Jiu-Jitsu Letter

We Send Them Elsewhere

Am I trying to have the student solve my problem, or am I trying to solve their problem?

As instructors, we have to clearly understand what our students are looking for. We send prospects to neighboring schools if they want something we can’t provide. Typically, this is a self-defense vs sport decision.

If someone walks in and tells us he wants to enter tournaments, reads r/bjj1, follows professional grapplers on Instagram, or subscribes to Flo Grappling2, he’s probably not going to enjoy his time at our school, at least not as much as he would at a sport-focused school.3 We don’t even allow white belts to spar, at least during their first few months with us.

Do your research. If you’re looking for a sport school, look for that. If you’re looking for a self-defense school, look for that. Some school owners will tell you what you want to hear because they want you to sign up. Take advantage of free trials. There’s no need to rush into signing up. Your goal is to train forever.

Gracie University and certified training centers offer a free 10-day trial. Use them. And observe the advanced classes, knowing you’ll be there eventually.

Do the same at other schools before you commit to a long-term contract. Other schools may offer just a one-day trial. If so, ask about paying drop-in fees for a week so you can see if you’re really a fit there.

Finally, it’s fine to switch schools. I’ve heard of some teachers labeling students that leave as disloyal. We’ve had students leave, and I can understand the feeling. We’ve spent a lot of time and energy on them. (And they’ve spent time, energy, and money.) I wouldn’t call any of them disloyal or have any negative feelings about them. If I’m no longer providing what they need, I wouldn’t want them to stick with me. I care that they’re training, with me or with someone else.

Is your instructor trying to have you solve their problem, or is your instructor trying to solve your problem?

  1. I would discourage this for most. ↩︎

  2. I actually do some of that. 🤷🏻‍♂️ ↩︎

  3. For the record, we do have competitors in our school, and they sometimes take home medals. ↩︎

Subscribe to the newsletter to get updates in your inbox.