Valor Martial Arts, Kota Kinabalu – Sabah

Friend of YoloBJJ, Ming Kern, sent us this write up of “Valor Martial Arts” in Sabah, Malaysia. Check them out if you head over that way!!!

Unlike the other gyms written up on our sight (Monarchy MMA, Budo Academy, Kombatives Fitness, and Team Armada), this gym is located in Malaysian Borneo…quite a distance from Mainland Malaysia. Check out Ming’s write up!

Attention travelling Jiu-Jiteros that are planning to visit Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, AKA Borneo: if you are eager to get some grappling training during your visit there, Valor Martial Arts can be the place to go.

Just after a hard gi session at Valor Martial Arts!

Just after a hard gi session at Valor Martial Arts!

It is located about 10 minutes from the city center. The gym is located at the 1st floor of a shop-lot, the shop-lot name is 88 Market Place. There’s a few option of getting to the gym, you can take a taxi from the city center which will cost you about RM20-RM25 (5-6 USD), or you can rent a bike/car and drive yourself, it seems like there’s UBER available now but I am not entirely sure about that.

SCUBA camp leaderboard

The gym instructor is Richie Ismail Celestial , a purple belt under Professor Alexsandro “Leke” Machado of CheckMat. Richie was also a grand finalist in Season 2 of MIMMA Lightweight division. A friendly and patient teacher, the class usual starts with a string of warm ups like jogging, hip escape, get ups, shoots and sprawl, followed by  drilling a few techniques and, lastly, a couple rounds of live sparring. Ego doesn’t really exist in the gym, people are friendly and kind, which creates an environment of camaraderie  for visitors to drop-in and train. The gym is not air-conditioned and it is pretty warm so your body can get warm-up pretty fast. Other than Jiu-Jitsu (Gi and NoGi) class, there are also MMA, Muay Thai and PointFit Circuit Fitness available. The gym itself is an affiliate of BJJGlobetrotters.


Traveller friendly: BJJ Globetrotters affiliation means "No Mat fees" for the first week!

Traveller friendly: BJJ Globetrotters affiliation means “No Mat fees” for the first week!

Getting around the city center of Kota Kinabalu can be done by renting a
car/motorbike, using cab or Uber. It is possible to explore the city center by foot but it might be tiring for some individuals and sometimes the heat can be very discouraging. The jetty at Jesselton Point provides water transportation to nearby island (Sapi Island, Manukan Island, etc) for diving, snorkeling or just relaxing on the nice beaches.

Sapi Island can be a bit crowded, but is beautiful!

Sapi Island can be a bit crowded, but is beautiful!

When travelling outside of the city center (For example going to the gym or somewhere else), it is strongly recommended to travel by any land transport (bike, car, taxi, uber) as it is very far to travel by foot and the public transport in Kota Kinabalu are not really traveller-friendly.

Gi Class!!

Gi Class!!



There’s a few hostels located at Gaya Street in the city center, the price is around RM30-50 (7-12 USD). Every Sunday there’s a Sunday Market along Gaya Street which vendors sell food, drinks, souvenirs and others from morning until noon.  Eating around Kota Kinabalu is fairly easy as there are a lot of food stalls, restaurants around the city center which can be easily assessed.


Canyoneering and Cliff Jumping at Kawasan Falls, PI

Ahhhh….the Philippines! I had heard sooo many people saying sooo many things about how amazingly beautiful the Philippines are that I could not wait to get there and revel in the many magnitudes of naturally beautiful awesomeness that the Philippines had to offer! Continue reading

My top 9 things to do in Rio when you are NOT training BJJ.


Christ the Redeemer

So, what does one do when living in Rio de Janeiro, but the gym is closed!!?? Well…there is literally a ga-jillion things to do in Rio! It’s a big city with a lot to offer.  Though some schools are open on weekends, the DLR Academy is not and so it gives the perfect opportunity to recuperate and get some quality sight-seeing in! Continue reading

Synergy BJJ, Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia has been BIG on my YoloBJJ Adventure list for a long time! With great, year round weather (wet and dry season are a bit more mild here than in neighboring S.E. Asian nations), relatively low cost of living, and a plethora of activities to keep you active (like world-class surfing)  Bali seems like a no-brainer! But, as we all know, there MUST be Jiu-Jitsu! So…..? Continue reading

Sky Diving – Langkawi

Prior to heading out from Penang, Malaysia I had done a lot of research on where else to visit while I was in Malaysia. I had initially picked the island of Langkawi, Malaysia because I had read that it had the best SCUBA diving on the west coast. Since, as many know, SCUBA diving is another of my passions I thought it would be a great place to check out for a week, do some diving and get plenty of beach therapy before heading out to Cambodia in March.

Yes, I realized that there was no BJJ on the island but, I felt like I could handle a week on the beach without too much trouble. In the few weeks leading up to our trip to Langkawi, I had been training a lot between Monarchy MMA,  Budo Academy, Kombative Fitness, and team Armada so a few days in the sun sounded great.

Harnessed up and ready to go...Skydiving in Langkawi, Malaysia!

Harnessed up and ready to go…Skydiving in Langkawi, Malaysia!

Continue reading

Deftac BJJ – Cebu City, Philippines

I flew out of Phnom Penh, Cambodia and arrived in Cebu City, Philippines at around 4:00 pm on a Wednesday. I had some great and consistent training with BJJ Cambodia and I didn’t want to break the streak.

I knew I had time to catch the evening class Deftac BJJ, about a ten minute walk down the road. I hurriedly sent a message to the Deftac Facebook page to see if it would be cool to come and train. I got an almost instant reply saying…”Sure, it will be great to have you”. Continue reading

BJJ Cambodia – Phnom Penh

When I rolled into Phnom Penh, Cambodia I was DYING for some BJJ!!! I had spent the last three weeks in areas where there wasn’t any jits and so I was, possibly literally, dying for some mat time. No joke, the first ten days (spent Skydiving and beaching in Langkawi, Malaysia) went pretty well. Then, by day 15, I started to develop an eye twitch that seemed to get worse as each day passed. By day 17 the headaches started. These weren’t your normal, behind the eyes type of headaches. These were the back of the neck, running over the top of your head, tension style headaches. It’s no joke when I say that I get physically ill when I don’t have some BJJ in my life. (Seriously, I went through more flexeril trying to get rid of that headache than I have in the past two years combined!) Continue reading

Team Armada, Martial Arts and Fitness

With both Budo Academy and Kombative Fitness having classes the same nights of the week (Tuesday and Thursday), I was excited to find out that there was often an open mat on Monday nights hosted at different locations, depending on what space was available.

Team Armada!!!

Team Armada!!!

Continue reading

Kombative Fitness – Penang, Malaysia

A few days before travelling over to Penang, Malaysia I sent out a few mails to different gyms to try and secure an invite to come and train. In a matter of a couple hours I had gotten a couple different e-mails from cool people offering to open up their gym to a visitor 🙂

A big group at Kombative Fitness, Penang, Malaysia.

A big group at Kombative Fitness, Penang, Malaysia.

The first on the list was Kombative Fitness / Penang Top  Team, a little south of Georgetown proper. Continue reading

The Late Session at Monarchy MMA!

After the great session I had this morning (afternoon) at Monarchy MMA I thought I would head back in for another class tonight, before I head out on Saturday to Georgetown, Penang – an island (and state) off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

I was fairly tired from training at the 12:00 – 1:00 pm class (especially after getting my ass kicked by Professor Bruninho 🙂 ) but I had such a great time, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get on the mats. Continue reading