About 5 months ago, I found out I would be relocating from my home state (VA) to a new state for my work. I’m not kidding you when I tell you my first concern was finding a place to train. Would this new state even have legit BJJ gyms? Do they even know what BJJ is in this new state? Could I somehow relocate and shuttle myself back to VA to train every night? (no..this is not possible, but in the dark sleepless nights before my move, I seriously considered it)
During a move cross state lines, you have a lot of concerns. Where will I live? Will my family like it? Will I be able to live far away from all of my lifetime friends and family? Will I be able to stand rarely seeing them? Will I like it in the new place? Most non-BJJ folks could see how these concerns are serious considerations. Concerns of this nature should be the top priority for an individual. And they would be right. The exception is when you are a BJJ Player (read: addict). Over the few months after the notification of the move, I scoured google for BJJ Gyms in my new state. I asked folks at Revolution BJJ if they knew about gyms that would be a good option. I read forums. I called places. And I still couldn’t shake the sad feeling that I would be leaving my home gym. This bothered me condsiderably. And looking back, I wish I had put that out of my mind while I was still training at Revolution BJJ in Richmond. By allowing the search for a new place to consume me, I was plagued each class knowing it was one more step to when I would have to say goodbye. I talked to each of the blackbelt instructors and high level guys at Revolution BJJ about my concerns. Instead of feeding into my fears and negativity, they all seemed very positive about the transition. They all attempted to assure me that success was up to me and finding a new place to train was inevitable. Their help and my own experience inspired me to write the following helpful guide for folks who may do the same transition.
7. If I pay my dues, can I pay my rent?
I was spoiled by the training I received at Revolution BJJ. And it was on the cheap each month too. When I started looking for a new school in the new state, I was shocked to find out that the cheapest school to find was almost DOUBLE what I was paying in Richmond. An insider secret on running BJJ/Martial Art schools, you don’t want to advertise your rates. Competitors will undercut you to get more students, and you can also push away students without the chance to show them the value of the training. The best thing you can do is find a place that fits your budget. Shop around, but if you are in an isolated area be prepared to pay more than you were paying prior to the move.
6. Location, Location, Location.
In my new location the closest BJJ gym is 20 miles away. The furthest I investigated was almost 50 miles away. In between, there are schools at various distances. Considering my distaste for modern vehicular transportation (I like ponies), I chose the closest school for practical reasons. But the important things to remember are the area, navigating the traffic, and remembering to add this into your training time/schedule.
5. Looks and personality? Talk about a catch.
Ever been on a blind date with a super attractive person who had no personality? Sure it seems like a good idea on paper, but realistically, you’ll run out of fun before you can make any kind of emotional investment.
If you’re serious about BJJ, you know you’re going to be spending a ton of time training at your gym. If you don’t have a considerate, safe, and intelligent program at a potential new BJJ gym; the fanciest facility with the best equipment won’t make a good home for you. You’ve got to have the total package. Unfortunately, only you can determine what combination of personality and facility amenities works for you. You’ll probably have to test this one out a bit to find the right fit.
4. GI replacement: Nothing funny here.
Gis cost a lot of money. I have 5. The cheapest cost me 120 bucks. I have 5 sets of rashguards. They cost about 30 bucks a piece. I know folks who spend a lot more than that on equipment. Replacing my “grapplin’ gear”(trademark) because a potential new gym will not let me wear it there is an absolute no go. It’s a deal breaker for me. Now, you will need a competition gi, if you intend to compete on your school’s team. But for regular day in, day out training, consider the idea that some gyms will ask you to only wear their equipment. And surprise, they just happen to sell it right there. I’m a laid back guy and I don’t always have a lot of scratch to throw away on my training equipment. So, it was imperative that I find a location that allowed me to train in my current equipment and would match my laid back attitude in regards to uniforms. And you know what? I’ll probably buy a new gi at my location simply because they respect that already I own gis and want to continue to use them.
3. I find my lack of friends disturbing.
I made a lot of friends at Revolution BJJ. I could easily name 20+ folks who I consider friends through our training together. I felt like I had a great connection to the place. My brother trained there with me and that of course also made me comfortable. In fact, it really made the place feel like home. I spent so much time at the gym consistently that the place became a part of me. And therefore I considered all of my training partners and instructors friends and enjoyed that feeling. Now that I’m away from Revolution and I’m also training at a new location in a new state, I find myself trying to form friendships. But the truth is that I miss my training comrades at Revolution. I miss the over all feeling that I had that kept me coming back everyday. I felt like I belonged there and that I was respected and a valued member of the team. This is common in BJJ. In fact, I would wager that the majority of folks who do BJJ are open to making friends out of all folks who train BJJ because we share a common interest that we spend a lot of time doing. I know that at my new school, I will make new friends out of training partners. This takes time. Instead of looking at the relocation as a loss of something, I have tried to remember that I’m adding to, not taking away from.
2. What’s the Training Frequency, Kenneth?
At Revolution BJJ, you can train BJJ more than 20 times a week. That is unprecedented. Most schools have a schedule posted and what is important is to find a schedule that fits and matches your lifestyle. For example, I have a full day of power naps and cheeto eating contests during the day, so night time training is the only thing for me. Also, I am a vampire so I need to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Luckily, my new gym has a nighttime class I can attend. And noone there likes garlic. That’s a huge plus.
1. A closed mind never opened any doors.
The single most important thing you can do when finding a new school is to throw out all the rules and stipulations. Remember, an open mind brought you into BJJ. Additionally, BJJ teaches us life-jitsu.(Also trademarked, thank you) We learn how to overcome obstacles and succeed through adversity by finding alternate paths and trusting ourselves. We also learn how to open up and look at options via different angles. If you want to find a good fit for you, you have to also be open to new possibilities and approach them with an optimisitic perspective. Sure, your new place might not be the same as your old place. How will you grow if you can’t get over the transition? Challenge and change build character. You can’t get forward by only looking back.
Evan Essig BJJ Blue Belt who used to/one day will again train at Revolution BJJ