My Trip To Burma (We Are Not In Kansas Anymore)

A few months ago my wife and I traveled to Burma (also called Myanmar) to spend time with family. Our time in Burma was spent in the city of Yangon. This was the first time that I had ever been to Asia. It was truly an amazing trip that I am excited to share with you.  We met a lot of great people, tried new and interesting foods, a pick pocketing experience, and I even had time for a little Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In general, the people of Burma are very nice and quick to smile.  I was at a large disadvantage with getting to meet strangers because of the language barrier.  I quickly learned a handful of words “hi” and “thank you” being on the top of the list.

Before we departed on our trip I contacted the Yangon BJJ House. I emailed Tammi and the door was opened for a visit. The Yangon BJJ House has a fun group of skilled grapplers. They welcomed me onto their mat like a friend and we were laughing and joking within minutes. This was a great feeling that no matter where in the world you are you can find a BJJ school and feel like you are home. They asked if I would teach the class and I was more than happy to show a couple of techniques and roll with everyone. I got some great mat time in with this group of dedicated grapplers.

Yangon BJJ House

Yangon BJJ House

I had an opportunity to do a BJJ demonstration at a grade school. I jumped on this opportunity. The kids at this school all do Taekwondo every day for exercise. The majority of these kids had never even heard of BJJ, a couple of them said that is was similar to wrestling. My wife and I teamed up to show a few throws, and demonstrate a couple submissions.

Getting Thrown

Getting Thrown

The first throw was so surprising to the kids that some of them screamed and thought that it was fatal! I asked for volunteers to throw me with a (Seoi nage).  Many hands went up and I selected a few kids.

Burma BJJ kids

This is Shane, he performed a great throw.

Now to tell you about my little situation that happened at Shwedagon Pagoda. Shwedagon is a beautiful Pagoda that is visible from all over the city.  We had a wonderful time looking around and learning about this Pagoda.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

While I was looking around, one of the locals came up to me with a camera in hand and motioned for us to take a picture together (there was a language barrier so no words were spoken). This may seem really odd, because I am not famous.  But in Burma I am a rather large light skinned person, with possibly the biggest nose that these people have ever seen 🙂  This was not the first time that a local person wanted to take a picture of me (more people wanted pictures of my wife and sister-in-law but for their good looks).  Two more of his friends wanted to join the picture and I put my arms around the closet guys.  My brother-in-law joined for the photo bomb behind us.

What happened next was the surprising part.  I felt a thumb trying to needle its way into my back pocket. My pocket has a flap, it was not buttoned but it was down.  He was trying to get past the flap, and I felt this.  I took my arm down from the guy on my right side and grabbed his hand with my hand.  Stopping him from getting my wallet, he was busted! Next I smiled for the camera (the wrong camera) and we took the picture. I was excited to get this photographed. After the picture we separated. His friends (I think knowing that he had failed) wanted to take another picture, they did not realize that he got busted. I smiled and made it clear to them and my group that we are not taking another picture because I don’t want to lose my wallet.

Here is on of my favorite pictures from my trip to Burma. The guy to my left is trying to pick my pocket.

Here is on of my favorite pictures from my trip to Burma. The guy to my left is trying to pick my pocket.

I never felt threatened by this group of men. Nor did I feel the need to react in a more dramatic or violent way. I did not want a problem even if it was not my problem, I did not want to find myself dealing with the local police. I was just happy that I kept my wallet. I was confident that my group could handle a confrontation if one happened, but I was happy to just be on my way.

This was the only time in Burma that we had any problem with security. My brother in law and his wife stayed in Burma for a year and had no problems like this.  After we stayed in Burma for a week we went to Bangkok for a week where I hiked up the tallest building in Thailand and got kicked out by security when I made it all the way to the roof, Great Success! Check that video out here!

We have all had training partners like this. Too big too strong.

Did not roll with him

The Floating Market

The Floating Market

Please no sex in the park

Please no sex in the park

Rolling in Burma

Rolling in Burma

BJJ Results

In BJJ Results we focus on how BJJ has benefited people.  If you would like to share your story in the next BJJ Results just email me a few paragraphs here   I would be happy to share your story, and promote the benefits of BJJ!

Ryan Bassett

BJJ turned my life around. I was an overweight lazy bastard who smoked 30 cigarettes a day and was out of breath if I walked the dog. I couldn’t do 5 pushups.

I’ve always been an MMA fan since I saw Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell 1 on the Bravo Channel about 10 years ago, so when my friend invited me to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class I couldn’t resist.

The moment I stepped on the mats I was hooked, I couldn’t get through the warmup without almost vomiting at the side. The drilling technique exhausted me, light sparring at the end opened up my eyes to the magnificence of technique as a dude half my size was throwing me around like I weighed nothing. I loved it.

I broke my rib in my fourth class and I was questioning whether I should return. I’m so glad I did.

I’m now 4 stone lighter, a non smoker. I am a blue belt and I train 4 times a week, competing when I can. I’m so hooked I have matted out my garage to train on the side of classes and I keep a Jiu Jitsu based blog. Jiu Jitsu made me a more well rounded, fitted, happier person and I have gained some amazing friends through training.

Check out Ryan’s BJJ blog here!

Jiu Jiu

I’m Jiu Jiu and jiu jitsu has profoundly benefited my life.

First is the physical. Jiu jitsu helped me lose a reasonable amount of weight. I went from 205 down to 155 in the past three years.I’m more in touch with what my body can do, and I love exploring movement! After sitting on the couch for so many years, I am absolutely astounded that I can do inverted drills and forward rolls. I hope to do jiu jitsu until the day I die, which I’m guesstimating to be around 127.

Second is the social. I started my blog to talk about the teaching aspect of jiu jitsu, since I was a teacher trainer. Instead, I found it was a powerful medium for building relationships around the world. I’ve met so many wonderful bjj bloggers online, and some even in person. I have positive touch in my life, healthy people influencing me, and I’ve found a family.

Jiu Jiu is a 30-something American woman training in Korea. She’s a blue belt in bjj and has a black belt in being a nerd.

She blogs at


BJJ has helped me a lot in life.  It has even helped me start a new career.  One of the things that I enjoy about BJJ is that it brings people from all walks of life together.  I was working a dead end job cleaning offices, through friendships that I have made I was able to get my foot in the door at an advertising firm.  It is amazing how much a change of a career can change your life.

Tim from Ohio

Thank you Tim, Jiu Jiu, and Ryan for taking the time to share part of your BJJ stroy.