San Diego & Jiu Jitsu


With the popularity of travelling with the specific goal of training growing by the day there is a lot of debate around the global community about where is the best place to head to if you are aiming to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some say you can’t beat the authenticity of Brazil, some say various cities in the USA are the best, Japan has had a shout-out, Hell even Melbourne has rated a mention (not surprised) amongst people on various reddit forums. The answer is obviously going to change from person to person, and having not been to Brazil or Japan, my answer would have to be based on my own experiences is San Diego.


If you haven’t been to San Diego I have to start with the climate it is absolutely perfect 98% of the time. It rarely rains the sun seems to be always shining and even during the height of winter you can still find a lot of people enjoying the lifestyle that comes with living in a coastal Californian City.

San Diego’s social life is welcoming and inviting, not to mention being an Aussie here the accent sticks out like crazy even when the tourist season is at its peak everyone wants to have a chat. One thing I have noticed when in San Diego and talking to the “locals” is that many of them weren’t born and raised, but simply relocated for a sea change and fell in love. Whether they moved here for work, military, or family, there’s an understanding and an acceptance of different cultures. San Diego is a hot bed of various accents, a melting pot of foods, and a stone’s throw from Mexico which has its own benefits (see below), not to mention a strong population of Brazilians giving the BJJ culture its roots firmly implanted in the City.


San Diego food!

In San Diego people are always out and about living a super active life, enjoy the sun, the sand, the surf and taking every opportunity to wear a bikini or workout without a shirt. Coming with the fitness culture is a love for good food, after all after training hard we all want to eat some good food and there is certainly no shortage of it there. You can find every type of food in San Diego. The first time I had food from Guam was here and well let’s just say it was not my last. There is Hawaiian grills, Teppanyaki, Brazilian BBQ and I believe the highest number of Mexican restaurants outside of Tijuana, and I think I vaguely remember seeing an Aussie restaurant somewhere. Having all of these different cuisines at your fingertips makes it easy to find something for everyone!

San Diego Schools!

When I first travelled to San Diego, I really had no idea how much Jiu Jitsu was in the town, since I had only been training for about 6 months, I went to a UFC franchise gym and popped into see University of Jiu Jitsu. After returning to Australia and talking more to guys and girls I trained with I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the amount of schools was 100 times what I was initially exposed too.

After doing a quick search of “Bjj in San Diego” I found at least 20 schools within 20 mins of each other, and I’m not talking about just your average schools, I mean schools owned and operated by current world champions and some of the biggest BJJ personalities in the world, the likes of Saulo/Xande Ribeiro, Richie/Geo Martinez, Clark Gracie, Rodrigo Medeiros, Fabio Santos, Baret Yoshida, Jeff Glover, Dean Lister, Royler Gracie, Andre Galvao, and Eduardo Telles all have schools, that’s right. They ALL have schools here.

Not to mention the presence of world class MMA gyms like Victory MMA, Blackhouse Team Noguera, The Arena, San Diego Combat Academy, City Boxing, UFC Gym(s), and Undisputed which each have internal Jiu-Jitsu programs.

To put it simply, it doesn’t matter if you’re only looking for a hobby or world class competition training, Gi or NoGi, it’s all covered and readily available for anyone who is willing to look.

Open Mats

From Friday to Sunday you can find Free Open Mat sessions that are open to nonmembers all across San Diego. Victory MMA, Gracie Humaita La Mesa, Gracie Barra Sorrento Valley, Honu Bjj, Alliance San Diego, Barum Bjj, Gracie South Bay, Apex, Atos HQ, and 99 Bjj, just to name a few are completely welcoming to outside students. The only thing they ask is that you sign a waiver and bring a positive attitude with you.

“No Politics. No Bullshit. Just Train.”

While I haven’t been to all of these, I’ve loved the atmosphere of the ones I’ve taken part in. During one of my visits to ATOS I had an opportunity to train with one of their world champion black belts, and it was one of the most enjoyable rolls I have had in my time training BJJ.

Final Thoughts

This could all be me leaning toward San Diego as a preference due to the such positive experiences I have had while visiting, although I challenge anyone to visit San Diego and not fall in love with the Jiu-Jitsu scene there. It’s an amazing environment that comes second to none.
If you are thinking about heading to San Diego, why not take a look at the training packages that are being offered by Free Rollers. They have small group 10 day training camp planned for March 2019 basing themselves out of University of Jiu Jitsu, having been on a couple of these trips now, it is something I highly recommend, you will be guaranteed to have a great time and train heaps with new friends. Check out the Trip by clicking the LINK HERE

Let me know what you think. Have you trained anywhere that you recommend to other practitioners?


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