Investing in your students

School owners, I'm sure you've noticed a pattern of getting close to students, families, and having them disappear on a regular basis. New students come in, old ones leave, and each time you lose an emotional investment. Sometimes this takes a toll on me after teaching for so many years, the ebb and flow.

Just venting, the constant changing of the guard makes it harder and harder to invest in new students.

Hope everyone is having a good week. Phone Post

Everyone's journey in Jiu-Jitsu is different. For some it is only for a little while, while others it's a lifetime.

I see it the same way how some progress faster than others. Is the guy that is learning slower, wrong? Of course not. Cause his journey is just different.

Lastly is this: Jiu-Jitsu is not for everyone.

All we can do is give everyone a great place to train so that they can learn to defend themselves and have a great time doing it.


I only teach a couple of classes a week and losing students all the time really takes a toll on you motivation to teach. Man times I question why I even teach, I don't get paid for it and would most likely be better at bjj if I just trained for myself.

I definetly see this in other upper belt students. We have several black and brown belts that give two shits about teaching or helping beginners get started. They roll with people who they know are competitive and will give them a hard roll and that's it. Sometimes they will roll the entire sparring portion of the class with eachother without switching.

I use to think it wasn't OK but after teaching for a year, I no longer do.

In jiu-jitsu, people come and go. It's just the nature of things.

Invest in the classes you teach not the individuals who attend.

Over the years some will become friends almost family. Most will disappear and not even tell you why.

get more students you wont even notice

its tough when you lose a talented one

It certainly does make it hard op.
For this reason a year or so ago I stopped caring on a personal level. I decided to give everyone the same treatment and access regardless of my personal feelings on their potential or whether I liked them on a personal level etc

It was difficult to start but it has had good results. The ones who want it rise to the top and are better for it. You can't motivate someone unless the motivation comes from within and couple that with the fact that you never know where or when that spark of motivation comes in a persons journey that makes them truly "want it". Many times the folks instructors might blow off are the ones who turn out to be the best. Phone Post 3.0

It's not personal (unless you're an asshole). People who do this for a living sometimes forget that other people do it as a hobby. They have many other things going on in their lives besides training.

Jiu-jitsu is a tough sport, people quit for various reasons. As an instructor you just have to accept it.

When people are training I give them as much help and support as I can (outside normal coaching). If they leave then so be it, I can't force people to keep training forever.

This sounds a lot like the other side of the loyalty question that gets brought up.

Do you ever ask students why they leave? I know most people don't want to have awkward conversations, but it could really help your teaching as well as your business. You can't stop people from leaving if they really want to go, but you imght save some.

There's another side to this as well.

While teachers are inevitably encouraged to stay at arm's length for the reasons you mention, new students come in looking for access only to be kept at arm's length.

Somewhat unfortunate perhaps, but it is what it is.

It seems to me that the ultimate outcome is simply that teachers should only truly start to care about students who demonstrate sustained dedication, and students only get that level of attention after they've "earned it."

That mirrors much of the BJJ journey, and I think it's appropriate.

So for the instructor, the recommendation would be to keep folks at arm's length until they show that they aren't a "flash in the pan" short-term hobbyist. Every now and then you'll still get burned when a long time student leaves, but that's just the nature of friendship--they come and go. Phone Post 3.0

I'm an older hobbiest and I seriously contemplate quitting about once a month. It has nothing to do with the instruction.
Bjj is difficult at the best of times. I think of all the money I would have if I put this much time into my career.
What keeps me from bailing is the training environment as a whole. Equal opportunity training for all (competitors and hobbiest). My questions are just as important as a medal winners and our instuctors make it as fun as possible.
It's the fun that keeps me coming back when I feel like tossing my gis.

Maybe concentrate on your environment as a whole. Phone Post

Great thread! I can relate to all posts. Its nice to read that other school owners, instructors share this in common. Phone Post 3.0

IMO, if your job is to instruct the students in the class, give them the best you got regardless if they are going to stay or not.

Face it, since i started training at least 9out of 10 quit (probably more), it's the nature of the beast.

It all comes down to ego, I take it personally when people move on. Rationally I realized that is the nature of life, but it does not take away the sting of losing people you investing and care for. Phone Post

I want everyone to train until they get their blackbelts and beyond.

However, I have to be realistic and know that 9/10 are going to quit sooner or later, and I have accepted that and don't let it get me depressed. Therefore, I just try to make it as friendly, positive, and fun as I can while they are there.

Hopefully, that extends the time they train. When they keep sticking around, I'm pleasantly surprised.

In terms of getting to close to students, I just try to treat them like I like to be treated as a customer and student. It's not very enjoyable to be in a gym where everyone keeps each other at arm's length, the relationships and friendships are what keeps the gym a nice place to be. I think we just can't take it personally when students move on, it's part of life.

No keeping people at arms length, like any good relationship you should give without fear of being hurt. Developing strong relationships with students is part of being an instructor, as is sucking it up when you feel you have lost something if they move on. Phone Post

Just do what you're doing.  It's that one, that one student that will make you proud.

I have done this on and mostly off for years. My intro was in 1994 and I trained there for a few months and never set foot into the place again. The instructor was very cool and 19 years later I am still asking around trying to find him so I can thank him.

Marcelo is a great example of someone who sees a ton of people briefly, maybe even once, but still connects in a meaningful way. As upper belts, you probably can relate to the feeling, "I wish I was as good as Marcelo." Well, the people you teach, especially much lower belts, often look to you like that.

It's just sometimes life can get significantly in the way and we've gotta roll with the punches.

Trust me, when you invest time into people, it matters to them.