One of the things that makes the GB academy such a great place to spend several hours every week is the atmosphere among the instructors and students.
First and foremost is an attitude of safety and mutual respect among all people. Any combat art carries a certain amount of inherent risk and we all must be vigilant to protect ourselves and our training partners.
Inside the academy, all of the members should be treated with a level of respect regardless of their age, belt rank or gender. The most important thing is your respect for others and your attitude.
What makes a good attitude in the jiu-jitsu school? We know it instinctively when we are around people with a great attitude.
Positive people enter each training session with a positive energy. They want to be there. They believe that they are working towards something valuable in their lives and feel that the work they put into that class is going to take them closer to their goal.
Another way we see a positive attitude in action is encouragement of our training partners. Especially the newer students who have not yet built their confidence in jiu-jitsu.
When you are a new student learning techniques, you are going to hear a lot of “you are doing that wrong!” A positive approach will also catch students doing something RIGHT. A well timed compliment “Hey, that arm lock is starting to look pretty good!” can give some much needed energy to someone who feels they are struggling.
One Gracie Barra instructor believes positive messages are important because on any given day, a student might feel like giving up. The quiet student in the class may be on the verge of quitting. A timely positive word could make the difference!
Respect in the martial arts is more than formalities like bowing and using titles like Sensei. It is about treating the people around you with respect, regardless of their belt color or competitive achievements.
Early in my study of jiu-jitsu I had the good fortune to meet some world class, high level black belts at jiu-jitsu seminars. I was surprised at how these fighters with many titles and accomplishments to their names conducted themselves. They treated the brand new white belt with the same importance as the colored belt competitor or the school owner. I was really impressed with that and resolved to pay attention to how I treated people.
One of the things that I love most about the culture of jiu-jitsu is that it is a meritocracy. That is to say that the price of your kimono is not important, the size of the house you live in it the car you drive is not what gains you respect on the jiu-jitsu mat.
The most important thing to the instructor and fellow students is :
A) Your sincere effort on the mat
B) The way you treat others in class
A small example of respect among serious competitors is that everyone would do well. What happens on the mat STAYS on the mat. Gossip about ‘who tapped who’ is corrosive to the respectful atmosphere inside the academy.
The jiu-jitsu culture is one of sharing knowledge. More experienced students help correct the technique of the new students.
Experienced competitors teach some of their tricks to the new competitors entering their first tournament.
Training partners hold each other accountable to show up at the next training session. You need a great training partner to drill with and that requires cooperation. This is one of the qualities that parents who enroll their students in jiu-jitsu classes, hope their children will cultivate. And it is no less true for adults and competitors.
Part of being a great student and training partner at Gracie Barra is bringing your best possible attitude to the class everyday and doing your part to build the positive atmosphere in the academy.
See also on Gracie Barra : Overcome White Belt Issues
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam