First impressions start the story. Nicholas Boothman
Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone
Jiu-Jitsu is the most effective martial art in the world. Yet, not everyone is doing it. We still have not reached the full potential or mainstream reach of the art.
I feel as an instructor and as a missionary for jiu-jitsu, my main job is to promote the art and also paint the perfect picture to new students who may have created certain mental/cognitive biases towards it.
Jiu-jitsu is for men, women, and children of all ages and sizes, but do we instructors “sell” it properly to our friends???
When we become expert in something, our tastes grow more esoteric and complex. Malcolm Gladwell
You are 40 years old.
You have not exercised in 10 years.
You have children, a wife, a great job, but you are feeling either vulnerable physically or passionless.
You have heard of jiu-jitsu. Maybe you watch it on YouTube. You have always had an interest, but you dont really understand the art or what it encompasses.
One of your co-workers just began training and is feeling the amazing effects. He cant wait to share the details of the classes!
You ask him What is it like? I am out of shape. I have never done it before. Can I do it???
Man, it is awesome. It is really TOUGH, there are CHOKES, ARM LOCKS, LEG LOCKS, and THROWS. Its amazing! If you are OUT OF SHAPE, you MIGHT BE OKAY. Even if you havent done it before, you SHOULD BE OKAY. You just have to have the COURAGE to walk through the door and take some BUMPS AND BRUISES in the beginning. Just come to a class with me, SIGN A WAIVER, and hop in! Want to come tomorrow night?!?!?
What is the waiver for? you ask.
Something you sign that just says that you wont sue or anything if you get HURT OR DIE,” he replies. “Its a quick form.
I dont think your co-worker got the correct perception of the art.
When new students begin, they will suddenly have a new sense of appreciation for technique, humility, discipline, and will have realized that jiu-jitsu is truly magic!
However, the descriptive techniques listed above are powerful and are a part of what gives jiu-jitsu its strength. They do not generally sound appealing to someone who is nervous, undecided, or worried about injury. Once new students are enrolled in the class and they not only see how safe and effective it is, but develop the proper technique, they will be ready for all of the good stuff jiu-jitsu offers!
Avoid the hidden, negative, connotations in the emboldened words. Although, you said it was awesome, you may have scared them away.
After all, you said:
- They would walk into a place where people will put them in CHOKES and be THROWING them to the ground.
- They are out of shape, so they MIGHT BE OKAY.
- They SHOULD BE OKAY, meaning they may or may not make it out alive.
- They need COURAGE, to step through the door. What if this person needs jiu-jitsu because they do not have COURAGE? What do they think they will be walking into?
- BUMPS AND BRUISES in the beginning? OUCH!
- Finally it ends with a description of signing a waiver and describing that it is only so they wont SUE if they get HURT or DIE!
Try this next time
When your friend, co-worker, relative, or whoever nervously asks you about jiu-jitsu and you can see that they have interest but are looking for reassurance, explain to them:
- Jiu-jitsu is meant for SMALLER PEOPLE to defend themselves against a bigger attackers.
- The beginner classes are designed for people with NO EXPERIENCE and it is a great place to start GETTING INTO SHAPE!
- You can begin at YOUR OWN pace and will progress as time goes on!
- Its not MMA. Jiu-Jitsu is for the AVERAGE PERSON. MMA uses every martial art.
- Everyone there is so WELCOMING and very HELPFUL. IT CHANGED MY LIFE.
- 90% of the students do not compete and just do jiu-jitsu for FUN.
We can all agree that the above sounds far friendlier and is the absolute truth. The beginners enthusiasm is completely understood, but if we are to grow this art and promote it to the community and the world, we need to make people realize that a jiu-jitsu academy is not a place where they will get hurt; it is a place where they will learn how to NOT get hurt!
Word of mouth is everything
In his amazing book The Purple Cow, Seth Godin explains how almost every top business in the world gained notoriety and success mainly by word-of-mouth advertising.
Customers who were so blown away by the product or company could not stop telling everyone about it! When we start to word things more effectively, we will have a better chance of the world being introduced to the magic of jiu-jitsu! What we wear, what we say, and how we act will give an instant snap judgement to people who may need or want the art desperately but are unsure of what they will enter into.
I am not trying to turn anyone reading this into a BJJ salesperson. I am merely trying to polish up everyones ability to convince their friends to come in! The more students, the more the school will grow. When the school grows, the more training levels and potential increases. When this all happens, jiu-jitsu will finally embed itself into the culture!
All jiu-jitsu representatives know the power of the art physically, mentally, and even spiritually. But as we grow and mature through training, we must not forget how we felt before we started. If you have been an athlete your whole life, you have been blessed, but you must remember that you have to treat and spread jiu-jitsu to people who do not have your attributes and gifts.
Promote the gentle art gently and make sure people are reassured they can do it.
This will help bring the next wave of mainstream popularity in our area!