Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gym Drama

In the world of Martial Arts words and concepts like strength, honor, and humility are thrown around as the hallmark of arts and gyms around the world. The truth is that those that seek to learn martial arts, in modern times, are looking to fill some sort of insecurity. They are looking to learn how to dominate another man. Those that find their identity in their martial art, especially the competitive arts, tend to have the athlete's lust for the cheering crowd, with a healthy dose of this insecurity that drove them not only to the martial arts, but to use their art to actually step on to the competition field and test themselves.

The training atmosphere of a competitive gym forges friendships and trust within the group. You must trust one another to let go when someone taps out. You must trust that your partner won't knock out completely out when a lesser skilled fighter trains with the more skilled fighter. A mutual respect grows, as well as a sense of loyalty. When someone in the group does something that you don't expect, a feeling of betrayal is felt. Just as if a loved one did something to deeply wound you, the sense of betrayal is intense and deep. Couple that with the inborn insecurity that pulls the martial artist to the arts, and you have a bunch of guys who act like kindergartners when something does not go their way.

Thus we have the situation at my gym... Very much he said she said at this point, but what it boils down to is that the owner of the gym will not pay for something, unrelated to work or fighting, that one of the instructors thinks they should pay for. Feelings are hurt, and the instructor has decided to leave the gym. Bad blood all around. Both the owner and the instructor are feeling the sting of deep betrayal.

What sucks is that it is the members and fighters of the gym that will suffer, as we loose a friend and a mentor. What started out as such a great place with world class instruction in the stand up and the ground arts, has become just another gym.

In an earlier post, I remarked how good it was to be learning again from the source. In Muay Thai I was learning from a world champion, as well as a guy who has trained and fought in Thailand. In BJJ I was training with a guy who is a black belt from one of the best and well respected schools in Brazil. With the Muay Thai instructor leaving, the Muay Thai instruction comes from just another MMA fighter who has trained some kicks. It is not Muay Thai. It is MMA "Stand up", or Kickboxing heavily flavored with a reluctance to clinch brought on by the fear of the take down. In other words... Nothing special, nothing unique.

Unfortunately, all of this could have been avoided, had the owner of the gym clearly stated his expectations for the instructor, or if the instructor could see the point of view of the gym owner. Instead, they both decided to put on their fighter faces and become immovable objects. One must dominate the other, and the situation has tore the special uniqueness of the gym apart.

To me, now, this is just another BJJ gym. Sure, I like the instruction. I will most likely stay there, but I am unsure if I will stay in what was the Muay Thai class. I really don't see why I should pay the extra money for a class with an instructor who has less experience that I do. The cost that I pay for the kickboxing classes is significant, and without the world champion there to train with what is the extra value that I get? I am glad I only did a three month contract. I will train with the MMA guy, and see if I want to stick with it at the end of the summer.

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