My name is Andy Lushman and I first started training BJJ two years ago when I moved from Canada to Switzerland. My story tells of my discovery of BJJ and the difficulties I encountered while training abroad. Below you will find my story which, in my opinion, is full of never quit moments...

I first began training in BJJ a little over two years ago while I was teaching in the Swiss Alps. As cool as that sounds, the Swiss Alps are a great place to ski, hike, and eat obscene amounts of cheese fondue but it sucks for BJJ. Actually, the amount of cheese and chocolate I ate probably had a negative effective on my BJJ at the time. My first experience was where I blew off a ski trip with my girlfriend (now wife) to go with a friend to a BJJ seminar in the valley of Vaud. From that day I became hooked! Unfortunately, I came to find out that the nearest place to train was in Lausannt which was a little over an hour away from my little mountain village. If you have never driven in Switzerland, let me tell you, driving an hour through the Alps in the winter, narrowly missing trucks and sliding towards cliffs, drains your adrenaline before you even start training! Did I quit before I even started? NO WAY! I had the BJJ bug and I was going to do what had to be done and the first thing on the list was to buy a car!

After spending a year driving through the treacherous mountains and never knowing if I would make it back home through the snow, I decided that I had to relocate so that I could pursue my passion in BJJ. My wife and I decided to leave Switzerland for China. China? That's right, The Peoples Republic of China. I was recently married (I guess she forgave me about the ski trip) and my wife and I wanted an adventure. We were offered jobs at an international school and I made sure that I would be able to train before moving by making contact with a possible club. My contact, who is now my good friend and training partner, told me that there was a club and I would be more than welcome to train with them.

Shortly after arriving in China, I came to find out that the BJJ club was going through some financial problems and had shut down. I wasn't pleased to say the least! Did I quit? NO WAY! I rounded up a couple of guys who were still interested in training and we began to train on the beach. Besides being stared at for being white, the locals were very amused to see grown men roll around. Who would of thought that BJJ would look so different in the land of Martial Arts? Maybe it was because we were a bunch of Gracie gringos. So for a few months me and a few friends entertained the locals and trained on the beach under my good friends Reg (a purple belt) and Keith (a four stripe blue). All was fine and dandy until winter came. As it turns out, South East China can get pretty damn cold in the winter. During the nights it felt like it would get close to freezing and my fingers felt like they would break off everything I tried to grip a gi. Did I quit? NO WAY... but we did move inside. We took our mats and waived "tsai=jian" to our local friends as we were in search of a new home. In retrospect, I would of never thought that a new home meant my home! We began training on Reg's balcony, in Keith's living room, and in my spare room. We had started some kind of Gracie garage and were determined to make progress in our BJJ. In addition to the training that I was doing here in China, I often spent time training in other academies when I traveled for vacation. Sometimes, if there was a local black belt I would take a private lesson, as I once did in the Philippines.

After training for a few months in our homes, I traveled to the US with my wife to visit our family during Chinese New Year. Even though I was staring motivated by seeing the little improvements that I had been making, my morale was slowly deteriorating and I was starting to become depressed thinking about the rainy season and how much longer we had to train in our homes. My wife and I actually decided that if I were to pursue my passion in BJJ I would need to move to the U.S. As a Canadian, this was probably my biggest ever "never quit moment"! I had decided to give up my free health care and dreams of living in an igloo while eating poutine (a Canadian delicacy) in exchange for all the BJJ that I can handle and learning the secret simplicity of the Fahrenheit scale.

During my time in the US for the two week holiday, I was excited to train at a few academies and actually attended a seminar by Royce Gracie. When it was time to come back to China I started to feel as if I could take a break for the next 4 months and start again when I moved back to the US. I was ready to quit...

I remember showing up on my last night of training at an academy in Northern Virgina, where my in-laws live. I had very mixed feelings. On the one hand I was feeling great about training and being amongst so many people with the same interest. On the other, I was upset that I was heading back to China where I would have to balance everyone's schedule so that we could train in our own homes. I entered the training area and briefly chatted with a few friends that I had made from my few previous sessions at this academy and began the warm up. It was a great class and it was really nice to see the progress that I had been making in my two years of training through sparing with other people of different levels. When the final buzzer rang to signal the end of our rolling session, the instructor called everyone over to the side and reminded everyone about an upcoming tournament. while I was daydreaming of being able to compete in that tournament, the instructor called me up in front of the class and briefly introduced me (he knew my situation since I had trained at this academy a few times) and told the bare bones of my story. When he was finished he promoted me to Blue Belt and welcomed me back to his academy any time! It was an exciting moment and just what I needed to get me though the last few months away!

It has been three weeks since my promotion and I am training back in china. We have found a new place to train and will try it out this week. Also, I will soon be traveling to Thailand for a week and I am very excited to train at an academy there. As for moving to the US, I plan on moving there sometime in July but not sure where. All I know is that it will definitely save a BJJ academy!

I hope this story as given you some insight into my BJJ life and the unusual difficulties that I have encountered so far along my journey.