If you are a BJJ vagabond, about to hit the road for a lengthy adventure, travel a lot for work, or you just want to see what is out there in the vast grappling ocean, we have some tips to ensure you get the most out of your experience.
Different gyms full of different values create a different culture than what you might be used to, so don't balls up a great opportunity to network and learn from a potentially invaluable resource.
1. Spend some time planning.
With access to incredible resources such as online grappling groups and social media, you have no excuse to lose time on the mat while you are on the road. A simple question on a page such as BJJ Fanatic's Facebook page will see hundreds of helpful colleagues pointing you in the right direction.
Additionally, there are a lot of grappling personalities that are "approachable" via their Instagram stories and will often reply or host an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Ask around for some great grappling podcasts too to fight any downtime you have in transit.
2. Make contact before you rock up to the gym.
It is always a good idea to phone or message the gym prior to scheduled classes. We recommend this for a variety of reasons including:
- Details around payment (avoid those awkward post class moments).
- Uniform requirements (some clubs are very strict around presentation).
- It is good to know who the head coach and/or the coach of the class you are wanting to attend and start a dialogue early.
Can you picture showing up to a well respected or world-renowned gym to not be able to afford the class you were late to and you wore the wrong gear in.....?
Avoid at all costs and you could have the amazing experience you expected.
The gym will most likely live up to your expectations, you should at least live up to theirs.
3. Respect the mat, monkey see monkey do.
Arrive at the gym early, introduce yourself and breakdown the 'fresh meat' barrier. Most grapplers are good people and are willing to help. Start by asking etiquette questions to put you on the right foot before it hits the mat.
Then you can look around the room, follow the majority and if in doubt play it safe (this relates to appropriate submissions, etiquette around respect including giving way during rolls, bowing and lining up etc).
It does not pay to be a hero at a new gym, leave your ego at the door and open your mind to learning something new, don't be afraid to tap often and early and don't be that guy or girl who thinks they know it all.
Also, try not to be the "at my gym...." and then prattle on about how your gym differs for better or worse unless this is the way the conversation flows organically. You are in a new environment, learn about it, ask questions of your hosts and squeeze all the juice out of it that you can.
Follow these very simple steps and you could be making lifelong friends and a home away from home that you think of fondly until your next return trip.
Until next time vagabonds,
Pack light, roll easy.