Training on the Road

The prep for traveling is always a hassle, luckily I had the idea of training to occupy me while my wife did most of the packing. Rolling and training in a new environment is something I’ve wanted to try for a while and this trip seemed the perfect opportunity as any to try. I love the idea of testing the Jiu-Jitsu Professor Steve has taught me with a new group of practitioners.

Waving goodbye to the mountains we head East. The giant Denver airport looms over us before we know it. After hours of waiting in the airport the earth drops beneath us, wind lifts us above the surface, mountains give way to planes, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean springs to view. The idea of family plays strongly in my mind, still the need of Jiu-Jitsu lingers on. Videos from Jiu-Jitsu on the Go accompany me through the long and loud plane ride. An awkward relationship builds to my right, the new couple try to tear my focus (I can’t help but stare once or twice…) luckily the videos keep me going. I focus on the grip fighting and back attack series, if I’m going to visit a new gym I want to represent Professor Steve well. 

Two days of revelry, drinking, and hanging out with the family are not necessarily the best ways to get ready to train for two hours of rolling but, what can you do? Saturday morning rolls around and it’s time to go. I wake up early and head out. Nerves build, why? I’m not sure. Everything I’ve heard and read about Salty Dog Jiu-Jitsu are great. Still, whether it’s going to your first class ever (If you haven’t you need to go), doing a competition, or visiting a new gym there’s a certain level of uncertainty and  an unknown factor can be scary. Before leaving I watch my two favorite JJOTG series again and head out. Intense sun and Carolina heat pervade the short car ride, my mom’s stations play over the radio. 

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I go over the series and Professor Steve’s words over and over in my head. Why didn’t I pay more attention? Watching the knowledge on the ride helps calm the nerves.

One of my favorite things about Jiu-Jitsu on the Go is the idea of having a system you can employ and figure out on your own. Gone are the days of archaic training secrets where it’s almost impossible to develop an effective system. Professor Steve gives away the secrets of his game for all to see and can help anyone improve. With the addition of coaches like Scott Miller, more information than you could learn in a year is always at your finger tips. With some confidence in my skills I arrive. 

John Salter, Bellator competitor, UFC veteran, ADCC champion and BJJ Black belt runs a great gym and I was welcomed immediately by him and his staff. Salty Dog Jiu-Jitsu in Wilmington, NC was a clean gym with a laid back atmosphere. But don’t let that fool you, the gym is filled with killers! In an instant of warming up my nerves cooled and class began. 

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Coming from Colorado and a particularly cool summer the heat and humidity of the south played heavy on me. My saving grace was traveling from elevation to sea level, I could at least hang with the guys. The highs and lows of Jiu-Jitsu always put life into perspective as the rolls went back and forth. I had almost forgot what it was like to breath water… but the southern humidity sure reminded me quickly! After a half hour of technique the rolling began in earnest. With so many great students, I had to focus mainly on the grip fighting and abandon some of the back attacks. Still the simple and effective idea of controlling the grips helped me in every roll. 

The final bell rings on the last round. I had the pleasure of rolling with Professor John on the last roll, he respectfully smashed me! It’s always an immense honor to roll with someone so skilled, polite, and who is willing to train. Hopefully I can one day repay the kindness. I have to breath deep for a few minutes before getting up. Pride of my first new gym visit rings true. I thank Steve silently for the knowledge.

The session was a blast and I couldn’t be happier with the school I chose to visit. After an hour of rolling I was ready to get back to the beach! John Salter runs a great school and I hope I represented Professor Steve and Katharo well.

Training while traveling is a great way to learn new perspectives and see where you’re at in the martial art. It also allows you to bring gyms together and help strengthen the community. It’s crazy to think less than twenty years ago people were traveling to other schools to fight each other, not learn and grow. From a time when all techniques were highly guarded to our current situation is amazing to witness. Jiu-Jitsu is starting to become more and more open, and it’s a beautiful thing. Professor Steve is on the cutting edge of growing the overall knowledge base of all practitioners and raising the overall skill of Jiu-Jitsu. 

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When I first started Jiu-Jitsu I imagined training at a new school while traveling was akin to being a Ronin. Challenging all comers to test his skills. Only the most skilled would survive. It’s not like that at all… Obviously. 

Instead of being yelled at and reprimanded for training somewhere else, Professor Steve encourages learning at all levels, at all gyms, and putting your skills to the test. The welcome I felt from Salty Dog Jiu-Jitsu was just as heartfelt as when someone comes to Katharo to train. The intense camaraderie of Jiu-Jitsu is spreading across the world and by training in other places you get to experience so much!  So the next time you’re on vacation, study up, save some Jiu-Jitsu on the Go videos, and get smashed by a whole new group of people!