki from The Lion King, only instead of a tiger cub you’ll be holding a gold medal above your head; letting everyone know who is the king of the tatami jungle.
The problem is the tournaments are a couple months away and California is expensive, so how are you going to make it happen?
Yeah smarty pig doesnt sound alpha but it is. Not only does smarty pig help you set goals with your savings and offers one of the highest interest rates around for a savings account, it follows one of the 8 keys to keeping more of the money you save: no direct access to the money.
Finding the perfect place to stash your cash isnt worth much if you spend it all on protein powder and steak!
Procrastination kills financial GAINS. Mint is a great resource for getting out of your own way and staying on budget.
Think I Can Stay On Your Couch Bro?
Now that youve got some money in your pocket. You are gunna want to pack the oldest tournament t-shirts and rash guards you can find. This way EVERYONE knows youve been competing since the Worlds were hosted on the beach in Rio.
Next youll want to plan where you are staying. Look, not everyone can afford a hotel AND all of what California has to offer so here are some great resources:
- CouchSurfing.com – I have a good friend who uses this site when he comes out for tournaments. He has also slept in a sleeping bag in my living room, but thats not an option for you unless you like being messed with religiously. He didnt, so hes back to sleeping with strangers.
- Airbnb.com – This site has killer deals right now, especially if you are flying solo. I took the liberty of checking out the two cities you will be competing in: Irvine and Long Beach.
- Irvine is one of the most expensive parts of OC but I found a room for $27/night which is an insane deal considering Long beach is around $40.
Long Beach has good parts and BAD parts so make sure you check reviews if you are hitting up a hotel.
Cutting Weight and Keeping GAINS
The training doesnt come to a halt when you get to paradise. There is weight to be shredded and GAINS to sustain. Here are a few tips to staying on weight while staying on budget…
I know all about cutting weight while traveling. My friends and I used to travel the country living on Fullbars and salad. And dont ask me about the time our friend had a panic attack from a week of Fullbars and tore down a mound of food two nights out from the tournament and nearly broke down in tears; because Im not going to talk about that at all.
OH.. and if you dont have too much weight to cut here are 10 healthy food hacks for traveling athletes.
Staying On Weight While Traveling
If you are trying to cut weight or get a workout in while you are in town both LA Fitness and Golds Gym both give out week-long passes.
Tell them you plan on moving out here, because who doesnt want to? Thats what I did and it ended up coming true.
But whatever you do, dont go to CVS or Walgreens, walk to the back of the store, unpack a brand new scale, step on it to make sure it works, and pack it back up before leaving the store; just to check your weight.
I do not recommend that.
The Calm Before the Storm
Ok, so you are in California and as much as youd like to, you cant train ALL day. So what do you do? You can only YouTube your competitor so many times before you piss your pants. I tell you what, here are a few activities to keep you busy…
Shopping in Orange County and Los Angeles
- Irvine Spectrum – This is an outdoor mall that most of the tourists in OC go to. Wahoos, Corner Bakery, Tender Greens, Saigon Pearl, and Javier’s are all really good places to eat.
- The Outlets at Orange – Forgot to pack a sleeveless shirt? Dont freak out.. If you want to do some real shopping while you are in OC head to the outlets. They have a Nike Town and number of upscale retail outlets to blow all of your future IBJJF prize money on.
What to do in OC and LA:
- Great Park Balloon – If you have fought in Irvine youve probably seen the big orange balloon in the sky. That is one of the largest helium balloons on the planet and it costs next to nothing to ride in. If you are really hardcore they have a carousel to kill time while you wait.
- Six Flags Magic Mountain – now we are talkin located north of LA, this Six Flags in particular is one of the best theme parks in the country. If you send me an invite Ill probably tag along.
- 1000 Steps Beach in Laguna – A favorite among bjj savages in the area. Largest staircase youve probably ever seen and it includes an AMAZING view at the bottom.
Hack: just a few blocks south in-between an empty lot and a hotel is an empty staircase around the same size that tourists dont know about. 1000 steps and this staircase are the beach in my commercial.
Where You Shouldn’t Do in OC and LA
- Lego Land and Disney Land – save your money. Lego Land is too close to San Diego to be considered fun and Disney Land is about the most money you could possibly pay for something youll completely regret in life. Its right up there with divorce really…
- Hollywood – Hollywood is the worst disappointment in my life. Most of us who are getting old remember the movie Pretty Woman and think of Hollywood as this magical place where all the stars hangout. It is the dirtiest place you’ll ever lay eyes on in California. However if you are going to go, find a way to get an invite into the Magic Castle.
Beaches in Orange County
- Huntington Beach – this is my favorite pier in OC and probably has the most surf heavy atmosphere in CA. If you go out in Huntington the dress code is very lax. My girl and I go dancing in Huntington and our favorite spot is Hurricanes. A bouncer and the manager both train.
- Newport Beach – Newport is my top place to walk around. They have a ton of little shops and restaurants hidden all over the place.
- Salt Creek Beach – This is a favorite beach among my black belt friends. I have never been but from all their Instagram pics it looks AMAZING ..
The Time Has Come: RAGE
Alright so the tournament didnt go so well. Your opponent that you have been Facebook stalking since the brackets came out didnt even show up and you got beat in the 2nd round by two advantages. We know, the ref is bullshit whatever.
Now it is time to take your frustrations out on Southern California. Get out that collared shirt, remove the top two buttons completely, and throw your third place participation medal around your neck because…
UBER vs Taxi
First off dont be stupid.
My friends from out of town wanted to go out in Long Beach because it was close to their hotel and they wouldnt have to drive. I told them it was a bad idea. It didnt take long before we seen bottles and sucker punches being thrown all directions and cops with guns drawn stepping on the necks of gang bangers. Dont go out in Long Beach.
Uber is incredibly cheap. Even if you are traveling a long distance; split between several people it is much cheaper than a cab. Here is where to go:
Where to Go Out in Los Angeles
- Speakeasies – If you are from the corn like me, you are like what the hell is a speakeasy? Well they are awesome. They are generally very dark on the inside and are in hidden locations around the city. They mimic the look and feel of a speakeasy from the prohibition. The drinks are top notch and nothing like youve had before.
- Edison – this is a great place to visit strictly from a tourist standpoint. The place is huge and follows an old school Roaring 20s feel similar to the speakeasies. But make no mistake about it, this is one of the top clubs in CA.
- Honeycut – Probably the most popular club for the younger crowd. This is the place to meet good looking people.
- Perch – Perch is one of the most popular clubs in the city. When I ask people in LA where to go, many say Perch. The problem is there is usually a long line not only to get IN to the club, but another long line to get up to the top level where I presume there is a DJ and dance floor. If you go to Perch on the weekend you will waste a lot of time.
- Library Bar – This bar is well placed next to a couple upscale clubs so there is usually no line and draws a good crowd.
With just about any club in LA, either go early or bribe your way in $$. $50-$60 to the bouncer at the door should get you and your friends in just about anywhere (not including cover).
Where to Go Out in Orange County
OC is the place to go if you want to play it low key or enjoy the sites. LA on the other hand is a dump that has great food and nightlife. That said, while Orange County is not the place to go for clubs there are few spots that are great for dancing and meeting people.
- Baja Sharkeez (Newport) – This is where the majority of bjj folks go when they are in town. The bouncer used to train so he will usually let you cut the line if you talk to him. This place is JAMMED PACKED on the weekends, but a must see if going out in OC.
- Woodys Warf – Also a great spot in Newport for sightseeing. Dancing, drinking, and its literally on the water.
- Casa – Most locals dont even know about this place. It is located in Costa Mesa near Sutra. Casa is a speakeasy just like youd find in downtown LA. There is no sign, just an arrow pointing to an alleyway where youll find a velvet rope around the corner waiting for you. RSVP and it’s free to get in. Best drinks in OC.
- Sutra – Orange County is not a great destination for nightclubs but at least in Sutra the girl/guy ratio is usually under control. Definitely a younger crowd.
That is it my friends. While Ive all but moved on from the savagery, when I first moved out here in 2011 and before then when Id travel here, I was in awe of all the things to do but confused about where to go.
I hope this guide saves you a ton of time figuring out what to do by taking out all the thumb twiddling I did when traveling out here for tournaments.
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