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Why You Should Visit and Train at Other Schools
The subject of training at different academies is a hot topic in BJJ. Some schools and instructors take a more strict approach to their students visiting and taking classes with other instructors and are actually against it, while others are much more liberal and encourage their students to visit other schools. Training at other academies can take on a variety of forms from informal to more formal. An informal training session might be visiting an open mat that welcomes other affiliations, while a more formal situation might be attending a seminar with an instructor, and with the most formal being the formal study with another instructor in conjunction with your main instructor. Another type of cross training might come during travel or vacations when you're away from your home academy. Understanding a few key points and how all parties involved think about these questions will help you make the best decision.
What is your instructor's opinion?
Ultimately, it's crucial to get the thoughts and opinions of your instructor. He or she may be perfectly fine with you attending open mats at other schools, but may not be a fan of you attending classes are a regular or semi-regular basis. Listen to their thoughts and make the best decision for you, but do not assume you know what the instructor is going to say. You must open up the lines of communication. Depending on the affiliation, the instructor may encourage you to visit and train at affiliated schools entirely. Once you know how they feel, it is up to you to respect their wishes or make a change if you disagree.
Have you properly set expectations with all involved?
The teaching of martial arts, as pure as we would like to think it is, has at it's core a business aspect. Ideally, every professional and reputable academy would thrive and have a copious amount of students, but this is not the case and academy owners are often seeking new students. If you gain permission with your home instructor to visit other academies, it's important to set clear expectations with all parties as to what your intentions are regarding cross-training so as not to cause any issues down the road.
Are you being a good representative of jiu jitsu?
It's important to constantly ask yourself, am I being a good representative of jiu jitsu and my home academy? By building positive relationships and being respectful to all parties, whether it is the instructor or the students at the school or academy you are visiting, you will go a long way to help grow the art and build bridges between people and academies.
Getting the most out of your BJJ training requires a process of assessing what your personal game plan is for success. Check out this article on the topic here at BJJ Fanatics!
At the end of the day, cross-training or visiting academies while traveling for work or vacation can be a very rewarding experience that can open you up to new ideas, techniques, and ultimately some lifelong friendships forged in the bond we all share on the mats through BJJ.
Now that you've seen some of the positive benefit that can come from training with others and absorbing new ideas and approaches, it's time to take a look at your game and improve your guard attacks and guard retention skills, while adding to your footlock arsenal with Rodrigo Cavaca's 'Wiseman BJJ' 4 DVD set available here!