Who Is Your Toughest Opponent?
That question is pretty interesting. I guarantee most of you immediately pictured one of your training partners or a competitor you have dealt with. The fact that we all imagind something or someone else as our problem is the BIGGEST part of the problem.
Throughout your Jiu-Jitsu training, you will have ups and downs. The mats are an elaborate laboratory in which you are tested and are quite possibly, re-engineering yourself into a new person. Most of this is done unconsciously and non verbally. This is not an accident. Humans evolve an incredible amount when challenged.
So who is your toughest opponent? Have you figured it out? I'll let you in on a little secret...It's YOU.
Your "Self" Is Scarier Than Any Opponent.
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” - Carl Jung
By the time you reach adulthood, chances are you have labeled yourself as something. most likely, you have come to the conclusion that you are that label and that "it is what it is". Well, if that were the case, what would be the purpose of doing anything?
I truly believe that most people don't believe the label they have put on themselves. They have willingly chosen to accept that label because they unconsciously know that tearing away at that label would be hard work and they may be forced to do things they do not want to do.
That is why Jiu-Jitsu is so powerful. Jiu-Jitsu is a sword that cuts through your soul and forces deep introspection and reflection. Your struggles on the mat are not because another person is submitting you or you can't execute a technique properly. You CHOOSE to feel a certain way when you are submitted.
Some people don't care about being submitted and that's fine, but they will never improve or reach their full potential. They are trying to avoid the work it takes to put into improving and they don't feel like doing that, so they are just going to "not care".
Other people get really upset, because they have high expectations and when those expectations are not met, they become angry. They are frustrated by Jiu-Jitsu, because Jiu-Jitsu forces humility. It forces the societal Alpha down to his knees and this person is forced to see a reality that they thought didn't exist. This reality is forced upon them by an individual who they had thought didn't fit into their existential hierarchy. When the former football captain gets twisted up in a knot by the "nerd", his world is turned upside down. This person had been the predator his entire life and stumbled into an almost parallel universe where he is now prey among what he thought were prey animals.
Use This Feeling For More Effective Learning...
BE CURIOUS. This type of feeling or mentality, allows you to keep a neutral state of emotion. Primarily because when you are curious, you are focused on learning "how-to" do something instead of doing something. When you are trying to do something and that thing fails, you are going to be upset. Why? Because you had a goal and that goal was crushed or didn't meet your expectations.
When you are curious, you are interested in testing things out. You are trying to reach a conclusion. You are searching for something. This puts you in a neutral state in which you are able to emotionally deal with any outcome because you knw that the end result will be positive. The end result will give you information to use for the future.
In my opinion, this is what led Helio Gracie and his relatives to make such great advances in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. After learning the art, their focus was on making it the best and testing it, in order to develop it. Perhaps this happened because they received only a few years of training with their teacher, Maeda, and The Gracie's were forced to seek out information to learn. Although they had a strong belief in what they had learned and een practicing, a healthy skepticism, kept them searching for better answers.
Get out of YOUR OWN WAY. Stop the negative self talk and enjoy being a part of a VERY difficult process.
The TURNOVER Rate
Rickson Gracie said to me, “There is a problem in our industry. The turnover rate is too high. People are quitting everyday. Those people who are quitting, NEED Jiu-Jitsu the most!”
This really resonated with me. It was a powerful statement. The entire year before, I was intensely focused on STUDENT RETENTION. Keeping customers that I already have instead getting new ones.
I would welcome anyone in the door, but keeping the ones locked in are gonna create future instructors and also your best SALES people when it comes to word of mouth.
The turnover rate is disastrous. Some academies use unbreakable contracts to force people to stay on. Others chalk up the students lack of commitment to their discipline, weakness, willpower, and on and on. This is unfortunate. A true leader accepts responsibility for the problems that arise with their “team”. Solves it from the top down. Looks at themselves first and really PAYS ATTENTION to what is happening.
What Is The Problem?
That is not that simple. Let me try and break it down...
A Jiu-Jitsu academy opens its doors to all genders, ages, and individuals with various backgrounds and lifestyles.
It is a community of like minded individuals who may be very different from one another, but share a common bond on the mats.
The PROBLEM is this...
Not every student is ready for every aspect of Jiu-Jitsu right away. The student who starts out shy, perhaps was picked on their entire life. They are starting Jiu-Jitsu as a way to empower themselves, yet the thought of being pinned down and strangled is a NIGHTMARE. Yet, this may be the first thing they experience.
So what seems normal to the common Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, competitor, instructor, etc. is a NIGHTMARE to some new students. To put them in a situation carelessly in which they are give too much pressure, too soon isn’t going to help them until they are READY to feel it.
Some people begin their training and are ready to take on everything. Others begin and barely have the nerve to walk onto the mat.
To to create an environment that is welcoming for both, you must give each what they NEED.
The shy and timid student should be “protected” until they are skilled enough to take on the pressure with some confidence. This means no sparring/rolling for awhile. They need to feel like they know what they are doing before they get thrown to the wolves. If they don’t learn progressively and are given too much pressure, they will become a ghost in your academy. Baby steps.
Last year, we had over a 90% retention rate with a 300% student increase. How? I paid attention to every person that walked in through the door and made sure they were given what they need.
Are they an intense person who wrestles and is fired up to train again? Put them in the mix a bit.
Are they very timid and fearful from past life experiences? Hold them back. Let them learn. Maybe even give them an early false sense of security. Over time, you can strip them of that sense and they will be ok to deal with it because they are skilled and prepared to.
Fight To Keep Them
Jiu-Jitsu isn’t natural selection. It isn’t survival of the fittest. If the place where the “weak” learn to become “strong”. Where a 120 lb man who has been bullied his whole entire upbringing has a chance to transform and reverse the cycle.
Guide then along their Jiu-Jitsu journey. Don’t push them into the deep end until they are ready to swim a little.
Dont say that a student quits, ONLY because of a lack of discipline. Maybe they have a lack of inspiration. Maybe they feel out of place. They have felt out of place their entire life. Do you think they want to willingly put themselves in a situation where they feel those feeling again?
Be a leader. Take responsibility. Give everyone the experience they need. I promise you...in the long run, it will make a HUGE difference.