Monday, August 27, 2012

Business in BJJ: How much for jiu jitsu?

Can over an Slideyfoot.com brought a great discussion to my attention today. Check it out here at MixedMartialArts.com. They're discussing whether it's reasonably possible to make a good living--like six figures good--as a BJJ instructor. We all know Lloyd, Marcelo and Renzo, but how many non-household names are pulling it off? The OP asked a great question.

While I can only guess how many are really "living the dream", this response gets at the heart of what I think is key...

A lot of people have this romantic idea of BJJ being taught by a carefree brazillian that shows up late teaches a wonderful class and then rolls around all while dispensing yoda like pearls of wisdom...From what I've seen those guys can't pay rent and usually don't end up having their own spot...Most of the places I've seen that are successful are run by people who are the actual main teacher and treat it like an honest to goodness day job...there are contracts, they sell overpriced merchandise all the usual stuff that people on message boards laugh and point fingers at.

Did you hear that? The money's not coming just from teaching. All the big names out there...they all know that if you want to succeed as a business, you're at an advantage if you have money coming in from multiple directions. Forget just BJJ/MMA, this is great advice for life. I don't know why this song isn't sung as much lately, but these days, with the concept of a reliable job lying snugly six feet under, it's something everyone should think about.

So will you be a Lloyd or a Yoda? Live for the jitsu or the checkbook? I am not a fan of the hard sell. I'm very "soft" as far as MBAs go, so I know that's a rough line to walk. I love the idea of a currency-less society (there's a reason I'm a Trekkie), but the pragmatist in me fights eternal. Most people who train actually love and have a deep respect for jiu jitsu, so there will always be that internal conflict.

Why? Because money being what people have made it, sullies anything whose worth it measures. That said, setting a price communicates value. It's why Rolex* tripled their price in the early 20th century to set itself apart (it worked beautifully and they saw sales soar in response to perceived value). There are simply some things for which value is not obvious (rolling around on the ground with sweaty men?). Sometimes people need the cue of cost to part with their cash. Free is nice, Free is friendly,but free also sends a message of expendability. Moral of the story? Know what your market will tolerate, but do not undercharge for your services. (If you're running or starting a business, click that link. Explore that site. Use their services.)

The sinews of war, the love of which is the root of all evil, the shakles of labor--call it what you will, but money reflects and magnifies what we human beings are like. I'm willing to guess that the reason many of us don't want to charge what our services are worth is because then...then we will get real, concrete feedback about where we stand in the world where we sell. If we constantly undercharge, people will always marvel about how wonderful a product they get for so little. We will never tire of hearing the inflation of our value magnified by the deflation of cost...but if we charge what we're worth, a friend might not find our instruction to merit his $125 a month and instead choose a bar tab over becoming a blue belt. We will, in short, have to attach a real, unflinching number to what we may dream is invaluable. We may have to say no to that student we cut a deal for who's SUPER dedicated for all of 5 months, but who never internalized the true worth of our time and attention because he was never forced to. We may have to accept that what we find priceless, others find overpriced. That's hard and that's real.

*it's been a while since I took a marketing course and Rolex might be the wrong watch maker

23 comments:

Can Sönmez said...

The concept of selling out within martial arts is one I find very interesting, especially in the context of BJJ. So much so that I'll have to split this over two comments, as I get an error when I try to post it all at once. ;p

Judging by earlier cycles of martial arts trends (e.g., karate in the 60s), there seems to be a pattern.

1. Americans train a martial art in another country (e.g., US soldiers in Japan and Korea bringing back karate and taekwondo [at that point, they were basically the same thing] in the 50s/60s).

2. The martial art takes root in the US, generally practiced by a bunch of tough people who want to learn how to fight.

3. That doesn't bring in much money, so the martial art schools start looking to other revenue streams, especially kids.

4. Kids and parents like to see progression and they don't like it to be too hard. So, you start seeing more ranks graded at a faster pace.

5. The martial art gets less and less applicable to reality, so less sparring, less contact, less requirement to demonstrate you can actually apply your skills against resistance, until finally you have six year olds running around with black belts having been through a bazillion different coloured, striped and tagged belts. Those tough schools are still around, but they've been swamped by all the highly commercial facilities aimed at kids and people looking for a work-out and the sense of progression that comes with a ranking system.


BJJ is currently somewhere between stage 3 and 4 of that process. It started off in Brazil with the Gracies et al and vale tudo (stage 1). Rorion brought it over to the US, then showed how tough it was by Royce winning the first few UFCs. It started to get more popular, but was still hard training so not huge (stage 2).

As more and more schools have proliferated, there has been an increasing amount of business at play, along with more organisation, more uniformity, more marketing campaigns (i.e., Gracie Barra and the Gracie Academy). BJJ is still effective, but it isn't quite so closely tied to vale tudo and MMA these days, because there are plenty of people with no desire to fight in a cage taking an interest (e.g., me and you). It's also fashionable and potentially profitable, like kung fu was in the 70s and ninjitsu in the 80s.

This is where we get to stage 3, with organisations like Lloyd Irvin, Gracie Barra and the Gracie Academy. They have each made concessions to commercial forces in different ways. [cont]

Megan said...

I'm hoping that what makes BJJ different is what will keep it between stages 3 and 4. 4 is fine for kids, but for adults...not so much.

The two things I think COULD save it are its ties to the growing sport of MMA...that means you have a force other than ease of earning a rank boosting your income. And lets be honest, even if belts were easy, the crotch-facely proximity will turn 90% of them away. I just don't think this practice has the same potential to go mainstream because it violates SO many cultural norms. That's a good thing.

Secondly, I hope the lifestyle will provide additional income sources that will prevent the "necessary" dilution of the practice. If people can make money making gis, shirts, mouthguards, supplements, acai freezepops, whatever, it's yet another reason that people who are looking to make money while being associated with something they enjoy won't all take the Open-School-Pass-out-black-belts model.

Can Sönmez said...

Possible: MMA has certainly been good to BJJ, so it could be something that keeps BJJ honest. I've said this before, but I think that competition in general (in the sense of tournaments etc) is the key to preventing BJJ's stagnation. The only problem is if the rules get too restrictive, as appeared to have happened in TKD.

Can Sönmez said...

Oh, and second part of my comment: got eaten by the internet when I tried to post it earlier -

[cont] The Gracie Academy has pitched itself as 'pure self defence', moving away from competition and throwing itself all over the internet. The Gracie University website is a stroke of marketing brilliance: an easy way to get lots of affiliates all around the world with minimum effort (film some teaching videos, get people to send them grading videos in return, mail back belts and eventually teaching certifications and voila, Gracie Academy grows).

They don't need to worry about proving themselves in competition any more, because they've cleverly taken themselves out of that category (something I babble about more in my massive Gracie Combatives review, here).

Gracie Barra has taken a similar 'it's for everyone' approach, but without the mass proliferation via ranking and instructor licensing over the internet. They've also adopted the business strategies of countless taekwondo schools by making themselves a clear franchise. Everyone has to wear the same gi, there are rules posted up on the wall, there are instructor certifications, a clear syllabus, lots of bowing and formality, etc.

The main thing they haven't done (yet, and I hope they never do, but I would not be surprised if this happened in future) is lots of gradings and ranks with a fee attached. They also haven't taken out the essential element of resistance and competition: the latter has gone from the Gracie Academy and the former is at risk, given that you can accomplish a blue belt without ever having sparred.

Finally, there is the Lloyd Irvin option. Hyper-hard-sell marketing, with cookie-cutter websites all using the same squeeze page, promising that YOU TOO can become a WORLD CHAMPION if you just pay a mere $### to learn SECRET techniques!

Every time I see a Lloyd Irvin website, there is a palpable sense that my money is what matters, not the improvement of my abilities. This is where it gets tricky: where is the line between providing a good product at a fair price and being solely motivated by making money?

I find it quite hard to define exactly why I dislike the Lloyd Irvin marketing so much. It's brash, obnoxious and arrogant, so that's obviously very off-putting, but they have proven results. Yet I still would never use that model if I had a business. It could be because I don't want to be seen as similarly brash, obnoxious and arrogant, but I think there is also something of that "man, I just want to share BJJ in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, not feel like a used car salesman out to hoodwink customers".

Either way, as my rambling probably indicates, it's a big topic, with lots and lots to discuss. There are also all sorts of other questions, like why aren't judo and boxing in the same state as taekwondo? What have they done differently? Is it a different demographic, something instilled in the grading, or is it grading itself that's the problem? After, boxing and wrestling have remained tough and effective for thousands of years and have never had a ranking system. Is it because they're both so physically demanding that they don't lend themselves to that watering down?

Something I've wanted to write an article about for a while, but there's so much to cover. I'd need to do a lot of research to do it justice too (e.g., the respective histories of judo, taekwondo, wrestling, boxing and BJJ in the last 100 years or so, business strategies in martial arts schools, online marketing best practice, ethics and business, the tension between the student/teacher and customer/service provider relationships, the difference between marketing in the US and UK or indeed between extroverts and introverts, etc).

Megan said...

That's one of the best arguments I've seen against BJJ being in the Olympics. Seems cool, but it's one of those mixed blessings.

Can Sönmez said...

Yeah, the Olympic question is a big one: as it happens, I wrote a long article on it for the upcoming issue of Jiu Jitsu Style. ;)

Ok, fourth attempt at getting the second part of my comment up:


[cont] The Gracie Academy has pitched itself as 'pure self defence', moving away from competition and throwing itself all over the internet. The Gracie University website is a stroke of marketing brilliance: an easy way to get lots of affiliates all around the world with minimum effort (film some teaching videos, get people to send them grading videos in return, mail back belts and eventually teaching certifications and voila, Gracie Academy grows).

They don't need to worry about proving themselves in competition any more, because they've cleverly taken themselves out of that category (something I babble about more in my massive Gracie Combatives review, here).

Gracie Barra has taken a similar 'it's for everyone' approach, but without the mass proliferation via ranking and instructor licensing over the internet. They've also adopted the business strategies of countless taekwondo schools by making themselves a clear franchise. Everyone has to wear the same gi, there are rules posted up on the wall, there are instructor certifications, a clear syllabus, lots of bowing and formality, etc.

The main thing they haven't done (yet, and I hope they never do, but I would not be surprised if this happened in future) is lots of gradings and ranks with a fee attached. They also haven't taken out the essential element of resistance and competition: the latter has gone from the Gracie Academy and the former is at risk, given that you can accomplish a blue belt without ever having sparred.

Finally, there is the Lloyd Irvin option. Hyper-hard-sell marketing, with cookie-cutter websites all using the same squeeze page, promising that YOU TOO can become a WORLD CHAMPION if you just pay a mere $### to learn SECRET techniques!

Every time I see a Lloyd Irvin website, there is a palpable sense that my money is what matters, not the improvement of my abilities. This is where it gets tricky: where is the line between providing a good product at a fair price and being solely motivated by making money?

I find it quite hard to define exactly why I dislike the Lloyd Irvin marketing so much. It's brash, obnoxious and arrogant, so that's obviously very off-putting, but they have proven results. Yet I still would never use that model if I had a business. It could be because I don't want to be seen as similarly brash, obnoxious and arrogant, but I think there is also something of that "man, I just want to share BJJ in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, not feel like a used car salesman out to hoodwink customers".

Either way, as my rambling probably indicates, it's a big topic, with lots and lots to discuss. There are also all sorts of other questions, like why aren't judo and boxing in the same state as taekwondo? What have they done differently? Is it a different demographic, something instilled in the grading, or is it grading itself that's the problem? After, boxing and wrestling have remained tough and effective for thousands of years and have never had a ranking system. Is it because they're both so physically demanding that they don't lend themselves to that watering down?

Something I've wanted to write an article about for a while, but there's so much to cover. I'd need to do a lot of research to do it justice too (e.g., the respective histories of judo, taekwondo, wrestling, boxing and BJJ in the last 100 years or so, business strategies in martial arts schools, online marketing best practice, ethics and business, the tension between the student/teacher and customer/service provider relationships, the difference between marketing in the US and UK or indeed between extroverts and introverts, etc).

Can Sönmez said...

Yeah, the Olympic question is a big one: as it happens, I wrote a long article on it for the upcoming issue of Jiu Jitsu Style. ;)

The whole money and BJJ question is massive. There are all sorts of other questions, like why aren't judo and boxing in the same state as taekwondo? What have they done differently? Is it a different demographic, something instilled in the grading, or is it grading itself that's the problem? After, boxing and wrestling have remained tough and effective for thousands of years and have never had a ranking system. Is it because they're both so physically demanding that they don't lend themselves to that watering down?

Every time I see a Lloyd Irvin website, there is a palpable sense that my money is what matters, not the improvement of my abilities. This is where it gets tricky: where is the line between providing a good product at a fair price and being solely motivated by making money?

I find it quite hard to define exactly why I dislike the Lloyd Irvin marketing so much. It's brash, obnoxious and arrogant, so that's obviously very off-putting, but they have proven results. Yet I still would never use that model if I had a business. It could be because I don't want to be seen as similarly brash, obnoxious and arrogant, but I think there is also something of that "man, I just want to share BJJ in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, not feel like a used car salesman out to hoodwink customers".

Something I've wanted to write an article about for a while, but there's so much to cover. I'd need to do a lot of research to do it justice (e.g., the respective histories of judo, taekwondo, wrestling, boxing and BJJ in the last 100 years or so, business strategies in martial arts schools, online marketing best practice, ethics and business, the tension between the student/teacher and customer/service provider relationships, the difference between marketing in the US and UK or indeed between extroverts and introverts, etc).

Ze Grappler said...

i think that to expect to paid like a professional coach, you should put in the hours of a professional coach. this is more than showing up 4 nights a week and teaching whatever comes to mind. it's coaching at tournaments. devising specific regimens for competitors.

it's grinding at learning how to be an effective coach.

my coach teaches 2x a day, and is also there bright and early for private lessons. before a schedule change, he was at the gym, every mon-thursday until often almost 10pm. then tack on coaching at tournaments et cetera, and you have considerably more than 40 hours a week.

the romanticization comes from those who confuse doing what you love and getting paid for it with taking what you love and learning how to do it as work.

Can Sönmez said...

@Ze Grappler: Out of interest, how does your coach market himself and his gym? Is it in the Lloyd Irvin mould, or something different?

Trudy said...

This is exquisite. I am sending it to photographers because honestly, all careers that fall outside of the mainstream, involve an art and want to create a profit face these same dilemmas.

Megan said...

@Can-Lloyd points to what I think is a false dichotomy. Being an introvert myself (I now have it solidified that both you and I are INTJs), his marketing turns my stomach too...BUT...with the results he gives I think that he may be a quality product wrapped in a scammy package. He doesn't rely on culling out the truly dedicated practitioners with subtle and sophisticated marketing. He goes for the hard, gut churning sell and then delivers a product that, from what I can tell, gets results. I never considered it until just now, but sometimes that slick shiny exterior might actually be used to push quality as far as possible onto as many people as possible. I guess not everything is the Slap Chop. The man might have found the Holy Grail.

Back to what you were saying earlier regarding boxing and judo, I think the physical natures of the sports have kept them "pure", or, in the case of boxing and kick-boxing, birthed a clean break into combat and cardio versions. BJJ may only be able to sink so far. (I'm still concerned though)

I wish deeply that I'd been training back when I was in grad school...this topic would have made for some amazing papers. My honest plan is to step up the the depth of these posts in the future. I just need to get settled with GiFreak first (learning a lot over on that side too actually)

@Ze-I think you said it all with this phrase-"the romanticization comes from those who confuse doing what you love and getting paid for it with taking what you love and learning how to do it as work"

@Trudy-I ALWAYS think of you and photography when I'm writing these business posts. There's so much in common with the BJJ world on the business side that it's almost funny.

Can Sönmez said...

"I think that he may be a quality product wrapped in a scammy package."

That's the perfect cue for me to link to something I wrote a while back, on exactly that topic. The problem I have is all about that scammy package. It's a comparison Irvin has made himself, as you might remember from his Fightworks interview a while back. His metaphor was a guy who wants to give you a million dollars, but is wearing a crummy suit covered in ketchup.

Anyway, my extended babble on the topic is here. :)

Liam H Wandi said...

Excellent article Meg.

Personally, I don't know why people find Lloyd brash, obnoxious and arrogant. I find him direct. I have bought one of his products over the years and had a chance to borrow another from a friend. He makes claims, and he delivers (afaik) so I wouldn't call him these things.

It's interesting to investigate internally why he causes such a reaction in some people.

As for taekwondo, it's very effective. It's incredibly effective at achieving what it was re-shaped to achieve. In fact, WTF Taekowndo as it's practised today is far more effective at achieving it's intended goals than the WTF taekwondo of yesteryear.

Honesty is good. Dishonesty is bad. When I learned Karate, my sensei never tried to sell me a "product" without explaining what it was effective for and not once did he try to make up what the product was for. He taught me techniques but also showed me their failings and I will always respect him for that.

Can Sönmez said...

I totally disagree, Liam (but then as you know, we usually do ;D). Being direct is a good thing. Being annoying and arrogant is not. It is entirely possible to deliver on your claims without being obnoxious or arrogant.

For example, Roger Gracie. He is the polar opposite to Irvin: very successful competitor, but also very humble. I never hear him shouting all over the internet about how awesome he is, even though he would be fully justified in doing so.

For a start, on one of Irvin's millions of websites here, he describes himself as 'Master Lloyd Irvin aka FOREVER "The King of Leg Locks". That's not direct, that's arrogant. You're telling me you don't find any of his websites and constant spamming (I unsubscribed multiple times years ago, but the only way I could stop them appearing in my inbox was to mark them as spam) annoying? Or this video brash? :)

Though I'd agree that some of the products are good. I don't have a problem with the product: as you say, he often produces good DVDs and highly capable competitors.

Megan said...

Liam, if you don't know your MBTI, PLEASE take this test. I think the Roger/Lloyd preference is almost purely personality based. I know the introvert vs. extrovert type is a heavy determinant, but since Can and I are the same type, it's hard to tell if the others might have an influence.

http://similarminds.com/jung.html

Jerome said...

Excellent topic and debate. There is alot that I agree with from both Megan and Can.I think I throw up a little bit in my mouth when I see Lloyd Irving marketing. I have received some slack for this from the online community but I believe that pyramid scheme that relies on the sale of new partners as opposed to the sale of a service. Unfortunately, I believe that this happens on a smaller scale more often that people know (topic for another time).

With regards to 6 figure incomes, I do not think it is very common place. Sure, we all know the Marcelo's and Saluo's of the world that have online marketing, virtual training, affiliates, and sponsorships. But, the average Grand Master relies on revenue from training alone. Which leads me to the Olympics. I understand Can's point about the fate of Boxing and Judo not being hampered by the Olympics, but I think adolesonent adaptation has a lot to do with the direction a sport will go after being shined on with a world wide spotlight.

Boxing and Judo has not had the influx of kids as much and Karate and Takewando. I dont know about you, but my last 3 NAGA events were 3 hours behind schedule due to the sheer number of kids participating. I think BJJ will be no exception. Suddenly every kid will have 5 BJJ gyms within a rock's throw. This will lead to cheaper rates and watered down instruction.

There is plenty that could be done to ensure this does not happen, but in general, your average Grand Master and Master will be living the pork and beans lifestyle.

I think we get blinded by what we see online and think the top 10% who is always in the spotlight is somehow reflective of the norm. In the Atlanta area, Alliance has its headquarters and can promote names like Jacare and Gurgel. But I can think of at least 10 other reputable gyms who arent marketed as well. Many of whom have nearly as rich lineage and training.

Can Sönmez said...

@Jerome: Just to clarify, I don't want to see BJJ in the Olympics either, for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately it has no chance of happening for a long time, perhaps never - as mentioned, I wrote a long article about it in the latest issue of JJS, which is a greatly expanded version of something I wrote a few years back.

Liam H Wandi said...

@Can, hehe we don't often agree dude but we sure are never boring! No I can't say I find any of these things annoying nor do I perceive it as arrogance. The King of lego nickname is just that, a nickname that Fabio Gurgel gave him. I believe the Master title was explained in a FWPodcast (it's from having a certain rank in another martial art, 6th or 7th dan or something).

AS for comparing with Roger, it doesn't, in my opinion, really prove anything. Roger is Roger. Lloyd is Lloyd. Some might say, why does Roger not market more. I sure hope it's not because "he doesn't think he needs it" because THAT'S arrogant, when the giants of the industry world (Coca Cola...etc.) spend gazillions on marketing strategies and plans every year.

@Megan, all my life, people have tried to cram and squeeze me into this category or that category. "Liam is this or Liam is that". Liam likes this and he doesn't like that.

Long example: As a 6 year old, my teacher told me I am Kurdish. I didn't know what that was, or even what it meant. Heck, I couldn't even spell it. When we moved to Sweden, I was an immigrant. Keeping in mind I was a little 12 year old, I didn't really understand why it was necessary to classify me as anything. I learnt a lot about the history of Iraq in Sweden and later on more about Asia. I considered myself lucky to be both Asian and European. I'm Swedish, I'm also Iraqi, but apparently I'm also Kurdish and Asian and European. When I moved to the UK, I was no longer Asian because that's a term reserved for people from Pakistan and India. Every form I filled in, I was asked to classify myself, but I wasn't supposed to tick in Asian. I suddenly, by getting in a plane and travelling to the UK, was "Asian, other". Yep, that's the actual name of the category.

You know what? the first time I flew to Namibia, I was asked to fill in a form at the airport and the official advised me I filled it in wrong coz apparently, in Africa I'm "White".

I refuse to fit anyone else's model. I am me and there are gazillions like me. The reason I like milk and dislike cheese (for example) is NOT because I'm a certain category. There's nothing special about me and my preferences ;o)

Megan said...

I would argue that the difference here is that, instead of arbitrary racial constructs, this system is actually based on tested Jungian theories.

I'm not a fan of types myself and am quite a "weirdo", but I have a blood type, which is useful to know. I've found MBTI to work similarly. It's incredibly informative and has helped me to relate better to people around me and even in understanding myself in times of stress...kind of like the 5 love languages deal if you're familiar with that.

Can Sönmez said...

Whether or not Irvin got the nickname from somebody else, it's still arrogant. If somebody decided to nickname me "master of the universe", I sure as hell wouldn't start sticking that on everything I ever wrote, because I'd sound incredibly pompous and indeed deluded.

Similarly, I don't buy the argument for his use of 'Master' either. He generally says two things: it comes from rank in another martial art and his students do it out of respect rather than anybody telling them to do it.

The reason I don't buy it is because after anybody signs up to his seminars and adopts his ethos, they start calling themselves 'Master' too. For example, Justin 'Chim Chim' Garcia was previously just 'Chim' or 'Justin'. After getting onboard with Irvin (apparently it was mainly just for that Chim pass DVD), people were suddenly referring to him as 'Master Chim' or 'Master Justin'. Same thing with the Avellans.

It is more than a little suspicious that this allegedly unprompted mark of respect magically appears whenever people start following the Lloyd Irvin martial arts business model.

As to the distinction between Roger and Lloyd Irvin. It is difficult to say exactly why Roger doesn't market more, but I would make the assumption that it comes down to personality. Judging by my interactions with him and what I've seen of his interactions with others, Roger is fairly quiet, calm and humble. He doesn't like to wear lots of sponsors on his gi, even though he could. He doesn't put out loads of instructionals, even though he could. He doesn't flood the internet talking about how amazing he is and that you should all therefore train at his school.

I was trying to think of an analogy earlier. Perhaps one to keep in mind would be newspapers. To my mind, Lloyd Irvin is The Sun. Crude, brash and aimed at the lowest common denominator, but nevertheless successful. I'm sure other newspapers could be more successful if they adopted elements of The Sun, but they would lose a hefty segment of their current readership (while perhaps gaining a large new readership).

For example, imagine if The Guardian or The Independent started having Page 3 girls and tabloid headlines. Their left wing, middle class readers would leave them in droves, but the newspapers might perhaps pick up some laddish builders looking to stare at breasts while reading about football.

Which makes me wonder if the Lloyd Irvin model is at all a matter of class? Though that might be putting too much of an UK spin on it. There is also the general difference between the US and the UK that doing whatever you can (whether or not the ethics may be debatable) to make a load of money is admired in the US, but often seen as rather sordid and unpleasant in the UK.

Probably why I've ended up working at a charity. I didn't like the focus on money when I was in the corporate world, then I was disappointed at the focus on money after I moved to work in higher education, so now I'm much happier that I'm somewhere which has a focus on people and actually making a positive difference.

Though this is a conversation I've had with my father many times: he's very much a businessman, but argues that the mega-corporation he works for does loads of good simply by virtue of donating some of those vast profits to charitable causes, despite being by its nature very very money-hungry and profit-driven.

An aversion to categories is another big topic that's fun to talk about (I love categories and lists and putting things in boxes)...but I've babbled too much already. ;)

Megan said...

I'm a fan of categories that have a constructive purpose. I live as a racial minority in a country where racial categorization has been used for some of the most heinous practices in history, so I very much know they can be twisted, but when they help cut down on chaos and increase understanding and smooth relationships, I'm all for them.

Liam H Wandi said...

@Can, I think I'd have a blast chatting with your dad matey :) (ps. I fucking hate The Sun!)

@Megan. Each to their own, but I don't like categories, boxes and classification. The most beautiful thing that statistics taught me is that a model is...just that: An attempt to describe reality. It's NOT reality. Reality is real. It's out there to be touched, felt and experienced and the model may or may not describe it to a high degree of accuracy, but it is not the same as reality.

The problem with categories, in my experience, is that people get too attached to them. "He acted this way because he's a such-and-such" so when someone does something we consider "out of character" we refuse to question the model and instead question the reality or are at least shocked by it. That's some crazy shit right there: We refuse to question the model and start to question the reality.

I'd rather just interact with people in the most honest way possible. I try to not interpret their actions and reactions too much and, for me, that works beautifully :)

Wil said...

I must say the comments here are as good as the actual story and I had a blast reading them. I really have nothing to add but thanks for a good read. I do see the McDojo syndrome coming up for BJJ but like everything else if you are really interested in finding the real and quality in anything it has become much easier to research in this tech age.