Maintaining Value and Respect Inside Your Gym.
The BJJ gym is a place of solitude. It is where you learn the craft you love and meet some of the most unique people who become your close friends, all while learning to hurt each other in a controlled environment.
So we must have ultimate value and respect within the place we go to find peace and increase our skill set and daily approach as martial artists. This is far beyond showing up on time, picking up after oneself, or participating in warmups.
The primary appreciation must always go to the owner/instructor, because without them the gym would not exist. Without the mastermind behind the space and availability of this passionate sport and lifestyle, we would have no passionate sport or lifestyle to partake in.
Aside from moving to find a gym that offers BJJ/MMA or taking on the task of starting our own, we need to show the upmost honourable respect to our coaches who have given us this opportunity to become better human beings, both on and off the mat.
Secondary to the instructors, we must focus on the people who allow us to develop and sharpen our skills, none other than our friends and training partners.
Without these people, there would be no sharpening of these skills we all depend on sharpening to become better at the sport. Although BJJ is a single person sport when it comes to competition, we would be unable to perform without our team, whereas it is the foundation of not only your skills, but the continued existence of the gym itself.
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After all, without your teammates who are paying contributors to the gym, it would not be open. We must always focus on the safety and continuous ability of our teammates. So roll carefully yet effectively, with safety always being paramount in the gym.
Then we must focus on the surroundings and hygiene of the gym. We must have so much value and appreciation for our surroundings in the gym that you as little as pick up the water bottles that were left behind after class, wear your flip flops off the mats at all times, leave your shoes at the door, and clean up after yourself and teammates if need be.
This may seem a tad over the top suggesting that you clean up after your teammates and perhaps even strangers, but remember this is your domain. This is your place of solitude, and it should be treated as such.
The gym can remain open or end up closed due to one very controllable aspect: proper hygiene. Amongst the constant issues with bacterial skin issues such as staph or ringworm, this is of the upmost importance.
As grapplers and fight sport athletes, sweat sharing between you and your training partners are a definite, and the only way we can avoid bacterial skin issues is proper hygiene with not only your cleanliness outside of the gym, but your training gear and equipment inside the gym as well.
Always clean your training gear and equipment (yes that includes your belt, it will not wash away your skills, come on people) after every use diligently, no matter what before the next use. Be sure to shower after every class to avoid bacteria growing on your skin, which in time will keep your gym clean and open.
And of course, like the above mentioned hygienic musts, ALWAYS wear your flip flops off of the mats, especially in the washroom.
Lastly, we must be simply respectful.
We must be respectful of not only our coaches, surroundings and people within the gym, but the people who come and go.
Combat sports is a very intimidating avenue to go down for anybody. When the first timer white belt comes into the gym and step foot on the mats for the first time, they’re taking a crucial step in their develop as a human being, therefore we must welcome them with open arms and show them respect.
All of these gyms regardless of what people have heard, get a similar rap, that it is intimidating and violent or both. Although this can be true on the surface, it is up to us to destroy that stigma and show the new comers that we are hardworking, respectful martial artists, not the stereotypical “savages”that they see on TV.
So, shake the hand of that new comer, make eye contact, be deliberate with your approach and make them feel welcome. When they finish class and leave for the day, tell them you hope to see them back tomorrow, be welcoming and appreciative towards them to ease their decision to join in the first place.
Albeit these practices I covered above should go without saying, it can’t be covered enough in my opinion. Appreciate your gym. Appreciate your coach. Appreciate your training partners. Appreciate the fact that to train in this sport is an incredible honour, and display that honour daily for your teammates and new comers to see.
Display to everyone that you cross paths with inside and outside the gym that what we do inside the gym is far from hostile or intimidating. Show people that you are engulfed in the martial arts way and that you have great honour and appreciation for this lifestyle, make it appealing to people, remove the stigma, singlehandedly.
Be honourable in your approach, as a martial artist should be, because this approach, as we know, is contagious.
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