I love to travel! Chances are that if your reading this so do you! I have moved around a lot for various reasons, college, work terms and new job opportunities. I started training Jiu Jitsu four years ago, but took some time off when I lived somewhere where there was no BJJ. In this short time I have moved seven times, yeah I know a bit crazy but I enjoyed it. Everywhere I went I trained at a different club, even in the period where there was nowhere for me to train I was able to get in some rolls with guys who lived within a few hours drive. Training with so many different people from all different walks of life has taught me a lot about Jiu Jitsu and the ideas people have about it. To be up front I’m no Jiu Jitsu master, I’m just a blue belt but I really believe training at so many different clubs has helped my Jiu Jitsu to grow. I believe training at as many different clubs as possible can help grow your Jiu Jitsu as well!
The biggest lesson I have learned from training with so many people is to take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. I have had some amazing guys tell me “never do this. That will never work. This is the best way to do this technique. Put your arms here, not there.” This is usually solid advice and they can back it up. Then I move again, go to a new school, or a school that I have been to before. After a while they show a technique, its the same one that somebody at the other school showed me. The only difference is that everything is backwards. One person will say “Do it this way” and the other will say “never do that, you should always do it this way.” Is one of them wrong? No of course not. Both of the techniques works for each person but they may have different styles or body types. I have found that Jiu Jitsu is extremely broad and open ended. There are so many possibilities and different variations on techniques. The key is to find what works for you and fit Jiu Jitsu to your own style. I’m not saying to ignore someone if they say don’t do this, or this is how you do a technique. Chances are they are giving you good advice. What I’m saying is you should be objective and ask “does this move work for me?” Just because someone does something one way doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way for you and your own body.
One of the ways I feel traveling has accelerated my Jiu Jitsu game is the sheer exposure to so many different styles and games. Within one school there can be many different games that people play. Some guys are heavy pressure passers, some guys are dynamic guard players and others play a highly technical leg lock game. What I have found is that each school tends to have a dominant game. I have trained at clubs where most people have a tight half guard game. Another school had a coach who watched a lot of Mendes brothers videos and because of this the students there for the most part all had dynamic passing and guard techniques. Traveling will expose you to so many different games, you can pick up the techniques from each club that work for you and you can test your own game against a wide range of styles. This lets you figure out for yourself how to overcome different obstacles and how to best implement parts of your game.
You can pick up so many tricks and different variations of the same technique by training at different schools. I have a few different variation on almost all of my best submissions, sweeps and passes. If I had only been training at one club I’m sure I would only have one or two variations of each. This ability to modify a technique on the fly makes everything flow so much easier. If I can’t finish a straight ankle lock one way I switch to a modification I learned from another school, if that doesn’t work I go to the next variation and the submission is quickly cinched up.
So the next time you are on a vacation or business trip make sure to pack your Gi and train at as many different schools along the way as you can. You will pick up many different techniques that you may never have seen otherwise and the exposure to different styles will only strengthen your own game.
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