|That is one BEAUTIFUL hoodie!|
We pack our gym bags with a BJJ gis, rash guards, belts, groin guards, mouth guards..etc. and perhaps some protein shake / bars for recovery. We read BJJ blogs (click here to vote for the Part Time Grappler Blog in the Jiu Jitsu Style Awards!), buy Jiu Jitsu magazines, watch DVDs, study BJJ / Grappling books and mobile apps and tons and tons of YouTube footage. We attend BJJ competitions and go to Grappling seminars and training camps and, perhaps most importantly, we go to our BJJ school, academy, gym or whatever you want to call it, week in and week out, and simply expect it to be there.
We do all these things and, let's face it, we take them for granted. We take it for granted that when we want to buy a gi tailored for our needs (long arms, short legs, extra large / small, patched up / plain, soft, sturdy, striped, rash guard lined, super light competition legal...etc.) then it will be there. Someone will make it and it will be available.
We take it for granted that when we are good enough to wear a darker coloured belt that there will be an instructor who is both qualified* and competent enough to grade us to a blue, purple, brown or even black belt in BJJ! He / she will show up out of nowhere and tie that new belt around our waist and (heaven forbid) that any costs will be involved because that's just blasphemy! It cheapens the belt, art of BJJ and whole process if any money is involved in the process of grading. No, I want the instructor to take time out of his daily duties, travel from wherever he / she lives to my local club, teach me this art they bled, toiled and spent time and money to learn and then acknowledge my limitless awesomeness and bestow upon me the new belt.
Most importantly, we take it for granted that when we leave the house and head to the BJJ dojo, it will be there. Someone will pay the rent, sort out the insurance, bring in high quality instructors, buy and maintain the mats, clean them regularly, pay the electricity, sort out a good schedule that has classes at hours that suit our needs (broken down into levels that suit our needs), be a top level coach who spends enough time and resources on learning both the arts and how to teach them in a way that suits us and we don't want to pay a premium amount for that either. No, because that would cheapen the belt, art of BJJ and whole process.
You are more than welcome to have this attitude. We are all free to think any way we wish. I'm simply suggesting here that this is not the healthiest attitude to have. Not for you, not for you BJJ team mates and not for your instructor.
I would like to suggest that you treat the BJJ community you belong to as just that: a community. A community dies very quickly if we just expect and demand it to be there for us and it flourishes if we nurture it and actively participate in it. Here are a few suggestions to how you can do your bit and help support your BJJ academy, you own local BJJ community:
Follow: Most BJJ academies / gyms have embraced social media (Facebook, twitter, instagram, YouTube, blogger, podcasts...etc.) so go ahead and Like, Follow and show your love. Sign up to your club's newsletter if they have one. What? They don't? Why not be the one to start it for them? Maybe what they needed all this time was someone who has a few minutes over and some IT know-how. If you happen to feature in a tweet, picture or status update then feel free to share it and spread the knowledge about your BJJ club. This is usually free of charge although it may cost you some time and effort.
Attend: Is your BJJ school organising a social event (summer barbecue, Christmas party, UFC night..etc.), a seminar with a high level BJJ black belt, a grading, a charity event, a competition or a small BJJ, MMA and No Gi Submission grappling inter-club or even a cake sale. Take a deep, hard look at your schedule and see if you can't shuffle a couple of things around to attend, help out or at least promote the events on the above mentioned social media. Costs for these vary between £5 for Barbecues / cake sales and £20-40 for seminars (plus additional travel costs)
Recommend: There's a reason you come back to your BJJ gym every week. Why not recommend your extracurricular activity to a friend, family member of even a work colleague? They might get as much out of it as you do. It would be great to be the guy / girl who helped so and so lose weight, get healthy and make some great, new friends. Not only is it free to recommend a friend to your BJJ club, some academies even have offers where when you introduce someone you get a free lesson etc.
Represent: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies and teams often bring out branded leisure wear (hats, t-shirts, hoodies, zip ups...etc.), training attire (gis, rash guards, belts, patches...etc.) or even miscellaneous items (stickers, iPhone covers, key chains, coffee mugs...etc.). Not only do these strengthen the brand that we all care about (our local BJJ club) but they also help support the business so it's here today, tomorrow and the day after. Not to mention that they're fun and, in many cases, very interactive. Designing these is in many cases a labour of love and many gym managers / head instructors try to get people's opinion and involvement in choosing the colours, textiles / material, arrangement..etc. Costs involved vary between (£5 patches - £60-80 for a nice embroidered gi)
Instead of just demanding and expecting, I suggest participating and elevating your BJJ community to new heights.
ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!
Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi
Proudly sponsored by Predator Fightwear: Built for the kill and Brutal TShirt: Made By Grapplers For Fighters