So, if you have been reading my articles since I have been writing for the Jiu-Jitsu Times or you have been following my social media, you would see that I love my family, I love to travel, and I love BJJ, so I try my best to get a session or two on the mats in when I’m on the go. Some people are restaurant people; I’m a jiu-jitsu person. Part of the fun that is the BJJ community, to me, is meeting and learning from as many people as possible. I will do a little research into the area I am traveling to. Knowing what to expect is key, so here are some of the strategies I use to find a school when I’m traveling.
Crowd-source at your home gym and/or social media.
Im not talking about setting up a Gofundme page asking for donations so you can compete at Worlds. Simply asking fellow grapplers for recommendations is typically my go-to for finding a high-quality gym (or ones to stay away from). People love to travel, so this strategy is often reliable.
Use Google Maps (or similar) to figure out which gyms are closest to where you are staying
If I can’t find a personal recommendation, using Google Maps (or similar) when I arrive at my destination is what I do to find a school. Most of the places I head to have at least one or two gyms nearby, so, to narrow-down my choices, I utilize these following methods.
Check out the class options and times
Some gyms offer more than others in way of classes, so I check out the schedule online and then determine if the times work with my plans. I also call or reserve my spot. It’s the worst when you make the effort to find the right gym and then find out they don’t allow drop-ins for certain sessions or at all!
Check out the gym’s Instagram account
How active a schools Instagram account (or Facebook page) is can say a lot about the quality of gym. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but if the gym and their members are engaged on social media, they might be friendly/fun/engaging in person! You can also check out reviews on Facebook for additional details about the facility.
Determine if there are any athletes tied to the gym
Typically, if a competitive athlete trains out of a specific gym, it is likely to have high quality coaching and facilities. If you know that one of your favourite athletes is from a specific area, try to figure out which school they belong to and go there. You may even get lucky enough to have a celebrity athlete sighting!
Be sure not to go all fan girl crazy if asked to train or drill with this person, though. No one likes a crazy fan.
Academies I’ve visited over the years and highly recommend:
University of Jiu Jitsu – San Diego
ATOS HQ – San Diego
Absolute MMA – Melbourne
Victory MMA – San Diego
Gemina – Perth
Legion 13 – Perth
Combat Arts – Perth
Cia Paulista – Darwin
Rio Grappling Club – Antwerp
Ralph Gracie – San Francisco