Why Do People Start Training?
Why do people start training and what should you be looking for in an academy? I think to start, allow me to tell my story as I imagine some can relate. I came to Jiu Jitsu because at the time, I lived in a rough neighborhood for the first time in my life and had already run into a few situations where I was forced to realize that I did not actually know the first thing about fighting. Sure, I worked out and wasn’t really a small guy but as you will soon find out, how much you bench does not equal how well you fight.
As a result of this there was obviously a strong desire to learn how to defend myself and my family. I was in search of something that would make me a tough guy, well, let’s say tougher guy, because at that time in my life with my zero martial arts classes ever, I thought I was tough. The reality is I was soon going to finds out how untrue that thinking was.
I started on my journey to find the martial arts academy that was going to make me a tough guy, a fighter, someone who can defend themselves, you know the drill all the typical macho crap that so many people believe until they start training.
I was lucky enough to cross paths with someone that was opening a Jiu Jitsu academy near me and he convinced me to give it a shot on one of the first days he was open. Not knowing what to expect and being nervous or what was to come I reluctantly agreed. Looking back, at that time I had no idea what “good” looked like. Now fast forward several years later and I recognize the signs of what made it great. Don’t worry, I won’t keep this a secret so here we go, we will dive into that and see what you should be looking for when you walk into an academy.
Before we dive in, let me tell you about my very first day on the mats. I was greeted at the door by the owner and head instructor for the academy with a friendly handshake and smile. He told me where to change, where to put my stuff and what to do while I waited on class to start. What you may not realize is having someone have the foresight to tell the new start all of these things goes a long way because then it lessens the number of questions they need to ask which in turn helps them feel more like they fit in, at least, that’s how it worked for me.
Once class started, I was partnered up with a veteran blue belt that was very friendly and helpful but also helped me realize just how much I didn’t know. We trained together for the class doing the techniques shown and he would correct me and assist me in getting the technique to a “good enough for day 1” state. This went a long way because when I left there I had learned something, granted, I was no Gordon Ryan, but I left there knowing a few positions and no longer being completely oblivious.
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Upon finishing class they asked me what I thought and when I was coming back. I was hooked. I can not pin point why, but I think a combination of loving Jiu Jitsu and the vibe I felt upon walking in the door I just knew it was the right place for me. I genuinely hope that this article will help you to fine the same happiness in your academy. When I look back at who I was when I started and who I am now, I can confidently say that Jiu Jitsu played a big part in helping me become the person I am now. I can’t wait for you to have a similar experience and to see how far we can take this.
The absolute first thing you need to look at is the vibe of the environment. How does it feel when you walk in, is it inviting, do you like being there, does it feel comfortable or is it the opposite? Is it dirty, are there maintenance issues? While you may or may not see the importance of this initially, trust me when I say you want to pay attention. Generally speaking, the instructor’s attention to detail and commitment to keeping the academy well-kept like transfers over to their commitment to their teaching skills and their own continued training. You want to train at a place where the instructors and students take pride in how the academy looks.
Next up on the list of importance is how people treat you when you first walk in. Are you met by the guy that wants to beat you up because you are new and his Jiu Jitsu is only good enough to beat people who have never trained before? Or are you met with friendly faces that are excited to have you joining the team and anxious to help you get started. Make no mistake, just because people are friendly does not mean they too are not going to push you and beat you up a little along the way. The difference here is that it will be done in a controlled way and always within reason and for your own progress, not their gratification. You simply can not get better or grow without stepping outside of your comfort zone, or in some cases being pushed outside of your comfort zone a bit. That’s what the team mates are for.
If you stop now you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the game when choosing your academy. These are, in my opinion crucial factors in choosing the right place to begin your journey. For me, I was fortunate enough to find all of these things without realizing it at the time. I was lucky in that the academy was brand new and I was able to grow as the academy grew. I was taught how to behave towards “the new guy” by instructors that had been training for years and were very passionate about the culture they wanted for the academy. I learned this through how they treated me the first time I walked in the door.
There are other questions that are worth asking, but I would deem them less important than the first two that were mentioned. Some of the other things you may want to consider asking about are as follows. Is there a contract? This can be important depending on your goals and what you are looking to get out of Jiu Jitsu. I view this differently than most I believe.
If you are someone that has commitment issues or quits easily, it may be a good idea for you to sign a contract because then there is no option to quit, or at least the option to quit paying the tuition for the next few months until the contract expires. This can be a safety net for you to help deter you from quitting when it gets hard or you don’t feel like doing it anymore. In the words of Professor Tom DeBlass, you have to love it Jiu Jitsu even on the hard days. Either way, knowing what you are signing is always a good idea, so it may be worth while to ask about a contract.
It may also be worthwhile to ask about the belt testing process, are there high fees associated with your promotions? Personally, I struggle with paying additional fees to progress in Jiu Jitsu, you may feel differently and that’s ok too, just know what you’re getting into.
Ask about the linage. Who does your professor train with? How do they stay current in this ever changing sport? Are they learning exclusively online? Or maybe with their professor in person? Either way, it’s a good idea to know where they are coming from and trace your linage back to the original Gracie’s that brought Jiu Jitsu to the United States, or who ever it may be for your country. If there are questionable areas here or gaps in the linage, it may be worth looking into. You want to make sure you are getting quality Jiu Jitsu training for your money, so make sure everything checks out.
It’s unfortunate that in this day and age we have to worry about the Mc Dojo’s popping up and scamming money from hard working people that want to learn Jiu Jitsu and meet their fitness goals. While it’s frustrating, it is definitely something you want to be aware of when you are looking for a place to train.
At the end of the day, find a place to train that makes you feel at home and at peace. It should be somewhere you want to most days, and something you miss when you are not able to go. Make sure to make time to look back every few months and realize how much you have changed and how far you have come and what goals you have accomplished or gotten closer to accomplishing. Making the decision to train Jiu Jitsu is often times one of the best decisions people make in their entire life.
It won’t always be easy, but having the right mindset and a road map that maps out where you are headed is certainly helpful. I would encourage you to check out the latest Tom DeBlass video instructional coupled with e-book that is titled, “The Road to Black Belt and Beyond”. In this detailed breakdown Professor DeBlass covers everything you need to know from a mental perspective to reach your goals both on and off the mats.
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