Breaking in to a New Academy
Changing BJJ Academies Can Be Stressful Time
Joining a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy is a daunting experience that new and ranked practitioners succumb to at least once in their grappling career. The new student not only has to dive into a martial art that is violent in appearance, but attempt to join an enclosed social structure that is not always warm to new students (more on this later). The latter of the two experiences is one even a ranked and decorated jiujitero must submit to. This article will attempt to objectively describe the nature of the difficulty in navigating your way to a new home.
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The previously mentioned notion that some students of an academy may often not be keen on taking a new student under their wing and supporting them through the early stages of the practice is not rooted in an indifference to inexperienced apprentices. Rather, many long-term grapplers are rather cautious of it due to the large early drop-out rate of new students. To sacrifice one’s own time in supporting a new student may be seen as a waste of time if the new student ultimately quits.
Veteran grapplers looking to join new gyms experience a similar situation, but for an entirely different reason. Although there may be numerous reasons a new gym may not be swiftly hospitable to the experienced student, the most relevant motivation is due to fear of being submitted by the new student. It can be a humiliating experience for a long-time academy student to be tapped by a new comer, albeit irrational to think this way.
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Although some, probably most, academies are very embracing of new comers, you may still walk into an academy that is not. My advice to new grapplers looking to begin Jiu Jitsu is to persevere through the early few weeks of joining. The only true expectation of the new student is to continue to attend classes. By displaying meticulous persistence in your attendance, you will quickly find your way in to the community of people around you who will support you for the remainder of your grappling career.