Grappler’s Escape is one of the world’s most popular BJJ training camps, combining world class training with 5-star accommodations, all while sailing to exotic locations. Their early camps included champions and coaches such as Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida, Andre Galvao, JT Torres, and coral belt Pedro Sauer. The organization has been going strong since their first camp all the way back in 2015 and they’ve drawn plenty of attention thanks to the unique format of their cruise-based camps.
For the ninth edition of Grappler’s Escape in 2024, they are bringing back by popular demand Bruno Malfacine, Braulio Estima, Xande Ribeiro, and Gezary Matuda as the lineup of instructors. Not only have these 4 competitors all reached the highest level of the sport themselves, but they’ve also coached many elite grapplers as well. The cruise will sail to Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. The 7-day camp includes all your food, accommodation, 15 or more BJJ seminars, a 24/7 open mat, and hosted cocktail parties; along with a discount on excursions, spa services, and more. For more info, visit the official Grappler’s Escape website.
“Crystal waters, cocktails, and clean mats. Water slides, jacuzzis, sun-bathing, and little cocktail umbrellas.
These were items on the checklist that I expected to encounter when I signed up for my first Grappler’s Escape cruise. Little did I know that what was in store would defy all expectations of a typical vacation.
As a three-time Grappler’s Escape attendee, I have been impressed by the company’s penchant to over-deliver on every occasion. What made the experiences truly special for me has not been the world-class training, the unbelievable food, the 5-star accommodations, the beach parties, the piano bars, the late-night dance-offs, or even the breath-taking views. Each cruise delivered on one specific component that made me truly feel as if I was part of a worldwide community; the friendships formed off the mat.
I attended the Pedro Sauer cruise as a fairly new purple belt, looking to round out my game with the coral-belt master and a select crop elite black belts; Rylan Lizares, coach to UFC champion Max Holloway; Henry Akins, the fastest Rickson Gracie white-to-black belt on record; and Jeff Curran, a UFC and ADCC veteran.
The first night on the cruise I couldn’t help but pinch myself as I sat at a bar with Jeff talking about some of his craziest battles in the octagon. Here I was, one-on-one with an MMA legend and jiu-jitsu pioneer, candidly recollecting some of his war stories at the highest levels of martial arts competition.
The cruise was filled with amazing seminars, open mats and the opportunity to roll with each of the instructors. Working with grapplers from around the world added to my game in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
The highlight of the cruise for most had to be the ‘Dirty Dancing’ dedication that Mackenzie and Buchecha performed on the dance floor the first night. An impromptu moment that competed with the original on every level.
As a jiu-jitsu competitor, my highlight was a little bit different. I had specific goals to use this trip as a way to make a significant leap in my jiu-jitsu, therefore a couple days in I found myself up in a deserted weight room overlooking the ocean save for one figure in the corner blasting away on the treadmill at a full sprint.
I quietly did my cardio on an exercise bike, peering out of the corner of my eye as I witnessed the reigning absolute champion prepare for another run at the World’s in less than a month. He pushed himself to absolute exhaustion, no easy feat when you are already a finely-honed professional athlete. As a jiu-jitsu fanatic, I couldn’t help but think “Wow, what a rare treat to be in this room right now.”
Buchecha came over after and chatted a bit. I recall his appreciation for being on a trip where he could still train for the World competition, having a veritable stable of enthusiastic training partners at each training session, eating from a varied assortment of all-you-can-eat food, with access to a full weight room around the clock. At the following cruise a year later, Lucas Lepri would replace Buchecha as the resident athlete that lived in the weight room during his downtime.
Both athletes would go on to repeat as IBJJF World Champions a few weeks after their trip.
I truly enjoyed the open-seating format at the group dinners, allowing us to mix and mingle with training partners from all over the globe. I had an opportunity to share a meal with all the legends at least once. On one occasion, I sat with Leo Vieira, Buchecha, and Mackenzie at a table with other members of the CheckMat team. A year removed from that trip, I would move out to California to begin training with Leo and Team CheckMat, having been inspired by his approach towards competition and the overall camaraderie of his students. To say that the cruise had been a life-changing experience for me would be an understatement. It literally inspired me to move halfway across the country for my training!
This underlines a key point; the trip is what you make of it.
Do you hope primarily for a relaxed vacation-like approach to your training, coming and going as you please, training as much or as little as you like, prioritizing leisure above all else? You’ve come to the right place.
Do you care to train 6-8 hours a day, every day, learning from some of the best in world, to up your jiu-jitsu in a short amount of time and boost your game to another level? You too have come to the right place.
Bring the family. Unwind, train, catch some rays, eat world-class food, and mingle with folks who have similar interests as you.
What more could you ask for from a vacation?”
For more info, visit the official Grappler’s Escape website