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Take Your BJJ On Vacation
Now that the summer time vacation season is underway, millions of people across the globe are packing up a heading to new locales. For those of us who train BJJ, it can be a painful thought leaving BJJ to go on vacation. The good news is that even on vacation, you can find places to learn, train and meet new friends. BJJ Fanatics is here to share some things to think about as you plan your first or your next BJJ infused vacation trip.
In addition to the traveling to different locales without BJJ as your main goal, you may also want to look into the many opportunities to train at BJJ vacation camps. High level competitors and instructors all over the world, often host camps around the world at great vacation locales. This would be a great way to learn directly from high level instructors an mix in some vacation time. People like Tom DeBlass and Rafael Lovato have held BJJ seminar camps in Costa Rica. The Origin Gi company hosts an annual training camp at their headquarters in Maine. Christian Graugart, author of The BJJ Globetrotter hosts training camps around the globe several times each year. Do your research and convince your family that it's a good idea and you will probably have the best time of your training life.
Consult your coaches and instructors
Before you head out on the road on vacation looking to visit other schools, talk to your instructor and coaches to get their advice. They may have some recommendations for you or some experiences to share with you. There may be affiliate academies or friends of your team who have schools that your instructor may inform you of in advance of your trip. On a real basic level, it's a good idea to let your instructor know you are planning to visit other schools while traveling just to keep them aware.
Research the area you are visiting
No matter where you are traveling, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised at the amount of jiu jitsu and number of academies available everywhere. BJJ continues to grow and spread all across the globe and should be easy to find. Most likely you will find a number of schools in the area to choose from when you're trying to decide. If you find a school that is part of your home affiliation, if that's a concern, then your search is easy. If not, do some research, check out websites and check out the instructors and owners, there background, lineage and experience.
You may even take into account that there are different types of BJJ schools out there. Some are geared more towards self defense as opposed to the sport aspects of jiu jitsu. Some academies may be more or less competition focused. You may find value visiting any type of school, but you may prefer to find a school that aligns with the approach of your home academy.
Contact the School
The vast majority of academies have a social media presence and you will find it is very easy to reach out to the school to inquire about a possible visit. When you reach out, make sure you introduce yourself, let them know where you train and what your current belt level is.
Ask them about drop in fees and make sure you don't forget to ask about logistic items like parking and/or potential traffic issues. If you are traveling to a large metropolitan area like New York City or Los Angeles, you will want to make sure you've thought about the distance and potential transportation issues or delays.
Another question you will also want to add in your pre-visit conversations is if they have any specific uniform requirements. Some schools may require a specific color Gi, so make sure you are aware of those requirements. The instructor or coaches that you are talking to via social media, email or phone will probably let you know these specific requirements, or they may be found on the school's website. Make sure you do your homework.
Be a good visitor
Always be early. If you've done your logistics homework, you've had parking and transportation logistics figured out. There may be paperwork to fill out, waivers to sign, etc. before class. You do not want to be filing in as the warm up is going on or the class is underway and interrupt the flow of the class.
By arriving early, being respectful before, during and after training, you will find that the members of the school will become some of your new long distance social media friends. Don't forget to take the required post-training photo with the instructor, team or class and give them a shot out on your various social media platforms.
Be a good representative of your school and BJJ
As a guest at another academy, keep in mind that you are a representative of your home academy and your team. It's important to be ultra-respectful and train in a good way.
Though it is natural for people to want to test themselves against different BJJ practitioners, it's important to work to match the pace and level of intensity of the people you get to train with at the school. If you are a higher belt than someone, it's important to train with them with the same level of respect as you would want someone to train with you. It's probably not a good time to tap a new white belt 17 times in 5 minutes. Instead, use this time to work on some of your weak areas and see what if there is anything new this student can show you in their reactions. This will ensure that the hosting white belt student has a great roll with you and you learn something as well.
Conversely, if you end up training with some higher ranked students or perhaps the instructors or coaches, work to match the pace and intensity that they offer. After your roll, no matter what their belt level, make sure you to thank them and if they presented you something interesting or different, ask them about it. Most practitioners LOVE to talk about jiu jitsu, especially their jiu jitsu.
There's no reason nowadays to not pack your BJJ gear, gi or no gi and take it with you when you travel. Whether you're traveling for vacation or even for your job, there are innumerable opportunities to train and many welcoming academies out there where you can get in a great workout, learn something, and make some new jiu jitsu friends.
While you're out on the road, don't forget to take your BJJ Fanatics On Demand or DVD instructionals with you on your travels. You can get amazing knowledge from the likes of Craig Jones and his "Z Guard Encyclopedia" here at BJJ Fanatics.