How do You Treat New People?

It’s no secret that I have talked lately about bringing in some more people. A few of the guys remember the early days when we had the same small group for many months. Everyone learned each other’s names without prompting, and tried to help the new person to catch on as quickly as possible. Not because I expected everyone to be a teacher, but because they were excited to get a new challenge in Jiu Jitsu. I’m grateful that we have several exemplary members, and I want to share some things they do that help us all. As the room fills up, it’s easy to take training partners for granted. Anyone could be a great training partner, and I want to make sure everyone is giving them a chance to succeed. We need to keep in mind that in addition to trying something new, they’re in a room full of people who all seem to know each other. There are written and unwritten rules, objectives, and general understandings that we can help make manageable.

At the beginning of the day, some gyms shake the hand of each individual in the room. We have a couple guys who do that, and it’s a good exercise in friendly introduction. If you are one of those types, please remember to wash your hands before next time you eat. I feel it’s lower pressure making it voluntary to meet everyone at once, but remember to be friendly and ask their name if they look lost. You can shamelessly ask anyone’s name if you don’t know it. There are lots of people out there, and nobody is required to have them all memorized. I tend to learn someone’s name when I remember something about the way they roll.

During the warmups, it’s ok to help someone who is struggling. You may explain a concept in a way that sticks better for that individual. But remember that most people just need a little time trying until they catch on. Give them a tip and let them try. Drilling is no different. It’s usually best to not have two new people drilling together. You can give your favorite partner a break for one day to work with someone new. Most people get a feel for drilling within a week or two. Show them what it’s like to drill something deliberately for a set amount of time with an experienced partner. Try to get it right and pay attention to the details. Ask relevant questions and find answers. Stay relaxed and move in a sustainable way. Do not try to teach them something totally different. If they are curious about something else, you can go over it during roll time. Also, don’t force feed information. If they are not asking questions, let them work. This is already a flood of information, and takes time to process.

When you’re rolling, show them good Jiu Jitsu. Don’t stop to teach them something unless they ask. If they’re timid, you can go at a pace they can handle. If they’re spazzy, put them somewhere that neither of you will get hurt. Be very careful if you think you want to teach someone a hard lesson, and absolutely never deliberately make someone feel unwelcome. Do submit them if you can, but be controlled about it. Many will tend to tap late on armbars because of inexperience. Try to hold the position well enough to make it clear they are caught without anyone getting hurt. If they handle you, be polite and think about what you learned from the experience.

Overall, just stay relaxed and friendly while going about the usual routine. You don’t have to force yourself to have a good day, just be aware of the effect we can have on others. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is something that people can stress over way too much before actually coming in. Everyone has been there before, and should behave with a reasonable amount of understanding. We are all here to get better at Jiu Jitsu, and every individual is contributing just by being here.