Denver, Colorado – otherwise known as the Mile High City, was my first stop on my 50 state Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey (See http://bjjbug.net/journey/).
Flying from LAX to DEN was rather simple. The flight took approximately 2.5 hours. Upon arrival, it was fairly easy to navigate around the airport. The airport consists of terminals A, B, and C where flights arrive/depart and the main terminal where people would either check-in or take the train. All these terminals are connected by an underground shuttle so you can easily move from terminal to terminal as needed.
- If you’re not used to high altitude be sure to bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go because you’ll get dehydrated much quicker.
- Take advantage of the new light rail system that opened in April 2016. The system runs from the airport all the way to Union Station in downtown that allows you to take other lines to get you to your destination.
- Plan to either have a car or use some sort of ride service such as a cab or Uber. Most BJJ schools are located outside of the tourist areas so you’ll need to venture a little further out.
- Weather in Denver can be random, I experienced 80ºF one day and then the following day was 100ºF. That same evening there was thunder and lightning as well so be sure to pack accordingly.
Places to Visit as a Tourist
Denver is a city that you can easily navigate. The train system is really easy to use and you can also use the free shuttle that runs on 16th street to get around downtown. Points of interest include:
- 16th Street Mall (Free Shuttle)
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Sports Authority Field
- Denver Nature and Science Museum
- Denver Zoo
- Denver Convention Center
- State Capitol
- Denver Botanic Garden
- Denver Art Museum
Yoga on the Rocks
I was looking to see what type of events were happening at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and found out that there was an outdoor yoga event going on. What I didn’t expect was the turn out. This has to be one of my most favorite moments of my trip to Denver. Doing yoga outdoors with over 2,000 other people in the mountains as the sun was rising was definitely an experience of a lifetime.
Highly recommended for any fitness junkies or yogis. There’s quite a bit a walking to get to the area so be sure to bring water and your own yoga mat. I found that a foldable yoga mat was the easiest to bring along. After the event, there are several vendors who hand out free drinks, snack, and goodies.
More detail here: http://yoga.redrocksonline.com/yotr
- Tip for “Mat Surfing” is to always call or contact the school ahead of time to see if you are even allowed to take a drop-in class or come by for an open mat session.
On this trip I was able to visit Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Stapleton located at 4605 Quebec St., Unit B5, Denver, CO 80216. You can view their site here (http://www.bjjstapleton.com/).
Prior to leaving Los Angeles, I sent a message to the school’s Facebook page and was able to get in touch with the owner, Professor Sean Stewart (https://www.facebook.com/Colorado-Brazilian-Jiu-Jitsu-Stapleton-119824334749514/?fref=ts). He replied fairly quick and informed me I was more than welcome to attend a class or as many as I wanted during my stay. (Drop-in fee was completely reasonable too).
The school was towards the middle of the complex and can easily be located once you find Unit B. On the door you’ll find the school’s logo and looking through the window you can peek in and see the large green mat area.
The school itself was a little far from where I was staying so I took an Uber ride there. I arrived slightly early so I waited outside for Professor Stewart to arrive. There I met Professor Stewart and his wife Teri Stewart who were both very welcoming.
As I waited for other students to arrive for the noon class, I walked around and looked at all the pictures and decor on the walls. You’ll find pics of all the fighters that come from the gym along with certificates displayed. It was interesting to find out Professor Stewart is also a black belt in Karate and Tae Kwon Do. We had a nice conversation about his Karate history which I enjoyed since I come from a Karate background myself.
The facility itself is very nice, the large door opened up so we got a nice breeze and the mats are really clean. There’s even a shower with towels you can use once you finish class.
The class itself had a good amount of students with a wide range of belts which was nice. Class that day was taught by both Professor Stewart and Coach Gregg Stephenson who taught some very unique submissions. I also enjoyed that the warm-ups consisted of Ginastica Natural and Gracie Defensive moves too.
There were also some visitors from Mississippi during the noon class which I hope to visit in the near future. After the technique portion of the class, I was able to roll with Coach Gregg Stephenson and Coach Teri Stewart. Great people and I was able to learn a lot from both. Everyone at the school is extremely technical.
I wanted to shout out to Peter Kim who shared his travel stories with me, Natalie DiNingrat, and Jose Pedro who were also very welcoming. Also, thanks to my partner too for allowing me to practice calf slicers on him!
Like I’ve said before in my other travel articles, I really enjoy the BJJ culture. Everyone you meet no matter where you go is very friendly and open to sharing what they know. There are no egos or anything of the sort. Just simple fun, learning, and sharing of knowledge. Highly recommend anyone in the Denver area to visit Colorado BJJ – Stapleton.
Burgers, Burgers, Burgers! Lots of it!
While I was out here it seemed like burgers was the go-to food. A few places I dined at during my short stay included:
- Lark Burger – Small burger spot in downtown where you can grab a quick bite.
- 5280 Burger Bar – Wide variety of burgers to choose from and great atmosphere.
- Union Station Farmers Market – Lots of different vendors and fresh products that you can purchase.
- Sam’s No. 3 – Appeared on Food Network and has a huge menu with a variety of choices.
- Voodoo Doughnuts – Well known doughnut chain that has unique doughnuts covered in Oreos, peanut butter, fruit loops, and more.
- Denver Biscuit Co. – One of the best fried chicken, bacon, biscuits I’ve had. Be sure to try the Franklin if you’re here.
- SuperFruit Republic – Acai Bowls and Pitaya Bowls located in the Stapleton area.
- Chaos and Cream – Rolled Ice Cream for those hot summer days.
Wish I had more time to enjoy the food but since it was so hot I was mainly grabbing smoothies, ice cream, and acai bowls.
Wish I had more time to explore the hiking trails but the weather was too hot while I was there. I enjoyed the public transportation system and the free shuttles that ran downtown. The food was good and the tourist spots were nice. I really enjoyed Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Nature and Science Museum. Wish there were more BJJ schools nearby to visit but overall a nice city to visit.
Denver, Colorado – June 2016
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