Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The curse of the blue belt

I will teach you a black belt magic trick in Jiu Jitsu.

If you want a student to disappear: give him a blue belt.

It is recurring event in the life of an instructor and a club.

If you think the drop out of white belts is bad enough, the ratio of drop out of the blue belts is worst.

I am not sure if I agree with statistics on this picture.

But the issue is not really about arguing about the percentages of drop out but more on discussing the reasons for such drop out and what we can do to prevent it.

 Reasons for the drop out:
  • It takes a long time to achieve a blue belt. It average between 1-3 years.
  • After 1-3 years of training, people loose interest and wants to start a new sport or hobby.
  • The goal of the student was to achieve the blue belt and not the black belt.
  • Personal situations changes over the years. Lot of people that start training are young single males with disposable income. Lot of them are at university level or are single. Add a few more years and they end up married, working, having kids, mortgage. Their spare cash and time is therefore limited.
  • blue belts in action
  • Identify your target market. It is not a problem recently as the public is getting more savy into differentiating MMA from BJJ. But there is still many BJJ clubs that attract MMA fans. I am not too sure if they do it on purpose. But do not be surprise if a person drops out because his original intention was to train MMA and not BJJ.


How can we prevent it:
  • Lower your fees. I am astonished to hear instructor complaining of their high drop out ratio when their fees are double of a normal fitness gym. Such high fees are not sustainable for a long term membership. Yes, you might make a quick buck of a customer but do you really think that they will keep paying for the rest of the life if the fees are too expensive?
  • Look at the reasons why people keep training. Not everyone is a competition stud. If you can keep hobbyists interested in attending training, you would retain lot of your members.
  • Keep your doors open. Too many instructors have a negative attitude towards students that stop training and even worst when they leave to train at another gym. http://www.aucklandbjj.com/2013/12/the-biggest-mind-trick-of-bjj-creonte.html and http://www.aucklandbjj.com/2014/02/creonte-part-2.html. Have a policy of unconditional love and always encourage ex members to come back training.
  • Have social events outside training. Organise events for everyone in the club, not just the inside group of hardcore members.Make an attempt to include everyone.
  • Slow down on the hard sparring and focus on situational rolling.
  • Do not promote a headhunter mentality in your club. Lot of old school mentality is to defend your belt. It means you cannot tap to a lower belt. Such mentality is not beneficial for the long term development of a club. Your older members and higher belts will get stress training against younger and more aggressive members and it will lead them into leaving. I am not saying that you have to turn your club into a Mc Dojo but you also have to tell members that it is ok to lose at sparring against lower belts. You have to tell younger members that it is not ok to go out of their ways to smash older members. They have done their time and got promoted accordingly to their skills. They have a right to keep training without having to worry about having a target mark on their back.
  • Teach people that losing is learning. That should take care of many egos.
  • Get a beer fridge for after training.
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Have a cold beer after training is always good













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