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How Groundworks handles bad behavior

Updated: Apr 1

Black and white image of a person holding their palm up giving the non-verbal direction: stop

This is the third part in a three part series on unwanted behaviors in a BJJ Academy and how to manage them. In the first post I discuss the problems gym owners face with holding their highest ranked students accountable for bad behavior, in the second post I outline the behaviors that gyms owners should try to eliminate, and in this post I go over how Groundworks addresses behaviors we don't want.

Jiu-Jitsu changes most people for the better. It makes us more powerful and more confident and, in doing so, empowers us to be kinder and more understanding of others. That said, if a purple belt or above is still engaging in unacceptable behaviors, additional Jiu-Jitsu will not help them. They need to seek outside help, counseling, etc and take time away from the gym until they do.

When speaking with students about their behavior it's usually best to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume ignorance / lack of social awareness over bad intent. However, if they remove all doubt regarding their intent, it's important to remove them from the gym.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them." -Maya Angelou

Steps Groundworks will use to address bad behavior

  • Step 1 - The instructor will state the expectation after class during closing remarks

    • At Groundworks, we state our expectations from time to time to reinforce the gym's culture or when we've spotted behaviors we don't want

    • Most students, if they are self-aware enough, will make the needed changes to their behavior without any additional prompting

  • Step 2 - The instructor will have a private conversation with the student engaging in the behavior and politely discuss the behavior. The student will either:

    • Be aware that they're engaging in the behavior

    • Be unaware that they're engaging in the behavior

    • Deny that they're engaging in the behavior

    • Additionally, they'll either:

      • Agree to stop the behavior, and stop

      • Agree to stop the behavior, but continue it

      • Refuse to stop the behavior

  • Step 3 - Based on their responses to Step 2 the Groundworks instructor will:

    • Feel comfortable that they won't do it again

    • Keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t do it again

    • Kick them out, because they will do it again

If the student engaging in bad behavior cannot stop or refuses to stop, especially if it's a more serious behavior, it’s time to ask them to take some time away from the gym.

There will likely be a time in the future when we have a student, who I care about, who needs to be removed from the gym due to repeated bad behavior. I’m probably not going to want to kick them out for all the reasons I mentioned in the first post in this series. I'm sharing my thoughts publicly about how this type of thing is handled at Groundworks so that our community can hold me accountable for it.

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