Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Not a Family

Your school is not your family. But it shouldn’t be the other end of the spectrum either. If your mentality is that you don’t owe your school, teacher, or partners anything because you pay your monthly membership fee, you’re approaching it wrong. You don’t “owe” anything, of course.

Some school owners certainly are narcissistic scum and take advantage of their students, but there’s something good about being part of a community when you’re learning the art.

No, students shouldn’t work for free. This is something that the dirtbag school owners will push for. They’ll have blue belts teach kids classes for free. They’ll have them clean the toilets, and then later “let” them clean the mats as a reward. Someone told me recently about a school owner whose teachers pay him for the “privilege” of teaching at his school.

Just like the company you work for is not your family, your jiu-jitsu school is not either. A company that makes a big deal about it being a family is full of crap. It’s the same for a jiu-jitsu school. Step back, take another look, and you should have a clearer picture of what’s going on.

Some of my students stay after class to help clean up. I don’t expect it from any of them. Those that don’t, don’t get punished in any way, and those that do, don’t get special treatment. I offer sincere gratitude and a reminder that it’s never expected. I fully expect to clean the mats by myself every day. Just like tonight.

There are students that are 100% transactional. And that’s fine. They are paying me for a service, I provide the service, and for them, that’s the end of the deal. I’ll note that, over my 10+ years of teaching, that of my student quitters, it was easy to predict because they were mostly people who didn’t care much about being part of the community, or about helping anyone but themselves. They thought they could come in, do it by themselves, and then get out. But most of them were just white belt quitters.

Learning jiu-jitsu is hard, but it’s much easier when you have the mindset that helping someone else helps you. And when you can connect with someone through jiu-jitsu, you can both get so much better and get more out of learning self-defense than self-defense.

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