Many years ago I was in Cincinnati, Ohio on a seminar trip and made a run to a store in my rental car, kind of late one Saturday night. In the shopping mall near the store was a two-story gym, mostly made of glass and there inside as I drove by, I spotted 4 guys on a wooden floor, in plain clothes, training to fight. 4 guys. No school. No uniforms. 4 guys. They were doing – I don’t know – what you might call, “modern fighting.” The vision sort of stuck with me and made me think of the proliferation of “small groups.” One was probably the leader, the organizer. I actually stopped the car on the lot and watched them for a long minute. Strong sense of nostalgia and admiration.
How many, many times I have I seen such small groups, and been a part of such small groups. How many of these groups of 4 have attended my seminars?
One deep thread for all of them is a bond. A friendship. A social deal of some kind beyond just working out. Ever note how these people share various traits? Looks? Clothes? Interesting. What brought them together? Why do they stay?
Schools and small “homeless” groups. Unlike back then, these days there are all kinds of Krav schools and MMA schools doing multi-discipline, “modern, street-fighting” (and I hate that term, but it’s an easy, name-drop). Official places to go to get multi-system fighting. There is a lot of BJJ out there, but I don’t consider that multi-discipline. Through the years I have observed all sorts of “martial” groups and “arts” groups. Even martial “arts-artsy” groups. Regular martial arts schools have galleons of kids to keep their ships afloat, and way less adults. Now with Krav schools and MMA schools, adults classes seem to survive without kids, maybe taking away from the small “homeless” groups? Observing all their ups and downs is interesting. Educational. You can spot the mistakes. Often the successes and failures are situational and customized. Sometimes, they limit themselves to the point of “shooting themselves in the foot.”
Some members of these smaller adult groups will come and go, but a sufficient “leader” just seems to attract the rare kind of person that keeps a core group going. There just always seems to be a core subsection – the leader and two, three or maybe four people. Even in a standard professional, strip-center, school, these friends might eventually get officially hired to help the leader. But still a very social friendship is at the core of most success- however you want to define the word success. (Warning! Once hiring and money and dues/tithing get in the friendship picture, it might hurt the relationships. Seen that a lot.)
What I am suggesting is – take serious note of how important the social/friendship “thing” is to the promotion, stability and financial success of your “school/program/work-out” group. Schools reeking in forced business models have this built in, especially for kids. Kids are easy. Movie night. Birthday parties. Laser sword gigs. Many organize these social events on “must do” commands from the "Kuraty" business group they pay big bucks to. What about adults that don’t fit this mold? What’s for them? Barbecue Sunday? Some adults prefer a drunken, debauchery night? What will it be? Groups are…customized. You can see it all around.The whose-who, whose with who. Why do they stay? Why do they not look "outside?" Our tribal selves!
Ever think about who you host for a seminar? Usually it becomes more of friendship than a strict, business-only deal. Great information imparted by a pain-in-the-ass person is not going to weave in well. I’ve heard stories where the seminar, super-star
– One stole a French guy’s passport.
– One star actually wanted a host to buy him expensive cowboy boots.
– One star wanted his teeth fixed!
– One wanted to buy cocaine.
– One wants to organize hazing that by today’s standards would have you sued and thrown in jail.
– One wants very expensive, booze and multi course meals for Saturday night feast (as your king is in town!)
– One star plucked a pistol from someone’s hands and tossed it on the ground.
– A once famous star taught a large group of US special forces. He wanted to be known as a real tough guy, but was famous for causing reckless injuries. 90 out of 100 of the SF soldiers, in an organized protest, wrote letters to their commander that the guy was basically a jerk and caused many unnecessary injuries. Today, shunned by several countries, he essentially lives in obscurity.
– I was at a Joe Lewis seminar years ago and during a break, he told a few of us, “my wife told me that if I wanted to do these seminars, I have to be nice to people.” (Darn it!)
I could go on, but let me say, that the systems you do, the schools, classes and seminars who you do them with, is very much a social experience. Think about that. Then think more about that.
Me, I am a very “easy date,” and luckily, I like to hang out with all my hosts. In many ways, that is my favorite part of the seminar weekend. Sometimes just driving to and from the airport is my favorite part. Seriously. There are always photos on Facebook of the seminar dinner, or the Christmas party. As I get older and, or more sore and tired, it is becoming harder for me to teach 8 hours and then run out to eat on the busy Saturday night group dinner where all the good, noisy places have long, long waiting lines. Homey needs to lay down. Homey watch TV. Homey take pain-killers. Homey sleep. (Homey also must write a lot for deadlines). But, Homey still attends the dinners.
Martial Friend Questions!
– Who…are you? Who are they?
– What…do you want?
– What do they want?
– What do you do that attracts them?
– Where…will they find you?
– When…can you meet regularly?
– How…will they find you?
– How will you find them? How entertaining are you?
– Why…do this? Your motive? Their motive
– You could write a book answering these questions.
I still see these little groups of three, four and five folks, making the time and effort to get together in gyms, garages and parks, etc. I was and am still nostalgic because I started my “freedom-from-classical-doctrine” times in 1986 in the corner of a gym with a small group, just like those 4 cats in the Cincinnati gym.
You still have to have a “boss-man/chief” with some experience and a thirst for knowledge, running it. Most all the modern teachers with savvy have various reputable, black belts hanging/hiding in their closets. It’s a time, grade, savvy, experience, maturity thing. It’s a people thing too.
Rubbing elbows is still important and the key part of doing what you want to do, for your localized “job/hobby/lifestyle/business." Your friendships, your personality, your ability to attract them and keep them are parts of the skeleton.
Think about that.
Then think more about that.
Our tribal selves!
Whose foot are you shooting?
Coming soon, the book and audio…Fightin Words!