I have this weird personality trait where if something is highly advertised or super popular, I will usually try to avoid it. For example, I have never seen many of the blockbuster movies or hit TV shows, and the more people tell me that I have to see them, the more I don’t want to. I’ve also been known to stop liking things after they become too popularized. My daughter tells me this means I am a “hipster”, but that seems kind of “in” right now, therefore I don’t think I want to be one. ;)
So, I guess I don’t completely mind that many people have no idea what Jiu-Jitsu is. Don’t get me wrong, I do want Jiu-Jitsu to spread (and I won’t quit even if everyone does it), but all of the marketing surrounding it does not appeal to me. It’s the same as when a movie comes out, and then the stores are all selling merchandise tie-ins. Just because I love a movie it does not mean I want to go out and buy everything related to it, and the same holds true for Jiu-Jitsu. I fear a world where every store is trying to sell me things that say “BJJ”.
I may just be allergic to advertising, I’m not sure, but the number of ways Jiu-Jitsu is marketed is somewhat off-putting to me. I think about my instructor Conan, who teaches for NO pay whatsoever. As a matter of fact, he (and the rest of our teachers) actually pay to help keep the school running, so we can keep our dues low, and we don’t have to resort to contracts. Our school has never turned away a student because they couldn’t afford to pay, and we hold very low-cost (or even free) tournaments, run completely by volunteers. Conan also takes the time to make instructional videos, and he offers them free of charge. He is willing to come in early or stay late to help his students, essentially teaching personal training sessions for free. He does it for the love of the art, not to make money. He earns his living by serving and protecting the mean streets of Lincoln. Shihan also does not make money off of the dojo, most of it goes right back into keeping it running. He lives off of his retirement pay from the Marines, which is the way he earned his living. During some of the lean times, Shihan has even taken money out of his own pocket to stay in business. People have literally begged him to market videos and write books, but he considers that “selling out”.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with making or spending money on martial arts, but I sometimes wonder about the motivation, and the necessity. I have never purchased anything Jiu-Jitsu related that I didn’t need (such as gis or rashguards, and I only own a few of those). I’ve never bought a single book, video, keychain, coffee mug, etc., etc. My Jiu-Jitsu budget is about $25 a month, which is my portion of our family dues (and that even includes my Karate training!). Would I be better at Jiu-Jitsu if I spent more money? Maybe, but I doubt it. Unless that expensive gi is going to choke people for me, I don’t even want it.
I would never try to make money off of this blog, nor would I try to help someone sell something. I will not display ads, because I don’t want to be subjected to them. I know what it’s like to not be able to afford things I need, so I’m not encouraged to spend money on things I probably don’t. Instead of buying merchandise, I would rather see people enter a reasonably-priced tournament or seminar, or donate it to a worthy cause instead. The only thing I want to “sell” is a love for martial arts, and that doesn’t come with a price tag, no matter how much the marketers try to say otherwise.