I tend to travel a lot and from early on in my BJJ training have grown accustomed to visiting and training as a guest in academies other than my own. While I’ve always strived to be a good guest, the more I’ve learned about BJJ the more I’ve tweaked the protocol I follow to ensure that I bring a positive vibe to the mat and that I represent my home academy well. While some of the following tips may seem obvious, I think they’re all worth mentioning. If any readers have additional advice to add, please feel free to leave a comment or email me directly.
Always call or email in advance to inquire about the visitor policy
Ask if there are any uniform requirements, restrictions on which levels may take which classes, etc. Introduce yourself by name, rank, home academy, and length of time you’ve been training.
Show up early and prepared
Have cash available in case the school doesn’t accept credit cards. Bring flip flops and any uniform needs.
Respect the instructor
Introduce yourself to the instructor and ask if there’s a particular way they prefer to be addressed. While my home academy doesn’t employ the use of honorifics and titles, I always make a point of adjusting to the use of “sir” or “professor”.
Respect the other students
Introduce yourself to the other students after you bow and step onto the mat.
During drilling, be as helpful as possible, ask intelligent questions (if necessary), and give helpful and encouraging feedback to your partner.
6. During sparring, resist the urge to go 110% as if you’re in a tournament. It’s not a competition and you have nothing to prove. Start off at an easy pace and take your cue from the other students. There’s nothing wrong with applying the pressure, but only if it’s appropriate based on the pace set by the other students.
After class, thank the other students and most importantly, thank your instructor. If you can offer a compliment, do so.
After returning home, send a follow up email to say thank you for allowing you to train as a guest and let the instructor know how much you enjoyed and appreciated the experience.
I also take a picture when I train as a guest and ask permission from the instructor to post it on my blog and Instagram. Remember that you’re a guest. Training BJJ is an extremely personal and intimate experience, and you should treat your visit to a new school as you would a visit to the home of a new friend. Be kind, be respectful, and stay humble.
One of my favorite parts of training BJJ is being able to visit schools all over the world and train with so many different practitioners. Having a common language that we can share regardless of our spoken language is truly special. Being welcomed into someone’s academy as a guest is not to be taken lightly. Always remember how special the experience and show gratitude for the opportunity.