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Today we are going to get advice on the best way to visit BJJ schools by John Nelson. I just completed a seminar here at Alliance Jiu-Jitsu Pennsylvania, where John is a black belt and an instructor. He is 47 years old and he works as a salesman. This job allows him to travel all over the United States. He typically travels 3 to 4 days a week and he always tries to train wherever he goes.
I wrote a blog post awhile back about how you should approach visiting other BJJ academies. I can’t think of anyone better than John to give us some good tips. He has trained in over 150 different schools during his work career.
Usually he finds an academy using either Facebook or Google. He researches the instructors, their bios, and the class schedule. John doesn’t always contact the academy beforehand but he always arrives 30-45 minutes before the class is scheduled to start. He always offers to pay the mat fee and sign a release.
There are a few things he wants to stress when visiting another academy. First, be respectful to everyone and respect the rules of every school. For example, if an academy requires that you wear a rash guard under the gi then make sure you do. Second, always be humble. Jiu-jitsu is a very humbling sport. Lastly, smile when you walk into an academy. When people don’t know you and you smile and let down your guard then they know you are not a threat. They realize that you are there to meet new people, learn new techniques, and train.
I agree with John on all these points. When I teach a seminar and someone smiles, it creates a really good energy and environment. I know that person is happy to be there and train.
John has never had a bad experience at any of the over 150 schools he has visited. That shows how jiu-jitsu is changing and how welcoming the BJJ worldwide community has become.
I say this because at least in Brazil many years ago it was more of a tough guy environment. Academies weren’t always welcoming to outsiders. I’m very pleased to see this change and that most academies are happy to allow visitors to train with them.
The biggest tip John gives when training at another school is to not be a bully. Don’t tap out and beat up on lower belts. He recommends catch and release training. The owners and other black belts will be watching and they won’t appreciate the bullying of lower belts. The best approach is to roll clean, respectfully, and train hard.
I notice when I teach seminars that many people are still shy or uncertain about visiting other BJJ schools. People ask me all the time if they can come and train at Marcelo Garcia’s academy in New York City. I always tell them of course you can come train. Marcelo is very welcoming and happy to have visitors come and train anytime.

Here is the breakdown of the key points on how to visit BJJ schools by John Nelson:

  1. Use Facebook or Google to research the school, instructors, and class schedule.
  2. Arrive early, pay the mat fee, and sign a release.
  3. Always be respectful and humble to everyone and respect the academy rules.
  4. Walk into the academy with a smile. A smile shows you are happy to be there. You just want to train, meet people, and learn new techniques.
  5. Most importantly, never be a bully and tap out and beat up on the lower belts. Just roll clean, respectfully, and train hard.

I hope you all enjoyed this video. Thank you John for the great tips. Oss.
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