Amir Joshua is an American expat and BJJ brown belt living on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. While living there, Amir created the Sardus BJJ Academy, a non-profit dedicated to spreading the art of jiu-jitsu throughout the island. He is also working on the first Sardus BJJ Academy camp in an effort to bring BJJ practitioners from around the world to the beautiful island.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times was recently able to speak with Amir about how he came to live in Sardinia and the idea behind both his non-profit academy and the upcoming camp.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Where are you from and how did you get started in BJJ?
Amir: I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I wrestled growing up and a little bit in college. After graduating college, I began a career in community orientated projects and non-profits in Philadelphia. While I was working in Philadelphia, a colleague of mine began talking about a new type of work out with kettlebells. I had no idea what kettlebells were, and he also said the same gym did jiu-jitsu. So I went with him to try it out and ended up at Steve Maxwell’s gym Maxercise. Long story short, Steve’s son Zack Maxwell was there, I end up throwing on a kimono, and I rolled with him. I nearly got my shoulder popped out in an omoplata because I was thick headed like a wrestler and didn’t want to tap. But I fell in love with it right away, day one.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What brought you to Sardinia?
Amir: My wife is from Sardinia and we decided to move here in 2012. It is a beautiful, large Italian island in the Mediterranean. It has amazing beaches, food, people, music, and culture. The island is full of activities like surfing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking and jiu-jitsu. The quality of life here is very good.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What is the BJJ scene like on Sardinia and how did you start your academy?
Amir: When I arrived, jiu-jitsu was already here and it’s getting stronger every day. Currently there are schools spread throughout the island. There is at least one academy for every city on the island. Two years ago I opened up the Sardus BJJ Academy, which is a non-profit dedicated to spreading the jiu-jitsu lifestyle on Sardinia. I was lucky enough to link up with a friend who teaches capoeira. Together we opened the school. In addition to using the academy as a means to spread the art, I also want it to be a lightning rod for BJJ instructors and students who visit Sardinia.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Can you tell us about your latest project, the Sardus BJJ Camp?
Amir: Previously Sardinia was the host site for the BJJ Globetrotter Camp of which I am an affiliate of their association. This year’s camp is separate from the BJJ Globetrotter camps. It started as an idea of how can I become a point of reference for BJJ players who want to explore the community, the culture, and lifestyle that is Sardinia. So the camp that we are doing this year is an expression of that. I have reached out to 12 instructors from all over the world who all bring something unique. We will be doing our jiu-jitsu on an outdoor tatami by the sea. In addition to jiu-jitsu, the camp will include lodging by the sea, amazing food, and activities like horseback riding and sail boating all included. I also want the camp to be more than BJJ, and as part of that feeling I linked up with Lion Heart Initiative. They are a group who is dedicate to spreading jiu-jitsu and MMA in Senegal. Part of the proceeds of the Sardus Camp will go to help support the work that Lion Heart is doing for the BJJ/MMA community in Senegal.
I want to create a special experience where people from all over the worldwide jiu-jitsu community can connect. I want to help facilitate those conversations and common grounds that we can all find because of BJJ. No matter where we are from. That is the goal of the Sardus BJJ Camp.
If you would like to find out more about Amir, the Sardus BJJ Academy or the Sardus BJJ 2017 Camp you can find him at sardusbjjacademy.com