Convenient vs Ideal – what school to pick for BJJ
Picture this scenario:
School A is 15 minutes or less drive from your home or work. It’s an okay facility with a handful of good training partners and a good but not great instructor. Overall the attitude is low key and not very enthusiastic.
School B is 45 minutes (at least) away. It’s a beautiful facility with a ton of high level students and a very enthusiastic instructor. The attitude is intense but still fun.
Which school do you choose to train at?
I had this same dilemma a few years ago. And like a true cheater, I chose to train at both schools. I started off at school A, then started at school B and trained at both for quite a while. Finally I moved far away from school A so I trained exclusively at school B.
If I was faced with the situation now, I would choose school A, the convenient one, and here are some reasons why:
#1 – Convenience is a great tie breaker
Life happens. We all get busy and sometimes training BJJ gets put on the backburner. One thing I know for sure though is something is usually better than nothing. And if you’ve had a long day at work, or are having some other time sucking issues, the difference between a 15 minute ride to go train or 45 minutes plus is day and night. When pressed for time, you will be able to go to the convenient location much more than the ideal one. And that leads to consistency which ties in with the next reason.
#2 Consistency is dependent upon convenience
I love a good story about someone walking 5 miles to school every day as much as the next person. But ask yourself: is that really something you are capable of doing? And do you believe that story to begin with, because I sure don’t. The reality is, for something to be consistent, it needs to be convenient. I’ve heard many an ambitious plan from people who say they are going to start waking up at 5:00 and doing some crazy workout every day when this same person lives two blocks away from a gym. It’s better to consistently underperform than to wait for things to be “ideal”. They never will be.
#3 Consistency builds relationships with other students
Familiarity breeds affection. The more of a fixture you become at a school, the easier it is to meet people and form relationships. Making friends at a school is important for a lot of reasons, but one main one is your training partners are just as important (and sometimes moreso) in getting better at BJJ as having a good instructor is. This is especially true nowadays when we have a ton of instructional information out there. Finding out new techniques is not usually the problem, getting good at those techniques is and having good training partners to drill with becomes important.
#4 With consistency you will have more access to your instructor
Teachers will always play favorites. No one wants to say this out loud but most teachers will favor the students who come to class consistently. The reason is simple: most people quit BJJ. So it’s tough for a teacher to get invested in a student that they never see. When you are consistent at your convenient school A, your teacher can start to see your dedication. And once you show dedication, you can start to have some influence.
What I mean by influence is you can start asking to stay after class or come early to get some more drilling with your new friends. You can also ask your instructor questions and are much more likely to get a more in depth answer if you are a consistent student. This may not sound fair, but instructors don’t want to invest time in people who are not investing it back. The more teaching I do, the more I understand that.
#5 You can transform the convenient place into the ideal one
When you have a place you can train at consistently with people you are friends with, everyone will start to get better. One of the best things about establishing jiu jitsu relationships is they are based on honesty. And because of this, it becomes easier to progress as everyone gets better because you are all giving each other honest feedback. The result is similar to open source software where everyone is contributing to making this better. So rather than having just one instructor that you are reliant on for all your information, you have a lot of “scientists” who are all working on their own solutions to the problems. Your instructor is like the guide but you are all scaling the mountain together.