Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jiu-Jitsu Taboo: Parting Ways with Your Instructor(s)

Just say No?

In my office at work, there is a picture of Carlos Gracie Sr.
I tacked it up on the wall to see everyday first then when I walk in with my coffee.
It lists the 10 commandments of Jiu-Jitsu.
I think I tore it out of a Graciemag I bought a year or two ago.

The number 1 thing on the list is: Thou Shalt Not Turncoat on Thy Teacher (I'm paraphrasing).

Loyalty to the team, your instructors, the sport, and in the end, being true to yourself are the true tenants of Jiu-Jitsu.
To quote Spider-Man's uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.
There is also the much quoted "To who whom much is given, much is expected."

At any rate, loyalty, particularly in the days of Brazil when there proliferated many schools and teams and they were vying for students, respect, money, and fights break out in public places, loyalty in terms of teaching and technique was paramount.

The apparent challenge by Waldemar Santana of Helio (a family outsider taught more than just the self-defense applications) has stuck out over the years as the epitome of this rebuking of loyalty.

That is the long version.
The short version is that there are times when you must do what is best for you and your progression in Jiu-Jitsu (or Judo, or Wrestling, or Sambo, or whatever).

The instructor does not look out for the welfare of his students.
The instructor treats students with favor that proves deleterious to others.
The instructor misses class often, shows up late, clearly does not respect the teacher/student relationship.

The reality is that instructors are humans as well. And like it or admit it or not, they are still on their journey through Jiu-Jitsu. The black belt does not signify perfection, only the steps towards mastery (though, like Golf, there is almost never if ever a perfect game). The black belt is not a license to abuse or disregard any more than a white belt is a license to do those things.

I feel a lot more pressure to truly answer questions in Judo when asked, b/c I know the expectation is different when a less experience player asks me as a black belt. The difference between what I knew as a brown belt in Judo versus now is probably like debating if/how Batman could beat Spider-Man.

But, how I view the question probably has changed as I know I am viewed a bit differently as well. Someone who has known me since a brown belt probably holds me in the same esteem they did now that I have a black belt.
A new player to the club likely simply assumes I am a trustworthy source of information based on my belt.

At any rate, there may be times, when you are forced to consider leaving a team/your instructor for a variety of reasons.
The key thing, is to know that it should not be undertaken lightly.
Give it time. Understand that all schools go through trials and tribulations and growing pains.
The loss of an assistant instructor, the moving to a new facility, the things that come with being a part of a team, are all tests in your journey through a life of being on the mats.

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