So imagine this…You grab your gym bag, jump in your car, turn on whatever music gets you amped, and drive to your BJJ academy, eager to get your roll on. As you arrive, however, you notice a sign in the window: “Closed for business.” If most of you are like me, you’d probably hope you were dreaming, and that this was but a nightmare from which you would soon awake. Sadly, however, it is an all-too-possible reality.
Most of us already aware of the fact that we are living in times of economic uncertainty at best, and on the threshold of a terrible depression at worst. The bubble is bound to burst sooner or later; economic and market laws are what they are regardless of the rhetoric of politicians or whatever feelings of entitlement people might have.
Worst BJJ Nightmare And What You Can Do
When things go south economically, people are going to have to make some tough decisions for themselves and for their families. Indeed, many are already feeling the effect of a slowing economy and are already being compelled to revise their budget. The signs of the times are all around us. Who hasn’t already seen a number of businesses close in their hometowns, and who doesn’t know someone who is unemployed due to the economy?
Now, let’s face it, as much as we would like to believe otherwise, training at a nice BJJ academy is not a necessity, it is a luxury, a luxury that many may soon find difficult to afford. Given this, the unthinkable could happen. Our beloved BJJ academies could possibly close down. The nightmare might very well become a reality.
My point in this article is not to cast a dark pall of gloom over your day, however, but to tell you that there is something you can do. I want to encourage you to begin to act in ways that might help stave off the nightmare from becoming a reality. You can help keep your local BJJ academy open for business.
What can you do? Well, as I see it there are at least three things that you do to help your local BJJ academy stay open (and even thrive).
First of all, pay your dues and pay them on time. This should go without saying. The owners and coaches of your academy live primarily off of the membership dues that you pay. They buy groceries for themselves and their families with the money that comes from your dues. If they don’t eat, you don’t train.
Moreover, they need to know that they will have a dependable source of income. Oftentimes owners/coaches cut a lot of slack to members who are late on payments. Don’t put them in that position. If they are too kind, too generous, too longsuffering with members who can’t seem to get their dues in on time, they can suffer, and if they suffer the academy suffers.
Secondly, and this is very important, represent. As a member of your academy, you represent your academy. Represent it well. Cut your nails, wash your gi, show respect to all. When you spar with the new white belt in class, be cool about it. Be gracious. Be helpful even. He or she will endure humiliation enough without having to roll with someone more interested in fueling their own ego than promoting the well-being of their academy or fellow man. Remember, you need these people to come back if you want to have a place to train yourself. Your academy needs a steady supply of white belts to survive and thrive!
Represent outside of the academy as well. Be your academy’s best advertisement. Be the person that makes other people want to check out the place where you train. No one will want to come to an academy they believe is populated with jerks. How you treat other people may decide the question in their mind as to whether or not they want to take up BJJ at your academy.
Thirdly and lastly, volunteer. BJJ practitioners, as mentioned in a previous article, are multi-faceted, multi-gifted individuals. We can offer much to our academies over and above our membership dues. After all, we are carpenters, electricians, computer/IT geeks, advertising, sales and marketing specialists, teachers, medical professionals, financial planners, plumbers, cooks, etc., etc.
Just in that brief list alone I can imagine dozens of ways that our academies might benefit from the volunteer, free of charge services of their members. Why should academy owners need buy expensive outside help when there are things that we, the members, could do for them for free?
I’ll give you an example. I’m a man of limited skills, but I can write. One of the reasons I considered writing for this online journal was so I could get a plug in every now and then for my academy (Comprido BJJ in Bloomingdale, Il. Awesome, awesome place!). But that’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen others do. We all have gifts and skills that we could use to benefit our individual academies. From cleaning the mats (humble work, but oh so necessary) and passing out advertisements, to setting up web-pages and putting in showers, there are a myriad of ways in which we can all pitch in to help our academy survive and even thrive.
Written by Matthew Cotta
All you need to do is to find out what your academy needs (just look around and/or ask), and, if it is in line with your skill set, step up to the plate. Use your imagination and come up with ideas you can then run by the academy owner(s). I’m betting that they’ll be very appreciative just for the offer.
In any case, do what you can. Pay your dues, represent, and volunteer. We’re not talking altruism here, we’re talking enlightened self-preservation. If you like to train at your local BJJ academy, if you want to stave off the nightmare from becoming a reality, get busy. It is in your own best interest that you do.
If this post has given you some extra perspective around helping your gym/academy, please share the information with your fellow practitioner by clicking SHARE above left. The BJJ community thanks you.