This weekend, I had the pleasure of teaching a seminar at 3G BJJ under 2nd degree Royler Gracie Black Belt, Rosendo Diaz. Rosendo has been teaching jiu-jitsu probably as long (if not longer) than I have. He invited me to teach on belt promotion day. Many belts were given, including five well deserved black belts.
The moment that I entered the school early sunday morning, a student walked up to me and shook my hand, thanked me, and welcomed me. The second our conversation ended, another student approached me and did the same thing, and then 5-6 students after that. Each were polite and eager to learn. This happened for about 10 minutes before I was able to say hi to Rosendo in a room of 60+ students. His students were on the mat early, waiting for my seminar that was schedule to start in a half of an hour.
Over the last 25 years in this jiu-jitsu life, I have met all sorts of people. Some bad seeds, but mostly amazing, well mannered people. I believe that true jiu-jitsu brings out the best in us. (once we get over the battle with the ego) Rosendo has always stood out as a positive person and great teacher. His good attitude and humor were apparent in the character of his students.
My school, Balance Studios, in Philadelphia opened in 2002. My mission was to teach the best moves in the best atmosphere. The concept of “atmosphere” breaks down to the attitudes of the head instructor, the assistant instructors, and finally the students. Bad attitudes trickle down. Even if you are a pleasant person, it can invade your psyche. If the head instructor has a bad attitude, then it sends a message that it is “OK” to act poorly.
I believe that every human deserves the same respect. Wearing a black belt does not mean that you deserve more or less respect than a white belt. My students don’t bow to me, nor are they required to call me anything but Phil. All I require is that students “Leave their ego at the door, and enter with a beginners mind.” This message has helped our school of 100’s become a group of nice/tough guys and gals.
Through out the day, I was amazed at how wonderful and close knit this BJJ school was. Everyone cracked respectful jokes and were attentive students. During belt promotions, Rosendo himself was cracking jokes as he tied black belts, and the audience laughed with a sense of respect and appreciation.
All I can say is, “What a great group of people!”
Manners in BJJ come from the top!
My instructor, Relson Gracie, is an example of that. Relson will run across a room to say hi to a person that walks through the door. He is happy to do his job in a cheerful and energetic way. This is something that my parents instilled in me and my brother. Relson’s attitude reinforces what my parent built into us.
So, here are some tips to improve your manners in BJJ:
1) Be the first to introduce yourself on the mat.
Don’t wait for anyone, Do it!
2) It’s ok to smile on the mat.
A mean face has nothing to do with being tough
3) Help a new student find his/her way
4) Don’t talk smack! It will always find its way back to you.
5) Always have respect for yourself, your school, your instructor, and fellow students
A special thanks to Rosendo Diaz and the gang at 3G BJJ!