The Importance of Intra-Affiliation Cross Training - alldaybjj

The Importance of Intra-Affiliation Cross Training

In a previous blog we discussed the importance of cross training for your development and character in Jiu-Jitsu. While the initial blog focused on the broader perspective of cross training, this blog is specific to the importance of intra-affiliation cross training, meaning, going to train at other schools of your same affiliation.

Initially when I first started training, while my academy was affiliated with a larger team, there was no other academy (of the same affiliation) nearby to cross train with. Nor were there opportunities for the black belts to train with and learn from their black belt counterparts. This also made me wonder how black belts keep their tools sharp if they don’t train with other black belts regularly… (but that’s another topic for another blog.)

It really wasn’t until I went to Brazil (I was a 6 month white belt at the time) where I learned about the “treino coletivo,” or rather, a collective training between students of the same affiliation in one place. Sometimes the academy it was held at would change, like from the headquarters to one of the larger schools in the area. These treino coletivos would happen fairly frequently – either once per month or every other month. I wouldn’t call it an open mat, nor would I call it a class, but more like a bit of both. We would warm up together as a group (calisthenics and line drills), learn a technique, drill it a few times, and then train. This was not only limited to lower belts. Black belts often took this as an opportunity to get in porrada training with other black belts that they don’t normally get to train with.

In hindsight, I didn’t realize the immediate benefits of training with others of your same affiliation (but outside of your home school) until fairly recently now that I train at an academy with a large affiliation. Despite being part of the same team, training outside of your comfort zone, your home school, can be a scary and quite intimidating whether you know others who train there or not. But, just like starting BJJ, you always have to start somewhere right? And people are always trying to kill you on the mat regardless of whether you’re from the same home school.

In any case, here is my take on the benefits of intra-affiliation cross training based on my experience:

You meet new people in the same “family.” This is important in terms of finding new and good training partners. After all, the more training partners that you like, the better. It’s also important for networking outside of the gym. For example, I had been talking about how I wanted to find a good chiropractor but didn’t know where to start. Then BAM. Someone introduced me to a white belt, who just happened to be a chiropractor. The same goes for helping find jobs, making new friends, etc.

You learn different styles/techniques. Every instructor has their own style of Jiu-Jitsu, with details that could be game changing for you. Limiting who you train with, or who you train under, severely limits your learning and growth – especially if the opportunities are immediately available to you. There’s actually an old Hawaiian proverb that says not all knowledge is learned in one school. And in Jiu-Jitsu, this couldn’t be truer. The more opportunities you have to learn from others, no matter the belt color, the better you become.

You will build confidence. The ability to adapt and train with everyone, whether you are comfortable in that environment or not, helps you gain confidence in your own game. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. And the more that you expose yourself and your game to new and unfamiliar people, the more you can grow from it. Along those same lines, training with new people is never boring. You don’t know what their game is (unlike your favorite training partners at the gym) and it will ultimately be a test of your skill level in an uncomfortable situation.

You will get better competition training. Adding more and different bodies to train with (including different games/styles) will help you better prepare for competition. Rolling with the same people day in/day out, whose game you practically know by heart, can only help you so much – especially at the lower levels. We see huge intra-affiliation trainings close to the biggest events like Pans and Worlds, where people arrive a week earlier to train at their headquarters with others from the same affiliations all over the world. It’s no surprise that competitors who cross train, often fare well in competition. Coincidence? I think not.

There are definitely many more benefits to cross training, but these are the things that I’ve learned by opening myself up to new training opportunities. If you are too afraid to expose yourself and your game in unfamiliar situations outside of competition, you will limit your growth and potential to improve in this sport. Your academy, albeit your home and comfort zone, can provide you with only so much after a certain period of time. The is so much knowledge in the BJJ universe… so if the opportunity presents itself to train somewhere different, you should definitely take advantage of that opportunity. You won’t regret it!

Lea Young

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