Drink-jitsu and "Sticky" Gym Cultures
It doesn’t take a group of world champion athlete(s) or modern 5-star facility to make a fantastic jiu jitsu gym. I used to train with a group of old dudes and cripples on 2nd-hand wrestling mats. Dirty (and sometimes inappropriate) jokes were a constant part of the environment. Occasionally after class we went out for beers where we continued to exchange old war stories and tell more dirty jokes. We all loved it and enjoyed each other’s company for the most part. The culture was “sticky” and we all supported, respected and made each other better. We loved jiu-jitsu and were dedicated to improving every day.
I’ve trained in gyms the size of a closet in South America where the mats were so cheap they stained your white gi’s pink every class. Their jiu-jitsu was deadly. They were all killers and after about a month of each of them tapping me out in dozens of different ways I was honored to be invited into their “Drink-jitsu” club. Drink-jitsu was basically a weekly social get-together w/beer after class. I didn’t understand a single word they were saying, but I still laughed and enjoyed their company late into the night several times.
There is just something special that happens when you choke and try to kill each other for 2 hours immediately followed by “recovering” over cold beverages. I feel lighter and happier after that. It’s easier to enjoy each other’s company. Your metaphorical guard is down and as a result, conversations flow more easily. I think this is one of the core components to creating a “sticky” gym culture. It’s fun and if you’re training Brazilian jiu-jitsu without that element then I sincerely think you’re missing out on some of the best parts of the whole sport.
* P.S. Drinking alcohol certainly does not have to be a requirement for you to enjoy this same thing. You know what’s best for you and I encourage you to follow your own dietary decisions, but I do encourage you to go out and enjoy the company of your fellow training partners after class sometime. You’ll thank me later.