There’s a quote currently circulating the internet that reads, “My honest advice for anyone wanting more from life: MOVE AWAY FROM YOUR HOMETOWN. You’ll find you become your true self, you stop caring what other people think, and there’s a million times more support. People in your hometown rarely want you to win.” As someone who’s left his hometown, this got me thinking about the pros and cons of moving to a new city. I moved from the Chicago area to Arizona during the fall of 2014 to train with one of the best competition teams I could find and to pursue other new challenges. While the move was not easy, there were so many benefits. Leaving my comfort zone taught me a lot about myself, the people around me, and what I wanted out of jiu-jitsu.
Connect with New People
One of the most significant benefits of moving to a new city was the number of new friends I was able to make. Being part of a large jiu-jitsu academy helped, as I was immediately immersed in an environment where everyone shared a common interest. Meeting new people and sharing ideas helps you better understand people and their unique perspectives. In my hometown, most of my friends were from very similar backgrounds. Moving across the country allowed me to meet people from all walks of life. Some of my training partners were doctors, cops, and others were full-time college students. Interacting and learning from people from various backgrounds gave me a more diverse network and made it easier for me to empathize with a broader array of people. Meeting new people can have even more benefits outside the gym. Whether our new network presents us with new business opportunities or just new fun experiences on the weekend, it’s easy to see the benefits of meeting and connecting with new people.
Learn from Different Coaches and Training Partners
Learning from multiple coaches throughout your jiu-jitsu career can help immensely with your progress. Although it’s probably not good to change gyms every month, learning from more than one coach throughout your jiu-jitsu journey is beneficial. Not only will you get to learn different techniques, but you’ll also learn different teaching styles and which one works best for you. Some coaches put a heavy emphasis on conditioning and rolling, some put a heavy focus on technique and specific training, and some emphasize a combination of the three. By training under different coaches with different training styles, you’ll learn which one works best for you. It can also be very beneficial to train with different training partners. When you train at one gym for many years, your training partners start to learn your game. They understand your best moves and how to counter them effectively. Moving to a new gym with a whole new set of training partners allows you to experience what it’s like to roll with people who have entirely different skill sets. You’ll learn which parts of your game are strong and working consistently and which parts are exposed by new counters you haven’t seen before.
Learn Your Likes and Dislikes
When we live in one area for our whole lives, it’s easy to become complacent. Moving to a new state or country will immediately present you with new challenges and opportunities. We may have to get a new job and a new house or apartment. Through forced change, we are easily able to compare our current situation with our past circumstances. Once we identify our likes and dislikes, it’s much easier to plan our futures, ultimately giving us a better understanding of what we want out of life. We may start loving competition and learn that as our skills and overall competence grow, we learn we have a passion for teaching. We may start out liking one training style and realize that we prefer another as our skills increase. When we start training, we might prefer training seven days a week and later learn that we choose a more balanced schedule. Changing your environment and the people around you will help you figure these things out.
Become More Independent
One of the biggest benefits of moving away from your hometown is that you learn what it truly means to be independent. Unless you move to a new city where you already have friends, you won’t be able to rely on an established network when you need help or advice. This resource gap applies to jiu-jitsu as well. Maybe there were expectations at home for how you would train or how often you would be at the gym. When you move somewhere new, it’s like hitting a reset button. You no longer have people expecting you to be a certain way, so you have to take ownership of your training and progress. This struggle can be hard at first, but once you settle into your routine, you’ll have a better idea of where you want to take your jiu-jitsu.
Learn to Deal with Uncertainty
Uncertainty is a constant in life, so learning how to deal with it will have countless benefits. When you move to a new city, the number of uncertainties is endless. Things like where you’ll live, where you’ll train, how you’ll make money, and what type of people you’ll meet are likely unknown when you decide to move. While this may sound scary at first, it can also be exhilarating. The number of possibilities with training, work, and new relationships is nearly endless, and the opportunity to explore these things is well worth the stress of uncertainty.
Gain a New Appreciation for Where You Came From
We often take for granted the things in life that become familiar. Maybe we had a great group of training partners or a great coach that we didn’t fully appreciate while training with them. Or maybe there was a local competition circuit where we could compete almost every weekend that we didn’t take advantage of. Moving to a new city will help you appreciate your past more and understand its impact on who you are as a jiu-jitsu practitioner and person.
Ultimately, making a move to a new city will force you to self-reflect and become clearer about your goals and ambitions, both in jiu-jitsu and in life.
Danny O’Donnell is a Jiu Jitsu enthusiast, co-host of the Open GuardCast, and an assistant instructor at Marcio Andre Jiu Jitsu Academy in Phoenix, Arizona.