Usually when I go on vacation or a business trip, I make it a point to visit other gyms. To me this is a great experience to meet new people, get a different look on techniques and styles, and see how you fare against people who you don’t usually roll with.
These are a few things I try to do before, during, and after visiting another gym.
Call or write to ask and introduce yourself. I usually make sure to include my name, rank, where I’m from, whom I train under, and an offer to pay the mat fee.
To Whom it May Concern,
Hi! My name is Evan Horng. I will be visiting SF over the weekend I was wondering if I would be able to drop by for a class tomorrow at 11am. I am currently a brown belt under David Phimsipimson and train out of Maximum Athletics in Greenbrook, New Jersey. I would be more than happy to pay any mat fee. Thank you very much and hope to hear from you soon!
- White Gi and Rash Guard
Although the BJJ community is usually open and chill, there are still some traditional schools out there. Trying to play it safe and be polite at the same time, I always wear a white gi (no affiliation patches) and a rash guard.
- Sandals, Change of Clothes, and Towel
Some gyms have a place to shower, some don’t. Its always better to be prepared just in case. If you have other plans or schedule to follow, it makes life easier not needing to head back to shower and get changed.
- Arrive Early
I usually try to follow the policy of “better early then late”. Being early means I try to I have the chance to find the right place, introduce myself, and sign any paperwork needed.
- Not Dojo Storming
Remember, you are there as a guest. Try to keep things easy going and friendly, making sure to go the pace of the students and instructor there. I don’t disagree that you should be able to test yourself against someone that you haven’t rolled with before but ability to roll without the intent to kill is just as important.
With the rise in submission only tournaments and a focus on leg locks, I feel that I need to mention this. Concerning leg locks, I usually don’t make the first move with those unless my partner does. Some schools can be touchy about it and I think its better to take a wait and see attitude or even just ask before you start rolling.
- Make Sure to Thank Everyone
By the end of the class, hopefully you had made some friends and learned some new techniques. Make sure before you leave, to thank everyone that you rolled with, met, and definitely thank the instructor. Politeness goes a long way and the great thing about BJJ is how easy it is to make connections and new friends