Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

So you wanna leave the USA and teach BJJ, Here is 6 things you should know!

Anyone who has been following my blog knows that I have been living outside the USA for awhile now.  The common questions are ‘Why, How come you don’t come back to the USA, don’t you miss it?!”  I am a proud American, and I do miss the USA.  I miss time with my Mom, and Father, I miss seeing my friends daily. I always notice how much I’ve missed when I return home to see all the changes that have taken place, which I’ve only seen on FB, EMAILS, etc.

I have always been a goal oriented person, and eventually opening up my own training facility is a more mid-long term goal of mine, while the traveling  and instructing abroad is giving me a great opportunity to accomplish several of more short term visions.  I recently counted my passport and found 200+ entry stamps, which felt like an amazing accomplishment.  It is truly hard to put a price tag on the value of travel, especially as it relates to the study of cultures and communities of the world.

I’m always ‘Whats it like teaching in…..(whatever country I’ve just come from)—so I figured it might be an interesting entry to write 6 things you need to know before moving abroad to teach BJJ, MMA, or any other martial art!

1 Cost of living varies greatly

Believe it or not a pair of NIKE’S in Los Angeles, do not cost the same as a pair in Brazil.  Just like the rent on a month long rental in San Diego is not going to be the same price as a month on the beaches of Boracay in the Philippines.  This is something to consider when looking at jobs abroad.  While 2,000$ maybe enough to live comfortably on in some places, other countries you would struggle if that was your only income source.   Simple thins to consider when evaluating costs; Rent, Average meal price, cost of local transportation (Gas, Bus, Skytrain, Motorbike, etc), electric, water, health costs, etc.

2 Learn the local customs

I will never forget the first time I was in India.  I was teaching a seminar in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and after showing the technique asked the class if they understood.  Only about 20% of the group shook their head in an up and down motion, while a few just stood their and looked at me, and the rest kinda shook their head side to side—not in a ‘NO’ motion, but more like trying to touch your ear to your shoulders.  I figured everyone was confused on the technique, so I kept trying to explain it a different way.  I showed the technique visually, then more people were shaking their heads with the “Maybe” look, so I should it by doing it to the kinesthetically, even more heads going ‘Maybe’, I vocalized the move, and EVEN MORE OF THEM were doing the head shake.  Eventually I realized that was the way of communicating they understand in India, lol.  The entire group was probably getting tired of me over explaining the techniques.  Lots of places have different customs. Thailand it is rude to touch the head of your instructor, or to point your feet at them when you are sitting in a chair.  Kuwait only shake hands with your right hand, and so on.  You will have to be patient with customs, it can be frustrating at times to say the least.

3 You know the currency right?

Okay this one has got me a few times.  I remember when I first moved to Kuwait, the money is written in Arabic only on one side, and they have two different notes that are actually 1/4 and 1/2 of a Kuwait Dollar.  Well, the arabic side made it look like one of the numbers (arabic letters) said 1/3, so for the first month I thought they actually had 3 types of fraction notes, 1/4 1/3/, and 1/2.  I remember having to go to the local shop and have the guy help me by literally picking the coins he needed to pay my bill from my hand.  Talk about embarrassing, lol.

I’ve had several other incidences.  Singapore is a very expensive place to go out for example, and I have ran up a few tabs only to realize the conversion is a lot closer to the USA dollar than it is to Thailand’s, lol.

4 Make sure you have a work permit!

Hmmm, this one is tricky.  A lot of people will want you to work abroad without a work permit to see ‘how you work out’, kinda like a ‘probation period’. The truth is, work permits are not a simple process, often you have to include paperwork verifying your credentials, submit medicals, and undertake drug tests in order to become a legal employee of a foreign country.  While at Tiger Muay Thai back, I was actually picked up by Immigration for teaching abroad.  The entire situation eventually got cleared up, but it was a stressful and costly learning experience not only for myself, but the company as a whole.

5 Realize no one waits for you, the world turns

This one is probably the hardest to deal with.  You’ve moved to a foreign country, but your friends all stayed home.  They’ve continued to train, win tournaments, get promoted in their ranks.  Your other friends have found girlfriends, turned them into wives, had children, and every time you come back to visit you realize just how long you have been gone.  Those who continue to live abroad run into the difficult task of finding a partner willing to continue supporting you as you chase your dreams abroad.

6 Don’t be attached to too many physical things

I have friends who wish they could travel and teach BJJ, but they have a car payment, a mortgage with an entire house of furniture, etc.  I’ve moved around a bit living in a few different countries, and every time I leave a country I’m forced to deal with either giving things away, shipping them to storage, or packing them into a couple of bags.  Material things are just that.  The newest Jordan’s might have to be left behind if you don’t have enough room in your luggage, so be comfortable with the idea of leaving those as an amazing gift for someone, lol.  Knowing this, I am always sure to be careful with what I buy.  This helps me save money, and it also keeps my grounded by understanding how temporary many of these ‘possessions’ people hold on to really are.


Those are 6 things I think anyone wanting to live abroad teaching BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, or any other combat sport should know.  I hope you found the information useful!  If you did, take a minute to sign up for the WORLDS DEADLIEST CHOKE video on the top right of this page, it will put you in my database for more cool tips like this!