By holiday I don’t mean time off the mats for injury, or to let your body recuperate from overtraining. I had one of those the other week after doing a handful of competitions in a short space of time. I mean the full on I’m-away-from-my-home-gym for an extended period kind of holiday. I am currently in Spain, and am here for the next three weeks. The moment I realised I was going to be away for such a long time I started looking for gyms at which to train whilst here. I would miss BJJ too much if I didn’t! Furthermore, I have a competition the week after I get back, so I knew I couldn’t just take three-nearly-four weeks off and then bounce straight back to a competition and expect to get very far. I do have a week at Kaizen after I get back before the comp, which I will use to it’s full potential, but I still didn’t want such a large break.
Finding a gym wasn’t an easy task. I couldn’t find any purely BJJ gyms in the town I’m staying in, but I did manage to find an MMA/Grappling gym. I contacted them and found out their opening hours and prices, so I’m going to go and train there a few times whilst here.
Finding a dedicated BJJ gym was more of a challenge. I’m going to have to travel to find what I want. In the event, I managed to find two different gyms about an hour away from me, and accessible by bus. One is a Rilion Gracie gym, the other a Roger Gracie Academy. Both are clearly gi dominated; something that if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m relatively new to. I’m interested and excited to see what they have to offer. Both gyms also have black belt instructors, and hopefully I’ll get to roll with them. I’ve never actually rolled with a black belt since starting my BJJ training in earnest, so it’ll be an interesting experience. Even if I don’t, getting a chance to roll with some new training partners will be an invaluable experience.
Tips for training abroad/at another gym
- Message ahead of time – I spoke to all three of the gyms I hope to train at, either via Facebook or email, finding out if it was okay for me to go along. This was definitely a better way of doing it, due to the fact of a language barrier, I didn’t want to struggle once I got there. It’s also the polite thing to do rather than just showing up! A few things did occasionally get lost in translation, but I managed to get all of the information I needed.
- Ask which class is suitable – You might be able to hang in the advanced class at your own gym, but at a different gym they might have set rules about what you can and can’t do. I’m a white belt, but I am allowed to go to the “advanced” classes at my gym. A new gym might say only purple belts and above can do so. It’s always worth checking and asking. I’ve been invited to a certain class at these gyms, one which they clearly think is appropriate for me.
- Find out prices and regulations – I’ve asked all three gyms about mat fees/class prices, but they haven’t mentioned anything specific. I will, of course, take along enough money to cover the fees. Again this is a politeness thing; if you’re going to an open mat, offer a mat fee. Each gym might have a different way of going about charging one off visitors. As for regulations, I’m mainly talking about uniform standards. If you’re lucky enough to train at the gym of the Mendes brothers for example, they have a strict white gi only policy (as seen on their AOJ Instagram), so it is worth checking before showing up to avoid any potential embarrassment or issues.
- Be discreet and polite – Hopefully most of you would do this anyway! I’m sure all of my readers are polite and lovely BJJ practitioners. By this I mean don’t offer your opinion on a technique being taught, don’t roll as if you’re in the world champs, watch how other students behave – towards the instructors, how the behave in the dojo etc., and always ask before you take photos. Most places will be okay with you taking photos, but it is always worth just double checking. There might also be things that you’re not used to. For example, Kaizen doesn’t have a line up before class, other gyms might. Just watch other students and imitate. Most of these are just common sense etiquette things, which I’m sure you all know already. Also, show up early for your class so they can show you the gym and the facilities. It saves them stress of having to induct the newbie when they’re hoping to get started.
- Integrate – At the same time as being discreet you need to integrate! I think this is something I might struggle with a bit because I’m actually (believe it or not) quite shy around new people. Particularly with a language barrier in the way. My spoken Spanish is extremely poor, with a my comprehension being little better. Hopefully, what with jiu-jitsu itself being a universal language, it’ll help me find friends on the mat. I hope to have great fun at all the gyms (I’m sure I will!), and I will report back after I’ve trained there.
Until next time,