After 3 weeks of touring in Australia, it’s good to be back home in Las Vegas. The trip was more hectic than I imagined, with some near catastrophic situations that put the whole tour in peril.
The first fiasco was right before the trip even started. My girlfriend (Jamie) and I had left for the airport with plenty of time to arrive, but some unforeseen traffic caused a fairly large delay. That left us with about 30 minutes to check in. Normally that is not a problem, except we couldn’t check in. I tried several times but it kept giving us an error. So then I had to go to the special services counter. The lady took our passports and after a quick check asked me, “Do you have your visas?”
I had no idea as a US citizen I even needed a visa to travel to Australia (most countries I have traveled to don’t require one except for Russia and China). She directed us to try and apply online, but warned that it can take days for approval. I didn’t have that type of time, as the flight was leaving in less than an hour!
My girlfriend and I whipped out our phones and got to work filing for our visas online. It was quick and easy to submit the application, but then it was a waiting game to get the approval. Jamie got her approval almost instantly, but I was still waiting. After 10 minutes waiting, I was growing very anxious. The lady at the counter then alerted me that I had 5 minutes before the flight would cut me off and I would not be allowed on board.
The whole time I was trying to keep my cool, but inside I was close to panicking. I had 2 seminars setup just hours after landing in Sydney, and a flight the following day to Cairns. Even being a couple hours late would cause a huge problem, let alone days waiting for an approval.
I was weighing in my head if I should try to submit a second application. One part of me thought that maybe the second one would go through faster. The other part that perhaps that would raise a red flag and slow it down even more. What to do? With time running out, I figured I had nothing to lose and submitted another application. The moment I submitted I got an email with the approval and was able to run out to the plane. After some deep breathing, I was able to relax a bit.
Once our flight departed, it was smooth sailing to Sydney. I was blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people all across the country, who welcomed me with open arms. The first distinguished gentleman I got to meet was Evan Bzadough of Absolute Fighting Arts. He is hard to miss, sporting a magnificent mustache that would make even Tom Selleck insecure.
Evan has been following me online since I started blogging 7 years ago. He was one of the first to reach out for me to setup a seminar, but we never got things lined up until now. It was a pleasure to finally meet him and his wonderful group of students. He even came ready with a gift bag! Needless to say, Evan set the bar high for everyone else, lol!
There was a great energy in the room that was fun to work with, and the three hours of instruction flew by in a blink of an eye.
After finishing the seminar with Evan, my next host was waiting in the lobby, Elvis “the King of Rock n’ Rumble” Sinosic. I have followed Elvis’ UFC career since the Underground Forum days. He is a pioneer of the Australian MMA scene that paved the way for many athletes to get involved with the sport.
It was good to get know Elvis and his crew, who all picked up the Kimura Trap System wonderfully. Elvis is a bit of a photographer as well, and took some candid shots of me while teaching the seminar…
After this seminar was finished, I met up with Jamie for dinner. As you may know from my social media, I’m a bit of a foodie and love to eat. We found a nice spot in town called the Chiswick at Woollahra. We had a great meal here, with the main course being a braised lamb shoulder that was just oh so good. I got a good nights sleep and got ready for a flight to Cairns the following day.
Cairns was were were spent the most time for the “vacation” element of the trip. We spent 3 days in the Daintree National park, which is a rain forest. As one would expect, it rains quite often, lol! We got to spend some time hiking the rain forest, and also visited a habitat (a zoo of sorts) to get close up to some wildlife.
After enjoying the rain forest and jumping into beautiful rivers, it was time to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. We took to the ocean on a 5 day live aboard adventure. We had some great dives and saw some cool things, like sea snakes, cuttle fish, and some beautiful corals.
After 5 days in the ocean, it was time to return to the main land and teach some more amazing seminars.
When we came back to Cairns, I met up with my next host, Garrett Maunder of Fusion Fight and Fitness. At this point, I have come to learn that Australians are easy going, genuine, and good humored. This was a bit of shock to me after hanging out with the lame Kit Dale, which explains why he was exiled from the great island…lol! Garrett took us around town and we had a nice chat. He has probably the most convenient gym setup of any gym I have seen.
Fellow black belt and long time martial artist Rob Moffatt was gracious enough to host me for the night in Cairns. A really stand up guy who was a pleasure to hang out with. He ended up saving us from missing our next seminar, as our flight to Melbourne the following day was cancelled due to mechanical issues on the plane. Rob, being a pilot with the airline I was flying with, managed to pull some strings and get us on another flight.
Arriving in Melbourne, we met up with my Dave Hart of Dominance MMA. I was setup to teach the Kimura Trap System for 4 days, which allowed me to dig into details a bit more and answer a lot of questions. I also got to met a former opponent from my ADCC 2011 run in Cameron Rowe, who was great to talk to.
It was great working with such an inquisitive group of martial artists, which allowed me to dig out some extra details into a conscious level. Dave was a great host and got to introduce Jamie to Thai food (something I haven’t be able to do lol), and she of course loved it. We had a lot of interesting conversations over our stay, and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with another long time martial artist.
On our free time, we drove down the Great Ocean Road. It reminded Jamie of driving down the Pacific Highway in California, with some beautiful ocean views. We stopped off at one beach to walk around as Jamie was keen to see a penguin. Careful what you wish for…
Not the way she wanted to see it, lol. At that point we decided to turn back and stopped off at a Chocolate Factory we passed along the way. I did mention I love food right? The chocolate was really good, but it was the ice cream that was amazing. To my surprise it rivaled the gelato in Italy, which is no small feat.
In the city, we walked around for a bit to take in the sights. Unfortunately Jamie had started to feel ill, so we ended up checking her in to a clinic. To my embarrassment, she got irritable over the line of questioning and made a scene. Australia doesn’t play around, so they put her in the “loony bin” for the night…
I didn’t take kindly to my woman being put away, and after a small scuffle I was arrested. Not my greatest moment…
Of course, none of that really happened. We visited the Old Melbourne Gaol, a prison of sorts that was used to hold some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including the infamous Ned Kelly. They make it a show and even have a segment where they lock you up and treat you like a convict. Really funny and a good time was had by all. I took Jamie on a date night for probably the best dinner of the trip to a restaurant called Noir. Really top notch French cuisine – I loved the lamb wellington, duck confit, and the best chocolate macaroons I have tasted. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Melbourne.
The following afternoon we had to had over to Adelaide for my next seminar. Unexpected traffic once again wanted to ruin what should have been a perfectly timed airport trip. We ended up getting there just in time to check in, but they would not let me check any baggage. The kicker is that I had already paid for the checked bags, and I would receive no credit. On top of that, I had to beg them to let me take at least one of my bags as an additional carry on, which they promptly charged me extra for. Fortunately, Dave had anticipated this and came down with us, so he was able to ship me that bag they didn’t let me bring aboard. I’m not sure what we would have done without him there.
Now the moment you have been waiting for – my little rant on the ridiculousness of Australian luggage regulations, lol. Domestic airlines are super strict on your carry on luggage weights. In the states, they say there is a 15lb limit, but no one ever checks. You could be packing solid rocks and as long as it fits it’s good. But down under, they will weigh your carry ons. If your bag is over by a fraction of a kilo, you are going to get charged a very high fee. I actually shipped one of my bags (with my scuba gear) to Brisbane after using it because it would have cost me over $400 to travel with it.
What is silly about this is if they were really that concerned with the weight passengers were bringing on board, why aren’t they weighing passengers? They can fine you $20AUD per kilo overweight for carry on baggage, but meanwhile I have a good 40kgs over my girlfriend. Seems like that would make more sense to weigh passengers instead of baggage if they were concerned with being overweight on the flight. But I guess fat shaming passengers would be bad PR, but fat shaming my carry on baggage isn’t. LOL! /endrant
After the luggage crisis, we managed to catch our flight and land in Adelaide. We were setup in a nice hotel right in the center of town. The city was quite lively at night when we went for a walk, and I even got to ride a pig!
We enjoyed a nice dinner at our hotel, and while I haven’t mentioned it yet, kangaroo meat is excellent. I probably had it on 4 different occasions and would eat the hell out of it if it was available in the states. The following morning I went to teach my seminar at Chau Kaizen. The seminar was actually booked by Kate Wilson with the Adelaide Jiu Jitsu Academy, but they felt the space would be tight, so Suasday (owner of Chau Kaizen) was gracious enough to host it at his place. It is a cool setup and worked great for the seminar.
Unfortunately I had a short stay in Adelaide, and my next flight to Kangaroo Island was beckoning. Once again, another travel issue. As I was walking to the gate, my name was called on the intercom to report to security. Apparently I was carrying dangerous paraphernalia – AAA and C batteries.
Both were in their original packaging, and they were standard alkaline batteries. The rule is that you can’t take lithium batteries in your checked bags (like a laptop battery). I don’t think they understood the difference, and they confiscated them from me. That was $30 down the drain, lol!
The flight to Kangaroo Island was only 30 minutes. We had a bunch of tours setup the following day, in which we saw a bunch of wild Wallabies, Kangaroos, Koalas, Guanas, Possums, Seals, Sea Lions, a Penguin, and even an Echinda. Really cool stuff!
As you can see, it was the most beautiful natural landscaping I had seen in Australia and wildlife was abundant. Really awesome, and our tour guide did a great job finding everything. But after a couple of days in the wild, it was time for the final leg of the trip – Brisbane. We got picked up by another long time follower of the Kimura Trap System, Sevastiyan Kostov of Fight Club Bully Team.
Sevastiyan was one of the first fighters to send me pictures and videos of himself using the Kimura Trap in competition, which made me realize how effective the system is when people across the globe are using it in pro fights. He is originally from Bulgaria, but recently moved to the Gold Coast in Australia. Me and Sevastiyan drove in the car together for close to 5 hours and talked about all sorts of things. Even though we live worlds apart, we had so many common traits, beliefs, and ideas that we might as well been neighbors. We had a smaller group for this seminar, which allowed me to focus on even more detail than I normally do, answer a lot of questions, and go over a lot of my philosophy of combat.
After a great seminar in the Gold Coast, I returned to Brisbane for my final seminars. But first, a long awaited bucket list item was to be checked off – visiting Steve Irwin‘s legacy, the Australia Zoo. We got to see a lot of amazing things, and do some very up close encounters with the animals.
After a day of fun, we headed over to do the final seminar with my hosts, Jack, Devon, and Bec of the Grappling Club. I learned a little bit about their history, as they are quite new to the martial arts business. Unfortunately their coach had passed away suddenly, and they stepped up to the plate. However, they have done a splendid job so far, and are working to become a 10th Planet Affiliate, which I’m sure they will get. Eddie Bravo has some great systems that go along really well with the Kimura Trap System, and I’m hopeful they will thrive. All their students picked up the material very well and were shining examples of martial artists.
With the final seminar in the books, Jamie and I finished our final day in Brisbane walking around and taking in the city.
Of course, I had to fit in a couple of great meals. For lunch I would highly recommend Public to anyone in town. Pretty much everything there is amazing. We also really enjoyed the Blackbird Bar & Grill. The Kangaroo tail pie was really good. 🙂
After filling up on food, we had an uneventful flight home for once and got plenty of sleep. Overall, a great trip that I was grateful to be able to make. I spoke with the schools and was honored that they all wanted me to return, so I will be looking to book a return trip some time next year.
If you got this far down this blog, congratulations, lol! I hope my story was worth sharing and you enjoyed it. 🙂