Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter Cascao Vital. He runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
Ideally we would all like to walk into our BJJ academy and have some laughs, get a nice sweat on and improve our game. This is the case the majority of the time, however unnecessary drama can find its way on to our mats. Now between family, friends, work and life, there is enough drama to go around for everyone. Inside the BJJ gym though, that should be our sanctuary. Knowing how to prevent the most common soap operas will save you and your training partners a lot of unneeded stress.
One of the top drama making situations is the reckless roller.
This is the guy who just wants to go hard and win at all costs. This is the guy that creates fear in everyone around him. Not for the fact that they might get tapped, but fear that they are going to get injured out of pure carelessness and lack of body control. If nothing is done, this behavior will continue and students will start avoiding this training partner even if it means missing class. Once somebody gets seriously hurt from the 100th knee to the head or a fast cranking heal hook on the new white belt, the emotions are going to fly. People might try hurting him in training or just quit because of him. The solution to this one is simple, the instructor has to emphasize to the class and the individual about the proper training protocols, the students have to have open communication with their instructor about these kind of issues and lets not forget that giving honest feedback to our training partners is crucial for our art and sometimes that means telling our teammates to slow down until there is more control. If there is no change after all of that, it might be easier to say goodbye to one student that’s not conforming then to 10 students who will leave out of frustration.
Another cause for drama in the academy can start when a romance goes bad.
The reality of life is that we tend to fall for the ones we spend a lot of time with. If your training a lot you start bonding with your training partners and if you find one attractive and the two of you click, things can heat up fast. Now that’s all good, but what happens if the relationship turns ugly? There is not much for an instructor or teammate to do in this situation, but if you are one of the romantic parties then you need to make sure your affection on the mat is kept at a reasonable level so that the rest of the team doesn’t feel uncomfortable and if things do go south, well you need to handle it maturely and not let it spill over into the academy.
I have also seen some drama started from big talkers in the gym.
The gym is where we expose our game to our teammates to make ourselves and them better. Big talkers are the ones who talk about who tapped who and who trash talk behind other teammates backs. Teammates need to have each others backs, not creating problems for them. Otherwise nobody will help each other.
Training with a strong bonded team helps our long term goals. Most of us need BJJ to decompress from the stresses of life outside the academy. By allowing drama into our sanctuary we are sacrificing our own development and enjoyment. A drama filled environment is not healthy or productive. Be aware and proactive at creating a drama free zone. It’s everybody’s responsibility on the mat to keep the team healthy and strong.