Truism #1: You are who you surround yourself with. This is something my mother always told me, and
it’s spot-on. In my kid’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, I teach them that if they are in a group of kids that is making fun of another child, then they are as guilty as the others. Why? They give the group strength by being part of
it. That bully isn’t so tough when no one is on his side. Do they have to speak out against the bullying?
Not necessarily. That takes a lot courage for a child and also the ability to protect himself. Should they walk away? Absolutely. This is by far the easiest option and sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Walkaway.
Now I’m more confident that I can protect myself, yet many times I just have to walk away too. When I meet people that are not interested in improving themselves or their community, I just keep walking.
Recently, I encountered a group that advocated misogyny, and flaunted a lack of a moral code, so yeah, I walked. Fast. I don’t care who they are. I won’t associate or have any communication with them.
No one is perfect; some people just lack common sense or maturity. I don’t run those people off. I run a business and love customers, but this is also where I spend the majority of my time. See Truism #1! As the academy leader, I have to set expectations for acceptable behavior.
No gym-bullies or frat antics. I won’t compromise on that.
All are welcome. Our community brings people from all walks of life, all getting along, sharing in
martial arts – BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling and MMA. This is an intentionally healthy lifestyle,
physically, mentally and emotionally. For it to continue to be a healthy community, it must be
healthy for all members. All.
We are a family – an opt-in family. Show up, shake hands, work with everyone. Help the new
Walk the Walk! While it’s not my job to pass moral judgments, it does matter how my coaches
and athletes are regarded. How I’m regarded. What message are we conveying to the children in
the Little Foxes class? Display the behavior we teach the children in the academy: courtesy, self-
control, perseverance, etc.
It’s a challenge for those in high level, competitive martial arts – where the goal is victory through the art
of combat – to consistently take the high road. I had a mentor who proved it was possible. I had signed
up to learn the martial arts, and he taught the martial way (Budo).
Budo brings attention to both the physical aspects of fighting and to the development of the mind and
the spirit. I have reached a stage in my journey where I believe it’s possible to have an academy where
all can flourish. Where there is respect for our mutual goal to improve – body, mind and spirit. I built my
academy on this vision. Those few who don’t value this vision have always found their way out.