You’ll often hear this sentiment a lot in schools across the country. Jiu Jitsu gym owners will see their members as part of a clan or a family and are in many ways a leader over their student base. Sure, having a community is a nice thing, but is there a point where it goes a little too far? That depends on the individual. We all need guidance and if our professor can offer this and it helps you have probably saved thousands of dollars on therapy. But where does this go too far?
So right off the bat, Jiu Jitsu is a paid service. Much like going to the local coffee shop or Costco, you will meet people that you have a rapport with, but does that make them family? That depends on you. Never once has the manager of my local Starbucks ever tried to give me unsolicited life or career advice, yet Professors in a lot of Jiu Jitsu gyms will position themselves as leaders outside of my Jiu Jitsu studies. For some reason the fancy pieces of cloth and the ability to strangle 99% of the population unconscious in unarmed pajama-based combat has really warped the dynamic of this transactional relationship. Does a black belt mean a lot? In many ways it does.
Let’s think about our relationships to other instructors. Imagine you were in a lecture, learning about Particle Physics from a Professor with a Ph.D. If you paid to learn Particle Physics, would you feel like your money is being well spent if they spend class time trying to rope you into their Physics Family? Personally, I think it would be an absolute waste of value, after all, I paid to learn Particle Physics, not be part of a special club. Same goes for Jiu Jitsu. For some people the value in a Jiu Jitsu Father figure is huge.
I am also pretty sure that the last thing a professor has on his list is giving advice and being overbearing. He has to teach all day, organize, do the accounting, sales, inventory in equipment, strategize and most likely has a family to take care of during the rest of his waking hours.
I understand we’re all human and crave for interpersonal connection, but to be honest, if I paid money for Jiu Jitsu, I expect every single minute on the mat is being spent towards my own skill development. The monthly dues are already steep enough, and are often advertised to be going towards ‘fitness, martial arts, and self-defense’ none of which are being fulfilled by my Professor’s various off-topic Political ramblings.
Do you see your gym as a community? Do you like subscribing to your Professor’s talks about politics every class with your gym dues?