BJJ class

December 8, 2016 by MMA trainer with 0 comments

The social aspect of donning a gi – making friends at a new gym

Of course when you don a gi, you’re thinking of your training. But I’ve had quite a few people complain about how BJJ gyms can be quite intimidating – especially to people starting out at BJJ. Now of course the atmosphere of a gym depends to a great extent on the instructor, and there are plenty of gyms out there where an atmosphere of camaraderie is encouraged to extend to beginners.

But there are a lot of other gyms out there where a white belt just setting out tends to feel left on the ‘outside’. While everyone is courteous, the white belt finds that older members have their own set groups in the gym that they gravitate to. Conversations are polite, but dropped quickly and easily. And the white belt wonders why people are being so unfriendly.

The answer, actually, is that they aren’t.

People are perfectly willing to be friendly, to take interest in a white belt, to help a person out.

But the simple fact is that BJJ is a very difficult art, and it’s more than likely that a good percentage of those who are training as white belts today will simply drop the art tomorrow. You see why people tend to seem unfriendly. They’re just experienced. Perhaps in the past they’ve befriended one or more white belts, got to know them, helped them out with their difficulties… and then what happens?

The white belts leave.

And all the personal investment that the higher belt made in them leaves with them. It makes the higher belt feel let down. Which is why higher belts tend to ‘wait and see’ whether a white belt is going to stick it out and try for the higher ranks of BJJ… or wash out like so many others.

So it’s not that people are unfriendly, but merely that they’ve been friendly in the past, and come to realize that helping a white belt to excel at BJJ can turn out to be so much wasted effort.

But what if you’re a white belt?

How do you deal with this? Well, the first thing you’re going to have to ask yourself is, ‘Am I going to stick this out?’ – Because it’s hardly reasonable – and in fact quite unfair – to expect people to extend the hand of friendship if you’re going to vanish in a month or two.

My advice is to concentrate on your BJJ for the first month, and not think about the social side of things.

If you’re anything like most beginners at BJJ you really won’t have the energy for a social life that first month or so. At the end of the first month, your body will begin to adapt, and you can then get a feel for whether you’re going to stick it out with BJJ, or drop out. Still, work at your endurance and technique, and put the social overtures on the back burner until the end of the second month.

At the end of the second month you should know for sure that BJJ is for you. Or not. That’s when you start making overtures to the other members of the gym. Or not.

It’s that simple.

Once you’ve spent a month or two at the sport; once you know for sure that you’re going to stick it out, then go all out to make friends.

And you’ll find that people will open up to you. Especially if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the sport (which is very different from being a know-it-all, which no one likes), you’ll find that the other members are – of course – fellow enthusiasts – which means you immediately have something in common.

And you can build on that common interest.

Because people with a common interest always have a social bond. If it didn’t seem that way at first, it’s because those around you weren’t sure you shared a common interest in the first place.

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