The more I talk to people, the more I believe that we are living through the best moment of Jiu Jitsu, in terms of opportunities within the sport. It has never been better.
It was previously rare to find professional people who thought of working towards the greater good of the sport, but this is becoming more common. I think it helps to understand Jiu Jitsu as a living organism and everyone needs to play a part to nourish it — this is what will help us grow, and I believe this is already happening.
Athletes are working hard to evolve technique and they put on great performances at the championships, which in turn are much more organized and numerous in number — The IBJJF alone held 115 championships in 2019. Academies are providing a much better and more inclusive service, where all profiles of students are being catered for and people feel good to be part of something. Adversaries on the mats are working together for the overall good of the sport — this combined with new technologies and knowledge means we can advance in all areas related to the Jiu Jitsu market.
Unfortunately, our greatest barrier is still the teacher with the old mentality, that person who insists on living in the past and who, in order to protect himself from this inevitable evolution, fights against everything and everyone.
I am not referring to teachers who don’t participate in competitions, I don’t see any problem with that, it’s also a worthy path with every chance of success. I mean the ones who try to stay in the comfort zone and resist any kind of change, with a sense of nostalgia for the way it once was, even though there is no evidence to suggest things will revert to how they were.
Unfortunately for this teacher, his days are numbered.
The market is going to be very difficult for him, and inevitably there are two outcomes: he either gives up, or worse, holds on until Jiu Jitsu gives up on him.
It’s a sad reality, but not exclusive to Jiu Jitsu — all markets create new business models with increasing speed, so those previously doing well can become obsolete overnight.
In Jiu Jitsu this scenario has been developing for some years now — countless teachers have left the market or have lost their relevance due to the simple fact they didn’t leave their comfort zone, consequently choosing not to evolve together with the sport.
My message to these teachers is to let go of vanity and ego and focus on delivering a better service to your student / client. Focus on making that student happy and avoid the mask of “master” that tries to create ‘disciples’ as it was once done.
The Jiu Jitsu market in a few years will receive young adults that are far more prepared in every way pushing the evolution of the sport. Young boys and girls will be brought up through schools that implement teaching methodology (practiced in the best schools today) and they will know how to manage their businesses and work for the growth of the sport. There’s a Portuguese expression that roughly translates to the following, “when the tide goes up, all the boats go up,” and this is a perfect example of that.
Whoever is in this situation and still wants to salvage their path in Jiu Jitsu needs to understand that time is passing by and it will soon be too late.
Jiu jitsu is much bigger than any of us and it will follow its evolutionary course regardless of what you or I do. You just need to decide if you will remain part of this story until the end, or if you will leave the market because you choose to go against the natural course of change. The choice is yours.