Many of us will look for a quick BJJ fix while on we are on the road. If you search online for Jiu-Jitsu and the name of the town you will be staying in, there is a good chance you will find a friendly BJJ school within a reasonable driving distance. The BJJ community is known for being very open and friendly to visiting guests from other schools and it is always fun to meet new people who share a passion for the gentle art. While most schools have a similar class format, each school has its own little quirks, rituals, and rules. Think of it as an American going to Canada and wondering why they have ketchup flavored potato chips. Its a delicious potato chip, but how did they come up with this concoction? Here are 5 things you will notice when you visit a BJJ school on the road.
Different Warm Ups: When you visit a BJJ gym, the warm ups will usually be fairly standard and help you break a sweat before you start drilling. However in some instances, the warm up could last as 20 to 30 minutes and feel like Navy SEAL training. Kurt Osiander’s Ralph Gracie San Francisco is notorious for its long and brutal warm ups. Even if the warm ups aren’t too taxing, you will likely be doing unfamiliar movements and drills that will leave you lost, confused, tired and self-conscious. When in Rome, do as the Romans even if it means gator walking for 100 yards and then crab walking for another 100 yards.
Your home gym is like baby bear’s porridge in Goldilocks: Your home gym’s training room and mats are just like Baby Bear’s porridge in Goldilocks; just right. When you visit new schools, the room temperatures will vary based on the mentality of the coach and the type of building the gym is located. Low-ceiling retail and office spaces will keep the heat in nice and tight as the heat can only rise so far. The high-ceiling warehouse gyms will have a tough time staying warm during the cold winter months due to the lack of insulation and the astronomical heating costs of keeping the mat space warm. While your home gym, might have Zebra or Dollamur mats, some gyms will use puzzle mats or their own custom-built mats. The type of mats you are training on might seem like a minor issue, but your footing and movement on the ground might be off based on the differing textures and material used to make the mats at a different gym. Also, you might knock the wind out of your lungs the first time you pull guard on the thin puzzle mats laid over a concrete surface.
You will have flashbacks to your first day as a white belt: Chances are you are very used to your coach’s teaching style and can pick up on what your coach is trying to communicate during class. Also, many coaches develop their curriculum based on their game or from positions and techniques the coaches have mastered and believe to be very effective. When you visit a new school, the terminology and techniques might be foreign and the teaching and coaching style will differ from what you are used to back at your home gym, leaving you feeling lost and self-conscious. Just do your best and try to be a sponge for the knowledge being taught.
Somebody will remind you of somebody from your home gym: It is inevitable that you will run into somebody that reminds you of somebody you train with at your home gym. Every gym will have the “short, stocky guy that nobody can move”, “know-it-all blue belt”, “charismatic student everybody loves”, “new guy that is a few steps behind”, and “the guy with 5 follow-up questions for the coach.” You are not in The Twilight Zone, there are prototypical doppelgangers of your training partners back home.
Unique Home Gym Rolling Rules: You might be used to standard 5 to 7 minute rounds at your home gym, but some gyms have their own rules for live training and rolling. Your jaw and heart might drop as the coach calls out 15 minute rounds after you are matched up with a killer black belt in the first round. In addition to different round lengths, some gyms have their own home field rules similar to playing the ball off the Green Monster at Fenway Park. At some gyms. You can use the wall to push off for leverage or pin an opponent against the wall while at other gyms it is an automatic reset. Additionally, some moves are fair game or off-limits depending on the gym such as foot locks, leg reaping, and driving your forehead into a training partners jaw. Just relax, ask questions, and keep it playful while learning the written and unwritten rules for rolling on the mats at a school.