How The Journey Began


Hey guys! For a change of pace I’ve decided to publish a written post instead of a video.

Before I decided to go ahead with the video format for the blog I wrote down a bunch of entries about the beginning of my BJJ journey. I wrote about my first training session, my first competitions and just my general experiences from living in Bangkok and Israel back then.

In this post I give a bit of background as to how my martial arts journey began as a set up for the next entries. Hope you enjoy it!

How The Journey Began

I began doing martial arts pretty early on. I grew up in Jerusalem and at age 5 I started doing karate, but after two years my family moved to the United States and since there wasn’t a karate school in our area my parents enrolled me in judo. As a kid I had ADHD and my mother knew that the structure of a martial arts class would do me good. I’m also pretty sure she wasn’t exactly devastated by the thought that I might come home tired afterwards.

 Judo was an instant hit. I did my first “belt promotion” tournament after only two weeks of training and ended up doing so well I was promoted to orange belt (skipped over yellow belt)! I went on to be a green belt, but the amount of time I had to wait in between matches during tournaments drove my ADD nuts and I eventually quit Judo in favor of basketball. I didn’t really touch martial arts again until the army.

During the army we did a lot of Krav Maga in my unit and I was always drawn to it even though it was supposed to be their way of breaking us down. I ended up getting injured really bad during one Krav Maga session and I dislocated my left shoulder. This had a very negative effect on the rest of my service, but I still loved the aggressiveness and competition that was involved in martial arts and fighting.

After the army I went into the air marshal service and that’s truly where my martial arts career began. The training for the job was a rigorous three months course of around 3 hours of Krav Maga a day as well as other physical elements (which I will not go into for obvious reasons). I had a head instructor who was very very big on aggressiveness and he wanted to sign off on people who first and foremost had “the heart of a fighter”. I really agreed with his way of thought and enjoyed the Krav Maga part of the course. This led me to continue with it after I had finished the course and started working as an air marshal. I would go to the Shabak’s (the Israeli version of the FBI and where the training and certification of air marshals is conducted) training facility every Friday to do a kind of Krav Maga/MMA hybrid class with the Krav Maga instructors and others who had a passion for it like me. It was almost a 100% stand up as the Krav Maga philosophy states that u never want to be on the ground in a street fight (The belief is that there might be multiple opponents so you never want to lower your head to where it could be kicked). I was hooked…

I ended up moving to Mumbai for work after a little more then a year of being an air marshal and was going crazy not having anywhere or anyone to train there with there. My time in Mumbai wasn’t much fun. It was just a very difficult place to live and my stomach didn’t exactly agree with the local cuisine  After about three months there an instructor from the service came to train us and me and him clicked… lets call this instructor Zohan (an inside joke some might get ;) )… Zohan saw my interest in MMA and would later on introduce me to BJJ!

After India I moved immediately to Bangkok, Thailand, or in other words” the land of Muay Thai”! I was thrilled to say the least! When I arrived I gave Zohan a call and asked him to refer me to some Muay Thai gyms there. He told me to go to Giti’s gym and I’ll never forget the directions he gave me “get off at the metro stop, go left and start following the sounds of heavy bags being smacked and people yelling”. Sure enough it worked. :D

He also told me I should start doing BJJ and recommended a place called BKKBJJ. I had never done any ground work, but like anyone who’d ever watched the  UFC I understood how effective it could be.I went to check the place out and as you may have guessed that’s where my BJJ journey began…

The Follow up to this post is about the difficulty of trying to navigate to a BJJ academy in a city like Bangkok for the first time and my first training session there. If you guys enjoyed it and want me to publish the next entry, “I Train UFC”, let me know!

One thought on “How The Journey Began

  1. Pingback: MY First Ever BJJ Class | Itamar Marani BJJ

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