Healthy Living

Hamden in Soulcraft BJJ

Approximately 11/12th of my year is spent abroad, as I’ve lived overseas over the last eight years and have traveled to about 45 countries total. In fact, last year I flew 64 times – and none of them were for business. Of course, writing blogs and reviews for is a big part of my life (and I actually genuinely love this platform!), but all of that globetrotting doesn’t all I’m up to.

Hamden in Soulcraft BJJ

That’s because the other 1/12th of my year is spent back in my little hometown of Hamden, Connecticut in the United States, where I grew up and lived for my first 17 years (until I escaped). Coming back home gives me a chance to recharge my batteries, eat some home cooking, take care of a year’s worth of admin and paperwork, enjoy cooler weather, and buy clothing and shoes my size.

While all of that sounds wonderful, a month can feel like six months when you’re sleeping on a twin bed with Star Wars sheet in your momma’s house. Likewise, eating is a contact sport in my hometown, as nearby New Haven is known for having literally the best pizza in the world.

Thank God that the one thing that keeps me sane – and comparatively svelte – while I’m visiting Hamden in Soulcraft BJJ.

First off, martial arts gyms are hard to find, and good ones are extremely rare. You’ll find a few tae kwon do dojos on the East Coast or the occasional MMA gym filled with roid-raged egos. So, I was ecstatic to find Soulcraft a few years ago on my yearly pilgrimage back home to Connecticut, first by Googling them and then by stopping by.

Like any organization, the whole vibe reflects leadership, and the owner, Brad, is a hell of a nice guy as well as a serious martial artist. But, while he’s a Brazilian jujitsupractitioner, he’s built a multi-discipline dojo that promotes the best of martial arts, self-defense, fitness, and health.

Since I was only in town for a month or two at a time, I signed up for a monthly membership, and they were even accommodating if I stayed for six weeks, not two months.

Soulcraft is one of the best schools you can find for BJJ but, to be honest, that’s not my thing. (My ground game consists of flopping around and then taking a nap.) Instead, I signed up for Krav Maga classes, the mixed real-life practical self-defense adapted by Israel commandos. It’s rough, rugged, fast-paced, taxing, and incredibly fun.

I’ve also expanded to Muay Thai classes, the kickboxing passion of Thailand. Likewise, Coach Britt, Coach Mike, and Coach Doug do an outstanding job teaching technique and skill but also ramping it up into a high-energy, insane workout.

Soulcraft also offers fitness classes and women’s only fitness groups, and plenty of kids BJJ classes.

A few years later, I still visit Soulcraftliterally the very first day I get back to my hometown, as I want to get in healthy habits and not surrender or slide back my fitness journey just because I’m home.

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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