Tag Archives: bjj and culture

Not Every BJJ Gym is for Everybody

Recently on social media someone made a comment that they had yet to find a gym where they truly felt welcome. That’s absolutely unfortunate, but it does bring to light something that is not discussed that often: not every academy is going to be a great fit for someone. There are some schools that appeal to a certain crowd because the owner has decided- either consciously or unconsciously- to appeal and attract that certain crowd. And, if we’re being totally honest, there’s a chance that some gyms have a culture that was born out of simply what worked for the gym. Keep in mind, for a lot of people this is a business and their primary source of income: while this by no means excuses any less desirable behaviors, more something to keep in mind if you wonder why there may be a dissonance between what a gym owner or instructor preaches and behaves vs what they allow to transpire. Gym owners should take a good look at not only the qualities and values they intentionally promote in an academy, but also what they allow to “slide” in a gym, because that also plays a huge part of the gym’s culture.

Also, all of that being said, there’s just a chance that a gym is not a fit for someone. Maybe they do not agree with some parts of the culture- while of course there are some non-negotiables when it comes to respect and safety, but take for instance there are some jiu jitsu gyms out there who take a more formal approach to classes, while some take a more casual and relaxed approach. Neither of these academies are wrong (in my opinion), and some students are going to be more drawn to one kind of environment than another.

I know there’s the whole idea that it’s frowned upon to switch gyms: and from a teaching perspective, I do have to say that sometimes it’s hard to watch someone that you spent so much time working with, emotionally investing in their success that it does hurt a little when they decide that they want to train somewhere else. However I also don’t believe in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole: if it’s simply not working for you, then it’s not working for you. If you decide to leave your current gym, try to be as professional and courteous about it as possible. It’s kind of like a break up- the more you speak poorly of the other person, the worse you look.

That’s it for now: have a great day everyone!

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BJJ Academy Culture: The Intentional and the Incidental

I’ve been reading some business/leadership books recently, and a number of them have been talking about culture. The interesting thing is the emphasis that sometimes culture is something you actively strive for, but culture is also created by simply what is allowed or behavior that is ignored/not addressed and therefore passively allowed.

It reminds me of one of the more unreal moments of one of the first UFC events. Two guys are in the middle of the ring, and one grabs a fistful of the others hair and rips it out. One of the commentators says hesitantly “well, that’s not, not allowed” – I think the next event or soon after they addressed this issue and “no hair pulling” was added to the list of prohibited actions.

Culture in a gym is a bit like that- granted, people aren’t getting their hair pulled left and right- but sometimes we strive for a certain vibe in the academy, make a mindful effort to do this and that. This is a reminder that sometimes we also need to take a look at the things we are allowing in the gym – or letting slide because well, it’s not not allowed.

Some could argue that ultimately it’s the owner of the gym who dictates the culture of the gym, but also keep in mind that culture is not created with just one person. Of course there’s the owner or head instructor, but students- particularly higher belts- also play a part in that culture, and they play a part in setting the example of what’s allowed, what’s not allowed, and what’s not, not allowed within the gym.

Just some thoughts I wanted to share- feel free to comment, otherwise have a great day everyone!

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