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BJJ Thailand: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu History, Growth and Training Camps in the Land of Smiles

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Gi & No-Gi Classes at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA

What is BJJ?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or BJJ for short, is more than just a martial art or a combat sport. It’s a way of life that teaches you how to defend yourself using grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds. The story of BJJ starts back in 1925 when the Gracie brothers – Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., O’Brien, and Hélio – took what they learned from a Japanese judoka named Mitsuyo Maeda and made it their own. Carlos was the first to learn from Maeda in 1917, and from there, the brothers went on to develop their unique style, which we now know as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

The beauty of BJJ is that it’s not about brute strength or size. It’s about the art of leverage and weight distribution. It’s about understanding that a smaller, weaker person can stand their ground against a bigger, stronger opponent. How? By taking the fight to the ground and using a variety of holds and submissions to come out on top. Whether you’re training for sport grappling tournaments or just want to be prepared for self-defense situations, BJJ has got you covered. And in the world of BJJ, nothing beats the experience of “rolling” – that’s what we call sparring. It’s a key part of training that helps you grow as a practitioner.

Origin and History of BJJ in Thailand

In Thailand, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, has a story that’s deeply woven into the fabric of the country’s traditional martial arts. Long before BJJ, Thailand was already famous for its own martial arts. There was Krabi-Krabong, a martial art that had warriors wielding weapons, and Muay Boran, its unarmed sibling. These were the arts of ancient Thai warriors, designed for the battlefield and passed down from generation to generation through stories and demonstrations.

Fast forward to more recent times, and you’ll see BJJ making waves in Thailand. It’s a newcomer compared to the ancient arts, but it’s been catching on fast over the past few decades. Why? Well, it’s got a lot to do with Thailand’s deep-rooted love for martial arts and the fact that BJJ has been gaining fans all over the world. Plus, BJJ’s focus on ground fighting and submission holds is a perfect match for the striking techniques of Muay Thai. It’s like they complete each other, making BJJ a hot pick for Thai martial artists.

Growth of BJJ in Thailand

Since the early to mid-2000s, BJJ has really taken off in Thailand and across South East Asia. It’s been a growth spurt like no other. Now, places like Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore aren’t just vacation spots, they’re destinations for anyone looking to live and breathe the BJJ lifestyle. Thailand, in particular, has become a hub for BJJ, with a bunch of high-level black belts sharing their knowledge in some of the best gyms in the world. It’s safe to say that Thailand’s BJJ scene is one of the most buzzing in all of Asia.

World-Class BJJ Coaches in Thailand

Thailand is home to several world-class BJJ coaches.

Over at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, you’ll find Alex Schild. As the BJJ and grappling instructor, Alex has coached a whole host of athletes, leading them to victory in some of North America’s biggest promotions. He’s not just a coach, though. Alex is also a competitor, showing off his grappling skills on the global stage and representing his team and his adopted home, Thailand. You might even recognize him from his appearances in MMA promotions like ONE FC.

Take Tiger Muay Thai & MMA, for example. Here, the MMA classes are led by head MMA coach Joseph Henle. Not only is Joseph a pro MMA fighter, but he’s also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blackbelt, trained by former world champ Fabio Leopoldo. And when he’s not in the MMA ring, he’s leading the BJJ charge at Tiger Muay Thai.

Then there’s Ben Royle, the brains behind Phuket Grappling Academy. This place is one of the most successful grappling programs in Thailand, with winning teams in both kids’ and adult division competitions. Ben himself is a pro mixed martial artist hailing from the United Kingdom. He’s a former ONE Athlete and still hits the mat in grappling competitions and MMA fights.

Fighters Transitioning from BJJ to MMA

Making the leap from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ, to Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is a big deal. It’s not just about learning new moves. It’s a whole new ball game that calls for a change in how you train, how you think, and the techniques you use. BJJ is all about the art of ground-based grappling. It’s about using leverage, angles, pressure, timing, and a deep understanding of the human body to your advantage. It’s about mastering non-violent submissions, getting up close and personal with grappling holds, and knowing your way around chokes and lock submissions.

MMA, on the other hand, is like a melting pot of martial arts. It brings together elements from BJJ, karate, Muay Thai, kickboxing, classic boxing, taekwondo, sambo, wrestling, and judo. In the MMA ring, fighters can kick, punch, strike, and grapple, whether they’re on their feet or on the ground. It’s a whole different level of combat sport.

BJJ at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA

Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA is more than just a training camp. It’s a place where you can get the best training in a wide range of disciplines, including Muay Thai, MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), no-gi submission grappling, wrestling, strength & conditioning, and fitness. Nestled in the heart of Phuket, this camp is all about offering a world-class experience and a top-tier training environment for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re a pro, or how old you are or how much experience you have. At Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA, there’s a place for you.

BJJ Training Phuket Thailand
BJJ Nogi class at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA, Phuket, Thailand

But Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA is more than just a place to train. It’s a community. It’s a place where a team of dedicated trainers are ready and waiting to help you reach your fitness and martial arts goals. They offer a range of classes, including BJJ, all taught by experienced and professional coaches. So, whether you’re a newbie looking to get the hang of the basics or a seasoned practitioner looking to up your game, Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA has got you covered.

Why Train BJJ in Thailand?

Training BJJ in Thailand is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a mix of world-class instruction, a buzzing martial arts scene, and the chance to train in a tropical paradise. Here’s why you should think about packing your bags and heading to Thailand for your BJJ training:

World-class Training: Thailand is home to some of the best BJJ gyms in the world, with pro coaches who know their stuff. They offer classes for everyone, from beginners to advanced fighters. So, whether you’re just starting out or looking to level up, you’ll find a class that’s just right for you.

Buzzing Martial Arts Scene: Thailand’s martial arts scene is rich and vibrant, with a history that goes back centuries. It’s not just about the gyms and training camps. It’s a way of life. So, when you train BJJ in Thailand, you’re not just learning a martial art, you’re diving headfirst into a whole new culture.

Tropical Paradise: Thailand is famous for its stunning beaches, lush jungles, and warm tropical weather. Many BJJ gyms are set in these beautiful locations, offering a training experience that’s second to none.

Easy on the Wallet: Life in Thailand is pretty affordable compared to many Western countries. That makes it a great choice for long-term martial arts training.

More Than Just BJJ: Thailand is also known for its Muay Thai training camps. So, while you’re there, you can try your hand at Muay Thai and other martial arts.

Community Spirit: Training BJJ in Thailand is also about being part of a diverse, international community of martial artists. It’s a chance to train with people from all walks of life, learn from their experiences, and make friends that last a lifetime.

Best BJJ Gyms in Thailand

If you’re on the hunt for a BJJ gym Thailand is the place to be. Bangkok, with its large expat community, offers plenty of regular and consistent training partners. But don’t count out Phuket. It’s a hotspot for travelers and often boasts large class sizes.

BJJ gyms in Thailand come in all shapes and sizes. Some are part of MMA programs, some focus solely on grappling sports, and some are just what you’d expect from a traditional jiu jitsu academy.

No matter what kind of gym you choose, you’ll find a range of classes to suit your needs. From beginner to advanced, there’s something for everyone. And with experienced and professional coaches at the helm, you can be sure you’re in good hands. Whether you’re just starting out and want to learn the ropes, or you’re an old hand looking to sharpen your skills, Thailand’s BJJ gyms have got you covered.

Gi vs Nogi Jiu Jitsu

Many gyms in Thailand offer both Gi and Nogi classes, but not all. In the Gi classes, you’ll need to suit up in the traditional BJJ uniform, known as a “Gi”. The techniques taught in these classes stick to the traditional methods of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where the use of a gi is a must. As you train in your gi, you’ll work your way up the belt rankings. The color of your belt is a badge of honor, showing off your skill level in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Then there are the Nogi classes. Here, wearing a Gi is optional. These classes are perfect for those who want to focus on the technical side of their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game. Many MMA students opt for Nogi classes, ditching the gi to specialize in their sport. In these classes, the focus is on mastering BJJ techniques without the gi.

Most gyms have gis available for rent or purchase in their gear shop. But if you’ve got your own gi, feel free to bring it along.

BJJ Gi training at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA, Phuket Thailand
Alex Schild coaches the BJJ Gi class at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA, Phuket Thailand

BJJ Training Camps in Phuket

Most BJJ camps Thailand will host typically take place in Phuket because of its desirability as a travel destination. And it’s easy to see why.

BJJ camps and gyms in Thailand are like two peas in a pod. And Phuket, with its stunning surroundings, incredible training, and buzzing martial arts scene, is a favorite spot for BJJ training camps. It’s not just all about the training, though. It’s also about soaking up the beauty of the place, learning from the best, and diving into a rich martial arts culture.

About GrapplXcapes

GrapplXcapes is in the business of bringing Jiu Jitsu enthusiasts together. They host top-tier Jiu Jitsu camps and events all across Asia, with one goal in mind: to create more chances for grapplers to train together in a space that’s fun, safe, and empowering. They’re known for their high-quality training camps that draw in participants from every corner of the globe.

The team at GrapplXcapes is all about making sure you get the best training experience possible. They’ve got a range of packages to choose from, so there’s something for everyone. You can opt for premium mats and rooms (both shared and single), go for the mats-only option, or grab a day pass. Whatever you need, GrapplXcapes has got you covered

About BJJ Escapes

BJJ Escapes is all about giving Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts the trip of a lifetime. They offer top-tier training, luxury digs, and unforgettable adventures in some of the most stunning spots on earth. Their goal? To bring the global BJJ community together by creating immersive retreats. It’s a place where like-minded folks can connect, train, learn, and foster a sense of well-being and belonging.

When it comes to training facilities, BJJ Escapes only goes for the best of the best for their camps. That means every participant gets access to the best resources and instruction. And their coaches? They’re all big names in the BJJ world, bringing their wealth of experience and love for the sport to each and every event.

Absolute MMA- Craig Jones & Lachlan Giles

Craig Jones is a force to be reckoned with in the world of grappling. Hailing from Australia, he’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, trained by Lachlan Giles. Jones has quite the trophy cabinet, including an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) World No-Gi Championship (2015 in the purple belt division) and two ADCC Trials championships. He really made waves at the 2017 ADCC finals when he took down the tournament’s 88-kilogram top seed, Leandro Lo. Since then, Jones has continued to prove he’s one of the best grapplers of his generation, bagging numerous prestigious wins, including multiple belt titles in the Polaris Invitational promotion.

Jones and Giles have also hosted weeklong camps in Phuket, Thailand at Absolute MMA. It’s a chance for them to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of grapplers.

Seminars and famous BJJ competitors that have visited Thailand

Thailand has played host to a whole host of world-class BJJ competitors and experts. They’ve come for seminars, training, and competitions. Here are just a few of the big names who’ve made the trip:

Josh Hinger – An experienced and high level BJJ black belt (trained by André Galvão). Hinger is a three-time No-Gi World Champion and a regular face in the ADCC. He’s known for his expertise in guillotine chokes, or as he likes to call them, “Hingertines.”

Braulio Estima – One of the greats of his generation, Estima is a multiple-time World Champion and ADCC gold medalist. He’s made waves with his innovative techniques, like the Estima lock.

Ffion Davies – One of Europe’s leading female BJJ competitors, Davies has a string of titles to her name, including the IBJJF European Open and the UAEJJF Abu Dhabi World Pro. Her technical know-how and competitive experience make her seminars a hit.

Thalison Soares – A rising star with an exceptional guard game, Soares is making a name for himself in the BJJ world. Despite his young age, he’s already racked up some impressive wins, including the IBJJF World Championships at every belt level.

Marcus Buchecha – As one of the most decorated competitors in BJJ history, Buchecha has won the IBJJF World Championships a record thirteen times. His dynamic style and impressive athleticism make his seminars a must-see.

Hyago Medeiros – A young competitor with a bright future, Medeiros has already made waves by winning big tournaments like the IBJJF European Open. His technical skills and strategic approach to matches offer valuable insights in his seminars.

BJJ competitions in Thailand

Thailand has become a hub for BJJ competitions in Asia, hosting several prestigious events that attract competitors from around the world. Some of the notable BJJ competitions held in Thailand include:

ADCC – The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) holds one of the most prestigious submission grappling tournaments in the world. The competition has various weight classes and includes both gi and no-gi divisions.

ADCC BJJ Phuket open 2023
ADCC Phuket Open 2023

Siam Cup – The Siam Cup is a popular BJJ competition in Thailand. It attracts competitors from all over the country and beyond, offering various weight and belt divisions under the IBJJF ruleset.

Abu Dhabi Jiu Jitsu Pro – AJP holds gi competitions worldwide, and as far as the Thailand BJJ scene is concerned has run events alongside ADCC (which is completely nogi so they complement each other nicely). This is partly because they can rent out the same event space with added convenience.

Lucas Barbosa – Also known as “Hulk,” Barbosa is a multiple-time World No-Gi Champion and a Pan American Champion. His aggressive style and physical strength make his matches a thrill to watch and his seminars a treasure trove of information.

If you’re pumped to start your BJJ training here in Thailand, check out our class page or book your training online HERE