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One Bad Apple Will Spoil the Bunch
As instructors and owners of a BJJ academy, our first priority should be the atmosphere and culture at the school. It should be a goal to establish an environment where students from all walks of life can thrive and enjoy their training. Everyone should feel comfortable, safe, and there should be an overall sense of camaraderie and mutual respect for everyone’s goals.
Typically, in the first several months of opening your BJJ academy, you will experience an influx of vagabond practitioners that are very excited to see that you’ve opened. They’ve worn out their welcome at all the other academies within a 100-mile radius, and you're next. They’re licking their chops thinking about coming through your doors and destroying the vibe. It can be difficult in those first months of operation when funds are low, and you’re trying to make the rent to turn business away, but these toxic folks will cost you more in the long run. It’s just not worth it.
These people will happily ruin your atmosphere without a second thought, should you choose to allow it. Can you think of a worse scenario than someone coming into your academy for one day to demonstrate how tough they are, injuring a paying student, and never returning? I’ve seen it happen.
When you own a BJJ academy, you should feel a sense of duty to protect your students. Which means screening everyone that plans to come through the door. Your students trust you to shield them from these kinds of infiltrations into the group. Show them they can trust you. Is it fair for a hobbyist BJJ student with a demanding career, and family to support, to get his neck cranked and be unable to work the next day? The answer is no. And you have the ability to prevent these kinds of events from taking place by implementing one single rule.
No one comes through your door and gets on your mat without speaking to you, or a trusted member of your staff first. No exceptions.
But what if they just show up?
Sorry. If this is your livelihood, if this is how you feed your family, and you have your student’s best interests in mind, then telling someone you don’t know they can’t just show up and hop on the training floor isn’t just your right, it may be absolutely necessary. Can there be exceptions? Of course, but you’re in charge. Use good judgement. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Your school is special. Its core is made from people that truly support and believe in what you do. Don’t allow that to be disrupted by one person. There should be an understanding through the ranks of your instructors and with your students that this is the way things are done at your academy. When you’re all on the same page, the risk of an event of this nature is low. But start early. One incident is too many.
Minimizing these types of experiences at your school is important for the overall environment. Show your students that you care who’s on the mat by making sure everyone that enters is on the same page, and is interested in being a student at your school. If your members are constantly terrorized by outsiders that have no interest in being part of a team, and working together, expect to be closing up shop in the near future.
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