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Global BJJ with Old Man Strength

“Cabin crew, arm doors and cross-check” comes over the intercom and you suddenly get a feeling like you’ve left the iron on.

You’ve had the pretzels, had a beer in the airline lounge and the seatbelt suddenly feels a little bit tighter. You’ve got a week or a fortnight travelling for work, or maybe your travelling with family on a holiday, to a different city or a different country.  You shift in your seat and in your heart, you know what’s wrong. You should have brought your Gi. What’s worse, you know it. You could have brought your Gi.

For older guys, travel is an awesome opportunity to broaden your Jiu-Jitsu, control your diet and advance your game. But only if you plan ahead, do it smart and stay mindful. This article hopefully provides a few tips and tricks to do just that.

There are gyms all over the world which offer the ability to come in and be part of the community, whether in Dubai, Australia, London, Tokyo, Barcelona, New York, Madrid, Malaysia, Indonesia, you name it, all offering amazing experiences and great rolls. These are the OMS secrets to having a safe, enjoyable and stress-free time in gyms all around the world.

Be Realistic and Plan Ahead

The thing you need to bear in mind with all work travel is that it’s fundamentally quite tiring. It involves client and internal meetings, dinner with the local teams, and 8-6pm days where leaving the office is tough. The currencies are different, laundry facilities are hard to find, and worst of all, jet lag gets you like a baseball bat choke – sometimes out of nowhere . Traveling across continents can shift your body clock and the fear factor of entering a new gym and facing new young guys with new games, can be almost overpowering. So you need to be realistic right off the bat.

The biggest thing is to decide, with a few weeks to go, whether you are interested in attending classes, attending open mats, or getting a private lesson. Open mats have a few advantages. Firstly, it means you don’t need to stress out about your Gi being the wrong colour, having a badge or an affiliation that offends the gym , and you can avoid the whole “do you need to join” discussion. While most gyms are pretty good, a lot don’t have an Internet presence and as a coloured belt, your allegiance would naturally to your home gym and your home professor first and foremost and you may not want to be joining other gyms or taking advantage of “first class free” offers. The reality is when you are wanting a roll, you are generally happy to pay for it. And you’re going home in a week.

Secondly, it avoids arriving two classes into a three class curriculum. Some gyms teach set techniques starting on Monday, culminating in review sessions later in the week. Most work trips involve leaving Monday and coming home Friday. You don’t want to be apologising for being the only guy in the class who is delaying the process for everyone trying to hobble through a sweep that everyone nailed on Wednesday.

Thirdly, the whole atmosphere is different at an open mat. You can roll as you like, meet a few people, submit, get submitted, try new games, try the old stuff that works on new people, whatever you like. An open mat is like an opportunity to jam in a band session, except that band sessions infrequently end in people getting choked or armbarred.

Respect is as respect does

The same old guy rules apply when rolling anywhere – pick your partners and be respectful and the Jiu-Jitsu society will respond in kind. It is extremely rare to meet someone who has ever been monstered or hurt in a gym while travelling.

Of course, classes are always an option and if this is your thing, best to check if its cool with your home professor, then contact the gym, respectfully, a week in advance and let them know your name, your home gym and instructor, your belt and your age, and offer to pay any mat fees. In some places, payment is never asked for and in others, there are procedures in place for temporary memberships and that’s cool too. Different gyms have different numbers of visitors. Alliance gym in Tokyo, for example, has easy payment options ahead of time on the Internet page which takes all the hassle out of turning up and having long discussions in Japanese. Plus no need for cash. Based in Shinjuku, the team there are fabulously welcoming.

Planned well, a trip can be a chance to expand your game, escape the loneliness and self-indulgence of travel, and have great experiences.

So next time, grab a rashie, pack the Gi, sew an old man strength patch on, and be part of the global community of old guys staying strong and on the mats no matter what life throws at you. You never know, the guy rolling with you is probably a member of the global OMS Community. Let us know how you go in your travels on the Facebook page. Stay old man strong and train hard.