Why Ojai Valley MMA not only allows, but encourages cross training

Tonight my good friend Jeff Yurk, (Renato Tavares Black belt and Army combatives trainer), is in the Ventura area, and is joining us at Ojai Valley MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a night of teaching, and training together. Jeff is not part of our Association, nor are we a part of his. Yet tonight he will share some of his secrets with my team. But horror of horrors what if my team mate has to match up with one of Jeff’s in the Pan Ams? Well I hope they have a very competitive, exciting and most of all fun match.

The truth is both Jeff and I believe that Jiu Jitsu, and our love for it transcends all the stupid fear and paranoia that permeates much of our sport. The truth is I am living out my own history, and my lineage in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Carlson Gracie stood against his own family and taught not just the self defense moves, but the entirety of the art to anyone who would come in and study with him. This same attitude continued to progress as Carlsons team trained with wrestlers, judo players and even kick boxers.

When I was training for fights I trained with the Mount SAC wrestling team, Chris Brennan’s team, even had a few training sessions with Bas Rutten and Duane Ludwig. Our training room was regularly visited by people including Dan Henderson with Team Quest, Renato Babalu with team Ruas and even the crazy man Jason Miller who was at the time with Tito Ortiz team. We welcomed Tim “Obake” Catalfo for a seminar where we learned a number of lethal Catch Wrestling moves. The truth was we welcomed everyone to our training. And by keeping our training open, we kept our minds open, and our jiu jitsu flourished.

Right now there is a battle between those that say, cross training is betrayal, and those like us that welcome students and even teachers from other places. Even here in Ventura County you run into this fight. Some schools close their doors, and more than that threaten their students with expulsion if they train somewhere else. Where does this attitude come from? Sometimes fear is the answer. Owners are afraid if the students find a better jiu jitsu place they may switch. But often it isn’t fear, its arrogance. How? They believe their superior Jiu Jitsu will be shown through their students to other teams and help them. In the end it’s a selfish motivation either way, their eyes are on themselves and their own school, and not on the art.

For Ojai Valley MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we will continue to both welcome others, and encourage our students to train other places. And with a very sincere heart I say if in the process any of our family find they fit better somewhere else, or they could have better opportunities somewhere else… well I will send them on their way with my blessing. I will miss them, but I want what is best for all of my students, my friends and family. 

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