So You Want to Train on Vacation, Huh?

By Joshua Rozenboom

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Any dedicated practitioner of Jiu Jitsu will tell you how much they hate to miss training. Tired? Better tired than missing class. Injured? You show up anyway and try to work around it. Taking that much needed family vacation? No better way to spend it than checking out new gyms!

For the most part, BJJ schools tend to be welcoming, with instructors and students who are happy to share their knowledge and space with visitors. It is important to note, however, that Jiu Jitsu schools are all unique. Each school reflects the character of its leadership, and policies and procedures vary from place to place. BJJ schools are also not public playgrounds, so if you’re “dropping in” to a school for the first time, it’s helpful to plan ahead. Here are a few tips to plan your visit:

1. Ask your instructor. Your instructor is long into his or her Jiu Jitsu journey, and likely has a wide network of places to train. Let them know where you’re going and ask for a recommendation. If your school is part of an affiliation, you should look up any affiliates at your destination. This is the easiest way to ensure a place to train while out of town, unless your hotel has a fitness center and a feisty kitchen staff.

2. Contact the academy. If you have a school you’d like to visit, reach out via phone or email to see if they allow visitors. Not every Jiu Jitsu school allows drop-ins, and just showing up could put someone in an awkward position. Be sure to mention where you train, who your instructor is, and who referred you. Mentioning your belt rank is up to you, but let’s be honest – your belt rank is like another middle name.

3. Ask THEM for info. Most academies have their guidelines for visitors listed on their website. Some are very informal, and welcome any visitors who care to drop in. Some schools are stricter for a variety of reasons, with mat fees for visitors and even uniform requirements. If you have a personal connection or referral to the school, you’ll most likely get an open invite. If you don’t, however, rules are rules. Respect the policies of the school you wish to visit, and you’ll build a relationship that will still be in place the next time you’re in the area.

4. Represent your professor. Jiu Jitsu students and instructors have a very personal relationship with their academies. Most people consider it a “home away from home”. You are now entering this home under the name of another member of the community, and possibly a well-known team. There tends to be a lot of unspoken rules about training etiquette, so the safest bet is to be considerate of their policies, follow their rules, and train how they train. You’ll benefit from the new techniques and different training partners, and have a greater appreciation for your own team who obviously does Jiu Jitsu WAY better.

Many cities are home to elite schools with high-profile instructors and students. You may find the fees and uniform policies of these elite institutions exorbitant or unfair. Please remember that these schools have visitors from all over the world looking to train with the highest level of competitors. Their rules are in place to ensure that visitors and are there to train hard rather than show up for the novelty of it. If you wish to train with world champions, respect their rules and enjoy the experience!