In BJJ, there are various affiliations within the martial art. Each has their own curriculums and rules that their students follow within the academies.
But there is one BJJ affiliation that is completely different from the others. One that is an affiliation, but at the same time isn’t one.
The members of this group are called the BJJ Globetrotters. The BJJ Globetrotters really epitomizes the spirit of BJJ. Once you hear their story, you’ll understand why.
If you want to know the full story behind the BJJ Globetrotters keep reading below. We’re going to cover the group’s birth, their rules, their camps, and the latest controversy with the IBJJF.
Christian Graugart The Original BJJ Globetrotter
Before the BJJ Globetrotters was formed, it all started with a grappler from Denmark named Christian Graugart. Christian is a black belt that has been practicing Jiu Jitsu since 1999. In 2007, he started documenting his experience training Jiu Jitsu taking pictures wherever he traveled to go train.
After spending three years taking pictures and documenting his travels, Christian came up with an idea that changed his life. In 2010, he decided he would go on a world trip to train Jiu Jitsu in as many places as possible.
For 140 days, Christian would visit and train at 56 Jiu Jitsu academies across the world. He knew the experience would be long and daunting, but at the end be more than worth it.
What happened to Christian on this trip was a life changing experience. Not only did it change his perspective on Jiu Jitsu, but how he perceived the world.
Graugart took numerous photos he put in a blog and eventually wrote a book titled “The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter.” It was a special experience that he wanted to share with the world.
You can check out the book here
Here is an excerpt from the book on how he felt during his trip and how it changed him:
“I was free. Completely free. My mind was vibrant, alert and it was like all my experiences and memories had come together as one. The feeling of my whole world being in a single city at home, had been replaced with a feeling of the opposite. The entire globe and everything in it, was my world. It was a playground; there was nothing I couldn’t do. I felt the presence of everyone I had met along the way. Every friendship, every personality, every interaction. They all melted together into a unity, a combined feeling of being one with everyone.” – The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Globetrotter .
With a new found perspective on life and Jiu Jitsu another idea would sprout in Christian’s mind from the trip. It was an idea that would change the lives of many in the Jiu Jitsu community
The Birth Of The BJJ Globetrotter
One thing that Christian hated about BJJ was the politics that are sometimes involved in the martial art. He hated the politics from students not being allowed to cross train with who they want.
Instructors dictating that their students can only train at other academies within their own affiliation. Maybe worst of all, cutting ties with friends whenever they switch gyms. Forcing former teammates that were once friends to become bitter enemies.
All because they represented a different affiliation or had a different instructor. Christian absolutely hated this and thought it went against the very idea of Jiu Jitsu.
He believed that Jiu Jitsu should be a community full of friends and free of politics. Everyone should be in it together helping everyone get better and grow their passion for this martial art.
Christian realized that Jiu Jitsu didn’t have to be like this. After his trip, he realized he was in a special position as a black belt and could do things differently.
Graugart decided he wanted to make his own Jiu Jitsu affiliation. One that was free of a culture of tribalism that welcomes everyone of all affiliations to train with him. This was the beginning of Christian’s idea for the BJJ Globetrotters affiliation.
The Principles Of The BJJ Globetrotters
Christian knew it wouldn’t be easy starting this new affiliation. It could either fail or fall into the trap that other affiliations fall into with politics and etc.
He then came up with 8 specific principles for the BJJ Globetrotters. These principles would make up the foundation of the affiliation and can never be altered.
They are as followed:
Graugart is adamant that these bylaws of the BJJ Globetrotters ever change. He said, “if I ever make changes to these values, please abandon the team and tell everyone I suck.”
The First Outreach
At this time, Christian already had a rather large following that read his blog. All he had to do was reach out to his readers and ask if they wanted to partake in his experiment.
He posted his idea on his blog and encouraged anyone that wanted to sign up to email him. Christian was then overwhelmed with responses from hundreds of grapplers in the first week.
They also loved the idea of being part of an affiliation that was free of politics. Just wanting to get together with groups of people around the world that share their love of Jiu Jitsu.
Before Christian knew it training camps and seminars started to be organized around the world. The seed of the BJJ Globetrotters had been planted and had exploded into a full blown affiliation. Christian’s dream had become a reality.
The IBJJF Controversy
As years have gone by, the BJJ Globetrotters have continued to grow. But some didn’t agree with their approach and this includes the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation.(IBJJF) .
This year, IBJJF reached out to Christian letting him know that the BJJ Globetrotters have been suspended from IBJJF competitions. In the email, they claimed the BJJ Globetrotters let athletes sign up with black belts they had no relations with.
The IBJJF believes this “goes against the integrity of the martial art and safety of the athletes.” Because “it is important that athletes train under the overall guidance of a black belt professor.”
It feels like the IBJJF annually makes decisions that the majority of the BJJ community are against. This latest decision to ban the BJJ Globetrotters from their competitions is no different. The IBJJF has faced a lot of backlash from the BJJ community for this decision that many see as unfair.
Many believed this decision really boiled down to a battle of idealogies over how Jiu Jitsu should be practiced. IBJJF believe in the traditional approach with different affiliations, while the BJJ Globetrotters believe in none of that.
If you would like to read Christian’s full response to the suspension, you can read it here: https://www.bjjglobetrotters.com/bjj-globetrotters-banned-from-the-ibjjf
The BJJ Globetrotters Continue
As of right now, the BJJ community is at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like the rest of the world, we are just waiting to see what happens until we get cleared to train again. This included the BJJ Globetrotter schools.
Even though they have been suspended from IBJJF competitions, this will probably not have a huge effect on them. As of now they have over 750 affiliations across the world and will no doubt continue to grow.
The BJJ Globetrotters are united by one thing and that is the love of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many that are attracted to the affiliation’s ideas aren’t concerned about competing for a federation with a rigid rule set. They train, because they love Jiu Jitsu and will continue to train with their friends when they’re allowed to again.
If you’d like to learn more about the BJJ Globetrotters here is a link to their website and Facebook group. https://www.bjjglobetrotters.com/