June 16, 2012

Poll Results Are In: What Element Factors Most in Your Decision of Whom to Train Under?

I must admit I am a bit disappointed, sadly not surprised, by the results of my latest poll question "What element factors most in whom you train under?"  With 21 folks voting over the past week here are the numbers breakdown:

Instructors Rank
  0 (0%)
Competition Record
  2 (9%)
Teaching Experience
  10 (47%)
Logistics (money/proximity)
  9 (42%)

What disappoints me so is the fact that so many (42%) people base their decision of where to entrust their martial future on how close the academy is to their home, or how much it costs to attend.  Don't get me wrong, I of all people totally understand that the economy sucks and we are all pinching pennies.  But if you are going to walk a lifelong path of martial arts, if you are going to envelope yourself in a lifestyle.... wouldn't you want the best?

Thankfully "teaching experience" won out the poll just barely squeaking by with 10 votes (47%), and frankly this should be the ultimate decider when it comes to your decision.  Rank's can be rather political and non-representational of an individuals actual skill both as a fighter and teacher.

Competition record really is misleading as well, for instance take the great BJJ grappler Felipe Costa, two time world black belt champion.  Competed in dozens, hundreds of tournaments throughout his life.  Never, NEVER, won a single tourney until he was a black belt!  Now I am sure if we actually broke down match by match throughout Felipe's life his win column would be far overshadowed by his loss column.  Yet see what determination, focus, and the never say die attitude will get you?!?  Imagine if Felipe would have quit competing at purple belt!?  What would he have to teach you??

It is exactly this type of experience both on and off the mat that I look for in an instructor.  I need a coach to lead me through all the shit that is going to come up for me as a fighter, and if he has never experienced any of these things how can he lead me through them??

Thankfully I have found the best instructor in town and his academy is only 10 miles away.  But to be honest I would travel all the way across town to train under Brian Johnson.  Then again I am a bit of a dork about this stuff so perhaps I am not the "norm."  I used to travel from New Mexico to both So Cal and Vancouver, BC to train with my teachers!  And that was when I was broke in college!!

Train Hard!  Train Smart!


  1. I hate traffic, but I hate losing more.

  2. I try to be understanding of different levels and situations, but for me... to sacrifice quality in the instructor department is the greatest sin! But then again many would say I have some fucked up priorities;)

  3. Hi Jake,

    For the most part, I can't really argue with anything you've said here, except for this

    "But if you are going to walk a lifelong path of martial arts, if you are going to envelope yourself in a lifestyle.... wouldn't you want the best?"

    Speaking for myself, I don't envelope myself in the BJJ lifestyle. I do plan on walking a lifelong path, but at worst I consider myself a hobbyist and at best, a serious student. Most times I'm smack in the middle of those two extremes. "Real" life, and all the beauty and B.S. that comes with that, takes precedence over my "hobby".

    I think the poll would have been better represented if you were be able to rank your preferences. I was pretty torn between teaching experience and logistics. In a perfect world, teaching experience would trump all. But, taking into account my work schedule, family commitments, academy schedules for my area, etc., I had to go with logistics. Thankfully I've been able to find an ideal balance between the two.

    Really like the site and your writing style, and thanks for the insight.


    1. Thanks Stan! I too wish I could rank things, but the poll widget thingy is not set up for that on blogspot.

      I realize most folks out there are in your situation. With family, jobs, and the overall craziness of life I totally understand the dichotomy!

      Thanks for reading!