Jiu Jitsu has become more accessible than ever. While historically, Jiu Jitsu academies have had a repuation as territorial and closed off to outsiders, today practitioners frequently drop into other academies when traveling — and can gain alot doing so.
Some great reasons to pack a gi when on the road include: access to top tier instructors and competitors, opportunities to learn new techniques, making friends and sharing the art. However, since the places you visit won’t know you, you’ll want to keep these things in mind when on the road.
Call ahead. It’s always a good idea to reach out to an academy in advance. Sometimes they can get you waivers before you show up. Some require drop-in fees or want you to rent their attire. It can be expensive, and sometimes it’s worth it. The Art of Jiu Jitsu and Atos are known to do this, while other academies care less about it.
Some don’t want drop-in fees, but they might have other requirements like only white or blue gis, a fairly common ask. They might require everyone to wear rashguards under gis or have other requirements. Know before you pack.
Drop-in fees. Sometimes they can get expensive, but most of the time the cost stays fairly nominal — or nothing at all. It seems like anyone in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu knows Professors Amal and Eliot, so you can always find a spot that gives us the red carpet. Some academies have refused drop-in fees simply because they respect Easton and know is has good Jiu Jitsu.
If they refuse a $10 or $30 drop-in fee, support their academy however you can. Buy your friend a t shirt. Buy a hat or rashguard. Most academies in vacation spots sit on some pricey real estate; help them make sure they can pay their rent!
Be cool. You’re there to learn, not to win. As Professor Peter Straub has said, “we’re here to get better, not to find out who’s best.” You don’t have to tap everyone or go hard, and you might expect to get partnered up with a mat enforcer in some places. This is all normal. They don’t know you, and while the Easton patch gives us a lot of credibility, it also carries a lot of responsibility. Visiting other academies gives us a chance to be good ambassadors and share a positive experience.
Just like at Eason, having a clean gi, trimmed nails and being on time is important. Some academies start on Brazilian time. Surfight sometimes starts when the surfing is over, which is awesome, and the break is just down the street.
Stay safe. All academies have different levels. Some approach every round like their last day to live, and some adjust the level of intensity depending on upcoming competitions, the room or other circumstances. Some academies teach submissions you may not have learned, in a gi or not. Know what room you’re in, and adjust your Jiu Jitsu accordingly.
The first thing in Jiu Jitsu is staying safe. You can always tap if something doesn’t feel right. Most places are incredibly nice and welcoming, so rough treatment happens rarely these days, but it’s still essential to know your fundamentals and be ready for anything. Your safety is your responsibility. No point in getting stacked on your neck while on vacation just to avoid tapping.
Consider private lessons. If you’re in town for a bit and have the means, hit up the main professor or their coach for a private lesson. It’s a great way to support their academy and they’ll appreciate it. When you support coaches and academies like this, they really make sure to take care of you and teach you more than you can remember. They’ll also remember you when you show up to open mat later, and you’ll end up with friends that only Jiu Jitsu gets you.
There is a good chance one of your friends or coaches knows an academy or is friends with a Professor who can recommend a good place to train. The Easton fam knows people everywhere. Lots of people in Colorado came from somewhere else and have connections to other academies, and many of us have built friends and relationships over the years and years of doing Jiu Jitsu. You might know people from competition, and if you visit the area, should drop in on them at their home academy.
Lastly, get some recommendations from people on the mat. They always know the best places to eat or surf, and can suggest places to see that the typical tourist might not know about. Locals know the uncrowded hikes or best taco in SoCal. They also know what’s hype and what’s worth spending your precious vacation time on.
Take lots of pictures and stay in touch. Over the years you’ll be amazed at how many awesome people you become friends with all over the globe because of BJJ. Then come show us what you learned in Brazil or Japan. Share the art.