Nope, it sure isn't

I know you don’t want to hear this, but it is true.

Saw a meme this morning “Jiu Jitsu, you are not playing a sport - you are joining a family.” Really? Because the last time I looked at my family, there was no fee to join? If you are paying for a service, you are a consumer, not a family member. Your instructor may be friendly with you but you will never be friends or family as long as you are paying tuition.

Martial Arts schools are businesses just like any other. They provide a service that the consumer pays for. Your personal benefits, relationship with members and staff, feeling of pride, etc… none of it changes the reality that you are a consumer participating in a business.  Both sides need to fully wrap their heads around this reality. If you accept money for a service, you are a business person. If you spend money for a service, you are a consumer.

If your school demands loyalty and has rules that restrict your ability to do what you want on your own time, it's more of a gang than a business. Nobody has the right to tell you who you associate with on your own time and nobody can demand loyalty. If I walked into Macy’s after going to Sears, nobody is going to harass me. Both would be happy to have me, the consumer, there to spend money. Why is Martial Arts different? O yeah, it’s different because a bunch of really insecure people decided it is better to have crazy rules than to have really good service.

If you are so good at what you do, why do you care who goes where or does what? If you are so good, everyone will come back and everyone will pay. Training outside your walls is not disloyal, it is what it is. Adults are free to make choices and if you do the right thing by them, they will choose you over others. If not your service is lacking and you need to accept it. I will throw in that exceptions do apply; I have a short list of places we don’t cross with as a matter of principle. The owners of a few spots have directly attacked me or my members and we feel it is best that we just don’t cross paths.

If you go to a school to create family, you are going to be prey for predators. Go fix yourself before you learn how to throw an armbar. Your instructor is not family. No matter how great their ability is or how Zen their words are, you are paying to get a service, not a Father figure. Pay the fee, take the class, absorb the info, and go be a better person for it. You can’t and shouldn’t replace a family member for a fee.

I am not hating on the sense of family, community, etc… that develops in a gym or dojo. I get it, but I hate to see so many exploited because of this. No instructor is owed anything more than what they charge. No instructor is owed anything for their past accomplishments. It is and always will be - what can you do for your consumers today. Nobody owes you anything and you shouldn’t demand anything beyond what you agreed to accomplish together.

Pride comes with association. Nothing wrong with being a proud member of something. Standing up for your group is great too. Trust, loyalty and pride must be earned Just remember that when it is good it is great but when it goes wrong, you can choose to make a change. You can always leave Jiu Jitsu but you can’t leave your family.

Here is a way to test all of this out. The next time your instructor calls the dojo or gym a family, stop paying your tuition. See how quickly it turns from a family into a business.

Brian Wright