The jiu-jitsu world is small, so small in fact that we very often see bitter rivals share the mats with each other in order to exchange data and “cross train”.  Some instructors discourage their students from cross training as a result of an antiquated concept of loyalty. Now, of course, if you are happy with the service you are receiving you should certainly be loyal to your academy but if you aren’t experiencing other training methods and modalities you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Here are 4 strong arguments in favor of venturing outside of your home gym and cross training:

  1. Building a network.  In one of my very first pieces for this site I explored in depth the notion of building a local scene.  I also recently wrote a piece talking about some training I got with former opponents, training that then led me to one of the biggest wins of my career.  The fact is that there are not many “secrets” anymore, and most of the “secrets” that still exist are being done away with by the internet. Training with would be or former opponents is in a way a mexican standoff because both parties collect data about each other, but the fact is that the data collected overall is far more useful and mutually beneficial.  Having these allies at other gyms means that you can be confident that wherever you compete you’ll have someone there to corner you, and this can make all the difference. In 2018 I competed at No Gi Pans and my corner for 2 of the matches was a former opponent turned friend who was also there competing. Having these options is never a bad thing. Make sure you have them.
  2. The grass IS sometimes greener.   When I first moved to town many years ago I joined a gym that at the time had a strong reputation on the local scene.  Shortly after I moved to town and consequently this gym thing started changing and the quality of service dropped sharply.  Being naiive and new to this environment I assumed that it was normal and stayed. Later on, this gym decided to kick me out.  My naivete would have been quickly dispelled had I cross trained. Today, as a brown belt, I try to frequent many gyms inside of an hour radius.  Though I am perfectly happy with my current environment and am loyal to my team and instructor I acknowledge that tomorrow something could theoretically happen that would cause me to reconsider, knowing what is out there and knowing how green the grass is (or isn’t) on the other side isn’t disloyalty, it’s being an educated consumer.
  3. Different data is different.  The gym where I currently train has a specific set of styles and skills within its walls.  There are gyms locally that have patrons who focus on entirely different skill sets. This means that the people at the other gyms do not get to experience the styles that are practiced at my gym, and vice versa.  By cross training I bridge that gap and attain new and useful data. For example: if you don’t cross train at gyms that practice lapel guard and the first time you experience lapel guard is in competition you’re very likely going to have a rough time.  If your gym doesn’t practice leglocks and you enter an advanced division with people who do, the problem compounds. Get as much different data as possible
  4. When life gives you lemons.  Every gym has its own schedule and days on and off.  If for some reason you can’t make it to your gym, or they are closed on days or times that you want to train knowing which gyms in your area have training sessions that are convenient for you and having some sort of foothold at those gyms can be very helpful.  Every major holiday that rolls through I get a handful of messages from my friends who own other gyms in the area inviting me to train, because they know my gym is closed and that I’ll want to train. This is useful to have in your life if you do jiu-jitsu and take it seriously.There are countless reasons to cross train, but these are the ones with which I have personal experience.  What are some reasons that you’ve found to cross train? Or if you don’t cross train why not

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