Brunei (Negara Brunei Darussalam) is a tiny country with a population of about 416,000 people. It is located on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo that is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Brunei is a devoutly Muslim country but also respectful, and open to other faiths and beliefs. It is an oil rich country with some of the most breath-taking, untamed rainforests, and opulent buildings.
A few months ago we started receiving gi orders from Brunei, and were wondering how in the world did Brunei jiu-jitsu women find us.
We asked one of our customers, Ling, to talk about BJJ in Brunei. Ling is a 33-year old mom of three, soon to be four, kids. She is a youth worker, and a life coach, and has been training for about 8 months now. She is a white belt, and her whole family trains together.
Ling, how did you get started and what is happening in BJJ in Brunei?
I first heard about BJJ when I was a kid. My dad was huge fan of the Gracies, and he would bring home video tapes of the Gracies’ fights for us to watch. He said, if you want to learn how to be the best fighter, you need to learn BJJ. He was a 3rd degree karate black belt at the time. However, back then BJJ schools, and classes were unheard of in Brunei. Even the term jiu-jitsu would leave a lot of people clueless and confused.
Right now I’m glad to say that we are blessed to have access to BJJ. Our instructor Eazy is local. He is a purple belt, and participates actively in competitions. Occasionally we have black belt guest instructors who fly in to teach seminars. We have two branches, one near the capital and the other in another district. The academy is called Busiido BJJ, and we belong to Checkmat association. So far we have about 10 women who actively train BJJ. Our coach’s wife, Fuzzers, is a blue belt and the highest ranked woman in Brunei.
Is it challenging for women to train in Brunei?
Initially because of our conservative culture, most women would feel a little awkward if they had to partner with a guy for the first time. However, eventually we get over our shyness because there is only a limited number of female partners. Over time we also develop healthy friendships with our teammates and that makes it easier to train. We can’t let the boys have all the fun!
The fees at our academy are affordable but buying gis is very expensive. Everything has to be ordered online internationally, and the shipping cost plus the exchange rate makes everything pricey. Another limitation is the lack of tournaments. If we want to compete, we have to travel outside of the country.
What do you like about BJJ?
I love that both my husband, our three kids, and I all train together. It draws us closer to each other, and make family time extra fun. I enjoy learning new techniques at BJJ. Right now it’s all about the chokes. I also love spider guard, and de la Riva guard. I enjoy seeing my endurance improve, and being able to perfectly execute that move after practicing it many times!
What makes Brunei a great place to live?
I would like to invite everyone to visit Brunei. It is a very beautiful, and very unique place. We are a tiny country but we have our own culture, and everyone is friendly here. It’s a peaceful place, a great place to raise kids, and we generally have an easy paced life. We are tax-free nation, and every Bruneian has access to free education and healthcare. We have some of the nicest beaches that are less crowded than other popular tourist spots. Come and visit us!