Written by ‘Steven Johns’ *
“Can I be in your club?”
“Yes, but only if you talk like us, walk like us, dress like us and never question anything we say!”
This has been a running theme in Bjj gyms the world over but is this tradition slowly coming to an end? It is intimidating enough entering a gym for the first time, let alone one that usually comes with substantial financial commitment along with dress codes (only being able to wear gi’s supplied by the gym for example) and dumb rules like ‘no heel hooks’!
A lot of the time joining a Bjj gym gives people confidence and lifelong friendships. A welcoming atmosphere, friendly members and an instructor that genuinely loves to teach no matter the level or ability of their students.
Then you have the other side. Money hungry, desperate for attention and respect, ego driven a$$holes. This is not exclusive to male instructors; in fact, some of the worst cases are with female instructors who decide they must insert their authority onto anyone who steps into their domain.
This I find an amazingly ugly trait of too many instructors, where the ego and demand of respect taints the essence of what is undoubtedly the world’s most beautiful combat sport; especially after having the pleasure of rolling and interacting with the biggest and most influential names in the game. It seems the bigger the name the more friendly, welcoming and willing to accept others opinions and perspectives they are.
Walk into some Bjj gyms and start talking about ‘rubber guard’ or ask about a technique that isn’t in the instructors play book and watch yourself slowly become an outcast. No open discussion or constructive questioning just a swift “No that doesn’t work”, or the even better “Oh you want to take the class?”.
If you hear your instructor bad mouthing someone’s technique or even their life choices inside or outside of the gym, chances are your instructor is a d*ckhead. If your instructor tells you not to enter a certain competition or not to buy a certain brand because of any reason, chances are they too are a massive d’ckhead.
Those who have travelled and worked to a level of the sport that is considered high are on one hand murderers, who have the ability to make even the most intimidating people helpless children. But, on the other, carry themselves with a beautifully humble and friendly manner; one so calm that without you having prior knowledge, would most likely result in you thinking they taught at a primary school or baked cakes for a living.
If this article offends you it is because YOU are the d*ckheads I am talking about. I once heard Rickson Gracie explaining a technique to one of his team. A complete stranger approached and questioned (not in a disrespectful way) how to avoid it. Rickson’s reply? “Come, now we will learn”. Even Gods know that we all have something to teach and we all have even more to learn.
- = Steven Johns is the pen name for our guest blogger. He is a former professional fighter, who is still involved in the industry.