I travel pretty often to visit my family, and when I do I always pack my gi. Ive had opportunities to train in all sorts of fun places, and it has really given me some different looks at the different ways people train. Training at gyms far (an hour +) from where I live gives me the opportunity to train with people I would normally never encounter.
Training at different gyms can expose you to different training methods. For example: drilling procedures can be very different between different gyms. Ive seen some gyms where the drilling method is to do repetitive movements. Ive seen others where the drilling looks like an organized flow roll. Drilling methods are just one distinct piece of a gyms DNA.
The techniques that are focused on at any given gym can vary greatly. Some instructors have a base in wrestling or Judo and that shows in their teaching methodology. Also the methodology of an instructor can be deeply influenced by his or her instructors methods. It is always interesting to visit multiple schools under the same lineage to compare the similarities and differences. Very often in doing this you can see what aspects are universal within an affiliation and what aspects are specific to the gyms you visit.
Its also neat to visit gyms run by people you watch on competition videos. Theres nothing quite like meeting guys that are at the very top of t he sport we love so much and getting to train with their teammates (and sometimes, if youre lucky, with them!) There are also very often guys youve never heard of who are absolute monsters, the sort of people who dont compete, but train Those guys are the hidden treat of visiting gyms outside of your normal area.
When I go into other gyms to roll, I let my partners there dictate the pace of the roll. Id much rather come off as overly passive than overly aggressive as Id prefer to be welcome to come back in the future. That said some of the best/most spirited rolls Ive had were with guys who Ive never rolled with before. Very often, things that we drill day in and day out do not work against guys who have seen those things, but when you roll with guys who have never experienced your specific game before things can get interesting; couple that with the reality that there are probably a lot of techniques and games that youve never experienced and the rolls you can have at gyms far from home are bound to be enlightening!
If you are fortunate enough to travel any substantial distance from home, pack a gi. Before you go, make sure you look that given area up on the internet and find gyms close to where you will be staying. Call them and verify their schedules, as very often the online schedule is either inaccurate or incomplete, also make sure that they are okay with having visitors (sometimes BJJ politics can get in the way of people visiting.)
Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/