5 Rules for Cross-Training

The question is not necessarily whether cross-training in itself is good or bad, the question is moreso, how can I cross-train respectfully?

There is nothing inherently wrong with cross-training. It can be beneficial to you as a student if you want to get to know other jiu jitsu students in the community and diversify your training.

That being said, if you are going to cross train, you want to make sure that you are respectful to your home gym, your visiting gym, and to all of the members that you meet in the process.

Here are 5 Rules for Cross Training that will help ensure that it is a positive experience for all parties involved:

1. Let your home gym and the visiting gym know that you are cross-training

Inform the head instructors at both gyms that you are cross-training. This shows courtesy and respect to both gym owners, and makes the intention for cross-training very clear. When you make it clear that you are cross-training, the instructor at the visiting gym knows that you are not their student, meaning they are not going to promote you, and you are also not a potential member. By being open and honest about your cross-training, you avoid any confusion about your intention at each gym.

2. Always offer to pay a mat fee

More often than not, a mat fee will be required. However, some gyms will not require a mat fee when you visit them, but I always suggest to my students to at least offer to pay something. By paying a mat fee, you show that you value the training, the facility, and the instruction. You are also showing respect to the members of that gym who are paying monthly dues to train there. If they do not accept your offer, then buy merchandise, help to sweep the mats, or offer to pay for a meal after training. You can get creative, but the point is to always show that you value the school that you are visiting and the training that they offer.

3. Understand what techniques are allowed

If you are going to visit another gym, it is extremely important that you know what techniques are allowed, and for which belts.

At our gym, for example, we do not allow white belts to do heel hooks. This is to avoid unnecessary injury. We will train heel hooks amongst colored belts, but only as long as it is agreed between sparring partners. It is important that all students visiting our school are also aware of this rule.

Always ask the head professor or fellow students if there are any specific rules in regards to which techniques are allowed for which belts.

4. Learn the rules of the school

Different schools have different rules and requirements for training. Always be aware of these rules, including what gis are allowed, or if you are allowed to wear another school’s patch. If the school you are visiting requires a specific gi, and you do not have that gi, rent or buy the gi that they request. Always be respectful of the rules in place. If you do not agree with the rules, then don’t train at that gym.

5. Be aware of poachers, and don’t poach another school’s students

Poaching is unnecessary and disrespectful. The quality of jiu jitsu at a school should speak for itself. If a school owner is trying to get you to leave your school and join theirs, what does that say about their jiu jitsu?

Be aware of students and coaches trying to get you to join their school, and never encourage other students to leave their school and come join yours. The purpose behind cross-training is to enhance your training, never to poach.

When a student from another school visits, I make it very clear that I am not their instructor, they are not my student, and I will not promote them. Students have asked me before if they should train at another school or my school, and I make it clear that that is not my decision. I have also experienced other schools poaching my own students, so I know what that is like, and will never do that to another coach.


My last and final suggestion is to always open a dialogue with your professor if you do decide to leave the gym. Take the time to talk to them, and let them know why you are leaving. Even if it is because you have a problem with your current school, be honest about the issues that are driving you away. This will always be more appreciated than an excuse.

I hope that these rules are helpful to you as you consider cross-training. As always, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on cross-training. Let me know what you think in the comments section of our Youtube Video.

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How to approach an open mat for BJJ

How to approach an open mat for BJJ

Here at Team Casarez BJJ in Cary, NC, we have a few open mats every week, and that provides time for a student to work on what they have learned, try out some new stuff, or get some sparring with teammates. I have been training at Team Casarez Brazilan Jiu-Jitsu in Cary for a few years now and anytime there is a new student that shows up to an open mat, they will normally just come out and ask “what am I supposed to do?” For this reason, I think that each practitioner will have an opinion on what they do during an open mat session, but this game plan is great for anyone that is wondering how to approach an open mat for bjj.

Have a Plan

Showing up and not having anything in mind is not a bad thing if you are a seasoned student, but this can waste time if you don’t have a focus. A basic plan would be:

  • Work on what you learned that week while it is still fresh in your head and other students are also in that mindset.
  • Focus on your weaker side for passing or submissions.
  • Pre-game a flow or sequence to practice.
  • Write down a set of techniques you have been struggling with.
  • Review your BJJ journal and pick a favorite.

Don’t Always Just Roll

There is no doubt that one of the best parts of doing jiu-jitsu in the first place is the rolling or sparring aspect. A benefit of using an open mat for more than that though is that you have time to work on the things that you don’t have time during the normal class and most of all at your own pace. For example, if you have a hard time getting out of side control you can literally take 10 min, 20 min, or even an hour to work on getting out of it with numerous different people. Also, things like stretching and body awareness are essential to upping your BJJ game so why not do it then.

Ask Others to Drill with You

Drilling or repetitions of movements really turn learning into muscle memory. Finding fun and enjoyable drills that you can do with a partner can make an open mat one of the best learning experiences. An example would be to take 3 armbars you can do from the close guard and get 5 minutes in drilling the technique and also having the other person escape each one. The drill then becomes a fluid memory in your mind and body allowing it to be executed flawlessly when needed.

Don’t be Scared to Ask Higher Belts to Review a Move

We line up in class from highest to lowest and sometimes due to the nature of class, we do not get that time to work with the more seasoned people we train with. There is a difference between a brown belt teaching you a basic move and a blue belt. When you have been doing a move for years, there is probably some tips and tricks to accomplish it with ease. This is not to say that someone with a lower rank does not know the move; just asking higher belts to work with you on something is perfect for an open mat.

Conclusion

I hope that this idea of how to best approach an open mat helps people get the most out of those opportunities. Here at Team Casarez Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Cary, NC, we make sure that all the people we train with are equipped with the best knowledge for their BJJ journey. Posts like this and others, such as, what to focus on as a white belt, food choices to help BJJ, and others are written to just assist in knowing what to expect from this beautiful gentle art. We offer adult BJJ, Kids BJJ, and even a tots BJJ program so no matter the size of the family, we are equipped to handle it all.