Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offers every practitioner and endless array of benefits with health, fitness, stress relief and confidence-building self-defense principals leading the way on most people’s lists of why they train. When you add those items to the amazing sense of community that exists around the world amongst people of all ages and cultures, it’s easy to see why the art and sport continue to grow exponentially.
But with all of these positive things the art does for us, it’s time we ask what are we doing for the art? Paraphrasing the great John F. Kennedy quote “Ask not what BJJ can do for you, but what can you do for BJJ?” Below, I’d like to offer some ideas.
Be the best student you can be. I’m not going to tell you how many classes you should attend a week or how many competitions you enter, if any. Instead, when you come to class, be there 100%. Listen, ask questions, be a great training partner and thank your instructor for their class. Anything above and beyond that is gravy, but never forget these things.
Talk about BJJ with your friends and family. If it’s important, don’t hide it. People are rambling all over the world about the state of the NFL, the economy, and Bruce Jenner–so a little BJJ talk can be quite refreshing. Forget that first rule of Fight Club and remember the first rule of BJJ, Share It.
Make sure you’re happy with your academy and promote it. If you’re being the best student you can, your instructor is going to welcome more people like you. If BJJ has made positive changes in your life, it will probably help your family, friends and co-workers. Ask them to try a class. Ask them again, because sometimes once isn’t enough. Work out the details with your instructor and watch the magic happen.
Help your coaches, instructors and fellow students. Offer to help clean the mats, take out the trash, etc. Little things like this keep your academy looking good and will make you feel great by helping take a few things off of your instructor’s plate. If you have fellow students who are maybe getting ready for competition, offer to help stay after class and roll a little more with them. Maybe there is a group of students who all have similar weight loss or fitness goals that you can join for some extra conditioning before or after normal class time.
Go out of your way to find other ways to help your coach, your team, and your academy. Something as simple as taking pictures while kids class is going on and sharing them with your coach so that they may share them on social media goes a long way. Share the school’s page on Facebook, ask your friends to “like” it, every little bit helps.
As you gain knowledge of techniques, there will come a time when a newer student will ask you a question. Share your thoughts. Don’t preach. Listen more than your talk, but help them with a word of encouragement. A simple “It took me forever to be able to pull off that sweep. You did it in no time.” is going to mean the world to that student. Don’t ever miss the opportunity to make someone feel a little bit better about how they’re doing. It’s a journey of a million taps and a kind word here or there can be like water in the desert.
Offer to help out with class if the opportunity presents itself. Caution: This is not for the faint of heart. Nothing in my 7 years of BJJ has made me feel more like a white belt than trying to explain something I do from a technique perspective. I have watched a lot of people coach and teach over the years and without a doubt they are the most technical people I train with and this is something I have as a personal goal. Do it when the time is right, or don’t do it. It’s up to you.
Write about your experience. Start a blog. Everyone’s voice is important and any white belt sharing their thoughts on a technique or a class can make us look at this with brand new eyes. Writing is therapeutic and helps you learn because you’re forcing your brain to slowly and methodically revisit an experience and examine it from new angles.
Hey you can even write a book. The Cauliflower Chronicles by Marshal Carper, The BJJ Globetrotter by Christian Graugart, and Flow With the Go by Elena Stowell are just a few of my favorites that document each author’s unique perspective on BJJ.
Don’t make memes. Again, I repeat, don’t make memes. Those are my gig and I don’t need the competition. Just kidding. I love to see people playing with this bizarre mix of pop culture and BJJ.
Lastly, do something completely brand new. Do something no one else has done. Do it with 100% of your effort and heart and maybe then you can start repaying BJJ for what it’s done for you.