On thing that I really enjoy at Mid-America is that team atmosphere that seems to invade everything that goes on there. In technique class, the higher belts always seem more than willing to work with lower belts to help them figure out what it is they’re doing wrong, or missing. When sparring, I’ve seen and heard more advanced students tell the less advanced ones what they were doing to get caught with the same thing multiple times. After class, I’ve seen guys getting back on the mat to work on a specific technique, or to recreate a situation they were in so they can be shown how to escape.
But it’s more than just the jiu jitsu guys. Mid-America also offers Muay Thai (among other classes.) And there are several people that cross train between the two, but there are also plenty of people that only train one or the other. But that doesn’t stop the teamwork and support. This past weekend was a great example. Another Ring Wars promotion was held. And while I wasn’t able to attend, it seemed as if I was the only one from the gym not there. People from the gym were excited for the fighters we had participating, they were encouraging them on the week leading up to the event.
This level of support and teamwork goes a long way. For one, it helps you improve. I have been asked countless times in sparring sessions “Is there anything you want to work on? What’s you’re weakest point?” (To which I always reply “Everything.”) When people go out of their way to help others get better it provides several benefits. First, it helps them see what they’re doing even better. It’s often said the best way to learn something is to teach it. Secondly, it encourages the one getting the help. It’s hard to see why a particular position didn’t work out, especially when you’re in the middle of it. But if someone can come along and say “You were almost there…” or “You just need to make a minor tweak…” then it’s encouraging to the one learning. Third, it puts the focus where it needs to be, on learning. The emphasis isn’t on me beating you, or you beating someone else. Instead it’s simply about getting better.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t been in any other gyms. I started 7 months ago at Mid-America and that’s all I know. So when I think about things that make a gym good, I’m not saying other gyms are bad at doing this. I’m simply stating things that have helped my progress the past 7 months. And if anyone reads this who is thinking about starting up martial arts, I want them to have certain expectations, so they don’t just sit back and say “This gym doesn’t help each other at all, but I bet they’re all like that.” It might be that all gyms have these traits in common, but I doubt it.