Travel – Manhattan, New York

Manhattan, New York – known as the Big Apple or the Concrete Jungle. This was my next stop of my 50-state Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Journey:

This was the first time in my life that I’ve ever visited the East Coast of the United States. I was excited but somewhat worried about what the weather would be like since I’ve always lived in sunny Southern California. Even though weather was about 35℉, it didn’t feel that cold and I was able to walk throughout most of New York during both day and night.

Statue of Liberty

Travel Tips

  • Manhattan is a very walkable city, the blocks are short for all the streets. All the roads are mostly numbered streets for avenues so it’s very easy to navigate.
  • The subway is very convenient and cheap. You can easily jump onto it at various stations around the city. Note that it’s probably not the cleanest public transportation system out there.
  • Many of the tourist spots such as Time Square, Central Park, etc. are very close to each other. Typically a 10-minture walk from each other so I recommend walking to discover new stuff along the way.
  • Life moves very quickly in the big city. You’ll notice this when you enter businesses or restaurants. Workers will ask you for what you want and will get straight to the point.
  • The city is crowded. If you’ve never been in a large metropolitan area, be prepared to be a little overwhelmed since it’s a small space with tons of people.
  • If you’re staying in an apartment/AirBnB, you’ll notice that the heating-system in buildings are controlled by the building management itself. You’re not able to control how hot or cold your room is using a thermostat like in other states.
  • Have cash on hand since there are many food carts around the city and pizza slice joints.
  • In the winter, bring a scarf, gloves, and warm jacket. It gets chilly at night if you’re wandering around outside.
  • Bathrooms around the city aren’t the cleanest. If you’re near a mall or big department store, take that opportunity to use the bathroom.

Places to Visit as a Tourist

Being one of the most visited spots in the United States, what is there to do in New York?

  • Times Square
  • Central Park
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Broadway
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • World Trade Center Memorial
  • Wall Street
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Empire State Building
  • Grand Central Station
  • High Line Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Bryant Park
  • Battery Park

Mat Surfing

  • 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.

Being in New York, I had to visit the most well known school there, Marcelo Garcia’s Academy (

Entrance to Marcelo Garcia’s Academy

Since this academy is known for having visitors from all over the world visit daily, I didn’t need to contact the school ahead of time since they had information for visitors on their website.

I took the Saturday class at 12:30pm and as soon as I walked in you can see 50+ people on the mat training. The area to put your shoes is rather small but they have hangers so you can put up your coat. The men’s changing room is small so you’ll have to wait your turn usually.

Having arrived you’ll be asked to sign a waiver on their tablet and pay the visitor fee that will cover classes for the whole day if you decide to take more than one.

Sign in Front of the Entrance

The class I took was taught by Mansher “Munch” Khera, one of Marcelo Garcia’s top students. The class was at least 40 people ranging from white to brown belts. Make sure you don’t eat anything heavy before attending since their warm-up involves a lot of running, jumping, and carrying your partner across the mat.

Part of the Training Area

I took the Advance class but to my surprise the techniques that were taught were fairly simple. The drill was just a regular knee-slice guard pass. This was probably since a lot of beginners were in the class that day.

When it came to sparring/rolling, I got in 3 rounds with 3 different people. The latter two people were very relaxed and friendly. I was able to learn a lot from them. The first one I rolled with who was a white belt was a little more aggressive. (This is normal though, especially with younger white belts). Even though he was aggressive with his sparring and techniques, I was able to finish the match by choking him with an Ezekiel Choke. I found this guy rather interesting since he wouldn’t tap even though his face was bright red. He finally tapped but this was my first experience rolling with someone aggressive while visiting another gym.

Mansher Khera

Overall it was a good class. Since the class was so large I didn’t get as much detail when the techniques were taught but overall good experience. Munch did a good job teaching the large class and I had a good time visiting the famous school. Just wished that Marcelo Garcia were there but maybe next time.

The Food

Food in New York is amazing. If you’re eating healthy, you’re going to have to sacrifice a few days of your diet to enjoy all the delicious carbs of NYC:

Pizza in NYC
  • Pizza Slices – literally any slice joint you can find is good. I didn’t have one bad slice but there were a few that I really enjoyed. These were Prince Street Pizza and Little Italy Pizza on 34th Street and 7th Ave.
  • The Halal Guys – These have been popping up in other states but the original location has a unique taste. I’ve had this in California but it’s much more flavorful in New York. It’s cheap too!
  • Lady M – 20-layer crepe dessert. It’s a little on the pricier side but well worth it.
  • Chinese Food – Any spot in Chinatown. There’s authentic Chinese food all over. Even the non-traditional Chinese dishes are good.
  • Pasta – Probably the best Italian food I’ve had. Little Italy has tons of small restaurants that make everything fresh and from scratch. Price is reasonable too for what it is.
  • New York Bagels – The bagels here are unique has they’re boiled and not baked. I went to Best Bagels and Coffee and these were good! They have a variety of spread too and they put a lot!
  • Street carts – Throughout the city you’ll find various Halal carts, hot dog carts, and honey roasted nut carts, which are delicious. Depending on where you are price may vary. The tourist spots tend to charge about $3 more than the non-busy locations.


Rockefeller Center
Grand Central Station
Brooklyn Bridge – Top View
Music Hall
World Trade Center – Westfield
Madison Square Garden
New York Bagels
Broadway Shows
Time Square
Little Italy


New York is a fun place to visit. A little bit crowded but that’s how metropolitans are. I wish I had time to visit Queens and Brooklyn but I wasn’t able to on this trip. The food is great, life moves fast, and some parts of it may be smelly but it’s a must visit place in the United States. Some love it, some hate it, I’m indifferent, I would go back but onto the other 40 states for now…

Manhattan, New York – November 2016

– BJJBug

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