During the holiday season we have time off work, time with our friends/families and time to train Jiu-Jitsu. While packing and planning for any trip can be a feat, accurately preparing for a trip that involves training may differ your plans.
For those who are embarking on journeys to visit distant academies during the winter break, make sure you follow all of these tips from Roger Gracie black belt and traveling connoisseur, Oliver Geddes. No stranger to traveling for Jiu-Jitsu related endeavors, Oliver rounded out a 60 day trip during the summer where he went from his hometown of London, England to Toronto, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, Montreal, Los Angeles, Atlanta and finally, New York. He trained at academies, competed at competitions and garnered good ole’ Jiu-Jitsu hospitality allowing him to better budget his adventure.
Whether you are competing, visiting many academies or just managing a get-away from the family to train once during your vacation, you can learn from these tips and perhaps they will inspire you to plan a thorough training tour of your own:
- Packing. You don’t need to bring as many clothes as you think you do. Since you’re going to be washing gis everywhere you go, don’t pack heavy. Your back will thank you for it.
- Gis. Try to limit it to two, if possible. I would recommend one regular one and an ultralight secondarily. These are great because they dry overnight even in moderate climates.
- Towels. See above. Microfibre ultra light towels. Great things. Get one.
- Plan out your trip. But at the same time, be flexible. You need to know where you’re going to be next week, but not necessarily the week after. Don’t try to overschedule everything. Explore. Leave opportunities open. Don’t just try to collect as many academies as you can.
- Be aware that many academies will have students who want to test you. Everyone will be friendly, but the intensity may well be higher than you were expecting. So expect it. And roll smart. Leading to:
- Don’t get hurt. Tap early, tap often. If someone is too big, say they’re too big. You don’t want a four week trip planned out and then go on to get yourself heel hooked by a guy fifty pounds heavier than you on day two. Your ability to continue training is the priority here.
- Hygiene. Again, see above. You do NOT want to pick up ringworm or staph at one academy and then travel all the way across the country spreading it like some kind of plaguebearing leper. Wash often, and if you doubt your partner’s hygiene, don’t train with them. A bar of antibacterial or Jiu-Jitsu-based brand of training soap is also a good idea here if you like that kind of thing.
- Remember to do things apart from Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a holiday, a trip, an experience. Not ‘let’s look at the inside of academies.’ So, if people want to take you out and show you the town, say yes. It’s not just about getting in a thousand mat hours on tour.
- Realize that if you’re staying with Jiu-Jitsu people, that you are still a guest in their house. Try not to make yourself unwelcome. Clean up after yourself. This also applies to academies. You’ve only got a couple of days to make a good impression. Don’t be ‘the stinky guy with sharp fingernails from out of town.’ If someone takes you out somewhere, offer to pay. This should be obvious, but some people can surprise you.
- Don’t plan too long a trip if you’ve never done this before. Traveling from place to place, reaching a new academy, making new friends, doing new things, going somewhere else for weeks after week will drain you quicker than you think. Try to limit yourself to three or four weeks the first time out. If you can handle it, maybe go longer the seconds time. But you don’t want to regret the things you didn’t do at the end because you were so burned out from all the traveling.