My Experience as a Female Foreigner Blue Belt Training BJJ in Mongolia

My Experience as a Female Foreigner Blue Belt Training BJJ in Mongolia

A bit about me: I am Katerina Nicolich, traveler that has visited 56 countries at the age of 27. I started training jiu jitsu 2 and a half  years ago and it helps me make new friends while traveling. When traveling to new destinations, I want to visit gyms all around the world, because I believe its a great way to connect with local people, learn more about a country’s culture, history and ways.

About Mongolia in general

Mongolia is rarely among the top choices for places to go, but I like visiting places off the beaten path and Mongolia seemed like an amazing adventure. I can’t describe the mesmerizing nature, the delicious food and how welcoming the locals are. I even spent a night in a traditional Ger house under the stars and visited a local nomadic family. 


About BJJ in Mongolia

Did you know that the national sport is wrestling? Some of the locals shared with me that Mongolian people learn how to wrestle at an early age and a funny fact: If you get into a street fight, expect a takedown, not a strike. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is gaining popularity in Mongolia, although it is still overshadowed by traditional grappling sports like Mongolian wrestling (Bökh) and Judo, which have deep cultural roots and a long history of success in international competitions.

Mongolia has a strong grappling tradition, and its national sport, wrestling, plays a significant role in the country’s culture. This strong foundation in grappling sports has helped BJJ find a foothold in Mongolia. The success of Mongolian athletes in Judo has also contributed to the growth of BJJ. For instance, the country’s first IJF Judo Grand Prix in 2013 and the prominence of judo champions have heightened interest in various grappling arts, including BJJ​.

Clubs like Garuda BJJ & MMA Academy in Ulaanbaatar are at the forefront of promoting BJJ. These clubs are helping to increase the sport’s popularity by providing training facilities and fostering a welcoming community for both locals and international visitors​.

Moreover, events like the JJIF Ju-Jitsu World Championship held in Ulaanbaatar in 2023 have spotlighted Mongolia as an emerging hub for martial arts, attracting global attention and encouraging local participation in BJJ​.

Overall, while BJJ is still developing in Mongolia, its growth is promising, supported by the country’s rich grappling heritage and increasing international exposure.

My experience

I messaged Garuda BJJ club before going to Mongolia and they said they would be happy to welcome me at their club. I will be honest, I’ve visited a lot of clubs, but the people in Garuda club were so far the most welcoming, friendly and curious. They said they never had another foreign girl visiting. Rolls quickly turned into chats, laughs, food and drinks at lunch and dinner. We took a lot of photos, they even made me a present – a tshirt representing their club.


What surprised me the most is the level of experience the fighters had. I think they just have it in their blood. I saw some of their medals and awards from various competitions – the national team is very dedicated. There are people training twice per day, everyday – just like in many other however popular destinations. 


I really recommend Mongolia to everyone who loves traveling and jiu jitsu. It’s a great way to learn more about a country that used to be one of the greatest empires of all time and get in touch with people who passionately train jiu jitsu. 

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