5 Untold Rules to Succeed at a BJJ Academy.
Posted: July 18, 2017
In lieu of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academies opening up all over the place, those who train and those who want to train have the option to search and try out different academies. With that being said, a few guidelines will help you settle in and enjoy your time at the gym. Here are 5 simple UNTOLD rules that will help you succeed at any academy you decide to call home.
1) Believe in your instructor
This is by far the most important rule because without this none of the other can materialize. You must be able to build a solid relationship with your coach, grappling is too intimate and complex an endeavor not to have someone who you trust and care for (and vice versa) instructing you how to inflict devastating techniques on another human being without becoming a hazard to yourself and others, how to compete, and how to manage the ups and downs of this art/sport. He is there to help you negotiate the obstacles that will arise as you begin learning and to sharpen your game as you climb up the ranks; he has been where you currently are and is where you want to be skill-wise. Your instructor has spent countless hours on the mats honing his skills in every area, from the athletic to the mental and emotional, in order to share them with you, please respect and appreciate this; if you can't believe in his ability to make you a better version of yourself then your training is futile, you will learn a technique or two but will never realize your true potential. When you believe in your instructor's abilities, philosophy, and character is when you begin to deepen your understanding of Jiu-Jitsu as a whole.
2) Trust the process.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most physically demanding, mentally challenging, and emotionally taxing activities one can undertake, yet it is also one of the most rewarding and liberating. Jiu-Jitsu will demand your total commitment to the unknown, stepping on the mats as a blank page waiting to be filled with rules and laws that then can be edited, amended, bent, broken, and sometimes even erased... Forever! This process will either break or build you, but it is your choice; it's pure superstition, to believe in things you cannot yet see, you have to trust those who've been there, those who have written many pages and erased many more, without guides BJJ is nearly impossible to navigate, trust them and their view of the process and you'll be the better for it. Jiu-Jitsu seems to be built to break one's will, but it isn't, it is meant to strip you from ego and elevate both your mind and spirit through the efficient use of your body but before this happens one must start the arduous jump into the blank, I say arduous because it is absolutely nerve-racking to realize and accept that we don't know. This is the key, to know you don't and begin the climb to knowledge and eventually (hopefully) wisdom by giving yourself wholeheartedly to the process. Most blue belts quit because they see themselves very separated from what they think is the goal, due to the extensive amount of techniques and seeming interminable amount of time it takes to acquire proficiency in them, purple and brown belts quit because they're heartbroken by believing they are not getting any better; both are wrong. One more day on the mats is one day closer to your goal, and in everyday of training one becomes better at becoming better. Know that you don't know, allow yourself to be guided, train for joy, then you'll be able to learn.
3) Respect & Honesty
Have a clear and concise idea of what you're training for and why. Be it competition, health, or hobby; seek those with your same goals, make them your main partners and train accordingly, yet share yourself with all who walk through the doors and step on the mats. Train honestly with your partners, give'em the best you got without being obnoxious or abusive. DON'T train with the brand new white belts as if they are seasoned veterans and incessantly tap them in a 5 minute span to satisfy your ego, it's demoralizing and a very dishonest practice. DON'T roll with the non-competitor or the 40+ hobbyist (regardless of rank) as if it's the finals of the Mundial and they're the obstacle to your personal glory, it's disrespectful on your part. DO NOT under any circumstances question neither the legitimacy nor the worthiness of anyone's rank, it is not for you to judge. No path is the same, and your Professor ranked everyone for working on "their personal" Jiu-Jitsu more so than a bunch of generic techniques. As long as everyone trains honestly, without excuses, complaints, or laziness, your training will be satisfying and all goals can be met. Respect your instructor, he is the captain and your guide. Respect the higher ranked students, they've been where you are now and are of much value in your journey. Respect the lower belt, they are where you just left from and are our babies. Respect all your partners, they are the tool to your success in as much as you are theirs. Respect your academy, it is your temple, treat it as such. Bow before stepping on the mats, bow when leaving, wash your gear (yes even the belt), be hygienic, clean and cut your nails (toes too), clean up after yourself, use slippers in the bathroom. Listen, be courteous, know when to follow and when to lead as well. Be a good communicator, speak your mind but with tact and decorum. Be smart, work hard, and don't expect results without busting your ass first. Assholes are remembered, but Dope people are memorable. Be DOPE!
4) Love your academy
You must be in absolute love with your academy; from the instructor, coaches, training partners, the energy, the ideals, the philosophy, to each and every single mat on the floor. This is a very important rule, the environment where you hope to start or develop your Jiu-Jitsu must be your sanctuary, your gateway to your true self, where you will learn the most about yourself and others. Find a place that you enjoy, where you're not just another name on a roster nor a number on a ledger, where the instructors are invested in their student's development and well-being even more so than just their Jiu-Jitsu. Why? You may ask. Well, Jiu-Jitsu (hopefully) is a life long endeavor; thus it will take you a very long time to acquire nuances and arrive at certain conclusions, meaning that your Jiu-Jitsu will take care of itself after a few years of training under the right conditions. The reason accomplished competitors and higher ranked practitioners stay in their academies even after achieving the coveted black belt or world title, is because they not only thrive in, but utterly enjoy their environment. Be diligent, hardworking, mindful, respectful, kind, compassionate, open to new ideas; be more than a training partner, be a brother/sister to those around you, try to form bonds with everyone on "your" mats, help out when needed, embrace everyone and open up to them. Make your academy a second home to you and your family.
5 Always support your teammates