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How To Visit Other Gyms
The Jiu Jitsu community is so welcoming and helpful, it ends up being easy to meet people from all over the world that share your love for the game.
Making friends from different schools is a great way to both improve your skill set and give motivation to keep at it during tough times. It seems natural to want your new friends to come and train with you, but how does that work? How do we go about visiting local gyms or even training while we’re out of town?
Local: Taking advantage of the different schools in your area can be very beneficial, but be careful on how you approach it. Think about how often you’re going, why you are interested in visiting, and remember that you are ultimately representing your own team while you are there.
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One of the most common ways visiting other gyms pops up is showing up for open mat, especially if theirs is at a different time or on a different day than your own. There you are bound to meet new friends, even if you only go once, since any Jiu Jitsu lover gets very excited when they meet someone with just as much adoration for chokes as themselves. This friendship evolves into being invited to a class to see how various schools are run and gain more knowledge on alternative rolling styles compared to what you are used to.
In most cases this is more than welcome; professors are not in the business to hide secrets from other gyms, or develop some secret weapon submission for only their students to use in competition. When it comes to attending a class at a local school run through this checklist to make sure you are keeping yourself in good standing.
1) Were you invited? Just because your friend said it’s fine, make sure to follow through and double check that you aren’t stepping on any toes.
2) Did you obey their specific gym rules? Learn the intricacies of their procedures- do they bow on or off the mat? How do they end class--do you line up in a particular order?
3) Were you respectful of their students? Don’t go in there to try and dominate every match you have. Learn techniques and positions you aren’t very familiar with instead of showing off how much you can squeeze. Take these into account and you should have a mutually beneficial experience!
Out of town: If you are on a work trip or on vacation, similar rules apply. The main difference is setting up your visit with the gym before you arrive in town. You can send an email or call ahead to inquire about class times, what to bring and if there is a mat fee for you to join in; this would be the appropriate time to also ask about training for the duration of your trip or if
there is a cap on a one time drop in. The best way to track down reputable schools in a new area is simply to ask your own coach, they can point you in the right direction! When you arrive at the new location make sure to not only get there on time, but to get there early; this is a new gym and you are unfamiliar with their routine, plus there is likely to be paperwork for you to fill out! Being approachable and humble is just as important when out of town as it is when venturing around locally, so remember to strike up conversations with people and adapt to their style of rolling as best as you can.
Let the members of that school set the pace and tone for sparring or rolling, then follow their lead, instead of going full speed ahead right from the start. Mostly likely someone will have already prepped you on how they begin their matches, what is and what is not allowed (leg locks for example). When you are finished, be sure to thank everyone and be gracious for their hospitality, maybe even ask them for a local recommendation if you’ll be in town for a few more days. When you are able it is always a good idea to leave behind a positive review of the gym and share your experience with others; this doesn’t only help them with traveling traffic but will also help promote to people that are local to them when searched online.
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All things considered, making appearances at different gyms should be a positive experience for everyone involved. If you have any travels coming up, see if you can find a place to pop in and get a different viewpoint for once. If you are sticking around your hometown and have never visited other schools around you then look into it and see what new friendships you can forge through this gentle sport!
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