On the mats, you're a student

12:00:00 AM

A guy messaged our team's Facebook page to inquire about the rates, which were already published on the Info section. I directed him there, and because of that, he called me out as lazy for not typing in the answer to his question. He said that we should do our best to be accommodating to "customers," and that's when I lost it. I took off my social media manager hat and put on my proverbial gi to defend the house.

"Customer." He is technically correct - after all, the dictionary definition of customer is a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or a business (thank you, Google!). He was right to insist that for as long as people pay, they're customers. What he fails to realize, however, is that money ceases to be a currency that matters the moment you enter a dojo and step on the mats.

When you show up for jiu-jitsu, you are not a customer even when you pay - because the dojo is not a restaurant where you order all the food you want or can afford. In the dojo, the master passes on skills, knowledge, and maybe even wisdom, and he will not be able to accomplish so if the students think and act like they're customers to be served.
We have a different currency here.
Jiu-jitsu is a lot like school (but better and cheaper, haha!) - although you pay tuition to enroll, you don't really consider yourself a customer when you walk in the classroom, do you? You're there to learn whatever you can from your professor, someone who knows more than you, who won't serve you a burger with cheese fries on the side and a large Coke.

The dojo is sacred, and the mats, hallowed grounds. The currency is respect, not money. On the mats, you earn respect when you show up on time and ready to train; when you're willing to work your ass off, no matter how challenging the techniques are; when you keep going, even when your arms and legs are all bruised up; and when you're eager to learn, whether from your coach or from other students in class.

So I told the guy that we're not looking for customers, but for students. He went on to suggest that I learn marketing, to which I replied that I would if he learned some manners. Hug an iceberg, Mr. Customer.

P.S. Thought about posting this under "Wellness," but the lesson here goes beyond the mats and way after training hours. So I tagged it under "Life" instead.


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