As some of you might know, Sam and I like to fight. Sometimes with each other, sometimes with others, but mostly in a structured and sanctioned context. We had great intentions of getting straight back to training the second we touched down in Hong Kong but we did a lot of celebrating instead. (Please refer to picture of bottle of cider in a cocktail).
We’d done a lot of research before we arrived so we had an idea of where we would like to train. On our first week of work we decided to visit “Hong Kong Jiu Jitsu” for our first venture into martial arts in Asia.
It was incredibly difficult to find. Nestled between a garage and a fried fish ball stand there’s a door which leads to a staircase. We found the gym on the 2nd floor by following the sound of hard work.
There is something overwhelmingly familiar about being at Jiu Jitsu. The feel of the tatami against my bare feet as we warmed up transported me straight back home and I knew we were going to have a great time. Everyone was really friendly regardless of whether they could speak any English or not (I certainly don’t speak Cantonese) and I felt right at home drilling and rolling among the class. It turns out Jiu Jitsu needs no translation. We speak the same language, we know the drill. We bump fists and then we are communicating in a common tongue. We laugh when we crash heads and we roll our eyes when we’re exhausted and we’re told to do shuttle runs between rounds by the coach.
It turns out that Jiu Jitsu in 80% humidity and 34° heat is really hard. Especially when you’ve had a month or so off. 10 minutes into rolling and I could feel myself getting fitter by the second. You would think that fighting in the home of Bruce Lee would give you a mystical boost of some sort but in reality it shows you exactly why he was in such good shape.
Luckily, here in Hong Kong they’ve found a solution to the humidity – more training. Just at the point you think you might throw up because you’re experiencing such intense heat you think you’ve got sunburn on the inside of your lungs, they begin the timer again and you get to cool off by doing a quick circuit and a few more rounds. At then end of the class just in case you have any chance of returning to a reasonable temperature ever again they thrown in a Japan test to really seal the deal. (Japan test = a kind of shuttle run involving squats at either end commonly used in Judo circuits)
It’s a foolproof system. Presumably the idea is that if you sweat enough the room will actually achieve 100% humidity at which point it will transform into a cool pool of tranquil water for us to relax and cool off in. Or maybe I need to adjust to the heat a bit and get back in shape…who knows, everyone was speaking Cantonese
It took a few days for us to feel normal again, and we welcomed the weekend with open, achy arms. We were pretty excited to wake up on Sunday morning to realise that for the first time in our lives, we live in a timezone where we can watch the UFC, live, at a normal time where we don’t have to miss any sleep for it. What better way to christen our new TV than by registering for FightPass and watching McGregor vs. Diaz #2 with a bacon sandwich?
FYI: This was our second attempt at a bacon sandwich, the first time, we (read I) managed to buy “uncured bacon” which turned out to be just really thin pork chops and were not good at all in a Sunday morning sandwich.
Week #2 of work and we were finally ready to brave the mats again. This time we tried the Tai Wai branch of “Kowloon Jiu Jitsu” which is only 10 minutes from our apartment. Once again it was incredibly hard to find. We found the gym above an industrial loading bay, on the 3rd floor, only accessible by a fireman’s lift. I was glad I wasn’t by myself as the warehouse below was a ready made set for a zombie apocalypse.
It was great to be training again and the familiar feel of the tatami had me back home once again. This time the humidity wasn’t so bad (or maybe harnessing Bruce Lee after all), though I was still incredibly sweaty. Everyone was really friendly here too (that’s jiu jitsu for you!). We had a great time training with the team at Kowloon Jiu Jitsu and the ease of the journey to training means that we have probably found our new club. It’s feels good to be starting to establish our routines here, and I can’t wait to be back at physical peak!